When People Prosper Without Christ

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But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16-17)

                This Psalm describes the trouble many of us have when we see the non-believers walking in “happiness”, “security”, “health”, “wealth”, etc. The Bible describe throughout its pages how worldly prosperity will lead to destruction. The structure of worldly prosperity is built on a foundation that is falling apart. There is no real security in a world that is deteriorating and will ultimately be destroyed. As believers, we are called to store our treasure in the eternity of Heaven. When we build wealth and other earthly attachment they pull us away from a God focus. We drift into self-reliance and self-security, neither of which can be trusted. Trusting in ourselves and the security of this world is trust in fallenness, in sin, and in darkness. When we go into the sanctuary of God, as the psalmist says, we allow God to give us His divine provision which is more than we need or deserve. We also can glorify God for and with His provision which let our focus stay on God and our relationship deepen with the God of eternity. The more secure we become with the provision of God and His work in our lives the more we can see the artificial confidence people have in worldly pleasure. As the psalmist says: we can discern their end. We can see how thin the ice is below their confidence. We can see how easily their security can be shaken and how truly fragile their earthly prosperity is. Obey the call of your Lord to be not of this world and allow His grace to fill you with joy, peace, purpose and love. Don’t be distracted by the “prosperity” of the lost. Their gain apart from God will deteriorate and fall to dust. Your trust and hope in God will earn you a relationship that will prosper you here and last into eternity.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22)

To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God (Ecclesiastes 2:26)

Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay, what he lays up the righteous will wear, and the innocent will divide his silver… He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone. (Job 27:16-17,19)

Steps of Walking with Christ (5 of 7)

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5) Growing
As a believer sheds their self and moves away from worldly comfort and emotionally based happiness, they enter an environment where the Spirit can grow in them and replace the flesh that has dominated their existence. While growth sounds exciting at its initial thought, it can be very painful as faith becomes the basis for movement and not sight. Not many people have complete trust in many people around them. The concept of being able to completely trust God takes effort. He seeks that all things are for our good as we walk in His will. He does not change and cannot lie. All the truth of His word should become as comforting as a warm blanket on a cold day. Growth as we walk in faith reveals how true this is. Growing in faith is as difficult as it is satisfying to our spirit. As the Holy Spirit matures us we begin to bear its fruit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a). Growing in Christ-likeness as we walk in the Spirit allows these qualities to show through in increasing measure. This is one of the ways that we are able to shine the light of God into this darkened world. This growth and maturity is a lifelong process. It is even more satisfying when we get closer to God and our perspective of things change and grow with us. His Word is alive and matures us as its depths are revealed to us. It then becomes clear that the depth of our God is infinite and we can never know enough. We are beginning a lifelong commitment that never decreases in the joy and peace that it provides to us as we go deeper into the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9b-10)

The steps of Walking with Christ (4 of 7)

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4) Shedding of Self
As the believer learns what it looks like to walk with Christ they see that the process involves a new heart. This new heart is made new by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit functions at full capacity in a heart made pure as sinfulness is pushed out. The darkness is replaced by the light of God. We see this in the power exercised by the only sinless heart to ever walk the earth: Jesus. He was perfectly connected to the Father and the full power of the Spirit healed and raised the dead. The same Spirit indwells in believer when they accept Christ as a sacrifice for their sin and allows that Spirit to enter their heart. It is at this point that that we have to shed ourselves, let go of our flesh and allow our spirits to grow. We have to decrease so that God’s power in us can increase. We are called to a purpose that exceeds our expectations and a joy that surpasses the best this world has to offer. The process of shedding requires humility and a trust that God must give us the strength to accomplish. Ask God to give you a new strength and ability to walk with Him. Your Heavenly Father seeks to guide you into rightly walking with Him. He sent His only Son to die so that you could be reconciled to Him, of course He’s willing to show you your purpose in your new family. Let go of what you hold on to for comfort and step into the embrace that fits you perfectly and last for eternity.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you (Ezekiel 36:26a)
Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 18:31)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. (Romans 8:9)

Small In The Eyes Of Eternity

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                We have a God that never changes. The same God that created the universe gave you the breath of life. The same God that raised Christ from the dead allowed you to open your eyes this morning. He has no reason to change in His perfect wisdom and perfect righteousness. He knows the beginning from the end and sees the bigger picture as His will is played out on earth.

                I’ve been guilty of thinking that my actions in some way change the way God sees me, or the way He can use me. I forget that God knew every mistake I would ever make, every sinful thought or action, before the beginning of time. He knew when He called me into adoption as His child, all that I had done and would ever do. His heart for me has no reason to change. His love for me is incomprehensible and would be overwhelming if I could receive it fully in this human heart. We have to look at our greatest examples of love here on earth and just imagine how infinitely better His must be.

                I wanted to imagine an analogy to make this as real as possible to the people who I get to profess His love to. Imagine with me that you are at the park with your kids, or children you care deeply for. You see them working through their pre-school problems with the other kids. (Who gets the yellow shovel? Who touched me? Who moved my rock?) You smile at how funny they are dwelling on the trivial things in life. You laugh at how much bigger the world is than their tiny playground. You wonder what amazing things they will accomplish as they grow and mature. That is how the Father sees us as His children. We struggle, lost in emotions that interfere with our reason and truth. We think that moments spell the end for us and panic. We forget that He is in control and will guide us as we do our children. I imagine God’s smile as He waits for me to come to Him when I think my newest struggle is more than just my newest yellow shovel struggle.

