Make disciples – How to disciple spiritual children

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Make disciplesMake disciples – Biblical discipleship patterned after natural child rearing

Make disciples, easy right? Yeah, about as easy as raising children. As a young father and up to the time when our two sons left home to go to Seminary, I never considered myself a very good father.  I always loved our sons but I constantly felt like I was far behind the curve as a good father.  I always felt like my parents did a good job raising me but when our boys were much younger I regularly wondered how they were able to raise my sister and me.  I had a happy childhood.  My parents regularly disciplined me but I never felt frustrated by them.  I never felt any lack of love or attention or support from them.  However, when I became a father, I never felt like I measured up to my parents in child rearing.  I made plenty of mistakes in disciplining our two sons.  I was not always consistent and felt like it was obvious to them that I was a weak father figure.

After they became teenagers I began to notice that friends and relatives would make comments about how well behaved and disciplined our boys were.  At first, I was convinced that these comments were just polite ways of expressing love toward our family, but after a while, I began to be convinced that the compliments were truly sincere.  Then in August of 2009 when the two of them moved to central Brazil to attend a two-year pastoral leadership course, I began to discover that I did an O.K. job as a father after all.  At the same time it dawned on me that spiritual leaders make disciples in a similar manner.

Hold on! I will explain about how to make disciples! But first I must continue about raising kids.  Every two months I would travel to Brasilia for pastoral meetings and I would get a ride to Goiânia to spend a couple of days with the boys.  I met scores of people who just fell in love with them.  It was almost embarrassing.  Apparently, they would spend a lot of time bragging about how my wife and I were good parents.  I cannot begin to remember how many brothers and sisters, adults and teenagers as well as pastors would take my hand and congratulate me for the excellent young men that our sons had become.  I doubt that there is a greater pleasure in life than receiving compliments for the way we raise our children.  I know that pride is a sin but I also have experienced what the Apostle Paul must have felt when he referred to his converts and disciples as his crown.

Now the reason I share this is that it taught me something about how to raise children and how to make disciples.  The Great Commission is about teaching how to obey the commands of Christ, not about teaching what the commands are or how to understand them.  The purpose of child rearing is to prepare our children to be parents and eventually to raise their own children.  We do not raise children to make them family therapists.  Think how ridiculous it would be to send our children to school to learn how to live in general.  Public education is about reading, writing, arithmetic and the sciences.  Traditionally the goal of education has been to teach children how to think, not how to live.  We do not send children to school to potty train them, or to learn how to brush their teeth faithfully after each meal, or how to use a fork and spoon.  Children learn to walk, talk, have good manners (or unlearn bad manners) in the home, all of these things are the parent’s responsibility to pass on to their children.

In the same way, we make disciples by teaching young Christians how to live before God and before men.  We make disciples by teaching new Christians how to walk by faith, how to pray and how to read and meditate on the Word of God all within the context of a spiritual family .  Disciples learn how to be faithful and responsible members of a local church, how to be a good husband or wife, how to raise children, how to preach the Gospel, how to cast out demons, and how to pray for the sick.  We do not learn these things in a classroom.  These are not subjects for Sunday school curriculum.

We learn all of the things I mentioned through a model, an example, a spiritual father figure.  My father never gave me child-raising classes.  Actually, he never gave me any type of classroom instruction.  My father, like all fathers who maintain a physical presence in the family was a role model.  He lived, worked, played, rested, got up early to study the Word, put our home in order and molded my character simply by being an example.  I suppose he was just doing what his parents did with him.  In the same way, I did the same things with my sons that my father did with me.

After I left home, I became an early riser just like my father.  It has been over 30 years since I left my parent’s home but my wife can attest to the fact that I am just like my father.  Twenty years under his roof set me up for life, and the same is true of my sons.  I imagine that they will reflect even more of my influence when they marry and begin their own families.

