Thursday, August 31, 2006

Let Wisdom Be Your Coach

My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
  Nor detest His corrections;
For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
  Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
(Proverbs 3:11-12)
Proverbs 3 describes the many benefits of having and walking in wisdom: length of days full of life and peace (v. 2); favor and esteem with God and man (v. 4); clear direction and guidance (v. 6); health and strength (v. 8); barns heaped with plenty and vats overflowing with new wine (v. 10).

Now in verses 11 and 12, we come to another benefit of wisdom, one that might not seem very pleasant, but can be very instrumental in bringing forth the other benefits: correction and reproof.

It is nice to have cheerleaders, people who will encourage you on and tell you how well we are doing. But what you really need is a coach, to break you out of foolish and unproductive thinking, bring correction to unproductive — even destructive — actions, and shape you into a winner in every area of life. A coach will point out when you are doing something incorrectly, and rebuke you when you are wrong — and the process may cause you pain. It is not because he doesn’t like you, but because he wants to see you succeed.

Wisdom is a coach.

Now, the Lord is the giver of all true wisdom, so do not despise His chastening, or as some have put it, the “School of the Lord.” Some people think that the chastening of the Lord is sickness, affliction, or any adverse thing that comes your way. Certainly God can teach you even in the midst of those things, but they do not come from Him. His way is correction, discipline, instruction. That is what the Hebrew word for “chastening,” musar, means. Here is how the Bible in Basic English puts it:
My son, do not make your heart hard against the Lord's teaching; do not be made angry by his training. For to those who are dear to him the Lord says sharp words, and makes the son in whom he has delight undergo pain.
There may be sharp words of rebuke or reproof, but it is for teaching and training, not to punish or penalize you, but to prepare you to walk in the fullness of blessing. For the Lord is not some disinterested deity, He is a loving Father who wants to see His children step into their inheritance in Him.

David understood this very well. He said, “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it” (Psalm 141:5). Rebuke from a righteous man is an anointing. It is wisdom that leads to blessing. How much more will a rebuke from the Righteous Lord set you free and propel you into your destiny.

Meditate also on these proverbs:
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. (Proverbs 9:8)

A wise son heeds his fathers instruction [musar], but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1)

Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. (Proverbs 27:5)
A wise man will welcome the correction and instruction of rebuke, for it will make him wiser still, leading him to greatness. He recognizes it as an act of love out in the open. But a fool will scoff and turn away.

If you want to know wisdom and experience its benefits, do not be afraid of the Lord’s corrections. They do not arise from hate but from love. It is because He loves you as His child and wants to see you step into the greatness He has purposed for you. Let His wisdom be your coach.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Drawing on Your Relationship with God

Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.
Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
(Psalm 86:1-5)
David, the psalm writer, calls on the Lord. He has a number of requests. Or rather, he makes his one request in a number of ways: Hear me. Preserve my life. Save Your servant. Be merciful to me. Give me joy. Later on in this psalm, he makes additional requests: Give Your strength to Your servant (v. 16). Show me a sign for good (v. 17).

David is not ordering God about. He is drawing on his relationship with God; pulling on the covenant promises God has made. For he and God are friends. In the middle of the psalm (the heart of a psalm is usually located at or near the midpoint), David speaks of His commitment to God: “Teach me Your ways, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your name” (v. 11). David is all about God.

God has made a commitment to be there for David, so David calls on the Lord. Notice the basis of his appeals:

“Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me; for I am poor and needy.” God has committed Himself to supply David’s need. Remember the 23rd Psalm, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” To want means to be in lack or need.

“Preserve my life, for I am holy.” To be holy means to be set apart for God’s own purpose, and David has been obedient to that purpose. He has been a friend to God and God has been a friend to him.

“You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You.” David is not looking anywhere else for his refuge. He does not put his confidence in anyone else, only in God. And faith pleases God. “For those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

“Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I cry to You all day long.” David has stationed himself before the Lord, and he is not moving from that position of faith. He fully expects the mercy and favor of the Lord to show up on his behalf.

“Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” David holds nothing back, but is completely devoted to God. He has emptied out his cup so that it might overflow with God, for in the presence of the LORD is fullness of joy.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you are in covenant relationship with God. He has committed Himself to show you His mercy and favor, and help you in every way. Boldly go to Him as your friend. Give yourself completely to Him and let Him fill your cup to overflowing with His abundance.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Children Look at Love

A friend emailed this to me and I couldn’t resist posting it:
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.” (Rebecca, age 8)

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” (Billy, age 4)

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” (Karl, age 5)

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” (Chrissy, age 6)

“Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.” (Terri , age 4)

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” (Danny, age 7)

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” (Emily, age 8)

“Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” (Bobby, age 7)

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.” (Nikka, age 6)

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.” (Noelle, age 7)

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” (Tommy, age 6)

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.” (Cindy, age 8)

“My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.” (Clare, age 6)

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” (Elaine, age 5)

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.” (Chris, age 7)

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” (Mary Ann, age 4)

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” (Lauren, age 4)

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” (Karen, age 7)

“You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” (Jessica, age 8)

Source unknown
My favorite? “Your name is safe in their mouth.”

O Lord, I know that You love me, and that my name is safe in Your mouth. I love You, too, Lord, and Your name is safe in mine.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Partaking of the Divine Nature

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
We were created to share in the divine nature, the nature of God. Adam was created in the image of God and received the breath of life from God’s own lips. Though he fell through disobedience, and disconnected from the divine nature, the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore and reconcile us to the Father. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been given a new birth — born from above by the Spirit of God. We have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are of the body of Christ and have the mighty resurrection power of God at work in us:
What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which he worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:19-21)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
We are partakers of the divine nature. One who partakes is one who takes part. The Greek word is koinonia. It refers to partnership, participation, fellowship, commonality. See how it is used in the following passage:

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [koinonia] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion [koinonia] of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers [koinonia] of the altar? (1 Corinthians 10:16-18)

Communion refers to the Table of the Lord — the bread and the cup, the body and the blood. It is the sign of our participation in the body of Christ, our common union with the Lord Jesus. We are identified with Him; He is identified with us. We are part of Him; He is part of us, even as the bread and wine which we consume becomes a part of us.

This is what the sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed toward. By eating of the sacrifices, there was an identification made between the sacrifice and the one who ate of it. The sacrifice represented them, and indeed became a part of those who ate. Paul said they were “partakers of the altar” (this was, of course, a figure of speech where “altar” actually speaks of that which was sacrificed).

What does it mean to be a partaker of the divine nature? The Greek word for “divine” is theois, and means to be god-like. “Nature” speaks of what we are in essence. To partake of the divine nature means to be god-like in essence. Though some Christians may be scandalized by it today, the early church caught the meaning of this and spoke of it as theosis, "becoming a god." Athanasius of Alexandria, a fourth century Greek Father of the Church, said this: “The Word became flesh, in order that we might become acceptable to Divinity. He was incarnate in order to deify us. He became man in order that we might become gods—participants of the Divine nature.” Far from being scandalized by this, the Church embraced this as part of orthodox Christian faith.

How do we participate in the divine nature? First, we need to understand that there are some aspects of the divine nature in which we could never share. For example, God is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere present. These are attributes which are in incommunicable. We are incapable of experiencing them. They belong to God alone. But there are other attributes of God in which we may share with Him. In 2 Peter 1:3, Peter tells us that “[God’s] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” That which He gives to us by His divine power is itself divine in nature.

What are these gifts of His divine power? Peter lists some of them in 2 Peter 1:5-7: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. The apostle Paul has a similar list which he names as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These are gifts of God, fruits of the Spirit, attributes of the divine nature of which we have been made partakers.

In Christ, God has made us partakers of the divine nature. Learn how to walk in the gifts given by His divine power, and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). When you understand who you are in Christ, and who He is in you, the world will change.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Unlimited Power at Work in You

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
The Greek word for “exceedingly abundantly” is a compound word, and very emphatic. It speaks of that which goes beyond all bounds and is unlimited. God’s ability to work on our behalf is not limited by what we are to able ask or imagine. For it is not according to those things, but according to the power that is at work in us, that God is able to do miraculous things that exceed our wildest expectations.

What is this great power that is at work in us? It is the same power Paul talked about in Ephesians 1:
The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:19-21)
It is the power of the Holy Spirit, who is the earnest (down payment) or our inheritance in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:13-14). There is no limit to what He is able to do in us, for us or through us, for this is the same Holy Spirit of power who anointed Jesus, so that He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38).

