Daily Archives: June 19, 2014

Questions about God: What Does It Mean that God Is with Us?

 

It is good to know that God is omnipresent (everywhere at one time)—it is one of His attributes. Coinciding with His omnipresence are the attributes of omniscience (all knowledge) and omnipotence (all power). These concepts are a bit much for us humans to comprehend, but God knows that, too (Isaiah 55:8). God fills His creation and is universally present in person, in understanding, and in power at all times. “He is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).

On a more personal level, God is with all believers today in that His Holy Spirit indwells us. This indwelling can only happen if one is born again (John 3:3). First John 5:11–12 tells us it is Jesus who indwells us: “This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” And Jesus said the Father comes to abide with us: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).

In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “Christ lives in me.” Then in 3:5 he says that God has given us His Spirit. In verses 26–27, he says that believers are “baptized into Christ” and are “clothed” with Christ. (God is as close as our clothing!) Galatians 5 then discusses the fruit of the Spirit and states in verse 25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” With many such verses as these, it is clear that God is in three Persons and that all Three dwell in all born-again believers—at all times (Matthew 28:20).

One of Jesus’ titles is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). When Jesus came into this world, He was truly, literally “God with us.” Because God is with us, we know that we will never be separated from His love (Romans 8:38–39). God’s presence assures us that we can accomplish His will for us (1 Chronicles 22:17–19). God’s presence overcomes our fear, worry, and dissatisfaction (Hebrews 13:5).

The Holy Spirit in us is always praying for us (Romans 8:26). We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which means we should maintain an attitude of prayer and receptiveness in order to verbalize prayer to God whenever He leads. He is near to His children, attentive to their cry (Psalm 34:15).

We should verify that we are indeed walking with the Lord our God by often consulting His Word, fellowshipping with other believers, and seeking godly counsel from pastors, Christian counselors, and Christian friends. We should have the attitude that we are at all times in ministry with the Lord. The Holy Spirit will lead us. We will see God at work. God is alive, and He is near. He wants to communicate and commune with us. That is the joy of the Christian life.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Church: What Is the Difference between Praise and Worship?

 

Understanding the difference between praise and worship can bring a new depth to the way we honor the Lord. Throughout the Bible, the commands to “praise the Lord” are too numerous to mention. Angels and the heavenly hosts are commanded to praise the Lord (Psalm 89:5; 103:20; 148:2). All inhabitants of the earth are instructed to praise the Lord (Psalm 138:4; Romans 15:11). We can praise Him with singing (Isaiah 12:5; Psalm 9:11), with shouting (Psalm 33:1; 98:4), with the dance (Psalm 150:4), and with musical instruments (1 Chronicles 13:8; Psalm 108:2; 150:3–5).

Praise is the joyful recounting of all God has done for us. It is closely intertwined with thanksgiving as we offer back to God appreciation for His mighty works on our behalf. Praise is universal and can be applied to other relationships as well. We can praise our family, friends, boss, or paperboy. Praise does not require anything of us. It is merely the truthful acknowledgment of the righteous acts of another. Since God has done many wonderful deeds, He is worthy of praise (Psalm 18:3).

Worship, however, comes from a different place within our spirits. Worship should be reserved for God alone (Luke 4:8). Worship is the art of losing self in the adoration of another. Praise can be a part of worship, but worship goes beyond praise. Praise is easy; worship is not. Worship gets to the heart of who we are. To truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before God, surrender every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle, not just an occasional activity. Jesus said the Father is seeking those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).

In Scripture, praise is usually presented as boisterous, joyful, and uninhibited. God invites praise of all kinds from His creation. Jesus said that if people don’t praise God, even the “stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). When the Bible mentions worship, however, the tone changes. We read verses like, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9). And, “Come let us worship and bow down” (Psalm 95:6). Often, worship is coupled with the act of bowing or kneeling, which shows humility and contrition (2 Chronicles 29:28; Hebrews 11:21; Revelation 19:10). It is through true worship that we invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us, convict us, and comfort us. Through worship, we realign our priorities with God’s and acknowledge Him once more as the rightful Lord of our lives.

Just as praise is intertwined with thanksgiving, worship is intertwined with surrender. It is impossible to worship God and anything else at the same time (Luke 4:8). The physical acts often associated with worship—bowing, kneeling, lifting hands—help to create the necessary attitude of humility required for real worship. Wise worship leaders know how to structure a worship service to allow participants to both praise and worship the Lord. Often, services begin with joyous praise songs and transition to a quieter, more introspective opportunity for worship.

Worship is an attitude of the heart. A person can go through the outward motions and not be worshiping (Psalm 51:16–17; Matthew 6:5–6). God sees the heart, and He desires and deserves sincere, heartfelt praise and worship.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Salvation: What Is a Faith Conversion? What Does It Mean to Be Converted?

 

To convert is to change from one character, type, or purpose to another. Our bodies convert food into energy. We can convert inches to centimeters, pounds to kilograms, and dollars to euros. Our hearts can undergo similar conversions. We can change direction morally, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are what we think (Proverbs 23:7). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “converted” means “to turn back or return.” It is also translated “restore,” as in Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul.” The picture the Bible paints of the word convert is to return to what we were initially created to be.

Since the fall of mankind, every human has been born with a sin nature. Our natural tendency is to please ourselves rather than God. Our human attempts to be good fall far short of the perfection of God (Romans 3:10, 23; Isaiah 53:6). We cannot please God through our own efforts and are destined for eternal separation from Him (Romans 6:23, 8:8; John 3:16–18); we cannot convert ourselves. That’s why Jesus came to earth, died in our place, and rose again to conquer death and sin (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). He took the punishment our sin deserves. He offers to trade His perfection for our imperfection so that we can be seen as righteous before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

When we admit our helplessness apart from Christ, we are ready to embrace Him as Savior and Lord (Acts 3:19; Romans 10:9). Conversion happens when we trade our old sin nature for the new nature Christ provides. When we come to Him humbly, confess our sin, turn away from it, and seek His ways, our entire perspective changes. The Holy Spirit moves into our spirits and transforms our entire way of life (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 6:19–20). We are converted—restored to the relationship God intended us to have with Him. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This is more than a human attempt to “clean up your act.” It is a wholesale change of direction. You were going east; now you are going west. Conversion changes the human heart from sinful to righteous, from hell-bound to heaven-bound.

The Bible has many examples of people who were converted by the grace of God. The Christian-hating Saul became Paul, who devoted the rest of his life to serving the church he once tried to destroy (1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:7–8). The impetuous and condemning John was transformed into the “apostle of love” (see 1 John 4:7–21). The demoniac of Gerasene, after meeting Jesus, was “dressed and in his right mind” and begging to follow Jesus (Mark 5:15–18). The Holy Spirit has lost none of His power. Modern conversion stories include the amazing transformations of John Newton, Mel Trotter, David Berkowitz, and Chuck Colson.

This is all accomplished through faith. Faith is placing your whole life into the hands of Someone your spirit recognizes but your physical senses cannot confirm (Hebrews 11:1). Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” We are saved from our old sin nature and the penalty of that sin through faith in Jesus Christ. But even that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8–9). God gives us the faith to believe in Him, but we must receive it and act on it. Exercising that gift of faith results in conversion.

Conversion begins in the heart and radiates outward to affect everything we think, say, or do (James 2:26). Merely stating that conversion has occurred does not make it so. Real conversion is obvious as a person switches direction, changes allegiance and moves from self-worship to God-worship. As the heart is transformed, the actions follow until the entire life has been converted from sin-filled to God-honoring (Romans 6:6–7).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Don’t Let False Security Dupe You

 

I am so easily duped.

I’ll admit it, it’s true. I am ridiculously gullible. While getting to know my fiancé’s family at the start of our relationship, I recall his father telling me a number of jokes…that I didn’t realize were jokes. The good news is, I’ve learned. And now I can much more readily discern the joking when it happens. No more gullibility for me!

grass withers flower fadesSomething I’ve realized lately is how, during favorable circumstances, I so quickly believe that I have control over my own life. I personally struggle with a host of different health issues, none of which have been solved. On days when my body feels stronger and better than normal, I find myself living with a false sense of pride that did not so readily exist within my heart during the painful, uncomfortable hours of weakness. Believe me, during those “off days” I find myself desperately clinging to the Lord for help, hope and security.

As sinful human beings, it doesn’t take much for us to be duped into believing we somehow have our lives under control. There are multiple areas of false security where we place our hope, thinking, “Yes, this will make me happy…if I only had my health, I would be at peace.” We put our security and comfort in worldly pleasures and factors, and it’s smooth sailing – until life doesn’t go our way, and we realize our security wasn’t actually security at all. We’ve been duped.

Let’s not be duped, friends. We need to be aware of the areas that cause us to somehow believe we are in control of our own lives, and call them out for the falsities they are.

Areas of False Security

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9 Differences Between Legal Obedience and Gospel Obedience

 

Duty can be a dirty word in the Christian world these days. It is certainly a hot topic. But some advice from a 350-year-old book may help sort out some of the controversy over what is legalism and what is Gospel application in counseling and Christian maturity. Continue reading →

Authentic Fire Review Chapter 7

Authentic Fire Review Chapter 7

Authentic Fire is Dr. Michael Brown’s book-length response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Because of the importance of this debate, TheCripplegate is using every Thursday to respond chapter-by-chapter to Authentic Fire. You can find an overview of this debate, as well as links to the reviews for each chapter by clicking here.

THE ISLAMIZING OF AMERICA’S CHURCHES HOW SOME PASTORS ARE SELLING OUT THE FAITH

Turk-statement

This is an excellent article for anyone who is concerned about how the ever-shifting seekermergent church model is Islamizing their congregants. For those who are new here and whose churches follow the Willow Creek Association or Saddleback model, this will be especially disturbing. Many of you are just now working up the courage to peek behind the curtain to see what the enemy has been up to, and we welcome you.

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The late, great planet “church”

Screen shot 2014-06-18 at 8.50.35 AMToday we are talking about the late, great planet “church,” which is no longer set apart and holy, but instead has moved toward entertainment-centered narcissism, just like the rest of the world.  We thought we’d talk with a pastor about some of the trends we’re all seeing, and what if anything we can do as Christians to help be a part of the solution.

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Five Questions for Christians Who Believe the Bible Supports Gay Marriage

So you’ve become convinced that the Bible supports gay marriage. You’ve studied the issue, read some books, looked at the relevant Bible passages and concluded that Scripture does not prohibit same-sex intercourse so long as it takes place in the context of a loving, monogamous, lifelong covenanted relationship. You still love Jesus. You still believe the Bible. In fact, you would argue that it’s because you love Jesus and because you believe the Bible that you now embrace gay marriage as a God-sanctioned good.

As far as you are concerned, you haven’t rejected your evangelical faith. You haven’t turned your back on God. You haven’t become a moral relativist. You’ve never suggested anything goes when it comes to sexual behavior. In most things, you tend to be quite conservative. You affirm the family, and you believe in the permanence of marriage. But now you’ve simply come to the conclusion that two men or two women should be able to enter into the institution of marriage–both as a legal right and as a biblically faithful expression of one’s sexuality.

Setting aside the issue of biblical interpretation for the moment, let me ask five questions.

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The Man Behind the Curtain

In the movie the Wizard of Oz, the great and powerful wizard turns out to be a little man behind a curtain. Pulling levers, pushing buttons, magnifying words with a microphone, and broadcasting a distorted and intimidating image on a screen… the wizard of Oz is revealed as a fraud. He is just an ordinary man who, through unusual circumstances, finds himself in a magical land where others eagerly proclaimed him “leader.”

As a Christian conciliator working in church conflict, I occasionally encounter “wizards.”

“Wizards” are church leaders who control, intimidate, and manipulate others. Just like the wizard in Oz who sent Dorothy and her friends on a hazardous journey to retrieve the witch’s broomstick, a ploy designed to relieve himself of the responsibility of loving leadership, these real-life wizards can contribute to others finding themselves in spiritual, emotional, and relational danger. How? Through fear.

At a time when the news and the blogosphere is filled with painful stories of church conflict, believers are not left without clear direction from Scripture. A God-honoring response will always be a loving one.

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The Coming Evangelical Divide

The evangelical movement is about to divide.

Nothing could be clearer.

It’s true that we have often disagreed over things like church government, views of the Second Coming, baptism, lifestyle habits, worship style and musical preference. But those differences, though deeply felt, were intramural debates over secondary issues.

This time we are going to divide over a primary issue.

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Beth Moore ‘Commissions’ 11,000 Women at Unwrap the Bible Conference

 

The teachings of Beth Moore have been a frequent topic of discussion here at Do Not Be Surprised. This is not due to any animosity harbored toward Moore, but rather the topic has been approached so often out of intense concern for Moore and her many admirers and followers. With every one of these discussions, the primary goal has been to engage Beth Moore’s teachings, and not the person of Beth Moore herself.

Concern has been expressed over Moore’s blatant disobedience to the Word of God as she usurps the role of teacher and willingly teaches mixed audiences despite the commands of 1 Timothy 3:11–12. Several articles also have been featured here that engage the erroneous, and oftentimes dangerous, biblical teachings of Moore. In short, Beth Moore has demonstrated time and again that she cannot properly handle the biblical text. And yet, she is a mentor and teacher to many women who look to her leadership and knowledge as a foundation for their own spiritual walk.

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End Times Prophecy Headlines: June 19, 2014

Albert Mohler Blog: “Baptist Polity and the Integrity of the Southern Baptist Convention”

In his recent Blog Essay,”Baptist Polity and the Integrity of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. examines how the Southern Baptist Convention, its associations, and its churches must respond to current challenges from the moral revolution in a manner consistent with Baptist polity. Mohler explains,

“In this generation, the challenge faced by all denominations and fellowships of churches will be what to do with churches that deviate from [Scripture’s] clear teaching and take any action to deny or to minimize those convictions.”

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25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources

War, famine, mass extinctions and devastating plagues – all of these are coming unless some kind of miraculous solution is found to the world’s rapidly growing water crisis. By the year 2030, the global demand for water will exceed the global supply of water by an astounding 40 percent according to one very disturbing U.S. government report. As you read this article, lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers are steadily drying up all over the planet. The lack of global water could potentially be enough to bring about a worldwide economic collapse all by itself if nothing is done because no society can function without water. Just try to live a single day without using any water some time. You will quickly realize how difficult it is. Fresh water is the single most important natural resource on the planet, and we are very rapidly running out of it. The following are 25 shocking facts about the Earth’s dwindling water resources that everyone should know… (Read More….)

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