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The activities we engage in are either good or bad; there is no gray area for the followers of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, righteousness is not the polar opposite of unrighteousness (i.e., the most vile of sins); these two conditions are separated by a very thin line – a line which is easily crossed from moment to moment.

While the good and bad of many activities are obvious, most lie somewhere in between the extremes and can only be identified as good or bad based on God’s will and our faith. This leaves room for a lot of interpretation, presumption, and deception. Even the best of persons can fall into the trap of excusing their choices (and our enemies are standing by to help).

To rightly discern the right or wrong of an action, activity, or general direction in life, we are best served by submission to a guide – to walk in the Spirit. Doing so protects us from fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). This journey – walking in the Spirit and following Christ – requires an overarching relationship and an undergirding foundation. In between, we walk in the good works of our Father according to His willing and working in us to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

It will help us greatly to recognize each activity – no matter how short-lived or insignificant – as important to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are all collected for judgment; the “whatever” and “all” of “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17)” is not misplaced. Read the rest of this entry »

Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus contains some of the most incredible promises of God and declarations regarding our relationship with Him. It is filled with passages that stretch our imagination, challenge our faith, and call us to a transcendent life.

His power is toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:19).

God made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:6).

We are His workmanship (2:10).

As amazing as these claims are, they serve as mere warm-ups for what may be the most audacious promise in all of Scripture.

…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (3:19b).

Read it again; notice the absolutes:

Not partially filled!

Not some of God’s fullness!

We may be filled with ALL of the fullness of God!!

This is one of those truths, so over the top incredible, that we are tempted to move on to the next verse. In this case, that’s not bad.

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… (3:20)

God alone is able to do this incredible thing!! It is His work and intention. This brings to mind another passage (from another letter).

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Quickly (so we can get back to being filled), notice that the work of our salvation is cooperative; we work, because God is working. Furthermore, the work is a process.

So, how do we work with God to be filled with all His fullness? We find the answer – the prescription – in the process described in the preceding verses. Working backwards, our being filled with all the fullness of God is dependent on and proportional to several incremental steps. Read the rest of this entry »

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray… Matthew 6:7-9a

The denomination in which I grew up recited what we called “the Lord’s Prayer” (aka, the Model Prayer) during every church service. It was probably the first passage I memorized as a young Christian. Regrettably, it became “vain repetition”; I really didn’t think about what I was praying.

In a previous article, we proposed that the Model Prayer is something more than a prayer to recite once a week; it is a prayer of positioning. The Model Prayer is not the prayer to end all prayers, but the prayer to begin all prayers. It is through this model that we come into the Father’s presence – in humility, meekness and total dependency on Him. Without this positioning, all that we have to say are the vain repetitions of man.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9b-13

In this article, with this notion of positioning in mind, we would like to explore three foundational truths that have been lost to the modern church. All three are found in the prayer’s last acknowledgement: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. We will look at them one at a time. Read the rest of this entry »

The following is an addendum to An Enemy Lies Within, where, in the section on liberating others, we expose several ways Christians in America are being deceived by their carnal mind. Here, we address the way God views wealth and His prescription for investing it.

Warning: this will be one of the most threatening articles we have written. The reader will be tempted to dismiss it as impractical nonsense. Be encouraged: God is the wisest wealth manager and investment counselor. More importantly, He loves His children and knows what they need before they ask. Hear Him out on this; His objective is your highest return on the investment He has made in you.

As we begin, let’s first address the notion of wealth. Because we are community people – members of the Body of Christ and one another – it is important that we consider wealth relationally. Wealth is a relative consideration. Some of God’s people are wealthier than others, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. We learn in the Parable of the Talents that God entrusts more to some than to others (Matthew 25:14-30). Furthermore, Jesus instructs us that “to whom much is given, from Him much will be required (Luke 12:48)”. In His sovereign omniscience, God determines the amount of wealth each one should have.

So, who is wealthy among you? Let’s take a look at some surprising statistics. According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the average net worth of all U.S. families is $692,100. Using the calculator provided by the Global Rich List, we discover that the average American family is worth more than 98.74% of everyone else in the world. Using the more conservative median figure ($97,300) puts the average American in the top 8.31% wealthiest people in the world (i.e., wealthier than over 91%).

