"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Great Privilege

This is one of the best sermons I have ever heard....and I don't say that lightly. I have watched it 4 times in the last week because it is just that powerful. I posted a ten minute clip of it a week or two ago, but this is the entire sermon. I pray that we will listen and take heed to this message.

"I don't need to be a prophet or a son of a prophet to know what your God is, I only have to watch your life. When Jesus Christ is just something you do at the beginning of the week, but yet throughout your life you are a practical atheist, I know who your God is and it is not the one who is the One true God. When you have just enough Christianity to make you moral and comfortable in the south, I know who your God is. If I could look into your mind to see what occupies your mind I will know what your God is."
-Paul Washer

Saturday, April 19, 2008

God's Word of Promise is All We Need!

Here is a must hear message from Jeff Noblit of First Baptist Muscle Shoals, Alabama:

“The great need of the church, the great need- I have to say- of the professing church is to know God. We don’t know God! We have not studied, and meditated, and worked, and digged, and seen all the glories and the wonders of who He is! Therefore when He says trust Me, we don’t know who we’re trusting!” -Jeff Noblit

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Constraining Reigns of My Loving Father

It's been WEEKS since I've been able to write a blog post. And what a weird time that has been, considering I am a person who loves to write and finds it really easy to express myself through it. But man, these past couple weeks, it's almost like the Lord has put a reign on my fingers...literally restraining me from being able to translate my thoughts and all the things He is teaching me into a coherent piece. Even thinking about it right now weirds me out to an extent. I mean, what in the world? Day after day I would sign into my blog, look at it, long to contribute, and yet, there wasn't a thing I could do to make myself do it.

Well, God is good my friends. If there is one thing that I am learning, it is that God is indeed in control and sovereign over all things. And when I get comfortable in that and drift from the reality of that, He always finds a way to wake me up. There is a purpose for everything, and God is not just going around reacting to the things that go on in this world. No, in fact He is the one who ordains them. Everything that I do was predestined before the foundation of the world. A lot of people are uncomfortable with that. It makes them uneasy, and it might even go against the idea that they had of God in their minds. But I tell you, search the entire counsel of the Scriptures and discover the character of this God of ours. It is incredible and it will blow your mind. The more I learn about God's sovereignty, the more I want to submit myself to Him and His will...because guess what...I can't resist it. If God wants to do something then He will do it, and it is not without good reason- that reason being to bring glory to His Name! Wow. Talk about something that will change your perspective on life. I know that the Lord is in complete control over my life, and I know that because I am His child, He has promised to conform me to the image of His son. Therefore, I know that everything that happens to me is ordained by Him to further sanctify me. What an incredible thought.

(side note- I have been following Dr. James White's debate with Steve Gregg over Calvinism and Arminianism over at AOMIN.org for the past week or so, and well, the arguments in favor of the arminian point of view just make me sad. The God that it portrays is not one that is in control, and if I held to that position, I'm afraid that I would be at a loss for answers in my life right now. One can't read the Bible honestly and come to the conclusion that God isn't all-powerful and sovereign over ALL things (including the will of man), and if you think that He is not, then, I have to say, you have opened up a huge can of messy worms in trying then to determine what He controls and what He doesn't, leaving you with no real set purpose or guidelines for the things that happen in your life. I'm not going into a theological explanation right now, but I found myself compelled to mention this. You can get an archive of the debate at aomin.org).

Anyways, the Lord is teaching me that everything I have and everything that happens in my life is a gift from Him. I am a totally depraved sinner who deserves death, not mercy from my Lord. And like I said before, whenever this thought begins to slip my mind, the Lord is quick to remind me. My faith is a gift dependent on Him, and so is my repentance even, and so is my holy fear of Him. Without the Lord granting me these things then I am left hard-hearted and searching this world to fulfill my own lusts of the flesh. Eeek, what a terrible thought. I have gone through times where the Lord has withdrawn my repentant heart and has made me realize that it does not come from me, but instead, I am dependent on Him to be the author of my salvation. What a lesson to be learned. So when I found myself incapable of writing for weeks on end, I knew it must be for a reason.

