Monday, October 29, 2012

Confidence always wins!

Hebrews 10:35 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

God is subtle. Sometimes He is so subtle, I am not sure if it His ideas that come to mind, or my own ideas. God talks to all of us continually. I know that any good idea I have ever had, came from God. I know He speaks to me, and I know I hear His voice. However, when I need to make an important decision, I want to know I am hearing God.

Sometimes I know without any doubt that I have heard Him. Other times, I am so distracted by the problem; I cannot seem to filter out His thoughts from my own. A decision still needs to be made and I want it to be the right one.

I have learned during my walk with God, I still make mistakes. He continually forgives me if I sin. What happens when I make the wrong choice simply because I do not know the right choice to make?

The Bible says in Proverbs 24:12, ""If you say, "Surely we did not know this," Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?"" This reminds me that God knows everything about me. God knows my heart intimately. If I lack the understanding I need to make a decision, God will still bless it---right or wrong. God can turn any situation into a good one, even if I have made a bad decision. This gives me the freedom to make choices without worrying.

I have discovered that my confidence in Him is all I need. Now that I do not worry about making wrong decisions, I hear God more clearly, when I need to. Funny thing about worry, it distracts us from hearing God.

Learning to recognize God comes with fellowship. Have faith that He is always talking to you. As you learn to recognize Him, do not be afraid to make mistakes. God will always prove Himself, even when you miss it. Before long, you will know His voice and experience true freedom from worry.

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Don't let Peter Cut off Your Ear

John 18:10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.

The Bible is truly amazing. It was originally written in Greek (New Testament) and Hebrew (Old Testament). The Bible has been translated into many languages, including English. Using a Bible dictionary such as Strong's Greek and Hebrew dictionary can take your Bible study to a completely new level.

The meaning of every name in Scripture gives deeper revelation. The Scripture at the top of this post is a great example. This verse mentions three names---Simon, Peter, and Malchus. According to Strong's Dictionary, Simon means, "Give attention to"*, and the name Peter means, "Piece of stone"*. Since the Ten Commandments were written on pieces of stone, the name Peter is synonymous with the Ten Commandments. When you put the name Simon in front of it, it becomes, "Give attention to the Commandments".

Malchus was a servant of the high priest. According to Hebrews 3:1, Jesus is our High Priest whom we serve. The name Malchus means, "King"*. According to Revelation 1:6, as believers we are Kings. Malchus is synonymous of the born-again believer.

When we define the names, the verse tells us, "giving our attention to the commandments, carries a sword that will cut off our ear to hear." I have heard that sin separates us from God. Although this is true without sacrifice, Jesus dealt with sin once-and-for-all! If we believe sin separates us, we will not hear God. God talks to us continually---whether we sin or not. If we do not understand this, when we sin, we will not realize He is still present and we will ignore His fellowship.

I stay connected to God no matter what. The Ten Commandments reveal my need for His strength. In my weaknesses, He shows His strength. Hanging out with God is how I connect to His power. I need His power to break the bondage of sin.

The most important gift the cross provided was a personal connection with God. God created friends; it only makes sense that He can be the most awesome friend we can have. Hanging out with a friend like this will cause you to sin a lot less!

Be Blessed.

* Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by JAMES STRONG, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s numbers, Simon-G4613-H8095- H8085,  Peter-G4074, Malchus-G3124-H4429

Monday, October 15, 2012

God of Grace!

1 Samuel 12:20 (NKJV) Then Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord"

God has always been a God of grace. When we sin, He wants us to be in His presence even more. For most of my life, I never understood this. Before I became a Christian---and many years after---I had this image of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments. Perhaps it was the famous movie released back in 1956. Never the less, I always had this image of Moses smashing the stone tablets to bits because the people had built a golden calf to worship. I can still see the three thousand people who died that day (Ex. 32:26-27).

The movie implies that God destroyed the people because He was jealous. Really, the people brought about their own destruction. The Bible tells us after the people made the golden calf, "Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, "Whoever is on the Lord's side--come to me"" ( Ex. 32:26). This is a point that seems to be overlooked. After the people worshiped the golden calf, God still gave them an opportunity to choose Him. The ones who did not choose God were the ones who died.

God is holy. Unholiness cannot exist in the presence of God's glory (Ex. 33:16-20). The Old Testament is loaded with teaching about unholiness. Repeatedly in the Old Testament we read, "If you obey God's commandments, you will be blessed---if you do not, you will suffer destruction. A good example is provided for us in Exodus chapter 28. This chapter reveals forty-one curses for disobeying God.

Again, we tend to overlook something. God provided a way out for those who fail to follow His commandments. The Bible calls it a sin offering. In Leviticus chapter 4, the Bible gives instructions for a priest who sins (v. 3), the whole congregation if they sin (v. 13), a leader (v. 22), and a common person (v. 27). The sin offering provides forgiveness (v. 26 &31).

