Archive for October 2018

Fight the Good Fight. Keep the Faith. Finish Your Race.

Watch the video "We Shall Overcome: A Jazz Tribute to Black History"

1 Tim. 6:11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

2 Cor. 2:14, Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the fragrance of his knowledge by us in every place.

2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Sometimes you don’t want to win for yourself. Sometimes you want to win because of who is watching. The motivation is not born of selfish pride, but you want to win because that’s your purpose and others need you to win so they can see that it is possible. That is the value of living in the light and letting people see your good works. 

We don't fight the good fight of faith to win. We fight the good fight because we have already won. That's why it is a GOOD fight!

We fight a good fight because in Jesus Christ, WE WIN! 

On Netflix, I watched a documentary about the new World Trade Center and the 911 memorial. In my lifetime, there was no greater single tragedy than 911. The documentary began with recounted the events of September 11, 2001. I fast forward through all of that. Because I have been to the 911 memorial and stood on ground zero beside the new World Trade Center, I wanted to see details of the good fight of faith that followed the tragedy and remember the heroism of those who perished saving others. I wanted to recount the efforts of those who rebuilt at ground zero. 

I have same thoughts about our ancestors, for those who served and sacrificed for our nation in civil and military service. Most people get to focus on living our their dreams. Some among us are called to focus on helping others fulfill their dreams.

The life you live in Christ is not only about youself. Actually, after becoming a follower of Christ, it is not “your life.” It is “The life you live.”

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith

The good fight of faith is not about fighting for what you already have or already see. The good fight is about not growing weary while doing good. 

The good fight of faith is all about continuing to do good, knowing that in due season you will reap....if you don't faint or lose heart. What you reap after your due season brings major blessings to your life, and more importantly, to others.

Fainting and losing heart is a major problem. I see it too often. I see it in believers. I have faced it often. 

We know what physical fainting looks like. Someone who is standing suddenly falls down. Fainting in the mind or losing heart is very similar, but it is less obvious. Let me say, I can tell when someone has fainted or is about to do so. 

That's why the Hebrews writer said, "Looking unto Jesus..." That's why he said, 12:3, "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls"

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Live in the House of Wisdom

Live in the House of Wisdom

Proverbs 24:3-4, Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. 

1 Corinthians 1:30, But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

“Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.” (Prov. 1:2-4 NLT)  

Proverbs 9:1(NLT) Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns. 2 She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table. 3 She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come. She calls out from the heights overlooking the city. 4 “Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says, 5 “Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.”

In this text, your life is compared to a house. 

Built through wisdom

Established through understanding

Rooms filled with precious and pleasant riches by knowledge 

God provides a place, or a house, for you, for me and to all people, when they need help.  In our text, Solomon gives wisdom the personality of a woman. In fact, wisdom is like the woman who knows how to make a house, a home. She sees the need in people and knows how to meet that need.

Wisdom has a house. Live in it.

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The Good Things the Happen In Your Hidden Season

 

Galatians 1:11, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 

 

In this text the Apostle Paul described something that I will call his “hidden season.”  A hidden season is a period of time where God draws you close to Himself to do a work inside of you.

 

It is a hidden season, not because you are hidden and withdrawn from people. It is a hidden season because God is doing something inside of you that no one can see and that no one might know about.

 

It is very important to understand this: Do not make the mistake of trying to copy what God did with Paul or others. If you withdrew from others for three years, it would not be a “hidden season,” it would be season ending with no return.

 

Notice this statement, Galatians 1:11, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

 

This is very unique kind of grace reserved for apostles or other servants of God who are willing to be consecrated to God in an unusual ways.  Most of the time we gain knowledge by instruction from others. “Revelation” is an accurate instruction or insights given by God to His servants. Because we have the Scriptures today, we don’t need revelation on Kingdom truth. 

 

However, we do still receive revelation on God’s purposes for our lives. Another caution is to beware of people who say “God told me” but their lives don’t line up with the Scriptures. 

 

Revelation is not something you have to seek, it is something that God does.  Revelation comes to people who serve and seek Him.

 

In Proverbs 8:17 we read, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” 

 

John the Baptist blazed the trail for Jesus:

Luke 3:2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in,

every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

...15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[b] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

...21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,

 

Notice that the text said the Jesus was 30 years old when he began his ministry. From time he was a child to this day, we know nothing about Jesus’ life. 

 

We only know this about Jesus first hidden season: Luke 2:52, And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

 

Jesus had a second hidden season in the wilderness. 

Luke 4:1, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

 

Notice that Paul’s hidden season was also in a wilderness

 

Looking the Jesus’ and Paul’s hidden seasons, let’s learn about some of the good things that came out of those seasons:

 

In a hidden season:

1. You see things you could not see any other way.

2. You experience internal growth 

3. You grow in wisdom and stature 

4. You learn to trust trust God’s timing and become less restless 

5. You learn patience

6. You learn to refocus on an audience of one, God 

7. You gain the endorsement of God and no longer need the endorsement of man, “This is my Son” 

8. You learn to rest in God’s endorsement, and you become less sensitive 

 

Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

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Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done, in Earth as it is in Heaven

 

Matt. 6:5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Life is lived one way or the other. We can live authentically or inauthentically. For someone who would become a marksman, authentic would NOT BE shooting at targets, then drawing bulls eyes around the the hole. Authentic would look like being trained, practicing and perfecting your craft. 

God’s kingdom provides the foundation and framework for authentic living. One thing I have learned over all these years is the importance of trying do things the right way, even if the right way is not the most popular or most personally gratifying way. 

When we see to follow God’s kingdom, we don’t have to struggle to know the “right way.”

More importantly, when we follow God’s way, we enter into a whole other set of provisions and blessings such as Ephesians 3:20-21

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

The key is to get to this level: “According to the power that works in us.”

The goal is to get to a point where we see God doing above what we ask or think. 

Here is one way to know: Has God ever helped you do something, and you can’t remember how you did it? That’s God’s kingdom and power at work in you.

This is what we think and say: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

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