Not a Spirit of Fear and Timidity, but of POWER!

I get it. I really do. I understand the uplifting power of wanting so badly to read a verse on it’s own to make me feel better. I get the idea of a pastor using a verse in his teaching to encourage and bolster up his congregation. However, I don’t get why plucking one verse out of context is OK in any way at all. It does not glorify God, it only glorifies self. Yesterday I wrote about several verses that are taken out of context an used for selfish gain or selfish pats on the back. Today in my daily study I came across yet another verse used by a pastor who has taken this verse way out of context. “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV) He used it in the sense of when you feel powerless to overcome a situation or to keep going when times get hard and more specifically how to take control of your weight and what you eat and how you exercise. This pastor, as many do, is using this verse to tell us to have courage, have faith, and be bold in striving toward creating better habits. It is basically self-help while using God’s Word to support his views. This broke my heart when I read his devotional. If you read 2 Timothy, Paul was writing to Timothy and was encouraging to remember when the Holy Spirit entered him and the power that was behind it. To not have a spirit of fear in regard to preaching the true gospel. Paul wanted Timothy to not give up on spreading the Word. He was not encouraging him to be a better person or to be bold in things such as being healthy, he was encouraging him to SPREAD THE WORD OF GOD. God DID give us a Spirit of power and love and self-control in order to spread the word. So, that begs the question… Are you afraid or timid when it comes to sharing the gospel with others? Do you have self control in being purposeful about spreading the Word? Are you intentional and bold? Do you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you powerfully and loving when you talk to others about Jesus? Read the verse again, in fact, read the first part of 2 Timothy. Don’t let me tell you, let God’s Word speak for itself.

I can do all things! OH REALLY???

One thing that has upset me to no end is the way in which pastors and most people take the Bible and use verses to support their theology rather than allowing the Bible to stand on it’s own. Did you know that most of the verses you hear thrown around are taken way out of context? Like “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14) so let’s just add “In Jesus’ name” to the end of every prayer. Asking in his name means in his WILL. Do you think the things you are asking for are in his will? Who are you to presume you know his will. HE IS GOD! Or how about the prosperity gospel of “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV) The Greek translation means life upon life or eternal life, not that you are going to have great things here on THIS earth. These are all mistreated, misunderstood verses. The one that is currently on my mind is “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, ESV) This is always fully taken out of context. Read Philippians 4. Paul was in prison, wrongly accused, and beaten to almost death, but he was still content. He was content in ALL things, when he was in good times and in bad, no matter what. This is what that verse means. In context, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (to take another translation) really means I can be CONTENT in all things no matter what situation I am in. It is not a call to “go for it” or “work tirelessly until you obtain your goal” or that Christ is going to give you strength in every area of your life. This is NOT what Paul is saying. One of my favorite quotes from my pastor, Pastor Mike Fabarez is “The best way to guard against heresy is to read the Bible thoroughly and often.”

A Crushing Kind of Love

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world. He loved the world. He loved you, he loved me! Think about that for longer than just a passing moment. Yes, he loves me. How did he love me?

I have a son. He is 6. As a parent I am confident that I would do most anything for that child. I love him unconditionally. He is in my care. How could I even fathom putting him purposefully in harms way? That is exactly what God the Father did. He loved me so much that he personally came down to earth and went through a brutal, humiliating, excruciating death. For me! For you! He did not have to do that at all. We should all perish. But in his perfect love, his crushing love, he chose us over his own comfort. That kind of love can only be described as a crushing kind of love. Why crushing? It is the only word I can think of that even comes slightly close to what that kind of love actually means. Think about it. No really… THINK about it.

When you think long and hard about the sacrifice he made it will crush your heart. When you really ponder who he is and what he did you will instantly slam your body and face firmly on the floor laying prostrate in thanksgiving and worship. That is what I mean by crushing. There is no other way I can describe it. It crushes who we are in light of who he is. It crushes our motives and selfishness and brings forth a desire after his will. It crushes everything we once thought was important and demands our full and utter devotion to the One True God.

