Monday, January 31, 2011

Protected from the Moon?

"The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night" - Psalm 121:6
Some are afraid of getting too close to God and "going off the deep end." Hollywood likes to portray Christians as crazy people, lunatics, from the word lunar or "moon".

Nothing could be further from the truth. Those fully and completely committed to Christ are the most wise and most sane. The Apostle Paul wrote,
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." - 2nd Timothy 1:7
Jesus healed lunatics whenever he encountered them.1

- fritz

1 - Mark 5:15

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Billy Graham - Advice on Getting Older

What advice would you give to people who are aging?

First, accept it as part of God's plan for your life, and thank him every day for the gift of that day.

Old age can be a lonely time ... children scattered, spouse and friends gone ... but God has a reason for keeping us here (even if we don't always understand it), and we need to recover the Bible's understanding of life and longevity as gifts from God—and therefore as something good. Several times the Bible mentions people who died "at a good old age"...

So part of my advice is to learn to be content, and that only comes as we accept each day as a gift from God and commit it into his hands.
- Billy Graham, Christianity Today interview January 2011
(Read the whole article here)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

3 "F"s of Success In Christ

"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." - 1st Timothy 6:11b-12
Saint Paul's admonition points its finger past Timothy straight at us who have chosen Christ's way!

Three (3) things we must do to succeed and they all begin with "F"
Flee youthful lusts1 and the love of money2
Follow godly character and
Fight the good fight of faith
- fritz

1. 2nd Timothy 2:2
2. 1st Timothy 6:10 (the context of this verse)

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 Tests for God's Whispers

I am enjoying a little book by pastor Bill Hybels1 on hearing God.

Not every impression has God as its source. Pastor Hybels has five tests to determine whether an impression is, truly, from God or somewhere else.

Test #1 - Is it consistent with God's character? In Christ God's prophetic words always Build up, Cheer up; and Stir up2. Even God's discipline in Christ is encouraging - this is how he works. Nothing discouraging is from Him nor for His people.

Test #2 - Is it scriptural? The Bible is God's revealed and inspired word, He would not give another word contradicting it.

Test #3 - Is it wise? God is the very creator of wisdom, he would never ask his children to do something stupid.

Test #4 - Is it in tune with your own character? God's whispers to each of us align with our unique character and internal makeup. Our personalities are our own unique expression of Christ. His whispers will resonate within.

Test #5 - What do people you most trust think about it? Take time to develop trusted friends and counselors in Christ.

- fritz

1 - -The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels, published 2010 by Zondervan
2 - Spiritual Gift of Prophesy

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Living With God

"...they have now compassed us in our steps ..." - Psalm 17:11
The Psalmist, King David of the Bible, faced difficulties, but he faced them with the assurance he did not face them alone. His enemies weren't surrounding just him, they were surrounding him and God, and God always wins.

Jesus said
"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." - John 14:23
If you have submitted your life to Christ and are following him by reading his word, the Bible, and obeying to the best of your ability and understanding, those who fight you have a monumental task because God doesn't lose, and everything He allows He uses for your good.

- fritz

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Maybe It's God

"When the circumstances of your life start to shift ... at least consider that it might be due to God. When you find yourself in a state of confusion or curiosity about the way things are going, go ahead and ask him if there's something he'd like to say to you."

Open your hands, open your heart, heighten your attentiveness to any small way he might want to communicate to you, and then agree in advance that you will comply with whatever he says.

Why not give it a shot? What's the downside?"

-The Power of a Whisper; Chapter 2, Communicating God, Zondervan, Copyright 2010 by Bill Hybels

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Product Liability

Then the King will say ... "Come ... take your inheritance ... the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
- Jesus (Matthew 25:34,41 NIV)
Manufactures go to sometimes ridiculous lengths to ensure people know to whom and for what their products are intended.

If a product is used in a way clearly not intended, the liability rests with the user not the manufacture.

Heaven and Hell have their intended purposes, too.

Hell was created for the devil and his angels not for humanity; Heaven was prepared for us. Choosing to ignore the manufacturer's warnings places the product liability on us not the manufacture.

- fritz

Related Post - The Intended Target, August 29, 2010

Monday, January 24, 2011


"[A]fter that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption" - Ephesians 1:13b-14a
Anyone in business knows of earnest money. It is something tangible paid to the seller for assurance.

