Determined Faith, Discipleship Thinking

Determined Faith: A Decision to Seek and Touch God

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Mark 5:21-43  where Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, has sought out Jesus and requested for him to come and heal his dying 12 year old daughter.  As Jesus is on the way to Jairus’ house there is a large crowd of people that are approaching, gathering, and begin following him.  They were trying to get close to Jesus because of the great things that they heard about him.

The story takes on an interesting focus as the “camera” turns to a woman that had a 12 year old issue of which she relentlessly searched for a cure with no positive results.  In verses 27-28 the Scripture reads, “She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.'” (ESV)  This narrative of the woman within the story of Jairus ends with positive results for the woman.  Her name is never given but her mindset may be one of the most important insights we can get from the Scriptures as it pertains to the power of determined faith (see v. 34 of the same chapter).

Though there are many applications that can be drawn from this passage I will only focus on one.  That is the woman’s determined faith.  It is her determined faith that caused her to make a decision to do something different.  Not only did she do something different, her determined faith caused her to believe and trust that her actions would produce what was seemingly impossible.  In other words, if she simply considered all the she had done then she may not have made the decision to continue in her relentless search for wholeness — her salvation.

Yes, her previous attempts put her in man’s hands and this time she was in the Master’s hands.  But how many of us today have gone through a number of scenarios where we have trusted that people would be able to help us, or that they would simply do what they say they are going to do?  How many of us charge to God what are the failures of mankind?

Sure we could agree that she had nothing to lose.  But doing something under the mindset of “I have nothing to lose” rarely, if ever, has a foundation in faith.  In fact I would say that the exact opposite is true.  The “nothing to lose” mindset is one of hopelessness not of hope.  Hopelessness certainly is at least an attribute of faithlessness.

What I love about this story is that at some point she made a decision to seek God and touch him.  While there were many people that were “pressing in on God” she believed something about Jesus that his fans did not.  It is even interesting that Jairus sought Jesus that he would come and touch his daughter.  But this woman did not seek Jesus to touch her but that she, finding him, would touch him.

It is a subtle difference but I believe it is a noteworthy difference.  Believers often sit, pray and wait for God to “touch” there situation.  Rarely to we not only carry the circumstance to God in determined faith seeking to touch Him.

It’s funny as I read through the passage that God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was not even looking at her!  Yet her faith and determined faith to fight through the crowd, to find Christ, and touch him made her well.

Determined faith doesn’t just look like prayer, it looks like purposed prayer and purposed fasting with a relentless reliance (faith) on the compassions of God.

Make a decision to seek God.  Make a decision to reach for God to touch God and believe that when you initiate contact with him he will surely supply to you that which you are seeking him for.

Prayerfully develop a determined faith.

#CellsOfLife

Rev. Brian Green is an ordained Associate Minister at Emmanuel Baptist Church of Laurel, MD.  You can connect to him on Twitter at @ChristEternal

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Discipleship Thinking, Waiting On The Voice From Heaven

Waiting On The Voice from Heaven

As bible teachers all over the land exhort the people of God to “wait on the Lord”, “listen for His voice”, and any other phraseologies that encourage people to listen with patience to the Lord for direction in their lives there is often a misconception or misunderstanding that goes forth. So many believers find themselves paralyzed by un-surety.  “Does God want me to do this…”  “Maybe God is saying this…”  “What if I hear Him wrong”.

Where we have failed the people of God is to give some practical explanation to “hearing from God”.  Here I will give just one application and hopefully it helps a little.

One of the ways that we hear from God is by moving in a direction in faith.

This is not to suggest that we have not prayed on a particular thing before moving, it is to point out that sometimes waiting on the voice from heaven requires movement.  What type of movement?  Well, recently someone close to me asked for my counsel on a decision to purchase a car.  In their deciding they had essentially come to the mindset that “whatever God has for me I am willing to receive”.  This is a great place to be!!!

This is the only thing though: how can you know what God has for you unless you go out and gather (this is a practical expression of faith) information that will allow you to make an informed decision?  You see, sometimes waiting on the voice from Heaven requires movement.  Whatever God has for you He has for you but make sure you are not accepting something just because you are expecting Jesus to appear at the point of decision and say “Yea” or “Nay”– it doesn’t work that way 🙂   though I wish it did to sometimes LOL

Without going into the person’s story step by step suffice it to say that when I was updated along the way it was wonderful to see how God was moving in their life.  I am one that loves to see God moving in the lives of those around me; this is especially true when I can be witness to growth spurts in those that long for the Lord and to please Him.

