If your desire is to disciple your children as the Bible describes, there are a few things that YOU REALLY NEED TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS!
If you want children who walk vibrantly with Christ and have their own relationship with Him, then the most important thing you need to do is have your own relationship with Christ!
In other words, It is very unlikely that your kids will grow to have a relationship with God if you don’t model it for them. So, you can’t teach your kids to have a devotional time in the Bible with God, if you don’t make the time yourself. You can’t expect your child to rid themselves of anger if you don’t rid yourself of it. You can’t teach your kids to love the Lord with all their heart, all their soul and all their mind if your own life doesn’t reveal this in your own heart, soul and mind.
Your walk must match your talk. Jesus must be the leader of your home. We all have roles & responsibilities that we play within our households, but Jesus must be the Leader.
This can be particularly tough for dads, as the Bible is pretty descriptive of the leadership roles that you must have as a husband and father. Sometimes, guys get caught up in the respect they are or are not receiving at home. This can easily affect a dad’s pride, temper, legalism, etc. But, it’s really not about what you deserve at all! Christian parenting is actually about Jesus being the ultimate leader of your home, and everyone in your family submitting to His leadership as you all walk together.
When you can come to terms with this and live it out, you’ll find yourself in the midst of a much smoother ride through life. When you and your family is constantly in prayer, asking for God’s guidance, it makes everything else fall into place.
Now, one thing that you really MUST do in order to provide an environment for your kids’ Christian walk to grow is read the Bible with your children. While this doesn’t guarantee success in discipling your kids, it is an important key in helping them grow spiritually.
One passage that stresses the importance of reading the Bible to our children is 2 Timothy 3:14-17:
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
In the Book of Acts, we learn that Timothy’s mother was a follower of Christ, as was his grandmother. From what we can infer, it seems as though Timothy’s dad did not have a relationship with God, so let that be an encouragement to single moms, or Christian moms like Timothy’s whose husband doesn’t walk with Jesus. Take heart. Be of courage. Even Timothy, who eventually became the Bishop of the Church at Ephesus, came from a home without a father when it came to knowing God. His mom and grandma poured the Scriptures into Him, and he was eventually discipled by Paul, but it was the women in Timothy’s life who taught him what the Bible said.
These verses also tells us how Scripture plays a pivotal role in each of our lives. They give us wisdom, it’s useful to our daily lives, it encourages us, it equips and prepares us to be the men and women of God that He wants us to be.
Now, when it comes to reading out loud to your children, there are many, many great Bible storybooks that are easily available. A few samples include:
It’s key to have your kids sitting with you and learn the process of quietly reading scripture, understanding what the Bible says and wrap up your Bible reading time with prayer.
WhWhen your kids are 2-3 years old, this whole process may take only 5-10 minutes. As they get a little older, you may find yourself spending 15 minutes or so reading, discussing and praying. No matter what age, when you start doing this and make it a priority in your home, you’ll find that children love it when their parents read to them and disciple them in God’s ways.
We have been looking at the following scripture up close and personal.
Isaiah 26: 3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trust in you!!
Last week we got up to “him whose mind is steadfast. This week we are starting with:
“Because he trusts in you”….. the Hebrew word trust is batach, to attach oneself. To confide in, feel safe, be confident, secure. Picture a baby with her mom or dad, don’t we want to trust God like that child who is utterly dependent.
Now let’s look at this word out of 2 Corinthians 10:5
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
When did you last break a stronghold in your own strength and end up feeling powerless and totally defeated? Do you see any patterns?
Think about a stronghold you have experienced my friend. What part did insecurity play in it?
Insecurity played a major part in the strongholds the enemy built in my life. An important part of learning for me to live in victory has been discerning the heart rumblings of insecurity.
I had to learn to pour out my heart to God and acknowledge every hollow place. I had to surrender my eating habits to Him every day
“When you make a daily practice of inviting His love to fill your hollow places and make sure you are not hindering the process, God will begin to satisfy you more than a double cheeseburger.” …Halleluiah!!