The buyer is assured full payment is coming, the seller is assured the product won't be sold to someone else.

Businessmen have used this system for years, even in bible times. Ephesian believers were told God, too, uses this method of assurance.

How could they, personally, know God's would give them salvation in the future? He would give them the Holy Spirit now.

This tells us at least two (2) things:
1) God wants us to be assured we have a place in heaven - that we won't be left behind when Jesus comes back;

2) Having the Holy Spirit is something which can be known. After all, what businessman would accept earnest money he could not know if he had or not.
- fritz

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Power of a Whisper

I have come to believe that hearing the quiet whisper of the transcendent God is one of the most extraordinary privileges in all of life--and potentially the most transforming dynamic in the Christian faith.

When people hear from heaven, they are rarely the same again. When the sovereign God chooses to communicate with someone--whether eight, eighteen or eighty years old--that person's world is rocked."

- Bill Hybels, The Power of a Whisper - Hearing God. Having the Guts to Respond Introduction, A Fifty-Year Whisper-Fueled Odyssey
Jesus said,
"My sheep hear my voice" - Jesus (John 10:27a)
Ask to hear.

- fritz

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keeping The Faith

"I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith." - 2nd Timothy 4:7 (GNT)
There are lots of things we can't do.

We, really, control so little. We can't make things turn out like we want or people to do as they ought.

But we can, with God's help, keep the faith - knowing Jesus paid for our sins, obeying Christ in our choices, and trusting that through it all God is at work in the world, our families and our lives.

If we do that we have a great future.
"... I have kept the faith. ... The prize ... is now waiting for me. ... He will give it not only to me but also to everyone who is eagerly waiting for him to come again. - 2nd Timothy 4:7b-8 (GWT)
- fritz

Friday, January 21, 2011

Caught, not Taught

"Christianity is a revealed religion."
- Fr. Desmond Gooneskera
My pastor brought out an important fact - faith in Christ is more successful when it is caught than when it is just taught!

Begin noticing variations of the word, "reveal" throughout the Bible. It's not just for newbies! God is only known through revelation, and always through Christ.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith ... mention ... you in my prayers; That ... God ... give unto you ... revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know ..." - Ephesians 1:15-18
- fritz

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Real Authority

"when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line." - Galatians 2:11(MESSAGE)
Valid authority in the Church derives from following the truth.

Those aligned with God's word are to be honored and followed,1 those who don't are to be resisted, sometimes even publicly, regardless of their name, rank, or history.

The apostle, Paul, wrote
"Let me be blunt: ... If anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed ... If my goal was popularity, I wouldn't bother being Christ's" - Galatians 1:9-10a (MESSAGE)
This doesn't mean arguing every little point. The Brethren church has a wonderful saying,
In essentials, Unity;
In non essentials, Liberty;
In all things, Charity."
All valid authority comes from adherence to God's word, not an ecclesiastical or educational title.

- fritz

1 - 1st Timothy 5:17

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Knowing the Intent Helps.

Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you ..." - Ephesians 3:13a
A woman told me she quit sharing prayer requests with her small fellowship group because they could not emotionally handle what she was going through.

It was strange to see - when she would share others would shrink away. She said she was handling her problems a lot better than they were!

The apostle, Paul, had a similar experience and told his followers not to faint for his tribulations.

He was doing well because he could see the big picture of the church at large, and him as part, being used to display God's wisdom through difficulties.
"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God" - Ephesians 3:10-12
Knowing God's intent and knowing one is on track make all the difference!

- fritz

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fear of God

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. - 2nd Corinthians 7:1
We don't like the word, "fear". How can we fear God and love him, too? Think of the fear of God like the fear of law.

I am not afraid of the police, I have friends who are police and love them dearly, but I treat them all with the utmost respect realizing they have the authority and ability to make my life very difficult.

Some see the uniform and miss the person; some do that with God, too. Jesus shows the person behind God's law and He is good, kind, and worthy of our love.

- fritz

Monday, January 17, 2011

Created By Jesus Christ

"God, ... created all things by Jesus Christ:" - Ephesians 3:9
Essential it is to realize God, the almighty, created all things by Jesus Christ.

Paul wasn't the only one teaching this, the apostle John wrote:
"In the beginning was the Word ... through him all things were made ... though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him ... the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" John 1 (NIV)
Just as the physical body is our method of interacting in this world and each other so Jesus is, and always has been, God's way of interaction with his Universe.

