A Call to Prayer

The subject of prayer is one that has been widely explored in Christian circles, yet no one could ever say too much on the subject.  Prayer is how we speak to the Lord.  There are varying types of prayers such as prayers of praise, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession.  It can be the highlight of our day, or, sadly, it can become a mundane, repetitious act that we perform out of obligation.  It is sad to say that, with many people, it often becomes the latter rather than the former.

The Purpose of Prayer

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Certainly, no one could say specifically why God has ordained prayer in the manner that He has.  Yes, He wants a relationship with us, and, of course, prayer draws us closer to Him through Jesus Christ.  However, there is a mystery to prayer.  In Daniel 10:12, we are told that Daniel’s prayer was heard the first time he made his petition, but some type of war in the heavenly places delayed his answer.

In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah desperately desired children.  She poured out her heart to God, and her request was granted.  It would also be interesting to note that the priest thought she was drunk.

In the New Testament, Jesus had some things to say on the subject.  He gave His disciples instruction as to prayer.  A pattern was given, yet, He warned them to avoid vain repetition.  Jesus was not saying we could not repeat prayer requests because He told the parable of the unjust judge and the widow.  The widow persisted in her request for the judge to relieve her of her adversary.  The judge finally granted her request because of her persistence.

Prayer Is Spiritual Warfare

Persistent and strategic prayers are a part of our spiritual warfare.  After Paul explained each part of the armor of God, he concluded his discourse by making a reference to prayer.  Although we do not totally understand it, prayer moves the heart of God.  Prayer changes circumstances.  Prayer makes the impossible possible.

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Of course, we can not take any credit.  The glory belongs to the Lord.  He established this way of communication for which I am completely thankful.  Although God is sovereign, He gives us choice.  We must choose to participate in our relationship with Him.

Back to Prayer

When God’s people pray, mountains are moved.  Nations are spared of judgment.  People are saved, delivered, and healed.  There was a time when people prayed for long periods of time, not caring who heard them.  While I am not saying that you have to pray for a certain amount of time, I do believe we need to sacrifice time to pray for our nation, our world, our leaders, and each other.  Sometimes, it means spending less time on another activity.  Whatever the cost, we must be willing to spend time in prayer.  Jesus did, and He is our example.

 

If you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you can have it today.  Romans 10:9-10 (MEV) states the following:  “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord 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 is made unto salvation.”

What Heresy Is and Is Not

While it is true that heretical teachings are rampant in this day and time, far too often, Christians are quick to use the “heresy” label on anything with which they disagree.  The Bible is clear that we are not to tolerate false doctrine; however, we are also admonished not to label people heretics concerning certain matters.

The Definition of Heresy

christ like pixabay (2nd pic)Heresy is defined as a belief that is contrary to religious doctrine, more specifically, orthodox religious doctrine.  1 John 4 also defines what is false.  When you look at the scriptures in 1 John in context with Romans 14, you will find that a doctrine can only be declared Biblically heretical when it attacks the deity of Jesus Christ; suggests that salvation can be obtained by any other way than the Way, Jesus Christ (John 14: 6), or twists specific scriptures in the Bible to justify an act that is clearly a sin.  Examples of this would be abortion, changing the Biblical definition of marriage, or stating that sexual sin is now acceptable to God.

Now that the definition of heresy is clear.  We should be careful whom we label a heretic, or apostate.  Many of God’s people are quick to state that certain people are false teachers simply because of a disagreement about doctrine that does not pertain to salvation.  You might be wishing I would give some specific examples.  Wish granted!  I am getting ready to do just that.

Heresy:  What It Is and What It Is Not

Although I support ministers who are women, I have no right to label as heretics those who disagree with me.  There are many Christians who do not believe women should preach or teach in the church.  I disagree, but that does not make those with whom I disagree unsaved.  Why?  There is no denying the deity of Christ nor claiming another way of salvation in this belief, so, we can agree to disagree.

Another example of what is not heresy is the following:  I believe that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4) are for today.  I have been blessed to see these gifts at work, and working in order, in the body of Christ.  However, those who believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the Apostles are still my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Why?  Refer to the previous paragraph.