We left off last week by considering together this most enigmatic verse:
“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)
If you are at all uncomfortable with that, then the rest of this story will make no sense, and will leave you with an even greater discomfort.
But if you are willing to allow for the fact that “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered,” then you are in for this great big blessing: The grand and glorious realization that Jesus, just like you and just like me, learned in real time what it means to live a life of obedience to God the Father.
We stressed last week, and I will ever-so-briefly remind you now, that Jesus was fully human, just like us.
Last week we discussed some of the implications of Hebrews 4:15, where the writer emphatically affirms this ever-so-comforting reality:
Jesus “understands all of our human weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings and temptations we do, yet He did not sin.”
Jesus experienced every human emotion, felt keenly every human feeling — including our feelings of fear, insecurity, uncertainty, abandonment, betrayal.
I mean, you just wait until we get to the Garden of Gethsemane, at which time there will be no doubt that in Jesus 100% deity meets 100% humanity, with all that that word humanity implies.
As we saw so vividly last week, life threw at Jesus unexpected challenges, unanticipated conflicts, undeserved difficulties, uninvited troubles… Just like life throws at us.
Jesus learned, just as so many of us are now learning, that sometimes, perhaps even most times, our richest life lessons can be taught only in the crucible of calamity.
By the reading of books our minds become broad. But it is only as we walk the pathway of pain that our souls become deep.
Something that Jesus learned. Something that we are each learning.
“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.”
Some people who are “Born Again”… and KNOW that they are born again… You see, you’ll know that you know when you are. But, when you’re not sure, then you probably aren’t. But some people who are and know that they are are what I call a “Point In Time” Christian.
A Point in Time Christian is someone who may not remember the exact date, but they remember the circumstance – it may have been at a revival meeting or Harvest Crusade, it may have been kneeling beside your bed with your Grandpa, it may have been at camp, or even in front of your television… either way, you remember the circumstance when you prayed and asked Jesus Christ to enter your life.
This accounts for about two-thirds of people who claim to follow Christ.
But here’s the problem with being a “Point in Time” guy: there are more of them than there are what I call “Process Christians”, so therefore, Point in Time Christians tend to want Process Christians to have a time, date, and place. Why do they want this for them? Because it’s the way that they got saved, so Point in Timers want to make sure that Processors are in fact saved so that they can be sure that they are in… as if the Point in Timers are fruit inspectors at the holy gates or something.
So, Point in Timers make life really tough for Processors.
Now, Process Christians are people who acknowledge that at some point in time they were born again, but they are not exactly certain when that was. All that they know is that right now they know that they know that they know. They’re just not sure when it happened.
Either way, the Bible is very clear that if we want to spend eternity with God and be saved from an eternity without Him, then we must be born again.
In John 3:9-15, we learn that this didn’t make sense to Nicodemus. He asked Jesus,
“How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak that We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that it, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
In other words, Jesus said, “I’m putting it as plainly as I can. I know what I’m talking about here. I am God!” Jesus continued:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus comes right out of left field with this line.
Consider your basic, everyday, run of the mill snake.
In the Old Testament, Numbers 21 tells the story that Jesus is referring to. You see, every time that the Hebrews messed up, God had to lay a heavy on them to get their attention. At one point, they grumbled about the food He had provided for them, so He laid a real big heavy on them. He sent some little red snakes to bite them.
Every time a little red snake bit somebody, they would die.
The Israelites cried out, “Oh, Moses! This is the heaviest heavy that God has ever laid on us. Go pray like crazy and ask God to lighten up!”
Moses returned with some good news and some bad news: The bad news was that God was not getting rid of the snakes. Every time God got rid of the snakes or their equivalent, the people stopped trusting God. The good news was that if they made a bronze stick with a golden snake on it and if they looked on the snake after getting bit, they would be healed and would not die. God gave them the world’s best snakebite kit, but he didn’t get rid of the snakes.
