Thursday, October 31, 2013

"See The Storm," a mini-sermon by Mattie Montgomery, is very impressive. Perhaps not contextually correct in its entirety, but it's still a very interesting idea. And we are to be the hands and feet of Christ; this is a variation of that idea.

To think that we, witnesses of God, are the "cloud" of God's glory is a pretty interesting idea.
I'd like to add something to this as well.
A congregation of witnesses, "so great a cloud" of them, would be a very impressive example. If we let go of our past, give up the dead man of the world and take on the living Spirit of God within us, if we no longer live as ourselves but live as Christ living through us, we can embrace the lessons learned from living as the world--we must embrace our testimony, the testimony that God has given us by His grace and for His glory.
If we hold to this this, if we let Christ live through us, if we take our testimony into the world as an example of God's glory to show others what He can do, there is no force on earth more powerful; mobile, pointed Christians who love and want so desperately to see others come under the grace of God have no match in this world, nor do the powers of darkness have a foothold in their presence because Christ is living through them.
And the congregation of these witnesses, a gathering of these examples of His glory; anyone coming into this would be stepping into a great cloud.

A Grain Of Sand

There's something quite fascinating in observing others' perspectives and opinions. I've also found people to be much more receptive of the Gospel if you don't treat it as something to be defended, but rather something that will defend itself. If you offer it as something to be reckoned with as opposed to displaying yourself as something that was reconciled, it's often received about as well as a stubbed toe.

This is not a post about ministering, though. This is, more than anything, a supplemental post to the prior one. Civility, sadly, is often lost when discussing something as polar and encompassing as spiritual beliefs. Sometimes on my part, sometimes on the part of the other party(ies). The thing is, though, is the non-Christian has an excuse. I'm told to expect to be rejected, even hated, because of the hope i have in Christ. I, on the other hand, have no excuse. I'm told to love unconditionally.
As said, i have a fascination with hearing what others have to say about their beliefs or lack thereof. I think the best example i could be to people who differ from me is to display love to them; listening and caring about what they say, and accepting them regardless of where they stand.

More often than not, this kind of observation leads me to hearing the opinions of atheists. Some are downright intriguing.
One that has been weighing on me heavily lately is this: In relation to the universe, we are infinitely, even impossibly small. A grain on sand along the shoreline is monumental compared to me in the universe. So how do i reconcile this feeling of vanity and pointlessness with a God that chose this planet to send His Son to, to die for me, the less-than-a-grain-of-sand human that i am?
Moreover, how do i measure my life against the universe and find worth, or hope, or meaning in death?

Well, firstly, theoretically, there's more in the microcosm (microscopic and smaller) than there is in the macrocosm (the tangible). That means there's more smaller than us than there is larger. With this, we can look into the night sky at the stars and, instead of feeling infinitely small, we feel infinitely important because there's more inside of us than there is outside of us. That is how i reconcile the infinitesimal me to the infinite God; He sees us, those He formed with His fingertips, with more desire and care than He sees the rest of the universe that He spoke into being.
That is where our worth, hope, and meaning come from; the Creator who spun us so intricately together.

But death, with all its unknowns, still poses an issue.
The issue of death is not something to be dreaded if one has their hope in God. It's going to happen, it must happen. Why, then, do we dread it so?
Death is like the night sky. It's dark, mysterious, and infinitely large to those who know no hope of God. To the Christian, it is something to see as a barrier from here to there. An end or a beginning.

In either case, whether we die tonight or in fifty years or in a hundred, it does not matter.
To the one without faith, life is a motion, and death is merely the close, and there would be no observation of anything after, so it wouldn't matter when death comes, because it will eventually come.
The one with faith, it likewise doesn't matter because we have hope in God that it will be for something, and that He has a plan for it.
It shouldn't matter to either Christian nor atheist when death comes for us; one sees death as the unavoidable end that means nothing, the other as a new beginning of which the timing was chosen and proper.