Believing in the Son is the first step towards fully accepting that love of grace and mercy. Fully understanding that love is the beginning of a life in which is no longer our own. It is a life that we gratefully and willfully hand over to God as his servant. “Use me, use me!” should be our daily cry. “Shake me out, clean out my sin, make me a tool worthy to be used!” Our deepest desire, that stems from that crushing love, should be that of servanthood. We should long to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Imagine getting to the beema seat of God and hearing him say “Well, you made it, but really by the skin of your teeth.” You will suffer loss. I don’t know about you, but I am a people pleaser. I like it when I do a job well done. I like being praised for the things I do right. God instilled in us that desire. He wants us to please him like we please others. He wants us to desire after his heart. What are you going to do about it? No really, what are you going to do about it?

The Ultimate Fruit Audit Test – Take Your’s Now!

Answer the following questions and look up the associated verses to determine if you are a follower of Jesus or just a really big fan.

Who You Are
Audit #1: Is your character in keeping with the Fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit? Galatians 5:16-26
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”? Matthew 28:19
Audit #4: Do you Love God with all that you are? Matthew 22:38-38

God’s Law
Audit #5: Do You Crave the Word of God? 1 Peter 2:2-3. Romans 7:22, John 8:47, Matthew 5:6
Audit #6: Do You Keep His Commands? Exodus 20
Audit #7: Is God’s Law Written on Your Heart? Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:6-13
Audit #8: Do You Grow in Wisdom or just Knowledge?  James 1:15

Understanding Love
Audit #9: Do You Love Others? 1 John 4:7-12
Audit #10: Do You Love your Enemy? Matthew 5:43-48, 1 Corinthians 4:12
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World? 1 John 2:15-17, John 15:19
Audit #12: Are you politically correct when it comes to Jesus and your friends, family and coworkers? Matthew 10:32-33, 2 Corinthians 5:20

Tests and Discipline
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin? 1 John 3:6-10
Audit #14: Do You Get Disciplined by God? Hebrews 12:3-11
Audit #15: Do You Get Tested by God? James 1:2-3, 1 Peter 4:12-14
Audit #16: Are you instantly convicted when you sin? John 16:7-11
Audit #17: Do you get persecuted for your faith? 2 Timothy 3:12, John 15:18, 1 Peter 4:12-14, 1 Peter 3:14, Matthew 5:10
Audit #18: Are you hated by some people because of your faith? 1 John 3:13, Luke 6:22,

A Changed Life
Audit #19: Do You See a Changed Life? Ezekiel 36:25-26
Audit #20: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year? Are you growing? Colossians 1:9-10, 2 Peter 3:18
Audit #21: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #22: Christian: Would a stranger or even a close friend or family member who is not a follower of Christ convict you of being a follower? 1 John 5:19, Colossians 4:5-6, 1 Corinthians 1:21-23

Are You Knowledge-Hungry or Wisdom-Hungry?

All over the Bible it tells us to ask for “wisdom.” You might be interested to know that the way Jews understood the meaning of the word “wisdom” is not how we use the word today. “Chokmah” is the Hebrew and “sophia” is the Greek word that is translated “wisdom.”  The people of Israel all knew that when learning from the Bible or anyone teaching on things of Yahweh, then fully understood and appreciated it’s deeper meaning. Wisdom is the practical application of God’s will. So while you may be a knowledge seeker or someone who is the consummate student, always learning and taking classes, even on things of God, I encourage you to take a deeper look at your motives.

