All posts by ITWMinistries

Examine Yourself

 

This morning I had the opportunity to listen to one of my favorite Christian radio shows. The show is formatted to resemble a Bible study session, where there is an open discussion of a particular Bible passage, character, or faith principle.
Before closing, one of the study member said something that really resonated with me–so much that I had to share it with you.  The question was this, “Do people think well of God from being around me?”  This is a question worth some discussion.

We are told, in Scripture, who we are “in Christ”.

  • We are children of God (John 1:12).
  • We are His workmanship–His handiwork–born anew in Christ to do His work (Ep. 2:10).
  • We are partakers of Christ; We share in His life (Heb. 3:14).
  • We are ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).

Since Christ has done so much for us, we should be the ultimate “poster child” for Him.

  • For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him  (2 Corinthians 5:20).
  • Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).
  • In whom we have redemption through the blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14).
As followers of Christ, we are to be “salt and light” in a dark world.  Our light should “shine” before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.  We are not to be conformed to this world–darkened by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  All this is  passing away.  But he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).
So, now, your response.  “Do people think well of God after being around you?  If your answer is “yes”,  glory be to God.  Hold fast to your profession of faith, in both word and deed.  If your answer is “no” then it may be time to examine yourself to determine, “why not?” (2 Cor. 13:5)

 

Faith that Perseveres: THE APPLICATION

 Read Hebrews 11.  All the Faith Hall of Famers “died in faith not having received “the promises” but having seen them afar off were and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. 11:13).  The word “promises” is a metonymy for “the things promised.” This speaks specifically to the promised Messiah and future heavenly inheritance.  
As “partakers of God’s glory”, we have begun to receive the promises of God on “this side” of eternity”(2 Pet. 1:3-11) with the glorious assurance eternal life on “the other side.”   Informed with the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 4:6) and empowered by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), we can move forward with that which God has set before us “being fully persuaded, that what He (God) had promised, He was able also to perform (Rom. 4:21). 
 
Here are key principles we can learn 
from the Faith Hall of Famers on persevering faith.
 
1.      We must believe that He who promises faithful.  This requires you know Him in a personal way—in relationship.  This includes daily communion and fellowship with Him to better understand His will and His ways.  Would you put your life in the hands of someone you don’t know personally?  Confidence comes from knowing Him.
2.      We must understand His promises for our life.This begins by acquainting oneself with the promises of God.  Some scholars cite 365 promises of God for His people—one for every day of the year.  “Seeing afar off” requires visual acuity beyond our physical sight resulting in seeing beyond what we can see.  It is with spiritual eyes and the assistance of the Holy Spirit that we are able to “see afar off.”   
3.      We must look past our experience here on earth and look forward to the effect of our work on the greater effort of “kingdom building.”   We must actively declare ourselves as “pilgrims” traveling through this temporary thing called “time.”  We have an assignment from our King (Matt. 28:19-20) to complete while here on earth.  But we must never forget our home is heaven.  We must, like the Faith Hall of Famers, declare ourselves as “pilgrims on this earth.”

Prosperity In The Word

There is much ado in the news this week about Creflo Dollar, pastor of the World Changers Church International in metro Atlanta, and his recent altercation with his daughter.  I found it interesting that most news releases gave special attention to the fact that Pastor Dollar is a proponent of the “prosperity message”, the size of his congregation, and the monies he earns through speaking and writing.    
 
