Spiritual Transformation And The False Self

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“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” – (Matthew 3:2 NIV)

Repentance is actually a good word, even though it seems to have taken on a negative meaning these days. It’s a gift Jesus offers to us, so that we can turn from those things that hinder our relationship with Him. To have a vibrant and meaningful relationship with God requires us to be honest about our failures. To know God rightly, we must know our own weaknesses and limitations. It’s up to each one of us to make a practice of inviting the Holy Spirit to search our hearts.

Many times when we pray we offer our ‘false selves’ to God. But, He’s never fooled by these vain attempts to cover-up who we really are. It’s our natural tendency to avoid the searchlight of the Holy Spirit from exposing our hearts.

God loves the real you, but he can’t transform your false self. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden, we tend to hide from God when we sin. Real inner transformation of the heart begins only after we stop hiding from Him.

Much of what we call Christian values can be carried out in our own strength. Those acts of outward righteousness can merely be learned behavior. But the inner transformation of the heart is a supernatural act of God. This necessitates a complete turning to and dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Kyle Strobel sums this reality up well:

“Only in the grace of God can we open the depths of our depravity before him. Unfortunately, many people try to live in the grace of God and project a false self to him (Ps 32:3-4). Many try to know God without allowing that knowledge to penetrate to the depths of their hearts. Rather, our call is to have a healthy self-awareness so we can hold open our failures to God: how we praise him with our mouths only, pray to him out of guilt and use relationships to build ourselves up rather than glorify Christ. Without the self-awareness to unveil how much of our Christian practice is built on our flesh, we inevitably fail to recognize how our “virtues” are simply vices in disguise.”

Strobel, Kyle C.. Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards (p. 98). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

 

The Blood: Andrew Murray 

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“God Has No Other Way of Dealing with Sin or the Sinner Except Through the Blood For victory over sin and the deliverance of the sinner, God has provided no other means or thought than the blood of Christ. Yes, it is indeed something that surpasses all understanding.

All the wonders of grace are focused in the blood: The incarnation, by which He took upon Himself our flesh and blood (John 1:14)

The love that spared not itself but surrendered itself to death (Romans 5:8)

The righteousness, the forgiveness by redemption through his blood (Ephesians 1:7)

The substitution, the righteous One atoned for the unrighteous (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The atonement for sin (Hebrews 2:17)

The justification made possible renewed fellowship with God (2 Corinthians 5:18)

The cleansing and sanctification to fit us for that fellowship (Ephesians 5:25-27)

The true oneness in life with the Lord Jesus, as He gives His life (John 17:11, 21) T

he eternal joy of the hymn of praise, Thou . . . hast redeemed us unto God (Revelation 5:9)

All these are but rays of the wondrous light, which are reflected upon us from the precious blood of Jesus. “

Enjoying The Trinity

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“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14

God doesn’t need us, but thankfully, He desires us. He has never been lonely, nor has he ever needed a relationship outside of himself. This Divine community that theologians call the Trinity experienced perfect union and fellowship, before the creation of the world. The mystery of all mysteries is that: the One true God is made up of three distinct persons. One God-three persons. For reasons I can’t comprehend, God desired to create people to enjoy him, and to take dominion over the earth.

Our union with Christ grants us access into the throne-room of God by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ presence at the right hand of the Father guarantees that he hears our prayers. But, our communion with God serves a greater purpose than to just answer our prayers. Answered prayer is good, but experiencing God as Father is the ultimate joy.

I realize the reality that we can enjoy God is a foreign concept to our religious minds.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not a hard taskmaster. We get a glimpse of the Father in the life of the Son. In fact, Jesus said that his yoke was easy and that his burden was light (Matt. 11:30.) And, that if you’ve seen Him you have seen the Father(John 14:9.)

The Father sent Jesus to earth to reveal his heart to those who would become his children. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that we could be filled and indwelt with the very life of God. May we all learn to enjoy the mystery of our Trinitarian God. As we look forward to the redemption of our bodies (Rom.8:23.)