God has always provided a way out. There was only one problem with the Old Testament system---we continually sin. We need continual redemption. Jesus became our once-for-all sacrifice (Heb. 10:12). As a Christian, we have the easy way out.

As a New Testament believer, I have continual protection from my sins. Sin can no longer separate me from the presence of God (Rom. 8:39). Since sin has no effect on my connection to God, He can saturate me with His Spirit. All I have to do is, "believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:29).

Without God in my life, I was below average in many ways. With God in my life, my whole existence is above average. God is not out to punish anybody---He never was and never will be. He has a desire to see you do amazing things. Stay connected to God---especially if you sin, He is a God of grace!

Be blessed!

Monday, October 08, 2012

What do You See in the Mirror

James 1:25 (NKJV) But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

As I pause on the words, "law of liberty", I see an oxymoron. The word law means regulation and liberty means freedom. This invites the question---how can a law make you free?

The verses ahead of this Scripture give us an understanding. The Bible says in James 1:23-24, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was."

When you look into the mirror, do you see Jesus? Jesus gave Himself on the cross to provide us with a new supernatural self (2 Co. 5:17, Gal. 6:15). We have Christ in us. If we focus on our natural self---we will never experience freedom. Jesus is a gift from God. He is not a gift we can do without; Jesus is a gift that we need.

In our natural self, we could never measure up to God's righteousness. Adam was a good example. He had only one command and He broke it. True freedom comes when you do not have to concern yourself with regulations. Freedom comes when we are connected to Jesus.

So what is the law of liberty? The law states that we are free in Christ and in no other way (John 14:6). So how do we put this law into practice? We do not let the bondages of the flesh separate us from God.

As I focus on God, not letting sin obstruct my sight, I experience a transformation. I have experienced bad habits disappear; addictions fade, and desires change. I am experiencing a wonderful life!

Focus on Jesus and watch Him transform you. The more He changes you, the more you will see Him. The more you see Him, the more you will believe in Him. The Bible says, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:29). Work on seeing Jesus.

Be blessed!

Monday, October 01, 2012

See the Grace---See the Glory!

Luke 9:32 "But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory"

I can still remember it like it was only a day ago. It was towards the end of 2008. I had been a believer for over nineteen years when I woke-up and saw the glory of God.

Up until this point of my journey with God, life was a struggle. I believed that if I had all my affairs in order, as the bible seems to teach us to do, I would discover a better life.

Each morning was routine. I would start my day in the shower, confessing all of my sins and asking for forgiveness. I would even ask forgiveness for the sins I was not aware of. I would declare the promises of God and the blood of Christ over all my family, possessions, and affairs. I even memorized Psalm 91. On my half-hour drive to work, I would continue with my confessions of Scripture. I would speak the words of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I memorized this in the Amplified Bible Version. One might think I had the formula of success.

On the contrary---for nineteen years most of my life was not the blessed life I had been expecting. My family had been torn apart. I had one child living on the streets with drug issues. I had another child who was crippled from a car accident that also took the life of my first wife. My understanding of Scripture led me to believe that someday I would experience a better life---I was not experiencing it. I continued with my morning routine of making myself right before God in hopes of receiving a reward for my faithfulness.

Eventually I realized, confessing my sins every morning had no positive results. The more I confessed, the more I realized I could not be the perfect churchgoer, so I gave up on the church, and gave up on trying.

I kept up with my prayer rituals but by now, my conversations with God had become somewhat informal. I realized I could never be perfect and just decided that God would have to accept me as I was. When I gave up on all the work that made me weary, I started to hear the voice of God.

Then I had a revelation of grace.

It was a cooler day with an almost perfect blue sky. I went outside to have a cigarette and looked up. I pondered the vastness of infinite space. God's creations are so amazing. Then it hit me like a powerful blow. The creator of all this had become my personal friend. I did not deserve His friendship, I knew that, but He was so real to me now.

The Scripture at the top of this post describes my situation. It has an incredible hidden message. The name Peter means, "A piece of the rock" (Strong's Number G4074*). The Ten Commandments were written on pieces of rock, so the name Peter signifies the law. Now the verse reads, "But Peter [the law] and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His [God's] glory."

This was my story. I tried to follow the law (Peter) and it made me heavy with weariness. Then, one day, after I gave up on trying, I woke up and saw the glory. I had put so much effort into being right with God, instead of receiving His grace. I have learned that only God can make me right.

My daughter, who was messed up on drugs, is off the streets and free from the addictions that put her there. My son, who they felt would be crippled for life, has the most beautiful wife and child. He also enjoys many of the same things he used to. I am now plugged in to a good church and even have the world's most incredible wife.

I do not focus on trying anymore; God takes care of all my affairs. I focus on Him. He loved me when I was a sinner, He loved me when I continued to sin, and He loves me now! He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Be blessed!

* Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by JAMES STRONG, MADISON, NJ.