Whom Shall I Fear?

I shared this meme on facebook today:


Here is the fuller Christian context of that quote:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." ~John 14:12
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"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit." ~Romans 8:1-4
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"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~Romans 8:38-39
Or, in the English Standard Version: 
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~Romans 8:37-39
Danny Lee Silk wasn't saying we'd never feel anything from the atmosphere around us. Look at the words he used: because of our victory in Christ Jesus, we don't have to be affected, or infected, by what we experience around us. None of it has to change our course, impinge upon our faith, or inspire fear or despair. We don't ever have to lay blame, or responsibility, upon anyone else for what we do, or what we believe. Jesus has offered us all that He has . . . and as we seek Him, we can become more and more the way Danny described. Take Elijah, for example:
"Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood.”

So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind.

Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.

About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” ~1 Kings 18:25-27, NLT
Then there's Enoch:
 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. ~Moses 7:13
Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the mighty and powerful King of Heaven's Armies of the Old Testament. He is the tender and careful Good Shepherd of the New Testament. He is the Risen Lord, who will wipe away our tears, and He is the Glorified Messiah who sits at the right hand of the Father, an advocate for us with Him. He didn't go through all He went through just so we could be limited here. If one child of God was able to receive power from heaven to part the seas, or to raise the dead, or to set at defiance the armies of nations, or shut the mouths of lions, then it is within reach of us ALL to do incredible things, for our God is no respecter of persons.

So . . . what are we waiting for? What does your heart long to do, in the name of the Lord, to bless His children? Is it to sing praise? To heal? To hear and understand such that you can comfort those who mourn? To preach the Gospel of the Risen Lord, so all mankind can come unto Him and be saved? Look deep inside your heart, and see what God has placed there . . . because whatever He has planted in your heart, He has also provisioned for you, and He will show you the way to realize the dreams and longings you cherish.

Now, let's go forward in faith, and obtain the word of the Lord, as Enoch did, so, once we have obtained His word, and our faith grows ever stronger, we might do His will, and be conduits for His power in the earth. 

For signs follow them that believe.

 

Show Me the Miracles!

Scripture: Matthew 9:33-38 NLT

So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” they exclaimed. But the Pharisees said, “He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons.” Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” 

Observation: Jesus healed so generously. So frequently. So completely. And He said His disciples would do greater works than He did.

Application: Where are they? Where are the miracles? I have seen so many more in the last six months than I have in my entire life before . . . but Christianity at large lives in such a state of near-stupefaction when it comes to the Holy Spirit.  Something Annie Dillard wrote comes to mind:


On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.
  ~Annie Dillard

Moroni had a little something to say about miracles in Mormon 9:
19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

 20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

 21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

 22 For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;

 23 And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;

 24 And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover;

 25 And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.

 26 And now, behold, who can stand against the works of the Lord? Who can deny his sayings? Who will rise up against the almighty power of the Lord? Who will despise the works of the Lord? Who will despise the children of Christ? Behold, all ye who are despisers of the works of the Lord, for ye shall wonder and perish.

 27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.

 28 Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.
Verse 26 really stood out to me today: when we despise the works of the Lord, we find ourselves in the conditions of stand against His works, deny His sayings, rise up against the almighty power of the Lord, and despise the children of Christ.

I think our state is much more dire than most comfortable Christians (LDS included) would like to believe. We are comfortable, pleasant, and well-intentioned.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. ~Revelation 3:15-16

Prayer: Lord, I praise You for Your grace and your mercy, and the overwhelming love which has changed my life from night to day.  Equip me with Your Spirit. Pour into me strength to do Your will, to follow You, and take You at Your word. I want to walk in Your ways, to see with Your eyes, to hear with Your ears, to serve with Your heart. I know something of loneliness, of illness, of condemnation, of sin. And I just want to set the captive free.  Oh, please.  Just let me help You. Whenever, however, whatever.  In Jesus' grace-filled and glorious Name, so be it.

The snare is broken.

Scripture:  Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. (Psalms 124:6-8 NKJV)

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4 NLT)

But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way. (2 Corinthians 11:5-6 NLT)

After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools! You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too. (2 Corinthians 11:19-21 NLT)

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again." (2 Corinthians 11:22-23 NLT)

Observation: Apostle was a Roman word that Christ took for His own.  It's a military term, denoting the person tasked with overseeing the Romanization of a conquered place.  It was a person who knew Rome and Romans, and who was to see that the shift from whatever culture and tradition those people had to Rome's was as complete as possible. Religion was to be destroyed and replaced with the Roman gods and mythology. Roman law ruled above and beyond local law, superseding and overruling it; and so on. That's what the task of a Christian apostle is: to teach and lead and see that Jesus is the name held up for salvation . . . that Christians in an area are taught Him, and Him alone.  As Paul said, "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." A Roman military apostle who implemented his own idea of culture, law and mythology would bring down the wrath of Ceasar upon himself, because he wasn't transforming the culture into a new little Rome--he was making a kingdom after his own mind, ideas and understanding.  The same holds true for Christian apostles. It's teaching Jesus and seeing His word flower in clarity and power, or it's the vain and empty work of the devil, well-intentioned and pleasant as it may be.  Pleasant good intentions cannot save. Christ has a cheerful, joyful, tender and yet awesomely powerful nature. To be in Him is not pleasant. It is the ultimate safety--but just about anything but comfortable.  He's always prodding and drawing His followers out into territory unknown to them. Scaring the snot out of them, insisting they release every thing but Him.

Every. Thing.

All.

Nothing held back.

And when we let go of it all, there's room for Him.

Finally.

