Job 36:1-3 Elihu also proceeded, and said, Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
It appears that everyone has an opinion on just about everything and their opinions are all different. This was certainly the case with all the friends of Job. Rather than encouraging Job in his hour of need they were blaming him for his own problems. They were saying, if you would not have done this or that then you would not be in the condition that you are in.
It appears the most natural thing for a us to do is to start blaming ourselves when things do not go well. As a matter of fact, if there is ever a time that we do not like ourselves is when we fail. This was certainly the case with Job because he did not seem to disagree with anything his friends accused him of.
Job’s friends probably had known him for a long time and especially they knew him in his glory days when all the world appeared to be at his feet. I have learned over the years that when a person is in their glory days that they can do no wrong and others do not see their faults. However, the moment they are not rich anymore then their friends begin to see all their flaws. But thank God for a new generation of faith people that know how to encourage us like Elihu.
If we were to put a modern touch on this story, we would probably see ourselves as one of the characters.
Job’s friends could very well speak of a past generation with past generation thinking. Elihu on the other hand speaks of a new generation that God is raising up who are fearless and do not make excuses.
The story of Job has so many lessons and my intention is not to skip over any of them. However, to make my point I only want to focus on the false knowledge that was being given to Job by his friends. I will not judge Job’s friends because they were only giving what they thought was right … as my generation often does without considering its ramifications. As a matter of fact, the great writer George Bernard Shaw wrote a line in his book that says, “beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”
I am afraid the best of us is guilty of saying things based on our feelings rather than on facts.
A few years ago, I had an experience that I still occasionally think about today … which means I am still learning from it.
I was scheduled to speak in several churches across England and one of the pastors I had never met so I thought I would call him before I made my trip. We were having a great conversation when suddenly he asked me if I knew John Wimber and I said yes. He immediately spoke out very firmly, “then you will never speak in my church”. I asked him why and he told me this story.
He said that John Wimber had ministered in London that March, and He went to his meetings. The last night John prophesied that something was going to happen by June, and it did not happen. The pastor then told me that John was a false prophet, and he did not want anything to do with John are anybody that knew him.
I then asked the pastor if what John had prophesied ever came to pass. He said, yes, but it did not happen until July, so he is a false prophet. In the pastor’s mind anybody who endorsed what he considered to be a false prophet would themselves preach false knowledge.
Who was to blame, this pastor or John? John was not to blame because he gave what God gave him even though he missed the timing by a few days. The pastor was not to blame because he was only trying to protect his pulpit and his sheep for being fed false knowledge.
Even though Job’s friends were unintentionally giving him false knowledge … they were still his friends.
Forgive us for speaking reason rather than fact. Thank You, for allowing us to have opinions because sometimes that is how we learn to search for facts.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
You would certainly think that a false prophet would be easily recognized because the bible makes it clear as to what they do. However, that is not always the case because they appear to us in sheep’s clothing.
The intent of a false prophet is to pervert truth, destroy faith and ultimately lead one to destruction. I have met several people over the years that would certainly fit into that category. The thing that made these people false was because they did not walk with God but were always quick to say “God said” when He did not say.
However, not every prophet who misses the mark is a false prophet. Many prophets miss the mark because he/she misinterprets what they saw or heard. No prophet, (nor anyone else as far as that goes), have perfect sight or hearing when it comes to spiritual things. We are all growing and being perfected as we move in that realm of the supernatural. Some prophecies are given in symbols which require an interpretation.
There have been many prophecies given over the last few months concerning the outcome of our presidential election. Would those folks be considered false prophets because the presidential outcome was not the way they said? No, there is a big difference between a prophet who misinterprets what they saw or heard and one who intends to lead astray.
A false prophet is one who claims to know the truth but does not. A true prophet may know the truth but only interprets part of what they see or hear from the spirit realm and the rest from a natural desire. If that is the case, that does not necessarily make them false, but their action could be the result of partial truth. The fact is a person who always says that “God said” when He may not have said closes the door for others to judge their prophecy.