And indeed it was. Not only was it to teach me that even my ability to write hinges on the grace of God, but also some other things as well- even though it took me weeks to see these things (leaving me in somewhat of frustration until then). But the Lord gave me this great sense of responsibility and made me realize that writing is a very powerful thing, not to be taken lightly. I mean, I am held responsible for every word that flows from my brain and onto this computer screen. There was this fear of accountability and it caused me to take a huge step backwards and view my writing from afar. This is not a light subject; this is the Word of God. This is the difference in where eternity is spent. This is the difference between living a life that is pleasing to your Savior, or storing up the wrath of God upon yourself because of sin separating you eternally from Christ and all His holiness. Perhaps I needed to see that in order to check myself. The devil would love to take this fear and cause me to stop writing, but I know that the Lord was just showing me that I am to stay continuously in His word and learning about His character and His will, because if I am not sensitive to His voice, then I can easily blurt something out on this blog that is not of Him. And that's a scary thought to me, because I know that I am going to have to give an account for every word that I write.

I went through something very similar about a year or so ago. All of a sudden I found that the Lord was putting a reign on my tongue in certain situations. It was right after the Lord had awakened my soul to His holy righteousness and had revealed to me my unrighteousness, and the Lord was in the process of revealing to me the idols in my life. And I literally found that there were times when the Lord had put such a reign on my tongue that I could not speak about things that I knew were idols in my life. I had lost my desire to speak trivial things, and then to help me out in that the Lord took even my ability to speak those things away as a whole. Again, it was an interesting thing to say the least (I speak in past tense, but it still happens to this day), but I realized that I am going to have to give an account for every idle word I speak. It's another example of not doing what is natural to you so that God may apply His supernatural work in you. Sometimes, like in these instances, He will make it so known to you that you are not doing the work that you almost feel like you can tangibly see the reigns placed on you. What a beautiful thing it is to see the work of God take place in your life!

One of the reasons that this lesson is so important in my life is because it is teaching me, like I said, to discern the Lord's voice. I mean His voice in the sense that He will guide my EVERY step through the work of the Holy Spirit. I mean, that thought alone blows my mind. But then to experience it?...wow. God is faithful to His promises. He promises to sanctify me and to grow me in holiness like my Savior Jesus Christ. And that entails me living a Spirit-led life. So now when I see that the Lord is literally restraining me from doing something, I learn to sit back and listen and to wait upon Him. Do you know what happens when you disobey and don't listen? You start to strive in sin. You start to try and come up with your own way of doing the things that come natural to you, and well, you end up in a big mess of sin. God has showed me through His word that no man can receive anything unless it is given to Him from heaven (John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven). Our inheritance was given to us from before the foundation of the world (Psalm 47:4)....so um, when the Lord says you can't have something, it is best to wait upon Him to show you what to do instead because otherwise you will strive in sin (and still not end up with what you thought you wanted anyways). So it's like a double loss. I write this knowing that this revelation has delivered me from so much bondage in my life, but I also write this confessing that it is a huge struggle for me. I thank God for His truth though, because it sets me free :)

Lord willing, (this idea brings a whole new meaning to the phrase Lord willing, doesn't it?) I will have more on this topic of waiting upon the Lord during times of tribulation and not striving in sin. There are verses that I want to share and examples that I want to point out from the Bible, but for now, I might have to leave it at this and just bask in the grace of my God for granting me the gift of writing again. Another thing that the Lord was teaching me in all of this was to just to make sure that I am not just typing words and not living them out. It is a great gift from the Lord to have the opportunity to live out your theology, because living it out makes it real to you. When you step out of faith and apply the truth of God to your life, then you find 100% of the time that God is faithful and keeps His word every time. This just leads to an increase in your faith and more belief in His promises and then to a more righteous lifestyle. But the flipside is that this must mean that the Lord must promise trials and tribulations to arise to give you the opportunity to step out on faith. But like I said, more to come on that point later. For now, consider these words from Peter,
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, since you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy." 1 Peter 4:12-13.

Being constrained by the reigns of our Heavenly Father can be an uncomfortable situation...scratch that, it IS an uncomfortable situation. It can feel like the very fiery furnace itself. But speaking for myself, when the reigns are removed and I find myself left to myself for a little while, I run back crying out to the Lord to restore the reigns and to apply his discipline. Why? Because it is during those times that I know I am doing the will of my Father and I am able to take comfort that He is the one that is guiding me. Without the reigns- nope, I'm just a restless sinner who is not content with the world because I have tasted and seen that the Lord's way is good. I'm praying for my brothers and sisters out there that find themselves striving to control their own reigns for their lives. Let loose and quit striving my brethren, it is a glorious thing. God bless you all.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What Does It Mean to be Meek?

More to come on this topic. I have some stuff to write regarding it when I get the time. But for now I just wanted to get this up so you could see this AMAZING message from Mark Kielar on the TRUE definition of the word "meek." It is a six part playlist because it is the entire sermon, but it is well worth the listen :)