Let me begin by saying this about Pastor Dollar’s prosperity message.  I think Pastor Dollar has been successful in sharing God’s desire to bless and provide for His children. This is not new information but clearly communicated throughout God’s Word.  In The Sermon on the Mount, specifically, Matthew 6, Jesus shared God’s promise for provision and attempts to relieve the anxiety of people over their needs (vv.27-32). Jesus, however, in the same sermon warns the masses not to lay up treasure on earth but in heaven.  “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” (Matthew 6:21, New Living Translation)  We are instructed to seek Him first and He will take care of our needs (v.33).  Writers of the Old Testament warn of the fleeting value of riches and the perils of allowing them to become our “idol”. Proverbs 23:4 specifically warns: “Labour not to be rich…”   
While many criticize Pastor Dollar for his “prosperity message”, they must also recognize his success in preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).  I think the “hating on Pastor Dollar” originates from believers and ministries who are being challenged to better present the “Gospel message”—clearly, unabashed, and unashamedly. This is not happening in many of our churches.  Let me further explain, by sharing my experience with the prosperity message. 
While I was “saved” at nine (9), I didn’t relinquish lordship to Christ until I was forty (40).  Good church training but no clear presentation of what it really meant to be “die to sin” and “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:2,4).  What Pastor Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, and other prosperity promoters did was “to stir up in my spirit” (2 Tim. 1:6) the desire to learn more about the Triune God.  In Christ, I learned I had a new identity—I was God’s child and joint heir with Him (Rom. 8:16-17) and I could be in a personal relationship with the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (who now lived within me). I was familiar with religion but relationship was something new!  And as I drew near to Him, He drew near to me (James 4:8).  The more I studied His Word, God directed me to more light and more truth about Himself.  God then re-directed my study to better teachers and ministers who built on my new knowledge of God (2 Pet. 1:3-8). Isaiah 55:11 best describes my experience with prosperity ministries:  “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
As believers we are personally responsible for developing and expanding our relationship with God. It requires us to get into His presence to know Him and be “known by Him” (Ps. 91:14).  It is God that we must seek—His face and not His hand.  He alone can provide what we really need—“grace and peace through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet.1:2) and “an inheritance incorruptible that doesn’t fade away” because it’s eternal (1 Pet. 1:3-4).

The Invisible Cross-How do People See Christ in You?

  I recently celebrated my birthday–praise the Lord!  Before the special day, my husband asked what I would like for a gift.  At first I  couldn’t think of anything but then a thought came to mind–a cross necklace.  I had resisted either purchasing  or requesting a cross necklace before but this year I felt differently.  Why had I declined one in the past?  Perhaps it was because I had seen how people diminished and trivalized this symbol of unconditional love and sacrifice.  
I think crosses reflect people’s personalities and style preferences.  They come in a variety of sizes and metals–some are even fashioned from trees found in the Holy Land.  Some crosses are plain and simple; others are encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones–bejeweled and dazzling. But do people really understand the  significance of the Cross?  Do they full know what wearing one says about  “who and whose” they are?  
For me, wearing the Cross is more than donning a “trendy accessory.”  For me, it is an expression of love and commitment to the Lover of my soul–to my Beloved.  Remember when you would wear your boyfriend’s class ring on a chain around your neck.  And if it got real serious, you might receive a locket (heart-shaped) to wear as evidence of his affection.   It is now Christ who reigns on the throne of our heart (Ephesians 3:17).  The Cross represents the greatest gift we could ever receive–eternal life, freedom from the bondage of sin, peace with God–all purchased with the precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Cross invites “whosoever will” to newness of life (Rom. 6:4) and power to live victoriously.  The Cross transforms.
 
Ask yourself these questions next time your put on your cross.
1.  Are you more careful with your language that day?  
2.  Are you especially patient and kind to rude people you encounter that day?  
3.  Do you find yourself listening to more praise music in your car that day?  
4.  Do you find yourself promising to pray for those who share their problems that day?  
5.  Do you have to adjust your clothing to match your jewelry that day? Too short? Too revealing?
If you answered yes to any of these question, you might want to read Ephesians 4:23-32 and its companion scripture Colossians 3:10-14.  As believers in Christ, our behavior should be guided by more than a piece of jewelry.  Our behavior is motivated by our love for the One who died on the Cross.  I will now wear my cross proudly knowing full well that it is really Christ in me that makes the difference

