Answered Prayer and Judgment

Most people consider having a prayer answered just the way they wanted as a blessing, a gift from God and a sure reason to praise Him.

Few consider that perhaps God giving you what you want was a judgment.

And he gave them their request;
but sent leanness into their soul.

The context is Israel in the wilderness whining and God providing, and yet judging them at the same time, ultimately wiping out an entire generation.

Did they get fed? Yup, did they provoke God to anger? Yup, did they die? Yup.

God is faithful to answer prayer that meets His parameters, but He may also answer other prayers, and He might answer them just the way you want.

This is chalked up as a sign of great spirituality, doubt we consider the flip side as much. Perhaps we should. But most of us don’t have to worry about it because God never does anything with our prayer anyway.

At least rebellious Israel prayed.

Worship and The IRS

Everyone who plays with Christianity believes they worship God. Of course we do, we sing songs at church, duh!

But worship is bigger than being forced to sing for ten minutes on a Sunday morning, or 45 minutes depending on what church you go to.

Worship, according to Romans 12:1, is presenting your body as a living sacrifice. God calls for the whole body, why? Because your whole body has been bought with a price and you are not your own.

This is not unreasonable either, because God is merciful it makes sense to give your body to Him, He’s a good God, why not? It’s stupid not to give your body to Him.

However, giving your body to Him means you have to stop using your body to do what you want it to do, which is a real bummer to your fleshly minded body. So, instead we compromise.

I won’t give Him the whole thing, but he can have a few bits of my body, whatever bits I’m probably tired of anyway.

But true worship means giving Him the whole thing all the time, not just your mouth on Sunday morning for ten minutes. Generally, we give God the energy we have left, the time we have left, the money we have left, we give Him the leftovers.

Try treating the IRS the way you treat God. Only give the government what you have left after the year that you haven’t used elsewhere, just like how you give to God. Try it.

Is God not worthy of more honor than the IRS?

Laughing At Bad Guys

Stories often show evil people laughing at the sufferings of their enemies. We’re all familiar with the evil laugh that ends many a movie scene. It’s overplayed to the point of this brilliant spoof of what if the scene went on?

Evil laughter is, well, evil. It’s a celebration of unchecked power and control. The evil one is invincible!

One of the ideas about God in the Bible that I enjoy the most is that God laughs at His enemies. Here’s one example from Psalms:

“The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The LORD shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.”

This is no Dr. Evil laugh, this is the laugh of one who has unchecked power and control, and yet is also good and against evil. When He laughs, all the righteous laugh with Him.

Just prior to these verses is the phrase, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” which Jesus made famous in the Beatitudes. Meekness means letting God take care of bad guys.

Relax, fret not over evil doers. God will set things right. A main reason why the meek let God take care of bad guys is because the meek also hunger and thirst after righteousness.

They desire God to set things right so desperately, and they know full well that the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. The meek sit back and take the grief, and laugh with their God who will set all things right.

Experience, Being Old and Faith

Job’s friends get lots of heat from Christians, but if you read the book, one thing you must admit is that his friends are right, generally speaking. They are going on the theme of “you reap what you sow.”

This theme is correct, as so stated in other parts of Scripture. At the same time, God being who He is, can make exceptions! You reap what you sow most of the time. Sometimes unrighteous people get sunshine.

Job’s friends get in trouble because they present the facts as if there is no other explanation. They play God and level a verdict. Most other circumstances, they would be right.

Not only are they fairly consistent with Scripture (don’t forget that Job’s friends have cross references by many of their statements), they are consistent with observations of life. They even say:

With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.”

They have the old guys on their side. Old guys agree, they’ve seen this, this is how life works. The older we get the more experiences we get, the more we assume we know and we state things matter of factly.

Youngsters don’t have a clue. And yet, the only one of Job’s friends who didn’t get in trouble with God was Elihu, the youngest one.

Experiences lead to generalizations, stereotypes and pigeon holing. This isn’t always bad, but it can destroy faith.

–We’ve seen a whole track record of God not answering prayer, so we don’t believe prayer does anything.

–We’ve seen unrighteous people do well and righteous people suffer, so we doubt God truly loves and provides for His people.

–We’ve seen people die and have diseases so we don’t think God heals.

