What Are You Willing to Fight For?

fight

Three times Paul talks with Timothy about fighting the good fight:

This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. (1 Tim. 1:18-19)

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:12)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; (2 Tim. 4:7)

There seems to be a misconception in today’s world, some people are believing that there is nothing worth fighting for. They’ve been taught in a way that has eliminated any sort of challenge so, they expect to be able to find God’s destination for themselves, effortlessly. But history and the bible teaches the opposite.

As a country, there hasn’t been a generation, since before the founding of the United States of America, that hasn’t fought and sacrificed for freedom in some form of battle or war.

  • The war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Gulf War
  • Vietnam
  • Korea
  • WWII
  • WWI
  • Spanish-American War
  • Civil war
  • Mexican American War
  • War of 1812
  • Barbary Wars
  • Revolutionary War
  • French and Indian War

The history of Christianity and the church also shows evidence of battles:

  • Tried by Fire by William Bennett covers the first 1000 years of Christianity
    • He narrates the rise and expansion of Christianity from an obscure regional sect to the established faith of the world’s greatest empire.
    • He shows how the growing religion was shaped and strengthened by imprisonment, torture and martyrdom.
  • The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel covers the history of the United States of America from Christopher Columbus to the end of the Revolutionary War.
    • They narrate how God chose North America to be a new light for persecuted Christians.
    • They focused on the work it took to establish a Christian Nation and how often we took a step backwards before moving forward.

The book of Hebrews gives us examples of fighting and suffering:

For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:32-38)

It is no different for each of us. These are examples that there is no casual stagnation, there is either growth or decline. People continually had to fight to grow. If they settled and became stagnant, it may feel like they just leveled off because they could still see the blessing, but the decline started and it doesn’t take long for things to deteriorate. The decline feels a lot easier than the struggle it takes to grow, so people may not realize the decline they are in, but in the end the regrets are far more substantial. Dr. John C. Maxwell says “Everything worthwhile is uphill”.

So, what if, in order for you to truly live, there is nothing worth having if you are not willing to fight for it?

Before we can answer the question “What are you willing to fight for?” we need to have a deeper look at the word fight:

  • The meaning of it
  • How God used it
  • What God instructs us to fight for

The Greek word used by Paul in the introductory verses is agonidzo, it means struggle, great exertion or effort. It is where we get the word agony. Noah Webster’s dictionary of 1812, defines fight as:

  • To strive or contend for victory, in battle or in single combat; to attempt to defeat, subdue or destroy an enemy, either by blows or weapons; to contend in arms.
  • To act as a soldier
  • To carry on contention; to maintain a struggle for victory over enemies

To strive . . .; to attempt . . .; to struggle. . . sometimes we put in all the effort but when we fight with our own strength there will be one of two results:

  • We don’t fight at all – we allow fear to rule
  • We get fatigued – we do fight but we try to do it on our own

In both cases the enemy wins. But that is not God’s intention, the apostle John tells us that the one in us is greater than the one who is in the world. And Isaiah tells us where our strength comes from.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Now let’s consider how God uses fighting. It isn’t that God wants the struggle, it results from our:

  • Flesh resisting God’s will
  • Mind struggles in understanding what God has told us to do
  • Circumstances
  • People opposing us
  • Devil against every step of faith we take

There are two different sides to a fight, enemies and allies. When Lucifer chose to fight against God he became the enemy. Anytime we become allies with God, Satan will do all he can to prevent or destroy that work.

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

John Eldredge tells us to take it as a compliment, the harder the fight the bigger God’s plan must be.  This is where God can cause the battle to back fire on the enemy. Mark Batterson, in In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day says:

  • Maybe it is one way He can show us His omnipotence.
  • Maybe God allow the odds to be stacked against us so He can reveal more of His glory.
  • Maybe God want to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions.
  • Maybe faith is trusting God no matter how impossible the odds are.
  • Maybe our impossible situations are opportunities to experience a new dimension of God’s glory.
  • Maybe you should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances.

Bruce Wilkinson references it as testing what you believe. It reveals to us what we truly believe about God and his promises. If we have a negative reaction, we do not believe the truth and we will go through the same test over and over until we pass. In some cases, we may never pass.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, know that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5: 3-5)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Last, what does God instruct us to fight for? It boils down to where our faith lies. Neil Anderson says “The truth is, everyone lives by faith. The only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith.  The critical issue is what you believe or who you believe in.”

