Direction Determines Destiny

Studies in First Corinthians – II

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

We have in this verse two contrasting positions: those who perish and those who are saved. Both of these positions suggest movement in a particular direction. The living are either “perishing” or “being saved.” Salvation in particular is considered from at least three different points of view in the New Testament.

Sometimes it is spoken of as happening in the past, “according to his mercy he SAVED us” (Titus 3:5). This is justification.

Sometimes it is spoken of in the present, “Ye are saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The Greek participle in this scripture is in the present tense and denotes “being saved.” The is sanctification.

Sometimes it is spoken of in the future, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11). This is glorification.

Each on of us is either perishing or being saved. Either we are being delivered from the disease of sin and self or we are becoming more sinful and selfish. What is the direction of your character? Is there progress in the Lord or regress into sin? Do you have an increased hunger for the things of God or are you feeding the appetites of your flesh?

What determines the direction you go? It is “the preaching of the cross” (1:18). This does not just mean preaching itself, although that is part of it. The word for “preaching” is the Greek word logos, the same word that we find in the first chapter of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God… And the Word (logos) was made flesh…” (John 1:1,14). It is the WORD of the cross that determines your direction.

Need directions? Follow Jesus!

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Be Present With Him

How many times have I been guilty of leaving worship thinking or saying, “I didn’t really get anything out of that today.” Maybe the music wasn’t my style, I had other things on my mind, or I just never felt anything. Regardless of what the reason may be, I leave feeling like the music didn’t move me and the lyrics didn’t touch me.

Wait a second… it wasn’t for me.

Worship is about Him. It isn’t about me. The whole point of worship is to exalt the name of Jesus, not that I would feel blessed. So often we engage in worship and praise that is motivated by personal gain; we are focused on self when we should be focused on Him.

Now here is the good news. When we are truly focuses on Him in praise, He always shows up. His Word promises that He will inhabit the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). In other words, He was saying, “If you will be present in the moment with me, I will be present with you.” When we make worship about Him, He makes His presence about us.

Furthermore, Jesus clearly declared Himself the ‘I AM’ of the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). He did not say that He was the ‘I WAS’ or the ‘I WILL BE.’ He used the present tense because He always works in the present. The enemy would have us become so focused on the past or on the future that we do not allow the LORD to work His will in us in the here and now.

If you find yourself in need of help from the LORD today, just know that He is a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). As you worship Him, know that He is there, and He is already working on your behalf.

Outlast the Stars

All Christians and all churches are engaged in one of three activities: guarding the dead past, creating fleshly trifles that will perish, or working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in the constant creation of eternal treasure that will outlast stars. – Tozer

This quote has been on my mind and in my spirit for a while. It has caused me to take an honest look at my life direction. It is an irritant that is buried deep down in my soul and I am hoping it produces a pearl.

Photo by Adam Foster

Which activity are we engaged in?

Are we content with guarding a dead past? I am thankful for every blessing, every miracle, and every soul saved. I thank God for every great revival that has swept through this world but I am not satisfied with staying here. I’m not satisfied with guarding the gift that God gave us as if someone could come and take it away. He didn’t give us the gift to guard it, He gave us the gift so that we could share it. We must move forward from here.

However, we must be careful that we don’t fall into the second group; a group that is especially prevalent today. The plans that God has for us, the work He has called us to do, the revival that He wants to send, cannot be sustained by our own talent and creativity. Yes, God gave us the talent. Yes, God gave us the creativity. But these gifts can only be maximized when used under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We cannot go forward without His leading.

I’m not interested in staying where we are and I’m not interested in moving forward on our own. I’m listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Where He leads me, I will follow. It is my prayer that as I go, His will is accomplished and His Kingdom is advanced through me.

I’m going to be a part of something that outlasts the stars because I am going with Him.

Extraordinary

In Extraordinary, John Bevere unpacks the truths from God’s Word which show God’s desire for His children to live an abundant life. We are not called to the “status quo.” John shows us exactly what it takes to move beyond an ordinary existence and to take hold of an extraordinary life. Prepare to be challenged and changed if you read this book!

If you have ever asked the question, “Is it possible to live a life free from sin?” this book is for you. If you find yourself constantly battling the same sinful habits, this book is for you. If you want to live life in the power that God has given and not through your own effort and ability, this book is for you. If you are looking to live a life fully immersed in the extraordinary, then this book is for you.

The truth is, as John points out, “many of us have been taught that grace is an unmerited gift and by it we were given eternal life in heaven. However, what’s been neglected in many evangelical circles is the understanding of how grace provides the power to live – extraordinarily – a successful life that pleases God before eternity.”

How is this possible? Grace. “Grace gives us the ability to exceed our own ability. It gives us the ability to live extraordinarily!” In fact, God’s expectations of those filled with His Spirit are greater than His expectations were of those who lived under the law because of His empowering grace.

Where does this grace come from? Faith. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2). “Faith deeply believes God will do what He says, and it subsequently produces (both) words of agreement and actions of obedience.” Genuine faith speaks and acts on what it believes. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith and grace, we live in the ordinary, not the extraordinary.”

How do we have access to this faith through which we receive grace? The Holy Spirit. “We resist carnality through the power imparted by the Holy Spirit into our spirit.” Even our mortal bodies are restored to (overcoming) life by the power of the His Spirit dwelling in us (Romans 8:10-11).

Live in the power of the Holy Spirit; live Extraordinarily!

Did Zacchaeus Know His Name?

Zacchaeus: meaning “Pure and Righteous.”

When I review his life I have to wonder; did Zacchaeus know his name? His parents named him in hope that his lifestyle would match his name. However, Zacchaeus had long forgotten what it was to be pure and righteous in his dealings with his fellow-man.

Photo by uempe

A tax collector by trade, Zacchaeus had compromised his integrity until he became calloused to the virtues that comprised the meaning of his name. Gathering from the poor, enriching the enemy; his habit was to take more than was owed that he might line his pockets with the silver of his own people. Certainly, Zacchaeus did not know his own name!

Being small of stature and few of friends, he was relegated to perching in a sycamore tree if he was to see what all the fuss was about in Jericho. As Jesus passed under the tree he looked up and called, “Zaccheaus, come quickly! I must eat at your house today.”

“What is this? He knows my name?”

Yes, Zacchaeus, he knows your name; even when you have forgotten. He looks beyond the person that you have become as a result of the decisions you have made. He sees beyond your faults and failures. He looks past the outward man, hated by your neighbors. His gaze is fixed on that which is beyond the blood; the man who He has called you to be and He says, “I must come into your house today.”

And when He comes in, he will help you remember your name.

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 Good Confession

by Frederic Faber

The chains that have bound me are flung to the wind,
By the mercy of God the poor slave is set free;
And the strong grace of heaven breathes fresh o’er the mind,
Like the bright winds of summer that gladden the sea.

There was nought in God‘s world half so dark or so vile
As the sin and bondage that fettered my soul;
There was nought half so base as the malice and guile
Of my own sordid passions, or Satan‘s control.

For years I have borne about hell in my breast;
When I thought of my God it was nothing but gloom;
Day brought me no pleasure, night gave me no rest,
There was still the grim shadow of horrible doom.

It seemed as if nothing les likely could be
Than that light should break in on dungeon so deep;
To create a new world were less hard than to free
The slave from his bondage, the soul from its sleep.

But the Word had gone forth, and said, Let there be light,
And it flashed through my soul like a sharp passing smart;
One look to my Savior, and all the dark night,
Like a dream scarce remembered, was gone from my heart.

I cried out for mercy, and fell on my knees,
And confessed, while my heart with keen sorrow wrung;
‘Twas the labor of minutes, and years of disease
Fell fast from my soul as the words from my tongue.

And now, blest be God and the sweet Lord who died!
No deer on the mountain, no bird in the sky,
No bright wave that leaps on the dark bounding tide,
Is a creature so free or happy as I.

All hail, then, all hail, to the dear Precious Blood,
That hath worked these sweet wonders of mercy in me;
May each day countless numbers throng down to its flood,
And God have His glory, and sinners go free.