Full of Hot Air

Studies in First Corinthians – VIII

Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

1 Corinthians 4:18-21

The Corinthians boasted of their learning and knowledge, but Paul knew their religion was more a matter of head knowledge than heart understanding. They were concerned about matters of administration and policy, yet they ignored the dark stain of sin.

Look at the condition that you are in!” Paul was trying to direct their attention to the real issues in this chapter. “You are all talk and intellect; your religion is just theory without reality.” The kingdom of God is not in word, it is not just philosophy and having all the correct answers, it is power – and power was the one thing the Corinthians did not have.

Without that power, Paul tells them that all their knowledge is basically hot air. In a sense, Paul was bursting their bubble. Their heads had gotten too big for the room. They were so proud of what they thought they had, so sophisticated, and yet they were lacking the most important thing: they did not have Holy Ghost power and authority.

We all seek, and rightly so, to know all we can about truth. We certainly need knowledge, education, training, and preparation. If fact, I advocate that we pursue these, as a Church, more than ever before; however, never at the expense of the transforming power of the Holy Ghost. If we have knowledge without power, we are just full of hot air!

The faithful minister (or saint of God), full of the Holy Ghost, is a spectacle in the world (4:7-14). In his path he will face unpopularity and misunderstanding, but he does not concern himself with the judgement of men. He is not just talking the talk, he is walking the walk. I like the way that Raymond Woodward puts it, “Your relationship with God is not measured by how much you talk about Jesus, but by how much your life has been changed by his power!”

With What Are You Building?

Studies in First Corinthians – VII

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

-1 Corinthians 3:10-16

Paul points out the importance of having the correct foundation AND the correct building materials. Some Christians are building on the right foundation with the wrong materials (works of the flesh rather than the works of the Spirit). The Church will not stand on any other foundation than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet even on the correct foundation, it is possible to use the wrong materials.

Paul describes two types of building materials: indestructible—gold, silver, and precious stones; and destructible—wood, hay, and stubble. In this Scripture we see a clear distinction between salvation and rewards. It is possible for a man’s soul to be saved, but his works, being of no value, to be burned. If his motives are not eternal, but temporal or earthly, he may be saved, but his works will be destroyed. Our motives must be to build the Kingdom for the glory of God.

Build on the foundation with materials that will last the test of time. Build with the brick of submission to God’s will and purpose, even in times of suffering. Put in a doorway of prayer. Open up the windows of praise and worship. Be sure to include the gold of purity and righteousness, the silver of a radiant testimony, and the precious stones of victory over temptation.

Paul appeals to the Corinthians to pay close attention to how they build because they are the temple of God. Let us also be reminded, we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. We are intended to reveal the glory of the Lord.

Every one of us is building. Every moment of every day, we are building. Look in your hands – What are you building with today? Will it last?

Jesus Christ, And Him Crucified

Studies in First Corinthians – V

“I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (2:2).

Paul had identified a goal for the church at Corinth: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (2:5). He knew this group of Christians could not face the challenge of presenting Christ if their faith was based only on intellectual assent. Their faith must stand on the rock of revelation rather than on the sands of human philosophy.

Corinthians would not be influenced by a well crafted argument. Nothing but the miracle of the grace of God revealed in the lives of those who had been transformed by the Spirit of God would impact this city for the Kingdom.

The same is true today. If we are going to impact our communities and our world, it will not be by winning a theological argument (though we should always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us). The world we live in is far too clever and sinful to be persuaded by a debate that appeals to their intellect alone. What our world needs is the evidence of a life dramatically and completely changed by the power of the cross.

What is the impact of your faith? Do others see in you the miracle of the grace of God? As you live, surrounded by the evil of this world, you have a mission that must be fulfilled, to stand in the power of God. This is possible only as we live in the revelation presented to us at Calvary. We must grasp the futility of anything untouched by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I believe that God is teaching us that nothing less than the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival can ever meet the need of this day. There can be nothing else; no false gods, no misplaced confidence in something or someone, no compromise, no unconfessed sin, no unsurrendered life, no critical spirit, no worldliness, no self can be allowed. For “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

The Light of God’s Wisdom

Studies in First Corinthians – IV

Right through this first chapter of First Corinthians Paul contrasts wisdom and foolishness: the wisdom of men and the foolishness of God, then the foolishness of men and the wisdom of God. It was the wisdom of men that had seduced this church. Division was a plague that was destroying the spiritual health of the people. The remedy for the situation was not philosophy or “the wisdom of words,” but the wisdom of God given through revelation by the Holy Ghost.