What the enemy means for our destruction may be our God-given opportunities, and how we react to those will determine our destiny. When we don’t have the guts to step out in faith, then God is robbed of the glory that is rightfully His. We have two choices:

  • We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges.
  • We can chase our God-ordained destiny by seizing the God-ordained opportunity.

We were each created by God with a unique purpose but it will take faith in God to accomplish that purpose. Anything done by faith will require a fight, of some sort, to win. God is calling us to stand up and fight with concentrated effort and stand firm for what He’s promised us.

So, in order to truly live, are you willing to fight . . .

Are you willing to fight for, your relationships, your thought process, your decisions, your actions, realizing that if it doesn’t take effort the enemy doesn’t fear it?

Are you willing to fight through whatever battle is brought before you with faith in God, to accomplish what you were put on this earth for?

The greatest breakthroughs in life happen when you push through fear; when you face your fears, and take a stand for what is right.

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Scourging and Crucifixion

passion of Christ 2

Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. (Matthew 27:26)

Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)

Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. (John 19:1)

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:16)

Easter season is upon us, and the most glorious part is Easter Sunday itself and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but today we will look at what happened on that Friday which today we call Good Friday.

The details of what scourging and crucifixion truly entails seems to be overlooked most of the time. Even though crucifixion is referenced as one of the most horrific forms of death imaginable most of the pictures and figurines we see of Jesus on the cross basically show him in a rather peaceful demeaner and show no evidence of the scourging.

But if we can look at the details of what scourging and crucifixion truly mean maybe we can have a deeper revelation of Jesus and what he did to take all our sins upon himself.

Scourged comes from the Greek work phragello, a word that was one of the most horrific, because of the terrible images that came to mind, and all it entailed.

The mere threat of being scourged would:

  • Calm a crowd
  • Bend the will of the strongest rebel

The scourge consisted of:

  • A short wooden handle
  • Several 18 – 24 inch long straps of leather equipped with
    • Sharp, rugged pieces of metal, wire and glass
    • Jagged fragments of bone

The offender/victim was:

  • Stripped completely naked so his entire flesh would be open and uncovered
  • Bound to a two-foot-high scoring post
    • Hands were tied over his head to a metal ring
    • He was stretched over the post
    • Wrists were securely shackled to the meatal ring to restrain his body movement
    • In this position he couldn’t wiggle or move
  • Just the anticipation of the first blow caused the:
    • Body to grow rigid
    • Muscles to knot
    • Color to drain from his cheeks
    • Lips to draw tight against his teeth
  • The leather straps with the jagged objects extended over the entire back or curled around his torso
  • Each piece of the metal, wire, bone or glass cut deeply into the flesh shredding the muscles
  • The torturers would jerk it back tearing whole pieces of human flesh from the body
  • This was done by more than one person; over and over
  • The back, buttocks, back of the leg, stomach, upper chest and face would be disfigured
  • If not stopped the whip would eventually flay the flesh off his body
  • Experiencing a profuse loss of blood and bodily fluids leads to shock and cardiac arrest.

It is often reference that Jesus suffered 39 lashes since the fortieth usually proved fatal but that was a Jewish law. It was the Romans that did the scourging and they had no limit so it is possible the torturers went well over the forty lashes.

Isaiah prophesied this

… So His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men. (Isaiah 52:14)

It is only after this that Jesus was handed over to be crucified.  The word crucified is the Greek work staurato, it was used to describe those hung up, impaled, or beheaded and then publicly displayed. For the Romans this was reserved for the most serious offenders, including treason and terrorism.

After reaching the place of the crucifixion the following is what happened to the offender/victim:

  • He was laid on the cross beam he carried with his arms outstretched
  • The soldier would drive a five-inch iron nail through each of his wrists into the crossbeam
  • The Romans were so good at this that they were able to strike the nerves in the wrist in such a way that intensified the pain
  • He was then hoisted up by rope until the crossbeam dropped into the upright post.
  • This caused excruciating pain as the hands and wrists were wrenched by the sudden jerking motion
  • This also can cause his arms to be pulled out their sockets.
  • Once he was in place his legs would be positioned so the feet were pointing downward with the soles pressed against the post
  • A long nail what then driven between the bones of the feet firmly enough to prevent it from tearing through the feet
  • In order to breath he had to push himself up by his feet but because of the pain he would eventually collapse back into the hanging position.
  • Added to this for Jesus, was the constant grating of his scourged back as he moved up and down
  • As he pushed up and collapsed eventually his shoulder dislocated and popped out of joint followed by elbow and wrists
  • This caused the arms to be extended up to nine inches longer than normal making it impossible to bring himself upward to breathe
  • The process of asphyxiation began, his heart began to fail, his lungs would collapse and excess fluids would fill the lining of his heart and lungs
  • This is where the blood and water mix that came pouring out Jesus side comes from

