Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

How is it that Jesus is the only way?

Jesus is the son of God (Matthew 1:18). He is the Word of God (John 1:1). He is the immaculate conception (Luke 1:30-35). He died and rose again from the dead (Mark 16:6).

We who follow Christ know all these things to be true. But each of these facts may not convince a seeker who wants to believe that good people go to heaven and that those who’ve never heard of Jesus but are faithfully religious in their culture will ‘be saved’.

How is it possible that only one person can be the gateway for a relationship with the Creator of the Universe? How is it that Jesus is the only way to God?

Only one person was able to defeat death, so that others could piggy-back on His triumph, and be forgiven their sin and regain the relationship with God that was always intended. That one person had to be pure, so that others could attain that purity through their faith in him. That person could not be the son of a man, because any who are the son of man have inherited the sin of mankind, through Adam. That person happened to exist outside of time, before the world began, when he spoke words and the elements came into being and obeyed his voice.

Jesus was a baby, then a boy, who became a man. Before time and before he was born in Bethlehem, we know the Word of God existed because he spoke and there was light, and life. But his name wasn’t Jesus. His name was Word.

There is so much to grapple with in trying to understand how Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). He said it and so it must be true because he would not lie. But how is it true?

The theology of the truth of Christ’s power is not difficult, but it is profound. The reality is that no one else has the right to save. Adam forfeited the world God had given to him, and his immortality, to Satan when he disobeyed God’s will; God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus so he – and we – could see for ourselves he would not be tempted or tricked into disobeying God. Jesus did not inherit sin by being born in sin, nor did he become sinful through disobedience. Further, as he was totally surrendered to God, so he was a perfect model of surrender for us; he even surrendered unto death, the most painful form of execution in history. Then he rose from death to complete the task of enabling us to have eternal life.

Jesus has claim to be the only savior because he was the only one who walked the walk of a savior. He was only able to walk that walk because he was totally surrendered to God. And he was the only one able to be totally surrendered because he had the Spirit of the living God inside himself, speaking and working through him to do the will of the father.

When you witness your faith in Jesus, know the theology of who Jesus is. It isn’t particularly whether he was fully man, fully God or a mixture that needs to be resolved. What matters to the unbeliever is where Jesus got his authority. He was perfect, and so the ‘buck stopped with him.’

Ready: Know the why’s and how’s of your faith in order to answer questions intelligently and with the authority God has already given you as one of His children.

Set: Prepare your testimony and be ready to give an account of your faith.

Go: Live, love, laugh, knowing God has set you free from your sin and seeks to save others through who you are and how you live. You may never be drawn into an argument, but in case you are asked, you’ll want to be able to explain answers to the profound questions of salvation by God’s grace.

God bless. See you next Thursday. In the meantime, how about investigating another of my blogs:

refreshing lifeA Life Examined is a woman’s view of life as it unfolds. It is a more secular viewpoint and so can be a useful tool to offer to others who don’t want ‘God talk’ but who do want a healthy, sincere perspective on life as it unfolds.

 

 

Manitoulin LighthouseLife from the Lighthouse shares what I learn from God when I manage to listen.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Does the Church need the Holy Spirit at Christmas?

It is Christmas! It is the day that so many of us around the world have marked to celebrate that Love came down to earth, to set us free from the despair in our own sinful lives.

Nothing can minimize the huge blessing that was the arrival of baby Jesus, nor does the amazing significance of his death and resurrection have any equal. Jesus came from on high and was baptized into ministry at the age of thirty. He did only the will of his Father, and all that he did, he did through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Does the Church need the Holy Spirit at Christmas? The Need for God’s Holy Spirit Anointing is evident at this time in our history. The Church needs the Holy Spirit at Christmas and every day.

In Bill Johnson’s book, Dreaming with God, he makes it abundantly clear we need the Holy Spirit to fill us, in order to live the life the LORD has for us. And Geoff Shattock of WorkTalk Weekly says, “your work consists of these same energy consuming characteristics, and you will need the same Spirit to equip you. Please don’t be tempted to believe that you can work in any meaningful way without the sense of the Spirit being upon you, anointing you and sending you” (post date: 8th September, 2014)

For far too long, far too many believers have been walking out their lives in their own strength and power. But we see in God’s word that Jesus was equipped for service through the power of the Holy Spirit:

Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 read:

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because He has anointed Me…” (NKJV)

With the call and responsibility as Believers in these times, can we afford to think the Spirit is no longer available, is dormant or is only a connection point at the moment of salvation? No, the Spirit is active in and through you, and is available to the level of your faith, study, and willingness to receive. He is the power and the presence of Father God. He rested upon prophet after prophet in Old Testament times and filled many a believer in the New Testament church. We need him now, in these challenging and surprising times, no less than at any other time in history.