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The following is an example of heresy:  If a minister preaches another way to heaven, or another means to obtain salvation other than Jesus Christ, I can declare that preaching or teaching to be heretical because it goes completely against the Word of God and the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Another example of heresy would be for someone to teach that Jesus Christ is not God.  The Bible plainly declares His deity in John 1 and Colossians 2:9.  The deity of Jesus, aka The Word in Flesh, is also declared throughout the Old Testament.  It is fair and right to declare attacks on the deity of Jesus Christ heresy.

Agree to Disagree

On issues such as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, women ministers, the doctrine of Oneness, etc., we can agree that we disagree yet continue to love each other.  Why?  Jesus clearly stated in John 13:35 that our love for each other would be how the world would know we belong to Him.  Love is the answer for what divides the body of Christ.  Love is what points people to the way of salvation–not squabbling over doctrine.

UnityWe are living in what I believe is the season of Christ’s return.  People are hurting and searching for something that is real and lasting.  All that will fulfill people’s longings is Jesus Christ.  Point people to Him.  The rest can be sorted out later.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can know Him right now.  Romans 10:9-10 states the following:  “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.”

 

Contending for the Faith

Jude 3 contains a well-known phrase that many ministers use for sermon titles.  This one-chapter book of the Bible exhorts us to contend for the faith.  Next, the brief epistle reminded its readers that many false teachings were spreading to a dangerous level during the time period in which the book of Jude was written.  False teachings and apostate doctrines are alive and well today.  Some of the most dangerous of those are prevalent in the western portion of the world, especially in the United States.

What does it mean to contend?

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The Greek word that is used for contend is epagonizomai meaning to struggle for, to combat.  The word is a verb indicating an action that is to be taken.  In other words, we are to be willing to fight for our faith.

When looking throughout the Bible concerning spiritual warfare, it is imperative to note that our struggle is not against people.  Unfortunately, people are involved when we have to stand boldly for the faith in loving disagreement.  Often, people take our disagreement with them to mean we lack love.  Although there are cases in which that may be true, a genuine child of God, learns to disagree yet still love the people involved.

Contending in Deed more than Word

Although standing boldly for the Word of the Lord often requires us to speak boldly, our actions should speak louder than our words.  If we say we believe in a certain principle, we should stand by it.  Saying one thing and doing another is one sure way to make faith-contending less effective.

When we have to speak against the actions of a person, or a group of people, it is important to do so in love.  In Ephesians 4, Paul admonishes his readers to speak the truth in love.  Speaking the truth without love often does more harm than good.  Truth coupled with love brings change.  However, it is important to note that if you have spoken the truth in love, and people are still offended, you have done no wrong.

Beware of a False Gospel

What I am about to write is without malice because I love my country.  I am thankful to live in the United States of America.  With that being said, it is vital that I make it clear that we in the western portion of the world often are used to being comfortable.  Confrontation and boldly proclaiming the gospel demand that we come out of the comfort zone.  The disease of political correctness is plaguing the Christian church in America.  Pastors and teachers will not speak out about controversial issues such as abortion, questioning one’s gender, and so on.

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By remaining silent, we are allowing the gospel of comfort to spread rather than the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  The true gospel saves sinners and sanctifies them.  The agape love of God loves the sinner, but when the sinner comes for salvation, He loves the individual too much to leave him in his sin.  I do not believe we have to beat people down, but I do believe we have to let them know that God has a much better way.

The book of Jude closes on a positive note.  Verse 24 reminds us that Jesus Christ is able to keep us from falling.  Our boldness and ability to contend for the faith comes from Him and not ourselves.  When I am reminded of that, it brings comfort because I am not able to stand boldly without Him.  Neither are you, but the good news is that you don’t have to stand alone.

For a more in-depth study on the book of Jude, check out the study guide I have on Amazon.

Rise and Shine

When I wake my children up in the mornings, I have been known to say, “Rise and shine.”  Of course, the phrase is nothing new.  For years, it has been used to get people out of the bed.

There is another wake-up call going out to the church in America.  When I reference the church, I am not talking about a building.  I am referring to people in America who have accepted Jesus as Savior.  The wake-up call that is going out is from the Holy Spirit warning the American church, and I will extend this as far the church in the Western part of the world, to get up and be at the ready.