Even though there have been many prophetic words given in the last few months that appear to be false, I am not ready to throw the prophets under the bus. However, I would encourage each of these prophets to go back and reexamine what they saw or heard and see if perhaps they missed something in their interpretation.
There can only be so many answers to this question. One either prophesied out of their flesh and what they wanted to happen, or they echoed what someone else said, or because of immaturity they spoke out of false knowledge which implied that they knew God’s mind and heart but did not.
Many years ago, as a young evangelist I felt I heard the Lord tell me to go to Mexico and minister and He would bless me. As soon as I heard that word I immediately headed for Mexico and started praying for people. Even though I had a measure of success, I knew this was not what I had seen or heard. I went to another place in Mexico and the same thing happened. I knew I had heard God, but I also knew I must have missed something. I finally told God that I would not go back until He made things clearer to me.
I waited and waited and waited but no word came. Finally, fifty-three years later I was having a leadership meeting one night when out of the blue I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Now is the time to go to Mexico because things have been prepared for you”. With that I shouted out to my leadership team, “God just told me things are ready for me in Mexico”.
We immediately made plans for our first trip to Mexico and had some of the greatest meetings with a people who seemed as though they were expecting us. The Spirit of God fell accompanied by signs and wonders. It has been several years, and we are still having great success as we build the kingdom in Mexico.
Even though I misinterpreted what I heard and saw when I originally got the word, I did not misinterpret the truth of it. I was not a false prophet … I was just immature. Fifty-three years later God fulfilled His word when I was mature enough to handle it.
I thank You for all the great men and women You have raised up with prophetic understanding for this hour. Help all of us to be a little quicker to hear and a little slower to speak while we examine what You are saying to us because we do not want to miss You.
Intents of the Heart
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.
This is one of the most revealing scriptures in the bible because it shows us that nothing can be hidden from Jesus, (the word of God), not even our inner thoughts. In other words, there is no such thing as a secret from the Lord. I don’t know about you but to me that is a sobering thought particularly since by nature I am a very private person. I will usually tell only what you need to know and no more. To think that all my thoughts are known by the Lord is downright scary.
We need to live a life of repentance in order to keep our mind, soul and spirit empty of any thoughts that would not be pleasing to God. When we repent, Jesus separates our sins from us as for as the East is from the West never to be remembered again. Repenting daily is like taking a bath daily … it keeps our spirit clean.
The reason that is so important is because we think a lot more wrong than we actually do wrong and without repenting our thoughts are known by the Lord. This type of repentance is not to be confused with salvation repentance. This type of repentance is for mind purification only.
The Jews understood that the Word of God was a known name of the Messiah and therefore the apostles used it when writing to them. The writer of out text wanted to make sure that those who read it would understand that the Word is the living God … omnipotent and omniscient. The Word of God is not a thing but a person who is a Judge and a discerner of the secrets of men's hearts.
As a matter of fact, He is the same Word that spoke all things into being out of nothing in creation. He is the same Word that was promised and spoken of by the prophets from the beginning of the world.
Since the Word, (Jesus), is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of man’s heart that should encourage us to live a repentant lifestyle.
I remember as a young preacher an older lady from out church came up to me one day and said, “I have calluses on my knees from praying for you”. I did not understand what this lady meant at the time because I was not doing anything wrong. Nevertheless I thanked her and walked away. I thought about what she said over the years and one day I finally figured it out. She was not talking about something I was doing wrong … the calluses on her knees were the result of her praying for my thought patterns in regard to our text.
I have always been amazed how God seems to assign one person to look out for another sometimes without that person even knowing about it. What is even more amazing is the intercessors that God chooses are often women. Thank God for the strong women that He has put in my life.
Because of our text You have put these wonderful warriors in my life to hold up my arms like Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms so he could win his battle. Lord help me to be an Aaron or a Hur for someone else as that sweet lady was for me.
Matthew 2:13-14, And when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and His mother and flee into Egypt. And be there until I bring you word, for Herod is about to seek the child to destroy Him. And he arose and took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt.