Whereas a non-believer sees a curtain in this life, a Christian intends to witness all that is going on backstage to make sure the visible stays true to course.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cultural Differences

"Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies...Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" (Psalm 27:11, 14 ESV)

The world is entirely opposed to Christianity because Christianity is entirely adjacent the world.
Christianity does not conform to the world nor the "progression" (a misnomer, as progression implies a measure of positive change; progress) of the world in such that the Bible does not change. It is a living thing, it affects everyone differently, but the words stay the same, and the world has an issue with any two-thousand year old text written that shapes lives today in different ways than it did a century or a millennium ago.
What's more, society is against a belief system that says that all people are equal, believers in it or otherwise. We crave exclusion, something that says we're of an elite group, even if we're not. That's why so many organizations exist, as well as titles and such. We always want to have a one-up on everybody else, and the Bible destroys that line of thinking by telling us that anyone can be saved, and that God loves all of us, even the sinners and the "Christ-killers." They are opposed to the idea of a merciful God who loves unconditionally and tells us that if we're to be truly abundant outwardly and inwardly, we must love both our neighbors and our enemies alike (as G. K. Chesterton said, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people”).

The world hates the idea of a murderer being no more a sinner than a petty thief or a liar or an adulterer (being one who looks at another with lust, not only those that have sexual relations outside of marriage). This ideology says that we all have sinned, and that all have broken part of the Law and, therefore, broken the whole Law, and that we must humble ourselves to overcome our offenses. And, simply put, people who have said a seemingly innocent "no" when the answer was "yes" or have malicious/hateful thoughts just don't want to be lumped in together with a murderer or a child molester.
So the only answer to how society sees the Christian culture is for them to shun it.
Jesus covered this, as did certain apostles, in saying the world will hate us because we're not like them, because of Christ's sake.

But i would like to look back, pre-Christ, for an answer, and the verses at the beginning of this post, though not written about this particular situation, are not irrelevant.
I don't want to call the world our enemy, but the world has set itself against Christians, be it in the tame mocking we receive here in the United States, or the martyrdom found in other nations. Persecution, in all its forms, of Christ is becoming quite rampant, so it is safe to say they're our enemies, whereas it's perhaps more precise to call us their enemies.
But if we have faith in God, He will lead us on a level path because of our enemies. So wait, be strong, have courage--wait for the Lord.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Come From The Four Winds

I've been revisiting Ezekiel 36 and 37 lately, and trying to piece together all the ways they tie in together.
In Ezekiel 36, we read that God is going to remove our hearts of stone and put a soft heart of flesh in us, and put His Spirit within us to deliver us from uncleanness and to make us feel shame for our sins and, therefore, turn away from it. For His sake, He would act (this could easily be taken to mean He would set us apart for His glory).
In chapter 37, much of it is about the valley of dry bones, where God asks Ezekiel if the bones could live again. Ezekiel doesn't say yes or no, but rather the only true answer for any question, "O Lord God, You know."* (v. 3)
He's told to prophesy to the bones, and it describes the flesh forming over them. But there is one thing lacking still.

"But there was no breath in them." (There was no הָר֑וּחַ in them.) (v. 8)
There are several translations for the Hebrew word for breath (הָר֑וּחַ).
One is breath. Another is wind. Another, get this, is spirit.
The bodies lived, but they had no spirit.

Because of this, God commands Ezekiel to prophesy again, this time to the "breath."
"'Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.' So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army." (v. 9-10)

"And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord." (v. 13-14)
This entire setting is, from the prior chapter through this one, a prophecy about Christ and the Holy Spirit; through Christ we have resurrection, and then He puts His Spirit in us to live.

What i find perhaps most interesting is this: "Come from the four winds, O breath..."
He's told to tell the Spirit to come from every direction and breathe on the slain, that they may live.
He's telling the Spirit to come from everywhere. The Spirit would be spread across the earth, in every nation; in Jew and Gentile, if you will, and those will make up the resurrected and living people of God, His children. The army of Israel would not consist of a specific race, but people of all ethnicities who have His Spirit within them.

* This should be our mantra in life. As it says in the New Testament (James 4), "...yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'"
It's not for us to even say that our next breath will come, only God knows, and only by His will can air enter our lungs.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Distortions of Truths

Satan is a tempter and a deceiver. He twists everything out of context and corrupts.

As a preacher by the name of Mattie Montgomery points out in one of his sermons, Satan doesn't tempt Jesus to break His morals, he says "If You are the Son of God..." and so he tries to get Jesus to doubt who He is.
He also refers back to the Garden of Eden, when Eve was tempted to eat the fruit, and how he told her that she would be like God in knowing good and evil, but God created Adam in His likeness, and so Eve, being formed after Adam, is of divine design.
But this has led me to consider other thoughts along this same line.

It's not just Jesus and Eve that he does this to. It's all of us.
How many Christians can say without presenting a falsehood that they've never felt like they're not a child of God?
None. That's how many.
Satan is good at what he does. He's been sinning from the beginning--he's got experience. Jesus, however, came to destroy the works of Satan. Here's a flipside: through Christ, all things that exist were made (John 1:3). Jesus has more experience creating than Satan has destroying.

Nonetheless, Satan is a pretty good deceiver. I'd be lying to say i've not come under the influence of his lies from time-to-time.
He uses truth to back his deception, though. As seen in the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, he calls out scripture (And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Luke 4, ESV).

A similar kind of temptation has been used against me, though to a lesser degree. Satan has twisted my hearing of the Word of God to his own will, and he does this with many.
Though i believe all who confess and forsake their sins, believe Christ was crucified for their sins and was resurrected by God is a Christian, it's hard to deny the fact that there's dissension within the Church. Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Methodists, and the list goes on. All part of the Body of Christ, but also far from the unified Church He seeks. I believe denominations are where Satan has come in and caused division, though i don't count any of these more or less Christian sects than another. We're all children of God, but we have strife between us, and that comes from Satan.
Are you Methodist? You're a Christian.*
Are you of an Assembly of God? You're a Christian.*
Are you a Baptist? You're a Christian.*
Denominations aren't bad in themselves, so long as the focus is set solely upon Christ. It's the separation that's bad.

I've been convinced at times by Satan that i could never be worthy of the kingdom of God.
He used a very blatant truth to discourage me.
I agree with Satan here; i am unworthy of the kingdom of God. That doesn't mean i should give up, though, but rather that i should press on all the more to imitate Christ.
If you feel you're unworthy of the kingdom of God, embrace that. Accept it as fact and utilize his words as motivation.
When trying to get in shape, one who is out of shape will convince themselves one of two things: 1) "I'm out of shape, i can't work out," or 2) "I'm out of shape, i must work out."
Will you use this attack to motivate yourself, or become lackadaisical from it?

Here's where the Gospel can be used against us; Jesus, talking to the Rich Ruler in Luke 18, ended by saying "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
Sounds pretty tough. Ought to earn us our way into Heaven, right?
That doesn't earn us a thing. Satan has come to me through verses like this to try and tell me that i can inherit the kingdom of God by earning it, and i want everyone to know that no sacrifice, no work that you do, can make you deserving of Heaven. The act of Christ did earn you Heaven. It's His grace alone. It's not by anything you can do. You are a sinner. What right have you to enter the kingdom of God? No, it's only by Christ's actions that we can be saved.
"What is impossible with man is possible with God." (Luke 18:27)
Soli Cristo!
All He asks is that we adhere to His Word.

* Minding that you do the will of God, which is confession and repentance, belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and so on.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Rocks Cry Out

Surely, should mankind cease to give praise unto the Lord God Almighty, even the rocks would cry out. Yes, the trees already reach for Him, the birds sing for Him, the oceans torrent for Him, the wind rushes, the mountains tremble, the clouds dance; all things are made for the glory of God, and give glory they shall. It is not reliant solely upon mankind to glorify God.

Often, we think we are the sole proprietors of praise, practicing worship of Him in exclusivity of ourselves, but we are vain.

God wants our praise, of course, and He desires our love. He craves us more than we crave water in a desert, air under water. He craves intimacy with us. His relationship with each person is like that of a Father to a child who can't even grasp what “I love you” fully means.
But we are not the sole shareholders when it comes to giving Him glory.

When asked by the Pharisees to rebuke His disciples for praising Him as coming “In the name of the Lord,” Jesus said “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
The stones would cry out.
The rocks along the road, the foundations of buildings, the markers for graves; these things would cry out to God, giving Him praise.
And since the dawn of creation, we have not been able to bring enough glory to Him to keep the universe silent.

We were made for fellowship. When God made Adam, He made Eve as well because He saw that it was not good for man to be alone. He made a companion. In everything, we should have fellowship with others.
Where two or three gather in His name, He's there.
To bring confession to fulfillment, it requires a person to confess to.
Even Solomon said it's not good for a person to be on their own because when they fall, they have no one to help them up.