–We’ve seen people turn their backs on the Bible so we assume preaching the Word is dumb and we entertain instead.

All our experiences may indeed be true, they did happen, but as soon as you let these experiences trump God and faith in His promises, then your oldness has destroyed childlike faith.

Humanism and Embracing Death

There’s a guy in Christian ministry who I read some stuff by who has recently entered into full-time speaking all over the place. Unfortunately, much of his Christian content is going away and being replaced by self-help guruishness.

In fact, his focus is now on promoting a Christian humanism that keeps people being self-centered and yet convinced their selfishness is serving God.

He is speaking at a conference whose theme question is “What do you want to do when you are 100?”

His answer is: develop a life plan to guarantee you will accomplish all your goals. I find this tragic that a Christian speaker is helping people think that life here is the point.

My answer to “what do you want to do when you are 100” is: I want to have been dead and in heaven for at least 30 years by then. I want to have put off all fear of death and completely abandoned myself to Jesus Christ.

If that’s the kind of goal this guy is talking about, then more power to him. But I know what goals he’s talking about, the same ones he now talks about every day: furthering your career, making money, making contacts, being a better speaker, etc.

I just want to be dead before 100. I have no desire at all, whatsoever, in any way to stick around here another 60 years. None. Zero.

I believe Christ has set me free, and I mourn over the fact that Christians, instead of taking this as an opportunity to invite people to embrace death by dying early at the cross, it is taken to advance humanism and make a mockery of Scripture.

Christ died that “he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Wanting to live to 100 is living in bondage to death. It’s causing you to be self-centered and would never lead you to “die daily” as Paul says we would. Humanism is driven by the fear of death.

The truth sets free. Christ is the truth. Die and be free.

Grace, Respect of Persons and Pet Doctrines

Obviously, saying that grace does not mean “undeserved favor” is not going to go over big in our day. We’ve been bludgeoned with this definition and to go against it seems to go against the very Word of God itself.

Except that the Word of God never defines grace this way. Surely no one would ever claim to deserve God’s grace, but we’ve taken this definition to mean there is nothing you do for God’s grace.

“If we do something to get it that’s works and thus no more grace. God then owes us grace based on what we did,” is the objection. But I object to that objection.

God is the one who dispenses grace, and has, in fact, shown grace to everyone, as the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men, regardless of who they are. Grace has to be available to all or else God is a respecter of persons.

God does not dispense grace on a whim. Oh, I know, God says “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is true. God, being the dispenser of grace, decides who gets it.

And the rest of the Bible that was written to us by God as much as Romans 9:15, says that God gives grace to those who humbly receive it by faith.

Humbly receiving God’s grace is not doing a work, it’s not earning grace, it’s not deserving grace, it’s merely taking grace the only way God says His grace can be taken.

Allowing the “respect of persons” to help us define “grace” causes problems for two groups of people, both of which I’m sure I’ve heard from since bringing this up!

1) Anyone who believes in Irresistable Grace–If God foists His grace upon people for no reason, merely His whim, then God is a respecter of persons. He shows favor to people based on a predisposed feeling of favor based on nothing.

2) Anyone who thinks grace means no obedience–humbly receiving grace by faith implies submission and obedience. A disobedient person is not humble. Ever. God gives grace to those who want it, and you show your desire by your humility and desire to obey God.

The Bible does not use the word “grace” the way we do. We might as well face that point and deal with it rather than playing games and devising definitions that make us feel better about ourselves.

The Respect of Persons and Grace

Now, here’s where it gets fun! The respect of persons is several times closely associated with the concept of grace or favor. Examples:

Deuteronomy 28:50–“a fierce nation which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young”
–“regard” is the same Hebrew word as “respect.” Bad guys won’t show respect or favor to the young or old, both will get killed as they will kill people indiscriminately.

Lamentations 4:16–“they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.”
–respect and favor used interchangeably.

Although I never recommend people read the NIV, Romans 2:11, God does not show respect of persons, the NIV says “God does not show favoritism.”

There is a close link between showing grace and showing respect of persons. So, this can help us define and understand what Grace is.

Showing respect of persons in judgment means giving someone a less harsh judgment for no real reason. Therefore, grace cannot mean “undeserved favor,” giving someone favor for no reason, because that would violate God’s very nature of not showing respect of persons.