It’s one thing to have a bad dream, but it’s another thing to wake up in the middle of the night knowing that someone is wanting to kill your new baby. It was so unnerving for Joseph that he woke up Mary and said something to the effect, “pack up what you need because we’ve got to get out of here right now”.
Mary had had enough encounters with the Lord that she knew it was the angel of the Lord who spoke to Joseph and warned him what would happen if they stayed.
Without hesitation Mary and Joseph quickly left behind everything that was familiar to them, (their home, their friends, their family and their business), and started on a long journey to the unfamiliar.
I can’t imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt knowing that someone actually wanted to kill their innocent little baby. Killing babies doesn’t seem to be an issue today because every city in America has baby killing clinics where over eight hundred thousand babies are killed each year.
This reminds me of another heart wrenching story. While in a rehab center after my heart surgery I had another one of those nights when I could not sleep. When the night nurse stuck her head in the door after midnight to check on me, I invited her in for a little talk … and she came in.
I asked her to tell me about herself and she began by telling me that she was from Rwanda and that she barely escaped the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. The massacre was terrible and they killed somewhere between five hundred thousand and a million people with machetes and rifles. She escaped by jumping over dead bodies and three of those dead bodies were her husband and two young sons. She made her way to France and on to England and finally to America where she got her nurses’ training.
When she finished telling me her story, I told her I wanted to pray for her and when I finished praying, I wanted her to pray. I did not ask her if she knew the Lord, I just told her I wanted her to pray.
When I finished praying, she started off praying so low and timid that I could just barely hear her. As she continued to pray the Spirit of the Lord came on her and she began to pray louder and louder and her tears were flowing like a fountain. As a matter of fact, she was praying and crying so loud that I was sure people would be coming down to check on us. I am almost certain that the pain of this nurse’s past trauma was being healed as she prayed and cried. Perhaps our little prayer meeting that night was for her more than it was for me.
Mary and Joseph saved their baby because they were sensitive enough to the Lord to leave home that night … even though the spirit of death continued to follow Jesus all the way to the cross.
Thank You for speaking to us through dreams and visions. Thank you Lord that Joseph walked close enough to obey Your voice. Father, You and You alone can keep us from harm.
What is Sin?
2 Corinthians 2:15) We have become the unmistakable aroma of the victory of the Anointed One to God—a perfume of life to those being saved and the odor of death to those who are perishing.
I typically don’t drift far from the NKJ, American Standard and NIV translations but in this case, I am quoting from the Passion Translation because it so pictorial.
Even though our subject is, “What is Sin?”, I felt the best way to talk about sin is to first talk about the forgiveness of sin. As we repent of our sins, according to our text, it produces an unmistakable aroma of the victory of the Anointed One to God.
In other words, when we repent Jesus wins because He is the Anointed One and our repentance puts off an unmistakable aroma that He presents to His Father, God.
Sin is not a subject that we like to talk about because it’s as controversial and divisive as politics. We seem to ether believe that a true Christian is sin free because they live a disciplined life, or we live under a blanket of condemnation.
Could it be that neither scenario is true? Being a Christian doesn’t mean that one cannot sin. The difference is the Christian who sins has the Holy Spirit to convict him of his sins and Jesus as his mediator to God.
The scripture says, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. It didn’t say anything about … that thou will never sin again.
That means when a Christian does sin, he is not automatically marked as a sinner going to hell … because he is a believer. On the other hand, the unconverted is a sinner by nature because he is not a believer. A Christian is one who has experienced the new birth and the unconverted is one who has not experienced the new birth.
The question still remains, what is this terrible thing called sin? In simple terms it is a willful transgression against the law. I am not sure I’ve never seen a transgression that was not willful. I am also not sure that I’ve ever seen a grading chart in the bible of degrees of sin. Such as, this is a hell sending sin and that one is not. The fact is, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.
The believer doesn’t want to sin because he has a redeemed character … but he might. The nonbeliever can not keep from sinning because he has an unredeemed character.
