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Posts Tagged ‘theology’

God wants something for you.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

God definitely wants something for you.

He does not want you to feel down and hopeless.  He has plans for you.  He wants you filled with hope.  He wants you positioned to prosper.  He has a future in mind for you.

It’s yours.  It’s yours for the taking if you will call upon the name of the Lord.  It’s yours if you will come and pray to the Lord.  It’s all yours if you will seek the Lord.

You can have what God wants for you, but you have to come on God’s terms.

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God is Real

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;

 there is no one who does good.

– Psalm 53:1 (NIV)

The believer should know that God is alive and present.  True believers understand that God is, as an anonymous psalmist stated, ” a great God and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3).  In fact, it is the believer who is full of faith who can honestly put his or her trust in the Lord with all of his or her heart and not rely upon on his or her own understanding.

The psalmist says that it is the fool who says that “there is no God.” It is not the person who is full of faith who is the fool spoken of here.  It is the person who is faithless.  Naturally, by the world’s standards, we are the fools for believing in the unseen.  However, by what we regard as holy, the world is foolish for not accepting God as the Almighty.

God is real.  India Arie sang it into reality for listeners on “Voyage to India.”  Joan Osbourne sang, asking if God was one of us.  Singers and songwriters share it just like psalmists.  After all, a psalm is just a poem set to music.  Sounds a lot like soul music to me.  Maybe if we add the Funk Brothers folks might feel more appreciative of the presence of God with a Motown flavor.  Needless to say, God is still the Almighty and that’s all by Himself.

After all, it is the fool who says that there is no god.  That’s with or without any background music.

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“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” – Mark 1:1 (New Living Translation)

The opening line of the Gospel of Mark sets both the tone and the pace for one of the most action-packed depictions of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ offered through the Gospels.  While Mark’s account is counted among the Synoptic Gospels, it still stands out as particular account of Jesus, “the Messiah, the Son of God.” It offers the reader an opportunity to go along for a roller coaster ride of encounters with Jesus as He goes to and fro, teaching, healing and ministering to the people in the area of Palestine.

Rather than a lofty introduction of the book like his counterparts Luke and Matthew, Mark opens with a single verse that sets everything up from there.  He points out that it is about Jesus.  It is about the Messiah.  It is about the Son of God.  He does not get into genealogy like Matthew.  He does not introduce his position in a case statement like Luke where the opening four verses sound almost like a theological thesis for a seminary student to some degree.  Mark hits his main point and begins to spill evidence of that point from that point on and throughout the entire book.

Start studying the Gospel of MarkRead it as part of your daily Bible study or devotional period.  Listen to it on YouVersion or other sites.  Pick up a commentary or Bible study on the Gospel of Mark.  Let it sink in and soak in to your very soul.  Let it speak to you through the Holy Spirit.  Let it help you see Jesus in action and explore it so that you can experience the gospel in a new light.

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If you want to give, your gift will be accepted.
It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have.
– 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NCV)

Usually, back when I was starting out in church, I would always hear the deacon say a prayer for the offering that somehow included the Lord’s love for a “cheerful giver.”  That always seemed to hit home in its own way.  The Lord, as shared by Paul to the believers at Corinth, does indeed love cheerful givers.  Yet, we may miss the mark if we fail to see the principles that Paul shared within the context of his message in 2 Corinthians.

Giving is noble.  The Christian is expected to give to worthy causes and unmet needs.  However, we should not be left feeling guilty when we hear someone else quote Malachi as if we are in the midst of robbing God.  We may have it in hearts to give, but we may not have it in possession to give like we desire.  In essence, Paul clarifies the matter by stating: It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have.  That means that you cannot worry about what you do not have to give.  Your concern should be about what you have to give and your willingness to give it.  Jesus shared so when He pointed out the faith of the widow who gave two mites.  It was not the quantity of her gift that was impressive.  It was the depths to which she dug into what she did have in possession that caught Jesus’ attention and caused Him to call attention to her act of willingness.