The moment any Christian departs from the principle of revelation, relying rather on human intellect for understanding God’s Word, all spiritual authority is lost. If we submit the Word of God to our own intellect and refuse to believe in the possibility of absolute authoritative revelation, we lose the power and authority. It’s not in us; it’s in Him.

If the church in our day is to invade a city for God, then it must get back to a place of absolute dependence upon the wisdom of God.

-Alan Redpath

Each of us is faced with a choice every day. Will we depend upon our human intellect and education to meet the need of the day? Or will we depend on the wisdom of God? Will we trust human wisdom and reasoning? Or will we trust the Spirit to lead and guide us? Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t downplay the importance of reason and thinking. I only intend to question the source: the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man.

Alan Redpath makes a challenging statement, “The moment a man begins to put his confidence in his own mind… in his personal criticism of Scriptures, he is finished as far as divine revelation is concerned.” You must choose the principle on which you will guide your life, on which you will study the Word, and on which you will serve the LORD.

Come to the cross. Take the place of death to self. Glory in the LORD. The Holy Ghost will illuminate the Word in a way that human wisdom cannot and give you understanding.

Love and Holiness

I recently read an article highlighting the letters of Francis Schaeffer. The post called attention to Shaeffer’s emphasis on the Christian’s responsibilty to reflect both the love and the holiness of God. It was Schaeffer’s conviction, and I believe he was correct, that these two characteristics could coinside in an individual only by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Photo by leicadog1

Here is the quote from an undated letter:

Increasingly I believe that after we are saved we have only one calling, and that is to show forth the existence and the character of God. Since God is love and God is holy, it is our calling to act in such a way as to demonstrate the existence of God–in other words to be and to act in such a way as to show forth His love and His holiness simultaneously. Further, I believe that the failure to show forth either of these is equally a perversion.

Of course, in one’s own strength it is only possible to show forth either love or holiness. But to show forth the holiness and love of God simultaneously requires much more. It requires a moment by moment work of the Holy Spirit in a very practical way.

In the flesh we can exhibit a pharisitical vengance against sin or we can exhibit a benevolance that dismisses sin. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit do these characteristics come into balance.

“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” Psalms 25:10

A Different Kind of Fire

Luke 9:51-56

The “Son’s of Thunder” had a fire in their belly. Their anger burned within them. They were raised to despise the Samaritans in the first place, but now they had refused to accept Jesus into their village.

“What do you want us to do, Jesus?” they asked, “Should we call down fire from heaven to consume them all?” It is only natural that these brothers would want to defend their Teacher. The only problem is the Teacher doesn’t operate according to human nature.

The rejected LORD turned and sharply rebuked His disciples, demonstrating His love and forgiveness of the Samaritans who had just rejected Him. “I did not come to destroy men, I came to save them!”

Jesus had a different kind of fire in mind for these Samaritans.

Photo by Korova Interociter

Acts 8:14-17

The “Son’s of Thunder” had a fire in their belly. In fact, ever since the Day of Pentecost, many Jews had a fire in their belly and that fire was spreading fast! Word came to Jerusalem that Philip had taken the Gospel concerning Jesus to the Samaritans and many had believed and been baptized. They sent Peter and John.

I can only imagine what was going through John’s mind as he passed through Samaria. I wonder if he passed through the same village that had refused to allow Jesus to enter. Is it possible that he remembered the plans that he had for these people not so long ago?

He had once asked Jesus, “Should we call down fire from heaven to consume them all?” Now he asked Jesus, “Please send down the fire from heaven and consume them all!”

Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost – a different kind of fire.

Reader, take a look at the world around you. They ALL will be consumed by fire. Which kind may very well depend on you.

Tell them about a different kind of fire!

Mac is Back!

Hello, Friends! I have wonderful news! Mac is back! And all of my sentences in in exclamation marks!

I hope to begin updating much more regularly: pictures, videos, and I may even try writing again (it’s been a while).

For now, I am trying to dig myself out of the hole that not having a computer for six weeks has created.  Enjoy a couple more pictures for now.

I preached at a small church in a place called Akweteman last Sunday. Wonderful people. Beautiful worship. Great God!