We need an awakening, an activating, an infilling of the Holy Spirit throughout the Body of Christ, as it was with the Apostles, as it was in the New Testament church. We need the Spirit of God actively working in us in order to function effectively for God’s Kingdom in these End Times.

Recently, I moved country, and the process hasn’t been easy. God’s adventures are never dull; there are so many blessings I’ve experienced through the people I’ve met and the challenges I’ve faced since the beginning of the process to move from Canada to Spain. But I have failed many times, particularly as a parent in these last few weeks, and I know I am only as ‘good’ as the Spirit who dwells within me.

How do we receive Holy Spirit’s power? We seek, ask and pray. What do we do to safeguard ourselves from the occult? Know the Word and the fellowship of other believers. How can we trust it is God working in us, rather than Satan? We shall know by the fruit our actions produce. The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, Patience, Faith and Self-Control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Ready: Seek deep intimacy with the Father. Ask Him for a baptism of His Holy Spirit, because the power of God resides inside you, and is meant for leading, guiding and equipping you in your walk through life.

Set: As you ask in Faith to receive God’s Holy Spirit power, wait. As a Believer, the Spirit is already within you. Ask God to make you abundantly aware of His presence within and around you. Pray for His protection if you feel fearful, and trust He hears your prayer.

Go: Do you recognize your need? Do you experience God meeting you? In the power of the Holy Spirit, follow God’s lead to live, to witness and to minister to others to whom God will lead you.

In subsequent weeks I plan to dig into more depth about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

May this special day marked on the calendar be the beginning of deeper intimacy with the Father and His Son, through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

When is it the time to witness our faith?

Sharing our Faith

When is it the right time to share our faith with unbelievers?

Recently, I heard David Wilkerson preach. It was a clip from You Tube, broadcast on Revelation TV. 

In essence, David said,

“When was the last time in church you felt the conviction of God, drawing you to repentance, drawing you closer to Him, drawing you?”

It’s so easy to live our lives day-by-day, as though we have all the time in the world to get to know Jesus.

But we haven’t.

And neither do our friends.

As the world spins around, anti Christ forces are pulling hard, and media, education, politics, and much of western society is speaking such anti God propaganda that it’s closing minds before they’ve even had time to consider Creation and the Creator.

I had the experience of losing a friend to cancer well before her time. Thankfully, she was a believer. But it taught me, the time truly is short and not to be taken for granted.

I don’t believe we are all called to be Evangelists. But we are all called to be ready to give an account of what we believe and know of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (see 1 Peter 3:15)

When is the time to witness our faith? Now. And always. With meekness, gentleness, shamelessness and confidence in Christ.

When is the time to draw closer to God. Now. And always. With meekness, gentleness, shamelessness and confidence in Christ.

Ready: Prepare your testimony. How did you find Jesus? (How did he find you?) What difference has he made to your life? Why are you talking about him now?

Set: Pray for God’s occasion and calling, for you to speak on behalf of your faith in Him.

Go: Know the Holy Spirit of God resides in you, and will give you the time, the audience and the words to speak.

“Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:20)

 

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Jesus: Baby, Son of God, God

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)

How do you celebrate Christmas? Is Jesus at the center of it? How do you show your focus to him?

It will be only days before the majority of the world celebrates the birth of a baby in a stable whose name was to be called, Jesus. The Christmas Season is upon us, and I for one choose not to ignore it.

Some Christian organizations celebrate on the 25th of December, some on the 6th of January. Some do not like to celebrate either of these dates, because it isn’t the actual season of Jesus’ birth; others reject the commercialism that has come to symbolize Christmas, and so for the sake of their principles, they ignore the occasion.

”As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15)

I enjoy the principle of Christmas. I know the date was chosen centuries ago, to fall on the last day of a pagan festival to try to draw those pagans into Christianity. But still, I enjoy the nativity and all the modern lights and scenes that depict the night of the birth of the son of God.

I don’t like the commercialism of Christmas. I love the carols, but not the modern songs that talk about snow drops and reindeer and which seem oblivious to the reality of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the Saviour of the world. I can take or leave a tree. But I don’t like to ignore the beginning of the life of the Word who became flesh.