The Hebrews had four responses.
Some refused to follow God’s instructions, followed their own thinking, and died.
Some thought that there must be other options to being healed from the snake’s venom. There’s no way that God’s instructions are THE ONLY way to be saved. They died.
Some took off and ran far away from where all the snakes were thinking that they could run away from the situation at hand. But the snakes were there, too and they were bit. But by the time they turned to look for the golden snake, they had wandered so far away that there were hills between them and camp. They couldn’t see it. They died.
But, some, after being bit by the snakes, did as God told them and immediately looked upon the golden serpent. They didn’t die.
They did things the way that God said to do them.
And, Jesus, who is God, said, “You must be born again.”
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you!!” (Isaiah 26: 3 )
Let’s take a look at this word up close and personal:
3. “Him whose mind is steadfast”. We see events from our own perspective and context. Have you noticed how two people can look at the same experience so differently? They put the picture of what happened in different frames and act accordingly. Our reaction depends on how we framed the event.
Included in this podcast is my stronghold of weight story I have been sharing each week.
Write these scriptures down and meditate on them.
You are deeply and completely loved. (Romans 8:38–39)
You are totally and completely forgiven. (1 John 2:12)
When God sees you, he sees the righteousness of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
You mean the whole world to him. (John 3:16)
He thinks you are beautiful. Right now. (Song of Songs 4:1)
He is committed to your restoration. (Romans 8:29)
You are not now, nor have you ever been, alone. (Hebrews 13:5)
Meditate on these scriptures friends. They will completely change the way you think about yourself.
For more information, visit ReflectionsOfGraceHome.com
Nobody consulted you and asked you if you wanted to be born.
They just “had” you.
Then, a generation later, you had your kids. You didn’t consult them beforehand, either.
So, when we are born, we have life. And, one of these days, each and every one of us are going to die. Therefore, life is basically the dash between two dates. We see it on tombstones across the globe. Another definition for life is this: Life is a sexually transmitted disease that is 100% fatal!
The bottom line is that life is the period of time that you get to solve the problem of being born spiritually dead.
We are born physically alive. But because we are born in Adam’s sin, we are born spiritually dead. So, the thing that you don’t want is for physical death to catch you spiritually dead. You want to solve that problem while you can. And you can solve that problem while you are physically alive, but you cannot solve the problem when you are physically dead.
Eternity hangs in the balance.
Now, there are some people – very noteworthy, educated folks like theologian John Stott – who have put together a very convincing argument for something called “Annihilationism”. What they present is that eternal punishment is contrary to God’s nature of being eternal love, and that rather than having to spend eternity in conscious awareness in hell, since fire has the property of consuming that which it encounters, people cease to exist as an entity and are annihilated.
But, I’m afraid Annihilationism is pie in the sky because it doesn’t hold to Scripture. I wish it were true. It seems to be a better alternative than eternal torment, but I’m not God, so I can’t make the rules… and neither can Mr. Stott.
The Bible supports the concept called hell. And, the Bible states that if physical death catches you spiritually dead, then you spend eternal awareness in the absolute absence of God.
Now, that’s minimal. I don’t know about the fire part, or the whaling and gnashing of teeth, but minimally, you will spend eternity in a timelessness where there is the absolute absence of God.
But, if while you are physically alive, you solve the problem of spiritual death, and are “born again”, then you spend eternity with God.
You see, you were born physically – that’s the first birth; “born again” – that’s the second birth, which is spiritual birth. So, when you see the term “born again”, you can better understand it now. And the Bible says that this spiritual birth has to happen before we die physically.
If it does, then we spend eternity in the presence of the living and loving God.
John 3:8 says:
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.
Have you ever stood in the wind? When you feel the wind blow across your face, you don’t know where it comes from, nor where it is going. We know, scientifically, that it may have been derived from a high pressure zone overhead and gravitated toward a neighboring low pressure zone, but its original location and final destination are unknown. But, you do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, where it is when it blows across your face.
