November 30, 2010
There is a small concealed weapon that everyone carries. It is evil, and full of deadly poison. (James 3:8) It “makes great boasts” (v. 5), for indeed, it is powerful, and is able to take a person and thoroughly corrupt him. (v. 6) In fact, the whole course of one’s life is set on fire by this little weapon, for the weapon is one of Hell’s flames. (also v. 6) It has the power to sustain life, and even nourish and flourish a life, but too often it is used to bring death. (Prov. 18:21) This weapon is the tongue.
No man can tame the tongue. It is an impossibility. Yet “if anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” (James 2:2) Wow. Wouldn’t it behove us then, to try to tame this restless rudder? Then why do so many not train themselves to do so? Is it because they have no power to keep a tight rein on it, to overcome it, to subdue it, to tame it? Of course. For God’s Word tells us that “no man can tame the tongue.” –v. 8
Then why does God’s Word also say that to not keep one’s tongue tamed, he may as well expect to be condemned on Judgment Day? This is what James 1:26 is saying –is it not? Does not “a worthless religion” mean that one’s worship and service to God is worth nothing? And why is it worth zero? Because, it says, a tight rein on the tongue was not kept. –And that if anyone thinks this tongue-taming is not important, then such a person is simply deceiving himself –deceiving himself in thinking that he’s okay with God, when he’s instead inheriting a sharp word of disapproval from the King: “Depart from Me, you evildoer!” (See Matt. 7:23)
Here’s all of James 1:26: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” Careless, unbridled tongue = worthless religion = NOT okay with God = condemnation. It’s that simple.
Here’s all of Prov. 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Fruit is what is produced by the action of something else. It is a product, a result, an outcome, a consequence. So those who love their tongue, will produce a fruit with it, and they themselves will eat those results.
But if the tongue has power to give life, not just death, then how do we –unable to tame the tongue on our own– produce fruit that gives life? –Life for ourselves and others? Well, there’s no other way except to submit our tongue to the only One who can tame it –the Holy Spirit of God. And we must submit to Him daily. –Our whole self. –Our mind, our heart, our tongue…
Our prayer should be: “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3) Only the Lord can do this. But we must ask Him to do it for us. –And we must ask daily. As we ask and submit our tongue to His control, He then answers. We give the reins to Him, and His Spirit takes those reins from us, and He Himself controls what we say. We, on the other hand, also keep ourselves in check by our submission –and by training ourselves to practice this submission constantly. This does take practice. For even within a day, we may get hit several times by temptations to grab those reins back. But through acquired habit, we submit our will to His will –in everything we do, think, and say. This is how we become “a perfect man.” (James 2:2)
If we do not submit our will to His in all we do, think, and say, our claim of belonging to Christ is worthless. It won’t matter at Judgment Day if we called Him “Lord”, or if we did things in His name. (Matt. 7:21-23) All that will matter is that we did His will. (v. 21) And this absolutely includes what comes out of our mouths.
November 29, 2010
Who may dwell in the Lord’s presence? Just anyone? No. Though we are all invited to come to Him and enter His presence, there are requirements. Many say the requirement is mere belief. –Belief that Jesus died to pay Sin’s ransom, belief that He rose three days later, and belief in a prayer of asking to have one’s sins forgiven. Not quite. This is the teaching of most mainline Christian churches. But it is not the teaching of God’s Word.
God’s Word says there are requirements in entering the presence of Almighty God. It is through Jesus, yes, but which Jesus? For there are many evil, but disguised, spirits impersonating Him (2 Cor. 11:4,14) who is the only Truth and Way to the Father. (John 14:6) A false jesus does not save, nor can it bring a person into God’s presence for which to fellowship with Him. If “God” is felt or communed with, it is a false god they are experiencing.
If someone is truly coming into God’s presence it must be done through the true Jesus. This means the person must walk through Jesus, The Narrow Gate (John 10:9 7 Matt. 7:13), by repenting of one’s sins (Mark 1:15) –which means renouncing and forsaking one’s sins (Isa. 55:7) and by determining to “prove their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:20)
What kind of deeds? Ps. 15:1-5 gives a sample list, after first posing the question: “LORD, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous…” Do we take note of the words “blameless” and “does what is righteous“? So this says that only the blameless and righteous may dwell in the Lord’s presence.
