Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Are You Letting the World In? - Part 1

     What I am sharing with you today was provoked by some recent-mails, regular mail, and conversations I’ve had with people. The common thread was a concern about being Christian and yet being worldly. One friend wrote me about a Christian rock concert she went to where the dancing and body language was very suggestive. Now, before you put this down, hear me out. I am not against good contemporary music. As long as the music brings glory to Jesus Christ I am okay with it.
     The concern I’ve heard voiced is this. Why does the church feel like it has to compromise it’s standards, morals and values to bring people in?  Brothers and sisters, remember we are in the world but not of it. In 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 it says,  “16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. 18 "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
     Let’s look at some of the traps the devil tries to use against us to draw us into worldly living. They are found in the following scripture. “16 For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” I John 2:16-17 - Here are three main areas of temptation that we face. Some of the things that we’re tempted by aren’t always what I call “the big bad evils”.
The lust of the flesh - preys on our physical appetites.
     The lust of the flesh is what led to the fall of Adam and Eve to fall. Satan stirred Eve’s interest by making the fruit appealing to her. (Genesis 3:1) So an example of something that is a lust of the flesh could be over-eating. (Remember, we’re not just looking at the “big sins” here.  As Christians, the devil won’t draw us away with things that are obviously wrong.
     Back to Eve... We know the story how Satan twisted the will of God to confuse Eve.  He will often try to do the same with us.  Look at what 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” He will make something appear to be real desirous to us and he will attempt to twist the word of God in our lives. The lust of the flesh draws us away from the will of God. It’s choosing our will over his will.
The lust of the eyes - appeals to self-interest/preservation.
     The lie that the devil tells us here us that we must have a sense of self-preservation, what appears to be” my best interest.”   The next lie that Satan told Eve was – “Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:4 He was twisting the scriptures again. It’s the old argument, “God won’t me make die for doing this.” The death in Genesis 3 was a spiritual death, not a physical death. After they ate the fruit Adam and Eve were still physically alive, but they were now spiritually separated from God and found themselves in need of restoration.
     It’s no different today. The lies the devil tells us are things like ”You’re young, just live it up.” Or “I’m not hurting anyone.” Or “I have my rights.”  And the list goes on. Reality is that every choice we make not only affects us, it affects those around us. Friend, be strong, don’t follow the crowd. Be willing to make wise choices according to God’s word instead of being worried about what others will think. The devil will make things come up that cause us to think we don’t have time to read the bible, etc. The truth is, we cannot afford to not read the bible for it is the ONLY truth out there.
The pride of life- self-promotion/self-exaltation
     This one is obvious; it is about thinking you’re better than others. It’s like the story in Luke 18:10-14 where the Pharisee said: “ 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” He thought that appearing religious made him better than others. There’s no such thing as different levels of sin. Sin is sin whether you kill someone or tell a lie. We need to walk in humility before God.  A good definition of humility is “confidence properly placed.”  If our confidence is in God, we can be assured that we’re living as he would have us live.
     Sometimes pride can cause us to hold on to things that we think are important, or make us better than others, and we think even better than God. Things like position, possessions, intellect, our feelings, job, and family, to mention a few.
     In closing, I leave you with one more scripture. “1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  Romans 12:1-2

     Next week in part two we will look at how we can escape the traps the devil tries to set for us.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Consumed By God's Fire!

     Recently I found myself singing the words a song titled “Take Me In” by Dave Browning. “The words are: “Take me past the outer courts/And through the holy place/Past the brazen altar/Lord, I want to see Your face./Pass me by the crowds of people/And the priests who sing their praise/I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness/But it’s only found one place. So take me in to the Holy of Holies/Take me in by the blood of the Lamb/So take me in to the Holy of Holies/Take the coal, cleanse my lips, here I am”.  Thinking about this led me to Hebrews 12:28,29 – “28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
     Let’s look at how the fire of God can affect our lives.
The Fire of God Purifies - "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like launderer's soap.” Malachi 3:2
     It is only the Lord who can purify us. There is nothing we can do to make our self  “more clean” for God. The only thing that can cleanse us is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Once we accept God’s gift of salvation the cleaning process begins. And it is just that, a process. While some things may change instantly, for most of us it is a process of growth and maturing in our relationship with the Lord.
The Fire of God Consumes - For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29
     The fire of God will consume us. The definition for the word consume here is “to do away with completely.”  In other words, the fire of God will remove everything from our life that is a hindrance to his life flowing through us. This happens when we spend time in the presence of God.  I’ve said it before, when we’re in the presence of God in a matter minutes He can radically change our lives.
The Fire of God Empowers - John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”. Luke 3:16
Another scripture - Acts 1:8 -"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
     In the natural, wherever there is a fire you can see power. A fire is a powerful thing of destruction. When God’s presence is in our lives we will have power. When we allow the fire of God to consume us, and the Spirit of God to come upon us, we will be empowered to live godly lives, to fulfill his calling on our life and be a witness to others.
     Having said this there is one more point to consider. What will keep the fire of God burning in our lives? . We need just a spark to keep it going.  Let me explain that with a short acronym
Submission - humble ourselves under the authority of God’s Word daily. – James 4:10
Prayer - pray daily  - Ephesians 6:18
Approaching - seek God’s face in intimacy – Psalms 27:8
Repentance - turn from our sins – Acts 2:38
Kneeling – Worship Him! – Psalm 95:6
  If we will be diligent to do these things we can be assured that the fire of God will not burn out in our lives.  I would like to close with the chorus to a song titled “Refiner’s Fire”. Let it be a prayer for each of us as we walk through the process of becoming more like him. Remember, for gold to get it’s worth, it must be burned in the fire but the goldsmith.
Here’s the chorus: “My heart's one desire/is to be holy/set apart for You Lord/I choose to be holy/set apart for you my master/ready to do your will.”
     Until next time, let the fire of God burn!