That’s the way it is when you are born again.
It’s tough to describe, but you’ll know that you know that you know when you know. But when you don’t know, then there’s no way of knowing.
This is what John 3:8 is talking about.
Welcome to one of the strangest stories — many would call this a troubling tale — in Jesus’ entire life and ministry.
As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, what happens here in Mark 7, and its parallel passage in Matthew 15, seems highly uncharacteristic of Jesus; uncharitable to a tragically needy-yet-remarkable mommy; and unnecessarily cold and calloused as far as a Jesus is concerned.
A Jesus, I will humbly remind you, who defined Himself as “gentle” in Matthew 11, and who described His mission as one “to seek and to save the lost in Luke 19.
As you read this story, at first blush anyway, Jesus was Anything. But. Gentle in the way He spoke to this panic-stricken mother who was understandably distraught over the condition of her daughter.
Tell you what: If His mission was to seek and to save the lost, you couldn’t find anyone more lost than this woman.
As we read this story together (it’s only 8 verses in Matthew’s account), you tell me if you find this encounter between Jesus and this mom at all unsettling or unnerving. Put yourself in the mom’s sandals for a second and imagine that Jesus is talking to you about your little girl.
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15:21-28)
A happy ending to be sure.
But what an insensitive, ungracious, uncaring way to get to that happy ending..
You talk about showing a little kindness (as we did last week), there was no kindness shown to this woman; no kindness of any kind was shown to her at all. Until the very end.
Jesus (apparently) ignored her (“Jesus did not answer a word.”), then (apparently) refused and rebuffed her (“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”), then (apparently) belittled her (“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”).
Curiously enough, that’s it as far as Jesus’ road trip up North into what is today Lebanon, what was then Phoenicia, was concerned.
This one strange story.
And as always, my friend, we have much to talk about.
You see, when I try to understand what Jesus was doing in this scene of His life, I start with the question: How human was Jesus?
While Jesus was on earth, He – out of necessity – laid aside the independent usage of many of His divine attributes. Most notable of these are the three “omni’s”: Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience.
For example, Jesus exercised His omnipotence (all-powerfulness) when He stilled the raging storm. But then, He immediately laid it aside afterward when He got exhausted and fell asleep in the back of the boat. How could someone be omnipotent and exhausted simultaneously?
He also, quite obviously, laid aside his omnipresence since He was localized to wherever His one body traveled. He couldn’t be two places at one time.
He also laid aside His omniscience – knowing everything… sometimes.
When He spoke to the women at the well, He exercised His omniscience. He told her things about her personal life than only omniscient God could know. But there were times when He laid aside His omniscience and there were things that He didn’t know, including the day that God will return to earth, as we read in Mark 13:32 –
But no one knows the day or the hour. No! Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows.
So, when Jesus was born, He did not possess a mental checklist of events that needed to occur between the manger and the cross. He knew He was going to the cross. He knew when He was going to the cross – Passover. But there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that He had every single event of His life completely laid out for His knowledge and understanding. Therefore, there were times when He would be caught by surprise.
Examples: Did Jesus know in advance that He would be rejected in Capernaum and have to leave His hometown? Did He know that He would be totally and completely rejected in Nazareth? Did He know that John the Baptizer was going to be murdered? If He did know, then why did the news of the event shake Him to the core?
So, getting back to this week’s story in Tyre, if you are willing to accept that Jesus was fully God AND fully human, then I believe that these events were unexpected to Jesus and He was simply trying to get His legs back under Him, just like we experience when unexpected events rock our world.
Therefore, maybe – just maybe – Jesus understands our personal dilemmas more than we give Him credit for. Because His world got rocked, too.
Jesus was trying to get away. He hid out in a house, trying to escape for a bit. Then, this heartbroken mother sought Him out and invaded His schedule. She came shouting loudly, begging for mercy, telling Him about her little girl’s suffering.