Jesus’ totally naked body was humiliating before those watching. His flesh was ripped to shreds; His body was bruised from head to toe; He had to heave His body upward for every breath He breathed; and His nervous system sent constant signals of excruciating pain through His body. Blood drenched Jesus’ face and streamed from His hands, His feet, and from the countless cuts and gaping wounds the scourging had left upon His body.

This was prophesied in Psalm 22

I am poured out like water. And my bones are out of joint; (Psalm 22:14)

                … A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and feet. (Psalm 22:16)

Both the scourging and the crucifixion, in and of themselves, were horrendous forms of punishment and death so to go through both of them is beyond what most of us can comprehend. But that was the price of our sin.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.  But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.  As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.  Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:4-12)

When Jesus died, he took all our sins with him and when He rose all of that sin was washed away. Hopefully this can enlighten you to what Jesus went through for each one of us. Because of that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see us through the blood of Christ, He sees us – cleansed!

(Most of this information can be found on Sparkling Gems by Rick Renner)


Love in Truth

Teton sunset

The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever; Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. (2 John 1-3)

Love. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear or see this word?  Do you relate it to how something or someone makes you feel?  What if, instead of it being what you feel, love is the most important aspect of how you think and the choices you make?

Neuroscientists have discovered that our mind is designed to work through love and that fear is not natural. This research has included the anatomy and physiology of love and fear to the molecular, genetic, and epigenetic level. (Epigenetics tells us that externally-driven changes – like how we think and our reactions to the events of life – will influence the behavior of our genes.) The following is what they have found:

  • Our brains were made to operate in love
  • Fear is a distorted love circuit
  • We have learned to fear

Love and fear are the roots of your emotions. What you feel, your emotions, are components of a thought. Our thoughts make chemicals, those chemicals produce feelings and reactions in our body.

  • We express love or fear through what we first think
  • Then through the choices we make
  • Which dictate what we say or do

Scientist have also discovered that love and fear cannot coexists. At any one conscious moment, we will be operating in one or the other. They can show how a fear mode involves a cycle of chemical and neurological responses that can dominate and dictate the choices we make and the reactions we set in motion. This fits with God’s Word.

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:20)

But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:11)

Even though fear is powerful, operating in love is even more powerful. Science is showing that when we operate in love the brain releases chemicals that literally melts away negative thought patterns. Love literally wipes out fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts our fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

Now that we’ve looked into the science of love let us see how John goes into intricate detail of the choices we have and the power love has in how we think.

John tells us what is and is not God and the effect that has on us.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

John lets us know up front that there is no darkness in God so if we walk in darkness we are lying to ourselves and not practicing the truth God gives us but, if we walk in the Light we are cleansed of all sin.

The words ‘if we’ are used twice, which gives us the option:

  • If we say one thing but walk in darkness we’ve turned away from love and learn fear.
  • If we walk in the Light we chose to live by love.

God knows that Satan will come at us with all sorts of negative probabilities so He draws the line letting us know where He stands. Light vs. darkness; Truth vs. lies; God created our minds to work through Love not fear.

John explains what we will do if we know Him.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

Beloved, let us love on another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God is manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. (1 John 4:7-9)

There are three things we need to notice here:

  • The word ‘if’ is used again telling us we have a choice to keep His commandments
  • When we keep His word the love of God has truly been perfected in us: This explains the benefit when we choose love
  • Love is from God for God is love: It is God’s love that is in us, it is how He designed us, and when we base our thinking on that love, it opens up a new way of living.

The commandment John references above in 1 John 2:3 and 4 goes back to when he wrote his gospel. John then reminds us of what it is again in 1 John 3 and 4.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34)

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one that this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:12-14)

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1 John 4: 21)

God doesn’t command us to love one another so we would feel all warm and fuzzy. He commands us to love one another, expressing the importance of the choices we make.

An overlooked example of His love being expressed is when Jesus walked into the temple courts and saw what was happening. Because of his love for everyone, in truth and Light He stood against the darkness.