If God just decided to be more lenient to one group of people for no reason, then God is no longer just. There is a reason why God respects people and why God shows favor and grace to people.

And, wouldn’t ya know it, it’s the same reason!

Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.”

“for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”

Rather than inventing definitions for words, it’s best to let the Bible define the usage of its own words. There is a reason God shows grace to some and not to others.

If There’s No Respect of Persons, Then What?

OK, we’ve established that there is a good respect of persons–respecting, honoring someone for what they have done, the job they perform– and there is a bad respecting of persons–using some outward appearance to bias your opinion of someone, to discriminate based on looks.

God does not judge people based on a bias. In acts 10 Peter sees that God is no respecter of persons because Gentiles can be saved. This means God doesn’t just save Jews because they are Jews, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, male and female, bond or free.

We base our judgments on these criteria constantly. I don’t read books written by women if I can help it. Is that unfair? Completely. Am I the judge of the universe? No, so don’t worry about it.

It’s fine for me to judge a book by its cover because that only affects me, the reader. If I determine to treat women unfairly, if I pay my son more than my daughter for doing a job, now I’m in trouble.

Some have taken “no respect of persons” to mean that we don’t have to respect anyone. I’ve heard this and this is foolishness. “Honor to whom honor” means there are some people we are to respect.

The Bible defines this group of people we are to respect as people who have done things for us that are helpful–government, builders, priests, elders, etc. God also respects people based on what they do, which is a startling point to us, yet nonetheless true.

God does not grant salvation by a lottery based on fortunate genes.

If God does not base salvation on His favorite group, on skin color, male or femaleness, whether you’re rich or poor, because He is no respecter of persons, what possibly does He base His judgment on?

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.”

If God does not judge on appearances, He is only left with judging us on what we do. Every judgment in the Bible, without exception, is based on what we do because you can’t buy God off and you can’t dress up pretty to impress Him.

Good Respect of Persons; Bad Respect of Persons

God does not respect people, we are told in Romans 2:11. But then there are instances where God does respect people.

People are also not supposed to respect people as we are to become holy as God is holy. But every once in a while people are supposed to respect persons and get in trouble when they don’t.

What makes the difference? Here are the verses in contrast:

Do not respect people verses:
James 2:1-9–don’t automatically give rich people good seats in your church and poor people bad seats.
Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19–don’t show respect of person’s while judging
Psalm 40:4–don’t respect the proud
Proverbs 24:23; 28:21–don’t respect person’s in judgment

Do respect people verses:
Isaiah 22:11–respect builders of Jerusalem
Lamentations 4:16–respect priests and elders

God does not respect people verses:
2 Samuel 14:14–you die and God does not respect persons
2 Chronicles 19:7–You should do what God says because He does not respect persons
Acts 10:34–Gentiles can be saved now because God does not respect persons
Romans 2:11–God’s judgment is based on relationship to law, not on respect of persons

God does respect persons verses:
Genesis 14:4-5–God respects Able and not Cain
2 Kings 13:23–God respects Israel due to the covenant
Psalm 138:6–God respects the lowly

Looking at all these verses, I believe the point is that God does not respect persons in matters of Judgment and neither should we, yet when it comes to people who should be respected for what they have done, we should respect them and God does, too.

Strong’s Definition’s defines “the respect of persons” as: “the fault of one who
when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances
of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy,
one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these

This is the boring background point that must be covered before we get to the meat. This is building somewhere. Hang with me!

God Doesn’t Respect Persons, Except When He Does

The Bible is a large book with lots of words in it. The best way to feel you understand the Bible is pick the parts you will ignore, settle in on a few books you like, and know your favorite verses from those books.

You will know the Bible really well, except for all the other books in it, which means you won’t know it at all and, in fact, you’ll actually have a worse knowledge of it because you’ll be dead certain you are right and yet be blazingly incorrect.

Yet, if you want to feel like you know the Bible, then use this method. I’ve never met anyone who used this method who didn’t think they knew the Bible fantastically.

However, if you accidentally read the whole thing, and accidents do happen, you will notice that the Bible is brimming with contradiction.