Two received the Holy Ghost for the 1st time!

Marching Orders: 2

Part 2 of 4

Last week I started a series called Marching Orders (first post) which I intend to finish this week.  In the first post I gave three orders given by the Apostle Paul to the Church at the end of the Church age (Hebrew 10:22-25).  Each order begins with the words “let us”.

1. Let us draw near.

2. Let us hold fast.

3. Let us consider one another.

In part two of this series, let us look at the first of these orders.  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

First we must understand what a miracle it is that we even have this ability!

All throughout the Old Testament men were separated from the presence of God.  The presence of God dwelt in the tabernacle within the Holiest of Holies.  The only person that was allowed to enter that place was the high priest and even he was only to enter one time in a year.  There was a veil of separation between God and man.

Thank God that there is a new and living way, that being Jesus Christ.  When He died, the veil was rent from top to bottom.  Through Him, we have direct access to the presence of God.

But it doesn’t stop there, He poured out His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  He no longer dwells in temples made with man’s hands, but He dwells in the hearts of men!

The greatest miracle is the fact that a sinful man can be forgiven and granted access into the presence of a Holy God!

How do we draw nigh to God?  We need to have a relationship with Him.  We draw near to God by basic spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting, study of the Word, etc.

If you have ever been to a Hibachi grill, you have watched as the Chef prepared the food while performing all sorts of amazing tricks; the onion volcano, the twirling spatulas, the tossed eggs.  After watching one of these performances, I asked the chef what the most difficult part of his job was.  His answer shocked me.  He told me the most difficult part was stirring the food.

All the tricks are nice but the most difficult part is often the most basic!

The Church needs a revival of spiritual discipline and meaningful relationship with God.

Warriors of Morning Draw Near to God!

Building Fires

Here is another little tidbit from John Maxwell’s latest book Everyone Communicates Few Connect

Mr. Maxwell writes of the importance of marrying passion with the vision.  “A vision without passion is a picture without possibilities.”  It is difficult to be passionate about something that we haven’t personally experienced.  This is why the best sermons, the best songs, the best poems and stories are always born out of a personal experience.  Mr. Maxwell gives four questions for the communicator (minister) to ask concerning vision and passion.  These are good questions to ask ourselves as we prepare to minister.

1. Do I believe what I say? 

2. Has it changed me?

3. Do I believe it will help others?

4. Have I seen it change others?

If we can answer yes to all of these questions, we have married passion to our vision.  When we do this in ministry we will, as Mr. Maxwell so capably says, “do more than just light a fire under people; we will build a fire within them!  If you have that fire, it will ignite in others.”

A fire underneath somebody causes them to move for a moment.  They may get stirred up while you preach or sing, but is it lasting?  But when the fire gets inside them, that is a different story.  A fire on the inside will make a lasting change!

Where are you building fires?  Underneath or within?

If God is going to use you to set the hearts of men on fire for Him, He will have to set you ablaze first!

Stay Hot!

This Spot Is Taken (I Don’t Want No Trouble)

Job 14:1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” (ESV)

Trouble is the common denominator of all mankind.  Certainly, we would not even debate that the human family has adversity, calamity, sorrow, distress, anxiety, worry, fear, and despair.  All we need to do is read the news or talk to our neighbor to realize that trouble is all around us.  I would venture to guess that many of you reading this are faced with some kind of trouble in your life at this very moment.  If not, you will be very soon.  Trouble, at some degree and at some time, touches every life.

But that is only the bad news.

I am so happy that as much as there is a Job 14:1, there is also a John 14:1!

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled.” – Jesus

Notice, He did not say that you would not have trouble.  Actually, He was saying quite the opposite.  He was telling His disciples that they would be hated by men for His namesake.  So what was Jesus saying? 

He was letting His disciples know that even when life is full of trouble, our hearts don’t have to be.

Trouble may be all around you, but don’t let it get in you.  Things may look hopeless, but keep on hoping.  Circumstances may look grim, but don’t let it affect your attitude.

Your heart was not meant for trouble.  Your heart was meant for Him.  Trouble and the Holy Ghost won’t make good roommates.  Not even if you put them up in opposite corners of your heart.

So next time trouble comes knockin’, looking for a place to stay.  Just tell trouble…

…”This Spot Is Taken”