Teams work together in ways that don't make a whole lot of logical sense; the result is greater that the sum of the whole. Three people can get a job done in less than a third of the time it takes one person. It's why we have assembly lines.
So with this thought of a fellowship working together to amass or exude greater glory than the sum of its parts, we should turn our thoughts heavenward. Not necessarily to the place of Heaven, but to the sky, the heavens above.

Suns burn, planets form and circle, and the cosmic ballet ensues.
More than this, they are things crying out for the unquenchable fire of God's glory.
Dust in space sticks together, and with the fellowship that follows, an infinitesimal amount of gravity is displayed, which draws more dust. It piles and combines and grows until it reaches a mass sufficient enough to ignite—and thus a new star is born. A process that, according to physicists, should take billions of years.
But God said “Let there be light,” and there was. It doesn't say over the course of billions of years the sky grew speckled with the light of stars. No, the stars appeared then. At that moment.
The glory of God is so demanding that physics bends to suit it. His voice created the physics in which the dust even exists—it is not a far-fetched thought that certain rules are note so certain when He requires them to take a measure of malleability.

The universe is already crying out for the glory of God, it's a sad fact that we're seldom observant enough to notice.
But this negligibility was spawned at the moment of creation; not by God's negligence, but by the inability of things limited to these few dimensions to quench all that He demands.
The physical realm, this universe, cannot contain Him sufficiently to not be in a constant state of radiance on His behalf.

A prime example would be Moses after receiving the Ten Commandments; his face was glowing with blinding intensity.
Elijah, Moses, and Jesus, at the Transfiguration, were all radiating His glory in the visible spectrum.
Being close enough to someone (as in a level of intimacy), mankind starts to take on certain physical attributes of others (I think there's another post about this).
But being close to God alters the physics of our being. We don't know what He is like, but we know that we'll be like Him (a paraphrase of a verse in 1 John, I think chapter one). We will emanate the same light as they did, because we will be that close to Him, and it will be for His glory, not ours.

Truly, the universe, nature, and all of creation for that matter, already is brimming because there is not sufficient glory to be given to Him in this realm to sate that which His very presence demands, therefore it all burns for His glory.

For Such A Time As This

First, let me explain that this is, quite simply put, grace. All of this, a derivative of grace bestowed on an undeserving (and apparently simple-minded) fool such as myself.

“Grow where you're planted,” is a quote I've read countless times.
Basically, we can be most effective “here” instead of “there.” God will transplant us if/when He desires to have us there (I would say “need,” but how self-righteous would it be to think that God needs me? Is it beyond Him to create another like me, only exceeding in all ways? Certainly not. Therefore I am, by grace, called according to His purpose, and solely out of grace do I become a tool for Him). But where we are is where we're planted so the obvious thing for us is to grow in the pot we're in. When we're ready for a bigger container, He will transplant, but only in the Good Gardener's perfect timing.
We should never desire to be “there,” because “there” will become our “here” when He wills it (in other words, He will put us there).

Here's where I get a might bit personal. I've shared this thought with few, and only close and trusted friends at that.
I've struggled with why I'm here, free, in America. It's legal for me to worship in my own home, to own a Bible, and even to attend fellowship meetings with other believers two or three times a week, depending on the schedule. I'm blessed.
Why this is a struggle for me is because there are millions, perhaps billions, putting themselves in harm's way for the sake of the Gospel. I believe it's around fifty to fifty-five countries that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is illegal to distribute and/or display, and over ten of which are actively hostile to Christianity.

So why me?

Many ask that question when life is going wrong or they're facing persecution, so I am impelled (inwardly from external source; opposing “compelled,” which means outwardly from internal source) to ask why, on their behalf, I am free to exercise my faith. This has plagued me, kept me awake at night, and turned my stomach to consider. A freedom so basic to me is a crime so treacherous to another. Why do I get water from a faucet, in accommodating quantities that I can shower with, water the dog, water plants, and all with clear and cool water, yet another person is in such desperate need for water that they will drink from a stagnant, murky pool—one I'd scarcely even touch, let alone think to drink from?
And I'm complacent in faith sometimes, all the while enjoying (read: overlooking) blessings that countless in the world will never know.
I'd come to the conclusion that it was grace, and grace alone as to why I'm at this locality and this freedom.

I was wrong. And right.
It is grace. But it's also for a reason I can comprehend.

