25 June 2010
A recent "Question of the Week" listed five of the devil’s lies which sound close enough to the truth to make them believable. On my blog "Building His Body," I did five posts this week to address those lies in more detail:
• Monday – "You'll never be worthy of God's grace or love."
• Tuesday – "If you have faith, it doesn't matter if you sin."
• Wednesday – "Following Jesus solves your problems."
• Thursday – "Problems indicate God's condemnation."
• Friday – "If you love others then you're loving God."
If you haven't seen them yet, I invite you to look over those posts.
Q&A for next Friday (July 2) will address how to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit. Hope to see you then!
18 June 2010
'Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
~ Deuteronomy 32:39 (NKJV)
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[In praying for healing], should we really be demanding our way, thinking we know what is best? Or should we strive to learn whatever lessons are hidden in the sickness and trials we may be going through? [I’ve been] told that because healing was not granted, the prayers ... were not earnest, fervent, or persistent enough. ~ Hannah Meyer
The short answer? Ask in faith without presuming upon God's answer. But there's a mighty fine line between faith in God's perfect will and presumption of God's sovereign will.
It's been explained this way: Between God’s perfect will and God’s sovereign will is the place to exercise human free will.
If you ask ten theologians to explain the intersection between divine will and human free will, you'd likely get eleven answers. I won't pretend that I can best them or that I have all the answers. Today's question falls into the category of my adequate but imperfect understanding, and that's what I'll share.
Almighty God does not allow human will to trespass His sovereign will. But God’s perfect will requires our cooperation. If we walk closely with Him so that we understand His will in a situation, if we rely upon Him so that He empowers us, and if we are submitted to His Spirit so that He has His perfect will—then we will experience His best.
There are a lot of ‘ifs’ and a lot of yielding that must occur for us to obtain God’s perfect will in our lives. We are nonetheless assured that we will not fall short of His sovereign will and promises.
Prayer is an opportunity to cooperate with God’s perfect will and seek to obtain His best while still acknowledging His sovereign will.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
~ Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
Those who belong to Jesus Christ are assured of healing. But we are not assured of when it will occur, or if it will occur at all before we are resurrected.
Jesus spoke of "sickness unto death" because death and therefore sickness are a continued part of our existence for now. If sickness is a means of testing or character building, it may be healed when those are achieved—or it may be the Lord's intent that it continue throughout life (as was the case with the apostle Paul). When injury or sickness exists as a direct result of our actions—whether spiritual, emotional or physical—perhaps it will be healed when those conditions cease. If sickness exists for the purpose of glorifying God, it may be that miraculous healing is ours for the asking.
For more information on the reasons for sickness, see "Your Healer."
A similar question was previously answered in the post "Why Pray."
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: sacredpursuit.com
11 June 2010
"The recognition of sin
is the beginning of salvation."
~ Martin Luther
"What exactly is the Gospel? I hear that term all the time."
The word "gospel" means "good news." The Gospel is the best news ever shared.
The Gospel's good news comes with bad news. The devil doesn't want you to believe either one.
The Gospel is this: God sent His Son Jesus to the earth to die for our sins. His death may be credited to us so that we ourselves need not pay the death penalty for sin. We obtain that credit as righteousness, through our faith in Jesus Christ, by God's grace as His gift.
The bad news is that the Gospel's value to a person diminishes in proportion to how lightly one looks at sin. Here are three common views.
1) If I believe I am not quite bad enough for God to actually send me to Hell, I will neither fear God nor understand my genuine need of a Savior. Grace and Heaven will be considered an entitlement rather than a gift. I will believe I posess salvation because of my intellectual agreement or association with religion. My life will be lived for myself rather than for God. If I claim to be a Christian, my failure to bring God glory will defame His name.
The Bible says such belief, without fear of God and Hell, is less than a demon’s:
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
~ James 2:19 (NKJV)
2) If I understand that I am a sinner who needs salvation to avoid Hell, I'll accept God's gift of salvation. But if I think I'm not all that bad a sinner—that my sin is simply human nature—then I'll be inclined to see salvation as something collectively bestowed upon a portion of deserving humanity. I'll likely retain the self-righteous pride which looks down on the “real” sinners, struggles to extend forgiveness, and is selective with love.
I cannot love God until I get past such pride:
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
~ 1 John 4:20 (NKJV)
3) If I believe Almighty God created me, laid down commandments which I've violated, and is offended by my sin; if I see my sin as a filthy stench which covers me and makes me offensive to a good God; and if I understand that Holy God provided the precious blood of His Son to clean away the filth of my evil because of His great love for me—then I will consider the Gospel the greatest of all good news, gratefully bow the knee before God and humbly accept His Gift, and love my Lord with all my heart forever:
"Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
~ Luke 7:47 (NKJV)
Here are some lies the devil does want you to believe:
• Your sin is so bad that you'll never be worthy of God's grace or love.
• If you've been saved from sin's death penalty it doesn't matter if you sin.
• Once you make Jesus Lord of your life, your problems are over.
• Problems in life indicate God's condemnation for your sin.
• If you love others then you're loving God and don't need to love Him first.
Further questions about the Gospel (or about Christianity / the Bible) are welcome.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image from the movie Passion of the Christ © 2004
04 June 2010
The triquetra (from a Latin word meaning “three-cornered”) is an ancient symbol for the Trinity. It comprises three interwoven arcs, distinct yet equal and inseparable, symbolizing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct yet equal Persons and indivisibly One God.
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When we speak with words such as "return" or "reconciled," we do imply separation. Is it possible that we both hold and not hold God within ourselves? Or that He does and does not live in us? And if God dwells in us, how can we be separated from Him and be empty?
There are various kinds of separation. And since one God is expressed in a Trinity of three distinct personalities—Father in Heaven, Jesus the Son, Spirit Counselor—our types of separation with each Person is different.
"Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father."
~ John 6:45-46 (NKJV)
There is an order within the Trinity. The Father holds supreme authority above creation and creatures, over humanity and angels, and above the other two Persons of God. No one of the earth may see His face. The ugliness of our sin, however small we think it, separates us completely from His absolute goodness (or holiness), and makes us His enemy—with no permission to enter His presence. Accompanied by Jesus, we have the right to enter the Father’s presence in prayer, make peace with Him, and be adopted as His child. We are then fully reconciled to Him spiritually and have the privilege of as much time in His presence as we spend in prayer. But we will not see His face before the day we go to where He is, in Heaven.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
~ John 1:14 (NKJV)
Jesus is fully God. He expresses the Father in logic as the Word of God, in creation as its Maker, and in human flesh as God become Man. When we take in Scripture, we are in the company of Jesus the Word. In perception of creation (including of ourselves), we know the Creator. But Jesus the God-Man now resides in the Paradise of Heaven. We are physically separated from Him until we meet in Paradise upon physical death, or when we meet Him in the sky at the rapture.
"It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."
~ John 16:7-8 (author)
No one is separated from the Holy Spirit. Named Paraclete, or Counselor, He is present in the voice of conscience which convicts any person of sin. The Holy Spirit may come upon a person in more strength and give the power to do what pleases the Father. The Holy Spirit comes into the person who entrusts himself or herself to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will occupy as little or as much place as is given to Him. When He fills a person, His presence cannot be missed. When He is given a small measure of trust, He occupies a small space, and may even seem absent.
Yesterday’s post on my blog is titled “Father, Son, Spirit.” Those interested in my personal experience of relationship with these three Persons are invited to read more there.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: anglicancatholic.ca