The Night is Far Spent

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Romans 3:12-14 echo and confirm the call that the Holy Spirit is sending out to God’s people.  The first portion of verse 12 states that the night is far spent, meaning the time for sleeping is over.  The church, as a whole, has been asleep spiritually for quite some time.  While morals are rapidly decaying and America is sinking like the Titanic, God’s people are trying to find a way to blend in with the culture because they do not want to stand out.  This is a mistake.

There is not one scripture in the Bible in which we are commanded to blend in.  I am not suggesting that we make ourselves completely conspicuous by screaming at people with which we disagree, but I am declaring that God’s people need to lose the politically correct mentally, especially when that mentality is not biblically correct.

If you take issue with my words, then it is time for you to go to the Lord and ask Him to renew you.  Ask Him to light a fire in you that will make you bold as He wants you to be.  Boldness and love can go hand in hand.  You can disagree with wrong doing and remain in love.  1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.  In other words, love speaks out when someone needs help.  Our nation needs help!  We are divided over politics as immorality becomes more brazen.

The Day Is at Hand

After stating that the night is far spent, the passage goes on to say that the day is at hand.  The word “day” can have several meanings depending upon the context.  In the Bible, when the words “the day” is used, it is commonly referring to the coming of Christ or judgment.  Although no one knows the exact timing of the Lord’s return, there are signs we can look for.  The decaying morals of our culture is one of those signs.  There are many others, but I do not have time to go into those right now.

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What I find interesting is that “the day” refers to judgment in some cases.  There is a final judgment after the return of Christ, but often there are judgments that people and nations reap on the basis of what they have sown.  The day is at hand means that you and I no longer have time to fuss and argue over petty issues.  We need to spend that time in prayer and fasting for our nation and for the church in America.  We need revival.  We need to demonstrate the love of God.  People need to know that they have hope, and Jesus Christ alone is that hope. They will not know there is hope if you and I are too busy trying to blend in.  We have to stand out.  We need to rise and shine, taking our place in the body of Christ.

Wake up, people of God!  Wake up, church!  It is time to rise and shine.  It is time to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Finally, let that light shine.

What Does It Mean to be Christ-like?

The word Christian means being Christ-like.  Most people have head knowledge of this fact, but I wonder if  what many of us have is simply head knowledge or heart knowledge of the true meaning of being or becoming Christ-like.  Knowing and doing are not always the same.  The scripture states in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creature.  The old is passed away, and the new has come.

What is the new?  Newness in this context is a new nature.  Romans 6 clearly explains that the flesh and the spirit are at war against one another, and Paul further teaches what must be done to allow the spirit to be victorious.  While this is true, and this is what I teach, there is a little more practicality that I would like to bring into this subject.

Observe the Actions of Christ in Scriptures

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Of course, the flesh has to be crucified for Christ to live through us, and this is a process.  As with any process, there will be times of victory and times of failure.  (Please note that I am not saying that is fine to be comfortable in sin.) The scriptures teach us what we must do when we have sinned and how to overcome that sin, but something that we often fail to do is to observe the true actions of Christ during His life on Earth.

Certainly, we will not be exactly like Him until we are in the eternal state, but we must strive to be as much like Him as possible while on this planet.  When you read the gospels, there were several aspects of His life, ministry, and personality, yet, all of these aspects were perfectly balanced.

Christ went about doing good.  He rebuked sin, but He loved the sinner.  He associated with those that many deemed unworthy, yet He loved and visited the homes of certain Pharisees as well.  He kept Jewish traditions contrary to many false teachings.  He taught people to lay aside legalism, but He did not teach a free-for-all-anything-goes-gospel.  He turned tables in the temple out of righteous indignation, yet, He loved those who were guilty of the abuses that took place in the temple.  He was the perfect epitome of social justice.  He treated people with love, rebuked people when necessary, and did not compromise the commands of His Father in the process.

Is it possible to be like Christ?

While I certainly do not believe we will be completely perfect in this life, we can live as Christ much more than what we do.  Philippians 4:13 clearly states that you and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  He came to live, die, and live again to give us what we need to be like Him.  When you look at the context of Philippians 4:13, Paul was clear that Christ could and would strengthen us for both wonderful and horrible times as well as what lies in between.