God is a therefore able to do completely above and beyond all that we are able to ask or imagine. But this is an ever-increasing concept. For once God has done something beyond what we are able to ask or imagine, we are then able to ask and imagine it—and God is able to above and beyond that as well. In other word, our ability to ask and imagine enlarges as we understand His ways, His will and His abilities more and more.

The power of God at work in you is unlimited. Don’t be afraid to ask and let your imagination explore the heart of God and what He wants to do in your life and in your world. Let Him enlarge your vision and your expectation. Then watch Him bust through all boundaries and limitations.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Place Near the Altars of God

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young —
Even Your altars, O LORD of Hosts.
(Psalm 84:3)
Even the smallest and most helpless of creatures has access to the refuge of the Lord, to experience the closeness of His presence. The nest speaks of a place of nurturing the next generation. For “children are a heritage of the Lord,” and ”the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

Children are an inheritance we receive from the Lord, but they are also the inheritance we leave behind in this world. And God has prepared a place for us to nurture this inheritance — the altars of His house.

The altar is the place of commitment and sacrifice. It is where the offering is poured out and abandoned to God. It is the place where things are made right with God.

Jesus is the sacrifice given on our behalf to make us right with God. His blood was poured out on the altar of the cross. Everything we need has now been provided for us in Him. Even the most helpless may come and find complete help in Him. It is in this place where we may nurture the inheritance of God in our children and leave a legacy that changes the world.

God has a place for you close to Him, a place prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ, a place where you may nurture your children and pass on a wonderful spiritual inheritance to the next generation.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Taking the Offensive

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
We are in a spiritual warfare. It is not enough for us to take a passive stance in our helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth and the hob-nailed boots of the gospel of peace on our feet. These are defensive devices. But we must also get active with the offensive weapons of warfare. We must take up the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) and pray with all kinds of prayer and supplication in the Spirit (that is, Spirit-led prayer).

The outcome of this thing is already determined in our favor. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37). But that is no reason to go passive. Rather, it is all the more reason to get active and aggressive, and press the battle. The assurance of victory does not do away with having to get out on the field and put it over on the enemy.

Ready yourself for battle. Put on your armor and take up your arms, the weapons God has given you to enforce the victory of Jesus Christ on the evil one and all his works. Exercise the authority of God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit lead you into all kinds of prayer. The battle belongs to the Lord, so pursue it in full confidence.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Better Way to Live

We know that the law is spiritual, but I a carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do no understand, for what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. But the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
We no longer have to stay in the tragedy of Romans 7. Romans 8 shows us the way out. Romans 7 was our old address; Romans 8 is the new dwelling place we have in Jesus Christ.
  • Where there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (v. 1)
  • Where we can walk according to the Spirit instead of according to the flesh. (v. 1)
  • Where we are free from the law of sin and death, to walk in the law of the Spirit of life. (v. 2)
  • Where the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us, because of the Lord Jesus Christ. (vv. 3-4)
  • Where we can set our minds on the things of the Spirit (v 5)
  • Where we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in us--if we His, then He does; but if we do not belong to Him, then He doesn't. (v. 9)
  • Where the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, giving life to our mortal bodies. (v. 11)
  • Where by the Spirit we can put to death the deeds of the body (v. 13)
  • Where we can be led by the Spirit of God (v. 14)
  • Where we have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out "Abba, Father." And we never have to go back to the spirit of bondage again to fear. (vv. 15-16)
  • Where we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. (v. 17)
  • Where the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God, and will be delivered from bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty we have as the children of God. (vv. 19-22)
  • Where we have the firstfruits of the Spirit (v. 23)
  • Where the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and pulls together with us, making intercession for us with groans that cannot be uttered, and according to the will of God. (v. 26-27)
  • Where all these things work together for the good of all who love God and are called together according to His purpose. (v. 28)
  • Where we are being conformed to the image of the Son of God, justified in Him, and glorified in Him. (vv. 29-30)
  • Where God is for us, so nothing can stand against us (v. 31)
  • Where God, who did no spare His own Son, now also freely gives us all things (v. 32)
  • Where no charge can stand against us because it is God who justifies us (v. 33)
  • Where Christ has died for us, is risen for us, and is even at the right hand of God making intercession for us. (v. 34)
  • Where nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (vv. 35-36)
  • Where we are more than conquerors through the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us. (v. 37)
  • Where neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (vv. 38-39)
Sadly, many people still remain in the frustration of Roman's 7. Paul, who wrote this letter, was there Himself. But he did not resign himself to stay there. He discovered there was something much better. What a bummer it would be if his letter had ended with chapter 7. However, where the last verse of chapter 7 hints at the answer, chapter 8 unpacks it for us — and it is overflowing with joy and glory. But it takes faith to make that transition from chapter 7 to chapter 8.

Romans 7 is about the law of performance — which turns out to be a law of sin and death for us. It is about me, what I do and what I don't do. It breeds a works-based, religious spirit. But Romans 8 brings us to a completely different place. It is about what God has done, and is doing, in us, though the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 7 — no way to live. Romans 8 — much better!

Monday, August 14, 2006

How to Ignite Your Faith

First, understand that faith does not come from you. True, biblical faith comes from God. It is not a matter of will power; it is not positive thinking; it is not something you work up. It is a gift from God.

Second, faith is not like a fog that rolls in, and which can just as easily roll out again. It comes in a particular way. The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Greek word for “word” here is rhema, and refers to the acutely articulated word. It is not just a word that enters your ear; it is a word that enters your heart. It happens as an act of revelation by the Holy Spirit, for He is the One who knows the all the ways and thoughts of God. When you receive the Word of God into your heart, and you begin to understand the ways and thoughts of God, faith comes.

Third, it is not enough to have faith; you must also put it to use. Many Christians have faith, but they don‘t know how to activate it and press it into service. Jesus described faith as being like a seed. Hold a seed in your hand, and it will not germinate; you must sow it in order to activate it.

Fourth, you sow this seed by what you say. Jesus said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). He taught this principle to His disciples on more than one occasion:
Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:22-23)
“Have faith in God.” Literally, the Greek text has “have faith of God.” The faith that we are to have in God is the faith that first comes to us from God. He initiates, we respond.

Now, notice that faith is a matter of the heart, not of the mind. It is not something that comes by your ability to reason. But it is also not something that comes by emotion. When the Bible refers to the heart, it is talking about the core of one’s being. In fact, your emotions, as well as your thoughts, can get in the way of your faith and keep you from getting results.

Doubt is being divided in heart. It is when part of you believes and part of you does not. James says,
Ask in faith, with not doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-7)
A divided heart is unstable and cannot bring forth the results of godly faith. Unbelief is a lack of faith, so if you are “running on empty,” let the Word of God fill you up to overflowing with faith.

Next, notice that your mouth also has a role. You do not move the mountain by thinking about it. Nor do you will the mountain to move. Jesus teaches us to speak to the mountain. In fact, though He uses the word “believe” only one time in this verse, He uses the word “say” three times: “Whoever says to this mountain … believes those things he says … he will have whatever he says.”

The apostle Paul shows us this same principle, but in a different way:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:8-10)
With the heart we believe; with the mouth we confess. To confess means to say the same thing, to articulate agreement. What are we to agree with and articulate? The Word of God. All creation will respond to the Word of God, for all creation was created by the Word of God. “By faith we understand the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:6).

The faith that is in your heart is ignited by the words that come out of your mouth. But they must be words that are in agreement with the Word of God. That is why it is important to let the Word fill your heart, for Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

If you want to know what is in a person’s heart in abundance, just listen to what comes out of his mouth, especially in pressure situations. If the Word of God is in your heart in abundance, then the words that overflow from your mouth will be in agreement with it.

Faith is the fuel God designed to fill up the tank of your heart. What you say is the spark that ignites it. If your tank is not yet full of faith, get into the Word of God and let it fill you up. Then open up your mouth and speak the Word concerning everything in your world that needs to be changed, and they will begin to line up with the heart of God.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Kite-Boarding in the Spirit

Suzanne and I are on vacation at the beach this week. Enjoying the surf. Bobbling in the ocean. Late in the afternoons, we see the kite-boarders heading up the shoreline. We never saw it before, but it looks like loads of fun. It is a large sort of kite tethered to a board rider (the board is, we expect, strapped to his feet). The kite catches the wind and pulls the board rider along the surf. It takes a bit of skill, we understand, but the boarders glide along the water, skip across the waves and somersault almost at will. They are propelled at the pleasure of the wind.

What a wonderful thought that is, especially when we consider that both the Hebrew and Greeks words usually translated as “spirit” can also be translated as “wind.”