“But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor. 2:9)

Divine Reality

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…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – (Ephesians 3-16-19 ESV)

 

The love of Christ surpasses our understanding. This kind of spiritual comprehension is revelatory in nature. It supernaturally touches both our mind and emotions. God’s love fills us with unspeakable joy.

Recently, I was pondering on the possibility that many Christians today are avoiding God. And, that we often seek to hide from Him behind our religious activities. I was reflecting on the endless Bible studies and sermons that speak to our intellect, more than to our hearts. All of these activities are important, but the goal of spiritual knowledge is to come to know God more intimately.

The Scripture was meant to teach us sound Biblical doctrine, and to renew our minds. But, it takes the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to bring about spiritual transformation in our lives.

God has given us the Holy Spirit, but it’s our responsibility to learn to fellowship with Him.

I see two major drifts in certain spiritual movements, that trouble me. One group focuses on a demonstration of the power of God. And that’s a good thing, as long we allow the Holy Spirit to deal with our character flaws. Also, a more intellectual movement that seeks to study Biblical theology, at the expense of God’s presence. Obviously, there are exceptions in the body of Christ to both of these groups.

It’s not sufficient to know what the Apostle Paul knew, without experiencing God as he did. Our study of Biblical doctrine will only come alive as we seek to experience God for ourselves. I thought the quote below by A.W. Tozer concerning Paul summed up my point well. It speaks of those who study truth but neglect to seek God’s presence.

“For them, the truth becomes a veil to hide the face of God; for Paul, it was a door into His very Presence. Paul’s spirit was that of the loving explorer. He was a prospector among the hills of God searching for the gold of personal spiritual acquaintance. Many today stand by Paul’s doctrine who will not follow him in his passionate yearning for divine reality. Can these be said to be Pauline in any but the most nominal sense?”

Tozer, A. W.. Keys to the Deeper Life. Pioneer Library. Kindle Edition.

Social Justice And The Gospel

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The Scripture

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. – (1 John 5:19 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free..” – Luke 4:18 NIV

“I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” – (Luke 5:32 NLT)

The Issue

The whole world lies under the power of the evil one. That’s why Jesus came; to set spiritual captives free. The perfect life, atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ makes all of this good news. In fact, its great news when we consider that all of us, except for Jesus, are broken and sinful people. No one has ever been able to deliver themselves from sin – we all need a Savior for that. We are not capable of doing enough good works in our own strength to earn our own salvation. Being born into this world without sin makes Jesus uniquely qualified to reconcile us to God.

This good news, that seems to be too good to be true, comes with a catch. Or better yet a commitment. This commitment starts on God’s end. By His divine power, he enables us to grow in godly character. He is committed to us. But, regardless of what some may say – Jesus requires total commitment to his Lordship to inherit his Kingdom. I’m not talking about works-based righteousness, actually, its grace empowered living. He clearly taught that those that lose their self-absorbed lives, will find true life in Him. In other words; you can’t receive his forgiveness, without acknowledging his Lordship. This is real and radical Gospel-centered Christianity.

As subjects of the Kingdom of God, we must take on his worldview – all of it. We are all terribly flawed people, but God is patient with us. Jesus is not asking for perfection from us, just a desire and willingness on our part to obey him.

I contend that both liberal and conservative politicians use the name of Jesus to manipulate sincere people to advance their political agendas. It’s imperative that we ask the Holy Spirit for discernment to know when we are being used for political purposes.

In the Bible, we see the social justice side of Jesus that demands justice for the poor and the oppressed. And the fact is; if you don’t see this side of God in the Scripture, you have been blinded by a materialistic and distorted view of God’s Kingdom.

On the other hand; if you champion the cause of social justice for the oppressed and overlook what the Bible teaches about sexuality and the taking of innocent life,(through abortion or any other unjust killing) you are living in deception also.