Ministries of the Holy Spirit

While this listing may be familiar to many, it’s nice to have all them listed in one place.  May this information assist you as begin your journey to learn more about the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Baptismal Medium
Calls to Ministry
Channel of Divine Revelation
Empowers          
Fills       
Guarantees
1 Cor. 12:13
Acts 13:2-4
2 Sam. 23:2; Neh.9:30; Zech. 7:12
Ex. 31:1,2; Judg. 13:25; Acts 1:8
Luke 4:1; Acts 2:4; Eph. 5:18
2 Cor. 1 :22; 5:5; Eph. 1: 14
Guards
Helps
Illuminates
Indwells
Intercedes
Produces fruit
2 Tim. 1 :14
John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7
1 Cor. 2:10-13
Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 3: 16; 6: 19
Rom. 8:26,27
Gal.5:22,23
Provides Spiritual Character
Regenerates
Restrains/Convicts of Sin
Sanctifies
Seals
Selects Overseers
Gal.5:16, 18,25
John 3:5,6,8
Gen.6:3;John 16:8-10; Acts 7:51
Rom. 15: 16; 1 Cor. 6: 11 ; 2 Thess. 2: 13
2 Cor. 1 :22; Eph. 1:14; 4:30
Acts 20:28
Source of fellowship
Source of Liberty
Source of Power
Source of Unity
Source of Spiritual Gifts
Teaches
2 Cor. 13:14; Phil. 2:1
2 Cor. 3:17,18
Eph. 3: 16
Eph.4:3,4
1 Cor. 12:4-11
John 14:26; Acts 15:28; 1 John 2:20, 27

WHEN LIFE HAPPENS

What is our response to misfortune?  Why me?  We try to do the right thing, make the appropriate preparation, and make the best choices based on “what we know at the time.”  So what happened?  Life happened.  As inhabitants of fallen world, we are not immune to the affects and experiences which life presents (Eccl. 9:12).  But while believers live “in the world”, we do not have to respond as the world when life happen moments occur.  We can take an enlightened view to our misfortune.

#1.  Remember our position.  We are not our misfortune.  Our hope and security lies in our position in Christ Jesus.  In Christ, we are heirs of God and therefore, the object of His love (Ps. 17:8).  Therefore, in spite of misfortune, we stand firm on God’s promises (2 Cor. 1:20) and His power (Eph. 1:19).

#2.  Reframe and recast our response.  We are not blind to misfortune but we know who controls all circumstances (Acts 17:28). Nothing happens to us that does not first pass God’s examination.  Reframing begins with accepting God’s sovereign rule over our lives (2 Cor. 4:8-9). Recasting is accomplished by trusting God and looking for ways to transform misfortune into opportunities that enrich our spiritual life.  These opportunities may be more time in personal witnessing, intercessory prayer, fasting, and Bible meditation.

#3. Rejoice. We do not rejoice because of misfortune but because we are assured of who will be with us during them.  God will be with us through the misfortune or He will deliver us from it (1 John 4:4). We know that weeping may come in the night but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).

Word Transformation: The Rhema of God

God’s Word contains power to transform a person’s life. The secret to “Word transformation” is two-fold: first the reading of the Bible and secondly, in living out its specific instructions. In the New Testament, there are two words commonly found to reference “God’s Word.” One is logos, which in its broadest term includes the Bible and its Christian message. The Bible is rightly called the “logos of God” because it denotes the expression of God’s thought and revealed will. The other use of God’s Word is rhema (rhay’mah). Rhema focuses attention on a specific word, command, or utterance of God directed to an individual and their life circumstance.
The significance of rhema can be illustrated by its first occurrence in the Bible (Matt. 4:4). When a word or phrase appears for the first time in the Bible, it is deserving of special attention because it is the introduction of new truth to man about God. Every other occurrence of that truth in Scripture builds upon the example established by its initial appearance.
In this foundational scripture, Satan challenges Jesus to change stones to bread. He counters Satan’s temptation by responding that man is to live by “every rhema  that comes from the mouth of God.” Subsequent temptations are diffused with specific words or utterances from Scripture. (Matt. 4:5-11) The new truth revealed in Matthew 4:4 was that man was to live by God’s specific rhema (word) to them. Jesus’ retorts to Satan show how we are to respond to life’s circumstances–follow the rhema God reveals to us.  
The importance of rhema (versus logos) is seen in God’s directive to believers to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God.” Here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to individual scriptures which the Spirit brings to remembrance for use in time of need. The only requirement is that there has been regular storing of Scripture in the mind.  When you immerse yourself in God’s logos through reading and meditating, you are setting yourself up to receive the rhema of God.