To say that Christ excused sin is a lie.  To say that Christ was ready to pound everyone on the head who was not doing everything perfectly is a lie as well.  He came to seek and save those who were lost.  There were times when He had to speak frankly and boldly.  At other times, He spoke in kindness and gentleness.

Finding the Balance

How did Jesus balance these two polar opposite extremes?  The answer is quite simple.  He spent time with the Father.  When reading the gospels, you will notice that He spent time with people, but He also spent time alone with the Father.  He and the Father were and are one.  He obeyed the voice of the Father.

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Jesus gave us the capability to do the same when He sent the Holy Spirit.  We can listen to the Father.  We can obey Him.  He will teach us through the Holy Spirit and His word how to walk in balance and avoid pendulum swings that range from abusing grace to rigid legalism.

We can live as Christ lived, but we will not live this way by accident.  It will take surrender–total surrender to the Father.  It will take time in prayer and  the Word of God. It will take resolve. You can live as He did because He lives in you if you belong to Him, and He gave you just what you need to accomplish the Father’s will.

Why I Need Jesus

Everyone needs Jesus.  It does not matter if you are a good person with impeccable morals.  Why do you need Him if you are good?  Even at your best, you are not perfect.  Neither am I.  There is no way that we could live by every word in the Word without Jesus.

The Way, The Truth, The Life

No Confidence in the Flesh 2Although it is politically incorrect to say so, Jesus is the only way to God the Father.  There is no other way.  Of course, there will be people who say you can get to God and heaven by your own merit, or, by finding another way.  The fact is, the Bible says something different.

John 14:6 declares Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to God except through Him.  In John 10:1, Jesus said the following:  “Amen, amen I tell you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber (TLV).”  Jesus is the door, so to speak, and you can only enter by Him.  If you attempt to go another way, you will not make it in.

There is no desire for me to sound self righteous or facetious, but I have to tell the truth.  As for me, I would go no other way.  Jesus has been everything I have ever needed.  He saved me.  He has healed me physically and emotionally.  He has delivered me from dangerous habits.  He has set me free from myself (at times, I can be my own worst enemy).

I Need Him

I need Jesus because I have a tendency to wander off in dangerous directions when I go on my own.  When I attempt to live without Jesus, I am mean, hateful, and cruel.  My life falls apart when I attempt to put anything before Him.

As a wife, mother, daughter, church leader, teacher, family member, and friend, I need Jesus to make those relationships work.  In Christ, I can do all things. Without Him, I can do nothing.  That is why I need Him.belief featured image

After the birth of my youngest child, I nearly suffered a nervous breakdown.  Not only was my body in limbo, but my heart and mind were too.  My sister and only sibling had passed away unexpectedly about three weeks before my daughter was born.  The reality of the loss began to hit shortly after my daughter’s birth.  Had it not been for Jesus, I would have lost my mind.  He kept me sane.  He helped me to see what He had given me (husband, children, family).  He walked with me through grief.

When I fell into seasons of sin, He drew me back where I needed to be.  Sometimes, He had to get tough as I am very stubborn.  He never gave up on me.  That is why I need Him.

You need Him too.  No matter how good you are, your goodness is not enough to have eternal life.  You must accept the fact that He went to the cross and died for you, then rose on the third day defeating death.  When you accept Him and acknowledge your need for Him, peace and joy come in abundance.  No Confidence in the Flesh 2

 

Occupy

In Luke 19, Jesus told a parable that served as an illustration of His second coming.  Verse 13 leaves a firm command that says “occupy until I come.”  The parable was a story of a man who left to go on a trip, leaving his servants in charge.  They were to take care of his personal money matters until he returned.  One servant failed to do what had been asked of him.  The results were anything but positive.

The Second Coming

Occupy until I come, Luke 19_13As Christians, we hear often about being prepared for the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Although it is a soon coming reality, we miss an important part of what Jesus was saying in the parable.  He will return, but he wants us to occupy until he comes.  The word occupy in this particular text comes from a word that is speaking of an action similar to a military occupation.  In other words, we are not expected to sit idly by while looking for the Lord’s return.  We have work to do, action to take.