The fact is; taking up our crosses and following Jesus on the narrow road of life, involves suffering and self-denial.  Jesus bought us with the price of his own life. So, we don’t have the right to live sexually immoral lives anymore. Nor do we have the right to ignore the plight of those in poverty.

God is gracious to forgive us when we ask him, as long as we don’t justify the kind of behavior he forbids. We are now a new creation in Christ and are called to do good works. Which means we seek to alleviate the pain of humanity in the power of the Holy Spirit and live holy lives as we work in his name.

Prayer

Father, help us to be who we say we are – real Christians. In Jesus name, Amen.

A Call For Prophetic Intercessors

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I took this picture in a prayer chapel at a Church in Germany.

 

“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30 NASB)

“So, what is prophetic intercession, and how does it work? Prophetic intercession is the desire to pray, given by the Holy Spirit, for a person or situation about which the intercessor may have little information. Such prophetic prayers express God’s heart. The Holy Spirit nudges the intercessor to pray so that God can intervene in the situation. This matches the prayer Jesus taught His disciples: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NKJV). (1)

The Dilemma

We all live in a broken world full of broken people. From Donald Trump to Pope Frances, we are all broken from one degree to another. Porn stars, politicians,  and preachers all need to experience redemption and restoration. The fact is, the world needs the forgiveness that Jesus offers. We are living in a day that is so saturated with hatred, division, and partisan political agendas, it has become much more difficult to discern truth from falsehood. Many professing Christians have fallen into the trap of political correctness and have embraced the morals of ‘this present evil age.’  While many believers are just afraid to proclaim the truth in order not to seem offensive to our culture.

A Response

It’s time we seek to gain God’s heart and  perspective on current events and people. This can only be accomplished through biblically saturated individuals who engage God in prayer. God desires to intervene in our personal, national, and global situations, but his method of intervention usually requires us to engage him with our prayers, petitions and intercession. God is sovereign, and he doesn’t need our help, but he desires for us to co-labor with him to advance his Kingdom agenda. This requires an increased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s promptings can easily be ignored, or go un-recognized because of the unnecessary mental clutter in our lives. If we will consistently ask God, he will give us his heart of compassion so that we can share his truth in love. And, we can become the kind of people who can discern what God is doing in the earth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, would you grant your people repentance and help us to remove those things that hinder our ability to be led by your Spirit? Give us spiritual discernment about the times we are living in. And give us Your compassion for people, as we learn to labor in prayer on behalf of others. In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

 

(1)Goll, James W.. The Lifestyle of a Watchman: A 21-Day Journey to Becoming a Guardian in Prayer (p. 110). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Without The Cross Christmas Is Meaningless

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“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” – (1 Corinthians 1:27 ESV)

Without the death, burial, resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God the Father, Christmas would have no meaning. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Santa Claus and Christmas trees, and both giving and receiving gifts. My best memories of my childhood are of waking up on Christmas morning and opening my presents. I usually gathered with my two best friends later that morning, and was amazed at how similar the gifts we had received were. One year we all had army uniforms, and, another year, amazingly we all had received similar cowboy outfits (our mothers obviously conspired together.) I say all that to say; I’m not an Ebenezer Scrooge type person.

But, if Jesus was just another great teacher and moral leader, I don’t believe it would be appropriate for millions of people to celebrate his birth across the globe. I mean, why him? History is full of great political, religious, and military leaders who contributed greatly to the world and conquered Kingdoms.

The fact is Jesus Christ is a King. But his Kingdom is an invisible Kingdom that is not of this world. His miraculous birth was purposely offensive so that his life, ministry and mission, could only be attributed to God.  This whole story of God becoming a baby boy – and born of a virgin was scandalous! Not only that; Jesus was born in a manger in a dirty stable, not in a King’s palace. And, His ministry was both offensive to religious leaders and divisive to families. Jesus’ message is offensive to human wisdom and reasoning, He requires total allegiance and clearly states he’s the only way to heaven. That wasn’t a popular message 2000 years ago anymore than it is today. But, it sure sounds like God to me!

