Compromise

8/30/2014

We should not deceive ourselves. Compromises that we make because of the “weakness” of our will, are, in actuality, self-centered rebellion against the word of God. In reality, our will is only “weak” to do the will of God while it is “strong” to do our own will.

James Chapter 4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

About that self-esteem…

8/27/2014

Recent studies indicate that inflating students’ self-esteem in and of itself has no positive effect on any objective aspect of their lives. One study has shown that inflating self-esteem by itself can actually decrease grades. (Baumeister 2005)
The concept of self-improvement has undergone dramatic change since 1911, when Ambrose Bierce mockingly defined self-esteem as “an erroneous appraisement.” Good and bad character are now known as “personality differences.” Rights have replaced responsibilities.

A revolution has taken place in the vocabulary of self. Words that imply responsibility or accountability—self-criticism, self-denial, self-discipline, self-control, self-effacement, self-mastery, self-reproach, and self-sacrifice — are no longer in fashion. The language most in favor is that which exalts the self — self-expression, self-assertion, self-indulgence, self-realization, self-approval, self-acceptance, self-love, and self-esteem. (Ruggiero, 2000)

So then, what should our self-esteem be founded in?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Facts and Fictions

8/22/2014

Why are feelings of emotional insecurity so pervasive within the Christian community?

Emotional insecurity is widespread among Christians because we have spent our entire lives being mentally and emotionally conditioned (brain-washed) by a sin-based, world system that strongly encourages finding positive personal identity through our performance and the opinions of others.

God’s original plan, as initiated with Adam and Eve, was that we would understand that our self-worth is determined entirely by the fact that we are created in God’s image. We were designed to discover personal value and purpose through the fact that we are created in His image and through the unhindered realization of God’s plan for our lives and His unconditional love for us.

Man and woman were originally designed to find fulfillment of every need and want through relationship with God. They would not feel that they needed to perform in order to feel acceptable. There would be no competition with one another, no problems with feelings of low self-esteem, low self-worth, jealousy, insecurity etc.
Unfortunately, man’s thinking has been permeated by the delusions of the sin mentality that is predominant throughout the world. Instead of trusting God, we find ourselves repeatedly depending upon self-centered behavior as we attempt to reduce our personal insecurity and compensate for the loss of the realization of God’s unconditional love. We find ourselves feeling compelled again and again to rely upon ourselves in an attempt to find compensatory fulfillment through the temporary gratification of self. This has become our life-habit.

Lawrence J. Crabb Jr. observes that apart from the grace of God, all of our capacities (rationality, moral judgment, emotions, will) are working together toward the sinful goal of self-exaltation.

Jer 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

And yet, few Christians welcome such unpleasant revelations about themselves. Does the Christian businessman want to admit that his business goals are in large part a plan sourced in self-centered ambition to achieve positive feelings of personal worth? Is the Christian wife who has been striving and sacrificing for years to please her husband eager to acknowledge that her efforts have largely been an attempt to derive a sense of personal value and love-worthiness through her husband’s appreciation? Alfred Adler describes these behaviors as the “guiding fictions” of our lives.

Beginning with Satan and then continuing its development through Adam and Eve; self-deception (our guiding fiction) has become the most common source material for the sin influenced, world conditioned soul. In almost everything we do, we have an inner motivation which fuels our actions. And this motivation, our guiding fiction, rarely reflects God’s plan for us. Our motivation is usually to fulfill our own self-directed, performance-oriented desires. Throughout our lives we have been programmed by society to do what we do primarily because we believe, on some level, that our behavior will result in personal benefit. We form and follow our self-centered motives for behavior very early in life because we are born as dependent creatures with sin-damaged/love deprived souls. The result is a misguided and unfulfilled striving to meet our own wants and desires.

Only when we are truly willing to examine how and why we have come to trust our guiding fiction more than we trust God will we be able to access the necessary power of the Holy Spirit which can steadily bring us freedom from these fictionally created, but very factual strongholds in our lives.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Spiritual Maturity – Trusting God with the Basics

8/19/2014

Spiritual maturity originates in trusting God with the basics of life. If we do not trust Him with the basics, we cannot mature as faith-filled Christians. This is so, because God cannot commend, bless, or accept behavior that is in any way selfishly motivated.