You’ll read one phrase that will say one thing absolutely definitively, and if that definitive phrase is in your pre-accepted verse in your pre-accepted book of the Bible, you will bank everything on that phrase.

Even though in another place the exact opposite thing will be said. Except you’ll never know that cuz’n you never read it.

Here’s an example from Romans, a much partially accepted book of the Bible, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” God does not respect persons.

Straight-forward statement, no way to get around that one. Unless you accidentally read Genesis 4:4,5, or perhaps 2 Kings 13:23 or maybe Psalm 138:6. God does not respect persons except when He does.

Oops. Now, there is an answer to this contradiction, as there are to most, and I’ll get into it a bit this week. But let this serve as my intro. Stay tuned.

Practical Theology

What we believe about God shapes our life. Theology is practical, unbelievably so. Even if you are bored at the mention of the word “theology,” understand that your theology is shaping who you are.

The Bible tells us to be holy as God is holy, to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Like Father like son. We will become who we think we should be based on who we think God is.

–If God doesn’t exist, then I merely live for myself.
–If God exists but is distant, then I merely live for myself.
–If God is cruel, then I live in fear.
–If God is only love, then I live with permissiveness.
–If God is only just, then I live without hope or motivation.
–If God is unfaithful, then I divorce my wife when she gets Alzheimer’s.

Perhaps our responses will be different with these views of God, but the bottom line is that who we think God is shapes who we are.

The first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Our number one responsibility as people is to know God.

Knowing God is only possible through His word. Yes, creation can teach us many things about God, but only the word fills us in on the details of God’s character as displayed through the Gospel.

Paul’s great desire was “that I may know Him.” Let it be ours as well, because to the extent it isn’t, is the extent to which we will be warped.

Theology Means “the Study of Theologians”

“Theology” is a moldy, dusty word, I sneeze just saying it. Theology is supposed to mean “the study of God,” but has morphed into “the study of theologians.”

After reading systematic theologies, I never feel like I know God as well as I know the theologian. Generally I’m aware of the theologian’s bias before reading, so I’m trying to be careful with what I’m reading and checking their Scripture references.

Generally, theology makes me upset at theologians, which never furthers my insights on God. Theology is lacking one thing these days: the study of God.

This is a horrible development because what you believe about God will shape your life. Misunderstandings about God lead to sin.

Theologians, being people, can’t possibly be right all the time. Yet if you make a statement about God without references to theological writings, people assume you are wrong.

Modern theological works are merely indexes of past theological writings. John Piper quotes Jonathan Edwards who quotes John Calvin who quotes Augustine who just made stuff up.

In the end it’s been about 1700 years since anyone has read the Bible and actually thought about God. So, we know what our favorite theologians say and we base our lives off of that.

Then again, I’m a person as well, who isn’t right all the time. There is more certainty in a body of counsel than in lone-rangering. Odds are if no one has seen what you see, you might not be seeing clearly.

Then again, a mob that quoted traditional beliefs in place of the commandments of God crucified the Son of God.

John Newton on Spiritual Growth

I asked the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know;
And seek more earnestly His face.

Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair!

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins–and give me rest!

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part!

Yes more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe!
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds–and laid me low!

“Lord, why is this!” I trembling cried,
“Will you pursue your worm to death?”
“This is the way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”

“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may seek your all in Me!”

Is It OK To Read the Bible in the Bathroom?

I mean, seriously, it’s a legitimate question, one I know you’ve thought.

Let me begin by saying that I am not trying to be disrespectful or flippant. I am trying to deal with this subject with dignity. Bodily functions are in the Bible, therefore it must be important enough for us to consider.

Our bodies carry out many functions, some of which are disgusting.

Part of our uncleanness before God is the fact that we “go to the bathroom.” Seriously, it is. Probably a verse you haven’t heard a sermon on before is Deuteronomy 23:13-14.

And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because( the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp. . . therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

Perhaps this means we should not read the Bible in the bathroom.

But perhaps the most famous verse about going to the bathroom is when Christ said, “whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled. But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

Therefore, I think reading the Bible in the bathroom is OK, since heart pollution is the biggest concern.

Our bodily functions are humbling and gross, one of those things I look forward to about my glorified body is that it’ll all be done with. Imagine how undignified it was for Christ to partake in this humble flesh?