Paul clarifies that it was not just "Christ" but "Jesus Christ" who is one and the same.

Think about that the next time someone tries to tell you Jesus was just a prophet, teacher, or good man.

- fritz

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quenching Bitterness

"Joseph said ... Don’t be afraid ... You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish ... the saving of many lives." - Genesis 50:19b-20
Actions from others turn sweet, kind youth into cynical, bitter, revengeful, old before their time people.

There is a way to avoid that for one's self, Joseph in the Old Testament did by employing three (3) life principles:
1. Living in the fear of God;

2. Recognizing God used even the very wrong and painful deeds of others to work a blessing;

3. Choosing to live for God's purposes instead of one's own.
- fritz

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Discipleship - Like a Salt Water Fish

I want you to imagine a saltwater fish. The fish can only survive in his natural habitat, which is the ocean. Why? Because the ocean surrounds the fish with everything it needs to live, breathe, and have its being.

The fish is also a dependent creature. Fish swim in schools.

Now consider a different image. Imagine that this fish is removed from the ocean and from its school and is thrown in someone’s backyard. People take turns spraying the fish with a water hose every 15 minutes. They also sprinkle salt on its body.

That’s an apt picture of modern discipleship.

Discipleship has been separated from the Christian’s native habitat (ekklesia) and it’s become a highly individualistic event. An individual discipler “disciples” an individual disciplee to become a better individual disciple.

And we have not so learned Jesus Christ.

Christianity has and always will be a collective, corporate life and pursuit.

The issue, therefore, is not discipleship. The issue is restoring the ekklesia as God intended it to be, for the ekklesia is the Christian’s native habitat. And out of it flows everything else.

- Frank Viola, Reimaging the Church, 7/26/2009
Read the whole article here.
- fritz

Friday, January 14, 2011

Interpretation of Tongues

"For to one is given by the Spirit ... the interpretation of tongues" - 1st Corinthians 8a, 10e
There would be little need for this gift if the gift of tongues was unintended for public use.

When a message is given in tongues an interpretation is to be provided. In fact, if no one else steps up, the tongues speaker is to ask God to give him or her that interpretation.1

It should be noted this is not the translation but the Interpretation of Tongues. It will not, necessariliary, be word for word and should not be expected as such.

Like any of the other verbal gifts of the Holy Spirit, there will be an urge to express an inner stirring. The whole interpretation may not be given at once and is not required to begin. Speak what is given and quit when there is nothing more to express.

God's NOT going to waggle your tongue for you - you always have the choice to respond or not. Feel the internal urge, like you have something to say though you may not know what it is, and say what you are given when there is opportunity.

We make it more complicated than it has to be [grin].

- fritz

1 - 1st Corinthians 14:13

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spiritual Gift of Tongues (Part 2 of 2)

"For to one is given by the Spirit ... divers kinds of tongues" - 1st Corinthians 13:8a, 10d
Tongues is a hot topic in some churches. Godly people believe those who speak in tongues are of the devil and others, just as godly, believe only those who speak in tongues are saved - both sides saying they believe the Bible.

Tongues is a prophetic utterance in a human or angelic1 language unknown by the speaker and sometimes to the hearers.

Its primary purpose is individual spiritual growth2 but there are two (2) more I should mention.

1. The Bible says tongues are a sign to non-believers3 that this group of people is different, and not afraid to be so. They may be thought of as strange or crazy, but when everything "normal" fails one often inquires about the unique.

God excels at taking those who have tried the world's ways and found them wanting.

2. There's also another purpose and here, in combination with the gift of Interpretation of tongues, is its place in church services.4 It is encouraging when the church gathers and experiences an act of God. I have seen it, it's awesome!

Much of what we do in church is of human origin - our liturgy, our programs, our efforts as we express our love to God. It's awesome to experience God's response.

Sure we'll get it wrong sometimes and use God's gifts ineffectively but that's to be expected. A wise pastor will teach, direct in right ways, and encourage his people to step out in God's giftings.