The implications of principles that I have just shared through my experience has helped me to see that discipleship, knowing how to make disciples and fathering spiritual children is not attained by taking a course on how to disciple or how to make disciples of Christ.  The main requirement for success in this endeavor is simple to have been raised by a spiritual father figure.  In the spiritual realm we learn by imitation just as we do in the material realm. The focus should not be so much on a technique or system as much as the history and identity of the person who accepts the challenge to make disciples.

World overcomers in the Sermon on the mount

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World overcomersWorld overcomers – the vision

World overcomers has always been the center of God’s heart and mind! God is an overcomer and desires His people to overcome the world!  Allow me to suggest a brief outline of what we may call “the Vision of World Overcomers” which serves as a type of roadmap to eternity.

A biblical definition of world overcomers

First allow me to define exactly what world overcomers are according to the biblical description. God sees all Christians as overcomers and gives all of them the position of an overcomer but not all Christians become world overcomers in practice.  There may be many ways to define an overcomer but a thorough treatment of the characteristics of an overcomer can be seen in the Sermon on the mount recorded in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

World overcomers in the Beatitudes

We can read a description of the nature of the overcomer in the first twelve verses of Matthew chapter 5 often called the Beatitudes.  Here we have seven dimensions of the nature of the overcomer.  Overcomers are identified by their humble nature, they are saddened by what saddens God’s heart.  While they could easily put to shame and humiliate others who haven’t achieved their level of spirituality they prefer to exercise meekness and let those who oppose them save face.  The overcomer longs for God’s righteousness and groans when he sees man’s unjust and evil behavior. The overcomer is full of mercy and is not judgmental and harsh in his dealings with others.  The overcomer has clear intentions and has no duplicity at all.  The over comer is willing to fight for the truth so that there can be a solid basis for true peace.  Finally the nature of the overcomer is one of steadfastness in the face of persecution, since persecution always seems to find the overcomer.

World overcomers as the salt of the earth and the light of the world

In the next section of the Sermon on the mount which we may correctly call the decree of the constitution of the Kingdom of heaven, we learn of the influence that world overcomers exercise over their surroundings.  Like salt the overcomer is an agent of preservation against corruption.  Like salt he gives flavor to life.  Like salt the overcomer provokes thirst.  Like salt in days of old the overcomer is a valuable thing. Refined salt was very hard to come by in those days and usually was mixed with sand and other impurities. They are truly “worth their salt”!  World overcomers also attract attention like a bright light on a dark night.  Like light, all eyes are on the overcomers.  The overcomer becomes a beacon, a guiding light, a defining reality that reveals the true nature of what was formerly hidden in darkness.

Next in the remaining portion of Matthew 5 (verses 17-48) we can learn of the world overcomers and their heart commitment to God’s law; not as a means to salvation but as a heartfelt reaction to God’s good will.

In the first eighteen verses of chapter six we read of the acts of righteousness of world overcomers.  In verses 19-34 we get an insight of the overcomers attitude toward material riches.

In the first twelve verses of chapter seven we get an idea of how world overcomers treat others, their brothers and their enemies.  And in the last section of chapter seven verses 13-29 we see the basis of the life and work of the overcomer with a view to the kingdom.  It all rests on doing the will of the Father.

In summary the center of God’s heart and will is to fill the earth, the place of banishment of Satan and his demonic followers, with men: creatures who in their own right are vastly inferior to Satan, yet when in relationship with God are capable of further banishing the evil one to the lowest places of humiliation while at the same time declaring the glory of God through their lives and examples.  These we call world overcomers!  And in “that day” when Christ returns to set up His geopolitical reign of one-thousand years, all of creation will testify to the tremendous glory of a rule unhindered by Satan’s meddling.

Only those men and women who have heeded the prophetic warnings of Christ through the Apostle John in the letters to the seven Churches, those who have remembered from whence they had fallen, and have repented, and have done the first works, those who have held fast to that which they had already attained until He comes, those who have washed their garments, so that they may be clean and purchased ointment so they may see, and those who have overcome, and kept His works unto the end, only to them will He give power over the nations.  This is the adorned bride that will be presented to the universe!  What a wondrous time to be alive that will be.

