“Are You Saved”

images“Are you saved?” I can remember as child a Baptist preacher saying every week without fail the words; ‘Are You saved?’ I believe those 3 words are possibly Baptist’s greatest contribution to the faith. You may know a lot about Him, but do you know Him? If there is no grieving or sorrow over your sinful condition…no witness of the Spirit, then you don’t know Him. For Jesus to truly save you, you must believe you are drowning and in need of saving—otherwise the broken cry for a savior is not heard and He cannot save. It is a matter of need…do you need Him? Do you see your very real need of His love and forgiveness? Or, do you see yourself ‘pretty good’– never considering that one sin…it’s rebellion like witchcraft that has you under a spell of deception never considering yourself that bad; it is your only weak link, but it is powerful enough to destroy your whole life with that one unredeemed failure. I see God is not mocked and sin must be atoned for. What are you doing and where are you taking your sin for atonement? Because what He takes, He covers–what He covers, He redeems, what He redeems He changes, and what He changes He keeps for Himself with a movement of the Spirit that directs my steps to increase as His disciple and witness. So, I ask you again, “Are You Saved…Are You Really Saved?”

His Cross

Jesus is in the making and what it takes to make disciples of men by way of His cross. I recently saw some youth bound in hand with their bibles in a local coffee shop, and it blessed me. We live in an age where many are seeking for a real expression to relate to this Jesus and His Lordship in their lives. It is a great thing we would aspire to do. It is however, important to remember in this new age where the music seems to lead the discourse, it has always been about the word of the Living God. Here is a thought to add to this modern age perception of all things as Christian. Jesus is not in the hairdo, or in sporting the new tattoo; He is not in the anti-establishment, or in being different for different sake; He is not in strange for strange sake. He is making His mark on men as aliens and strangers because they find a place for humility and brokenness because they are working out their common salvation through the living breathing Word of God. The music, and I love music, should lead me to brokenness, thanksgiving and praise as I walk as His disciple enslaved to nothing in this world, it’s thinking or culture. The music alone will not produce disciples, only a relationship with the Living Word can do that. Is the word you are hearing making you more like Jesus, or are you being defined by the pop-culture you are living in? His cross is not a new concept, but a clear command of the word; it is timeless rugged thing that leaves one strangely following the movement of the Holy Spirit keeping in step as His disciple, shedding the mantle of worldly influences to be uniquely His–He was pierced for a different cause and that will likely leave you more persecuted than popular because the way of the cross will always be the defining mark of real Christianity.

The Valley of Deliverance

The anointing God gives is powerfully useful to advance His kingdom. It becomes however, a matter of vision and focus to properly use what God gives. I think of men like Samson who with the strength God gave, delivered a nation, until he became focused on his own pleasure and his strength failed. When men choose to look away from God, their faith becomes paralyzed by fear. In the book of Samuel, David stands as a picture of faith and focus. He becomes God’s tool to set the record straight for us there in a valley between two mountains of influence. David stands against that Goliath in your life that has continued to degrade your faith and usefulness to God’s kingdom. Have you misused your freedom in Christ because you were looking the other way? Your wayward look has brought you under a yoke of fear and bondage keeping you from advancing where God would have you go. No war was ever won with decisive victory by talking the enemy to death. No sir, victory will requires decisive action. It’s the obedience factor to the word which we hear. God wants to use us, but not until fear is gone and the enemy is silenced. In some real sense our Christianity has become too much a product of our culture. Our reality based TV shows have influenced ‘real life‘ for too many believers. It’s like everyone is in the same pot of water and it is beginning to boil watching the same images that promote real-life moral decay in a society that says they are ok with everything while standing for nothing. Everyone is drinking out of the same bottle and it has made them drunk with the wine of immorality; time is past for passivity and not speaking up. It is time for God’s people to act and to move with Him. Where the enemy taunts, God calls to action. The questions are these: Will you be caught looking with the masses the other way, or will you recognize the anointing God has bestowed on you? Will you move with God to behold the situation that lies before you with the eyes of faith and focus? Will you expose the enemy’s lies to you–about you–sent to defeat God‘s purpose in you–so that you fail to possess that inheritance He’s given you? I believe God wants to bring you to a valley; it is a valley of decision, it’s a valley of deliverance. The valley is to address your passivity and blindness. In 1 Samuel 17, David represents here a type of Christ, sent to deliver a nation because he was not afraid to enter the fray. Unafraid to move forward there in the valley of decision–in the valley where forces collide. There is a valley in your life of two opposing forces, one of God and the other contrary to His will and His way. In that valley there is a very real enemy who taunts and scoffs at the things of God and at those who find themselves on His side, however timid they might be. He calls out to you; He taunts in this very hour. The word says, ‘Goliath, the champion came out to Israel and taunted God’s army’. Goliath, the word says was over nine feet tall. He was big, just not as big as the lie he and everyone else had believed, but David would not be part of that culture of fear. He had come from outside that culture–from the sheepfolds and a place where he had witnessed God’s ability to deliver from death. You see the enemy is a champion of fear; he champions fear by telling lies that he will prevail and not you. He looks to cast aspersions on your character and ability by telling you, ‘you’re not mature enough, not big or strong enough’. All of those things being what they are, still he underestimates the greatness of your God when you stand in the window of opportunity and say what God says. The word says, David ‘ran quickly to the battle line’ and took decisive action because the time for talking had past, and the need for swift action had come. Deliberate action in faith gets God’s attention and His favor, so that you do not act alone. His awesome power will move with you, bringing you to see victory and the prevailing word of God that will bring all those around you under the influence of His word and power. When you move in faith through your Goliath, you create a testimony God then uses to publish His fame in a way like you could never imagine. Your single act of obedience creates a single spark…but driven by a great wind that spreads the power of His name like wildfire. David in his youthful zeal would serve at God’s pleasure to tell a story of timeless influence proving, if but one thing, that God needs little more that your readiness to be His instrument. You see, man has a fame that awards himself, but God rewards and uses those who lay self aside–there on the battle line of His reputation to call forth glory in the face of the foolish. Are you listening to the Enemy’s degrading taunt? How’s it working out for you? Run to the battle line of obedience and sling the truth of God’s word letting it fly with boldness to declare the Greatness of YOUR God who slays the champion of fear.

