Tag Archives: power

Faith or Bullying?

In our desire to have everyone believe like we do, we frequently us a bullying tactic to get them to convert to our beliefs. We attempt to change their beliefs without first listening to what they believe. We want people to have our beliefs regardless of what they think.  We are trying to bring glory to ourselves. We lack faith in God.

You can tell people about your faith without forcing them to believe like you.  In fact, that is what the Bible tells you to do. It also tells us to do this in love. The reality of the situation is that the Holy Spirit convicts people of their need to change. Our job is to love them!

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6(NIV)

When we attempt to convert people by using a bullying tactic, we are demonstrating a lack of faith.  We cannot wait for the Holy Spirit to convict, we want to convict them in our timing, using our own strength.

In Matthew 17:14-21 the writer is writing about faith.

A man brings his son to the disciples wanting them to heal his demon possessed son but they weren’t able to heal him. Why? Because they were relying on their own power to heal the boy. The man was relying on the power of the disciples and the disciples were trying to use their power to heal the boy. The disciples didn’t want to bother God with their problem…They wanted to resolve it by themselves…without faith. They were concerned about their reputation; they wanted the glory.

When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal the boy, Jesus said they had “so little faith.” You see, they were trusting in themselves to heal the boy.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20(NIV)

In Mark’s account found in Mark 9:14-29, he adds another phrase that I believe is very important. The phrase is found in v. 29 when Jesus said: “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

The faith that Jesus is talking about is not believing that you can physically move mountains in your own power; It is about trusting God with your mountain. Jesus is talking about faith on the spiritual plane. That is why it takes prayer. Prayer is at the spiritual plane!

Many of the problems that we face in our society today will only be resolved by trusting God at the spiritual plane! The problems are situations that God puts in our paths to show us His power and glory, but we are trying to do them on a physical plane so that we can get the glory. We are trying to bullying God into doing what we want.

This does not mean that we don’t do anything on the physical plane.  The Holy Spirit will be the one to give us the instructions that God wants us to execute. In other words, when we ask God for something like moving a mountain,  He may have us use a shovel in the process of moving the mountain, but it is God that is ultimately moving the mountain. God is the one orchestrating the removal.

There are many discouraging events happening in the United States today. We have concerns about government control, economy, our freedom, family structure, etc. As people, we have a tendency to get other people to join our band wagon as we fight for or against various issues. We argue and fight about the issues among ourselves; we try bullying others to get on our band wagon. We are just like the disciples; we are trying to make these changes in our own strength, so we can show God how hard we are trying.  Some things happen only by prayer, not by bullying or gathering opinions to support your ideas.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12(NIV)

Next time you are tempted to gather a group for your ‘moving the mountain’ band wagon, why not talk to God on your knees and let Him ‘move the mountain’. Put your faith in God, not in man.

 

NOTE: Scripture verses in this article were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com.

Eating From a Forbidden Tree

In the beginning of time, as we know it, mankind was instructed not to eat the fruit of a certain tree in the Garden. This tree is frequently referred to as the ‘tree of good and evil’.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:1-7(NIV)

Today, people are still trying to be like God. They are still doing the things that God has instructed us not to do. In fact, this is one of the main beliefs of the “New Age Movement”. It is the belief that a person doesn’t need to submit to God but can get to heaven in his own strength, rather than accepting God’s free gift of salvation and the power that the Holy Spirit gives.

Jesus tells of a rich man that wanted to go to heaven. This man had kept the Jewish Law since he was a child. However, he was of the opinion that he had to earn his salvation by ‘doing’. He has been a very successful man and may have believed he could ‘buy’ his way into heaven. His identity was determined by his wealth and not his relationship with God.

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’]

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. John 3:17-22(NIV)

You see, this man was just like Eve. He wanted to do things his way and not God’s. In the end, he left Jesus as a very sad man trying to do things his own way and not God’s way.

There is also a belief that when God gives us a new heart, we can do anything our heart tells us to do. ( see 2 Corinthians 5:17(KJV)) However, Matthew 15:19(NIV) says: 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. God gives us a clean heart but we allow evil things to come back into our lives.

Suppose that someone gives you a new house. After you live in the house for a period of time, you say: “I sure miss my old recliner?” So you go find your dilapidated recliner and bring it into the new house. One by one, you bring the old furniture into the house and soon, the house no longer looks new. In fact, it looks much like the old house you were living in.

Our new heart is clean when God forgives us and takes our sin away. However, we begin to bring in the old nature (old furniture) and the next thing we know, we are talking about the desires of old nature, and not about the new heart. Unless we allow the Holy Spirit to keep our heart clean, what will come from the mouth will be the evil thoughts of our heart.

When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, they had clean hearts. They fellowshipped with God on a regular basis and were perfectly content, until they allowed Satan to place an evil thought in their heart. Then they begin to think there were some things they could do without God.

God provided forgiveness for them, but he did not remove the consequences of what they had done. Today we still have to live with the consequences of what Adam and Eve did, but we do not have to do it by ourselves because God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us through life. The Holy Spirit is there to keep our hearts clean so that our lives will bear the fruit of the Spirit rather than the fruit of our evil thoughts.

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

Is it possible to “hate the sin and not the sinner”?

Is it possible to “hate the sin and not the sinner”?

In the Gospel of John, chapter 8, the writer is telling about a person that was caught in adultery. The religious leaders were determined to stone the woman in keeping with their interpretation of the law. They bought the woman before Jesus to make a point about the woman’s sin and their responsibility regarding this sin.

Here is Jesus’ response:

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John 8:6b-7(NIV)

Well, the religious leaders began to leave until there was no one left except Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. The leaders had sin in their lives and were unable to cast judgment on the woman. The only person able to condemn the woman, had compassion on her but condemned the action when he said: “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11(NIV)

The ability to condemn or forgive cannot be done in our own strength because we have a sinful nature. To condemn or forgive, we must rely on the Holy Spirit. Our ability to forgive another person requires the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe that is why Jesus told his followers to go into all the world, but they were not to go anyplace until they had received the Holy Spirit.

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8(NIV)

In the each of the Gospels we are told not to worry but rely on the Holy Spirit.

Matthew says

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:16-20 (NIV)

Mark says:

“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:8-11(NIV)

Luke says:

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:11-12 (NIV)

John says:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27 (NIV)

Jesus also tells us that we will be persecuted for our faith, but even in that persecution, the Holy Spirit will still tell us what to say. He says in Luke 8:14, that we are to decide before hand if we are going to try to defend ourselves in our own strength or if we are going to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our adversaries will not be able to resist or contradict us.

 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. Luke 21:12-19 (NIV)

Why does God give us the words and wisdom we need to forgive others?  God’s purpose for sending Jesus to earth was to show the love of the Father by providing forgiveness for our sins. When we are able to forgive others, we are being a witness of what Jesus has done for mankind.

Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to love people just as Christ loved people. We will also be able to forgive people, as Christ forgave people.  Did Christ stop loving you because you sinned? Then why should you stop loving another person because they have sinned?

Acts 1:8 tells us that when we receive the power of the Holy spirit, we will be a witness of what Jesus has done for us.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:7-8(NIV)

The real questions is: “Do you what to be a witness of what God has done through His son Jesus, or what you have done in your own strength?” If you rely on the Holy Spirit to help you forgive the actions of sinners, He will also give you the power to love them.

NOTE: All scriptures quoted in the blog were taken from http://www.biblegateway.com November 1, 2013.