The recognition of these truths concerning world overcomers serve as an added motiviation to pay the price of holiness without which no Cristian will be qualifed as an overcomer. It is in holiness that the people of God will be qualified to reign with Christ as overcomers and enjoy the privileges of the ultimate ruling class.

The great commission and the eternal purpose of God

the great commissionThe great commission central in God’s purpose

The great commission and its fulfillment is the greatest advance of God’s eternal purpose and is expressed in the begetting of sons like Jesus.  The Father’s will is that Jesus be the firstborn among many brethren.  God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  This of course expresses His will, for man to have His image and likeness, to subdue and rule over the earth and be fruitful and multiply. This is the heart of the Great Commission.  The problem was that man fell.  At the fall man lost his spiritual likeness in which he was originally created. He became carnal and independent while as before He was innocent and fully dependent on God.  Since man no longer possessed the full likeness and image of God, he could no longer be used by God to fulfill His will by ruling over the earth and exercising dominion over it, and there would be no reason for him to be fruitful and multiply in this condition and thus no need for this Great commission.  God’s desire was to fill the earth with men in His image and likeness, and not in a carnal state, so God had to do something.

In Genesis 4:17-22 we are given a summary of the sons of Cain and some of their accomplishments and feats.  In Genesis chapter 5 we are given a summary of the generations of Adam and his descendants.  Again it is important to recognize that no detail in the Holy Scriptures is merely incidental, the Holy Spirit is revealing important details that give insight into what God’s central desires are.

God made a point to separate the descendants of Adam through Cain and the descendants of Adam through Seth who was born after Cain killed Abel.  The two lineages are expressed in distinct manners. Cain’s descendants were distinguished by their accomplishments while Seth’s lineage was only expressed in terms of who begat whom, how old they were when they begat their first son, how many years they lived between each son and how many years they lived after they begat their last son.  This reveals a paradigm shift between those who seek to please the Lord and those who seek to please themselves. The descendants of Cain were the movers and shakers, they built things and made objects, they were project oriented while Seth’s descendants just lived and begot sons.

The Great commission – not doing things but bearing sons

These two paradigms can also be expressed in terms of those who do things for God and those who bear sons for God or more succinctly: doing and begetting.  Adam’s lineage through Seth is traced to Noah and his sons.  God initiated a new beginning through Noah and his obedience to preach repentance and build the ark, not as a monument of greatness or recognition but as a mere vehicle for the preservation of his bloodline.  Through the flood God eliminated all the accumulated generations of man who no longer called upon His name but rather whose wickedness attained its full measure, and whose every imagination and thought was only evil continually.  Only Noah and his family were preserved.  Once again God gave the same command (Great Commission) to Noah that He had given to Adam and Eve.  Genesis 9:1 says:

“So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

However the descendants of Noah did not fill the earth, they remained together and began to corrupt themselves straying further away from the Lord’s purposes.  Man decided to team up and build a monumental city and religious center.  God stepped in and confused their language and they felt forced to split up and migrate in different directions.  Then the genealogical record follows Noah through Shem on down to Abram.  With Abram God initiates His third beginning by appearing to him and announcing that He would make him a great nation, and would bless him, and make his name great.

This time the lineage remained unbroken and through the line of Solomon, Jesus was born of Joseph, and through the line of Nathan, of Mary.  Throughout the generations God was able to bring His own Son to earth to become the “second man” and “last Adam”, formerly called the only begotten Son of God but now the first begotten Son of God.  After the crucifixion and just before His ascension Christ gave what is popularly called the “Great Commission” first recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”

The Great Commission – it’s central goal

The central goal of the great commission is making disciples, going, preaching and teaching and baptizing, all these are the methods applied to make the disciples.  The main principle that is behind all of these activities however, is the spiritual begetting of children for God, this is what Jesus meant when He commanded his disciples to bear fruit.  This is the Great commission that God has now given to the Church which is the body of Christ who is the head.  It is called a commission because the mission is impossible without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit of God yet we must fulfill it.

God has invested Himself in this project, this purpose, this central desire of His heart since the beginning.  It is accomplished by God through man in the Great commission.  The power is of God, the direction is of God, the strategy is of God, all the resources are of God and we as His resources are of God.  Man is God’s key resource, the only resource that possesses its own will.  It is a co-mission because God brings man into His eternal purposes and desires and uses men who freely yield their own hearts, wills and lives unto His purposes.  This is the meaning of being a fruitful disciple.  It is with disciples (men and women created in God’s image with a heart changed and yielded to God) that the Lord will fill the earth and unite all things under the headship of His Son.

All of God’s children who have understood this eternal purpose and center of God’s heart and have made the decision to live in accordance with, and for the benefit of this plan, and submit their time, resources and even their own bodies, as living sacrifices for the fulfillment of the Great commission, are the overcomers who will eventually reign with Christ at His coming and be used to show the entire universe what the world can be when Christ is reigning in every aspect of life on the earth.

Created in the image of God – Keys to God’s plan for eternity

created in the image of godCreated in the image of God

Man was created in the image of God! “In what way?” we may ask. Why does the Bible make it a point to mention that man was created in the image of God?

One of the keys to understanding the bible is to recognize clues to what God’s plan is, answering the question: what does God want? In my post for January 22nd I wrote about getting answers to prayer by recognizing what God wishes to do and recognizing that He uses His people to accomplish His will. In the first few chapters of the Bible we can begin to unwrap clues to God’s plan for eternity and begin to understand the theme of the Bible and how it relates to His will and why man was created in the image of God.

Man was created in the image of God to rule over satan and his hosts

Imagine Satan’s indignation upon strolling into the garden and seeing an infinitely less powerful being created in the image of God.  Satan’s original sin was declaring that he would be like God, for that he was expelled from heaven and banned to earth.  Then what happened?  After God cleaned up Satan’s mess, He planted a garden paradise and made man in His own image.  When Satan saw the man he recognized that God had made something that he always wanted to be but wasn’t: the image of God.  And then God gave him (the man) authority over the earth.  Satan now saw that his place of banishment and humility would become even more humiliating.  Because now a creature who although was created in the image of God, was confined in a physical and very limited body, hardly a match for Satan’s superior and supernatural capabilities.  And yet now he understood that this new human being would be his ruler.  Now what would he do?

Created in the image of God but dependent on the tree of life

In Genesis 2 God speaks of two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These two trees reveal two principles of life.  The principle of the tree of life is dependence on God, and the principle of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is independence and separation from God. The latter is the principal that Satan always works under and must lead man into in order to resist God. God’s will is done in heaven, while Satan’s will is carried out in the air. Man’s will is exercised on earth. Satan soon saw that his only hope to get back at God was to somehow convince man to side with him under the principle of independence and separation from God.  As long as man continued eating of the tree of life he would remain united to God and exercise dominion over Satan and all the earth.   But if he would eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he would join himself to Satan and be subject to him over whom he should have dominion.

Created in the image of God yet separated from God’s power losing his authority

We know the story, Satan succeeded in deceiving Eve and Adam followed her in her transgression and both passed into spiritual death which is separation from God.  God’s will and central plan was temporarily delayed.  One of the results of eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is that man lost his position of dominance over the earth. The whole earth suffered as a result and from that point forward Satan regained his position as ruler over the earth.  He became the god of this world and began to try to consolidate his foothold against God’s further purposes on the earth through the agency of man.  At this point however God had not been taken by surprise, for unknowingly to Satan, He already had a plan to continue with His purposes using the future seed of the very man that originally failed His purpose.  After man’s fall God prophesied to the serpent with a veiled message foretelling that through Eve’s seed He would bruise his head.  In other words God would use man to bring forth another “man” who would be the “second man” and “last Adam”.  This of course was a reference to Jesus Christ the Messiah.

