Monday, February 17, 2020

Becoming Strong In Grace

So you, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1 MEV






 Be strong. We can be strong in a lot of things in this life. We can be strong in studying for a degree. We can be strong in bettering ourselves for our career goals. In the spiritual realm, we can be strong in the religious traditions of men. Today, I want to begin a new series studying something all believers need to be strong in, the Grace of God.

 We can be strong in Grace. We can grow in Grace and in the knowledge of Jesus. We can trust in and rest in God's great Grace. Too often we're strong in something other than God's Grace. 

 Sometimes we find ourselves strong in the religious tradition of men. Sometimes we find ourselves strong in Old Covenant mindsets and not New Covenant thinking. Other times we are strong in trying to earn or achieve God's blessing in our life. 

 The blessing of God is not a blessing on our behavior or our performance. The blessing of God is a blessing on Christ's perfect redemption and His Finished Work. The blessing, the favor, and the mercy of God are God's response to Jesus' works, not our works. We didn't pay the price at the Cross. We didn't bear the sin of mankind. We never bore anyone's infirmities, weaknesses, poverty, or disease. We didn't bear the curse, Jesus did. 

 The blessing of God is a blessing on Christ's work, not our work. When we look at our works as some form of currency in receiving God's goodness we are in a business transaction and not a relationship with a Father. When we look at our performance as something that now qualifies us for all of Heaven's goodness we are putting the focus and attention onto ourselves and not Jesus. When we look at our behavior as the disqualifier of God's blessing and favor we are discounting Jesus' perfect redemption that was accepted as the once for all payment that was perfectly pleasing to the Father. 

 The goodness and favor and blessing of Almighty God is not a stamp of approval of our actions, our words, our deeds or behavior. The blessing isn't something we achieve. It isn't something we earn. God's blessings come because of what Christ did. God is blessing the work of Christ. Now don't misunderstand, good works, avoiding sin, saying no to temptation, being a blessing, serving and loving others is good fruit and bring its own rewards. It's just not the root of God's favor. 

 This cuts cross-grain to all we've heard growing up as believers. We heard "do good and get good." "Do bad and get bad." That's Old Covenant not New Covenant. Under the New, we are already blessed in Christ Jesus. We also must allow God's Word to rightly divide our own thinking and motives. Without even realizing it, sometimes we do good works to achieve something. To gain the favor of leadership or impress others. That's why the blessing is rooted in Jesus' work and not our own.

 Becoming strong in Grace is becoming strong in knowing and understanding all Christ did for us. It's learning to trust in His perfect redemptive work and not our own. It's resting in the Finished Work and not trying to earn, achieve, strive for what God already purchased and performed on our behalf. 

 Becoming strong in Grace isn't about becoming more and more bitter at local churches, ministries, and those that lead them. It isn't about becoming more and more isolated from others in the Body of Christ. It isn't about becoming stingy and no longer giving of our resources and time to bless other ministries. It isn't about becoming more rebellious and delving deeper and deeper into darkness and depravity. Becoming strong in Grace is about becoming strong in who we are already in Christ because of Jesus' Finished Work. 

 We can become stronger in this Grace of God. We can grow in our understanding of what it means to be New Creations in Christ. We can grow in understanding what it means to be accepted and approved in Him. We can become more and more confident in the presence of God. We can rejoice before our Father knowing He isn't holding our sins or misdeeds against us. 

 In summation, we can choose what to be strong in. We can be strong in bitterness. Strong in sinful desires. Strong in religious tradition. Strong in Old Covenant mindsets and observances. Or we can grow stronger and stronger in God's Grace. We can grow stronger in Him. He welcomes this growth and encourages it via His Spirit within and the promises of His Word and the Finished Work of the Cross. 

 God is for us not against us. Go back to when we first received Jesus. We knew we couldn't earn anything. We knew we didn't deserve anything based on our own merit. We knew we were lost and hopeless apart from Christ and His perfect love. Yet He chose us, blessed us, highly favored us, made us new, gave us His righteousness. He forgave us past, present, and future and forever secured us in Him. We can grow strong in this Grace. 
 Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: God is in control


 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV


 We've been in an ongoing study of the lies religious tradition has taught us. Ideas and concepts taught in such a way that they make it seem almost blasphemous to dare even question them. Views about God taught so long they've formed strongholds in the minds of so many believers.