READY: Choose how you will mark the birth of Jesus. Make it your own festivity, for you and your family, in your own way.

SET: Prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus in your own unique way.

GO: Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in a new and personal way to reflect the Christmas Season that manifests your relationship with Jesus, Saviour of the World.

 

 

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Prayer that bears another’s burden and leads to victory

Have you often wanted to help someone who is suffering, yet have felt helpless? Have you ever wondered, ‘How can I help my friend who is in pain?’

Do you know that you have the power to help anyone who suffers?

Distress is painful to experience, but it can be equally painful to observe from the sidelines the pain of a loved one. Those who follow Christ know that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Though we may feel powerless to help someone else, we know the power that does help, which comes from above.

Prayer moves mountains and heals the physically and emotionally sick.

Prayer changes your heart and the hearts of others.

Prayer determines our course and touches the course of Heaven, when we pray the LORD’s prayers.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

As we mature in our personal prayer life, a natural shift begins to take place: We begin to ask more for others than for ourselves, trusting God knows and satisfies our own needs. As we pray, we are bearing others’ burdens in the Spirit; likewise,  when we share our needs with others, we are sharing our burdens. Doesn’t God love it when we knit ourselves together, bonding in Godly love and support for one another! (Psalm 133)

Ready: Who do you know who’s need is great and who perhaps God has laid on your heart?

Set: Find a verse that supports the needs of this person. (Bible Gateway will help you to find the location or specific wording of any verse.)

Go: Commit to pray for this person and allow God to lead your words. WAIT to hear what God will say, and how He’ll lift the burden. Trust that, when it lifts, God has done the work that needs to be done, through your prayer and your love toward your ‘brother’. Then, you can praise God, trusting, with faith, that the work has been done.

Bless you for your love. Trust that love is a gift from God and that, in the Spirit, it is powerful in the pulling down of strongholds.

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

How to pray without ceasing

What is prayer?

Prayer is such an amazing tool and gift. Ultimately, it leads us to the throne room of God. Prayer elevates our thinking and reveals God’s perspective to us. It is the means we use to fight and win against the enemy. But until we dig, reflect, relate personally through prayer and worship, and allow ourselves to be broken, we cannot grow to be the spiritual warriors God has created us to be.

Romans 1:9-10 is just one of many scriptures that shows the effort prayer takes:

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.”

In the end, Paul did get to Rome.

Have you experienced profound practical results directly through your prayer life?

If you find prayer yields less than you hope, rest assured it isn’t because God is absent. You can deepen your prayer life. While it starts with determined effort, through reading the Bible and giving yourself a quiet space and personal room for calm moments of reflection, it doesn’t really blossom until you connect with the Holy Spirit, does it?

You can’t demand the Holy Spirit meet you, but you who have the Holy Spirit inside you, can expect Him to draw near. Everything in the Word that Jesus says about God’s Spirit promises intimacy. God hears our prayers; His Spirit is willing and eager to meet with us.

Let’s look at an issue I have experienced to show how close the Holy Spirit is to us…

Ready: My young son’s spiritual maturity is very much a heart issue for me. I earnestly seek God’s will for his life and pray protection over him daily. I don’t say a prayer and leave it at that. But nor do I repeat the same prayer over and over, because I believe God hears me the first time. I don’t presume and let the issue drop.

Set: I pray daily for my son: for his growth, through the issues that arise in his life, lifting up the challenges and situations he faces, and for his future as a Godly man. The words of my prayers change, but my heart’s desire does not. I also yield my prayers to God, asking Him to reveal His heart for the child, and His timing in the experiences that will teach and grow the boy.

One example of praying without ceasing is covering my son in prayer: for his safety, his maturity, his relationship with God, and his personal identity. I trust God hears me and I allow Him to touch my heart and to guide my prayers, as I surrender my will and my son’s life to God.

By the time he’s 21, my son will be a man. I still won’t stop covering him in prayer, but as now, the prayers will be adapted according to the needs and circumstances he faces, and based on God’s leadership and not my own.

Go: Now, is it your turn to sit with the LORD? Time to talk with Him, and to praise Him for the unfolding of answered prayer.

Earnestly seek Him, His will and His way, and He will reveal Himself and the ways in which He needs you and your prayer life to grow.

Sunrise 1

 

Seek a quiet place to pray.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Why will the Poor always be with Us?