Have you figured out yet that God is not afraid of what men think? Very few people deny the historical existence of Jesus, and the fact that a man from a working class family was mentioned in ancient history books, is extraordinary. We can make up our own rules when it comes to celebrating Christmas and call it a holiday if we want to, but at the end of the day, it’s  really all about Immanuel (God with us.)

This Jesus of Nazareth whose birth we celebrate is not a mere man, or, just a lowly carpenter – he is the reigning King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He presently rules the earth and the entire universe in a position of supreme authority, at the right hand of God the Father.  Why should we bother celebrating Christmas if Jesus wasn’t born to die for the sins of the world?

Regardless of what some people think, Jesus is not some mythical Santa Claus figure. All of the fullness of God dwells in him and he’s coming back to rule the nations, and to reward the faithful, and  to punish the wicked. Believe me, He will make every wrong thing right in the age to come.

My prayer is that we would once again view Christmas with a child-like awe-inspiring faith and wonder in the gift of eternal life, Jesus Christ.

Without the Cross Christmas is meaningless.

When The World Will Be As One

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The United Nations, the European Union and the power elites behind the corporate and political leaders in the U.S reject the exclusive claims of Christianity. In fact they consider biblical Christianity as a major hinderance to achieving their goals. These power elites that desire for “the world to be as one” as the late John Lennon sang, have no use for Jesus Christ or those who adhere to his teachings.  There is a very real conspiracy by those who are seeking to enslave the masses in the name of globalization. Borders need to come down and only a hand full of Technocrats (in their view) need to rule the world. Patriotism will become a thing of the past as we focus on the redistribution of wealth and our global citizenship.

Many in the western world have fallen under the spell of these power elites and have abandoned their belief in traditional values. The entertainment industry, the news media and those in higher education have become the high priest and mouthpiece for this new order. They can’t think or speak independently because they are bought and paid for by the power elites behind the scenes who actually call the shots for the rest of us. This is a movement empowered by the spirit of antichrist.  And, the same voice that whispered in Eve’s ear that “you will be like God” still speaks to some of the most powerful people in the world today.

“We the people” become the ‘useful idiots’ of those who seek to enslave mankind as they promise us a socialistic false utopia. In the book of Genesis Chapter 11 God effectively stopped Nimrod’s globalization plan by confusing the language of what had been a people of one language. They were seeking to build a tower that would come to be known as Babel (which stands for confusion) and to make a name for themselves.

Scholars believe the tower under construction was a pyramid-shaped ziggurat. This tower allowed them to have access to various deities. These people were seeking an ungodly unity with evil motives apart from the God of the Bible.

Had God not scattered the human race and confused their language they would have achieved a one world government and a one world religion at that time. This dream is still alive today in the digital age as the internet has become a tool of Globalist to achieve what Nimrod couldn’t. The movers and shakers in high places today seek to enslave the masses using technology, economic, political power and counterfeit religion.  New Age spirituality which has been growing in America since the 1960’s is an important part of the globalist strategy to replace biblical morals with new age thinking.

We know that God is sovereign over all Nations and their leaders. But, Jesus taught his followers to “watch and pray. Prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel are how we participate with his purposes on the earth. Jesus ask a question: “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”(Luke 18:8) I believe he knows the answer to that question, and he was asking the question to challenge our faith. The question we must ask ourselves is; will we be faithful to the end?

 

 

 

 

Cultural Warfare

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For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us,what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? – (1 Peter 4:17)

 

The United States of America is currently on the brink of another Civil War. We’ve seen many skirmishes – everything from shots being fired at congressman to attempts of character assignation. While most think our fight is between the political far right against the far left – this battle is spiritual in nature.