In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:14-16)

Another example is how Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites when he said “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” 8 times. He spoke this in love because He knew the Pharisees were believing lies and needed to hear the truth in a way that impacted them.

Both John and Paul describe, in different ways, the importance of love being expressed in our actions. And our actions come from what we first think and the choices we make.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18 NIV)

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

John has explained, previously, what happens if we don’t choose love: we lie and the truth is not in us, we live in darkness and we live in fear. Now they both show us benefits of choosing love.

The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. . . . I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:10, 14b)

Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. . . . We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:3-4, 6)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:6-8a)

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . But all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor thins present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

Every aspect of love in truth and light is the essence of God. And with that essence, God gave us the ability to choose. It is with our minds that we choose to follow God’s love in truth and light. It is with our minds that we choose to follow the lies of Satan. Any thought we believe that doesn’t fit with who God is distorts the love circuits in our brains and fear is created.

There is enough power in love that we can stand up against anything that goes against the truth and light God has given us.

In any battle we become involved in, if we work through love in truth and light we can look at the enemy understanding the darkness and fear that has blinded them. Bringing truth where there has been a lie. Shining the light where darkness has had its hold. All through the power of love, that God gives us, works in us and through us.

That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17b-19)


Hope

Hope deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12 NIV)

It is said that when it feels like a word or sentence stands out, to pay attention, there is a reason for it. Proverbs 13:12 was one of those for me, not only did it stand out as I was reading it but I also had someone approach me at church and speak it to me. I started looking deeper into the meaning behind the verse using the words hope and deferred as the basis.

The Noah Webster Dictionary of 1812 defines hope, in part, this way:

  1. A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
  2. Confidence in a future; the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s promises.

Defer is defined this way:

  • To delay; to put off; to postpone to a future time.

Using those definitions Proverbs 13:12 can be reworded in this way:

“Confidence and expectation of good in a future event, founded on God’s promises, that is delayed or put off makes the heart sick, but a longing, or God’s promise, fulfilled is a tree of life.”

How does that hope work? Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, reports that when we hope, it is an activity of the mind that literally changes the structure of our brain in a positive and normal direction.

  • Our brains are being rewired by our expectation of the future.
  • Imagining a positive future reduces the pain of the past.
  • Hope leads to expectation, which creates peace, excitement, and health in our minds.
  • Faith motivates us to pursue these goals.

She references that faith motivates us, so how does that fit in with promises God has given us? Jesus said that with faith just the size of a mustard seed nothing will be impossible.

And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.  (Matthew 17:20)

Neil Anderson writes: “The truth is, everyone lives by faith. The only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. The critical issue is what you believe or who you believe in.”  In Hebrews hope is used to define faith, and I believe that one word is what separates Neil Anderson’s Christian and non-Christian faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Hope is the core of our faith. Hope is what is created when the Holy Spirit speaks truth into our spirit. He tells us what is yet to come; He gives us the confidence; He gives us the expectation; He gives us the promises. The choice is then up to us to accept and hold on to those promises:

Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:24)

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagle; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ago (Titus 1:2)

With hope being an expectation of God’s promises, Abraham is a perfect example of how hope works.

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. (Romans 4:18-21)

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6: 11-15)

In Chaos and Grace Mark Galli states “The Lord promises to give Abram and Sarai not only a child but offspring in spades. It would seem the longer the promise is delayed and the more doubts Abram and Sarai have, the more the promise grows. At the moment when it is absolutely clear that Abraham had forsaken all attempts to control the divine command and promise – that is when the divine command and promise reveals itself for what it is.”

Have you ever hoped for something but because it didn’t happen when and/or how you wanted, you doubted it or even gave up on it?

  • The delay is never in God’s promise or God’s timing, God’s timing is perfect.
  • The delay may be in our lack of confidence for that promise.
  • The delay may be because we are trying to accomplish the promise in our way, in our own time.

Sometimes our greatest challenge is to believe His Word over our existing conditions. Hope is designed to help us believe, and the sooner we forsake our want of control and give it to God the sooner God’s promise may come into fruition.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)


Quantum Reality

image-of-quantum-mechanics-brain

“If you realize how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.”       –Peace Pilgrim-

Have you ever considered how powerful your thoughts are, and how important it is that you think correctly? Paul explains to us what we should think about.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)

Paul also explains the corruption and death that comes when we think wrongly and the life and truth that comes when we think correctly.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (Romans 8:5-6)

in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:22-24)

I’ve recently read some books by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, in one of them she describes Quantum Physics with a biblical perspective. The way she explains how Quantum Physics fits in the Word of God has absolutely fascinated me, she comments how “science is finally catching up to the Bible”.  It has been so eye opening that I want to share some of it here.