When you study, is it to gain greater understanding and greater knowledge? While knowledge and understanding of the Bible is a crucial part of the Christian walk, the more important factor is it’s practical life application. Do you pray for wisdom to understand the things of God or do you pray for wisdom to act on His will; to do what he wants and not what you want? Think of it this way: we are all selfish, self-absorbed, egotistical, self-centered humans. Right? That is really the top thing you are an expert on… you. So, when you fall in love and commit to another person, what happens? It becomes all about them and what they want (at least during the honeymoon stage). That is kind of how it is with God only it is permanent. Once you are His, fully and unconditionally His, your understanding of the word “wisdom” will come to life. Your prayer life will change. Your motives for your life will change. YOU will change.

This is another beautiful fruit that you will bring forth when Yahweh makes you His… A-men and Halleluyah!

For more on this topic check out these posts:Wisdom
The Power to Do God’s Will

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?

Week 1 (DEFINING FRUIT)
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Week 2 (GOD’S LAW)
Audit #5: Do You Hear God Speak to You?
Audit #6: Are You a Lawbreaker?
Audit #7: Are You Allergic to Sin?
Audit #8: Are You Knowledge Hungry or Wisdom Hungry?

Week 3 (LOVE)
Audit #9: Do You Love Others?
Audit #10: Do You Love the One You Hate?
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World?
Audit #12: Who is Your Jesus?

Week 4 (TESTS & DISCIPLINE)
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin?
Audit #14: Are You Convicted by the Holy Spirit?
Audit #15: Do You Get Disciplined by God?
Audit #16: Do You Get Tested by God?

Week 5 (CHANGE)
Audit #17: Do You See a Radically Changed Life?
Audit #18: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year?
Audit #19: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #20: Christian: Guilty As Charged!

Fruit Audit – Are You Allergic to Sin?

To sum things up from yesterday’s post on being a lawbreaker, remember at the beginning I stated “I used to be such a lawbreaker.” The important phrase in that sentence is “used to be”. OK, no, I am not perfect, however, now that I am a child of God, the Holy Spirit literally dwells inside me. Every time I mess up or break a law, aka sin, my heart instantly tugs at me. I am instantly convicted by the Holy Spirit. Did you know that convicting us of sin is one of his jobs? He came to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgement. John 16:7-11 It is a pure wonder and something that takes some getting used to. The best way I can describe it is I now am allergic to sin. If you have allergies this will make sense. Sure, I can play with a cat, but I will pay instantly if I touch my eye and I will pay in the long run with itchy skin if I play with the cat for a while. This does not mean I don’t ever touch a cat. I just know what will happen and it is very uncomfortable. There is no controlling the reaction I have. It is the same with the Holy Spirit. He convicts me on the spot every time, and like playing with a cat, his conviction is very uncomfortable. It is wild, and awe-inspiring, and now I FULLY understand why he is called our Helper.

If you want to see more on this topic check out this post:
God’s Law is Written on My Heart

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?

Week 1 (DEFINING FRUIT)
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Week 2 (GOD’S LAW)
Audit #5: Do You Hear God Speak to You?
Audit #6: Are You a Lawbreaker?
Audit #7: Are You Allergic to Sin?
Audit #8: Do You Grow in Wisdom?

Week 3 (LOVE)
Audit #9: Do You Love Others?
Audit #10: Do You Love the One You Hate?
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World?
Audit #12: Who is Your Jesus?

Week 4 (TESTS & DISCIPLINE)
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin?
Audit #14: Are You Convicted by the Holy Spirit?
Audit #15: Do You Get Disciplined by God?
Audit #16: Do You Get Tested by God?

Week 5 (CHANGE)
Audit #17: Do You See a Radically Changed Life?
Audit #18: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year?
Audit #19: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #20: Christian: Guilty As Charged!

Consider Reading Matthew 23 with a light on YOUR life. Is it possible that it is a “Woe to you!” ???

We often read the Bible from the perspective of “that is antiquated and it doesn’t apply today”, or “God is talking about those people, not me”. I love what my pastor, Mike Fabarez wrote for yesterday’s Daily Bible Reading in light of our read in Matthew 23.