While we are waiting, we have life.  The life we have is by the grace of God, so, we should be living that life in a manner pleasing to Him.  Not only should we do our best in all our undertakings, but we should also point people to Jesus Christ.  Our job is not to be idle or careless, but we should be living lives obedient to the Holy Spirit, then, when He returns, we will not be caught by surprise.

What Should You Do?

The theme of my blog comes from Philippians 1:21 which states that to live is Christ and to die is gain.  When God calls us home, it will be gain.  In the meantime, to live is Christ.  Living my life is pleasing to Christ.  Even when it is mundane and appears to be of no significance, it pleases Christ for me to live to glorify Him.

When you demonstrate His love to others through acts of charity or mercy, it brings glory to Him.  Think about it.  You have at least one opportunity on a daily basis to demonstrate forgiveness.  There are opportunities on a daily basis to bring glory to Christ through the way you live.  Behold, I come quickly, Rev. 22_12

The phrase “to live is Christ” does not indicate a life that is perfect, nor does it indicate a perfect person.  You and I will make mistakes.  When we do, we should repent, then move on.  When those who do not know Christ see us repent of wrong doing and move on, it will speak volumes about the love of Christ.

While we are waiting on Christ to return, we do not have time to get into disputes over various end-time beliefs.  Trust me, I have my own views concerning how it will all take place.  We should spend our time spreading the good news of salvation.  We should live to make a small difference in the life of another person.  It is important that we occupy because Jesus might return during your lifetime or mine, but if He does not physically return, the time will come when He calls us home.  Either way, we need to occupy while we are here.

Keep Your Confidence

Having confidence in your identity in Christ can be challenging in our culture.  Society often discourages people from seeking to live a life that is godly.  Society loves to encourage us to be moral, but the morality is set by the standards of people who do not know Christ.  It can make a difference.  Knowing who you are in Christ and maintaining your confidence of who Jesus is to you will be a key to living a victorious Christian life.

Do Not Throw It Away

Faith 2Depending on the Bible translation you are reading, Hebrews 10:35 states that we are not to cast away, or throw away, our confidence.  The same verse goes on to say that our confidence has great reward.  Knowing who we are in Christ and knowing that He is for us will keep us from falling when trying times come.

If you continue reading, you will find that the writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to keep the faith and encourages the development of patience.  The believers to whom the book of Hebrews is addressed had faced a great deal of persecution.  Their homes, property, and personal belongings had been confiscated by the government because they proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many of them had been imprisoned.  Others had been martyred for the cause of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews commended these people because they had been through a great deal of persecution and remained strong and steadfast, but another trial of sorts had come upon them when the letter of Hebrews was written.

The Scriptures are not specific as to the trial these people were facing at that time, but the writer was encouraging them to keep their confidence.  They were encouraged to remember that God would reward them for their faithfulness.  They were reminded that the just must live by faith.

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Knowing who we are in Christ and keeping our confidence will require walking by faith.  God is pleased with our faith in Him.  He can and will do powerful works through us to bring glory to Himself if we will remain yielded to Him.

As you are reading this post, you might be discouraged.  You might be ready to throw in the towel, so to speak.  I am not necessarily talking about backsliding.  I am talking about giving up on your work for the Lord.faith 1

I am encouraging you to remain confident.  Be confident in Jesus!  Be confident in what He is doing in you.  He will continue the work he began in you when you first believed on Him.  Be confident in who you are in Him but aware of who you are without Him.  Living by faith requires more boldness than living a normal life, but you were not called to be normal.  You were called to stand out.  You were not called to throw away your confidence.  You were called to walk by faith and be confident in Christ.

Be Encouraged

Whatever you are facing, know that your faith pleases God.  Even when your faith is weak, keep pressing on, confessing it to the Lord.  He has ways of strengthening your faith.  He will not forsake you.  Do not give up because the Lord will bring you out victorious!  “The Lord is a warrior.  The Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3).”

Do not throw away your confidence.  There is much that would be thrown away with it if you did.  Keep going on this way because there is no other way that brings light and victory.