Paul's admonition still stands
"Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues." - 1st Corinthians 14:39
- fritz

1 - 1st Corinthians 13:1
2 - 1st Corinthians 14:4
3 - 1st Corinthians 14:22
4 - 1st Corinthians 14:5

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spiritual Gift of Tongues (Part 1 of 2)

"For to one is given by the Spirit ... divers kinds of tongues" - 1st Corinthians 13:8a, 10d
This gift has always been a little controversial so the apostle Paul goes into great detail in later in his letter.

Tongues is the prophetic utterance in a human or angelic 1 language unknown by the speaker 2 and sometimes the hearers.

Not engaging the speaker's language, it doesn't affect the speakers thinking unless it is interpreted2 - so what is its purpose?

Paul lists several, but primarily as a tool to strengthen the participant's inner man.3

Originating from the speaker's human spirit (inner man) it is a direct prayer link between the speaker and God4 unhindered by the person's preferences and paradigms.

We dare not discount the importance of that; how and what we think affects our spiritual growth! If everything must be filtered through our thought processes much won't make it through!

This is so important Jesus' own brother wrote
"But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost keep yourselves in the love of God" - Jude 1:20-21a
Who can have this gift? As a manifestation of the Holy Spirit all in Christ have the equal access as any other spiritual gift.

We are admonished to seek the "best" gifts.5 Which is best? The one you need at the time, of course!

Do you need to be built up in your faith and kept in the love of God?

- fritz

1 - 1st Corinthians 13:1
2 - 1st Corinthians 14:14
3 - 1st Corinthians 14:4a
4 - 1st Corinthians 14:2
5 - 1st Corinthians 12:31

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Discerning of Spirits

"For to one is given by the Spirit ... to another discerning of spirits" - 1st Corinthians 12:9a, 10c
At least part of "Discerning of Spirits" is our need to know if our internal promptings arise from God's Holy Spirit or our own human spirit.

In prayer we need to ask for the Holy Spirit to intervene, showing us with an overwhelming peace the source of our stirrings. This, too, is a gift of God, essential for today.

- fritz

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Gift of Prophesy

"For to one is given by the Spirit ... prophecy" - 1st Corinthians 12:9a, 10b
This is not the same gift as in the Old Testament.

Back then prophecy was reserved just for special holy men. When normal people wanted to hear from God they would go to a prophet and ask him to pray and to speak for God.

Everyone in Christ can now prophesy!
"For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted." - 1st Corinthians 14:31
Prophesy now has three main purposes -
"But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." - 1st Corinthians 14:3
I heard a preacher, long ago in Ferguson, Kentucky, say this verse means prophecy is to
Build up,
Stir up, and
Cheer up.
So how is that different from modern day preaching?

Preaching is a prepared (hopefully) lesson from the mind and heart of a preacher but prophesy, like other gifts of the Holy Spirit, is given at the moment to an individual specifically for a circumstance often unknown by the speaker.

It, too, is accompanied by a strong urge to speak, which is hard to shake but can be ignored by the one called on by God to give it.

A wise pastor will encourage his flock to begin speaking these urgings, understanding when mistakes are made, and without condemnation teach how to recognize God's wonderful gift of Prophesy.

- fritz

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Working of Miracles

"For to one is given by the Spirit ... the working of miracles" - 1st Corinthians 12:8a, 10a
Maybe an oxymoron, but miracles were considered a common occurrence in the early church. So much so, the apostle Paul uses it to settle a controversy; telling the Galatians
"Does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you through your own efforts or through believing what you heard?" - Galatians 3:5(GODS WORD)
A miracle from God is just what you need, just when you need it. It may not be flashy or spectacular but it is a miracle and a gift of God's Holy Spirit none the less.

- fritz

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Gifts of Healing

"For to one is given by the Spirit ... the gifts of healing" - 1st Corinthians 12:8a, 9b
I am told by those with experience that the plural of the word "Gifts" is significant; that different people have more success praying for different ailments.

Why would one have more success with one ailment than another? I don't know, but I think it has something to do with God's desire for his people work together, depending upon each other instead of living isolated.

The Holy Spirit chooses various individuals to have consistent success in healing prayer.

How do you know if you are one of these? Start praying and see.

A wise pastor will network in the community and local church to find those who get results in this arena then encourage, cultivate, and see they get exercised.

- fritz

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Gift of Faith

For to one is given by the Spirit ... faith" - 1st Corinthians 12:7a, 9a
Faith has the distinction of being both a Gift and Fruit of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, - Galatians 5:22
The difference? Fruit is grown, starting small and increasing over a period of time. A gift doesn't grow, it is either fully there or not.