Continuing: “… who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man…” Do we notice that the person God allows to dwell with Him does not cast even a slur on another person? Hmmmm???!!! That means, NO snide remarks behind someone’s back!
Okay, continuing: “… who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD…” Too many “Christians” get all enamored with vile people, excitedly discussing the latest celebrity as if the star is someone to admire. No, those who dwell in God’s presence know who to honor with their words or their time or their respect. It is those others who show they fear the LORD by loving and serving Him.
Continuing: “… who keeps his oath even when it hurts…” An “oath” meaning a secret, a confidence, or a promise to remain faithful “in health and in sickness, in wealth and in poverty…” Or just to follow through on any promise –even when one wishes they’d not made it.
And the last verse of the chapter (v. 5) says, “who lends his money without usury [high interest] and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.” There are many ways to accept bribes –not just with money. How about bribing with friendship, acclaim, or prestige?
And the last sentence of verse 5 sums up the short chapter: “He who does these things will never be shaken.” He will be blameless, and will thus be allowed to dwell in the Lord’s presence. Such a person will dwell in Christ and Christ in him. And in so doing, he will remain pure.
For the man who houses “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9) who is the “Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7) who is the promised Holy Spirit (John 14:16 & Acts 1:5 & 15:8) who is the Spirit of God Himself (Rom. 8:9 & 1 Cor. 2:10-14 & Isa. 59:21 & 61:1) will be “purified” –not by mere claim, but truly so by being “born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) He will be blameless.
Once a person is purified and blameless, he will act pure and blameless. His deeds will show it. He will live righteously. (1 John 3:7) He will not sin. (v. 5,6,9) This does not mean that there is not typically a time frame allotted by which to “grow up” in the Lord, during which time the person may sometimes resort to childishness (spiritual childishness), and during which time he will not yet be exemplary in walking the Highway of Holiness. However, just as a child is expected to rise to each grade level, so is a Christ-follower expected to learn to progressively mature in faith and obedience. For faith is made complete by what we do. (James 2:22)
Furthermore, the purified person is not to get careless by thinking he is standing firm, for any careless person can fall. (1 Cor. 10:12) For this reason, we are told to be on guard, and to not get deceived, and as 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Verse 9 says, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” And what will God do for us once the trials (and passing them) have strengthened us into quality vessels? He “will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (v. 10)
The trials and temptations are allowed in our lives to test us. Are not tests in school put there to force us to practice, study, overcome, and pass? Those who complain about these tests and who say they just can’t keep from succumbing to them, are not fit for God’s Kingdom. They are holding their own maturity back because of their lack of belief in Christ and the power of God. The trials and temptations are not too much for anyone with God’s Spirit in them! (Phil. 4:13) For “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) For someone to deny that God provides this, is for them to deny God’s explicit Word!
There is no excuse not to grow toward maturity, blamelessness, and perfection. But if anyone will not take the steps, will not submit to the training and the testing, he will not be fit to dwell in God’s presence. Either here or into eternity. For it’s not about saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not do a bunch of stuff in Your name?” (See Matt. 7:21-23) It’s about being holy, being righteous, being obedient… –being blameless. –Blameless in word, thought, and deed.
November 28, 2010
I love to learn. But not just about anything. I love to learn about things that help me better understand God and how awesome He is. This is so that I can praise Him for more of His wonders, as well as more adequately explain to others how excellent is our Creator. So though I never seem to have time anymore for extra subjects, in the past I did love studying astronomy, physics, and physical science (to name just a few.) But, since there’s only so much time in a lifespan, a few years ago I narrowed my studies down to my most favorite subject: God’s Word. In fact, I’d quit teaching to devote more time to my ministries, but… also… to raising and training paint horses. Thus, my heart remained divided. My real decision-time came when a wealthy horse rancher friend loaned me his book on APHA bloodlines, saying, “You’re in half-heartedly. Thoroughly apply yourself to studying this, and you’ll get successful in the horse business.”
I remember taking that book home and after looking through it a few times, I realized that I did not have the time to be good at knowing both God’s Word and horse bloodlines. I did at first try to reason with the Lord that I could do both, but then I saw that to focus on the one would just automatically be at the expense of the other. –And that one was to further my glory, the other to further God’s.