This prophesy and punishment for tempting man is the foundation for God’s plan of redemption.  The plan of redemption covers most of the great doctrines of the Word of God including, salvation, justification and sanctification.  Now remember at this point that none of these doctrines can be central in God’s will and heart because they don’t represent what God has been doing since before the foundation of the world.  The entire doctrine of redemption is a “course correction” or adjustment because of man’s initial failure to fulfill God’s eternal purposes on the earth.  In Romans 8:29 the Apostle Paul revealed a dimension of the eternal purpose of God

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

. . . the next post will show how Romans 8:29 reveals God’s plan and His eternal purpose thus revealing what is central to His purpose in having created man in His image.

Helping others – How God answers prayer

helping othersHelping others – the Key to answered prayer

In order for a Christian to be of any use on this earth he or she must know the secret to answered prayer and have the experience of getting favorable answers to prayer. I have a friend that used to work with the airlines and she said that the instructions (in case of a loss of cabin pressure) for parents or guardians to place the air mask over their mouth first and then over their children reveals an important principle: take care of yourself first and then you can take care of others. The useful Christian must know how God uses man to fulfill His will in helping others. The initial condition is to have your own needs met.

Helping others – the key to being a real help

I know that may sound selfish to some but it is the truth. If you are asking yourself the question “How can I help others?” the answer is by knowing how God meets your needs and having the experience of receiving His provision on a regular basis. Jesus told His disciples “freely you have received, freely give.” The secret is to know that there is a divine sequence to spreading God’s blessing: God helping people, and then people helping others.

Helping others by understanding God’s purpose and intent

The Bible shows us that God has chosen to work in response to man’s prayer. First, God reveals His purpose to man so that man can understand the Lord’s intention. Then with the understanding of God’s intent man grows in conviction of the need for God’s will to be done. Third, man responds by praying to God in accordance with what has already been revealed. Finally, God does His work and accomplishes His purpose in response to man’s prayer. This is how God operates on the earth through His people.

A classic example of this can be found in Matthew 9:36-10:1

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”

First, the Lord is moved with compassion to save, second, He commanded His disciples to pray, third, they prayed, and last, God sent workers and He worked through them to save.

Prayer should always spring from the will of God. He fulfills His will, but He doesn’t do it directly; He uses man to cooperate with Him on earth. For this reason, He reveals His will to man and commands men to pray. Only after man prays will He act to fulfill His will. This is the function and purpose of prayer and how God operates on the earth.

When we understand the heart of God and the principle of how God answers prayer, we have the key to answered prayers! Do you want to know the secret of helping others? Follow these simple steps:

  • Understand God’s generous and gracious heart (by reading the bible)
  • Receive his provision in your own life (before trying to help others)
  • Discern the needs around you
  • Recognize that God is willing and ready to address those needs
  • Become the solution in the lives of those in need around you

My experience reveals an interesting pattern. I have noticed that a considerable number of Christians fall into one of two extremes: One extreme that people who have suffered great need and have experienced calamity in their lives fall into because they are more sensitive to the needs of others is that they feel the need of helping others escape what they have gone through. The problem is that these people have very little means, financially, emotionally, and sometimes physically because of health problems to be of any significant help to others. The tendency is for them to get sucked into the destroyed lives of others while their own lives are in shambles. Instead of being a real help to others they incur more damage to themselves. They shouldn’t yet consider the matter of helping others because they are in no position to help anyone. They need to put their oxygen mask on first, so that they don’t pass out while trying to put one on others.

The other extreme is the lamentable tendency for Christians who learn to get their needs met, live in health and have a structured and ordered life to forget about the needs of others. Selfishness plagues these prosperous Christians. They have forgotten God’s heart and the divine sequence of God helping people and people helping others.

The ideal is to avoid both extremes recognizing that you can’t give what you don’t have and you must share what you have freely received from God’s hand. Be wise and be grateful. Wisdom will protect you from the first extreme and gratefulness will protect you from the other.

Why are we here? The purpose of God in creating man

why-are-we-hereWhy are we here?

Why are we here? This is not a difficult question to answer. This post is a continuation of the post for Jan. 5, “God’s will: Biblical clues to what it is”.

