Peace and Mercy

 

Peace and Mercy 

November 19, 2022 

“Lord, how great is your mercy”  Psalm 119:156 

So many Christians struggle with past sins which dilutes their potential joy and peace in Christ Jesus. God’s word tells us that He will give us peace, a peace that passes human understanding. But we must walk in it. We must take hold of it and allow His peace, forgiveness and mercy to bathe us from head to toe, canceling out the past. God’s promises are stronger than our feeble feelings…if we allow them to be! 

Romans 15:13  “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

Psalm 103:12  “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

Isaiah 38:17  “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In Your [God] love you kept me  from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” 

Hebrews 9:14  “Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” 

Colossians 3:5-10  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 

Philippians 4:6-7  “Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”

John 14:27  “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” 

Colossians 3:15  “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” 

Ephesians 2:3-5  “All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” 

In a way, our walk with Christ is similar to a skydiver. Before the flight, he checks all his gear, tests the straps, chutes and helmet. As they climb to diving altitude he mentally checks one more time, confident that everything is in place and in working order. 

Standing at the door, he is given the green light—time to jump. And now the heart-pumping thrill of free fall, plummeting toward the earth knowing that when he is ready, he can pull the cord and release his chute, the life-saving device that will prevent a crushing death. 

If he does not pull the cord, all his preparations would not matter. His brand new chute would not be released to spare his life and guide him safely to the earth. He would smash into the earth. He would die. 

In this analogy, God is our ripcord in the form of his forgiveness, mercy and peace. He has done everything necessary for us to live a life of peace, joy and mercy. He sent Jesus and then He gave us His Holy Spirit. He gave us all the gear we need for a safe and wonderful dive. It’s up to us to pull the cord! 

Not Human Wisdom

Not Human Wisdom

July 23, 2022

1 Corinthians 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”   

Human wisdom is limited and finite, unable to penetrate the heart and soul or to uplift, encourage, challenge and give hope all at once. Only God in His infinite wisdom, through the Holy Spirit, can teach, encourage, forgive, and heal by divinely inspired words. As teachers and pastors rely on God’s spiritual guidance, His supernatural touch may go forth, penetrating all human hearts, planting seeds of hope and peace.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25  “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
      and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” (Isaiah 29:14)

  20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 

25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”

The most common attitude toward fundamental Christianity, by those who do not know Jesus Christ, is mocking or condescending. Just as the Bible declares, unbelievers think believers in Christ are foolish or mindless. If a pastor or well-known Christian person speaks publicly on current world issues, they must rely only on the Holy Spirit if their words are to have eternal impact; otherwise, they are wasting their time and energy. As Paul says:

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

As Christians, we have been given an amazing gift, the gift of a personal relationship with God, our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, His only Son. Not only that, but with the gift, God filled us with His Holy Spirit; a supernatural link to God Himself. Along with this incredible gift comes supernatural, spiritual understanding the world cannot discern or understand. Quite the opposite, according to this verse:

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 “That’s why only someone who has God’s Spirit can understand spiritual blessings. Anyone who doesn’t have God’s Spirit thinks these blessings are foolish. 15People who are guided by the Spirit can make all kinds of judgments, but they cannot be judged by others. 16The Scriptures ask, “Has anyone ever known the thoughts of the Lord or given him advice?” (Isaiah 40:13) But we understand what Christ is thinking.”

Human wisdom may seem brilliant to our human understanding but in comparison to God, it is primitive and limited. Human wisdom took a bite of the forbidden fruit; human wisdom passed laws in America to stifle worship of God; human wisdom established false religions that deny the one true God, and human wisdom said the earth was formed, with all its complexities, from a collision of errant planets some billions of years ago.

Isaiah 5:21 “Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight.”  

Unseen Enemies

Unseen Enemies

July 5, 2022

“Our fight is not against any physical enemy” ~Ephesians 6:12

She lied when she was called into her supervisor’s office to supposedly give supporting testimony for her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend. It worked. He was fired, losing his job and pension. 