Quantum Physics has many different definitions, The Copenhagen formulation is considered the granddaddy which says: “It is a state that the free choices made by human subjects are a subjectively controllable variable, which simply means that we control our choices”. Here are a few more interesting tidbits:

  • The quantum world challenges physicists’ perception of linear time, orderly space, and fixed realities.
  • Using quantum physics, scientists can describe, predict, and quantify how we choose among a myriad of options.
    • Our consciousness affects the behaviors of subatomic particles
    • Those particles move backward and forward in time and appear in all possible places at once.
    • The universe is connected with transfers of information that are faster that light.
  • Quantum means energy and is 99.9% of who we are.

Quantum Physics with a biblical perspective can be defined as:

  • Free will – God gave us the ability to choose.
  • Paying attention – What is around us? What are we going through?
  • Thinking and choosing – What probabilities are coming to mind? Does it bring peace or does it bring fear? What are we choosing to believe, the truth or the lie?
  • Consequence – Every decision we make has consequences. Whether we choose to believe the truth or the lie it has consequences that relate to what we chose to believe.

Of those distinctions, our thinking and choosing is the most powerful thing in the universe after God.

  • The human brain can conceivably operate at 1027 bits per second; that is more processing power than all the computers in the world put together.
  • Our thinking moves faster than light and has an endless array of possible choices.
  • Our thinking effects everyone around us, whether we know them or not.
    • If we are not doing what God created us to do then even though we may not know each other our thoughts are still negatively affecting each other’s lives.
  • Our thinking affects phenomena, space and time, and turns possibilities into realities.
  • Our thinking collapses all probabilities into one choice.
    • As we make that choice we collapse the probability into actuality.
  • Our thinking has no space-time dimension.
  • Through our thinking our brain becomes what we focus on and how we focus.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful. I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

Thinking and choosing play a central role in who God created us to be. But Satan will come at us with thousands of negative probabilities, but we need to remember that those probabilities have no power.

  • It only becomes powerful when we believe the lie and collapse the probability into actuality.
  • It is with our thinking that we believe or reject the lies of the enemy.
  • It is with our thinking that we decide to follow God.

God’s Word gives us direction on the importance of our choices and what we focus on.

I Call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deut. 30: 19)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

With our thinking being so powerful how do we use it in a way that will not only benefit ourselves but everyone around us? If you remember I said that our thoughts and choices are the most powerful thing in the universe after God. So with our free will how does God fit into our thinking? With what I gathered in Dr. Leaf’s books I would say there are two ways:

  • First life is actually a spiritual force and each of us is a spirit, having a soul (or our mind) living in a body. The soul gives the spirit expression and when our spirit, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, controls our soul then we achieve thinking the way God designed us to.
  • Second is how unpredictability is the norm and therefore requires faith or will bring fear. We will never be 100% accurate in predicting what another person is thinking but God knows. Our misunderstanding of another person is an example of how Satan uses probabilities against us. So God asks us to trust him, he know what is at the heart of everything.

Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6)

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Prov. 16:9)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Joshua 1:9)

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. (Eph. 1:11)

In conclusion I think Colossians 3:2 wraps it up well.

Set you mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts and see what it is you can do that no one else can.


Revelation

Revelation 1

 

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13 NIV)

Because the Holy Spirit has come, we can now know all the things God has planned and prepared for us! When the Holy Spirit lifts the cover that has blocked our view of God’s plans, the eyes of our spirit suddenly see and perceive the truths. According to Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems this is what the Bible calls a revelation. In one instant, everything comes into clear view, answering all our questions and giving us the direction we’ve been seeking for a long time.

Have you ever received a word from God then suddenly – It seemed like all hell broke loose! Circumstances seem to directly challenge or assault that word you just received.

  • Be encouraged!!
  • You must be on the right track!

This is probably the clearest signal that we’ve received a real word from God. A spiritual fight usually occurs when we’ve been enlightened to the plan God has for your life. Spiritual conflicts that accompany a word of divine direction are normally HUGE! The devil is terribly concerned about what will happen if we act on what God has revealed to us. God’s Word warns us that when we receive a word from the Lord, it may throw us into one of the greatest challenges of our life!

But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of suffering, (Heb. 10:32 NASB)

In a previous blog I talked about how God refines us, how our faith is tested to see what we truly believe. If we take a stance of faith in response to a word God gives us the devil will do everything he can to talk us out of doing what God has called us to do.

  • Negative thoughts and accusations will come against our mind
  • The devil will try and use people and circumstances to thwart the plan

When we believe nothing significant can happen through us, it says more about our belief in God than it does about ourselves.

Our choice is whether we choose to believe the truth in the revelation God gave us or in the lies Satan puts in front of us. Not every thought that comes to our mind is our own.

  • Some are words of truth given to us from the Holy Spirit
  • Some are lies given to us from the enemy.
  • They become our own only when we choose to believe it.

We can choose to give the enemy place in our minds and emotions, or we can choose to walk in the Spirit. The choice is not always easy because the lie can sometimes feel more real than the truth.  But if God has spoken we must continue responding to that word until it comes to pass. One of the most difficult things to do is to wait on the Lord. However, waiting reflects our absolute dependence on Him.

If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. (Prov. 29:18a MSG)

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He not said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Num. 23:19 NASB)

What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. (Isa. 46:11)

God says that if He lets us know what He is about to do, it is as good as done – He Himself will bring it to pass. When God speaks, He guarantees it will happen. What He shows us will be critical when the devil comes against us.

  • We will have to believe God is who He says He is.
  • We will have to believe God can do what He says He will do.
  • We will have to adjust your thinking in light of this belief.

When God declares something to be true, let’s believe him and live according to that truth. Let’s not surrender to the enemy’s vicious lies in our minds. Regardless of how much resistance he tries to bring against us, let’s not dare back up on that word God gave us! If we hadn’t received a true word from the Lord, there would be nothing for the devil to challenge! The fight we face is the greatest evidence we’re right on track! Just hang on, and don’t give up! We are clearly headed in the right direction!

 


Refining

Refining

God refines us.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:6-7)

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we became a new creation. But there may be aspects of our old self that we still believe. A statement I believe I heard from Beth Moore is how God burns the fake right out of us.

God will test our faith. In so doing he tests what we believe in our heart.

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. Proverbs 17:3

Circumstances we come across will bring out parts of us that are out of balance with who God created us to be.

  • God breaks us where we need to be broken.
  • He fractures the pride and lust and anger in our lives, but He does it to remodel us into His image.
  • Once we heal, we end up stronger that we were to begin with.

If we keep in step with the Spirit, God is going to make sure we get where He wants us to go. He is always working behind the scenes, engineering our circumstances and setting us up for success.

  • Where have you been broken?
  • What adverse circumstances are you facing?
  • Do you have any overwhelming problems?

Maybe God is remodeling you. Maybe God is increasing your capacity via adversity.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1Peter 4:12-13)

When we find ourselves in those challenging circumstances, we need to know that God is ordering our footsteps. We can have a sense of destiny because we know that God has considered every contingency in our life, and He always has our best interest at heart. When the test comes, it is always about God and what we believe about him.

The Bible uses the refining of metals as a comparison to how God refines us. Here is an example of a silversmith:

  • The silversmith, held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that, in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.

Think about God holding us in such a hot spot – He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.

  • The silversmith was asked if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. For if the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
  • The silversmith was asked, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled and answered, “Oh, that’s the easy part – when I see my image reflected in it.”

Today, if you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep His hand on you and watch over you until He sees His image come out.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

If there was a better way, God would have taken it. God does not put us through something that he doesn’t give us the power to overcome.

  • That means getting ourselves in tune with the Holy Spirit. We have to listen to His still, small voice prompting us and believe that He is setting us up for success.
  • Agreeing with God’s words to us and about us – and seeing ourselves as he has called us – will help us accomplish what he will require of us.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

God expects us to pass the test. He always teaches us before He tests us. Those that know God is bigger and more powerful than any problem thrive in the toughest circumstances because they know that impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles.

When we have our eyes on the test we always fail the test. If we have a negative reaction to the test, we do not believe the truth. Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances. The link of all the tests of faith are based upon whether or not we believe what God has promised.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

Opportunities often look like insurmountable obstacles. So, if we want to take advantage of these opportunities, we have to learn to see problems a new way – God’s way. Then our biggest problems may just start looking like our greatest opportunities.

Think of every opportunity as a gift from God. What we do with that opportunity is our gift to God.


Joshua Motes

Igniting Freedom

With My Whole Heart

Spiritual Warfare