 So far we've addressed many lies religious tradition has told us. Lies such as God is the author of sickness and disease, the sender of disaster, and the God who causes evil circumstances just so some good may come out of it. That God is pleased with our poverty and misery. That miracles have ceased and Faith is powerless and ineffective today. 

 In our last study, we saw that God's will is healing for all. As we were studying we touched on the topic of God being in control, that He is literally controlling all facets of our life. Today it seemed good to focus on this rampant lie being taught across many quarters of the Body of Christ. 

 Resistance, disagreement, or unacceptance of this theology that God is literally controlling all facets of life on Earth is met with strong hostility by the religious among us. They feel that to disagree is to take away from the sovereignty of God. That we are undermining the very nature of God.

 How could God be the Supreme, Almighty God if He isn't in control of all things? This is where the disconnect occurs. Some define sovereignty as controlling all things. That is not the definition of sovereignty. 

 The word sovereignty isn't even in God's Word. Yet the concept is there found within. Sovereignty defined means, the supreme ruler. It means self-governance. It doesn't mean that it controls all things. Allow me to illustrate how God is self-governing.

 God reveals that by the laying on of hands sick people are healed, Mark 16 and seen throughout Jesus' ministry and that of the Apostles. Why did He say this? Why is it so? Because the self-governing One declared it so. He didn't seek out a committee for approval. 

 Why is it by simply speaking God's Word that Faith is released? Because He decreed it. Romans 10 shows us this. I trust you're tracking with me. These are the aspects of self-governance. This is sovereignty in action. This is not God controlling all circumstances in life.

 Let's look again at some passages and ask hard questions for the tradition-minded. 
who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4 NABRE
 God wills everyone to be saved. He wills it. Yet not all people are saved and have come to the knowledge of the truth. Many are still groping around in darkness seeking what they think is the truth. Yet God wills everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. 

 Look at this word wills in the Greek. From Thayer's dictionary;
θέλω  /  ἐθέλω
thelō  /  ethelō
Thayer Definition:
1) to will, have in mind, intend
1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose
1b) to desire, to wish
1c) to love
1c1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing
1d) to take delight in, have pleasure

God wills or intends is resolved, determined that all should be saved. Yet not all are saved. I thought God was in control? I thought God controls all aspects of life? I thought God's sovereignty means all He wills and desires must happen?

 Perhaps we have misconstrued His Word and misunderstood what sovereignty means. God wills or wants all to be saved yet He gave man the free will to accept this invitation to new life. 

God controls all things?

 I've seen those under tradition seem to think that if God is the one doing it that makes it ok and acceptable. That is if God is the one killing your child, or causing your child to be victimized by sexual abuse, or the one causing your terminal disease or ordaining that you become the victim of a violent crime it somehow should bring some form of comfort to you. That these horrific, traumatic, tragic circumstances are good and right and acceptable because God is in control. He is the author and ordainer of such events. Doesn't this make you rejoice?

 This is the work of the enemy to pervert the image of our Good Father. The enemy wants to reform and refashion an image of God in our thinking, where God is unfaithful to His Word. He fails to keep His promises. He willingly afflicts and is the bringer of pestilence, famine, disaster, tragedy, disease, and poverty. That His idea of goodness is the death of your children, the dissolution of your marriage and the bankruptcy of your business.  

 We must reject and resist with every fiber of our being these lies of the enemy. God gave man free will and the power of choice. We choose who to be influenced by. Either the Goodness and Love of our Father or the lies of the enemy, the flesh and the world system. 

Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 78:41 NKJV

Look at this passage. Man, finite man, created man actually limited the sovereign Lord. How is this possible? In the New, it is made clearer. Through unbelief

 God is the supreme ruler, but He isn't controlling all aspects of life. God is a Good Father. God isn't causing men to commit unthinkable violent acts. God isn't causing men to commit sin. God isn't violating man's will. Love is not an invasion of the will.

 In summation, our God is Good. God isn't controlling all things. That is He isn't causing or creating every event on earth. Sovereignty doesn't negate a sinful fallen fractured creation. Sovereignty doesn't overlook the work of the enemy who comes to steal and kill and destroy. Sovereignty doesn't override the free will of man. There are things the self-governing One is in control of. That is what He decreed in His Word. Whatever He declared will come to pass, His Word is truth. 
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: It's not God's will to Heal you

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.                 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in an extended study examining the lies religious tradition has taught for years and years. Concepts and views taught in such a way to dare question them would make it seem as if your doubting and questioning God Almighty. Things taught in such a way and for so long they've formed strongholds in people's minds.