God wants us willing to give.  We may have big hearts with small budgets.  God can bless us beyond where we are today.  We are not looking for the blessing out of giving since we are already blessed with “true riches” (Luke 16:11).  We have to be willing to give of what we have without seeking to gain what we desire.  We should give with no strings attached.  We should give to God’s glory, not seeking approval or kudos from others.  When we give according to the right principles, God is pleased and we can be assured that our gifts are accepted by Him.

Give with a willing heart.  Give out of what you have.  Give that God may be glorified through your gifts.

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Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.- Psalm 115;3 (NIV)

The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.
– Psalm 135:6 (NIV)

God can do whatever He wants to do.  In theological terms, it is called His sovereignty.  In other words, He is God and answers to no one except Himself.  He is God alone, answering to no one.

Since God is sovereign, we can be assured that God can also use whomever He decides to use.  He used a stuttering murderer to deliver His people out of Egypt.  He used a young man to serve as His prophet to His people.  He used a shepherd boy to demonstrate how to be a man after God’s own heart.  He used a poor young woman to bring the manifestation of the Messiah into the world.  He used a religious zealot to spread the gospel to Gentiles throughout the world.

He uses whomever He chooses to use.  He can use you, too.  Don’t overlook what God can do and how He can do it to bring Himself glory.

Look at this story below to just how God can use anyone or anything.

21Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

26Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.c 33The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

34Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

– Numbers 22:21-35 (NIV)

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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. – Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)

The Word needs to take root in our hearts and souls in order to be applied by us.  We have to take in the Word so that we can operate by the Word.  If we do not have the Word in our hearts, then the service of our hands is futile and is of no effect because it solely relies upon what we bring forth by our own doing.  We need to take in the Word to become, as James wrote, “doers of the Word.”

Here is a simple way to take in the Word:

  • Look in the Word: Read your Bible daily.  Study the Gospels.  Understand the Pauline Epistles.  Familiarize yourself with the books of Moses.  Start with a One-Year Bible that offers a daily reading plan of the Bible.
  • Listen to the Word: Hear the Word aloud.  Listen to the Bible on your iPod or MP3 player, even your laptop or desktop.  Numerous sites like YouVersion offer the Bible in audio format online.  Also, get the Bible on CD for your daily drive or in eBook format.
  • Learn from the Word: Join a small group or a Bible study group. Attend Bible study at your local church.  Check out short-term Bible courses offered within your community.  Learning from the Word can be a group effort.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

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To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. – Jude 1:25

Jude, the brother of James and the Lord Jesus Christ, wrote these final words in his stirring epistle about contending for the faithJude wraps things up by giving glory to God.  He talked about the evil of mankind in the past, even the angels who did not keep their station and did evil, and of the evil that men would still do on earth.  He points them out, so that other believers will recognize them for exactly what they are.  Yet, after all that he says about evil, he takes the two final verses of the epistle to give God glory.

Starting at verse 24, Jude writes an inspiring conclusion to the entire epistle.  It must be inspiring.  We use it as a benediction, closing our worship hour as we echo his words with eloquence.  It stirs our spirits.  We recite the words of Jude that we have committed to memory and we share them with our congregations.  In the words of Matthew Henry, “The apostle concludes this epistle with a solemn ascription of glory to the great God.”

It fits.  The verses seem to have been laid in just the right place.  They seem fitted precisely in the perfect position.  They appear nestled in the best place possible, especially after reading of all of the horrific things done throughout the ages.

We should glorify God if we contend for the faith.  God will get more glory from our adherence to the tenets of our faith rather than the words of our mouths.  We can give God glory through what we do more than what we say.  We can profess Him by what we produce rather than what we proclaim.

Jude shared what he had to say so that others would uphold the faith.  He did not hold back one bit.  He let it fly with both barrels blazing.  When the smoke finally cleared, he gave glory to God.

Put your faith into action.  Give God the glory.