Once man was created, the language in the text emphasizes the fact that he was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27).  In verse 26, after God stated that He would create man in His image, and likeness, He said that he would have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.

I suggest that this verse is fundamental in understanding God’s central purpose and the center of His will and heart. Genesis is a book of beginnings and presents many Bible themes in seed form. What all is included here?  Fish, birds and every creeping thing consist of one distinct category, cattle, another, and “all the earth” yet another.  Man’s dominion over cattle is easily understood. This speaks of man’s rule over domestic animals.  Man’s dominion over all the earth speaks of his ability to use the earth to his own advantage.  But what of man’s dominion over fish, fowl and creeping things or reptiles?  Man has never been able to domesticate fish.  Granted, some birds are kept as pets but in general man does not have dominion over birds and even less so, over creeping things like snakes and other reptiles.  It would not make sense then for these creatures to be interpreted as just animals.

Satan and his demons are sometimes represented by birds and serpents and so this passage only makes sense if we interpret it as stating that part of God’s purpose in creating man beyond having the image and likeness of God is to also have dominion over Satan and his demonic spirits.

Why are we here? It is a matter of representation

In verse 28 after blessing him, God spoke His first recorded words to man which came in the form of a command: “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.”  This was God’s original revelation to man: a two-fold command; fill the earth and subdue it. Why are we here? The answer is to represent God and usher in His order and rule.

Why are we here? It is a matter of reconquest

Now let’s just stop at that point for a minute.  What has transpired so far in the first chapter of God’s revelation to man?  We learn that God created the universe and the earth but the universe isn’t the center of attention, nor is the earth just a small part of the universe, it is the location where God has focused His attention.  God created man in His own image and likeness, blessed him, told him to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.  We know that previously Satan was cast to earth and apparently made a mess out of it since at one point it became without form and void.  This is important because the second part of God’s first words and command to man was to subdue the earth.  Now to subdue something there necessarily needs to be the possibility of resistance.

When God detailed how the earth would be subdued He explained that man would have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds of the air and creeping things.  As mentioned before these types of animals live in relative independence on the earth.  For the most part mankind doesn’t have dominion over these classes of animals.  For this reason it is correct to conclude that it is an allusion to classes of evil spirits that inhabited the earth prior to the creation of man.  From these details we can begin to put together God’s purposes for the earth and His purpose for man in having His image and likeness. Why are we here? The answer is to resist the evil one and displace his influence.

At one point after Satan and one third of the angels rebelled and were cast to the earth, the Lord put order to the chaos that came about with the presence of these rebellious spirit beings.  But besides restoring the order the Lord determined to do something more about Satan and his rebellious followers on the earth.  God is the ultimate winner!  He began to put a plan into place in order to hand Satan an even greater defeat than expelling him from heaven and banishing him to earth.  He would create man, a creature that had His image and likeness and through this created being called man, would eventually judge Satan and his forces and banish them to an even more humiliating state: the pit and the lake of fire.  God’s brilliance in this plan is that He wouldn’t even do this directly but through a creature that has no inherit spiritual power of his own, a race of creatures completely dependent on God’s power in order to defeat Satan and his forces.

Therefore God would magnify His glory, through Satan’s rebellion, by giving occasion for Him to create Man as His agent of revenge in answer to the rebellion of the devil and his minions. The manner in which this is to be done is by God through man and his exercise of prayer.

In the next couple of posts, I plan to present a possible scenario (based on scriptural evidence) of clues that God has left for us to discover His specific master purpose for creating man to answer the ultimate question: Why are we here?

Here today gone tomorrow – Psalm 125

here today gone tomorrowHere today gone tomorrow! -Psalm 125

“Here today gone tomorrow”, without a doubt you have heard this adage at one point in your life. This has become the norm for fashion, music groups, small businesses and recently large corporations like “Borders”.  It is also true of most people and their careers, family, and even churches.  Here today gone tomorrow is definitely not a proper catch phrase for the people of God.  The correct description for the man and woman of God should be something like “Here today, here tomorrow . . . and the next day and the next, etc. etc.”

