God’s Criteria for Bragging is about Understanding and Knowing God. We start with Studying the Bible.
In Part 1, we read Jeremiah 9:23-24 where the Lord tells us not to talk about everything the world usually places high esteem on: intelligence, power and money. Rather God suggests a new criteria. “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”
God’s new criteria is based on knowing and understanding the Lord God Almighty. How much do we understand God? How much do we know God? Now, that’s a challenge. Do I understand and know God better than I did a year ago? I hope so. I work at dialoguing with God in prayer. I take time to read His word every day. But even doing this, I see new things in scripture that I thought I had read or memorized years ago, but the meaning didn’t penetrate my heart till a “now” moment. It’s an ongoing process. At some point, we will all have our Appointment with God. For some, it might feel like a global SAT test for a class they never took. We will be responsible for what God has brought across our path. Maybe we should take more time to nurture God’s criteria points. It begins with reading the Bible to learn about Him. It continues with a dialogue in prayer.
Revival Will Bring the Fathers’ Hearts to Love their Aborted Children
Good people have chosen to have abortions in the past for all kinds of reasons. Most of the attention has always focused on the woman. It’s known that abortions have had their impact on woman years and years after the abortion takes place. Women seem to recognize that the fetus given up was a child at some level. Even if a doctor calls it tissue, it’s a very little person designed by God.
Every child has two parents, not just one. Most of the genealogies in scripture talk about a man begetting a child. Yet, in societies with abortion, men who have let women make the decisions about an abortion are still considered the father by God’s design. How many men have grieved the loss of a fetus, or even admitted that it was their child? Few. Even the laws to make abortion illegal have always focused on punishing the woman while the man walks away completely free for the same consensual act.
Healing comes when someone comes into God’s opinion of sin and confesses their sins. God hears a person’s heartfelt confession and repentance. They He forgives the sin and cleanses the person from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. Letting Jesus’ blood come and cleanse us of our sins is what brings healing and wholeness to our lives. We walk forward in mercy, forgiven by God.
When revival comes, I believe God will convict men and women’s hearts for the sin of abortion. This will be part of turning the hearts of the fathers toward their children that God talks about in Malachi 4: 5-6. Some men may not even know they fathered a child. God knows. Some men will care. Some men will not care. God convicts our hearts so that we can come and receive forgiveness. Repenting means turning and not continuing to go in the same direction. Revival is going to bring both men and women before the cross to ask for and receive forgiveness. Given the statistics in America of abortions, revival meetings could be large and widespread. This will start to heal the hearts in our nation. It will bring physical healing to some. And, it will bring healing to our land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
See Also The Grief of the Unknown Dad & Bringing Fathers’ Hearts to their Children 2
Many people sweep sins under the rug, which is never quite big enough
In Part 1 of How to Deal with Sin we looked at the first step of facing the truth about what God calls sin. We ask the Holy Spirit to come and show us (not the whole world) what we need to address before God.
Once we face truth about our sin, we can go to God with it in repentance. He is not surprised by our sin. He already knows about it. He will not do anything about it until we ask Him to. When we desire to “come clean,” we can tell him about it. We desire resolution. God has already provided a solution for the resolution in the work of the Jesus who died on a cross for our sins. We give our sin to Jesus by laying it at the foot of the cross where His innocent blood drips on our stuff. In this moment, we enter into the diving exchange. We lay before Jesus our sin and we receive the fullness of forgiveness.
To fully repent, we get up and turn to leave it at the cross and return to live out our lives. Repentance is about turning and sinning no more. We learn this from the words of Jesus to the woman caught in the act of adultery. “…I do not condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11. In John 5:14 Jesus heals a man and says, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Continued in How to Deal with Sin – Part 3
Many people sweep sins under the rug, which is never quite big enough
Many people (and families) prefer to deal with sin by lifting the rug up, sweeping the incident under the rug, and never speaking about it again. God insists on a different way. The Bible talks about facing the truth.