“In which do you really want to be knowledgeable?” it seemed the Lord asked me.
“Lord, You know which one I prefer. If I can’t do both, I most definitely choose Your Word.”
I gave the book back to my horse rancher friend and continued in my study of, and memorization of, God’s Word –even more fervently than before. And a couple of years later, even though having been horse-crazy my whole life, I gave up our whole herd and all that went with it –saddles, trailers, fence panels, etc. (The horses we have here now are a friend’s horses. See how God gives back? I don’t even have to pay for their care, but get to ride and pet them whenever I want.)
So, all to say, that when my brother shared last Thursday at our Thanksgiving share-time about the greatness of our God… how He is greater than we can ever comprehend… that the universe He holds in the palm of His hand is larger than we can fathom… but that this Creator stoops to take notice of each one of us… it is something to be immeasurably thankful for. My brother asked us if we thought there are more grains of sand on all the seashores of the earth, or more stars in the universe? We guessed “stars”, but that’s because many years ago my dad had informed us that if the 6.9 billion people on earth (at that time) would all be given an equal amount of stars, we each would get 300 trillion. And we know that now, with the stronger telescopes, multitudes more have been discovered. (And what about the ones we’ll never discover from our limited position on this “pale blue dot” of an earth?) Yet “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” (Ps. 147:4) How much more so, then, does He know the names of every human –as well as each detail about us!
Since Thursday, I’ve been worshipping God concerning all this. And I’ve been thinking too, not only about how astronomically huge the universe is, but how fantastic it is that this “everywhere-present” God who created the huge expanse, also created the intricacies of DNA. Is there not a tiny, microscopic expanse even there? Each DNA strand is more complex than the whole city of New York. And we have trillions of these strands in each of our bodies! It’s breath-taking. God is a Wondrous Being indeed!
I love verses about the expanse of the universe –for they do help me praise God. Like Jer. 10:12: “But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom…” –That’s for sure! For how could anyone else make such a fine-tuned earth –one that spins at approximately 1,000 miles an hour, and which rotates on its orbit around the sun without flying off or getting too close? So verse 12 finishes: “… and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.” “Stretched out” is an understatement! And as Ps. 147:5 agrees, “… His understanding has no limit.” (Amazing He is!)
God says, “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.” (Isa. 45:12) (Praise be to “Him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it.” –Rev. 10:6) And how did God create this awesome universe? He spoke it into existence. (See all of Genesis, chapter one –“And God said…”) As Ps. 33:6 also tells us, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth.” So, “To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal? says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isa. 40:25,26)
And not one of us is missing either –from the all-knowing care of this Most High God. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Jesus in Luke 12:6,7) Truly! –why should we fear when we have this All-powerful, compassionate God caring for us? “Why do you say, O Jacob [O child], and complain, O Israel [O sheep], ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.” (Isa. 40:27,28) Can we not entrust, then, every detail of our lives to Him? We can! We should! And we must! For when we do, He stoops to listen and give us the victory. (See such verses as Ps. 120:1 & 60:12)
Just think: This God –whose “greatness no one can fathom” (Ps. 145:3) and whose presence fills the universe from one trillion light years across, plus infinity– looks down upon each of us, and cares. He wants none of us to be shut out from His love –on this earth, nor after Time ends. So He condescended to become a baby! –A baby to be born in a dirty cow shed! A baby who would grow as any human… but be despised and misunderstood… even by His own disciples who expected Him to act like a hero. Instead, He submitted to a cruel cross… in order to free us from our sins –sin’s penalty and sin’s power. The great Creator did this. For us. Because we’d chosen Sin as our master, and thus had become enslaved to it. We needed a Redeemer, a Ransomer, a Rescuer, a Savior. And no one else could do it. –Except the Creator Himself. –Jesus, “through whom He [God] made the universe.” (Heb. 1:2)
This is the God who says, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” (Heb. 13:5) Who says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God… I Myself will help you.” (Isa. 41:10,14) And who says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Ps. 32:8) Oh, what privilege His people, His sheep, His children have! From just these verses alone, we hear Him say that He gives us His faithful presence, His mighty help, His instruction, His teaching, His guidance, His counsel, and His care.