The fact is, when we focus so much on what sin is, we miss the whole point. That is like focusing on Satan to learn about God or focusing on fear to learn about faith or focusing on the negative to learn the positive.
My conclusion is to stop focusing on what is sin and start focusing on God and His forgiveness. The more you learn about God the more you love Him, and the more you love Him, the less you want to do anything that is not pleasing to Him.
As a young holiness preacher, I worked so hard trying to walk the straight and narrow road and not do anything unpleasing to God. I was so disciplined and yet all my discipline was of the flesh. As a result of my self-righteous life I didn’t require God’s mercy, grace or forgiveness. In my eyes I did not commit any sins and therefore I was proud of it even though I freely condemned everyone else for not being as disciplined as me. That kind of discipline comes from the flesh and not from the Spirit of God.
Even though I was redeemed I acted like I wasn’t. I was not focusing on the forgiveness of God but on my own discipline. Is discipline wrong? No, but the discipline needs to be the result of the love of God and not from self righteousness.
I never want to be a self righteous man again because I do not want the odor of death to be on anything I do. I want to have Your character only so I can give off that unmistakable aroma of the victory of the Anointed One.
The Cost of Vision
Geneses 28:10-13 Jacob … Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.
In thinking about Jacob’s vision, I soon realized that there is no such thing as a free vision. All true visions of God cost something because all true visions have a life purpose. As important as it is, that life purpose is not just focusing on food, clothing, and shelter.
In Jacob’s case, (because he was the last of the big three-Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), his purpose, or vision, was to fulfill the vision that God had given to Abraham and that was to populate the promised land.
Gen 28:14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall the families of the earth be blessed.
To get things started, Jacob had twelve sons who were to be the seed for the promise land population. However, Jacob’s twelve sons did not seem to be the best candidates for something as important as fulfilling this generational vision. For example, Reuben was a sex offender, Simeon and Levi were murders, other sons of Jacob were thieves, Judah and other brothers were liars, but thank God for Joseph because he was born to be their savior.
Even though Joseph paid a tremendous price, eventually he was able to save his family from sure death.
Jesus, like Joseph, had the same vision for saving us in the New Testament. He too paid a tremendous price when He went to the cross for the purpose of saving us from sure death.
As God populated the promised land, (through Joseph), with a sex offender, murders, thieves, and liars … so has Jesus populated the Kingdom of God with the same type of folks.
When I was a young man, I knew a family who had a bunch of boys, (like Jacob’s. sons). These boys were not only big and tough, but they were also mean. They were like a pack of wolves who destroyed everything in their path. Everybody in town was afraid of them because they all seem to have a killer instinct and they knew no fear.
I remember thinking, there is no way in the world these hard-hearted boys could ever be saved. Besides that, they do not deserve being forgiven and becoming a part of something as nice as the Kingdom of God.
Several years later I saw these boys again and to my surprise, they were all saved and had became gentle giants and were as kindhearted as little lambs. God had pardoned all of their sins just like He did mine.
A part of Joseph’s preparation to be savior of his people was the well and the jail experiences. A part of Jesus’ preparation to save us from sure death was the cross and the grave. None of Joseph’s brothers were left out from entering the promise land, and none of Jesus’ brothers, (and that includes me), will be left out from entering the Kingdom of God.
I am glad that God didn’t do it my way and reject all of Jacob’s sons. I am also glad that Jesus did not do it my way and reject all of those mean ruthless boys I knew as a young man, because that meant that He would have rejected me as well. The bible says that “there are none righteous, no not one”.
I realize that probably in each of our hearts lies a sex offender, a murder, a thief, and a liar. Lord, I am forever thankful that You do not see us as we are, but what we can become in You. Help us to look at others in that same righteous way that You look at us.
What is Faith?
Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
When I first started writing on the subject of faith it didn’t take long for me to realize that the subject of faith was bigger than my ability to write on it. Even though I’ve preached on faith for years I soon found out that preaching on faith and writing about faith are two different things.
All I know is that faith and grace are connected, and both are gifts from God, and neither can really be explained. Nowhere in the bible is faith defined so I will not try to define it either. The best I can do is to describe its effects by what it does.