Later, in the conference room, Carl was removing the last remnants of his personal belongings, she appeared, smiling.

“Why did you do it?”, he asked. “You exaggerated to the point of lying. You could have easily supported me, Sally.”

Tears streaked down her face as Sally spoke, “Why don’t you ask Terry. Maybe she can answer your questions. After all, you have been sleeping with her behind my back!”, she said as she pulled his ring off her finger and threw it across the room.

How could this scenario take place between two lovers, planning to get married in the near future? Why would Carl even consider bedding down with another woman? Because we are not all basically good. Just the opposite, according to the Bible:

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick—who can understand it? I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.”

Mark 7:20-23 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

We fight invisible enemies, seen only by God and it is God who is victorious in all our spiritual battles. We must arm ourselves with His armor which is also invisible to us.

According to Ephesians 6:12 “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Obviously, we are defenseless against unseen, spiritual foes without the Holy Spirit who resides within us. 

We can call out as King David did in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal Spirit within me—Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey you!”

God has given us the weapons we need, the power to defeat spiritual foes and the instruction manual (the Bible). By faith, we must apply our armor daily so we will be prepared to fight the battle in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! The enemies are unseen but we are victorious!

Ephesians 5:8-9 “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

Are You Sanctified?

Are You Sanctified? 

June 6, 2022

Let us prove our reverence for God by consecrating ourselves to Him” 2 Corinthians 7:1 

“Are you sanctified?” bellowed the animated preacher, pointing and sweeping his right hand in a grand gesture to the church. “Are you sure? Are you holy? If you have any doubts you better come down to the altar and pray your way through! God is not happy with any fence sitters tonight. He means business and you better mean business too. You got to be sanctified to make God happy and get a golden key to your heavenly mansion.”

Terrified and confused people flocked to the altar, crying and begging God for the elusive sanctification, fearing they might miss the golden key awaiting those who have achieved sanctification, as the sweat-drenched pastor walked to and fro among them, satisfied with the response to his fear-packed message. Contrary to his threats and confusing statements, God was not happy with him or his misguided sermon. Believers do not receive sanctification as a result of fear or condemnation. 

This very emotional and dramatic pastor should rather have claimed, “Your faith has made you whole and you are all sanctified (made holy) by the Holy Spirit!” 

Let’s see what God’s Word has to say about our sanctification/holiness. 

Romans 6:19  I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 

1 Corinthians I:30-31  God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord. 

1 Corinthians 1:2  To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. 

1 Corinthians 6:11  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 

1 Thessalonians 5:23  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Along with the unimaginable grace and mercy of God’s provision for our sanctification, He also expects us to do our part, to work our faith in day to day circumstances. He has already done the impossible and has assigned us the possible such as making choices and slipping on His armor. We’re at war! 

 2 Corinthians 7:1  Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. 

1 Thessalonians 4:3  It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality. 

2 Thessalonians 2:13  As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. 

Hebrews 10:10  For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. 

Romans 15:16   I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.  

Acts 26:18   I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.  

Sanctification is not something we can beg God for at a church altar. Sanctification is a gift from God as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Although a gift, God requires our involvement to make choices for purity and holiness. Even so, the Holy Spirit enables us to follow through on our Christ-like decisions. 