Why are there poor?

Jesus said, “For you have the poor with you always…” Mark 14:7a.

Did Jesus mean we are to care for them all the more? Or to recognize we can never rescue all of the poor? Or does this mean something else completely?

Recently, I was reading the children’s Bible to my son and, in its simplicity, I was suddenly struck by the notion that, like Lazarus, the LORD carries those who have lived wretched lives on earth; they experience comfort and wholeness after their earthly lives have ended.

The LORD, who exists outside of time, knows the purpose for all events and all of our lives. Perhaps the poor exist for themselves to be redeemed in the next life, and for the rich of this world to discover their own wretchedness in the next.

Ready: We are to value life, this life, irrespective of what our standard of living is. There is a place for all of us after life on earth, and those who are wretched in this life will be comforted in the next.

How this all works theologically remains somewhat of a mystery to me, as I know that Jesus came to save us all from our sins, and that none of us can see the Kingdom of God except through him. We must be born again by faith in the Son of God, just as Jesus said himself in John 3, if we are to have eternal life. BUT perhaps those in abject poverty are: in their humility, in their suffering, and in their despair, more aware of God, unlike the rich in their prosperity and distraction.

After this life, there is another that goes on for eternity. Perhaps, though Lazarus suffered in this life, God was using the suffering as an opportunity for the wealthy to love and to give. God honoured the poor man into eternity, for his suffering; comfort came to Lazarus. But pain and shame came to the rich man who saw nothing beyond himself while on earth.

Set: If we who have much honour the poor who have little, we are able to be grafted into the honour given to the poor man.

I wonder if this is how God sees the value of suffering? Certainly Jesus suffered on behalf of us all, but perhaps in His wisdom, he gives some of us more opportunity to suffer or to be a comfort to others in this life, in order to grow us for the next.

How will we move forward knowing the poor we will always have with us?

  • We will love, in word and deed.
  • We will acknowledge with respect and humility.
  • We will give as we have been provided for.

And then perhaps we may share in some of the Glory that comes through suffering and hardship.

Go: love, live, enjoy and give.

 

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Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Baptism means ‘to submerge’ so to be baptized means to be immersed in water. By definition there is no such thing as full immersion baptism as opposed to any other sort, because – at least as I see it –  the word implies full immersion and nothing else.

So, if baptism means ‘to be submerged’ then what is Holy Spirit baptism? What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit’?

Ready:

On the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after the Passover and Christ’s Crucifixion, many refreshing lifewere gathered when tongues of fire descended upon them and they spoke in various languages (Acts 2). This is one manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecostal Church denomination was founded upon this truth, and it is their doctrine which says you will speak in tongues if you are baptized in the Holy Spirit. For me, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is even simpler than that: the manifest presence of God will fall upon anyone it wills and the power and presence of God will be experienced.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher, comforter, and will convict us of sin.  He is our helper (John 14, 15, 16) Any who believe and follow Jesus receive the Holy Spirit at the time of rebirth. But how do we experience His presence? How do we know the power from on high? And do we need this power if we are saved by God’s grace? Indeed we do. Why?

We live in dangerous times. Many say it is the End Times.

Jesus had the Holy Spirit’s power and presence. In Luke 4 Jesus quotes Isaiah 61, speaking of the Holy Spirit of the LORD resting upon him. If he operated in and through the Spirit, then how much more do we need Him?

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news….” (Isaiah 61: 1)

And yet I for one, haven’t enough of Him. I have experienced His power and presence. I have basked in the beauty of His holiness on more than one occasion. And yet, I am fearful of Him whenever He draws near, not because He will hurt me, but because I am anxious when it comes to surrender. Even though it is always good, always refreshing, always renewing, my flesh resists and I struggle to yield.

Set:

I experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in the following ways:

He makes me nervous

He makes me tremble

He gives me a rumbling ache in my tummy

My mouth wants to shout praise

I am sleepless

These are just clues to manifestation of Holy Spirit.

The fruit is patience. The fruit is greater love for others and for God

The fruit is joy, peace, goodness, faith, greater kindness, gentleness and/or self control.

Nothing ill comes from Holy Spirit. He does not overtake our bodies or our minds. He does gently and sometimes persistently prompt us to surrender to God’s timing, Word or wisdom. He does wake us up to spiritual understanding, deepening our experience or understanding of God’s word. He does not take over or harm. He is to be awed but not feared, to be followed, to be comforted and nurtured by. He protects, warns and guides.