Oh the love that was on display to redeem us from corruption. Amazing that you can praise the Christ of the Gospel talking about defecation. He redeems the whole person!

5 Ways NFL Cheerleaders Prove the Bible Right.

The other day I was watching football with my boy when they showed some cheerleaders doing their thang. My son said, “I don’t really get cheerleaders.”

Indeed. What they do matters little to the outcome of any game and they merely serve as eye-candy, which eventually makes you sick.

Although much NFL cheerleaderdom is pornographic and sinful in nature, I do believe they show the veracity of God’s Word about women. Here are five ways cheerleaders prove the Bible right.

1. They are a living demonstration of the female’s God-ordained role as being
encouragers of men, which I’m amazed any woman still buys into. Yet few men got anywhere without feminine encouragement.

2. There is virtue in quiet, peaceful women. Cheerleaders are great when you don’t have to listen to them. There is nothing more annoying than sitting in front of loud screaming women. I have often said that feminine exuberance is one of the most trying things in the world.

3. Beauty without discretion is painful. Sure they look nice, but God help me if I
have to listen to any of them pontificate on any remotely intellectual subject.

4. The mere appearance of an attractive woman immediately makes men braver or dumber. Feminine beauty is either incredibly edifying or terribly destructive.

5. My one, godly wife is better than all cheerleader babes combined and, in fact, I get quite tired of women constantly feeling a need to shake their goods in front of my son and I. What they do is blasphemy; what my wife does glorifies God’s Word.

The Weight of Stupidity

Life is vain.

Ecclesiastes makes this point clear and most humanistic Christians try their hardest to disprove the point. “Solomon wouldn’t have said that if he lived after Christ,” I’m told.

Yes he would because Christ, after all, is the author of Ecclesiastes. Solomon says that even if you accomplish great things in life, the idiots who come after you will undo your work and be stupid anyway.

Moses, upon entering the Promised Land, told the Israelites that they would break the covenant and rebel against God. “behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?”

Moses was not allowed to go into the Promised Land, an outcome I maintain was just fine with Moses. Who wants to be with these guys any longer? He tells Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people.”

Many lament how a person’s work was thrown away after their death, how all they accomplished was reversed. Those who are dead would roll over in their graves if they knew what was taking place with what they did.

Our service on earth is to be done for God, not for people. There is no satisfaction serving people or things; there is only satisfaction in serving God, knowing we will receive what we deserve for what we’ve done in the body.

All other motivation will crush you, defeat you, or if nothing else, will completely waste your life.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

The Holy Spirit and Jealousy

God frequently cites His jealousy as His motivation for acting in the OT. His jealousy causes Him to judge and it also causes Him to show mercy. His name is at stake.

God loves His people: He is their God and they are His people. He is bound up with them and thus becomes jealous, not merely because of who they are, but because He is jealous for His own name.

Israel is a great illustration for us, the things that happened to them were written for our learning so we might not repeat the same stupid steps.

God was jealous over Israel because He dwelt among them, He put His name on them and revealed Himself to the nations through them. Yet they threw it away, trampled His name under foot and became like the nations.

This did not go over well. Today all believers have become the temple of the Holy Spirit and God has put His name on us and His Spirit in us. Can we then assume that God is jealous for us? Oh yeah!

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us“?

God is jealous over us because we have His Spirit, thus He infinitely cares what we do while possessing Him. We are the temple, what fellowship has light with darkness? Come out from among them and be separate.

The Spirit in us not only brings power and life, it brings responsibility. Indeed we ought to tremble at the very notion of God dwelling in us. What a privilege, what a weight of glory!

What blessed responsibility! Let the Spirit shine and remember you’ve been bought with a price, you are not your own, so glorify God in your body.

JC Ryle on Religious Zeal

Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way.  It is a desire which is not natural to man.

It is a desire which the Spirit puts in the heart of every believer when he is converted, however, a desire which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called “zealous” men.

This desire is so strong, when it really reigns in a man, that it impels him to make any sacrifice–to go through any trouble–to deny himself to any amount–to suffer, to work, to labor, to toil, to spend himself and be spent, and even to die–if only he can please God and honor Christ.

