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Archive for January, 2011

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

If we could sum up the meaning of philosophy in just four words it would literally be, ‘the love of wisdom.’ From a Christian perspective, my first thought is that ‘the love of wisdom’ is not a good thing, and considering the post-modernistic, worldview society we now live, I would be right. Then I considered Webster’s 1828 definition of the word. Check out this snippet:

The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works…True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.

That right there is a definition I can live with! If the true goal of a philosopher is to boil everything down to what truth is in every situation, then ultimately he will arrive at the foot of the cross. The question then arises, “Why does this seldom happen?” I submit to you that the Apostle Paul ‘nailed-it’ when he penned:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Romans 1:20-23

The problem with philosophers is that they’re sinners like you and me. Our God is telling us, “Look around—it’s obvious—I made this!” Those who deny God do so because to recognize a righteous God is to also recognize that they are sin-filled. Therefore those who deny God must establish a reasonable explanation for their version of what truth is. In so doing; in their pronouncement of wisdom, they become fools.

Colossians 2:8 is a warning to the church. “Beware,” we are told, there are philosophers and deceivers pushing the traditions of men and the principles of the world. Why are we warned? Because these liars are very good at what they do—they’re good because they worked very hard to convince themselves before they turned their nonsense on you and I. My friends, Oprah is just the tip of the iceberg.

What should we do? We must heed the warning and know that our enemy is constantly on the prowl seeking to devour us. We must stay amidst the flock; in the very center if possible, because those on the fringes are easy pickings for the wolves. And we must be in the word of God so that we can compare the lies against that which is right. It is true, a born-again believer has the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of Truth with them, and He will guide us, but if we try to constantly go it alone, or without the Sword of truth by our side, we risk being deceived by our adversaries.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15


 

These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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Do not take me away with the wicked And with the workers of iniquity, Who speak peace to their neighbors, But evil is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, And according to the wickedness of their endeavors; Give them according to the work of their hands; Render to them what they deserve. Because they do not regard the works of the Lord, Nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them And not build them up. Psalm 28:3-5

Non-believers often bemoan that the Old Testament is replete with cruelty and perhaps cite a verse such as, “O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed ; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones (Psalm 137:8-9).” Ouch—that is a little brutal, but they haven’t taken into account (either because they’re unconcerned or unaware), is that these tangible, Old Testament, adversarial pictures are symbolic of our shadowy, New Testament (and new covenant), spiritual enemies. Read the Psalm passage again, turn it inward; make it a prayer against the enemy within. The Apostle Paul would say…

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Our Father in His wisdom has allowed us to see in the Old Testament typology our enemy and how He faithfully deals with them. God has not changed, but He desires that we would curb our brutal ways. The Old Testament illustrations depict in great detail the manner by which our old man meted justice. God reminds us that we are to love these enemies because they aren’t the real problem; they’re but pawns being used by satan and his demonic forces.

The truth of the matter is that when we allow the Lord to search us, we discover that many of these adversarial traits reside within our own hearts. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that prayer changes us. That’s true, because when we pray; when we prayerfully participate in this spiritual battle field, our Father searches out the enemy in us as well as around us. With just a morsel of faith and by God’s power, we can deliver the enemy no matter where he hides. Consider anew this account from Jesus.

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:18-22

We see a similar (but different) account in Matthew 17 where Jesus included the phrase, “If you have faith as a mustard seed.” What we so often fail to see is the context in which Jesus was using this example. In Matthew 17 the enemy was a demon and in chapter 21 the enemy was fruitless-ness. Jesus had taken physical, external scenarios and, for the sake of changing His disciples, turned it inward and spiritual. In essence our Savior is saying that with the amount of faith we have been given, regardless of its size, we have the power to expel the enemy from within, despite the fact it might seem like a mountain-size problem to you. Is there evil in your heart? Is there fruitless-ness in your walk? Say to the mountain, ‘Be removed!’ and it will be done.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

God will never give you anything you can’t handle

That’s rubbish. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 again and tell me Who makes the way of escape. That’s right, Jesus does. A proper interpretation of this verse would better read, “God will never give you anything He can’t handle…and He can handle everything.” By faith and His power we can move those evil and detestable things in our lives that seem like mountains and negate our enemies.


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Today I am studying Psalm 16, a Messianic Psalm. Reading through the verses one can almost envision Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, sorrowful and intensely distressed, kneeling in prayer to the Father, in soul-filled agony, blood dripping as sweat from His pores. Psalm 16 is the prophetic picture of this scene.

