Friday, September 22, 2006

IN All These Things We Are More Than Conquerors

Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us

I apologize that it has been so long since my last entry. Today I want to look at one of the favorite passages of Scripture from the NT. Romans chapter 8 is a great source of comfort, encouragement, and security to those that love God. Unfortunately we often miss the central message of Scripture because we love (yes I said "we" not "ye" :) ) to isolate the passages of Scripture which were meant to be taken in context of the overall message. In our bible study, we often forget that epistles (letters) are meant to be read from start to finish. Why do we treat Scripture this way, when we do not treat secular literature in this manner? When we open our mail (yes, I'm talking about the legitimate mail, not the mountains of junk mail, credit card applications, and flyers that threaten to implode our mailboxes each day) to read a letter, we don't take a sentence or phrase from the middle of the letter and try to interpret the whole of the letter from that one part do we? And yet we do that with Scripture all the time!!! Shame on us.

Now most of you that know me (or are familiar with my writings) know that I am not the king of subtlety. In the title of today's blog, yep- you guessed it- my emphasis is on the little word "in." We are taught by many popular "teachers" that true faith should be exercised to avoid all possible obstacles. Many teach that a "conquering" faith is one that always rebukes and avoids every storm of life. Any trials that their fellow Christians endure are often looked upon with disdain and scorning. Secretly, they may think to themselves "if only that person had more faith, they could have avoided all of this." But Paul did not think that way. When Jesus appeared to Ananias in the book of Acts, He told him of how Paul would suffer great things for the name of Christ (Acts 9:16).

No, Paul did not teach that a conquering faith avoids all forms of suffering and persecution. On the contrary, he taught that "in all these things" we are more than conquerors. "What things?", you might ask- well, let's take a look:

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Paul affirmed that we are more than conquerors IN all these things. When you look at that list, you may tend to think of one who suffers such as a victim. God does not tell us that those who suffer are defeated. He tells us that even in (what seems like) the face of defeat, we are victorious! So today, if you are feeling low- feeling like you are on the losing end of things- remember that if you are in Christ- you are more than a conqueror- EVEN in the midst of what the world, and even some in the church may think is a defeat for you.

Be encouraged today dear friends!

Until next time....

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm still around and hope to be back soon!

I'm sorry to post something of such little substance, but I felt an explanation is in order. I've just begun a new position at my work and I have had very little free time to do anything. I hope to post something meaningful within a few days, but until then- don't give up on me!

I would appreciate it, if you would lift me up to the Lord in prayer.

Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Much love,

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Don't Blame Everything on the Devil!

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God

This past Sunday I preached about putting on the whole armour of God. I believe there is a large segment of Christianity that falls into two extremes- seeing a devil under every rock, or ignoring spiritual warfare altogether. It would be perilous for us to ignore the fact that there are tremendously significant things going on in unseen realms. We certainly should not be ignorant of Satan's devices. When Christ was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub (blasphemy of course!) He countered by saying that Satan's kingdom is not divided (i.e. satan does not cast out satan). Thus, we have a clear teaching at least by inference, that Satan indeed does have a Kingdom, and it is (at least in some sense) organized. Paul expands upon this theme in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, speaking of principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. I'm not sure Paul was trying to construct a detailed flowchart of satanic activity, but at the very least we can see that there is something to this whole spiritual warfare thing.

But as I was preparing to preach the message about the armour of God, it occurred to me that we blame quite a few things on the enemy that really have to do with our flesh. That list of sins (dirty deeds, vices, thoughts, attitudes, and all-around deviant behaviors) listed above sure looks and sounds like the workings of the devil. No doubt he is somehow involved in the tempting/yielding processes, and later in the condemnation and accusation of the saints when he is successful. The answer to this problem is found in the same chapter. Whenever we see that list of sins in action- whether it be in our own lives or the lives of others- we can know that the flesh is working overtime. I like the way the KJV says "the works of the flesh are manifest" . In other words, they are obvious!!! It's not a devil problem- it's a flesh problem!! Thankfully, the remedy to fleshly behavior is found in the same chapter:

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh