Christianity 201

May 12, 2018

God is Saying, “Get Off My Throne”

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:35 pm
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Sam Williamson is the author of Hearing God in Conversation, a book I was privileged to be able to review a few years ago. Today I decided to catch up with him and found what follows. There’s also a longer introduction this, so click the title below to read the entire piece.

What A Fool I Was!

Admitting Our Foolishness

Last week, I read the story of King Jehoshaphat. He is one of the “good” kings. Scripture says,

“The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the ways of David (2 Chron. 17:3).

He was also a powerful king, and for most of his reign, neighboring kingdoms paid him tribute.

In his later years, though, three enemy kingdoms formed a coalition to destroy him. He is told that a “multitude is coming against you.” And he turns to the Lord. Jehoshaphat is at the pinnacle of his career: he is stronger than he’s ever been; his kingdom is at it richest under his rule; and his wisdom is just peaking. He prays:

Lord … we do not know what to do. (2 Chron. 20:12)

I wonder if the epitome of wisdom—the meaning of my gray hair—is to admit, “Lord, in all my wisdom, I finally realize, I do not know what to do. And I probably never did.”

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

I have a friend who I believe is making a mistake in his life. I think my discernment may actually be from the Lord. I wanted to tell my friend what he’s doing wrong. But a couple weeks ago I read this quote from Oswald Chambers:

Beware of getting ahead of God by your very desire to do His will. We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, becoming so burdened with people and problems that we don’t worship God, and we fail to intercede.

God is calling me simply to pray for my friend. It feels weird. As though prayer isn’t enough, as though my friend needs my wise words more than God. Which is stupid of me. Foolish even.

When King Jehoshaphat seeks God’s word for this upcoming battle, God speaks:

“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (2 Chron. 20:15b)

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, and as my hair turns gray, I am coming to realize that all the battles are the Lord’s, not mine. There are times God may ask me to raise a sword, but even then, the battle belongs to the Lord, not me.

God is saying to this graybeard, “Get off of my throne!”


I also encourage you to check out the author’s website, BeliefsOfTheHeart.com

March 16, 2018

God’s Longing for Your Life Will be Fulfilled

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! – Phil. 1:6 (TPT)

Currently, much attention has been focused on a new version of the New Testament, The Passion Bible. This has in turn resulted in interest in the author, Brian Simmons and his other writings. We decided to check out his book of 52 devotions, I Hear His Whisper.

The style of this devotional places the text in the first person as though God Himself is speaking. We’ve previously discussed that this style is used in classics some as Come Away my Beloved and more recent books such as 66 Love Letters. In order to emphasize this, I’ve set today’s devotional in italics.

“I am Building Your Life into a Masterpiece of Love”

Just as a builder lays a foundation for a large and strong house, I have laid a deep foundation in your life. This foundation is built upon the Rock of Truth. I have set up your walls and strengthened your being. You will be a stronghold of My presence, and I will display you to the world as My beautiful, artistic masterpiece!

Sacred blood I gave for you. Holy hands were opened to receive your nails. Beautiful feet that walked the streets of Jerusalem were pierced so that you would walk the streets of holiness with Me. I will bring My plans to pass. My longings for your life will be fulfilled. Do not look at the structure and say that it is inferior.

Look at My wisdom and say, “You do all things well.” Even now I am preparing the next steps of your journey with Me. I am building you into a house of glory that I might show My overcoming, conquering strength on your behalf. Slowly and carefully, as the Master Builder, I have constructed you and built you up. The superstructure is now seen, and I will finish what I have begun.

Many times you have asked me, “Why does this take so long?” I speak to you this day: believe in My wise plan for your life, look to Me and it will come to pass. My power and grace will rise up within you, and what now seems impossible will be lifted from you. Your limitations are invitations for My power to deliver you. I will never fail you or disappoint you. My promises are rainbows of hope that cover you. My declarations over your life are greater than your heartache. Your tears are liquid words that I read and understand. Never doubt My conquering love, for I have determined to build you up into a spiritual house filled with trust, hope and love.

Psalm 38:9 (TPT)

Lord God, you know all my desires
And my deepest longings.
My tears are liquid words
And you can read them all.

• Stand back and look at your life as if it were a building being constructed. Can you see His wise plan coming together? Reflect on His faithfulness to you throughout the different stages of your life.

-from I Hear His Whisper (Broadstreet, 2015) pp. 111-113


Other key scriptures in The Passion Translation:

Each year there are many new translations of the Bible released, but only a select few reach a level whereby they find acceptance and are known by the broader Christian community. We’ve seen conservative translations such as the ESV and more recently the CSB do this but there are also versions of the Bible which attempt to do something new and different, while still remaining faithful to original language documents. Such was The Message and more recently The Voice; and it’s into that marketplace that The Passion Translation (sometimes being referred to now as TPT) by Dr. Brian Simmons enters. Hardcover editions are now available and several leather editions, and in addition to the NT contains Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs.