–Read more on zeal by Ryle here.

Law, Grace and Being Nice

I recently read Leviticus, one of the most ignored books of the Bible. Due to our Leviticusian neglect, we tend to view the Law as being a horrible thing.

The Law does have a horrible component, a thing called a curse, but the Law is holy, just and good. The law is not bad, it has two main points, both of which are good:

1) Love God
2) Be nice

That’s my loose translation. Here’s an example from Leviticus, “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.”

That’s nice! Law followers were to take care of poor people, even if one of your own can no longer take care of himself, let him live with you as you would let a stranger live with you.

That’s fascinating to me because it implies that having poor strangers live with you was common, assumed you’d know what that was like, so of course you’d take care of one of your own.

I have never had a poor person live with me, except my wife, but I doubt that’s what was meant. I believe I would let someone live with me who fell on bad times, whether they’d want to is another matter.

But how cool would it be to live amongst a group of people who loved God and loved each other? Talk about security and peace!

How does this translate to NT conduct? Quite well–if any does not take care of his own he is worse than an infidel. What a shame that NT grace based obedience pales in comparison with Law based obedience.

Perhaps we’re off on something. Or perhaps Grace-based obedience fails just as much as Law-based obedience because people don’t like obeying period. Perhaps the real issue isn’t Law or Grace, but Faith or No Faith.

Spiritual Unity

Being reborn makes us odd ducks, people who wander through a land of natural men wondering what all the fuss is about when we are headed to a much better land far, far away.

Being spiritual brings an aloneness. Jesus Christ, our Savior, often went away alone to be with His Father. Paul said at the end of his life that no man stood with him, save Christ alone.

Being lonely does not necessarily mean we’re alone though! Being alone drives us to people whom we are like. Spiritual people want to be with spiritual people.

It doesn’t take long for spiritual people to figure out how few spiritual people there are out there. Yet when one is found, there is a rejoicing, an inner party that takes place as the fellowship of the Spirit flourishes. It’s a beautiful thing. I hope you know what I’m talking about.

Since spiritual people don’t have many options as to who to hang with, we put up with a lot from each other to continue to enjoy spiritual fellowship. Things that would divide worldly folks are overlooked so that we might continue to mutually edify each other.

There is a unity in the Spirit that helps us overlook fleshly hangups. Paul says that new spiritual creations “know we no man after the flesh.” We base our judgments on better things, not after the flesh, what man’s eyes see, but righteous judgment.

Being spiritual results in a spiritual outlook. The spiritually minded man will find a spiritually minded man and willingly overlook what would otherwise separate them by annoyance.

It may not be easy all the time, we’re told to “endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit,” which means it isn’t automatic. But when we get our minds on the right things, spiritual unity results.

The Aloneness of Being Spiritual

Every person has been born. Seriously, it’s true. I know you’re coming off a holiday weekend and all, but try to wrap your minds around this fact.

Unfortunately, only a few have been spiritually reborn. Few have put off the old and put on the new, few have become spiritual creations. Now that the reborn man is spiritual there is a distinction between him and all other merely physical people.

Rebirth brings many character changes that separate the spiritual man from the carnal, fleshly, natural man. One aspect of this separation is that natural men have no idea what we are doing or why.

“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” The spiritual man has a view of things that brings clarity. He can say with the psalmist, “I have more understanding than all my teachers.”

While this is true, at the same time natural men have no clue what we are talking about. They may pass judgments on us, yet they contain little truth and they ultimately have little power over the spiritual man.

As John Wesley comments on this passage, “They neither understand what [the spiritual man] is, nor what he says.” They have no idea what we’re up to. When we explain it, it makes even less sense.

Being alone should not be an unusual experience for the Believer. There is an isolation that naturally arises from being a stranger in a strange land. Yet this same isolation drives us to Our Lord and also to those of like precious faith.

There is much fear in our day of being alone. Aloneness is something to be embraced and enjoyed with our Good Shepherd and others of our flock.

Jim Elliot on Forsaking American Christianity for Missions

“Surely those who know the great passionate heart of Jehovah must deny their own loves to share in the statement of His.

“Consider the call from the Throne above, ‘Go ye,’ and from round about, ‘Come over and help us,’ and even the call from the damned souls below, ‘Send Lazarus to my brothers, that they come not to this place.’