My Treasure

My Treasure
February 12, 2022

“You cannot serve both God and money” Matthew 6:24

His dream had come true, Paul won the $202 million state lottery. He opted for the instant pay jackpot of $142.2 million. He was set for life. He promised himself he wouldn’t be like so many other winners who blew through their millions. Wise investments for him he told all is friends. He thought of himself as pretty cagy with investments and money management. After all, how could he blow through $142 million, even after about 24% in taxes?
Bright and early Monday morning, Paul was in his company’s Human Resources office, giving his two weeks notice. “Paul, do you realize there is a 20% early withdrawal penalty on your retirement package? It’s pretty hefty on yours because of your years of employment. You can leave it alone and let it earn interest until age 65.”
“Thanks, but I won’t be needing it anyway, I just won the $202 million lottery, Jane.”
“Wow. How much is that after early withdrawal and taxes?”
“Well, I actually take $106 million home. But that’s plenty for the rest of my life. I’m not going to just throw it all away, you know. Investments for me. I’ve always been pretty good with money.”
Two weeks later, to mark his retirement and lottery winnings, Paul invited 50 of his friends to a party at the Hilton hotel. Not wanting to be cheap, he hired a band with full catering. He wanted everyone to remember him. The cost was $2,450! He was not going to be like those other losers who threw their winnings away.
After their around-the-world tour, purchase of a $4 million house, $120,000 for two new cars, $80,000 for his new pickup, $135,000 for their splendid yacht, $785,000 for that cabin in the woods they had always dreamed of, Paul and his wife settled in for the perfect life of riches that was flowing their way.
One year later, Paul and his wife were parting ways. She left with her share of the winnings and things they’d bought. Paul was depressed and lonely now in spite of his money and stuff. Five years later, after several business investment failures and a cheating accountant, Paul had $185,000 in the bank and no future earnings. He was only 52-years-old.
The Bible warns us about depending on money, thinking it will bring satisfaction and happiness. It never will because true happiness comes from the joy of knowing the Lord. Worldly happiness is very elusive in this life. Using happiness as a bench mark for contentment will bring disappointment and sometimes, depression. Paul was jubilant when he saw his winning lottery numbers. But a few short years later he was discouraged and depressed.
Matthew 6:19-34 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. 20 Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. 21 If your profits are in heaven, your heart will be there too.
22 “If your eye is pure, there will be sunshine in your soul. 23 But if your eye is clouded with evil thoughts and desires, you are in deep spiritual darkness. And oh, how deep that darkness can be!
24 “You cannot serve two masters: God and money. For you will hate one and love the other, or else the other way around.
25 “So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. 26 Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 27 Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don’t worry about theirs. 29 Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?
31-32 “So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, 33 and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.
34 “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.
Worry: Mark 4:18; Luke 10:41; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7; Proverbs 12:25

The Advocate

In the beginning, God created!

“He will give you another Advocate who will never leave you”  John 14:16 
 
The men were wrapping up their weekly Bible study, choosing last minute snacks for the trip home, putting away the fold-up chairs and shifting into another mode of Dad, husband and sports fan. In the midst of this, Norm took Al aside and said, “Do you have time for a question, Al?” 
“Of course. Let me tell John I’ll lock up.” 
Five minutes later the two men sat alone. “I am really confused about the Holy Spirit, Al. Just when I think I understand His purpose, I hear another sermon that sends me in a different direction which makes me scratch my head and wonder. I need some simple guidance to understand the Holy Spirit.” 
“Ok, let’s look at the Gospel of John and follow what Jesus said.” 
John 14:16-17 ~I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 
John 16:13 ~When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth, for he will not be presenting his own ideas, but will be passing on to you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 
Acts 1:8 ~But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection. 
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 ~Now, concerning what you wrote about the gifts from the Holy Spirit. I want you to know the truth about them, my friends. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service. The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all. The Spirit gives one person a message full of wisdom, while to another person the same Spirit gives a message full of knowledge. One and the same Spirit gives faith to one person, while to another person he gives the power to heal. The Spirit gives one person the power to work miracles; to another, the gift of speaking God’s message; and to yet another, the ability to tell the difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not. To one person he gives the ability to speak in strange tongues, and to another he gives the ability to explain what is said. But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person. 
“There it is, Norm, straightforward and clear. Jesus told his disciples that He would ask God to send an advocate, a comforter, who would never leave them. Never! And then He tells them He is the Holy Spirit who will lead them into all truth. That is part of His job, leading all followers of Christ, you and me included, into all truth. 
“He goes on to explain that the world, those who do not believe in Christ as Savior, cannot receive the Holy Spirit but you and I know Him because he lives in us! Now that is a mind-bender to think that the Holy Spirit lives in us but it’s true.” 
“When I became a Christian, I was taught to ask God for wisdom each time I opened the Bible, Norm, and I pass that advice on to you. God wants us to know Him, His Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus. I recommend that you take your Bible and read all the verses you can find about the Holy Spirit, ask God for wisdom and believe He will answer you. One day you will be teaching someone too.” 