The first step in dealing with sin is being honest about the sin before God. David writes in Psalm 51, “For I acknowledge my transgressions…” Confession is coming into agreement with God. Confessing sin is to recognize what God calls sin and agree with Him regarding any actions in our lives is sin that He calls sin. The Holy Spirit brings conviction, which is designed to bring us to God. The enemy loves to heap condemnation on top of this. Conviction brings a desire to get right before God. Condemnation brings a desire to hide from God. Many people have never been taught this distinction. It is critical to bringing healing and spiritual cleansing.
Sometimes being honest with ourselves involves a process. Once we admit one thing, then we can see the cover up as a sin, or we finally come to the root issue of sin in our lives. Someone may say a mean thing to another person (and we realize we should not have said the words). But the deeper issue is a jealous streak (this requires a deeper repentance and cleansing) and the deeper issue might further be a root of insecurity and inferiority – which usually leads to lie from the pit of hell about ourselves. God did not make any mistakes in creating you. Let’s bring the good creation in each of us to the surface so God can develop it and shine His glory on it, and it can fit into the community for which we are designed to operate in.
It takes courage to invite the Holy Spirit to give us an honest assessment about ourselves. The goal is not to feel guilt. The goal is to take it to the cross where we will find forgiveness for our sins and cleansing for all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.
Let Prayer be Part of the Journey from Forgiveness to Health
I had a good girlfriend call me yesterday to tell me about her health journey for the last 4 weeks, including surgery. She had been cleaning her bathroom and bent over scrubbing when a searing pain gripped her body and has not left. It stems from the lower part of her back and goes into her legs. She has seen spinal cord experts, orthopedic doctors and muscle experts examine her, doing their “work” and still the pain.
In the midst of this excruciating pain, she thought back to her stepmother. This woman rivals the stepmonster in Cinderella. She made my friend’s life miserable for years, prevented relationship with her biological father, lied to people and to her government about ownership of land…many evil deeds. Her daughter was raised to be just like her.
As the pain my friend is experiencing continues, she has realized her desire to forgive everyone in her life everything. Being in continual pain reminds us of the descriptions of hell. My friend commented that “No one deserves to go through what I am experiencing. I choose to forgive everyone everything and pray for their salvation- even my stepmother.”
So we walked through several forgiveness and bondage breaking prayers in the courtroom of heaven. I sort of expected the pain to improve immediately. I asked her what her pain level was at the beginning of our prayer time between 1 and 10. She responded immediately with, “20.” Okay. At the end of our prayer time, she was grateful to feel the cleansing of the Holy Spirit over her and in her. But the pain was still present and we hung up so she could take her pain medication. I still believe her body will improve the commitment to forgive everyone everything. She is still walking out this new path toward health. Her mind and emotions and spirit feel clean and free. My prayers and expectations continue on her behalf for physical healing. But I know she’ll sleep free tonight.
Why Doesn’t Dad Want to Come Home and See Me?
The Grief of the Unknown Dad & Bringing Fathers’ Hearts to their Children Part 1
Do you know what the theme of the last two verses of the Old Testament is? After God addresses this issue, He gets really quiet for 400 years. God talks about a future time when the hearts of the fathers will be turned toward their children and the hearts of the children will be turned toward their fathers. See Malachi 4:5-6.
Some call this youth generation the Fatherless Generation. Everyone has a father, right? Yet, with divorce and with “free love,” there are many kids growing up today who don’t have fathers. Some have fathers, but don’t know who they are. Some have fathers, but the fathers have walked away from the mothers of their children. When a man leaves a family, he makes two decisions: one is to leave the wife or girlfriend for various reasons. The other decision is to leave the children of the union.
Many kids grow up without Dads. Their concept of a father is clouded with rejection and abandonment. I’m always amazed at how these kids get to know Father God when their own fathers left them with such a poor example of a caring and committed father. Worse, some kids have stepfathers or foster dads that come into a situation and choose to abuse children under their care which further compounds things. Another rubric includes kids who have great Dads who aren’t there for them emotionally or are absent most of the time.
Many wonderful men step in the gap. Even a partial role goes along way toward bridging the bottomless pit of rejection and abandonment. Some men offer positive role models through coaching. Good stepfathers are God’s gift to kids, even if not appreciated at first. Teachers can be good role models of character and kindness. Other adults in churches, neighborhoods or community affairs can take an interest in kids. All of these are appreciated for years to follow.