When we are moving in a direction trusting that the Lord will guide us along the way we will experience the very manifestation of Faith in Christ that we long to have.  Why?  Well, because sometimes waiting on the voice from heaven requires movement and His answer is then manifested by the information we gather or things we see along the way.

This waiting on the Lord thing is a life long wrestling match with our “self”, but the above is one way (there are several) to approach your desire to hear from and follow the King of Creation.

http://www.cellsoflife.org                                                                                              #CellsOfLife

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Discipleship Thinking, What are your thoughts

What are your thoughts

Dr. John MacArthur recently wrote a blog article that has ruffled a few feathers to say the least. The comments were aimed at several of the actions of people within the culture and specifically some of the actions of the Christian groups such as the Young, Restless and Reformed movement.

I would like to invite all of you to read the article and leave me some comments.

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A Reintroduction, Actions show the heart, Discipleship Thinking

A Reintroduction of Me

So it has been several months since my last post. Trust me I didn’t realize it had been so long. I looked up and it was like, “you know, you haven’t haven’t written anything recently”.

It’s not like there wasn’t anything going on. Actually it was quite the opposite.

Anyway, allow me to reintroduce myself…

This is my blog. Here 99.9% of what is written is Word driven, Word derived, and Word drenched – that is to say, the content here is impregnated with the Word — I write what I eat.

When I say “Word”, I mean the Word of God. When I say “the Word of God” I mean the Holy Bible. When I say “the Holy Bible” I mean the unadulterated, Spirit-inspired, Living Word of the only Most High God, I AM.

I am not pushing my beliefs, I am stating what I live and I live what I believe. Since so many people are coming “out of the closet” I figured this was as good a time as any to follow suit.

The public would call me a Christian (conservative no doubt, since I believe in the contextual truth of God’s word and not the ‘word’ as interpreted through the “modernization” of culture). I would not refer to myself in that way since the title seemingly includes in it an undefined group that does not hold to the sanctity of the Scriptures but more or less are defining themselves with something that seems good — the title in the statement “I am a ‘Christian'”.

No I am not a Christian in that sense. I am a FOLLOWER OF JESUS THE CHRIST.

In this Laodicean Age of corporate Christianity we often fail to make public the narrowness of the road to Calvary. That declaration requires the individual to state in word and show in deed the truth of God —

The willingness to be criticized, ridiculed, deemed chauvinistic
(narrow minded), or just flat out archaic in thought (lacking intellectual aptitude) is what standing in the gap and on the front lines for the cause of Christ looks like. The Kingdom of God is hand.

Not that I have ever lived “in the closet” however, I can see the culture trying to force people like myself into a closet. I can only state what I believe and stand on what I stand on. No, I don’t believe that everyone has to believe what I believe (that’s not freedom). However, I also would not buy-in to the promotion of intellectual diversity that is being passed off and packaged in an ideology of “fair-ness”. This screams intellectual instability, which births ignorance.

Trust me (or at least consider what I am saying), the “relative truth” movement is a contradiction in itself and screams for people to swim in the Evian bottle (of course that is Naive). If truth is relative then the statement that truth is relative can’t be true since truth would depend on the opinion of the individual. So what’s true for you is what’s true for me even though what you believe and what I believe may not line up. HUH?!!!! right.

Enough of that for now.

Allow me to reintroduce myself. I am a Follower of Christ with the Kingdom of my Savior in view. I speak Christ because I live Christ. I live Christ because I eat Christ. I am what I eat. I live Christ because He died for me (and the rest of fallen humanity).

So maybe I am lacking intellectual diversity, or maybe I am just brainwashed in the indoctrination of religious fanaticism. Guilty? If I am guilty of such charges then those stripes are worth bearing to attain the promise of eternity.

If I am wrong then the worst that can happen is annihilation or re-birth as some animal, insect or something. If I am right, are those that are in opposition willing to accept the consequences of being wrong? You do you and I’ll do Christ.

Allow me to reintroduce myself: I am REDEEMED.

Be Blessed. Be True. Be Sure. There is no second chance in Eternity.

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Discipleship Thinking, General Articles, This is where God has you

“This is where God has you…”

I have been around for a little while now in ministry and witnessed several trials that brothers and sisters in the faith have experienced. I admit that I am often at a loss when I see some of the things that God allows in their lives. Being a servant my first reaction is to jump and and SERVE where ever and how ever I can. There are times though when the Spirit of God has sternly warned me that my interactions will cause more distress. At these times I serve “outside of the trench”.

