Power in Weakness

www.bible.com/1713/2co.12.9.csb

This is one of my go to verses. If God doesn’t heal you of that illness or infirmity, what then? Where do you go when God doesn’t take the pain away? Most people reject God, saying they’ve prayed and prayed and God hasn’t answered their prayers, or they feel dejected because they didn’t have enough faith to move this particular mountain. Is that how it works? We just send a prayer off to God and He is expected to meet our need, just like that? Does God have any say in the matter?

If God doesn’t heal you, does that make Him an unloving God? Does make Him harsh or cruel? Can God only be glorified and praised only if He meets your need exactly when you need it?

Then imagine Paul’s consternation at not being healed of his infirmity. Though no one is sure what his “thorn in the flesh” was, some suspect it was an issue with his eyes, based on Galatians. Paul prayed to have this thorn removed. Paul’s faith goes without question. He had the ability to heal others of blindness. Why didn’t God heal his? Did God not care?

But God did care. And God have Him an answer, the same answer He gives to all of us. “My power is made perfect in weakness.” What does that mean? It means God takes the long view. He knows this world is not our home. We have a new and glorious eternal body that awaits us where there will no suffering, crying, or pain. The purpose of this life is to prepare our souls for the next, not to enjoy all the pleasures. His power is made perfectly evident in our weakness, for the more powerful message of unshakeable faith comes from the voice of the tested, not the untested. The more powerful comes from the testimony, not the untried.

God’s message and purpose is to save the lost. The lost are better won by one who has been tested and finds his faith unshaken. That God is glorified in the midst of such terrible weakness is powerful testimony, and will many to their knees in repentance. I have been at the bedside of hospice patients who will make you weep because of their unshakeable faith. That is power perfected in weakness. That is the unmistakable power of God.

So the next time God doesn’t heal like you expect, be prepared. God may have other purposes for your illness. He may be disciplining you, or he just may be preparing you for a powerful testimony.

God bless you today!

Unseen Evidence

https://my.bible.com/verse-of-the-day/HEB.11.1/46037?version=100

What is faith? This verse is often quoted as the answer to that question. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Well, as a definition, it often strikes me as ”faith is being faithful.” it doesn’t really answer the question of what faith is. What I hope for doesn’t have a ”substance” and what I can’t see doesn’t really count as “evidence”, does it?

Here’s where you a probably thinking I am going to come back with an amazing answer to this question. But I don’t have one. Faith is taken by itself as evidence of things I don’t have. Confidence is sometimes placed in this verse as an answer, that faith is confidence that what we hope for will in fact happen. If I pray for healing, then faith is the confidence that I will be healed. If I pray for the Lord’s will to be revealed in my life, then faith is knowing that God will reveal that will to me. Faith is grasping what I can’t grasp with my hands. Only by faith can we comprehend things we cannot see with our eyes.

It is by faith that I believe my wife loves me. Either that or it’s an elaborate ruse to gain my confidence so that she can someday do something nefarious. So far, 24+ years on, she has expertly carried on as if she loves me. I can’t see love. But I can see meals prepared, hugs given and received, kisses, even four children brought into the world. If she doesn’t love me, then she has gone through an awful lot of trouble. I believe that love exists, because I can see what it does.

Faith must then be my active portion of that. Faith is what I do based upon what I can’t see, but know is there. Faith is active beyond my senses to my deductions based on what I can see. I believe in God because I see the effects of His creation around me. I believe in Jesus because of the evidence of His life and his work in me. I am not the same man I was when I was saved.

That may not be a great definition, but it is mine. Maybe it will be a help to you today. God bless.

Cleansed

www.bible.com/1713/1jn.1.7.csb

Are you worried that somehow the blood of Jesus hasn’t cleansed you? More often than not, I run into Christians that worry they are not cleansed, and still need to do some form of penance to be forgiven. This is an idea that is prominently Catholic, but you can find it in all forms of Christianity. It is the idea that somehow, God’s grace through Christ’s shed blood doesn’t extend beyond your baptism, all sins committed up to that point, and that in some way you must continue to beg for forgiveness after that point. I’ve even had someone ask me after the death of an individual if that person who died was forgiven their sins even if they forgot to confess some? Would that person now burn in Hell because he/she forget to confess a sin before they died?

Really? Is it that easy to lose your salvation? If so, then there’s no hope for any of us. What do you do with people who get dementia? What happens to the old, who sin just as much as anyone else, only slower? Trust me, I’m getting there. What happens when dementia sets in, and they forget? Does that mean Hell is yawning before them because they forgot to confess a sin they forgot about?