 In this series, we've exposed lies such as God is the author of your sickness and disease. That God causes evil so good may come. That it's His highest and best that we live in poverty. That God is a mean and angry God, we even explored the true meaning of spiritual warfare. 

 In our last study, we allayed myths surrounding holiness, what it is and what it isn't. Today, it seems good to explore another area of God's goodness. In doing so, we will ask and answer a hard question. Is it God's will to heal today? Is it God's will to heal you?

 What traditional religion has taught for years is that it's not God's will to heal all. That God heals some and leaves others to suffer, languishing in their disease. That God chooses some to heal and some not to. God is sovereign and He knows what's best for us. 

 God seems to know that children suffering from cancer, leukemia, cystic fibrosis or some other disease are good and right. That it's working for their good, their parents good, and the Church's good. God knows more than us and He is sovereign and knows what's best for us. 

 This is precisely what traditional ministers teach. Is this the truth? That is, is this the true will of God? What does God say about Jesus' work of redemption?

Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, And our pains -- he hath carried them, And we -- we have esteemed him plagued, Smitten of God, and afflicted. And he is pierced for our transgressions, Bruised for our iniquities, The chastisement of our peace [is] on him, And by his bruise there is healing to us. Isaiah 53:4-5 YLT

 God lets us know what Jesus paid for in His work of redemption. So let's look at Jesus and what His attitude is about sickness and disease. Let's see what Jesus did when He encountered disease.

 In Matthew 4 what does Jesus do? Jesus heals all that were sick. Not some but all. In Matthew 8, Jesus again encounters pain, sickness, and disease. What does He do? Tell people this is working for their good? Matthew 8 again shows Jesus' attitude about disease. Surely we can find somewhere Jesus tells someone no, I won't heal you, right?

 Looking through the entire Gospels and you can't find Jesus ever telling anyone no. You can't find anyone hearing this sickness and disease is of God and for your good and self-improvement. You won't find any passage stating it's not God's will to heal you. 

 Some like to point to John 5 to prove Jesus didn't want to heal all. The Sheep Gate had a pool and angel came and stirred the water and whoever stepped in first got healed. There was a crowd of sick people there. Always, for there was no set time when the angel would come. These were looking unto the pool for help, not God. 

 Note what is left out when religion points to this passage. Not one soul there sought Jesus. Jesus was there healing and yet they never came to where He was. Well, some were invalid someone would say. And the lame man had four friends carry Him to get to where Jesus was and received. Point is not one soul upon seeing Jesus there, ever asked Him to heal them. If they asked they would've received.

 Jesus Himself answers this question about God's will. Look at Mark's Gospel. Jesus forever settled the question is it God's will to heal. 
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Mark 1:41 NKJV

 Let's get real though. We see Jesus' attitude about sickness and disease. We see what His will is. Yet why do some not get healed? If it's His will why are people not receiving healing? 

 There is a simple explanation but many just don't like it. I am not even speaking of the unbelief aspect. There is an answer but it topples over religious tradition's biggest sacred cow. This idea that God's sovereignty means God's controlling everything.

 Here is the simple truth. Just because something is God's will and desire doesn't mean that it will just happen or be so. This truth cuts contrary to everything religious tradition teaches. Their whole theology rests on this foundation, That God dictates and determines every event on Earth.

 Let God's Word be the final authority. Paul writing to Timothy declared it's God's will and desire that all men should be saved. Peter writing also echoes this same sentiment and expression of God's revealed will. So it's God's will for all to be saved and not His will that any perish. Yet all people are not saved and some people have perished dying apart from receiving Christ's free gift of Grace. 

 Let's look at a couple of other areas about God's will. God declares it is His will that we believers abstain from sexual immorality. Yet many of us believers have slipped in this area. We've engaged in sex outside of marriage after we've received Jesus. Wait, it is God's will that we don't though. Why didn't God just control all things and make it so? If it's His will why did so many fail? It's as if people's free will and choice can counter God's will.

 Paul writes under the inspiration of the Spirit to forgive others because we've already been forgiven. If this is God's will why do some still hold grudges? It's as if mankind can override what God wants. I trust you're tracking with me. Just because God wants something doesn't mean it automatically happens. 