Being a Republican isn’t proof you are on God’s side. And it isn’t enough to believe in the constitution and the rule of law, as important as those things are. Conservatives can often believe the right things while having hearts devoid of compassion and with little desire to actually follow Jesus. Those of us who name the name of Christ need to come in line with the Kingdom of God and all that means, and repent of our earthly perspectives.

The Bibles’ teachings on sexuality, marriage, and abortion are clear. But, as Evangelicals we must take a hard look at ourselves and ask; are we more patriotic or Kingdom minded? If you are pro-life and pro-marriage according to the biblical pattern you are presently considered to be an outsider in western culture. We are living in times of such spiritual apostasy, that to believe many of the teachings in the Bible is to be considered culturally irrelevant, in the western world.

For many decades spiritually dark forces in the U.S. have worked through the political, social, educational, entertainment, and religious spheres of society to deny the teachings of Christianity. Some who live in opposition to the morals of our current culture have lost their jobs while taking a stand for truth. If America stays on its current spiritual trajectory, we will look more like China than the America in the not so distance future.

I believe God is calling his people to prayer and living lives that honor his son, Jesus. We must remember that judgement begins in the house of God. So, pray for the renewal of the Church in America so that we can become effective witnesses to a post Christian America.

God Hears: Stuart McAlpine

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This is a lengthy  quote from Stuart McAlpine’s excellent new book, “Just Asking: Restoring The Soul Of Prayer.” It’s a must read for those who want to grow in prayer. I would go so far to say that it should be a required field manual for the tribulate times we live in.

“All spiritual life is premised on the fact that God has ears to hear. You bank on it. There is no salvation, no prayer, if God does not hear. Scripture affirms that God hears. “Does He who implanted the ear not hear?” (Psalm 94:9). “His ear is not dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1). The deliverance of a future great nation was couched in the words, “God heard the boy crying” (Genesis 16:11). The whole story of the Exodus-deliverance was determined by one thing: “God heard their groaning, and remembered His covenant” (Exodus 2:24).

There are other kinds of cries that God hears: “ the cries of the workers reached God’s ears” (James 5:4). The conviction and relief that God hears is presented in so many ways as people talk about the “ears of the Lord” (1 Samuel 8:21), or testify with relief that “my cry came into His ears” (Psalm 18:6). Consider the ways this is presented: “Give ear O Lord” (2 Kings 19:16); “You hear O Lord” (Psalm 10:17); “May your ear be attentive” (2 Chronicles 6:40); “Incline your ear to me” (Psalm

17:6); “Listen to my cry” (Psalm 5:2); “Bow down your ear” (Psalm 31:2); “His ears are open” (Psalm 34:15); “Give ear to my words … to my prayer … to my voice” (Psalm 5:1, 17:1, 141:1); “Hear me when I call” (Psalm 4:1); “Hear me in the day of trouble … hear me speedily” (Psalm 20:1, 143:7). Assurance is given, not only that God hears, but what God hears, like the “desire of the afflicted” (Psalm 10:17) or “the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). One of the most quoted chapters on intercession in scripture contains the most quoted verse: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

There is no healing if there is no hearing. If God’s hearing is impaired, we remain impaired. God’s opening words to Solomon in this communication are, “I have heard your prayer” (7:12). This is the clear response to what was asked earlier: “Hear the asking of your servants … when they pray toward this place” (6:21). Any lack of assurance about this, any about His loving attentiveness to us, will undermine our confidence and our will to ask. God’s hearing invites our asking. Our asking is heard.

Without that confidence we will not ask. And even if we do, and go through the motions, it will not be with any faith at all. Nowhere is the assurance of God’s hearing more emphatic than in the repeated testimony of Jesus Himself at Lazarus’ tomb: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew you always hear me” (John 11:42). Do we catch the confidence, joy, relief, gratitude and love in this statement? The grounds of Jesus’s confidence are the same grounds as ours: God hears when we ask.”

McAlpine, Stuart. Just Asking: Restoring the Soul of Prayer (Kindle Locations 1231-1252). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition.