Work Out Your Own Salvation

After six months in our new apartment, we needed to move again. This time God provided a house in the country. We lived there for about three years, but were not well off and only had one car. This left my wife alone with our children and no transportation while I worked very long hours away from home, often six days a week. They were not easy days for her, but she gave herself for our children, God blessed her in many amazing ways, and through it we learned that he is our portion.

I was young and not always wise, and our marriage was relatively new. Things did not always go smooth and we had many things to work on. But we prayed together constantly, even when we were upset with one another. We learned that in the Spirit it is impossible to accuse another at the throne of God. In the presence of God, one is literally caused to look inside oneself. This settled many issues that might have spun out of control.

We also submitted every decision about raising our children, dealing in business, or any issue we could not agree on, to the Word of God. In fact we did not consult any other source but the Bible for many years. We also learned the importance of digesting and knowing scripture in order to discern the safety and validity of other sources of information. Again, we were not always right, but because we threw away every “back-up plan” and depended on God completely, the Holy Spirit taught us. He truly made every crooked path straight.

God also began speaking to us about the idols in our hearts, and about the idols in our home. I remember my wife throwing a number of things out of our home after God showed them to her in prayer.

Eventually we started praying about our television, and we read where Jesus said that the light of the body is the eye (Matthew 6:22-23). In those days TV content was tame compared to now, but even then it was already clear that TV was being used to trick Christians into passively participating in murder, rape, divorce, homosexuality and every other act abominable to God.

Then one perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon, as I sat playing the piano with our eldest daughter on my lap, a single cloud in the sky with no rain in it came over our house. Lightening from that cloud struck our house so hard that it destroyed the tube in the TV set, and blew the telephone off the wall. About 20 minutes later, an electric utility service truck passed our house looking for damage to the power lines. We took that event as a cue from God and gladly disposed of that TV at the dump.

About ten years later, on another Saturday afternoon, we decided we were tired of the isolation, and took the family to pick out a new television. After purchasing and loading it into the car, we started to drive home. We did not proceed one mile before the fear of God came down so powerfully on every individual in the car that even our children were begging my wife and I to return the new TV to the store. The salesman looked at us a bit sideways when we told him God made us bring it back, but we were glad to get our money and leave it behind.

Some things God led us into seemed hard at the time, but we quickly saw the benefit, and today there are absolutely no regrets for having obeyed his voice.

Very difficult times were about to come to us. We made some mistakes (as we all do), and the enemy took advantage of that (as he always does), but eventually God helped us miraculously.

And we can say now, that God never once failed to go ahead of us. Other Christians were praying for us, and we got through it all because of the foundational lessons (and others besides) that I have described.

We stood on God’s word, it proved to be the Rock as promised, and today we’re so grateful.

God Is So Good.

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What is Faith?

For a number of reasons I could not attend church until about three weeks after I was born again. By then I had read all four gospels and the Book of Acts in the New Testament. And when that Sunday morning arrived, I expected to see devils cast out and people being healed just like when Jesus and the apostles lived. On top of that I thought we would go home after church and pray all afternoon. I was really excited. I knew what God had done for me, and I could not wait to see him do the same for others.

But even though it is so clearly presented in the Bible, nothing like that happened at the church I attended that morning. I learned later that many Christians do not even believe that God performs miracles anymore. It’s difficult for me to reconcile that.

However God has never let my faith diminish. In fact my level of expectation has increased, and the more time I spend with him, the more the reality of God’s kingdom takes over in my heart and mind.

… I think that kind of faith needs to be explained.

The Bible describes faith as, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and this leads me to conclude that faith is a gift from God. How else can belief in the impossible be explained? How else could faith be described as ‘the substance?’ It is because the Eternal, Almighty God is the God who makes something from nothing… and that is the basis of faith. It has nothing to do with how strong we are, but has everything to do with the fact that the Holy Spirit has the ability to speak to the heart, and literally create faith in God.

There are many religious, mystical and moral disciplines that seek to govern the heart and mind, all claiming to bring peace, healing and order to their follower’s lives. They all require a type of faith and adherence to principles, but ultimately depend on the strength of the individuals that practice them. Have you ever been there? I have.

But Jesus taught that by seeking God, even the most undisciplined of us can find healing, peace and order in life.

First, when Jesus came to earth he demonstrated absolute command over nature, over disease, over demonic powers, and even over death, to prove that the kingdom of God exists and rules supremely. Then, when he left the earth, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit who is also called the Comforter, to “speak comfortably” to everyone that would decide to follow him.

Now the name Comforter, as it is used in the Bible, is perhaps the most beautiful word in all of the English language, because it describes the Holy Spirit’s unique ability to speak to the heart. Our tie to God is portrayed as a relationship of love, like a very tender marriage, and especially the prophet Hosea (Hosea 2:14-16) describes how God lovingly courts his ‘bride’, speaking “comfortably” or ‘to the heart’ of his people. And that literally means that the Holy Spirit tells us how much God loves us, and creates faith and love in our hearts and minds!

We all say that love is the greatest power in the universe, and we all know that we need more of it. We also know intuitively that love could solve every one of mankind’s individual and corporate problems. And when we say that, we are speaking truth and (whether we realize it or not) talking about the kingdom of God. But healing will never happen until we turn to God, because only the Comforter can create the love we need in our hearts.

So I ask you. Why would anyone refuse God’s offer of wholeness and conclude that faith in Jesus is foolish?

I honestly do not know.

Do you?

Do You Want The Power of God?

I hope it is evident as I write about personal experiences, that this is not the story of what a man can do when he is in God. No, mine is the testimony of what God can do when he is in a man. God took my hand and has carried me every step of the way, and I have witnessed so many miracles in the process that now I just have to praise him.

I told you in previous posts about being born again and about the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. These are both vital experiences. You must be born again (there is a natural birth and there is a spiritual birth) because the Father’s true love can only be revealed to you by his Spirit. And you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit because he is sent to give you the power to live right and to battle dark powers.

But there is another person in the Godhead. His name is Jesus. He is the Word, the “stone of stumbling.”

I am going to present you with the words of Jesus that were presented to me just hours after I was born again. Cross this line in the sand, and you will see love and power from God like never before.

The day I was born again I started reading the bible at Matthew’s gospel. I loved what it said. It felt so familiar, and my new heart was a clean slate, ready for God to write his laws there. Maybe that day or the next, I came to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:39, “He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.” Those words literally leapt off the page, going straight to my inner self with perfect clarity. And this may be a foreign concept to our modern minds, but from that moment forward I fully expected to someday die for Jesus and the gospel.

Does that sound crazy? No one would expect that, would they? But that is what Jesus said, and I’ll tell you why he said it. Jesus’ words are the dividing line between those who truly love God, and those who say they love God but in reality love themselves. And if you want the power of God you must love God with everything in you, love God even more than you love yourself, and then be ready to give yourself completely if necessary to serve God and your neighbour.

And Jesus did exactly that. Two thousand years ago, after four hundred years of prophetic silence, while the people of God debated the word of God, the Father sent Jesus into the world to do “among them the works that none other man did,” (John 15:24) rebuking theoretical preaching and false teaching with a display of miraculous power and selfless compassion unequaled in human history.

You see, before time began, Jesus agreed to lay down his life to rid the world of sin and to demonstrate the love of God. And that decision brought the promise of God’s power to him.

And to this day, the revelation of Matthew 10:39 remains the most important ever given to me, because embracing death for the sake of Jesus and the gospel brought the promise of God’s power to me.

Now to believe and follow Jesus in this way is not strange. In fact it is the experience of many Christians in many parts of the world today, who are ready, before the end of time, to lay down their lives for Jesus in a final display of God’s miraculous power and undiminished love for this dying world.

How do I know? Because Jesus said, “and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)

So, do you want God’s power?

First, if you catch yourself debating internally or with anyone else about God’s word, pray and deal with that first. And don’t try to figure out what your cross is, or understand every last detail of what dying for Jesus means. That kind of questioning is just another excuse for not stepping over the line.

Then, don’t be afraid. Let the word of God wash away all of your doubts. Oh… that is true freedom, when Jesus’ words become better to you than life itself.