Yes, in these end times, if indeed they are End Times, we need Holy Spirit. And those operating with Him can do much to bring God’s kingdom here, on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

Go:

Plan to experience a deepening awareness of God’s Spirit upon you.

1. Invite Him

2. Choose to trust Him

3. Give Him time to descend upon you and to fill you

4. Surrender: fear, suspicion, anxiety to Him

5. Receive from Him

poss for website 2May you have a Spirit-filled day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

How can the Church become like Jesus?

5 Aspects of Christ: How can Jesus’ church become like Jesus?

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Many people say they like Jesus but not the church. The church follows but does not act like Jesus. We are called to be his hands and feet, but making the church like Jesus hasn’t been very successful so far, has it?

Ready: How can the church become like Jesus today? The church has a responsibility to reflect Christ. After 2000 years we are still lacking. How can we finally equip ourselves, and find our perfect character in Christ?

Set: For the church to operate in the way God intends, we need to be led within the structure God intended. One key lies in the five fold ministry, Jesus’ gift to the church. These five fold ministries are: apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher, pastor. Each of these ministries is an aspect of Christ, who had all of these qualities. We need all the qualities of Christ if we are to operate in his authority and power.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to My Father.”(John 14:12)

Through these 5 ministries, the Body is prepared. Within the church, there are people with the particular calling of pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, or apostle.

The calling does not have to do with education but everything to do with anointing. You may know the person that just opens his mouth and out comes revelation about God’s Word (teacher). Or whenever someone is in need of wise counsel, you can spot the gifted pastor, ready with just the right word in just the right season. There are those who have a special gift for sharing Jesus with unbelievers, who’s witness seems so easily to affect others toward him; these are evangelists. Some have the ability to see God’s plans and purposes and are designed for the prophetic. Finally, there are apostles who lead naturally, and hold visions for the new things God has for His Church.

With any one of these ministries missing, the church is lacking a necessary part of it’s headship and does not grow as God intends it. So often everything falls to the minister employed by the church; many things cannot be fulfilled by one key person. God loves unity (Psalm 133) and to see His people working together for good.

How to play your part in building the church:

Step 1: Recognize the church structure is imperfect but God has given us the perfect structure to equip the Body of Christ.

Step 2: Study and learn these 5 fold gifts. See if you spot others who are these gifts to the Body of Christ. Could you be one of these gifts?

Step 3: Encourage the gifts in others; identify and practice them. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 tells us the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12 lists the gifts of God.

Step 4: Encourage your church leaders. Honour them. They too are gifted and seeking to honour God with their lives.

Step 5: Pray, asking God to reveal the gifts of Jesus that are within the congregation. This may be radical thinking for your church, so pray for God’s will to be done and for willing hearts within your congregation and church leaders.

Go: Intercede for your church, your city and your region, that the Body of Believers would be equipped and ready to serve the LORD with gladness, and the people with love. (And when you feel called to step out to share this message, step out in faith and share in love, asking for God’s timing and His window – first.)

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Worship as a form of Spiritual Warfare

‘Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.’ (William Congreve) And it can do so much more!

Ready: We sing songs in church, and that’s nice. But what is worship really all about?

Set: Whether singing old hymns or new tunes, worship is a serious issue. Worship is much more than singing songs at the beginning of a church service, or enjoying a praise CD in our cars on the way to work. Although those experiences can be fulfilling, worship is a lifestyle and as we engage with our Heavenly Father, we can offer a sweet fragrance to Him and simultaneously thwart the enemy’s intentions. When we walk in a lifestyle of worship, we enjoy peace of mind, freedom of expression and joy in the Spirit.

Is worship a form of spiritual warfare? This question, “Is worship a form of spiritual warfare,” is one of the most commonly asked questions by today’s Christians.

If the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and self-control, then any exhibition of these fruits will be sweet to the LORD and sour to the enemy. There are prayers of intercession, and declarations to transform our present circumstances to God’s will; there are prayers to heal hearts, overcoming poverty and oppression, and to protect the land and its heritage. But one of the most basic battles we can wage against the enemy is to enjoy this life and whatever circumstances we face (Philippians 3:1). As we worship the LORD in Spirit and in Truth, it pulls down the enemy every time!

1. Celebrate your life, with or without a music track.

Go: Enjoy every moment of the LIFE the LORD has given you today, knowing the weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:14)