According to Hebrews 11:1, “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, even though you can not see faith, that doesn’t mean it’s not there because it is a substance.
And then in verse 3 of Hebrews 11 it says that God framed the world by the word of God (or by faith), so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
And then it says in verse 5, that “by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death because he pleased God”.
It goes on to say in verse 6, that “it is impossible for us to please God without faith”.
So our conclusion is, faith is one of those mystery gifts that is not only a substance but by it God created the world, Enoch was translated because of it and without it, it is impossible us to please God.
Faith truly is a mystery gift that cannot be explained. It is not tangible but what it produces is tangible. Faith is like a muscle that can be developed by using it, but it can be diminished by not using it.
The bible says without faith it’s impossible to please God, but God is the only one who can give you faith.
This miracle gift can move mountains, raise the dead, multiply things, blind the eyes of the enemy, help you walk on water and fulfill hope … and yet remain a mystery.
Faith also doesn’t deny that there’s a problem, but it does deny it a place of influence in your life. Through faith eternity runs through our veins but lets us live in time.
One time while ministering in Africa to about two thousand people in an open colosseum I had an unusual experience. While walking across a large platform on the way to the podium I felt the Holy Spirit say, “I am going to do something special tonight, but you have to wait for me”. When I got to the podium I told the audience, (through my interpreter), that the Holy Spirit was going to do something very special but we needed to be quiet and wait for the Him to show up.
Before long the Holy Spirit came in like a mighty wind and mowed two thousand people down at one time and miracles and healing took place without anyone being touched by human hands.
This phenomenon did not happen because of my power, but because I had faith enough in the Holy Spirit to obey Him.
So, the question still remains, what is faith?
Thank You for letting me see the result of faith. I know that it would not be faith if could see it. I do not want to be like Thomas who always has to see before believing. I want to believe because it is the word of God.
That Sinking Feeling
Matthew 14:30 When Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
For some reason this scripture leaves me with more questions than answers. We see both the hope and the desperation in Peter when he cried out for help. The desperation of wondering if he was actually going to parish that night … but yet the hope of knowing that Jesus was going to save him.
Peter was a professional fisherman and was familiar with storms, winds and the danger of turbulent waters and yet he was willing to face those things in order to walk to Jesus.
My question is, why didn’t Peter just swim back to the boat when he started sinking because he was an excellent swimmer? According to John 21:8 he swam three hundred feet. (or 200 cubits), back to shore. Is it possible that Peter had actually walked on the water so far from the boat that he felt insecure when he began to sink?
Perhaps this scene is prophetically showing who Peter is going to become, rather than who he is? After all it’s not easy for a proud self-confident man like Peter to ask for help from anybody. He is one of those guys who can make it on his own without any help and still have a sufficient amount of talent left over.
We see in this one act where Peter was not only stripped of his false pride, but he was also embarrassed in front of his friends. He stepped out of the boat in faith but his faith soon failed when he got his eyes off Jesus and on the storm. The lesson is that natural things are always a distraction to those who are trying to walk by faith because you can’t walk by faith and sight at the same time. Peter learned that night that a true faith walk takes more than desire … it takes maturity.
His desire was pure because he only wanted to come to Jesus and he was willing to take a risk in order to do that. He had already learned that “with God nothing shall be impossible”.
Even though Peter was a wild child he did everything he was supposed to do. He asked and was granted permission before he ever stepped out of the boat.
Little did he or the other disciples realize that this was a prophetic picture of his future walk with the Lord. He would forever be known as the guy who stepped out of the boat and was willing to risk being ridiculed by his friends.
I stepped out of the boat one time to go pastor a church that I really loved. God did not give me permission to go, but I went anyway because I wanted to. The night before I left the Lord came to me and gave me a stern warning not to go, but I still went. From the time I arrived at the church until the time I left, I lived in hell. I finally asked for God’s forgiveness and came back home all battered and bruised for my disobedience.