As I Look in the Mirror…Remembering MOMA

The occasion–my sister’s 70th birthday.  I rebuked the cold of Cottage Grove, Minnesota to spend this special time with my “Sister Dear.”  How much fun it was to laugh and be silly once again like we did when we were little girls.  We even shared her king-size bed for our five days of true sisterhood. As we experienced this special time, I caught glimpses of our mother in my sister–her face, her smile, her gestures, and her wisdom.  Oh my, we DO BECOME OUR MOTHERS.  I had dread that thought as a young woman, believing I had mastered both my life and my personality. But as the Psalmist shared, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Hopefully also, with age comes wisdom and I now see the true gift we have inherited from our mother.

The old folk use to think that our loved ones might be seen shortly after their passing–a quick glimpse to reassure our souls that they are always with us.  Moma never did appear that way.  She did, however, give us glimpse of her in the faces, actions, and wisdom of her children she left behind.  I saw her in my sister Jean this weekend and oh yeah, when I look in the mirror, I see her too!

One Mountain Please!

On December 31st, 2011, many people made New Year’s resolutions that will guide their personal energies for the next 365 days.  One year earlier more than 90 million adults (41%)made similar personal pledges.  Goals will be careful crafted by businesses and organizations as they decide where to focus their financial and human resources.  All these efforts are designed to produce successful outcomes for the upcoming year. But in evaluation of all the resolutions and goals, I am sure, there are few that request “a mountain.” 

Caleb displayed extraordinary confidence as he requested “this mountain” for his inheritance. His confidence stemmed not from his physical strength or his capabilities as a mighty warrior.  His confidence was based on the promises of God, His faithfulness, and His sustaining grace.  Joshua responded to Caleb’s request by blessing him–setting him apart for God’s enablement so he would be enriched and successful in his task.  Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. (Joshua 14:14)
2012 will present many challenges and opportunities.  How we respond to both will depend on our “faith perspective.”  If we believe that our success is tied only to our efforts, we open ourselves to personal criticism and negative self-talk when things don’t work out as we planned.  We become victims of self-imposed pressure, resulting in worry and anxiousness.  If, however, we  trust in God and believe His promises for us, we can be assured success. (Prov. 3:5-10)  As we prepare our New Year’s resolutions, we would be wise to adopt Caleb’s wisdom and “look to the hills from which comes our help, our help comes from the LORD who made the heaven and the earth.” (Ps. 121:1-2)

A Balm in Gilead

Balm of GileadJeremiah was called to be the moral voice for a nation that didn’t care about right and wrong.  His heart was torn between his love for his nation and his love for God—a love which demanded obedience.  This internal conflict is why he is called the “Weeping Prophet.”  His weeping, however, was not a sign of personal weakness, but of his great compassion and love for his people.
Christ displayed similar traits of compassion and love as He conducted His earthly ministry. (Mat. 15:32; Mark 1:41)  Oh that we would have a heart like Jeremiah and Christ; that we would be a “balm in Gilead”—a living salve to soothe and heal those bruised by the ills of this world.
  
Our health as a nation, as a church, as a family, as individuals will not progress until we visit the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. (Mark 2:17)  Yes, there is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole…there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.