And besides all this, He gives us His comfort –by His Spirit coming to indwell us; He who is called The Comforter. (John 14:26)
So as He says in Isa. 51:12,13,15, “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth…? For I am the LORD your God.”
With such a God on our side, with such a God watching over us, we need have no concerns but to keep our eyes on Him that we may do His bidding. “Before Him all the nations are as nothing” (Isa. 40:17), but for those who put their trust in Him, He says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls [your concerns] are ever before Me.” (Isa. 49:16) For “I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (v. 26)
What an awesome reality…!
November 27, 2010
Once upon a time there was a kind and majestic king who ruled over everything. This king went every day to the slums to care for the poor, the sick, and the aged, and he fell in love with a certain young woman, plain though she was, and with a bad reputation besides. But this king tenderly wooed the girl, and soon she responded to his love by adoring him back. The king asked her to marry him and she agreed. But he also told her that she would have to leave her life of sin and other lovers and be devoted only to him for the rest of her life. To this the girl also readily agreed.
The two got married –the majestic king and the pauper street girl. They lived happily for a long time. They had children and raised them to be good and kind.
But one day someone new came to live in the town where the king and his wife lived. This new neighbor wanted to be friends with the king’s wife and so they were. The two women went around town together, shopping and talking and sometimes going for picnics to the park. Soon they were traveling to the city so as to find better deals in clothing and to visit museums and art galleries and the like.
The king warned his wife that her heart was wandering from him. But she paid him no mind.
One day the king’s wife did not come home. He searched for her for a week, but to no avail. When she did come home, she was distant and brooding. The king tried to talk gently to her with concern and love. But his wife would not respond graciously.
This went on for some time. The king tried to reason with his wife, he edified her, he tried by giving her love notes and gifts and help around the house. Nothing worked.
Soon a rumor began spreading that the king’s wife and her friend were seen with strange men at their sides. The king, angry, but ready to forgive, confronted his wife with stern warnings. The next day, she was gone.
For weeks and months the king grieved. He waited and waited for her to return. But she never did. So at last, he packed and left town to search for her once again. He searched for many days, finally finding her one night on a street corner, just as she was accepting money from a customer. He ran over to her, but she, taking one look at him, jumped in the other lover’s car, and they sped away.
The king stood alone watching the tail lights, tears running down his face.
Here is where the king has a choice: To continue to wait for his wife to hopefully repent and come back to him, or to decide that since she’s made her choice and has to determined never to return, it is time for him to divorce her.
As unbelievable as this story might sound considering that the king is a kind, wealthy, and compassionate ruler, it is actually lived out every day. For human hearts are fickle and tend to gravitate back toward sinful cravings and filthy habits they’ve once indulged in. –Especially when someone likable comes around to pressure the heart to think of itself.
Does this not happen often between God and His people? It does. Just as there is a danger between any two married people to drift apart, so is there the danger for us to drift from our God –especially when false teachers or unhealthy friends convince us to stray from The Truth. God will never be the one to drift away, but we can. For our hearts, purified though they’ve been by the blood of Jesus, always have the choice to turn back to sin. Married people always have the choice to be unfaithful and/or to divorce. If they remain close, truthful, kind, and intimate, and take steps to avoid harmful relationships that might come between them, then their marriage will endure. But if one or both become careless or stubborn, then there may be little that the other can do. For even God will not force anyone to love Him.
God will not stay married to a heart that refuses to be faithful to Him. He will divorce such a person. He will disown such a person. It’s true that He is patient, that He continues to woo and love and pursue the adulterous wife. But He won’t do so forever. There comes a time when He quits –when He no longer sends His messengers, and when He no longer whispers by His Spirit. If the unfaithful one continues to close her eyes and ears, continues to harden her heart, soon the King will rise up in anger; and the unrepentant adulteress will be cast from His presence forever.
For “whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven.” (Jesus in Matt. 10:33)
So “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Jesus in Luke 13:3)
November 26, 2010
I woke up one morning this week thinking again about 2 Cor. 5:10. I kept quoting it, and I quoted it slowly, thinking about the meaning of each phrase. It is a sobering verse and I do not understand why those who say they believe the Scriptures are not taking it more seriously.