Through that experience I learned a valuable lesson that will never leave me. That lesson is … there is a big difference between stepping out of the boat in faith and stepping out of the boat in presumption. Failure and presumption are twin brothers.
I learned that faith originates from You but presumption originates from the flesh. Lord, my desire is to always be a faith man who walks from the heavenly realm and not a man of presumption who always walks by his feelings and fleshly desires.
Tormented by Fear
1John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
There is more fear in the world today than at any other time that I can remember. The fear that has been released on the world is not the fear of the Lord but a tormenting fear which is demonic. Because of this fear the whole world seems to have been thrown off balance at one time.
This fear is mainly brought about by all of the political unrest and the Covid-19 virus. Since these two enemies are spiritual rather than natural, they cannot be defeated using natural means.
In my day when a young man went off to war, he could see the enemy he was trying to defeat. Today one can’t really see his enemy even though he knows that his name is torment.
Torment is a type of fear that happens to be both a noun and a verb. As a noun torment could be plural which speaks of torments such as severe physical or mental suffering or a cause of suffering.
As a verb, it speaks of 3rd person present which means past tense such as tormented, or present tense which is tormenting or torture. This describes what is going on in the world today.
The spirit of fear is one of the most crippling experiences that can happen. It weakens the immune system, accelerated ageing and even causes premature death. Fear can impair our long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and the consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and PTSD.
One of the saddest cases I’ve ever known was a friend who was living a healthy happy life with his wife and children. He was well-educated and came from a wealthy upstanding family and it seemed as if the whole world was at his feet for the taking.
However, one day something happened to this man and a tormenting spirit of fear attacked him and would not let him go. I went to the hospital and prayed for this man but to no avail. I did every kind of spiritual warfare I could but was never able to get him free or even to cooperate with me … much less free from this tormenter.
The man had actually made a friend of his captor, (tormenting fear), and never wanted to leave the hospital or re-enter life and take on any responsibility. He felt more secure in the hospital than he did at home or anywhere else. The sad ending to this story is this perfectly healthy man never left the hospital and finally died from fear.
Thank God for the cross of calvary and the blood of Jesus who takes away all sin and cleanses us for all unrighteousness and by His strips we are healed. The writer of Hebrews says in 13:6 “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Thank You for making a way for us through the blood of Jesus on the cross. We choose to live in that ark of safety and walk as victors because the spirit of death, hell and the grave have
been defeated. Fear is not our friend and therefore we choose to resist it so it will flee from us.
Searching for Wisdom
Job 32:9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
There is a tendency to think that just because a man is great that he is also wise. A man’s greatness may be measured by his ability to make money, be political minded or even be a collage professor are perhaps the pastor of a large church. However, as wonderful as all of these things are, they do not necessarily make one wise. They simply show a man’s gifting and abilities in the area of his training.
Our text goes on to say that “neither do the aged understand judgment”. That statement truly is interesting because one would think that any old person would be able to judge things correctly … but that is not always the case.
Wisdom and judgement are not a learned behavior. One can go to a university and get doctoral degrees until they are blue in the face and never learn true wisdom or how to judge correctly. That does not mean that a person should not be a perpetual learner, they should.
When Timothy says in 2:15 to, “study to show themselves approved”, he was not talking about the natural. This passage was referring to being approved by Christ which is spiritual.
Both wisdom and being able to judge correctly are gifts from God through the Holy Spirit. Windom is one of those things that can be easily recognized but difficult to explain.
Education on the other hand comes from man. I have been privileged to be surrounded by highly educated men and women in many different fields. Even though their education may have been deep in their particular field … that did not necessarily mean they were deep in every field.
Doctors are a good example: they are usually specialists in their field, but not necessarily a specialist in my field. If I want to know something I will go to a specialist in that particular field. However, when I need wisdom, I find someone who has walked close enough to the Lord to have some battle scars and who walks with a limp like Jacob.
I remember an elderly black gentleman I used to go see occasionally when I was a kid. He probably didn’t have more than a six-grade education, but he was extremely wise. His words may have been simple but his wisdom was not simple. I am sure that he never knew how wise he was because most truly wise people do not.