 Healing isn't God's will? God has given us His Son and His perfect Finished Work. He bore all our sickness and disease on the Cross. He's given us His Faith. He's given us His perfect unchanging Word of promise. He's given us the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. He's given us authority over all the power of the enemy and their works. Jesus' perfect work redeemed us from the curse of the Law. God has done all He can for us to receive wholeness, the wholeness He purchased for us.

 So why aren't some healed? Why are some still sick and disease-ridden? Why are children dying suddenly? Why are people struck with cancer and never receive healing? 

 The answer is a mystery. We don't have all the answers. We don't always know why. We only have the truth God revealed to us. We live in a fallen and fractured creation. We know the defeated devil is a liar and sometimes attacks. We have authority over him. We do know that God isn't the author or ordainer of the infirmity. We do know what His will is. So we praise louder than the affliction, and unbelief. In the middle of the mystery, praise God more and more. He isn't the author of the affliction but the deliverer from affliction.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: Achieving Holiness.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.                 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV


  We're continuing in a study examining the lies religious tradition has taught us. Concepts taught in such a way that it almost seems blasphemous to dare and question it. Ideas spoke of for so long they've become strongholds in the minds of many. 


 In this study, we've exposed the lies that God is the author of sickness and disease. That He is the sender of disaster and storms. The One causing evil to come about so that good may come. That poverty and lack are His best for you. That the Spirit of God and His power have ceased, that Faith in God is powerless today to change things. We've looked at the truth of spiritual warfare, that we are the triumphant Church, not a timid one. 


 In our last study, we exposed the lie that God has no promise for the life that now is. Today, it seemed good to revisit an area I've addressed before on this blog. The truth about holiness. What it is and what it isn't.  Is holiness a state of being we strive for? Do we pursue holiness? Do we achieve holiness? What does God say about this?

Holiness defined Biblically

 Here is this word holy defined with the original Greek language;
ἅγιος hagios-sacred(physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated): - (most) holy (one, thing), saint.
This word has a comparison to another word;
ἁγνός hagnos- properly clean, that is, (figuratively) innocentmodestperfect: - chaste, clean, pure.
Interesting definitions of the word holy. A saint, a most holy one. The comparison word declares one who has been cleansed, pure. Now isn't this what actually happened when we received Jesus?
  Let's look at the word holiness;
ἁγιασμός hagiasmos-properly purification, that is, (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier: - holiness, sanctification. 
Let's see what Thayer's Greek dictionary says;
1) consecration, purification  2) the effect of consecration  2a) sanctification of heart and life
 So we have God's definition of holiness. What don't we see? Striving. Struggling. Achieving. Attaining. Not one place in the definition of the words holy or holiness is there a sense of achieving holiness. Rather, it shows a state of being, a new position in Christ.

 Holiness is purification, sanctification, cleansing, consecration. These are things we can never do in our strength and will power. No amount of self-will causes us to achieve a purifying cleansing. Only the precious Blood of Jesus can accomplish this. 

 What we've been taught through traditional religion is that holiness is defined by how much sin we abstain from. How many hobbies, interests, and events we can forgo. How often we can say no to entertainment, and see how many spiritual disciplines and rituals we can add to our life. In the midst of this, God's definition of holiness is ignored therefore we attempt to become something we've already been made in the Finished Work.

 Look at what Paul stated in 1 Corinthians.
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and [that is what you are.                              1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NASB
Paul tells us who we already are. He declared we are already made holy. God, through Paul, was telling us, hey this is who you are already, so be you. 

 Holiness, in a nutshell, means uncommon. We are made uncommon. What's that mean? It means we do things uncommonly. 

 You see the World's ways are the common way. When they get offended they give someone a piece of their mind. They love conditionally, "you fulfill my needs and I'll love you." Generally, they get what they can, can all they get and sit on the can. They hold grudges. They seek their own and not others. 

 That's the common way. Holiness is uncommon. We walk in love and the more we grow in His love, we can mature into a place where we don't even get offended. Even if we do get offended, we are quick to show love and forgive. We don't hold grudges. We bless people, not "bless them out." We live to give not to hoard. This is the uncommon way. This is what holiness looks like.  

 In the area of morality, the common way is to go with the flow, if you will. Whatever the current climate of the culture says is ok and acceptable and good the common way is to follow that flow. Have sexual relations before marriage? "Hey, 'that's hip'," forget the emotional connections left hurting, the selfish fleshly desire that only seeks its own gratification, 'do what thou wilt.' That's the common way.  Go ahead and cheat on those tax forms, the Govt has enough money they won't notice. Whatever feels good do it, whatever is right in your own eyes do it. This is the common way.