The truth is we have a perfect, loving Heavenly Father. Some people can not bring themselves to get to know him because they have to overcome horrible images of earthly fathers. God designed us to need and benefit from a Heavenly Father. To the extent we can trust God, this relationship undergirds and sustains us.
See Part 2 of The Grief of the Unknown Dad & Bringing Fathers’ Hearts to their Children
Jesus Modeled Obedience Based on Love
When Jesus allowed Himself to be betrayed without escaping….When Jesus didn’t call in the angelic troops to stop the High Priest’s armies…When Jesus didn’t offer a stunning defense of the fallacy of the charges to Pilate…When Jesus didn’t show the perform a miracle to stop the crowd from demanding his death….He submitted to God’s higher plan for all of mankind.
There’s a lot of Christians today who have a faith in God without truly surrendering to all of God’s precepts in the Bible. The belief is that there’s an individualized plan in which each person agrees to do the parts they like. It’s sort of like faith without obedience to the traditional ways. Perhaps it could be summarized as faith with partial obedience. In these people’s minds, they decide that they know better than outdated church doctrine. They often compare themselves to the general population and see themselves as more knowledgeable about religion or better than the average person behaviorally. These are the “generally good” people. Further, there are a lot of churches that will defend these beliefs, and welcome these believers.
Another camp agrees to obey, but requires the logic behind the request to be clear before they’re on board. This becomes a “prove-it-to-me” type of faith that doesn’t want to be duped. If they can determine the “why” of something, then they wrestle the argument down to the finer points. Their personal reasons may supersede the need to follow the exact letter of the law.
Obedience without understanding requires faith. Faith increases when we obey God without knowledge in advance of what the benefit is. Simply complying with scripture tests our obedience levels. I usually do not know in advance what the benefits are to fasting. It’s after fasting that I learn what God wants to say to me, or what He is strengthening me to do. Sometimes it’s after multiple days of fasting that we see the shift in circumstances, or get the desired breakthrough.
Jesus demonstrated obedience by love. Jesus submitted to God’s plan at every level, overcoming the human reaction to what the divine part of Him knew was about to unfold. No other person saw the redemption plan for mankind in advance. God knew. God asked. Jesus showed us obedience based on love. He loved God by fulfilling His (Jesus’) part of mankind’s salvation. He loved people in advance of his choice not knowing what each person would decide. He focused on the joy of the people who would ask for forgiveness of their sins and choose to be with Him in eternity. Jesus offers a costly love.
Fasting Can Change Your Relationship with God
What’s all this talk about fasting and why should I do it? I can understand this question. I didn’t grow up in a home where fasting was big. Dieting? Oh, yes! My mother tried everything the experts could dream up in the 1960s and 1970s. Dieting didn’t seem too effective, and we always had so many grapefruits around during these diets.
I had read Richard Foster’s classic book, Celebration of Discipline, when it first came out in 1978. My goal wasn’t to improve my walk with God; I wanted my prayers to get quicker results. I think I believed fasting would underline and bold my particular prayer requests as they went to heaven. Over time I came to understand that God did indeed hear all my prayer requests, even if they didn’t get answered right away. Maybe through fasting, I learned that prayer requests that involved people needed the people to “want to” change their lives to align with God’s purposes for their lives. This process could take a long time. It wasn’t that God didn’t want the same thing I was praying. God allows people to come to the point of wanting what God wants for their lives in their time frame. Often, this explained the time delays.
All the while, I continued fasting. I learned there were many benefits to fasting. The challenges would come and go. Problems would get solved. The fasting discipline stayed and continues to be part of my life.
Fasting brings me closer to God. My intimacy with God increases. After a day of fasting, scriptures jump off the page and into my heart. I feel God is personally involved in my life. Fasting brings about heart changes in me. I’ve learned I can love my enemies. I love the people I thought I loved with a deeper and no-strings-attached kind of love. I enter into the process of receiving more of God’s heart in mine for others.