Change My Heart O God

There is a instance in the dialogue between the prophet Samuel and the newly appointed King Saul concerning what would be for the Lord’s chosen vessel.  Samuel said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightly and you shall prophecy, and you shall be changed into another man.  The word states in 1 Samuel 10:9, after being told he must wait, ‘God changed Saul’s heart in one day’.  The point is that in one instant God with one thought, one word can powerfully change your heart to His.  The question for you today as was always with Saul is this; will you serve God under His distinct annointing which can loose your tongue and change your life?  Today I am impressioned with the simple little song which says, “Change my heart O God, make more like you….” So great is His influence He can change your heart today!  A friend recently shared a letter written by Corrie Ten Boom in which she declares strength for every believer in these days by saying each must find their own Pentecost and be endued with power for what comes on the whole world.  Will you get yourself still before the Lord today and let Him inspire and create in you a clean heart filling your life with His power and purpose?  You are His Ambassador–but only with the changes He can make in your heart–today!

The Application of the Cross

Sometimes I am wanting to find the application of this word into my life, but I’ve got no aptitude for it.  To that I would say, “God give me a mind for what you think, so I could be effective as your disciple.”  I came across this scripture  the other day taken from Isaiah 50 which says; “The Lord has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.  He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” Often, we look for ways to apply this word in our lives only to find the simple truth is not merely conveyed with great oration or vivid illustration.  The truth however is best understood by what Jesus said in Luke 14, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” While men often go here and there to find great preaching looking for that one great illustration, nothing connects me to Jesus like the cross.  Jesus is affirming the cross as a means of application but more importantly as a means of identity.  When by taking up our cross we deny ourselves, we are saying no our thinking and to our own reasoning and even our own cause.  When we do that, we are identifying with the thinking that had Him at the cross for us in the first place.  Taking up my cross aligns my life with the cause and thinking of Christ.  Presently, most Christians know more about God than they are able to apply for lack of the cross.  All of us have a cross to be sure, but is yours currently out for repairs?  Paul said in Galatians 2:20; “I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 delivered Himself up for me.” Paul saw himself as crucified with Christ because He’d taken up His cross.  There was with Paul a death to this world and its thinking, but also the applied ability to actually live as Christ would because he had nothing else to live for.  Full faith in Jesus had taken over his mind to actually comprehend the height and depth of Christ’s love for him.  That is ultimately what Jesus is saying in Luke 14, namely this:  that as long as you have something else your living for, you won’t carry your cross.  Jesus is saying, ‘nothing can come ahead of me, so get square with me and I will order your thoughts aright and connect your head with your heart and you will live and speak as my disciple.’

The Priority of His Presence

God desires that you overcome today. David gives us the proper focus in Psalm 27:4 when he says, ‘One thing I have asked of the Lord and that I will seek..’ He underscores the high priority of God’s presence staying focused on the place where His glory dwells with us. I believe today God is saying on the basis of His word, you and I need to arrive at that place of decision–a place where we take a stand with the Lord and seek His presence. He says, ‘follow these steps on your way to seeing greater confidence living an overcoming life’. He says, ‘Fear no man; make no room for evil; and ask what you would that I could do for you. I will do mighty things even greater that what you could ask me for.’ Stand today in the fearless abode of a loving Father who desires to publish abroad a miraculous testimony through your life that rescues, heals, and delivers.

The Mountain of God’s Presence

There is a view behind my house, although it is hidden by the trees, that I’ve often wondered about.  I had a sense it was a grand, glorious view, if but one could only rise above the obstacles that blocked the beauty of it.  While recently looking at I map, I discovered something I had missed.  A very short distance behind where I live was Mt. Sinai; it is one of four recorded summits in the area.  My discovery brought so much excitement, I spent the best part of a day just trying to find a way to go up the mount.  In my search, I began thinking of Mt. Sinai in the Exodus chapters 3 and 19; it was the place of God’s presence, and a place where he spoke promises.  Then this thought occured to me, ‘Mount Sinai, the Mount of God had been there behind my house all along and I didn’t know it’.  You know what I suspect?  Mount Sinai is there shortly behind the place where you live and you failed to understand its significance.  It is a place of glory; Jesus lives there in God’s presence making intercession for you, like Moses, to behold that glory so you might be His witness.  He says to you pull off your shoes, for this mount is holy.  It represents a place of consecration in your life laying aside some things.  Like those trees, blocking the view of His glory, He says to you, ‘rise above to get a view of the mount; make the discovery that it is near to where you live–it is near to your struggle, near to your fears, near your failures, near to you bonds’ saying, ‘come to my glory and remove the obstructions.  Come to the mount, it is a place where I reveal my name, my position, my Kingdom, and my Lordship to you.’  After the cross, Jesus resumed His rightful position and is now living at the right hand of God to pray for you to receive God’s power.  We are told to come boldly before His throne of grace that we might find mercy and grace in our time of need.  It is interesting to note, Moses brought God’s people to the foot of the mountain, but only Jesus fills full the word by bringing us up the mount to a high place with Him.  And there near His footstool, He says ask what you will and I will make you to live for me and that more abundantly.