Faith, the gift, is a deep sense that, in spite of doubts of mind and logic, a particular desire shall be accomplished and/or an impossible obstacle shall be removed. It's described by the Apostle Paul's in his "Love" Chapter,
"though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains ..." - 1st Corinthians 13:2a
There is, usually, a sense of excitement with it, and a decision has to be made to either hold on to it until the desire is accomplished, or let go of it.

If you hold on it will be an amazing ride full of wonder at God's greatness; and when it's done the fruit of faith will have grown a lot!

- fritz

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Word Of Knowledge

For to one is given by the Spirit ... the word of knowledge ..." - 1st Corinthians 12:8
God works through ordinary people who, simply, believe in Christ and yield to his leading. He does his work through what are called "Gifts" of and by the Holy Spirit.

One such gift of the Spirit is the word of knowledge.

We see it demonstrated in the Old Testament life of Daniel when he was required to tell the contents of the King's dream to avoid death.

We see it in the life of Jesus when he spoke to the woman at the well, telling her she had previously had five (5) husbands.

God, who knows all, imparts to us a snippet of knowledge we need to accomplish a task. Sometimes it is to minister to another, but often to help us in our need. When given it is usually an idea accompanied with a nagging feeling which is hard to shake, but can be ignored.

These should not be ignored but embraced as a gifts from God.

- fritz

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Word of Wisdom

For the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; - 1st Corinthians 12:7-8
Sometimes we have difficulty hearing from God; we're just too emotionally involved to get clear direction. We need a word of wisdom untainted by our interpretation or desire.

God speaks this word not by a special holy man but by an ordinary brother or sister in Christ, dropping it into his or her heart and mind, often out of context.

In the one there will be a little heat involved - an unshakable urge to say something to a specific person either known or unknown. In the other there is usually surprise and often a puzzlement.

As part of the Body of Christ we must be willing to give these words just as a hand must be willing to move at the impulse from the brain. We must also be open to receive these words from others, recognizing their true source even though given from ordinary people.

- fritz

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Practice Makes Perfect"

"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; .. the word of knowledge ... faith ... gifts of healing ... the working of miracles ... prophecy ... discerning of spirits ... divers kinds of tongues ... the interpretation of tongues.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
- 1st Corinthians 12:8-12
The Apostle Paul draws the analogy of the differing gifts of the Holy Spirit as being like different body parts and, indeed, we are different parts of Christ's body, the way he functions in the earth today.

Just as we could hardly expect a person to be a good ball player without practice, we can't honestly expect the body parts of Christ to function together without "practice", either.

This is where churches find their fulfillment. The local church must be willing to provide a safe place to "practice" without fear of rejection, otherwise it is just taking up space. As we practice we get it wrong sometimes, this is to be expected and should be allowed; a good pastor will help by coaching and encouraging. The more we practice the better we get.

Churches are not the body of Christ, believers are. Churches are to be the safe place believers practice and exercise so they become really good at it on the field.

- fritz

Monday, January 3, 2011

The True Host (Body of Christ)

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. - 1st Corinthians 12:27
God works through symbols - a piece of bread, a drop of oil, some sprinkled water, but it is the reality which is holy, the symbol is only a poor representation.

We who have placed our faith in Christ are, individually, a part his body and have a part in touching one another with and for Christ. The gifts of the Holy Spirit work in that endeavor, helping us do our part.

- fritz

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pivot Point of History

"In the past God spoke ... through the prophets ...but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" - Hebrews 1:1-2 NIV
Christ is the Pivot Point of history. All true prophets and seers of the past pointed to him and he is now the source of all God's revelation.

No more is there, nor has there been, need for another to come after Christ and speak for him, all such are impostors; he speaks for himself to and through his body with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is their purpose.

- fritz

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What Does God's Face Look Like?

"[A]s many as received [Jesus], to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born ... of God. And the Word was made flesh ..." - John 1:12-14
"God has a face and it looks like your face and my face. If people want to know what he looks like they will be looking at you and me ... People are looking at you and me to see if the word of God has any flesh on it."

- Fr. Desmond Gooneskera, Rector, St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church, December 26, 2010
The Apostle Paul put it this way,
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. - 1st Corinthians 12:27
- fritz