I fast when problems seem so overwhelming that I don’t know where to begin praying. A good example of this is praying for my state and national governments. I pray for the laws to have the people’s interests at heart. I pray for godly and life giving principles to be part of lawmaking. I pray for supernatural wisdom for our political decision makers.
I fast when I am engaged in a spiritual battle and the good side needs more prayer support. This is for situations where the circumstances seem beyond my control. It also applies to situations for friends that need prayer support in spiritual battles.
See also Why Should I Fast? 10 Reasons to Consider Fasting Part 2
See also Fasting Series Part 1 – How Do I Fast? Fasting Foundations
See also Prayer and Fasting – Part 1 Doing Something more with Prayer Requests
Jesus showed Mercy to the Woman Caught in Adultery
John 8:1-11 tells the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. The leaders brought her before Jesus to test him. Jesus bent down in the ground and wrote in the dirt. The religious leaders wanted to see if he would enforce the letter of the law, which allowed stoning of the guilty man and the guilty woman. If Jesus didn’t uphold the law, then they had grounds for arresting him in front of the gathering crowd. The crowd and the religious leaders awaited Jesus’ response.
Most of know Jesus’ response: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” v.8. The religious leaders slinked out, the eldest going first. Then the crowd followed until the woman was left with Jesus.
As the people left, they were probably throwing down the stone they had selected for the anticipated stoning. Immediately after Jesus’ words, it was quiet as the religious leaders and the crowd pondered the implications. As they realized there would be no stoning, and they turned to leave, they must have dropped their rocks. It was probably with disgust at being outwitted that the religious leaders threw the stones in the dirt. Then with disappointment the crowd realized the public stoning had been cancelled. They too would have thrown their stones on the ground. Why carry a heaving “stoning” stone any further if one can’t use it? The sound of stones dropping to the ground was what the woman heard. For her, this was the sound of mercy.
What would mercy sound like to others if we let our offenses “drop to the ground?” What “sound of mercy” would you like to give someone today?
What would mercy sound like to you if people were to really “let drop” the offenses they held against you? Would it bring gratitude? Would it produce repentance? Would your actions be transformed from here on out? Giving and receiving mercy is Step One. Jesus adds a Step Two. Go and sin no more is the command of Jesus for our lives.
This thought was tucked into a sermon by Pastor Hermun Hamilton at Abundant Life Christina Fellowship during the Advent Season 2013 on December 1. The sermon was titled “An Illuniating Experience.”
The sun shines above the fog cover we experience on foggy days
This is Part 5 in a series on Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward. We’ve looked at Step 1 – Try Forgiving Someone, Step 2 – Feelings Follow Decisions, and Step 3 – Flexibility Builds Faith
4. Through the Fog
Also when our faith runs into obstacles and we can’t understand what God is or isn’t doing, it can feel like God doesn’t love us. It’s easy to feel like a black cloud of circumstances has made our world foggy. We must keep in mind that sun is above the fog. Eventually the fog will burn off, the clouds will dissipate, and we will see the sun again. Our circumstances are subject to change. We can’t let our faith be dependent on circumstances or it can lead to fickle faith. We must remember that God is above our circumstances. The sunshine of His love never changes. He fulfills his promises throughout the ages. “Not one word has failed of all his good promise.” 1 Kings 8:56. His righteousness never tarnishes. He is God of the ages.
Some fogs are our funk. When we get a “no” answer to a prayer we wanted a “yes” response to, it can spin us out and cause our faith to go in a giant loop. Ultimately a choice will be made to trust God’s goodness again. Sometimes we do this after we understand everything with enough time and explanation. Sometimes we have to choose to trust God without understanding His purposes. It helps to walk alongside a mature friend with faith during these times, and borrow from their faith. Sometimes it’s just a choice. I made my mind up along time ago that some day when I get to heaven, God will show me what I can’t see from my perspective here on earth. Then it will make sense. Meanwhile, he’s already factored it in to all his decisions. I’d rather have his justice than my limited earthly perspective of justice. It’s the choice point of faith.
See also My Definition of Faith
See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 1
See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – part 4