                He has no need to feed our panic or deliver us from struggles that don’t hinder His bigger view of life. His love had no reason to waiver over our hyper focus on relatively small things. He’s driving the car and we keep panicking about the dumps in the road. Fall into the freedom of letting God drive the car. Let Him maneuver the way as He guides you through His journey for you. Know always that He sees your struggles, but He sees them through the eyes of His plan and through the eyes of eternity. Your mountain is a grain of sand to the Creator. Let Him blow your mountains away, after you grow in the climbing of those mountains. Share the yellow shovel, the green one works too. That touch didn’t hurt you, but your forgiveness will touch them in greater ways. Let them have your rock, God has a better one waiting for you when you look to Him. We are sojourners on this earth, like a giant playground. Grow in its lesson and return to the Father that watches you the entire time, with a smile that never waivers. 

 

Available Through God

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                Let’s consider some of the promises given to us through Jesus Christ: newness of life (Romans 6:4), salvation (Romans 6:23), become a child of God (John 1:12), righteousness of God (Romans 3:22), eternal life and escape from judgement (John 5:24), justification through grace (Romans 3:24). These are the things freely given to us as gifts from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe when we decide to accept reconciliation to Him through His son which He offered to any who choose to receive.

                There are also things offered to believers which require us to allow God to work in us through His spirit. (Philippians 2:12b-13) work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. These are things that we cannot do on our own. We need God to act in us in order to overcome the sinfulness given to us in original sin. We need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, to break out of our personal strongholds, to overcome temptation, to drive away the deceiver, to understand God’s word, to guide us in God’s will for our life, to discern God’s will, to be our joy and light in this dark world, and to be God in us! The problem with some is that they expect God to pour these things on us. It doesn’t work that way. These things are grown in the hearts of believers as fruit when the believer matures in their walk with the Lord. God is too wise to hand such powerful things to us in our spiritual youth. As we grow in relationship with the Father He makes these things available to us. Human wisdom has parents who set up trusts for their children so they don’t squander the gifts they receive. How much wiser is our Heavenly Father? God makes all of these things available to His children, but His wisdom is in His timing and our maturity.

                 Don’t lose hope when God doesn’t hand you understanding or doesn’t deliver you from situations you have walked into. Know that you may not be ready to fully understand that moment yet or that you still need to grow in your painful situation. (Romans 8:28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Know that God wishes to bless you more than you desire to be blessed. He knows that those blessing deserve to be used for His greater purpose in you. Come close to God, get to know His heart for you, and never doubt that the same spirit that flowed through and raised Christ is in you; and available to glorify God in ways that surpass your imagination.

Of Many Names (1 of 6)

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                The Bible refers to God using many names. It does this so that we can see the many characteristics of an unimaginable God.

-EL, ELOAH [el, el-oh-ah]: God “mighty, strong, prominent” (Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 139:19)

ELOHIM [el-oh-heem]: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong” (Genesis 17:7; Jeremiah 31:33)

-EL SHADDAI [el-shah-dahy]: “God Almighty” (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2,5)

-ADONAI [ˌædɒˈnaɪ; ah-daw-nahy]: “Lord” (Genesis 15:2; Judges 6:15)

-YHWH / YAHWEH / JEHOVAH [yah-way / ji-hoh-veh]: “LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4; Daniel 9:14) – strictly speaking, the only proper name for God. Translated in English Bibles “LORD” (all capitals) to distinguish it from Adonai, “Lord.”

 

            The Old Testament does the same. Names have meaning. When we read the word of God, and look into when a particular name is used to refer to a person, the richness of their character adds to the meaning God looks in convey in His word. This holds especially true for the people who are so complex that they have more than one name. I sought to convey this using God as an example above, but my focus is on the deceiver. His many names are important because they show a believer the character of their biggest enemy. I want to stick to the big four, but research will give us so many more.

 

First Sin Gave Away Our Power

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Adam Gave It Away

                I was considering the fallenness of the earth and the fact that the earth is under the control of satan. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. (2 Corinthians 4:4) The world falls deeper into the chaos of sin every day. People think of sin as the big things (murder, assault, rape, etc.), but in fact the world is covered in sin when you compare us to the holiness of God. The world God gave us was covered in His glory, and it was very good! And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) The world has fallen into darkness (away from God’s light) and its sinfulness is so prevalent that people don’t recognize it anymore. Sin has become normal and everyone is desensitized to it.

                I began working through Genesis today for a group study and had a thought in regards to all of this. God gave the world to Adam and Eve. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion (Genesis 1:28) Adam and Eve were given dominion over all of the earth and its creatures! But above we see that satan is the god of this world. We have to realize that Adam gave satan this world in original sin. In God’s light Adam ruled over all of God’s creation, but in sinful darkness, satan is lord. I say this to illustrate how sin gives the deceiver power. Sin gives him a foot hold in the lives of all people. When hearts are turned back to God and made pure in the blood of Jesus, satan is defeated. God’s light drives out darkness. The same goes for your mind, heart, and life. Give God control of everything and walk in His light. Satan doesn’t have dominion over you if you refuse to give it to him, in sin. Don’t make the same mistakes we see in Adam. Let him be our example and let Jesus be our way out. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can you escape the darkness. The Spirit of God is yours in Jesus. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-19)