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“I fear there are some who preach with the view of amusing men, and as long as people can be gathered in crowds, and their ears can be tickled, and they can retire pleased with what they have heard, the orator is content, and folds his hands, and goes back self-satisfied.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. – Colossians 2:8 (NIV)

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. – 2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)

Oftentimes, the warning of sound doctrine is shared with ministers and pastors, even missionaries, upon ordination.  Hands are laid upon these individuals and they are anointed and appointed for service.   As leaders, those teaching the Bible and indoctrinating new believers into the faith, you will see the importance of sound doctrine serving as the foundation for all that you teach others.  I think we all get that, too.

As the worship leader…?

As the choir director…?

As the minister of music…?

Yep. Yes. Yeah. Uh-huh.  Yep.  You better believe it, brothers and sisters.  We at least owe God that much when say that we are ministering in His Spirit in what we call praise and worship.  Our praise and worship selections should minister to others beyond sounding good and making others feel good.  The selections better speak of how good and how great God is to us.

Let us not fall prey to the trap of appealing to and impressing people.  We do not want to send mixed signals in the house of God.  We want sound doctrine to go along with strong voices and skilled instrumentation. 

If it isn’t biblical, how can it be part of your praise? If God doesn’t do that or do that the way that we’ve been singing it, how does that fit into our worship? We need to get with the church staff and leaders who know the Bible better than us, then assemble the music department from top to bottom so that we can teach how to minister through music and song, praise and worship, with a biblical base and a sound doctrinal foundation.  Someone other than just the drummer and piano player ought to research the songs being played throughout the service.              

It is about worship.  It sets the stage for the Word to be preached.  It ushers souls to the point of readiness to receive the Word through preaching.  It is vital to the weary soul who needs to have his or her hardened heart to be broken up and softened in order for the Word to take root.

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“Prayers never die.” – E.M. Bounds

“God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.” — John Wesley

“If you are too busy to pray then you are too busy.” -W. E. Sangster

Some of the top Christian writers on prayer would have to be:

  • E.M. Bounds
  • John Wesley
  • Andrew Murray
  • W.E. Sangster
  • R.A. Torrey

I say that these names are among the top Christian writers on the topic simple due to the expansiveness upon which they wrote on prayer as well as the depth that they wrote on prayer.  Some of their titles that may be of help to you are listed below.

  • How to Pray- John Wesley
  • Teach Us to Pray- W.E. Sangster
  • Andrew Murray on Prayer– Andrew Murray
  • The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer– E.M. Bounds
  • The Power of Prayer-R.A. Torrey

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In 1967, our vision was to reach Los Angeles. This vision broadened to include California, then all of America, then the entire world.  – from The History of Victory Outreach International

As Christians, we are to be in a position of ambassadors of Christ to others.  We can be a bridge between people and the Savior.  We need to be messengers who share the message of the Good News about the victory that is complete in Christ.

Victory Outreach started with a novel concept.  They sought to reach the city of Los Angeles with the gospel.  That grew and expanded since 1967. 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:8 (ESV)

What if you simply set your focus on reaching a city or region for Christ, spreading the news about the victory that is available through Him? It is possible.  It is doable.  It provides us with a focal point for the work of the ministry.  We can do more for the Lord with a focus that can help us grow from there.  We can be voices of His victory on the street corners of metropolitans like Los Angeles or we can speak loudly about His victory in a rustic church out in a rural area.  Location matters as a starting point.  Location should not stifle us from doing the work of the ministry.

Where is your Jerusalem? What serves as your home base or headquarters? Start right there.

What is your Judea or Samaria? Identify surrounding areas near your locale to spread the news of Christ’s victory.  Use these as key points on your map of ministry.  These will serve as the points where you have identified the need for both the presence and preaching of gospel-believing people.

. . . and to the end of the earth

God will send you where He has for you to serve Him.  He may start you out in one place, but He may send you further and further away from “home.” He wants to use you.  He start you out right where you are and grow you right before the eyes of your family and friends.  He could also send you away to develop you far away from all that you have known.  He just wants you to serve as a voice of His victory and the victory that you have in this life through Him.

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