 The uncommon way is to live our life unto our Savior. No matter what the current culture calls acceptable, we live the standards Jesus set. Love God and love others and ourselves. If we love others we won't seek our own sexual gratification at the expense of our purity and the purity of the other. We won't give ourselves away without the loving commitment of the covenant of marriage. The uncommon way is to trust God as our source. We don't look to cheat or defraud anyone or any Govt entity. 

 In summation, defining holiness as uncommon is the best way to understand the behavioral aspect of the Gospel. Does behavior matter? Yes for two reasons. One, we want to honor the Finished Work with the way we live. Second, we want others to be drawn to this amazing Good News of Jesus Christ. How He loves us, accepts us and approves us and how He gives life its purpose and value and meaning. Look how Paul plainly shows the common way versus the uncommon.

17 So with the wisdom given to me from the Lord I say: You should not live like the unbelievers around you who walk in their empty delusions. 18 Their corrupted logic has been clouded because their hearts are so far from God—their blinded understanding and deep-seated moral darkness keeps them from the true knowledge of God. Ephesians 4:17-18 TPT

Paul is saying don't walk as the others walk. In other words, don't live commonly. Live uncommonly, this is the life God has created you for. Live out of the New Creation reality. Live out who He already made you in the Finished Work.

 Holiness is not a position we achieve. It is not something we pursue or strive to become. It's not cosmetic free women who also are forbidden to cut their hair, or people not wearing jewelry, or people not owning a Television or enjoying entertainment. It's not defined as doing something or abstaining from something in order to become. It's living life being loved by the Savior and living out of the New Creation. It's maturing into who He already made you. It's living uncommonly. It's be holy, or in other words be you, the New you, He perfectly recreated in the Finished Work. 

 Let me leave you with one last passage to solidify this truth;
22 But now, as God’s loving servants, you live in joyous freedom from the power of sin. So consider the benefits you now enjoy—you are brought deeper into the experience of true holiness that ends with eternal life!  
Romans 6:22 TPT
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: Your Worst Life Now!

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.                 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in an ongoing study examining the lies religious tradition has taught us. Concepts taught in such a way that it almost seems blasphemous to dare and question it. Ideas spoke of for so long they've become strongholds in the minds of so many. 

 In this study, we've exposed the lies that God is the author of sickness and disease. That He is the sender of disaster and storms. The One causing evil to come about so that good may come. That poverty and lack are His best for you. That the Spirit of God and Faith in God are powerless today to change things. We even saw the truth of spiritual warfare.

 In our last study, we allayed the lie that God is a mean and angry tyrant. Today, I felt impressed to share the Good News of God's Goodness in our daily life. The Goodness of God for the life that now is. Religion has lied to us. They've told us there is no promise for the life that now is. 

 That all we can look forward to in this life is despair, desolation, dismalness, and finally death. There is no promise of triumphant victory in this life. All you can have is suffering and more suffering and then some more until your final breath leaves your body. 

 Pastor Joel Osteen wrote an amazing book that simply shared how to have victory in this life. He titled it your best life now. Traditional religious-minded Christians went into a frenzy because of this book. They maligned Lakewood Church and Joel for years afterward. Yet, Joel and Lakewood's influence and favor have increased more and more. So many lives have been impacted because of this ministry, and it keeps increasing and expanding.

 With the publication of this book, religion has worked overtime to preach with fervor, something I feel impressed to call your worst life now. Joel gave seven points of receiving our best life now. I've found seven words that sum up the traditional religious outlook of life. Despair, desolation, dismalness, distress, dejection, despondency, and dispiritedness. 

 Religion longs for the return of Jesus to rescue them from this terrible existence. Or they look forward to death so they can be free from this miserable life. So let's look briefly at the seven points Joel made.


