Archive for May, 2013

(Scripture from the KJV)

Being content is a state of peaceful happiness.  The apostle Paul found this internally with Christ – no matter what was going on around him – and it wasn’t very pleasant many times (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, for example).  He endured far more than we could probably ever imagine going through as modern-day Christians.  Yet, he attained this sense of inner peace.  As believers like Paul was, we are to be content with such things as we have (Hebrews 13:5).

Anything more than food and clothing should be considered a plus for us (1 Timothy 6:8).  We are not to exact any more than what has already been appointed to us – being content with our wages.  Whatever they are – they are enough to spread the news of the gospel (Luke 3:13-14) – and we don’t need to be making any more by doing so (Titus 1:11, 1 Peter 5:2).  We don’t have to make merchandise of people to make the gospel known to them (2 Peter 2:3).

When we want for anything, we are not trusting God to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Psalm 23:1, Philippians 4:19). It’s very difficult to be wanting and content simultaneously.  We’re usually discontent when we want – because we see what we have as not being enough for whatever reasons – usually very worldly.  Our prayers will tend to be wanting as well when we don’t have inner contentment – full of asking God for thing amiss to consume on our own lusts (James 4:3).

Discontent is often a harbinger of contention and contending, which frequently gives way to mutually measuring and comparing ourselves with each other – even among our closest of brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).  If we’ve yet to find the inner peace in all situations we face like Paul – will we not have tendencies to praise and thank God only when we’re getting what we want from Him – not what He wants us to have?  We can’t contend with God (Job 40:2) – and be content with Him at the same time.

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Scripture from the NKJV and KJV

– Immediately, I conferred not with flesh and blood. – Galatians 1:16

Imagine – a person has just received the gift of the Holy Ghost from God.  They’ve felt the baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11), they know they have been “born again” of the Spirit – but they’re not quite sure what to do next.  In today’s modern world, we would probably tell them to find a good church, begin attending a weekly Bible study – even start getting involved in a local charity or organization for less fortunate people.  We might suggest a few books and CD‘s by some noted Christian authors and musicians.  We certainly would recommend they get together with a pastor or elder somewhere, right?

We definitely would not tell any new believer to get away and remove themselves from everything church – and everything Christian for over 3 years would we?  Yet, that’s exactly what the apostle Paul did after being struck down by God on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-4).  He went to Arabia alone to have God reveal His Son within him – not the outer revelations or recommendations of some other flesh and blood person.  To commune with God to make sure he was being led by the Spirit of Christ for what he was about to do – and not by some other Christian. After 3 years, Paul returned (Galatians 1:16-18). Perhaps we should do the same?

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– For God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness – has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6

An optical prism is a device that receives a beam of light – then reflects it back out in many different directions.  If prisms were people, they probably would not spend their time in a room debating over their light – trying to decide and determine the best way to display it.  They would be out and about in a lost world – instantly displaying their light to all – not sitting around discussing how to best be intentional with it.  The light of each one would be glowing in many different directions without having to deliberate over it with other prisms.

As believers, our eyes are the light of our entire bodies – they are the optical prisms God has given us (Matthew 6:22).  When we are “born again” of the Spirit (John 3:5), our Father in heaven sheds His love abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Christ comes to dwell in our inner man by faith through the power of the Holy Ghost – a gift of light from above (Ephesians 3:16-17). From this point on, we should start to become just like prisms. God’s light from heaven continually keeps shining into our hearts – and it is immediately reflected back out in many directions without any turn-around time.

We shouldn’t have to try harder – it just happens naturally. People should see a glow of God’s grace and His gift of light in our eyes at all times (Acts 26:18).  We shouldn’t even have to think about it.  We can’t carve out worldly chunks of time to turn God’s lamp of love inside us off and on – and expect the lost to believe what we’re telling them about His light, can we (Psalm 119:105)?  How can their darkness comprehend God’s light – if we’re not committed to keeping it burning and stirred up in ourselves at all times (John 1:5, 2 Timothy 1:6)?

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines?  Let us fetch the Ark of the Covenant (of the Lord) out of Shiloh unto us – that when it comes among us – it may save us out of the hands of our enemies.” – 1 Samuel 4:3

The Israelites has just suffered a costly defeat – 3,000 of their own men killed at the hands of the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:2). After the battle was over – the elders in the camp were confused as to why they had lost so soundly – weren’t they God’s chosen people?  Why would He let them lose?

Their solution sounded simple: Return some men back to Shiloh and fetch the Ark of the Covenant – then bring it out to the camp near the front lines. God would now be right there in their midst. Surely victory would come the next time they faced the Philistines – right?

Wrong – despite the Ark being among them – the Israelites went out a short time thereafter and 30,000 of their own footmen were killed (1 Samuel 4:10).  This was 10 times as many men as before when the Ark was safe and secure back in Shiloh.  It didn’t really make sense at all.

Why would God let them suffer such a horrific defeat?  We can almost imagine the elders – each one standing there around the camp after the second battle, scratching their heads in bewilderment.  Perhaps some were thinking, “I thought God was always with us – defeats like these are not supposed to happen.”

So, what did happen?  Well, there was an old comic strip called Pogo which produced a very famous line … “We have met the enemy – and he is us.”  The Israelites’ enemy wasn’t the Philistines in these two battles – it was themselves.  Yes, God was in their midst – but it did not automatically mean He was for them in these confrontations with the Philistines.

Their sound defeats were due to their continued and blatant disobedience of the Lord and His ways.  The Lord cannot let His people get away with sin.  In the preceding chapter, God told Samuel of upcoming punishment because of this (1 Samuel 3:11-14).

If God is for us, who can be against us – right (Romans 8:31)? Well, it can be ourselves.  We can become our own worst enemies as believers – trying to kick against God’s goads – as the apostle Paul found out it was very difficult to do (Acts 9:5). We must never get to the point where we start assuming and presuming nothing bad can befall us just because we are “born again”.

Our Father in heaven must continue to punish disobedient children who should know better now about the consequences of refusing to repent and be corrected (Luke 13:3,5, Acts 17:30, Revelation 3:19). We are to be happy when we are – not harping against Him (Job 5:17).  Repeated reproof will come until we finally learn our lesson (Job 34:31).

We are putting ourselves in great danger if we ever reach a point as Christians where we don’t think we need any more admonishment from above (Proverbs 20:9, Ecclesiastes 4:13). Sin without true repentance from the heart has ripple effects – and more people than just ourselves can get hurt or killed – just like it happened with the Israelites above.

God is for us – if we are for Him within us; not just by lip service (Matthew 15:8).  If we keep forgetting Him and continue forging ahead by following our former worldly lusts, we are His enemy – because we have not yet put off our old man (Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 2:11, Colossians 3:8-9, James 4:4). We may not yet learned Christ (Ephesians 4:20-32).

Our Father abides in us by the Holy Spirit – but we have to abide in Him (John 15:1-5).  It’s a two-way street.  If we fail to retain Him in our knowledge – or acknowledge Him in all our ways – we’ll most likely keep right on leaning on our own worldly understanding of how things are supposed to turn out as believers (Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 1:28).

Talking about Christ is a lot different from truly walking with Him.  God is our conviction – not our convenience.  When we insist on doing whatever we want in the world, or with the Word as believers – we’ll probably experience more “I thought that wasn’t supposed to happen – I’m a Christian” moments than we care for.

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