The Bible talks about being filled with the Spirit — that is, the Holy Spirit — and how that brings forth manifestations of the presence and power of God in our lives.

Though He is fully divine, the Lord Jesus Christ did the things He did because He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. That is because He is also fully human, and He operated on earth as a man fully obedient to the will of God and anointed by the Spirit.
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD .
(Luke 4:18-19)

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)
Everything Jesus did, He did in the Spirit. Even when He walked on water, He did it in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Even Peter, for that brief moment that he walked on the water, did it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Think of it as kite-boarding in the Spirit.

Can you imagine Jesus yelling “Whooo-eee!” as He skipped along the waves, carried along by the wind of the Holy Spirit?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Reward of Waiting Diligently

I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And hear my cry.
(Psalm 40:1)

Young‘s Literal Translation has, “I have diligently expected Jehovah, And He inclineth to me, and heareth my cry.”

The Hebrew for “waited patiently” is the word for ”wait,” qavah, used twice. This double use is a common Hebrew idiom used for emphasis. We might say it like this: “I waited with waiting.” The psalm writer was intent upon waiting for the LORD.

Now, the word for “wait,” qavah, does not speak of idleness or laziness. Nor is it about waiting in speculation, to see whether or not a particular thing will happen. Rather, it is about expectation. The psalm writer waits with great intent, fully expecting that the Lord is going to come through with the answer he needs.

In other words, it is all about faith. As the author of Hebrews said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). This hope is not the “maybe so, maybe not” variety. It is positive expectation, even joyful expectation. Faith is what gives substance — the underlying reality — to such expectation.

Faith involves patience. That is the point the author of Hebrews makes, both before and after chapter 11. Many Christians want faith to immediately manifest its fruit, but very often, there is a waiting period. That is because faith is like a seed. It takes a little time for the seed to germinate, to put out its roots, to bring forth the stalk and the ripening fruit. Sometimes it happens very quickly, but often it takes time. That is why patience is so important.

So the psalm writer says, “I waited patiently for the LORD.”

If we continue in patient faith, it will always brings its reward. As the Word of God promises:

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31)
The psalm writer waited diligently for the Lord, and look what happened: “And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.” The Lord heard and answered.

Just as the waiting was not in idleness, but in faith and expectation, so too, God was not idly observing, but focusing His attention with great intent. Faith in God’s promises always pleases Him, and when we turn to Him, He will never turn us away, but will show us His great love and mercy. When we are in trouble, as the psalm writer here was, He will deliver us.

Many Christians call on the Lord in time of trouble or distress, but they often do not know how to wait in expectation, so they give up when the answer does not quickly appear. Jesus promised, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). But the Greek tense of the verbs “ask,” “seek,” and “knock,” depict a continuing action. That is, it involves patience, a faith that hangs in there? How long are we to ask, seek and knock? Until we receive what we are asking, find what we are seeking, and have the door we are knocking upon opened up to us. In other words, we are to wait with diligent faith and patient expectation.

Waiting on the Lord is not an act of idleness, but an exercise of faith and expectation. Ask, seek, knock. Then diligently watch for the Lord to answer, and you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Stand on the Promises

Someone asked why there are so many atrocities in the world. Are they the will of God, something He desires to happen, or is there some other reason?

The reason we are in this mess in the first place is because Adam and Eve disconnect from God, the source of all blessing, way back there in the Garden of Eden. We were created to walk in the glory of God, but as the apostle Paul said, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus took our wages upon Himself and so that all who receive Him would have eternal life.

Not only that, but God has given all those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ the means to deal with sin and its results in the world. We have the authority of the blood of Jesus and the name of Jesus. We have the authority of prayer (especially the Lord’s Prayer), the authority of faith, the power of the Holy Spirit and the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). The problem, however, is that a lot of God's people are just sitting on the premises instead of standing on the promises.

At one point in his ministry, the apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, which he called a “messenger of satan.” Three times he asked God, “Lord, get this thing off me.” And the Lord answered him, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). But that did not mean, “Paul, just suck it up and learn to live with it.” It meant that God had already given Paul everything he needed to deal with that thing and overcome it. The problem was simply that Paul had been looking to God to do for him what God had already equipped him to do.

If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been given the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of Jesus’ name. You have been given the authority of prayer and the Word of God to wield as a sword to come against the enemy of rightness (righteousness). Now it is time to learn how to walk in that power and authority and stand on the promises of God.