Thursday, September 29, 2011

Manning Up


I have a friend who is going thru lost work,money is low, him and wife are not together any more. He has low self esteem, depression, does not like himself anymore, he hates himself cause he messed up his life big time. He owes so much money they what to garnish his wages they want to take him to court. I talked with him and we prayed over the situation. He has lost everything. Can't seem to be happy and no joy anymore. He has mention suicide. He tells me he can't deal with the world anymore. All he wants is to get is life back some how. He says he plays lotto games so he hopes to win big so he can pay off his debts. He stays home does not want to go out, he says he gets a few hours of sleep at night.He cry's himself to sleep, he broke down when we were talking. He does not eat regular. All he has is himself. What can he do before its to late? thanks

Wow, sounds like a difficult battle this friend is in. Christ's forgiveness absolves us from the guilt of the past and he gives us freedom from condemnation. It seems the enemy of this man's soul - the devil- is really beating him up. Once the enemy can get a person into the cycle of thinking that it is all his fault ( it is unlikely to be true that it is all his fault) then there is a sense of unworthiness and hopelessness that accompany the mind pounding that the temptor is giving him. There are 3 life changing truths that every person needs to come to grips with as a follower of Jesus that will set this friend free.

1.  The Past is the past- Once confessed before God, your sins are forgiven. Period. Excuse my crude analogy here but there is no reason to dig around in the toilet- that was yesterdays meal. When we allow our thinking to go back and dig around in the past we are likely to let the past be our present.

2.  There is a future that God has for you. As long as you continue to let the past bind your mind you will not be able to make the changes necessary to embrace the future. Forgiving yourself, may be a key component in this growth step. Jer 29.11f Let your hope come alive and embrace the good things in the future. Fight discouragment actively and step out in faith. Don't wait for the feelings to change. Learn to dream God's dreams after him.

3.   The present should be used to grow in Jesus. Read the Word. Believe the Hope that he brings to you. Walk by faith. Avoid the Shame cycle by living your life in a such a way as to be done with the past. Ask forgiveness from those you hurt, and move on. Oh, and there is a devil already so quit beating yourself up, he is good at his job and doesn't need your help.

Simple? yes... but not easy. I will pray for your friend in the heat of the battle. Tell him I said... "Don't give up, Man up!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Falling under the Power

 A person recently asked me "Pastor, is there Biblical precedence for being slain in the Spirit?"

I am not sure where the term Slain in the Spirit comes from. Perhaps from Maria B. Woodworth-Etter 1885. The Muncie, Indiana Daily News (Sept 25,1885) tells of "Dozens lying around pale and unconscious, rigid, and lifeless as though in death." She called this the "slaying power of God". In recent days this seems to be the trend in some evangelistic meetings. A pastor or evangelist when praying over people has someone laying on hands while praying over someone. Slaying is a strong term that initiates death. There are a few people in the Bible that have been slain by God... Ananias and Sapphira come to mind (Acts 5)! But certainly this is not what people have in mind. There are numerous instances of people falling under the power of God in the Scripture. The Apostle Paul fell at the revelation of Jesus as he was on his way to arrest and persecute the church (Acts 9.3-4) In this passage Paul falls prostrate at the overwhelming presence of the risen Christ. According to Acts 26 so did the rest of those with him. John the Apostle also "fell at His feet as dead" in Rev. 1.17. Daniel (10.4ff) fell under the power of God. In these circumstances the presence of God overwhelmed the physical body and emotions of the individual. It is not unthinkable that the finite would be overwhelmed by the infinite! These experiences accompanied the revivals of John Wesley, Peter Cartwright, Charles Finney and George Whitefield. These men were not Charismatic or Pentecostal per se but had these dramatic psychophysical phenomena in their services.

Yet, increasingly, what we see is a preacher trying to make it happen as if it was the sign of the anointing of God. While the power of God is a sign of the Holy Spirit's anointing it nowhere in the NT manifested itself in this way. The anointing of God came upon men and women and initiated inspired speech and praise, but no "falling out". We need not seek the falling down as an experience to be sought. When and if it ever happens to us, it is a sign of human frailty and weakness. Neither is there any biblical cause or warrant for pushing someone (it likely will offend them and scandalize those watching) or jerking them while you pray for them. The Holy Spirit doesn't need our help to overwhelm the individual. God is able to meet needs, answer prayers, cast out devils, and heal the sick with out resorting to gimmicks.

But we are called to believe in the supernatural power of the Spirit to meet these fantastic and numerous needs that surround us. We are called to seek the Lord in authentic and fervent prayer. Seeking expereince for the sake of expereince is misguided. Seeking experiences that do not measure up to the Bible trivializes the real purpose of God. And seeking the Lord is a highly subjective and personal act of devotion. I have, at times, been overwhelmed by the power of the Spirit in times of deep intercession and prayer. Sometimes in tears, sometimes laying prostrate on the floor, sometimes in joyful exuberance. But the experience of being overwhelmed is merely a side effect of the act of pursuing God. And pursuing Him and surrendering to his agenda are all that matters. He will answer when we begin to seek him and not the side experiences. As one preacher put it, "It doesn't matter how hard you fall down or how high you jump... only that you walk right when you leave."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Handling Finances Faithfully

The Bible offers a lot of advice on how to handle your finances. running yoru checkbook God's way insures order and blessing over your finances. Below are some notes from a previous study on Stewardship.

Biblical Stewardship

I. Stewardship recognizes God is the source (and owner) of it all Luke 16.19-31; Lev 27; Ps 24.1Stewardship means that all "our" money really belongs to God and that he will hold us accountable as managers of his supply. Consider Psalme 24.1ff all that the earth contains is the Lords. Leviticus 27 speaks of tithing as more than a matter of giving to support the local ministry, it is a declaration of ownership. By giving to God the tenth portion (the first among ten) we declare God's ownership of all we have.

II. Stewardship requires Discipline in Spending Mt 25.14-30;Few of us have more than enough (though we are better off than we sometimes admit!) clothes, cars, homes, etc. But by the standards in the world we are rich. Disciplining ourselves is not something that Americans are good at but we must learn to say "no" to the wants we wrestle with. If we discipline ourselves with things like coupons, taking advantage of sales, and buying in quantity we will have more than enough.
III. Stewardship realizes that money can be used to build your faith Lk 16.10-13; 1 Tim 5.8; Mt 6.21; Pr 13.11; Pr 28.19f
Finances are a great place to buidl your faith. Your wallet is sometimes attached to your heart, when we lack often it is a heart problem that drives that hardship. Knowing Christ  by faith we must endeavor to expand our practical faith by living out the commands and disciplines of faithful stewardship. Since everything in the kingdom is by faith- it is not unthinkable that God would use money – or that lack of it- to stretch your faith

IV. Stewardship rejects Debt and borrowing money Ps 37.21 Mt 22.21; James 4.13-14; Luke 14.28-30; Pr 22.7; Rom 13.8
Danger- Debt is a poison that drags down the soul and the spirit. When we have a debt – as righteous people we are to pay it off – as testimony to God. We should be careful to not incur debts that do not appreciate. Most do not. Scripture teaches that we shouldn’t presume upon tomorrows supply- James 4.  We need to keep ourselves free of financial obligations- rather than be enslaved by the debts

V. Stewardship rejoices in Saving Pr 6.6-11; 21.20; 30.24f; 31.16
This is a heritage you can leave to your children! Scripture tells us to work while we have the energy- Go to the ant- store in the summer. You can take advantage of situations that come your way- without encumbering yourself in interest. I try to live by the 80/10/10 rule. Live off of 80%; give 10% to God ; Save 10% for the future

VI. Stewardship relishes giving 1 Cor 16.2; Ps 24.1 Mt 6.19-21; Gal 2.10; James 1.27; Pr 3.9-10; 2 Cor 8. 3-9
The Bible says so much about this that I will leave you to search it out completely. The scriptures above challenge us to  a regular giving pattern.. Biblical Giving 2 Cor 8.3-9 consists of
i. Regular weekly giving
ii. Joyful giving
iii. Proportional giving ie., 10% tithe
iv. Worshipful giving
v. Expectant giving

VII. Stewardship reaches beyond stuff to God for satisfaction Phil 4.19; Luke 12.15
Luke 12.15 says  "a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions"  to be truly satisfied we have to seek the Lord. Phil 4.19 tells us that the deepest security and significance come from God.. Be careful to seek the face and trust the hand of God (instead of seeking the hand…)