Book of James

 James 1 

December 11, 2021

“Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2 


James 1:1-4 

“This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”; Jewish believers scattered abroad.
Greetings! 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad.”

When I was young and foolish—ok, stubborn and self-serving too, I often suffered for my choices. Typically, when caught, I cajoled and moaned, smiled or cried, and begged for mercy. Often, mercy was in short supply. But behind it all, I knew I deserved whatever punishment came my way.

  After accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, of all the differences I may have anticipated, suffering for my faith was certainly not one. Suffering for doing wrong is expected but suffering for doing right? And then considering those sufferings as light and momentary? (2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”) Can I be stretched that far? Won’t I explode? But Lord, aren’t you satisfied with my expressions of faith and times of prayer and reading your Word? 

And then I began to see that accepting trials and tribulations as an element of faith, I was simply following in the footsteps of Christ. He suffered for me and now I can imitate Him. And, oh yes, no complaining please. Count it all joy! Yes, enduring is not good enough, we must learn to count it as joy. 

By the way, He knows we will have worlds of trouble accepting suffering joyfully, that’s where His mercy and grace come into play. He loves us that much.

James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

1 Peter 1:6-7 “…though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold. . .may be proved genuine…” 

1 Peter 4:12-19 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ…”

Romans 5:3-5 “…We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 

Servant Leader

“Speak, your servant is listening” 1 Samuel 3:10

As men we grow and change, learning the traditional rules taught in our society; rules of manly behavior. We must learn to be strong. Learn to face our fears. Learn to strive for success and learn to reject signs of weakness. Those signs manifest themselves in showing our emotions, seeming weak, failing to grab hold of what is ours and wrestling it away from any other contenders. Men are supposed to be formidable foes!

But as Christian men, we must re-learn our manly roles and follow the true manly example, Jesus Christ, who broke the mold of manliness by becoming a servant-leader when He said, “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Matthew 20:26-28

Another rugged example of a man was the apostle Paul who described himself in Romans 1:1 as, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus”.

Later, in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Paul describes a situation common to all of us, he is asking God to take away a nagging problem that frustrates him greatly. God’s answer is surprising: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God’s answer and Pauls subsequent explanation are total opposites of how we all handle our problems and expect God to rescue us. Often, we secretly expect our Heavenly Father to quickly and lovingly step in and demolish our problems, dust us off and smooth out the road ahead. After all, He is the God who wants to bless us and make life easier. Or so we may think. 

The apostle Peter joins Paul in clarifying our position in Christ in 1 Peter 5:5-7: “In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve Me must follow Me, because My servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” John 12:25-26

Trusting God to guide our lives, save our souls and reserve a place with Him in eternity requires faith and obedience. It also requires that we give up our areas of strength so He can work through our weakness as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians: “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling.”  1 Corinthians 2:1-3

It is difficult for us to intentionally walk in weakness, trusting God to give the strength we need. We’ve spent many years attempting to work out whatever problems come our way. But God wants us to give that up and trust in Him because His power works best through our weakness.

Shield of Faith

“In addition to this, put on the shield of faith”  Ephesians 6:16

At first, Allen held his shield of faith high, deflecting those fiery satanic darts, extinguishing them quickly. But as time wore on, his shield seemed heavier and his focus scattered so it wasn’t held as high. A little space is all Satan needs for those darts. He is an excellent marksman.