I have written the above to acknowledge that sometimes we must say to those going through, “This is where God has you”. There are times when we ourselves must recognize “This is where God has you”. That being said it is amazing to me how quickly saints and professing believers come to this place. I am not talking about those that serve the body I am talking about those that always want to “pray for you” instead of walk with you. I am referring to those that speak about faith but would have a very difficult time provided enough evidence to be convicted a “Believer in Jesus Christ”

It is interesting that many of us never consider that some of our brothers and sisters are not going through because of their own decisions but because of others. What then? “Well, doesn’t God control everything, and thereby even if they are going through it is God’s will?” I have heard that question posed several times (or at least some variation of the same). The question is good and I will give a response but I will first submit that most of the time those that give this question as a response are looking for justification as to why they are not willing to serve.

The above question is still a good one. While I would probably be considered more a Calvinist thinker as opposed to an Arminian thinker in my approach to the scriptures and God’s providential intervention and governance of humanity and those chosen by Him, it is alarming how so many rely on the Romans 8, “God works all things out…” to justify their lack of compassion or sacrificial servitude (of course quoting this scripture in its entirety may help in determining proper application).

Why not consider what James says? Does what James writes about partiality (2:1-13) and then focusing on the treatment of saints (2:14-17, 20) work with Romans? Is the using of Romans 8:28 in circumstances like this an appropriate application based on the passage? It is proper to consider that when we quote the word of God that the context of that which is being quoted must be understood before imputing “God’s will”.

The whole “it must be God’s will” is a long and debated subject. One says that it was God’s will for Israel to have an earthly king because without it there is no Jesus (God was actually already king). Of course the only problem is that the Bible declares that it was not the will of God (1 Samuel 8:4-9) but the will of the people which God allowed to come to pass and then worked it out for them (as we have seen and will see).

Supposing something is God’s will does not make it God’s will. So what are we to do? Obviously determining God’s will can be difficult.

Well, we should consider that everyone that is in a trial is not there by choice, may not be there by God’s divine will, and is not there because of a chain of bad decisions or for the purpose of God’s chastening. Sometimes people are in trials because God is giving us the opportunity to serve Him. Sometimes serving God doesn’t happen on Sunday during worship service. You don’t go to the Gas station to serve but to get serviced. Sometimes serving God brings you out of your normal-ordinary life into experiencing His extra-ordinary life.

No, this does not mean that we must try to do everything for everybody (that’s for the extremists — calm down). It does mean that being under the banner of the Blood looks like sacrifice for others. While I would love to be able to tell everyone all of what this means in application in your life… I cannot… I am not that clairvoyant (LOL).

Be careful with the imputation of the saying “This is were God has you…”. You never know, you may be prophesying over your own life (pertaining to an opportunity to serve). Have we looked for an opportunity to serve God (not on our terms that is)? Do we care to look?

When you have the ability to do for someone and you do not do for them your prayers for them are meaningless. Praying on how to serve someone is good. Praying on whether or not you should serve is fruitless because we’ve already been commanded to do so.

Look and see what opportunities God has given us…

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Discipleship Thinking, From Orphan to Heir

From Orphan to Heir pt.2

So now that we have established that the view of the Orphan is skewed but real, let’s move on to try an uncover how this mindset is created and developed.

The “orphan” mindset begins with how one views God. I recall growing up in the Catholic faith and having this image of a stern and strict God implanted in me from the very beginning. God was portrayed as inaccessible and easily disappointed, rewarding the sinner with gifts of suffering for a job well done. In fact to access Him there were many mediums, all of which had been ordained through a good decision to following God in their own power, who now sat in between mere mortals and the Almighty.

They were known as Saints. They prayed and acted on behalf of the sinners that sought the Lord through them. Ultimately, it meant God was not accessible. He was not near. He was too holy and busy to have time for insignificant me.

What is interesting to note here is that this is partly true. That is, we are insignificant in some measures. Let me say it this way. In comparison to the majestic and powerful God we are indeed insignificant if we are measured in such a manner. However, God sent His very significant Son on behalf of these insignificant people. In other words, in God we are not measured in light of significant ability (or inability) but in light of relationship.

Here is an example to consider: a piece of art to someone that is just seeing “a picture” in front of them, to them it is just a picture or nice piece of work, but to the one that has a history with that piece of art the value and significance of the artwork is greatly increased. The “orphan” must come to understand that relationally we are the artwork of the Father, bought by the Son and sealed in the Spirit. We are of great value to God, not because of what we do for God, but because of what we mean to Him.