  • Enlarge your vision; to enlarge your vision simply means to believe God can do great things in your life. Small, limited thinking will cause people to believe that there is nothing more for them in this life. If you never look to increase your skills, knowledge, and experience you never grow but stagnate. Dream bigger. Think bigger. Believe bigger.
  • Develop a healthy self-image; a healthy self-image is not an ego-driven prideful outlook. An unhealthy self-image is why some struggle with depression, eating disorders and some sadly even take their own life. We should have a healthy self-image, we are born of God and made Righteous New Creations in Him.
  • Understand the power of our thoughts and words; wrong thinking and wrong speaking is clearly a detriment in living a victorious life. Jesus spoke of the power of our words. Throughout Scripture, we are encouraged to think good thoughts and speak the right words. 
  • Let go of the past; not letting things go, holding onto grudges and harboring unforgiveness for past transgressions only disrupts our life and hinders our growth in maturity.
  • Finding strength through adversity; we know God is not, will not and never will ordain destruction or pain and suffering. Yet in this fallen world we may experience hard times. It's what we do in the hard places where strength develops. The adversity in and of itself doesn't bring strength it's what we do with God's Word and Spirit within that brings strength.
  • Live to give; being a blessing and going out of our way to help others is living life in light of the Savior. We are blessed already because of Him and when we know we are blessed and favored we can with that supply share it with others. Bringing encouragement to others, being there for loved ones, supporting kingdom ministry work is living the abundant life because it's not just about us. It's no longer living for ourselves only.
  • Choose to be happy; We can choose to be angry, bitter or downcast. Or we can realize the greater One lives within. He is greater than anything we face. We can have joy no matter what. 

 We see these points of living our best life now. Not so extreme are they? What does God say about this life?
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 1 Timothy 4:8-9 NKJV

Seeing these points I wonder what is wrong with living this life in this manner? Traditional religion, you don't want believers to think big? You want them to have limits? You sure don't have this sentiment when taking up offerings for building programs, outreaches, and missions. 

 It seems religion wants believers to have a low self-image. They preach how unworthy we are. How much of a sinner we are. How we fail to measure up. 

 Traditional religion has never believed in the power of our words. They disagree with what God said about their situation. They believe adversity in and of itself is what strengthens you. If this is so why aren't the war-torn, famine ravaged nations filled with spiritual giants? Mostly, we find these lands are populated with those who worship many gods and follow false religions. 

 Some would say what about the believers in those lands? If God wants our best life now, why are these believers suffering misery and death? The answer is this, in a fallen world, evil leadership abounds. What the solution is for believers to know their authority and pray for their lands, and perhaps find deliverance by getting out of those lands if possible. What other believers need to do is live to give. We give, being a blessing sending relief and aid to those hurting in these lands. 

 Traditional religion is not invested in your happiness. They say God is not interested in your happiness. He is only interested in your character development. Yet Jesus' first miracle was to satisfy the physical desire of attendees of a wedding feast. God tells us in the Psalms, that happy is the people whose God is the Lord. Wherever Jesus went He brought rejoicing and celebration and joy at the manifested Goodness and love of God. 

 Is there promise for the life that now is? Is the Christian experience only designed for struggle, setbacks, and suffering? Or is it rather, in this fallen world, with all its tribulations, we can still find joy and experience overcoming victory because He is with us? That no matter what comes we can have victory and peace? Could it be His favor and love and goodness can overtake us and bring us to places of victory and overcoming adversity? The answer is yes and amen in Him!

 In summation, don't accept the lies of the enemy. He is the greater One, and the greater One lives within us. He has given us promise for this life as well as the one to come. He has purchased our complete redemption. We can walk in victory, with our head held high no matter what because He holds our life in His hands and He is always good!
https://pixabay.com/illustrations/unemployed-homeless-poor-man-4171008/

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Lies Religious Tradition Taught Us: God is a mean and angry God

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.                 2 Timothy 3:5 KJV 

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in a series of study examining the lies religious tradition has taught the Body of Christ. Concepts taught with such conviction that it almost seems blasphemous to dare question them. Ideas taught for so long they've become strongholds in the minds of many believers. 

 So far we've dismantled the lies that God is the author of sickness and the creator of storms and disasters. That He creates evil for good to come about. That He wants us poor and poverty-stricken for His glory. That He is no longer moving in signs and Gifts and the miraculous. In our last study, we allayed the lie that Faith is powerless and ineffective in this day and age.

 Today, it seemed good to tackle another lie. The idea, the concept that God is this big mean, angry, raging god who must be appeased by his people. It seems many believe God is angry and therefore many shrink back from Him. Is God this angry, rage-filled, deity pouring wrath upon the Earth?

 Religious leaders and their disciples will see a calamity, such as fires, floods, storms or tsunamis and quickly assign blame at God's feet. That God in His anger is punishing people, cities, and nations for their great sins. They see God as angry and this becomes the motivation for service and what we do for God. 