Time passed, Allen’s attention shifted and his shield dropped lower. More darts hit their mark. Allen seemed less positive about his faith and standing in Christ. He found doubt to be a normal part of his life, replacing faith, gradually dropping his shield. Until finally, Allen didn’t bother to put on his armor at all. His shield of faith was somewhere in the closet, under a pile of doubt and insecurity.

If only I’d (done or not done) that. I should’ve seen that coming; saved more money; got rid of that credit card; been more honest with them; studied harder; finished the project on time— and so the little accusing voice (fiery darts) within our mind goes, piling on guilt and condemnation. The Bible clearly says, however, that therre is no condemnation for believers. Will I listen to the condemning voice (not God) or the uplifting, encouraging one (God)?

Romans 8:1 “So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:14-15 “ Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!”

Galatians 4:6 “And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit  of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:28, 31 “ Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us?”

John 1:12 “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

God’s rescue is eternal and very personal. He prepared the way by allowing Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God, to be crucified so we may experience forgiveness of sins and joy everlasting. Well aware of our weaknesses, He implanted His Holy Spirit in our hearts, our souls— establishing an immediate, incorruptible two-way communication system between us and Himself.

And what of your shield of faith? Is it covered with dings, dents, scrapes and black spots where those fiery darts were extinguished? Or is it shiny and dent-free, tucked away in the closet?

His Blood

“The blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin” 1 John 1:7

I had been a Christian for a short time when Victor Ernest, the pastor of my church told me the following story.

“I grew up in a spiritualist family. We believed that God was working through us and did not know it was actually the devil. We held seances in our home. One member of the family was the Medium who gave themselves to the spiritual force at each meeting. The medium, who was my sister, would slump in her chair as the spirit would talk to the people at the table. We could ask questions and the voice would answer. I was chosen to be the next medium in our family.

“Something inside me (I now know it was the Holy Spirit of God) guided me to a department store one day to buy a Bible. This was totally foreign to me but the guidance was strong. I knew nothing about bibles except I had seen very large ones on people’s coffee tables. I only had enough money to buy a small one (I thought it was just part of the bible).

“Secretly I took it home and began to read. Of course I began at the beginning, trying to understand Genesis, Leviticus, etc. I hid my Bible after each reading. One night, as I opened the bible, I was guided to read in the Book of First John and read about trying or testing the spirits: “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God.” 1 John 4:1.

“Later I read about the blood of Jesus as follows: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God…For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jersus is the Son of God.

“And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water, and by shedding His blood on the cross— not by water only, but by water and blood.” 1 John 5:1, 4-6

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I had just read or how important a part it would play in my life until a few days later at our next seance.

“Strangely enough, this seance was a question and answer time. After my sister allowed the spirit to take over and she slumped in her chair, a small megaphone raised off the table and floated in the air. It stopped at each person and we were allowed to ask a question. On this night, the megaphone allowed us to ask three questions in total.

“My first question was, Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” I had no idea I would ask this question! I did not know that the Spirit of God was directing me. The megaphone answered, “Of course my son,” and passed on.

My second question was, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior?” The megaphone answered, “Of course my son, why do you doubt?” I was stunned and confused by this time.

My third question was, “Do you believe that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins?” The megaphone fell to the table and my sister was thrown backwards out of her chair. The seance was over and I knew my life would never be the same. Somehow I knew that my spiritual experiences to this point were not of God and I wanted to find out all about God. Shortly after that meeting, I packed my clothes and left home. I was 17. 

Ephesians 1:6-8, “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”

God changed the life of Victor Ernest when He revealed Himself through the Bible and that dramatic question and answer time in his home. Victor learned about the Holy Spirit and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, which he freely shared for the remainder of his life. God brought me to hear Victor preach the truth of God’s Word. I gave my heart to Christ as a result of his preaching.