The real question is how powerful God’s grace is. Did Jesus die for all sin for all time? Yes. All sin. John also says in 1 John 3:20, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” If you feel condemned before God, then ask for forgiveness, For Christ’s shed blood has already forgiven it. As an errant child, even though the Father loves us too much to condemn us, we still need to ask for His forgiveness for our own sake. But if we ask for His forgiveness, we also need to accept His grace freely given.

In chapter five, John says we know we are His children. There is no guesswork when it comes to grace. This passage in 1 John 1:7 is for our benefit. We can know we have forgiveness and cleansing from all our sin because we are children of God. He will not let us go easily.

Can a person lose their salvation? Yes. In the same way they received it. They ask for it. Well what person would ask to lose their salvation? A person who says that they no longer want Jesus to be their Savior. If they cast Him aside like dirty laundry and pursue sin with abandon, is there any hope for that person? Yes. If they put aside their sinfulness and once more pursue Christ. It is impossible for that person to be saved as long as they reject Jesus. But that is at the end of a very long road, where God has pleaded and begged for them to come back to Himself. God paid a high price for our salvation. He is highly invested in us. If we choose to follow Him, He does everything in His power to keep us, short of violating our free will.

God will put you through some tough times, both to strengthen your faith and to put you in a position where the only way out is with Him. Christians will suffer in this world, but that is because this world is where we are tested, for the Lord to know those who are truly His, and not merely paying lipservice. It took much labor to bring you into this world. It will take even more to prepare for the next. But take heart, this is the worst it will be. You will experience your worst suffering here, if you are His. If you are not, Hell makes your worst suffering feel like a stubbed toe by comparison.

You are cleansed from your sins, and if you are a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus, you have no fear to walk boldly into the throne room of grace. Ask for it, for it flows freely, but also accept it. Accept God’s forgiveness for even your worst sins, and work to stop sinning against Him. That is maturity. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Resist sin and you will grow in faith. Accept His grace and be at peace. You ought to feel anguish over sin, because you know the cost that saved you. You ought to ask for His forgiveness, but know that even if you forgot some, even if some forgotten sin has slipped your mind, He has still forgiven you. He loves you and wants you to be with Him.

God bless you today.

Impurity Kills the Soul

2 Cor 7_1.jpg
So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
When Christianity was still new, an idea emerged among some that our bodies and our souls are distinct and separate. The new idea was not actually new, but integrated into Christian thought, and basically taught that whatever you do with your body doesn’t matter. Your body is evil and will eventually die. What really matters is what you believe, and how you culture your soul with God’s word (and how well you learn a host of secret passphrases to advance through the levels of spirit beings, kind of like a Mario game for the afterlife. This system was called Gnosticism and became prevalent in the early church as the early apostles were sliding off into eternity.
You would think such would not be the case, as the Scriptures clearly teach, as here, that moral impurity affects your eternity. Can you tell the difference between an impurity that defiles your flesh and an impurity that defiles your spirit? I would argue that they overlap. For an impurity of the spirit, such a wrong belief, will lead to wrong action. For example, if you believe that your spirit is good and cannot be affected by what you do with your body, like fornication or drugs, then you will practice those things without fear of eternal consequences. But when you practice fornication on a regular basis, you feel more and more unworthy to enter God’s presence, and your spirit suffers, just as the body does. Wrong beliefs can make wrong actions. Let me give you another example.
You have heard it said that God will not give you more than you can handle. It is a loose translation of 1 Cor 10:13, where the Scripture says that God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to endure, but will always provide a way of escape from the temptation. Those are actually two different things. Temptation is the thought of doing a certain thing that you know is sin. God says He will not allow such thoughts to overwhelm, or give you more of such than you are able to bear. In addition, God will also offer a way out of these thoughts, which could be a Scripture, or a diversion, or something else that will allow you to resist temptation.
What people often apply this to are situations which have already happened, not thoughts about what you might do. People apply this to crises, or events that have overcome them. They cling to this false promise that they will be able to bear this, because God thinks they are strong enough, otherwise they wouldn’t have to endure it. What happens is that they second-guess God, believing that God either has too much faith in them, or God doesn’t know them, and they buckle under the pressure. Because they cling to a false promise (and thus a false god), they have no resource for hard times. What we might rather do is claim another of God’s promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” No matter what life throws at us, God will never leave our side. We know that even in hard times, God is always present, and we know that in His strength, we can bear all things for, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That verse is often also misapplied, but I will leave it for now.
If you believe that God will not give you more than you can handle, then when He does give you more than you can handle (without Him), then you will lose your faith in Him and fall away. False belief will lead to faithless action. A spirit defiled will lead to flesh defiled. Such a person will walk away, go their own path, and fall into destruction if they are not corrected. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who have left the church for this very reason.
Rather, we believe that both actions of our flesh and of our spirit have consequences for eternity. We cannot isolate one from the other. We must be Christian in our faith and in our behavior. We cannot take one or the other in isolation. So if you think you can go to Church on Sunday and act like a pagan on Monday, then you don’t understand what this Christianity thing is all about. Time to go back to the Word.
Well, I hope this helps you on your journey. God bless and never stray far from His leading hand.