And Jesus did not answer at all… not a single word.
I don’t believe He did this out of rudeness. If you look at how she was shouting – “as if from a long way off”, then she wasn’t nearby enough for Him to speak to her. He would have needed to shout back… from inside the house that he was retreating in.
He couldn’t answer her. She was too far away.
When she finally came closer, then He spoke with her.
Well… actually, when He first spoke, He didn’t answer her. She was still too far away. He answered His disciples.
In fact, I believe that He was still processing – out loud, even – what was occurring in this foreign land and how these events were going to affect the mission He was sent on – to save the lost sheep of Israel. He had ministered to Gentiles before, but they had always come to Him in Israel, for all of Israel to see, hear and learn from.
Once she approached Him, then He spoke with her. And His words seem quite cold and calloused… unless you understand the rabbinic teachings of Jesus’ faith tradition. The rabbis said:
“As the sacred food was intended for men, but not for the dogs, so the Torah was intended to be given to the chosen people, but not to Gentiles.”
That’s what Jesus was taught in Sabbath School.
But, Jesus misquoted them. He changed the word for “dog”. Instead of the word meaning wild mongrels, he used the word meaning a dog who is loved, accepted and treated like a member of the family.
It’s as if He were going back and forth with the should I / could I debate as he processed her request, and where and when it was made.
After thinking it through, when He arrived at the answer, He told her, “You have mega-faith! Your request is granted!!” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
In other words, Jesus didn’t know exactly what to do at that very second. He needed a second to pray, seek God and assess the situation. He’s a lot like me… and I love that!
And I believe that all this explains an otherwise tough-to-understand in Hebrews.
Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
Jesus suffered rejection in Capernaum, rejection in Nazareth, rejection by Herod Antipas, the murder of His beloved cousin John the Baptist, attacks from Jerusalem rabbis… and this was just the beginning!
In these chapters, we are watching Jesus – even though He was fully God – learning to walk in obedience to the will of His Father.
Just like you and I need to learn how to do.
A continuation of my own story:
My encouragement and exhortation for you is this: Choose freedom over familiarity!
Learn more about my ministry at www.ReflectionsOfMercyHome.com
In this PODCAST, you are about to see a side of Jesus that you’ve likely never seen before.
Your love for Jesus is about to grow exponentially. And rightly so.
Let’s begin by reading Matthew 15:15-20 –
15 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”
16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
We have come to a defining moment in Jesus’ life and ministry. And clichés seem to abound.
Such as “Piling On”.
Emotionally, physically, an spiritually, Jesus was at rock bottom at this point of His story… to the point where he retreated to the North. He had been run out of His hometown of Capernaum, as He was run out of the town of His birth, Nazareth. He said Himself in Matthew 8:20,
“The Son of Man has no place to lay His head”
He was homeless and rejected.
He was also on the run. Herod had just killed His cousin, John the Baptist, and was now gunning for Jesus.
So, He looked to the local leaders of His religion – the Rabbis, Pharisees and Scribes of Jerusalem. They, after all, had traveled far from Jerusalem to be near Him. But, they didn’t come to offer Jesus comfort.
They came to “kick a man when he is down” and “shoot the wounded” (aka “pile on”). In fact, when they came upon Him, they didn’t offer condolences. They went on the attack:
Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, 2 “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” (Matthew 15:1-2)
Now, I know that we don’t typically think of Jesus as being “down and out”, but He had His moments. The Bible tells us that when Lazarus died, “Jesus wept”. Not just cried a little, or shed a slight tear, but WEPT. So, it should be no surprise that He would feel the same when His cousin, partner in ministry, and person who baptized Him was put to death.
What Jesus really needed from His fellow Bible-believing Rabbis was a listening ear and kind word. But instead, they zealously criticized and condemned Jesus for allowing His followers to disobey their rules.
They just didn’t care.
They were more interested in being right than anything else.