 God is a Good and loving Father. He is Love. He is just. He is Holy. He is the sovereign One, that is the only God and creator. Though He has anger, He is Love. His perfect Love calms our souls and casts out fear. His great Love and Mercy and Grace causes condemnation to lose its effectiveness and fall away from us. His Grace silences the accusations of the enemy. This is who God is.

 The truth is God is Love. Yes, He has anger but He is not a bitter tyrant awaiting the moment He can pour out wrath. He has anger but He is not looking to punish people the moment they fail. He has anger but He is not mean, and unapproachable. 

What makes God angry?

Let's look at God's anger. Let's see what God's Word declares.
Mark's gospel sheds some light on His anger. What makes God angry at this moment? He was angered at the hardness of the religious leader's hearts. We have a man who has a crippling ailment. Yet the religious aren't moved by compassion on his plight, no they're only interest is that their traditions are honored and kept. 

 This angered Jesus. What did Jesus do with this anger? Did He go beat up the religious leaders? Did He pour plagues on them? No, He took that anger and channeled it for good and brought healing to the man. 

 Do we all not have anger? Of course, we do. Aren't we told to have self-control? Aren't we told to be angry and sin not? We should give God a holy break! He knows how to control anger. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He doesn't allow anger to determine or dictate His words, His thoughts or deeds.

 Let's see some things God hates. Proverbs 6 gives us some insight. What do we see here? God hates division, strife, spreading lies and pride. What is Solomon saying? God is opposed to the opposition of Love. When people gossip, slander, spread lies, sow discord that is sowing seeds of discouragement, and division. This is contrary to love. 

 He also adds another category. Murder of innocent ones, hearts that devise wicked, or twisted, imaginations. Feet that are swift to do evil. This is speaking of actually harming others and it opposes the love of God. You can't love your neighbor if you're trying to kill them. 

 What else makes God angry? Again look at Mark's gospel, chapter 16. Here we see Jesus rebuke His disciples for their unbelief. Look how God describes unbelief.
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; Hebrews 3:12 NKJV

God calls unbelief evil. Why? Because in essence, unbelief says God I know you said you are good, you said you are love, you declared you'd do this for me, but I am not persuaded by your words and deeds. I reject what you're saying is true for me. Unbelief slanders and tarnishes God's name and character. It sets itself in opposition to God.

 So we see what actually makes God angry. Things that oppose His love, injustice, trying to harm others, and unbelief. So let's see what doesn't anger God. 

In Luke's gospel, we see an amazingly powerful event transpire. I know this is a long passage. Really read and study it. I love how the Word keeps reminding us that this woman was a sinner. The man is a religious leader. Take note of two distinct approaches to Jesus. 

 The religious leader never offered Jesus water to wash His feet. He didn't greet Him with a kiss. He didn't anoint Jesus' head. Yet this lowly sinner, who knew she was, in fact, a sinner, washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She kissed His feet. She anointed His head. 

 The religious leader looked at the woman with contempt. He questioned with an accusative mindset the validity of Jesus' ministry as a prophet. Yet Jesus saw her through the eyes of God's Love and great Grace. He used this opportunity to reveal the Grace of God to the sinner and to the religious.

 What is amazing is Jesus' response to this woman. This woman was a sinner, and yet she sought Jesus out. Why? She knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior. So what was so amazing is that it is exactly who Jesus was to her. 

 Jesus received her. Take note Jesus didn't bring condemnation to her. He didn't cast judgment on her. He didn't berate her for her many sins. What did Jesus do?
48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:48-50 NKJV
 The sinner's great sin didn't bring out anger and wrath from Jesus. Her sins didn't cause Jesus to back away from her. He received her with love and mercy. What angered God was the proud religious leaders who refused to see their own need for a Savior.

 God's Love and mercy is the motive for all we do. We give, serve, love others, and grow in relationship with God because of His great love and faithfulness toward us. We don't worship and serve God because we are trying to appease His angry side. He loves us and accepts us unconditionally and because of His faithfulness and love and acceptance and approval, we are faithful and walk in love and freely serve others.                                                                                          
  In summation, God is not a bitter angry tyrant. He is not awaiting the moment someone fails so he can pour out wrath. He is Love. God has anger but His anger is a drop in the bucket in comparison to His exceeding Love. We can approach Him knowing He isn't mad at us. 

Image by Henryk Niestrój from Pixabay