God inspired the writer of  Psalm 125 to compare those who place their trust in the Lord to mount Zion, which cannot be moved and abides forever.  Is that something that describes the Christians that you know?  Does that describe your life’s story? Are you here today gone tomorrow or here today, here to stay?

A good number of things in life remain for long periods of time.  Most things however pop up and disappear quite rapidly.  People move around the country, the world, change jobs, change spouse, change carriers, it seems like most things in life are in a constant flux.

Few things seem as long lasting as a mountain.  Here the Holy Spirit of God thought it necessary to compare those people who place their trust and confidence in the Lord with a mountain.  Mount Zion, the mountain of God.  The mountain upon which sits the ancient city of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a city that has been around for thousands of years.  It has a tumultuous history but it is still with us.  Scripture records that it will continue to be with us through to the end of the Millennium and God will eventually replace it with a celestial version.

Those who trust in the Lord have been compared not only to the city of Jerusalem which has endured the best and greatest attempts of destruction that mankind can possibly produce but to the very mountain upon which she sits.

Those who trust in the Lord are here to stay!  They are what they are and need on re-invention.  This does not mean that these servants of the most High have never been mistaken, that they have never erred.  One of the characteristics of those who truly trust in the Lord is in the midst of their false starts, their failings, their disappointments and even heartbreaks; they recognize that in the midst of their frailty, disillusion and even stark incompetence, they are under the hand of God and in His oversight.  They stay the course as difficult as it may be.  They submit their lot to the Lord and He eventually establishes them and grants them a wider perspective.

Those how trust in the Lord will still be standing firm while the multitudes are here today making a lot of noise but to no avail because by tomorrow they will have passed away only to give way to another crop of meadow flowers that bloom for a short season and dry up as fast as they bloomed.

The man who trusts in the Lord will remain standing and the Lord will still be encamped around him like mount Zion, the mountains around Jerusalem.

One of the greatest glories of man is to remain unmoved and for the Lord to encompass round about him all his days.  This is the heritage and the inheritance of those who trust in the Lord.  They are by no means here today gone tomorrow.

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God s will: biblical clues to knowing what it is

God s willGod s will: Clues from the Bible

God s will revealed!

God s will, it really isn’t a mystery!  Today I want to begin suggesting clues that I believe God has left us with in His Word that point to His eternal and central purposes.  I want to stress why this is important.  If God has a central purpose for our life and we don’t know it, that would be tragic.  Obviously things could and should be better on this planet.  We must recognize that the state of our lives and the state of the church and the state of the entire world is a result of the choices that man has made, that each one of us have made.  God has a better way!  However, unless we have a clearer idea of what He is up to, history will continue to repeat itself.  O.K. let’s continue . . .

Clues to God s will

In His Word the Lord has left us clues as to what is central in His thinking and purposes.  Starting off at the very beginning of His revelation to man in the book of Genesis we read that in the beginning of time God created heaven (the universe) and the earth.  In the very next verse He began to focus on the earth.  The entire universe gets mentioned in half a verse and for the next few chapters God talks about a tiny speck in the universe called “earth”.  Already we can begin to discern where the center of God’s attention and thus His heart is moving: toward the earth.  In the next verse (Genesis 1:2) we read that the earth was without form and void. This is strange and completely uncharacteristic of God’s nature which all throughout the entire scriptures is described as orderly and excellent.

God s will revealed in the first chapters of Genesis

Without speculating in an abundance of details but yet recognizing that God intends that we understand that Genesis 1:2 is a necessary part of His revelation to man we must stop and explain the meaning and purpose of the three phrases in this verse.  We can safely say that the earth was originally created with form and order because in Isaiah 45:18 we read:

“For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain [tohuw], Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Now this Hebrew word [tohuw] is the same word used in Genesis 1:2   “And the earth was without form [tohuw], and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The word “tohuw” is from an unused root meaning to lie waste; it has been translated as vain, vanity, confusion, without form, wilderness, nought, nothing, empty place, and waste, never in a positive way.  It’s several meanings are: formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, that which is empty or unreal (of idols) wasteland, wilderness (of solitary places) place of chaos, vanity.