Throughout scripture, we are exhorted repeatedly to trust the Lord in everything, especially our most basic needs like food and clothing and shelter (Matt 6:33,34 / Phil 4:6,19). When we worry about today or tomorrow and experience anxiety, impatience, fear, anger, envy, or self-pity, we are certainly selfishly motivated because these behaviors are an indication that our priorities are based on self-interest, and thus, we are not really trusting God. And if we are not trusting God in these most basic things, how can we ever become mature in our faith as Christians? We will always be stuck, focusing overly much on the most basic levels of physical self-need rather than growing in maturity and focusing more on the Lord’s will and the needs of others.

But trusting God with these things does not mean that we are assured that God will always provide food, safety, or even any other physical provision in our lives. This is an important aspect of trusting God that many Christians do not seem to grasp. The Christian that realizes that our trust in Him must have an eternal, not just a temporal perspective moves to maturity in Christ, replacing their priority of self-interest with the needs of others and the will of God.

These believers presented in Hebrews understood the importance of prioritizing an eternal perspective regarding the promises of God:
Hebrews 11:13- 16 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Are there not tens of thousands of Christians throughout the world that have perished from persecution or have been homeless and died from lack of medical care, starvation, or exposure to the elements (see Hebrews 11:32-40)? And yet, at the moment of their death, did they not enter into an eternity of perfect bliss with the Lord? Is that really such a bad outcome for those that trust the Lord? Will they ever hunger again? Didn’t their temporary deficit of physical provision and their consequent suffering result in unlimited peace and joy forever?

Our concerns about our provision for today and every day are legitimate concerns before the Lord. Therefore, He exhorts us not to be anxious about them (Philippians 4:6-7). And remember this: He can only, always, have our best interests in mind because He has granted us eternal value and unconditional love by creating us in His image. He cannot do anything other than love us perfectly and value us eternally without contradicting His very nature.

We can trust God with the basics.

What does the Bible say about being filled with the Spirit?

8/13/2014

Eph 5:15 –17   “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

And what is the Lord’s will?

Eph 5:18-20   “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let’s take a closer look at these words!

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery” — asotia, as-o-tee’-ah; unsavedness, profligacy:–excess, riot. (Or, in other words, unrestrained immorality.)
“Instead, be filled” – pleroo (Greek) pronounced play-ro’-o; to make replete, (literally) to cram (like to cram a fish net with fish), or to level up a hollow in the ground by filling it full, “with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.”

The Full Life Bible commentary tells us that the tenses of the two imperatives in 5:18 indicate a “never do so” in reference to indulging in intoxicating wine and an “always do so” in reference to being filled with the Spirit. The actual expression of the second imperative is unusual. Paul does not say, “Be full of the Spirit”, as though one were full of Spirit in the same way that another is full of wine, but rather, he says, “be filled by the Spirit” with the emphasis on being filled to the full by the Spirit’s presence or with the fullness which the Spirit gives.
(We do not put the bottle up to our lips and drink the Spirit as we would wine. We ask; the Spirit gives; we receive.)

Now check this out!

The precise form of the verb “be filled” (pleroo, play-ro’-o) is significant for four reasons.
First, it is an imperative, and is thus a command. Being filled with the Spirit is not an option or a tentative suggestion, as if we are at liberty to take-it-or-leave-it. It carries an urgent weight of importance.
Secondly, it is plural, and thus applies to the body of Christ collectively. All of God’s people are to be filled.
Thirdly, it is passive, and thus could be translated, “Let the Spirit fill you.” There should be such an openness and obedience to the Holy Spirit that nothing hinders Him from filling us.
Fourth, it is a present tense, and thus carries the idea of an ongoing action. Just as our physical bodies need the constant renewal that sleep brings, so the body of Christ needs the constant renewal that the Spirit makes possible.

Thus, we have an imperative, plural, passive, present tense in the single word “pleroo” translated “be filled”. In other words, we are being commanded  (because it is an imperative), corporately (because it is plural), to receive the filling of the Spirit (because it is passive), all the time (because it is a present tense).

In summary – We are being commanded/ corporately/ to receive the filling of the Spirit/ all of the time!

One may ask, “But how?” There is no religious formula or specially anointed person required. Its as simple as this: we ask, we believe, we receive.

So then – be filled, believer! God is only waiting for you to believe and be filled. And all to the glory of God.