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV)
For such a time as this,” we're told, Esther was put in place as queen. Not to remain silent in the grace bestowed upon her, but to act. Surely, the salvation for the Jewish people would come from somewhere else and at a different time, but we surrender our crown, our glory, and our hope when we give up the place God has put us in.
“For such a time as this,” then, I am blessed with the freedom to pray, to read, to glorify God in my daily life, to congregate with fellow believers in a building designated for the church to gather in. For such a time as this, we're called not to be silent, but to pray night and day that the Lord of the Harvest would send laborers into the field, for the field is quite ready. And who knows? Maybe I'll be one such laborer? All I can say right now is that my duty is to pray that He will send workers, and be open to the idea that I may be one of them in due time.
For such a time as this!

I am not given grace to enjoy this life without regard, but for such a time as this I am given the grace to act in ways that others are restricted.
This phrase given to Esther by her cousin, Mordecai, is relevant not just to the queen of the Jews of the fifth century before Christ, but to each Christian today that is living in luxury while neglecting the grace not of their material blessing but of the calling of Christ.

Spiritual Gifts

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul mentions the gifts of the Spirit. In fact, it probably goes into more detail than any other section of the Bible on such things. It ends with an interesting phrase, “And I will show you a still more excellent way.”
This is followed by 1 Corinthians 13, which, as many know, is the chapter that so eloquently and dutifully defines love by its actions and heart (this being the “more excellent way;” to prophesy without love does no good. Love does good, and it gives fruit to the gifts). He says, in chapter 12, to “earnestly desire the higher gifts.”

As he points out two chapters later, prophecy is the greatest gift because it speaks to people to build them up and to encourage them. I wish to stir in a little bit of my own interpretation of this.

The gifts, he measures by their usefulness to the congregation of believers. Prophecy is better than speaking in tongues unless there is an interpreter. Speaking in tongues is pointless to the congregation if they can't understand what's being said, so the interpreter (also by himself is without use, for he has nothing to perceive) brings to fulfillment the gift of speaking in tongues, and likewise the speaker to the translator.

God created two humans; He obviously has design in nature that two (read: fellowship) are required for the greatest manner of things to come unto fruition.
The second eye gives depth to sight; brings us into the third dimension of perception. Otherwise, we could see that distance exists, but it's incredibly difficult to grasp distance with only one eye open. Likewise, ears; a third would not be beneficial as it would only serve to confuse and disorient. With but one, we'd have to spin in a circle to tell what direction a sound originated from.
I don't know if this is universal, but I can lift over twice as much using both arms as opposed to using only one (for the sake of grip and balance).
So of course the fellowship in the gift creates a new dimension, an entirely new level of Spiritual gift, one that impresses upon the receivers to love due to fellowship. Without love, the gifts are empty and fruitless. But when a gift inclines to love, it will be the greatest, no doubt.
But still, of the solitary gifts, prophecy is the greatest.
Not only is it the most beneficial to the whole, it also has a unique quality about it.

Angels, I believe, can understand the speaking of tongues, and interpret. I think it's a Heavenly language and that it's their first language. All the gifts come from the “same Spirit,” and so are from the Holy Spirit alone. They're not something to throw away nor to disregard.
But angels can be wise, intelligent, faithful, etc. They can manifest all the gifts of the Spirit—except one. The “Heavenly Hosts” cannot glimpse the future, nor can Satan or any of his minions. They are stuck in the “now.” God alone knows the day and the hour in which Christ will return; no one and no thing else could guess or know.
Foreknowledge is a gift wholly manifested by God the Father, and by Him alone.
When we receive the gift of prophecy, of true prophecy that details events yet to occur, we are granted something unique to God, withheld from angels and beasts.
This gift is greater not only because it benefits the whole, but because it is only God who can see what is to come to pass and, in so, the intimacy with God that comes with prophecy would be that which is incomparable because it is solely between God the Father and His child.

With this being said, the intertwining of chapters 12 and 13 must not be overlooked; prophecy, without love, makes us a clanging cymbal; a noise and nothing more.
So, as said in the introduction of chapter 14, “Pursue love.” Just as with the gift of speaking in tongues' requisite of an interpreter, so does any gift require love. Love fulfills these gifts, resolves them, and brings the intercourse of believers (in terms of a body of believers being as one in Spirit) to fruition and wholeness.

In short, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, pursue love, and earnestly desire the Spiritual gifts (namely those that bring the furthered level of fellowship with other believers, and greater unity and intimacy with their Source).