The apostle Paul was educated and wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. Peter on the other hand was uneducated but wise enough to be the head of the church.
I have always honored and respected great men for their achievements and I have always honored and respected the older generation for just having lived life. However, I have prayed most of my life for wisdom and a discerning spirit and the ability to judge things correctly.
Thank You for giving me a hunger for wisdom early in my life through the elderly black gentleman. Little did he know that the young man sitting at his feet would one day be telling the world of his wisdom. Lord help me to pass on to others what the elderly black gentleman passed on to me through his gentle demeanor … should someone decide to sit at my feet.
James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
Why is typecasting, (or putting people in a box), so easy? It’s almost as if we need for others to know that we know the real truth about another person. We seem to feel its our Christian duty to share all the dirty truth about someone. It doesn’t matter how long ago their transgressions were … and it doesn’t matter that they grew out of their waywardness and have become respected citizens.
Judging others is a part of the Adamic nature which seems to be one of the last things we surrender to the Lord.
We see the sin of typecasting all through the bible. For example: every time that Rahab is mentioned in the bible she is always referred to as Rahab the harlot. When Peter is mentioned … we think of him as the hot head who cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. When we think of Bathsheba … she’s always the woman who cheated on her husband while he was out to war. When we think of Thomas, we always think of him as doubting Thomas and when we think of Mary Magdalene … we always remember her as a harlot.
The bible says that, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
God is very quick to forgive and forget our sins, but man is not. Man may forgive but he almost never forgets.
I am continually thankful that Jesus bore all of my sins on the cross including judging and typecasting. I do not understand how it works but the bible says that God cannot remember my sins anymore … and He has also given me a new name.
The reason Jesus gave me a new name was because the old name died with the old man. The miracle of a new name happened when I was reborn as a new man and now have the benefits of a resurrected life. That means in God’s eyes I am no longer John the sinner but John a son of God.
Recently there was a couple who came to our church who travel all over the country as evangelists. The man had a five-hundred-year prison sentence with no hope for parole and spent thirteen of those years in solitary confinement. His wife was a street prostitute on drugs. The man was miraculously saved and eventually released from prison. His wife was also gloriously saved and turned her own life around as well and now has a PhD in Christian counseling.
Even though both of them are new creatures in Christ … he may be remembered by some as a mean destructive man and she may still be remembered by some as a soiled woman.
Typecasting, (or putting people in a box), is cruel punishment and should never be done by a born-again Christian.
There has never been a better time for us to remember that “there are none righteous, no not one”. “We have all fallen short of the glory of God”, and need to be forgiven the sin of judging, typecasting and putting people in a box. We have all sinned with our mouths by calling that which You have cleansed unclean. In Acts 10:15 Peter called the blessings that You sent him unclean and You said Peter, "You must stop calling unclean what God has made clean."
Be Ye Holy
1Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
I have always been intrigued with how folks interpret this scripture. Everyone seems to want to be holy and their way of accomplishing that is as different as the east is from the west. That difference usually ranges from how one dresses to a long list of do’s and don’ts.
The fact is, one should dress decently and there is nothing wrong with a list of do’s and don’ts, but those things alone do not make one holy.
As we have discussed in previous writings, the word holy simply means nothing added. In other words, God does not like mixture. This is way He said, do not plant wheat and barley in the same field or sew new cloth on to the old. There is nothing wrong with wheat or barley or new cloth and old cloth. Each of them is pure within themselves but when you mix them, they are no long holy or pure … there is mixture.
In other words, do not resurrect and mix your old unredeemed Adamic nature with your redeemed thinking (or mind of Christ). Perhaps that is what Paul meant when he said, “I die daily”. Otherwise, mixture for the believer may be easier than one thinks.
Maturing in the spirit is a process the same way that maturing in the natural is a process. This process could be what Paul was thinking when he wrote in Romans 7:15,” For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate”. I think what Paul was trying to say … as life is a journey, so is maturing and holy discipline because they run on the same track.