We also discern a compliant Jesus putting all He had into the hands of the Father, trusting Him on every level. The Gospel of Luke suggests Jesus might have opted for another way, but more importantly it demonstrates that regardless of our thinking, the Father’s plans always take precedent over our own.

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.” Psalm 16:1-2

What is the Will of God

We have touched on the issue before and what the Bible proclaims. As a matter of fact the book of 1 Thessalonians has a bunch to say on the subject. Check out these two passages:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:4-7

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

That’s some pretty cut-and-dry doctrine right there. I particularly like the last little portion, ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, (and) in everything give thanks.’ When we do those things, God’s precise will for any given situation will be revealed.

Or will it?

When we examine the passages that refer to God’s will, what we actually garner is God’s direction. His will on the other hand is absolute and it encompasses every possible dynamic, therefore it cannot be known in its entirety–God’s direction is a glimpse of His will. In other words when God says, ‘Rejoice always,” given our situation, we might be baffled–the action is but a snapshot of an immeasurable concept. When God gives a directive, He has taken into consideration the beginning from the end and everything in between; such things we are unable to fathom.

So what is God’s will?

Simply put, it’s the choice we would make if we had all the information. It’s also typically the opposite of what our flesh yearns for.

Consider a two year old. Approach the child with a Hershey Kiss and a thousand dollar bill, which one will he choose? We know that without proper guidance, he’s likely going to take the chocolate. If we explain to him why the cash is a better choice, he may or may not change his mind. The problem is the child cannot perceive bigger ideas; they’re too abstract. “Don’t touch the stove,” mom says, “or you’ll get burned.” The problem is that a child has no concept of what it means to be burned.

The same is true for us; our vision is not much better than that of a two year old, but hopefully we have come to trust our Father. So when God says, ‘Abstain from sexual immorality,’ we abstain knowing that we don’t know the bigger picture. When He says, ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, (and) in everything give thanks,’ we obey, despite the fact it might make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

We need to remember that if we had all the information, God’s will for us and our choices would be entirely the same. But we don’t have all the information, therefore the question that remains is, “Do we trust God to guide us in our limited vision?”

WWJD

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

‘What would Jesus do,’ is a wonderful pronouncement. I see only one problem arising with the slogan; “What if you don’t know Jesus?” If you don’t know what Jesus did, how will you know what Jesus would do? Today, I am confident in saying that it is God’s will that you know Jesus better. Why? Because He will illuminate the path of life. In His presence we will discover joy to its fullest and pleasures everlasting. It’s God’s will.


 

These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys…So Job died, old and full of days. Job 42:12 + 17

What does the book of Job teach us? Well the truth be told, it teaches us so much more then I could ever record here in this short blog. I did however want to pull out a few key elements. Primarily the book is a tutorial on faith.

Faith

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Faith is that thing that prepares us for eternity and it is a component that must be exercised. Walking by sight; having the proof staring us in the face is not the thing that propels a saint forward or readies him or her for things everlasting.

Submission

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job 2:9-10

Obviously submitting ourselves to God is important, but did you realize that submission to His sovereignty silences satan? It’s true! Just two chapters in (in a forty-two chapter book) and we never hear from satan again.

Humilty

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6

Without a doubt Job was humbled, but with his humiliation came revelation. The same can be true for us if we choose to search for it amidst our shame. God does not allow us to be knocked down merely that we should skin our knees, but rather while we are down we might seek His face

Synchronicity

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:12-18

Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu blew it and in so doing we glean from their mistakes. Their offense: taking the truth of the Bible and assaulting Job with it. James, the brother of Jesus, elaborates on how we ought to counsel our suffering brothers and sisters inside and outside of the faith.

Compassion

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

It’s a divine reality: those who have suffered are compassionate towards those who have suffered or are suffering similarly. It’s a worldly reality that not everyone exercises this gift. All along we might have thought, “God, why are you letting me suffer so greatly?” only to discern later His answer, “So that you might be a comfort to someone else.”

Discovery

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

You might have noticed that God did not answer any of Job’s questions. The fact of the matter is that God responded to Job with sixty (60) of His own questions. These questions ultimately served a singular purpose—they demonstrated that God is the answer to all our questions, comments, or concerns.

Assurance

Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. John 16:20

There is a happy ending for those who are in Christ Jesus. It doesn’t matter what our current state, the Christian knows how the story ends. The non-believer does not have such cheerful assurances. Job’s hope was not that his wealth was restored double, but that his future was with the Lord eternally. The Apostle Paul would summarize our condition this way:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18


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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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