Ephesians 2:8 – For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!


Matthew 28:18 – Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


2 Timothy 3:16 – Every Scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness.


Romans 10:9 – And what is God’s “living message”? It is the revelation of faith for salvation, which is the message that we preach. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation.


Romans 8:28 – So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.


Romans 12:2 – Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.


Philippians 4:13 – I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.

 

 

January 23, 2017

Are Events Ever Out of God’s Control?

The title of our piece today (above) is written within the context of the political season which our American friends have one level just come through, and on another level is just beginning. Stephen and Brooksyne Weber at Daily Encouragement wrote this to appear on Friday when the “peaceful transfer of power” took place in Washington, D.C. It provides a great background for these thoughts. If you click through (link in title below) there is the option of listening to these thoughts on audio.

The Assurance of God’s Providence

“During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: ‘Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him'” (Daniel 2:19-22).

Unshakeable, immovable, faithful and true
Full of wisdom, strength and beauty
These things are true of You

Daily Encouragement dot Net banner…Inauguration Day… in the USA. Some people are happy and excited, others angry and fearful. In light of this important date in America’s history let us focus a few minutes on the Word of God and a teaching from some 2,600 years ago.

The daily Scripture portion is a powerful proclamation of the providence of God.  Here’s an historic definition of this theological term: “God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing of all His creatures and all their actions.”

King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and God revealed to Daniel both the dream and the meaning, a panoramic sweep through hundreds of years into the future and the rise and fall of various kingdoms. We look back now and see how this has marvelously been fulfilled.

“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever.”  Before Daniel revealed the dream to the king he offers praise to God. He “blessed the God of heaven” (v. 19).

“Wisdom and power are His.” This timeless truth is so instructive and encouraging in light of the many issues of uncertainty we face; those things which cause us anxiety and fear. Some we commonly deal with such as the turmoil in the world and especially at this time here in America with a transition and uncertainty as to where the nation is headed. Others are personal and reflect our individual situation. It may be a health need, a job situation, a family matter or many other issues that trouble one’s spirit.

“He changes times and seasons.” We see the hand of God in the changing of the seasons as He ordained at creation. Following the great flood God made a covenant with Noah and seasonal changes have been an evidence of God’s faithfulness ever since.

“He sets up kings and deposes them.” History sure validates this. Some 2,600 years have passed since Daniel made this statement and history abundantly demonstrates that many kings and kingdoms have come and gone. We live out our lives in a tiny window in the scope of God’s providential dealings. Our perspective is narrowly skewed if we don’t constantly observe the bigger landscape of God’s dealings with humankind.

“He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things.” We must look to God as we direct our focus toward Him. A great need for the earnest follower of Christ in this information overload age is godly discernment. It seems that we are awash in fake news, outright lies, distortions, spins and misleading information. We need revelation from God’s Word concerning the deep and hidden things not revealed by man, but revealed to our hearts by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.

“He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” This last phrase really, really blesses us as we prepare this message. Daniel needed the light of God’s revelation to interpret the king’s dream. God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel in the middle of the night. Rather than rushing to the king and boasting of his interpretive skills Daniel broke forth in praise to God and made this glorious declaration about our omniscient God: “He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.”

Since we’re unable to see “what lies in darkness” let us walk with God everyday of our earthly journey since “light dwells with Him.” Nothing surprises God! Since He knows what lies ahead let us be assured that the light of His glory will illumine our path and give us the needed light to see our way through the troubling and narrow passages that await us. God will replace our fear of the future with His promise of provision for that which lies ahead.

And as I turn my face to You
Oh Lord I ask and pray
By the power of Your love and grace
Make these things true of me too

Daily prayer: Father, we know that wisdom is given to those who submit to Your authority, honor You and reverence Your holiness. The opposite is true of fools since they despise wisdom and godly instruction. You grant a treasure of good sense to the godly, for You are our shield, protecting us as we walk in integrity. When we come under Your authority we will know how to find the right course of action when seeking answers, for wisdom will enter our hearts, and knowledge will fill us with joy. Wise planning will watch over us. Discernment and understanding will keep us safe. Father, You are the bright light that comes bursting forth when darkness seeks to blindside our view. All foes are rendered powerless in Your presence and at Your command.  Thank You for the marvelous wisdom available to us as Your children.

(See Proverbs 2: The Benefits of Wisdom)

July 9, 2013

The Truth Everyone Seeks

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:56 pm
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Today’s post is shorter, but rich in scripture. The writer is Mitzi Smith who blogs at Written Reality, one of the blogs at Faith Village. This originally appeared as 7 Gifts of Truth Everyone is Seeking:

Why do we push the boundaries?

Our world creates such distortions, it’s difficult to find anything real. Yet, we often push the boundaries to connect within it.

We keep truth quiet in the name of peace until our silence creates our own world war. [tweetable]

We set aside truth in the name of tolerance until our tolerance becomes our own belief. [tweetable]

We blur truth in the name of acceptance until our blurred vision blinds all reality. [tweetable]

One glance across today’s headlines conveys these consequences. Living our own truth will all too soon lead us over the edge into a pit of our own warped devastation.

Reading the Bible isn’t a homework assignment or an option for extra credit from the Creator. God doesn’t provide His Word of Truth as punishment. He gives us His Word to keep us grounded in reality.

Liberal thoughts enslave us. God’s boundaries set us free. [tweetable]

God’s Word is a gift of Truth, not to bind, but to offer a prosperous life of freedom and joy.

7 Gifts of Truth

1. Truth provides security.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  Ephesians 6:14

2. Truth gives freedom.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

3. Truth gives life.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

4. Truth offers direction.

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:5

5. Truth sets apart His people.

 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:17

6. Truth provides His presence.

The Lord is near to those who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

7. Truth offers wisdom.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Psalm 51:6

January 6, 2013

The Prayer of Agur

Tony Pearsall at the blog FireSpeaks, is beginning a series on prayer. Here’s the first installment. Click the title for the link, and then bookmark the page if you wish to continue in the series.

The Prayer of Agur

( I dare you to pray this prayer)

I would say 95% of all Christians have heard of the prayer of Jabez, but only about 5% of the those Christians would tell you where it’s located in the Bible. This is just the opposite with The Prayer of Agur, of the very few Christians that have heard I would guest that nearly 100 % of those Christians knows where it can be located in the Bible. Why this is so, we will address later, right now lets look at the prayer.

Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.(KJV)

In this prayer a man named Agur ( identified in proverbs 30:1) ask God for two things,

  •   That God’s sustaining Grace will keep him from falling into sin because of his vanity and lies
  •   That God would meet his needs
    • but not so abundant, that he will forget that God is the source of all good things in his life.
    • and not so sparingly that he has to steal to meet his own needs.

This is a difficult prayer to pray it deals with or vanity and pride, the lies that we tell and that others may tell us, and our lust for money and fear of poverty. However Agur does not ask God to help him stop lying, but to keep him out of the situations and circumstance that may tempt him to lie, or that may cause him to act in vanity or pride; to keep him out of circumstances where others are likely to have him as a subject of their lies.

We are cursed with the false belief that we can handle riches in our life , but this is far from the truth. When the options for large amount of money becomes a subject of our interest we almost universally see it as an opportunity to to get more things. I heard Christians who would never play the lottery, say things like “if I won the lottery I would buy…” you fill in the blank. The fact is, the natural man desires the gifts, and blessing of God greater than he desire God. It is for this very reason that God will not answer a prayer from us that would take us from his presence.

James 4:3 (AMP) says “ [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.”

Agur was a man of wisdom, he knew his own fear of want, and the temptation that being impoverished has on mankind. So he prayed God don’t hold your substance from me so much that I am out of my lack will steal and defile your name.

The question we must ask ourselves are we willing to admit that we are unable to subdue our vanities, and pride ? Are we willing strip ourselves bare of the curse of plenty, so that we may live upright in the presence of Christ?

December 14, 2011

He’s Calling Us

This is a poem by Lauren Hunter that appeared over a year ago on the blog where she regularly writes things that are quite different, Church Tech Today. A lot of the Christian internet deals with technology, but it’s encouraging to see writers who have much more depth than you might see in writing intended to deal with more mundane issues. 

I wrote this poem several years back for my church’s Women’s Retreat. It was inspired by the hymn, Softly and Tenderly. I hope it touches you and encourages your ministry efforts!

Gently, softly, sweetly,
Our Jesus is calling us.
Are we heeding His Word?
Are we listening to His call?

Often, His voice comes to us
In the depths of the night
Or in brief moments of stillness
When we aren’t looking,
When we don’t think He’s there.

Little nuggets of clarity,
God’s vision for our lives,
Descend like doves
Bringing peace, comfort
And the stillness we need to worship Him
In every area of our lives.

Are we listening?
Are we tuned in to who we are in Christ?
Can we feel His pull?
As the earth revolves around the sun,
We must revolve around Him.
Our every move,
Our every breath—
Breathe in His grace,
Smell His mercy
Feel His touch.

When we are gathered together,
He is among us,
Leading and guiding,
Directing and counseling.
Sense His wisdom,
Know His presence.

He is moving and working
In each of our lives,
All in different ways
And at dissimilar times,
Yet He brings us together
Through a common love.

This love guides us.
It directs us and leads the way.
Before the planning—
God’s love moves us all.
It motivates us,
Inspires us to give
and leads us all the way.
God is taking us there.
Let’s follow Him.

Hoping God touches your heart today and leads you to fulfill your life’s purpose!