Nothing Fancy

www.bible.com/1713/rom.10.10.csb

Aren’t you glad that God didn’t say, “You have to cross the deepest ocean, climb the highest mountain, and cross the widest desert before you can be saved”? Aren’t you glad that God did not set the price of salvation at $100 Billion? Or that God didn’t say “like and share with a million friends” before you could be saved? Aren’t you glad He said none of these things, but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and confess Him before men?

Coming to Christ initially is nothing fancy. It is simple faith and the confession of your lips. But that faith may make you some amazing things, like cross an ocean, a desert, or scale a mountain for Him. You may give billions for the sake of the name, even to like and share with millions more. But none of these great works come from a need for Jesus. They come a love for Him.

I never thought u would still be blogging like this every day, but now I am drawn to it because of the time I had here thinking about the Word and am always amazed at how well the Bible does together as a whole. I love sharing with you everyday. And I hope you get something out of it too.

God bless you, and thank God He asked for nothing fancy when it came to your salvation.

Am I Better Off Not Knowing?

www.bible.com/1713/mat.8.10.csb

The people that Jesus was born into knew the Scripture since childhood, at least until the age of 12, when only those that showed an aptitude for Scripture were allowed on i their education. Others went to work in the trades. So in all if Israel’s, everyone was expected to be familiar with the Scriptures, if not have them memorized

Enter the Romans, of whom Jesus is referring here. This particular Roman has demonstrated greater faith because he trusts that Jesus can heal on his request, and that without even touching the subject of his healing. Somehow, this one thing impresses Jesus. That by itself deserves some discussion. Jesus marveled at this. It is often that others marvel at His words, but here He is, marveling at this Roman. Wow.

So back to my point. Everyone in Israel was to be familiar with the Scriptures, and all Jews attended synagogue (which can be reasonably assumed, though there were probably some who did not). Yet in all this cultural faith, Jesus found one outside of it with greater faith than these. And maybe that’s why. All of these Jews are practicing a cultural piety without any of its substance. This man comes from a different culture and finds in Judaism, and especially in this Rabbi, something to believe in. We don’t know what else happened to him, but we have this complement from Jesus, which is a lot.

Let me challenge you today to rise above your cultural piety, your going to church because you always have, and practice. personal faith that challenges you. Going with the flow doesn’t impress Jesus. Personal faith and practice does.

May God be with you on this Saturday.

Righteously Unshaken

www.bible.com/1713/psa.55.22.csb

James Bond made famous the line “shaken, but not stirred” when ordering his vodka martinis. I’m not really sure what overall difference it makes, but apparently that was an important character trait for him.

When it comes to people, however, I think we would rather be stirred that shaken. To be “stirred” lends itself to a sense of spirit and activity, as in a person stirred to action or a person stirred emotionally.

To be shaken on the other hand feels more dangerous. A person shaken is a person who has endured trauma and is suffering the effects of it, such a being shaken after a tragedy, a person saying they feel shaken after a loss.

The Lord promises protection from being shaken for those who trust in Him. That’s because those who trust in the Lord and cast their cares on Him have a deep and abiding trust in the person of the Almighty, the King who rules from heaven but is personal to each of us. Can you tell the last time you felt shaken?

Recently, as I’ve remarked before, we have been going through changes in our hospital. After some of the employee transfers and dismissals, people have been left feeling a bit shaken. It hasn’t been easy, but trust in the Lord allows you to look beyond your present circumstances into the eternal. God sees all, and has already prepared for you for events to come. Though you feel the bottom has dropped out, God has already prepared a place for you to land. We have only to trust Him. And believe me when I say I preach as much to myself as all of you. I’ve needed this kind of trust lately, and it has helped me in my faith. Why? Because I don’t listen to the sweet soft words in season. Some of us have to learn the hard way. (Sigh!)

Take this verse to heart. Write it on your mirror. Make it personal to you. God cares for you, and He will not let you go lightly.

May God bless you today.