So if God didn’t originally create the earth as being without form and void something made it that way.  Some Bible teachers propose what is called the “Gap theory” basically stating that there was a prior creation before God created Adam.  Satan was cast down to this earth and ruined it so at one point God came and re-created the earth.

God s will – maintain God’s order on the earth

Undeniably in the Genesis account several things already existed: the planet earth, water and darkness before the beginning of the seven days of the creation week.  In light of the clear organization of the text it would be more appropriate to refer to the seven days as the restoration and reordering of the creation as described in verse one.  In any case we know that Satan had been previously cast to earth and as a result the original creation had been rendered chaotic and void.  God came and “fixed” the earth and prepared it so that it would be habitable, and blessedly so for the sake of man. From these few observations we can begin to decode the clues to God s will.

Purpose of life – If God has a central purpose what is it?

purpose of lifeWhat is the purpose of Life? What do you think?

Purpose of life, not our choice. Here is a recent conversation that I had with a friend way back from my teen years in the Northwestern U.S.A. On my facebook page Why be holy if salvation is by Grace?

I posted the following phrase:

You can choose your carrier, profession, favorite sport, spouse, city of residence, skills and a whole lot of other things, but you can’t choose your purpose of life. Only God determines purpose of life.  Make sure what you do this year will get you closer to the fulfillment of your purpose.  By the way next week 2013 will be 2% gone.

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Most people, even most Christians are like this turkey, they think it is up to them to decide what the purpose of life is.

The purpose of life revealed!

In Proverbs 25:2 Solomon declared that It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.  The Bible labels the Church as a nation of kings and priests two times in the first part of Revelation, once by the apostle John and a second time by the twenty-four elders.  The Lord Jesus is the King of kings, because He is our king and we are called to be kings to reign with Him.  There are a number of truths in God’s Word that seem to periodically “disappear” from the attention of the majority of Christians. Luther was the first man after centuries of church history to “rediscover” grace. Years later the principle of the priesthood of the believer was rediscovered.  None of these truths have ever been absent from the written Word, but possible for several reasons, the Lord seems to periodically allow certain truths to be overlooked, only to raise up someone to re-discover these precious nuggets of truth at a later point in time.  So this is the nature of God’s glory to conceal precious truths, and it is the honor of kings (the overcomers) to search out these matters.
One of these matters which seems to have been forgotten and has somehow slipped out of  the collective mind of modern Christianity is the knowledge of God’s central goal in creating the universe, the earth and man.  Or in other words: What is central to God’s heart and will?  I asked this question on my Facebook page “Why be holy if salvation is by Grace?” and invited several pastors and Bible teacher types to answer the question.  Judging by the amount of members on the page and the amount of members who answered the question, the great majority decided not to even try to answer the question.  Here is a breakdown of those who replied: As of the date of this publication 316 people answered the following survey question:
In five words or less complete this sentence: God’s central purpose is . . . .
Forty-five different answers were given.  Here are the top five:

  • To have a relationship with us – 127 votes
  • To glorify Himself – 30 votes
  • To redeem man through His Son – 24 votes
  • Whatever pleases God – 16 votes
  • To be worshiped by us – 14 votes

Most of the members of the aforementioned page identify themselves as Bible believing Christians, a few are self-avowed atheists and the rest are probably just curious onlookers.  From these results then it is reasonable to conclude that most people even among those who claim to be Christians, are not clear on what God’s central purpose is. These results should be disturbing because if a reasonable sampling of “God’s people” are not clear about what His central plan and goal and His fundamental desire in the whole of creation is, then His good, perfect and agreeable will not be experienced by His people, and this will result in the misunderstanding of His character and intentions and the fulfillment of His wonderful plans will be delayed.

So what do you think the purpose of life is?

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