The statistics relative to income are even more startling. A U.S. worker making the federally mandated minimum wage ($7.25/hour) earns more salary than 92.2% of workers in the rest of the world. The statistics don’t lie: American Christians are rich.

Given these statistics, it is easy to understand why Christians should be giving more careful attention to the way we manage our wealth. Jesus put it this way: Read the rest of this entry »

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you… to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

It is within the will and power of our Father in heaven to grant that we be filled with His fullness. The wonder and mystery of this truth should not distract nor dissuade us from pursuing its fulfillment in our lives.

Both “filled” and “fullness” are absolutes. God desires to fill all of our life – every moment, thought, and activity – with all of Himself. How does that happen when we fill so much of it with something else? Can a cup be filled with water when there is dirt inside?

We Christians have turned to the world for much of our security, wellness, entertainment, and justice. We assume a certain measure of it is provided by God – that it is a part of His grace. On the other hand, we know that much of what the world offers is contrary to God’s purpose and glory.

It is easy to get confused about the things of this world and their place in God’s purposes and plans for His children. After all, the Scripture encourages us that… Read the rest of this entry »

Stories are best understood from the perspective of the author, not the reader. In fact, it is one of the reasons we read: to entertain and learn from someone else’s viewpoint. When reading a letter, we best understand what the writer is trying to communicate when we “put ourselves in their shoes”. In regards to the Bible story, most Christians believe that God is the author; it is His perspective and “shoes” we should adopt when we read and share it.

Generally speaking, most Christians struggle to understand the central purpose of God in the Church Age. Most of us think the story of the Bible is about us. This misguided thinking centers around our perspective of the next three days – what we observe and give focus to on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

Therefore, it should be helpful to consider the next three days from God’s perspective. What do those days mean to Him? What is His purpose in them? What’s in it for God?

For those of you struggling with the notion that Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are about God and His benefit, we offer the following passages. First, there is God’s word to Ezekiel regarding the new birth.

Therefore, say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.'” Ezekiel 36:22

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

“Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” Ezekiel 36:32

We learn from this prophecy of the new birth that God blesses His people for His name sake. The New Testament carries the same message, captured powerfully in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and
for Him.
Colossians 1:16
Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, how we have insulated ourselves from the lost and wandering children of God. What do our hearts feel toward those who are seeking to enter but are not able, those who do not know that striving to enter is encouraged by Christ (Luke 13:23-25)?

What should we feel toward a world filled with injustice and deception? Are we allowed to govern our thoughts and emotions – to build a protective covering from the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of others? Is that what our hard work has accomplished for us – separation, numbness, and blindness? Are we excused to desensitize ourselves?

Even a “strong house” (i.e., Matthew 7:24-25) without compassion is hollow and uninviting; and its doors are barred to anyone desperate enough to seek assistance. Are we willing to close our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds, to those people and conditions that Jesus died to redeem? Are we willing to refuse God’s heart and grace for those created in His image – even those who are His children and our brethren?

I dare say that any response constructed on an argument of condition or sufficiency is a deception of our carnal mind; responses like:

  • I do not have time.
  • I cannot help everyone.
  • My company will not allow it.
  • People do not want to hear it.

These and many more defenses are worthless in God’s kingdom, for at least three reasons:

  1. Our sufficiency is from God and He is limitless;
  2. These are responses of the head, not the heart; and,
  3. He is our King, or He is not.

The starting point of our response to the lost and wandering must begin in our heart – the desire to do His will, and receive faith from His word. If we do not allow Him to search our hearts, we are refusing His grace. If we do not lean into His will – working out our own salvation with fear and trembling – we risk becoming branches that bear no fruit.

To wake up rested at 3:30am is a grace of God and an offering of time. To roll over for more sleep is a refusal of His grace. To subsequently change the alarm for even more time is a consequence of that refusal (i.e., my carnal mind now in control). The fact that I am more tired with two additional hours of sleep is the proof of my foolishness. I refused and missed the grace of God for sleep I did not need.

This is a wake-up call. Let us receive the grace God offers. Let Him search; let Him speak. Let Him continue to save us, putting off every sin and weight which so easily ensnares us, and running with endurance the race that is set before us.

May this encouragement, to whom God intends, haunt our souls unto surrender, for His will and doing.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

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