Application: Is it any wonder that Rome eventually swallowed the early church whole, becoming the Holy Roman Empire?  When it became clear that the Christians weren't going away, the best method of neutralizing the threat was to subvert and co-opt.  This is what Paul's talking about . . . those who profess to know Christ, to preach what seems to be His word, and yet whose lives show none (or very few indeed) of the signs of conversion, the powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit that come after the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.  It was that baptism that was recognized as the entrance into the very early church--an admission by God, Himself. When we're brought back into His presence through that fiery baptism, then we truly are no longer "strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God".  When we pass through that fire, the glory and love of Jesus Christ that cleanses our soul and covers us with His righteousness, we become members of the household of God . . . spiritually begotten, literal sons and daughters of Jesus.  His house is a house of order--and we gain admittance through that baptism, and no other way.  "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," (John 3:5 KJV, emphasis mine). Many churches are really good at the "born of water part" . . . that's easy for men to do.  But being born of the Spirit is strictly God's deal. You can't fake that.  Those who have been born of the Spirit can spot an impostor a mile off--and yet those who have been born of the Spirit love and bear with those who have not yet. Becoming a new creature in Christ means you love with His love, and ridicule and shun no one.

Prayer: Father, show me clearly the difference between the philosophies of men (and devils!), and You. Teach me Your Truth . . . even Jesus Christ. Show me Your wisdom, fill my mouth with the words You want me to say, and I will say them.  Pull down the strongholds of the adversary, the enemy, the trickster, who is merrily leading so many along the broad, pleasant, well-intentioned way. Lord, make of me a polished shaft in Your hand, that I may, again and again, be a precise and useful tool in the only work of true significance: bringing Your children back to You.  Jesus, redeem us from the fall. Show us how to walk, how to live, open our minds and release us from spiritual bondage. Fill my voice with the joy and inexpressible message of Jesus, let Your light shine from my countenance, touching everyone I am blessed to see. And loving Father, show me my stewardship. Show me what and where and how You would have me work. Teach me how to accept it fully, to walk in Your authority in it, and to be a game-changer. Keep training me, keep teaching me, because I'm loving this, Lord. This life is truly living . . . this freedom is what I was made for--and I revel and rejoice in it! Thank you!!!!! In the name of Him whose life and victory I will dance and sing and shout hallelujah to the very skies, Jesus Christ. So be it!!!!!

Jesus Wept with Mary

John 11:20-35 NKJV

Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house.  Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that  whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her,  “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him,  “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her,  “I am  the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may  die, he shall live.    And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord,  I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”  As soon as she heard  that,  she arose quickly and came to Him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him.  Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.” Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she  fell down at His feet, saying to Him,  “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.  And He said,  “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.


O: Jesus knew Lazarus's problem would keep.  He could have swept in, raised his good friend from the dead, and dried everyone's tears without a word to them.  But He stopped and ministered to Mary in her distress. He mourned with her. Who of us can't testify to the precious, sacred love of one who holds our heart in their hands when it has broken?  And then, after He had poured His love richly into His relationship with Mary (and whoever else may have been there), He did what He came to do.

A: I like to get things done.  Solve problems.  Especially when things are serious, I go into crisis mode, and turn into a super-efficient, inwardly-focused problem solver.  Vern always says that he knows that if I'm freaking out, everything's fine.  But if I'm dead calm and moving fast, it's time to worry.  I want to follow Jesus's example, and take care of my people, instead of only addressing the situation.

P: Lord, you know how my heart longs to help people . . . to comfort and heal. You placed that love in my heart, and You have fed and nourished it abundantly in so many ways throughout my life. Keep showing me, God, keep teaching me, keep schooling me in the way You want me to be, the way You want me to walk, the way You want me to think, so I can do Your work, in Your way, in all situations.  Open the way before me to fulfill the calling You have sung to me, and to walk in the strength of the Holy Spirit so whoever it is that stands in need can receive the blessing You have in store for them. Make me a tool for You . . . I don't care how simple or plain, how common or dirty the jobs are.  Now that I know Your love, my priorities will never be the same. :o)  In Jesus' glorious name, amen.

All Gifts Motivate Alike

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:16

"Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!"

Observation: Paul is one of the most famous apostles of all time. His letters make up such a big part of the canon, and his zeal in Christ, his willingness to suffer sorely for the message of salvation through our beautiful Jesus, is the stuff of legends.  (Can you tell I've been watching Kung Fu Panda? ;o) And yet, he says, essentially, that he can't help evangelizing. That the fire of testimony burns so white hot in him that he must preach the Good News.

Application: This is how I have always felt about music. If I'm ever complimented, I stumble around trying to figure out how to give God all the credit . . . because it's a passion that burns like a sun in my heart, and not pursuing that passion is terrible, indeed.  The times in my life when I've gone without making music have been dark and prisonlike. I don't ever want to be seen as anything but a simple follower of Christ--even if our culture tends to deify those with music in their blood. It's about as much my achievement as is the color of my eyes, or my height.  It just is, and the existence of that solar fire constrains me to pursue it, and to worship my God in so doing. The joy comes when I feel Jesus and the Father draw near, and when the audible love that pours from me shows Jesus to someone else, extends His love to them.  It's not food or raiment, house or bed, but it is something I can give so freely, and want to, because it has blessed me so richly.  And one of the best parts? When I find others whose hearts pump worship, or those who hunger for it, and we throw ourselves into it together. Oh, God is good to us. So good!

And we are His portion,
and He is our prize,
drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes.
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.

Hallelujah!

Prayer: Lord God above, I love you so, so much! I praise You for the gift of worship in music, for the amazing freedom and grace that always descend with Your presence when I worship you in that way. Thank you for gifting me in a way that compliments so beautifully my nature and temperament, and for pouring Your love into me when I pursue it . . . when I pursue You through it. ;o)





How He Loves Us - Kim Walker / Jesus Culture from carlosrene89 on GodTube.