The first scripture that I ever learned was Romans 12:1 where it says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Because I felt like the Lord gave me this scripture to live by, I always wanted to be holy. I began living an extremely disciplined life … but I did not feel holy. I guarded my mind and thoughts … but I still did not feel holy. I tried everything I could think of but in the end, I discovered that “my righteousness was as filthy rags”.
I began looking for a person who I thought might fit the bill of holy … so I could emulate them. The person I settled on was a little old East Texas woman who was lovingly known as Ma. Ma was poor and lived in what she referred to as her shack. She loved to go barefooted and wear sack dresses unless she was going to town and then she would put on her hat some shoes and her false teeth.
People would come from all around so Ma could pray for them. She was respected by the bankers, politicians and every other important person in the area.
As I studied Ma’s life, I came to the conclusion that holy had nothing to do with my good works. When Jesus said, “be ye holy for I am holy”. the Apostle Paul tells us what that means. He said, ”I die daily”. In other words, the more I die, the more that Jesus is ruling my life and thus I become holy because He is holy.
Ma had learned to live life as a dead person and that is why I saw her as the most holy person I knew. I try to live life the same way.
You would not have asked us to do anything that You had not already made a way for us to do. Thank you Lord for teaching me through Ma that holy has nothing to do with my sacrifice … but Yours. You said, “seek and ye shall find”, I sought and I discovered that the old man must die daily.
The Grip of Grace
Romans 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
I love this scripture because it makes plain that which is almost impossible for the natural mind to understand. Two men made a difference in my life. Because of Adam I was born a sinner and because of Jesus I was reborn a saint. I accept it because it is true even though I really do not understand how it works.
I may know all of the theological arguments on the subject, but such a miracle is still hard to understand. I did nothing wrong and I was born lost … and I did nothing right, (except to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ), and now I have eternal life. John 3:16.
I suppose the things that seem odd to me is when we repent of sins, like drinking, cursing, lying and carousing rounding then we think that does the job. In some cases, all we have done is to transfer our outward sins (which everyone can see), to our inward man (which no one can see), … and yet keep on sinning.
When Paul addressed the Galatian church in 5:15 he was telling them all the things that they should not do. That would imply that some were still committing these sins. These people were not unbelivers that Paul was talking to … he was talking to the church.
Many years ago, a I heard a young Baptist evangelist say, “It looks to me like there are saved sinners and lost sinners … but everybody is a sinner”. Because I was a young holiness preacher, I took issue with that statement and said, when you get saved you stop sinning … but do we? Have we just moved our sins into the heart and still commit sins of unforgiveness, lust, judgementalism, covetousness, anger, criticism and a thousand more?
The Passion bible uses a phrase in our text that applies so beautifully to the following story. The phrase is, “the grip of grace”. The fact is the grace of God conquers our sins. Maybe this is what the young Baptist evangelist was thinking.
One time while traveling in Arkansas during a winter snowstorm I picked up a man on the side of the road who had car trouble. I picked him up at the foot of the mountain and he was going to a small town at the top of the mountain.
When we reached the top of the mountain, I pulled my car over into a snowbank and told the man I needed to talk to him. I don’t remember what his first name was, but his last name was Nash, so I referred to him as brother Nash. I said, brother Nash do you know the Lord? I began to share the love of the Lord with him and that God knew exactly where he was and what was going on in his life. Before long brother Nash was bitterly weeping and repenting of his sins and for walking away from God.
What brother Nash did not know was that God was sending a man from Texas that day who would help usher him back into fellowship with the Lord. This would all take place with the front end of my car pulled over into a snowbank.
That was the first and last time I saw brother Nash, but I know I will see him again in heaven and we can reminisce that glorious day in the snow somewhere in Arkansas. I wander … is the theology really true that there are “saved sinners and lost sinners”?
You have ways of sending Your representatives to Your wayward children. Lord help us to be more sensitive to following Your still small voice. We really want to be Your hand extended. Thank You Lord for Your grip of grace on our lives.
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