“Today we finish reading what is arguably the most scathing recorded indictment by Christ. Here Jesus shows his deep disdain for the hypocrisy of saying one thing and doing another. May we avoid reading the remainder of Matthew 23 with someone else in mind. Instead may God’s Spirit bring conviction where it’s needed, and may there be a new passion to shrink the gap between our godly reputations and the reality of our lives.”

Pastor Mike

Fruit Audit – Are you a Lawbreaker?

I used to be such a lawbreaker. I’m not talking about the big laws, but I was the typical entitled American. You know the kind. I generally obeyed traffic laws but pushed the limits by driving just under 80, not using signals, rolling through stop signs, making left turns over double yellow lines, parking in questionable spots because I was late, and any other area I could manage to justify, like running red lights in the middle of the night because no one was around. Or how about those people who don’t fully claim all their tips or cash payments to the IRS?  Who’s going to know, right? What about that time you lied to your friend and used your kid being “sick” as an excuse for not doing something. Or you lied to your spouse about how much you actually spent on your new wardrobe. How about when you take home office supplies from your work? No one will care and they have so much and besides it is the least they can give you for all the crap you put up with.

I mean, really… We are a nation of self-justified and entitled people. No wonder other countries can’t stand us. Do you think God is going to say, “Oh it’s ok, that is just how they were raised.” I don’t think so. In fact, if you take a quick look at the very short list of 10 commandments he has asked us to keep, I am pretty sure you have broken all of them. Haven’t murdered anyone lately? Jesus said if you hate someone it’s the same thing. Haven’t committed adultery? If you are a man, have you looked at any porn in the last few days, or hours? If you are a woman, have you checked out a hot guy and wished your man looked like that? It’s the same thing in Jesus’ mind.

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” – 1 John 2:3-6

If you are interested in digging deeper into each commandment to see how you add up, here they are:
(To see the full text as it was written read Exodus 20.)

  1. God is the only God. (simple… or not if you think God is basically the same god for every religion.)
  2. You shall not worship idols (Like worshiping a TV show or celebrity, or food, or money, or your career, you get the idea.)
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. (Like saying OMG or saying “my God” for no reason.)
  4. Take one day a week to rest. Fully. No work at all. (Does anyone really do this command anymore? It is not a joke and is not antiquated.)
  5. Honor your father and mother. (You may no longer be living with your parents and have kids of your own but think about it, do you honor your mom and dad or do you “know better” than they do and often put them “in their place.”)
  6. You shall not murder. (Not a murderer? Think again. Check out Matthew 5:21-22)
  7. You shall not commit adultery. (Even looking at someone with lust is considered adultery from Jesus’ standpoint. Check out Matthew 5:28)
  8. You shall not steal. (I don’t know of a single person who can honestly say they have never stolen anything.)
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (This, like the 10th commandment is not talking about the person who lives next to you. God means anyone you know or even somewhat know. Think in terms of the person you like the least. Stop hating on them and spreading rumors and gossip. Basically, stop lying!)
  10. You shall not covet anything that is your neighbors. (ie. his or her spouse, his or her job, his or her house, his or her car, his or her garden, his or her kids, his or her clothing, his or her hair, seriously the grass is not greener so stop coveting!)

If you want to see more on this topic check out this post:
God’s Commands

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?

Week 1 (DEFINING FRUIT)
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Week 2 (GOD’S LAW)
Audit #5: Do You Hear God Speak to You?
Audit #6: Are You a Lawbreaker?
Audit #7: Is God’s Law Written on Your Heart?
Audit #8: Do You Grow in Wisdom?

Week 3 (LOVE)
Audit #9: Do You Love Others?
Audit #10: Do You Love the One You Hate?
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World?
Audit #12: Who is Your Jesus?

Week 4 (TESTS & DISCIPLINE)
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin?
Audit #14: Are You Convicted by the Holy Spirit?
Audit #15: Do You Get Disciplined by God?
Audit #16: Do You Get Tested by God?

Week 5 (CHANGE)
Audit #17: Do You See a Radically Changed Life?
Audit #18: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year?
Audit #19: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #20: Christian: Guilty As Charged!

Fruit Audit – Do You Hear God Speak to You?

Have you ever heard God speak to you? Audibly? I haven’t and I can bet you have not either. There is no Bionically sound doctrine out there that states God will personally, audibly talk to you in this day and age. I am not saying it is not possible as that would be like trying to fit the Grand Canyon into a water cup. I would never try to put God in a box. I am going off of what he has decided to allow us to know about him through the only source he has given us: the Bible. So, when we talk about “listening to God” or trying to “hear God” what does that mean? It can be summed up very simply like this: We talk to God through our prayers, thoughts and actions and God talks to us through His Word, others, and our circumstances.

God can be blunt. I have found Him to be blunt when he desires you to not mistake his “voice.” I will hear a sermon on a specific topic, then it will pop up in my daily Bible reading that day or possibly the next, then a friend will bring up the exact same topic randomly at lunch the next day. That is what most people call coincidence or providence. When you are fully and truly saved there is no mistaking when God wants you to know or learn something.

God can be subtle. He sometimes wants you to be sensitive to his promptings. He is not always going to hit you over the head. In fact, usually he is subtle, drawing you close to him and desiring for you to desire his will and not your own. Do you respond to his promptings? When you sense the urge to pray, do you drop to your knees or do you finish what you are doing and then pray? When you feel the urge to help a stranger do you do so or do you continue on your way not wanting to impose? When you feel in your gut that you need to say a word of encouragement do you speak up or do you say the opposite or nothing at all?

When is the last time you tried to lift a thousand pounds? Probably never. Do you know who Paul Anderson is? He lifted 6,270 pounds. Do you think he woke up one day and said to himself “I’m going to lift up a truck today!” No! He worked at it, practicing every day, getting stronger every day, and focusing every day on lifting more and more. That is what hearing God is all about. Day by day, getting stronger and stronger at reading and memorizing his Word. Day by day, getting more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s moment by moment promptings. Day by day, lifting a little more weight until we finally see the prize. The day when we stand face to face with our Lord and Savior to hear those amazingly heart-crushing and soul-longing words “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Well done!”

To go deeper with this topic, check out the below post:
Do You Love God’s Word?

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?

Week 1 (DEFINING FRUIT)
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Week 2 (GOD’S LAW)
Audit #5: Do You Hear God Speak to You?
Audit #6: Are You a Lawbreaker?
Audit #7: Is God’s Law Written on Your Heart?
Audit #8: Do You Grow in Wisdom?

Week 3 (LOVE)
Audit #9: Do You Love Others?
Audit #10: Do You Love the One You Hate?
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World?
Audit #12: Who is Your Jesus?

Week 4 (TESTS & DISCIPLINE)
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin?
Audit #14: Are You Convicted by the Holy Spirit?
Audit #15: Do You Get Disciplined by God?
Audit #16: Do You Get Tested by God?

Week 5 (CHANGE)
Audit #17: Do You See a Radically Changed Life?
Audit #18: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year?
Audit #19: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #20: Christian: Guilty As Charged!

FRUIT AUDIT – Does your life reflect the first and greatest commandment by God?

Do You Love God the Most?
When you look at your daily spending, your daily activities, and your daily interactions, it may become clear who your god is? Take an honest assessment of your day. While most of us spend the majority of our day working, which God calls us to do, are you the type of person who makes your career your life and keeps church and state separate so to speak or you the type of person who tries to bring God into your career? Are you the type of person who spends 10 minutes in God’s word in the morning and then spends 2 hours on Facebook during the day and another 2 hours watching TV at the end of your day and then cap it all off by another 5 minutes in prayer before bed time? Just sayin’. Be real and be honest and figure out who your god is. I hope it is the one true God that you love with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38

Here is a more in depth audit on how you feel about God:
Are you a Politically Correct Christian?
Who do you Love?

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?