Thursday, September 08, 2016

Follow Jesus

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22 ESV)

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 ESV)

When we begin to embrace heavenly realities, our earthly existence is transformed. The harsh realities of life do not disappear, but our perspective shifts from this present age, to the age to come. When we begin to embrace discipleship as Jesus taught it, we begin to be awakened to the shallowness of  much of western Christianity. Many churches that people attend today seem more like pep rallies, than places of worship. The emphasis is on a surface level reading of Scripture, a good pep talk from the pastor, and a focus on the felt needs of the congregation. If you have a pastor and elders in your Church that model the life of Christ, and call you to do the same, count yourself blessed. There are signs of a spiritual awakening in some Churches today. I see many young people who are being challenged to think through hard biblical texts, and the implications of walking them out.

At this present time much of the church in the western world is too distracted by self-improvement programs, politics, and personal prosperity, to grasp the call of Jesus to "follow me." Regardless of what many popular American preachers are saying, the call to follow Jesus is a radical commitment that may very well cost us some of our health, and our wealth, and yes, maybe even our lives. Then again it may not. God gives wealth to those to whom he sovereignly chooses. But health and wealth are given for the glory of God, and the advancement of his Kingdom, not to fulfill our personal lust.

God cannot be manipulated by taking his word out of context. Healing and material provision are "the children's bread" but the Apostle Paul went through seasons of both poverty, and prosperity, but experienced contentment just the same. Maybe we should start a contentment movement as opposed to a prosperity movement. In the eyes of much of our seeker friendly, materialistic, comfort driven Church culture, the Apostles would be considered failures in our day. They walked away from successful business, and in Paul's case, religious prominence, and respectability.  But in God's economy they were highly successful students of their master, Jesus Christ. - Bobby 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Everlasting Dominion

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 ESV)

Jesus is the King of an indestructible Kingdom. America may fail, or cease to be a nation as we know it, but God's Kingdom will stand forever. The Kingdom of God will have dominion over the entire earth, and the great leaders of nations will cower at his appearing. Jesus demonstrated the superiority of his Kingdom over Satan's at his first coming, during his ministry on earth. And at his second coming, he will destroy all darkness, moral chaos, and establish his kingdom rule and order. Until that day we are called to do the works of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name.

Jesus invaded human history through a teenage virgin girl, and was born in a humble stable in Bethlehem, and lived a life of simplicity, submitting to The Father. His next appearing will be as a warrior King, who will make every wrong thing right, and end all injustice on this planet.

Followers of Jesus have access to the power of the Holy Spirit, and can live in the reality of this Kingdom now. Even though we can't experience perfection in this age, for the most part, God's people are settling for less than he is offering. His offer is an overcoming life, lived in the presence of God. And to empower us to live in light of eternity now, as co-heirs with Christ.

God offers us a heavenly perspective as we watch "the nations rage" and the "Kingdoms shake." The Father imparts spiritual transformation and the experience of living life, "from one degree of glory to another," for those that choose to participate in Kingdom living. Disciples of Jesus are called to be over-comers in this life, so that we can demonstrate the power of the gospel, and to lead others to experience in part, the age to come, now. - Bobby

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Mind Of The Spirit: Part Two

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

(Romans 8:26-27)

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 ESV)

In order to know the mind of the Spirit we must immerse ourselves in the Word of God. As we offer up ourselves as "living sacrifices" we are better able to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying. In the school of the Spirit we learn to follow Jesus down the narrow path of life. When I'm living contrary to my new nature in Christ, I often find that I have no sense of direction, and the Spirit of God is grieved. I lose my sense of peace, when I veer off the path of holy living. That's when I realize my utter dependence on God the most. 

We are like God, in that we were made in his image, and he created us as eternal spirit beings. We must learn conformity to God's will and his words, and it's not something we can do without supernatural assistance. Denying the flesh dominated life, is the only path to true peace. When we practice submitting to God and resisting the devil, we become fruitful, and more easily led by the Spirit. To have the mind of the Spirit is to surrender our will to the will of the Father, just like Jesus did. 

To have a Spirit dominated mind we must engage in deep meditation on the Scripture, and be a person of prayer, and worship. To effectively posture ourselves before God, we must learn the art of  solitude. The place of silence and solitude before God is the most contested place we seek to inhabit. This is where the world, the flesh, and the devil seek to distract us. Solitude is where we allow God to examine us as we embrace his nearness. It's a scary place for most of us, because we feel vulnerable before this great God, that knows us through and through. 

The Father desires to make his presence known, and to reveal things to us in that place  of silence. He may not speak at that moment, or in the way we might think. His communication to us is always in his timing,  and in the way that he determines. The point is that being alone with God changes us over time, and makes us more sensitive to the Spirit. And it puts us in a place where we can as Jim Hylton says, "think with God." - Bobby

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Mind Of The Spirit: Part One

"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
(Colossians 1:27 ESV)

To feel at home in heaven we will need to have the mind of Christ now. Many of us allow our bodily appetites, and bad thinking to dominate our inner person. We are spiritual beings with physical bodies. And until we allow the Holy Spirit (who is in all believers) to dominate our thinking, we will live a life ruled by carnal and negative thoughts, which produces less than desirable behavior in our lives.

Our outward behavior is a reflection of our true spiritual condition. If we are true believers, then we have been justified by our faith in Jesus Christ, which means we have been made right with God. But God wants more than reconciliation, (which is just the beginning) he wants a living, active relationship with us. So, we must allow Him to correct our thinking. Repentance is giving up our thoughts, and opinions, and replacing them with God's thoughts, and his truth. 

True repentance results in a change of behavior. But this is an ongoing process, so we have to live a life of repentance, which is life lived according to the Kingdom of God (the rule of God). I'm not talking about the repentance that leads to our initial salvation experience, but to that which leads us to greater intimacy with God, on a daily basis.

Many in the Evangelical Church seem to neglect the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a good theology of the work of the Spirit, and our ongoing communion, and fellowship with God, we tend to become legalistic, and spiritually dry. It's vital to the life of the believer, and the life of the Church as a whole, to rediscover the third Person of the Trinity. 

"Christ in you, the hope of glory" does not make us little "gods" in the way that new agers perceive themselves. We must acknowledge that we are not divine, but are in desperate need of the life of God inside of us. And God has given us access to that life, through the Holy Spirit.

The two excllent books that I'm presently reading on having the mind of Christ are: "Being At Ease: Thinking At Ease-Lessening Disease" by Jim Hylton, which is deeply thought provoking, and an academic, but readable book, "The Mind Of The Spirit"by Craig S. Keener. - Bobby