So, how do we capture and hold on to the truth about what we mean to God. It is easy to say “just remember that He sent Jesus”. I can tell you from experience that transferring the knowledge of Calvary from one’s mind (intellect) to their heart (being) can prove to be difficult.

We must start from the beginning. In other words, we have to go back to the initial salvation experience. Jesus declares this in John 6:44 that it is the work of the Father that causes the knowledge of Christ. The question can be asked at if we consider the Scripture, why would the Father do this? — It is interested to note that one will be hard pressed to find many scriptures in the Old Testament where God is referred to as a “Father”(here are a few Ps 68:5, 89:26; Is 9:6; 38:5) —

The obvious answer to the above is LOVE. Difficult to determine in the midst of our culture is what genuine love looks like. How can you measure love? I mean, if I do not experience the same level of financial “security” (this is oxymoronic for the believer) does that mean the Father loves me less? Most would say no even though the doctrinal positions taken can indirectly suggest that somehow this is true. It is those the correlate every unfavorable thing we go through with a sin. While it sounds logical it is not doctrinal for if it was Calvary would be senseless.

The “orphan” must get to an understanding that our individual circumstances are not a reflection of God’s disapproval of us, but rather, they are the manifestation of His work to conform us into the image of Jesus the Christ. Yes, sometimes the Father will chasten us because of sinful acts, but it is far fetched to believe that every struggle is based on a sinful act. Some struggles, trials, or tribulations are placed in our lives for the purpose of development.

Everything God allows carries with it divine purpose. In order that the we demolish the “orphan” mindset, we must come to accept this truth. Love is saturated with purpose.

I can hear someone saying, “But what do I do when I can’t see the purpose of what seems to be unrelenting suffering… God can’t love me as much as…

more to come….

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Blatant and White, Discipleship Thinking

The Blatant and the White

Scene 1

Wife: Hunnie (said with a whine) Do I look fat in this dress?

Husband: YES! Why do you keep asking me?! You looked fat in it on Monday and after your normal routine of burgers, fries, milkshakes and the rest of your comforting dietary needs now that we are at the end of the week you actually look a little bigger. Congratulations!

Scene 2

Husband: Hey baby. Do you think my arms are getting a bigger?

Wife: Wow (said slowly and with a slight hint of confusion). Really?! (said similarly) I mean, are you asking me if your arms are getting bigger after 2 days of 3 1/2 minutes of intense working out and 56 1/2 minutes of complaining about how you should have never stopped working out while your WATCHING the P90X video as if it were a means of entertainment. Or are you asking me if the gallon of ice cream and the Giant Size #17 from Jersey Mike’s the last three days has somehow made the stretch marks on your arms (the evidence from your past build of athleticism) longer because of the added flab from this week’s baptism of grease soaked goodness?

Obviously the above Scenes are a mild attempt to bring some humor to what is otherwise a very serious problem that can have dire consequences. By now you have figured out that the title refers to lies.

We should consider that some may not believe a lie is ‘that’ bad when it is necessary to protect. Protect what, right? Well some may say their intention is to protect the feelings of others in some way, however, the truth is this, it is always an attempt to protect themselves in some fashion (e.g. avoid being the bearer of bad news).

A few scripture references: Gen. 12:11-20, Gen. 20, Joshua 7:10-12

Abraham in the two accounts above would have told what may be considered a “white lie” (Sarai/Sarah was technically his sister). Typically a white lie is an untruth sprinkled with some truth. The adjective prior to the word “lie” is there to insinuate the harmless nature of the lie. Biblically, there is great destruction that can be caused by the telling of a “white lie”. It can cause an unsuspecting person their life. It can cause an unsuspecting community unfruitfulness.

In the case of Achan, his actions would be considered blatant by most. There was no truth “sprinkled” anywhere around what he did. It only caused a few thousand lives to be lost, unrest in an entire nation, and of course his and his family’s lives.

Truth be told there is no such thing as a “white” lie. All lies are BLATANT. Unfortunately many have become quite artistic in their fairy tales and some even govern their entire lives by them… even lying to themselves so creatively that they actually believe the lies themselves and get angry when you won’t.

If we are honest we would probably admit to partaking in the adventure of a lie(s) in some manor (maybe even recently). Maybe we have even found that white lies turn in to more lies and tumble into even more until they become something originally unintended. This is always the case.

What do you believe about the lies you tell? Are they “well intended”? We would do good to be very mindful in our communications, that they are not incorporating even the slightest of untruth. After all, we don’t know whose life we put in danger; the person we are speaking to, ourselves, or even our own children.

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