Mission Field

After taking a few days off social media, four posts have been amassed. Here is the first.

I've been thinking about what denotes one to missionary work, but the truest and simplest fact of the matter is that we all are called to spread the Word of God. We each are entreated to offer the gift of salvation that we have come to know that is only accessible through the Gospel; we're each designated to share the Gospel. In that, we're all called to missionary work, some domestically and some to be sent abroad.
So then the question arises of who, exactly, is called to go to foreign lands and spread the “Good News” there? Who is determined to become that specific type of missionary?
The question, though a misdiagnosis when deemed a question, is simple, and when asked (pleaded) answers itself through faith.

“Am I called to proclaim the Gospel in other lands?” is not the question to present. It isn't a question at all we should beckon unto God. It's a request; “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)

Furthermore, the greatest commandment is to love God, the second to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
If we love Him, we'll keep His commandments. If we love Him, we'll not only be willing to do His will, we'll be excited for His call. And we'll love others as ourselves.
If you love someone, you will no doubt save them if you have the chance. Therefore, if you love others, you'll be willing to offer the Gospel should the opportunity arise. Wherever your neighbor is, that is the place of the mission field (yes, the harvest is indeed abounding). It isn't necessarily on a foreign shore, on an exotic island, or in an uncivilized wilderness—it's there, certainly, but it's here as well; wherever you are, the nearest person to you is part of that harvest.
There is a danger in this, as reckless fanaticism will scarcely be inviting to most. It's not the intention to write a handbook for winning souls, because there is no “method” about it, as each person is an individual, and so cannot be melted down into a stereotype we recite words to. Instead, be Christ to them; love them. The opportunity will arise itself in due time.

That's where the mission field is. It's wherever you are, because there you have neighbors, and your neighbor is the harvest.

Regarding whether or not you, whoever may be reading this, is called to be a missionary in a different country, the answer comes when you beg to God to send workers to the harvest field. He will send out workers. You may be one of those workers. Whether or not you are is between you and God. He will find you a harvest field and you'll be sent there. It could be at a local coffee shop or supermarket, or it could be Guatemala.
Some are called to it. Some aren't. Simply put, the ones called to it know they are.

I'm not trying to persuade nor to dissuade any from extra-national missionary outreach. I am only encouraging all who read this to pray that workers be sent to the harvest field, and to be receptive to the idea that they may be sent somewhere they didn't expect.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fruit of The Spirit pt. II

Some time back, i came to a conclusion about the "Fruits of The Spirit," and recently came to realize something supplemental to that post.

What does an apple tree produce?
Seems a rather pointless question; the obvious answer is apples.
A pear tree produces pears, an orange tree produces oranges, oak tree produces acorns, so on and so forth. A tree produces whatever it's assigned to producing. The thing is, though, it doesn't have to be careful about what it produces. It just does.
An apple tree doesn't have to concern itself with producing apples or not producing peaches. It is given unto producing apples by its nature.
When we give up our earthly nature for Christ's (to be grafted in Him), we don't have to be anxious about what we're producing. A Spirit-borne person will produce Spirit-borne fruit. It just happens because our nature changes into the extraordinary, and the "worldly fruit" (that of self-destruction) is no longer part of us.

If you're going around trying to make sure you're doing things that are of the Spirit, being worried or anxious about what kind of fruit your life is producing, here's part of a verse that i've been fascinated with lately; "Be still, and know that I am God."
Settle down. Relax. Take a breath, and focus on that fact. He's God, He will work through you, will cultivate you. And you don't have to be preoccupied with living a holy life because, frankly, neither you nor i are holy--Christ in us is. Christ in you is righteous. Christ in you is the fruit of the Spirit exuded. It's not by you that you produce Spirit-borne fruit, but by the grace of God through Christ.

Only by acknowledging ourselves as unrighteous can humility be concreted.
Thinking we're worthy of anything, even of being called by Christ to follow Him to our death, is vanity and self-righteousness.
By acknowledging that we're unable to produce wholly good things of our own accord is to confess in our heart that we need Christ for anything and everything. And in the realization of our need for Him, we likewise become compelled to live accordingly, as though we're striving to earn the goodness of Christ's effects on our lives. But we must continually remind ourselves, it's not by our works, it's not by our wills. It's by grace alone that we can do anything good, and so we remind ourselves also to live as Christ-like as we can.