Here’s the verse: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
This verse is referring to what a person does. And it is stating that it’s about what one does while they live their lives out on this earth –in one’s body. There is no judgment for things done while in the next life. There is no purgatory where a person can change their attitude about obeying Christ and then have a second chance time-frame to work off their sins. There is no reincarnation where in a different life-form a person can have another chance to act kind and good. For Heb. 9:27 says, “… man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
I’d suggest this verse be read slowly every day until its meaning sinks into our hearts. “For we must all…” All of us. Not one exception. “For we must all appear…” Appear where? Well, the place is a type of courtroom. And we are all going to be called up before The Judge. This Judge is holy. And He has already –over and over again– warned us that He requires us to be holy also. We have no excuses not to walk holy –as He is holy (see 1 Peter 1:15,16)– for He has offered to us a pardon and a power. The pardon He purchased Himself when He came to earth as a human called “Jesus, God’s Son”, and the power is His Spirit coming to indwell our spirit. Thus we have salvation from Hell, as well as deliverance and might against all enemies of holiness that rise up to attack us during our lives.
This Judge has sent His spokesmen. He has also provided us with a Book of warnings, instructions, and comfort. And He has proclaimed Himself through creation and through the whisper of His Spirit in our conscience. Because of all this, there is no excuse to not escape condemnation when we stand before this Judge. As Heb. 2:1-3 warns, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” Every disobedient act must receive a punishment, but we do have a Pardon –if we take it (by faith and repentance) and abide carefully obedient in Him.
2 Cor. 5:10 again: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” Who is The Judge? It’s Christ Jesus –God in bodily form (Col. 2:9) –He who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Rev. 19:16)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive…” Oh, each and every one of us is going to receive something? –What? “… receive what is due him…” Uh-oh… –a wage, a reward, a punishment, a commendation, or condemnation… “… for the things done…” Hmmmm…. “done” means it’s about “action” –the action of speaking, doing, and thinking. “Done” when? “Done while in the body…” –Just our good deeds (hopefully)? –Or maybe (hopefully) just the really bad deeds –of only the criminals? No, let’s remember this verse includes all of us. And it includes everything we’ve done while on earth. –Everything, it says, “whether good or bad.”
Everyone’s “work will be shown for what it is, because the Day [Judgment Day] will bring it to light.” (1 Cor. 3:13) It is about works. Don’t listen to those who keep saying it’s not. God’s Word says differently. We are not offered the pardon and the Spirit based on our works; but to accept them and remain in them, we do act. Faith is absolutely an action. It is believing in one’s heart, confessing with one’s mouth, and following Jesus obediently with one’s daily life. (Rom. 10:10 & 2 Tim. 2:19 & Luke 9:23,24) False teachers twist truth by their wording. They speak about how we don’t “deserve” salvation. That is an obvious given, for everyone has sinned, and sin reaps punishment. However, once a person begins to claim he is saved, that means he is (supposedly) abiding in Christ, and “deserving” isn’t even the issue to discuss anymore. Do Olympic coaches or MIT instructors discuss with their students how undeserving the trainee is to be in his position of being trained?! Good grief! No. The trainer instead encourages the application of skills being taught.
But, unfortunately in “Christianity”, we have to have oodles of false teachers that while claiming to be instructors of “The Best”, they instruct like they expect everyone to remain spiritual toddlers. And they like it this way. Why? Because many are full of jealousy toward anyone who walks in freedom when they don’t. And also so as to excuse slothful, unrighteous behavior –in themselves, and so they don’t feel alone in their sin, in others also. All this, even though Jesus has told us that obedience to His commands is what does indeed show we belong to Him. (John 14:21 & 15:14) And what is “obedience” if it is not action?
Phil. 2:12 tells us to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” It’s not a sit-back kind of thing. The salvation is kept as we walk a narrow road. It is a clean road, a road only the washed and purified ones walk.
Many say they’ve been washed and are walking this road, yet their deeds prove they lie. (1 John 1:6 & 2:4) They need to answer to 1 Cor. 6:9,10: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Well, the Day will bring it to light. The courtroom will be hushed. Each one of us will advance before the Judge’s Throne. Then, there, a verdict will be given based on what we built with our lives. –That is, what we did in our lives. And what we built / what we did “will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (1 Cor. 3:13) And everyone will receive what is due him.