“Impelled, then, by these voices, I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish. So what if the well-fed church in the homeland needs stirring?

“They have the Scriptures, Moses, and the Prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bank books and in the dust on their Bible covers.

“American believers have sold their lives to the service of Mammon, and God has His rightful way of dealing with those who succumb to the spirit of Laodicea.”

–Jim Elliot

The Holy Spirit: There’s More to Come

Several times Paul talks about the “earnest of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14). An “earnest” is a great KJV word basically describing a down-payment. It shows your interest and a promise to pay the full amount at a future date.

We have been given the Holy Spirit and His life in us is to transform us, to change us into the perfect man Christ Jesus, while putting to death the deeds of our old man.

Life in the Spirit can be awesome. There is power and energy, peace and spiritual enablement to respond with grace, an exercise of gifts with fruit unto holiness, spiritual enlightenment to understand the revealed wisdom of God, and much more.

But no matter how awesome it may be to have the Holy Spirit in us and active, imagine what the full power of the Spirit is like?!

Moses saw a bush that was burning and yet was not consumed. I dare say we are that bush, and yet in order for us to handle the full life-force of the Holy Spirit our physical bodies must go through a transformation to be able to handle it.

If you are satisfied with life in this body, if you’ve got enough Holy Spirit for now, then you’re out to lunch. I can’t wait for the full payment of the Holy Spirit, to be like Him as we will see Him as He is.

Even so, come quickly.

John and the Holy Spirit

The Apostle John makes many references to the Spirit, but rarely puts the word “Holy” before Spirit. In fact, he only uses “Holy Spirit” six times in his Gospel and zero times in 1-3 John and Revelation.

I am wondering if any of you have any guesses as to why John rarely uses the term “Holy Spirit” or what the significance might be?

Spirtually Drunk

(A Re-Post from 2006)

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Being intoxicated by a substance changes ones entire behavior. Scripture tells us that believers should be intoxicated, spiritual alcoholics, addicted to the Holy Spirit, which changes our behavior.

(Which reminds me of one of my favorite descriptions of a person in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 16:15, “ye know the house of Stephanas. . . and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” That’s cool.)

We are to be Spiritaholics. I thought it would be interesting to look up a list of symptoms of alcoholism and compare that to some of the believers in Scripture as well as instruction given to believers now. Thought it was interesting, probably not fascinating or even biblically consistent, but interesting nonetheless.

Of course, instead of drinking the concept would be doing spiritual things.

Drinking alone or in secret
Matthew 6:6
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret
John 6:15
he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Not remembering conversations or commitments
Philippians 3:13
forgetting those things which are behind,

Losing interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring pleasure
Philippians 3:8
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ

Feeling a need to drink
1 Peter 2:2
desire the sincere milk of the word,

Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in the car
1 Timothy 2:8
I desire therefore that men pray everywhere

Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances
Luke 12:51,52
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Luke 14:33
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Unexplained mood swings
James 4:9
let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

Missing work
Matthew 4:21,22
[He saw them] mending their nets; and he called them. 22And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Losing interest in social activities
2 Timothy 2:16
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

Neglect of physical appearance
Matthew 3:4
John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Isaiah 53:2
he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Walking in the Spirit

I came across Acts 9:31 and read this segment from the last half of the verse, “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” It is describing the early church after the first round of persecution ended after the conversion of Saul.

They had rest, they were edified and they multiplied because all their people were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

At first glance, these two things don’t seem to go together. Fear and comfort?

You fear God because He’s your Creator and Judge, He is holy, He is just and righteous. That requires fear, admiration, awe, etc. At the same time, as a believer you don’t just walk in trembling anxiety that at any moment God will smite you.

We’ve been given not the spirit of fear but of power.

So the believer also has comfort in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The Holy Spirit makes intercession constantly before God on the believer’s behalf. Thus, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-righteous God is also a source of comfort.

One does not eliminate the other, they are both God, and fear and comfort are due to His character. Most churches have the Comfort part down, some churches have the Fear part down.

Wonder what would happen if we had both fear and comfort? Probably the results Acts 9:31 says the early church had–they were edified and multiplied.

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