It’s a lot easier to focus on how right you are and condemn someone than to focus on somebody’s redemption.
So, how did Jesus react? What did He say in regards to the hearts of the condemning religious leaders?
17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” (Matthew 15:17-20)
They thought that eating without observing their hand-washing rules was what would defile someone, but Jesus was not bound by their rules. He knew their hearts. He knew God’s rules. He knew what was truly required by God Almighty.
They didn’t hold anything back in their self-righteous condemnation; and Jesus, in Matthew 23, didn’t hold back in setting the record straight:
23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!
25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Let me share a bit about where my heart is, especially in regards to these passages.
Recently, acclaimed blogger Matt Walsh visited a church service near a convention where he was speaking. To be bluntly brief, Matt said that he didn’t care for the service. The music was too fluffy and the sermon had too many stories. So, Matt went into “blog attack” mode. Matt wrote:
If the faith is to regain lost ground in this country, it will only happen when Christianity is presented and understood as what it is: a warrior’s religion. A faith for fighters and soldiers. CS Lewis said it best (as usual):
Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.
There. There it is, explained more compellingly in two sentences than many pastors can muster in a lifetime of sermons. This is frightening, militant language, but it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it is, most importantly, accurate. As Christians, we are fighting a war against the Devil himself. We are advancing against the darkest forces of the universe, and we march with God by our side. And all the while, all around us, on a dimension invisible to mortal eyes, angels and demons and supernatural forces, both good and evil, work to defend or destroy us.
The stakes are infinite. Our souls hang in the balance. We are standing on a battlefield where the hope of eternal life awaits the loyal soldiers. The Psalms say “praise be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war.” This is the feeling and the attitude that our leaders and churches should be stirring in us. This is the truth of this life and of this faith that we claim. It’s a ferocious, formidable, terrifying, joyful truth. It’s the truth that Scripture spends over 1,000 pages trying to explain. It’s the truth that should be shouted from the rooftops of every church and proclaimed from the mouths of every Christian.
I thought the Crusades were long over.
Isn’t this – declaring war against someone – exactly what the Pharisees did to Jesus 2,000 years ago? Did they read Matt’s blog?
As for me, I don’t want a call to arms. I just want to know God.
I reflect on Jesus’ words in John 1:17 –
17 The Law was given by Moses, but Jesus Christ brought us undeserved kindness and truth.
Imagine what the world would be like if we reacted with undeserved kindness more often. Imagine what the Biblical account would be if the religious leaders of 2,000 years ago would have reacted with undeserved kindness, instead of what we read in Acts 4:9-10
9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
The same religious leaders who Jesus confronted were now about to imprison Peter for showing undeserved kindness to a lame man. They weren’t concerned about anyone’s redemption. They were only concerned about Peter’s breaking of the rules, touching a lame man and defiling himself.
Did you know that the word “Kindness” appears in the Bible 354 times? Maybe that’s a clue for us.
Maybe we need more kindness… much more kindness; and much less condemnation.
I can’t put it any better than the Apostle Paul did in Acts 20:24 –
24 But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness.
Today we will talk about the difference in the spirit, which is the part of you that is alive unto God, and the soul, which are our mind, will and emotions. It is the soulish realm, our minds that keep us bound to strongholds. Simply put, it is the renewing of our minds that will set us free. When we accepted Jesus and His atonement into our hearts we were born again. Our spirits were alive unto God and we know we have eternal life with him. Our minds however, are still functioning out of our old patterns, records, lifestyles, etc. It is the mind that has to be renewed daily by God’s word to us that will begin to reveal and set us free from strongholds.
James 1: 22-25 says,
“But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth] For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror; For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).
So, what determines the path you take?
“Well done! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25: 21)
Isaiah 29:16 says:
“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay. Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, He did not make me? Can the pot say of the potter, He knows nothing?”
My personal Illustration follows in this podcast!!
For more information about my ministry, visit www.ReflectionsOfGraceHome.com