Those who have done good will receive eternal life, while those who have done evil will receive eternal death. (John 5:29 & Matt. 13:41-43,49,50)
For again: We will all be judged by the One who told us to be holy like Him, the One who told us that obedience proves we love Him, belong to Him, and know Him. And we will all receive our wage –that wage that is based on what we did while on earth –whether good or bad.
November 25, 2010
Does our God give good gifts? He certainly does! Think of all the wonderful gifts He gives. If someone can’t think of many, they should try thinking of the absence of Good. Like being in a desert… or a dungeon… or pinned under a crashed car on a dark lonely highway… or in a concentration camp with cruel guards… or in a continuous nightmare… or in Hell…
Okay, enough of the terror-thoughts. Can we think of a ton of wonderful blessings now? I think so. Warm bed, sleep, light, food, water, health, safety, companionship, sight, hearing, ……….. I could go on and on.
Now, not only has God given us a gazzillion blessings, He also tells us to ask for more. No, not so we can hoard them selfishly, but so that we can bless Him and others –through sharing the blessings and as a means by which to give Him praise and thanksgiving. And to His obedient children, God will most certainly answer the requests. Is this not what is stated throughout God’s Word?
Let’s look at Jesus’ words in Matt. 7:7,8: “Ask and it will be given to you…” That’s pretty straightforward. Ask, get. “Seek and you will find.” Many don’t really seek; they just throw in some half-hearted effort. That doesn’t count, and such a person will not find the hidden treasure. “Knock and the door will be opened to you.” Persistence is important –and Jesus encourages persistence. (Luke 11:8 & 18:1-8) Knock louder. Ring the doorbell. He’s there. He’s waiting for a reason. Search your heart and ask Him if there is something there blocking the blessing. “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” These are promises. They’re not empty, but ones given from the God who cannot lie. Therefore, if the gift is delayed, or the treasure not yet found, or the door still shut tight, then wait in trust; for He will not break His Word for those who trust and believe and obey.
Jesus continues: “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (v. 9,10) We know only an evil person would do such a thing. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (v. 11) See? And what does Eph. 3:20 say? It says He is able to do (–for us) IMMEASURABLY more than all we ask or even imagine! Do we realize what “immeasurably” means?! I do try to imagine things to ask Him –for He wants us to ask and He says He will do immeasurably more than that! And if we are filled with His Spirit, we will not ask awry. Or if we do, His Spirit will put a check within our spirit to say, “That is not a request He wants you to ask for.”
Do we fathom how wonderful it is to have the Spirit of God in us –helping us make our requests, giving us the faith, the words to pray, the boldness to enter in before the Throne…? Indeed, His Spirit is the very best gift we could possibly receive! For in having His Spirit, we have absolutely everything we could need or desire! For in Him we have perfect peace and rest. –Not to mention salvation! This is why in Luke’s account, he records these words from Jesus: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)
“Give good gifts… Give the Holy Spirit…” Comparing the two, we realize that Jesus considered the two gifts interchangeable. For indeed, to have good gifts are the result of having the Holy Spirit, and to have the Holy Spirit results in good gifts.
So what is the most wonderful gift in the whole universe? It is to have the Holy Spirit. For to have Him, we have Christ, we have God, we have protection and provision and comfort and strength… we have salvation… we have freedom… we have eternal life.
And we abide in His Presence –both now and forevermore.
What an exceedingly abundant and marvelous Gift! In fact, He is immeasurably greater than we can ever imagine or comprehend!
November 24, 2010
After our Thanksgiving meal at my parents’ house, more relatives later or the next day meet at my dad’s brother’s house for either a meal or dessert. After eating, and before leaving the table, my aunt has everyone take a turn telling what they’ve been most thankful for over the year. At my turn, I have often said it’s my husband, or my parents, or our ranch and horses, or my ministry downtown; but for the last several years, I couldn’t refrain from saying –every time– that it’s God’s Word. For I absolutely love His supernatural living words that I cling to and abide in… my strength and my hope, my joy and my guidance.
But tomorrow I plan to say this: “I am most thankful for the communion I have with my Best Friend –He who is my Shepherd and my Shield, my Provider and my Protecter.”
That’s all I’m gonna say. And those who know me will know that I mean it with all my heart.