With all that you probably have going on in your life right now, why in the world should you give a hoot about whether or not your name is in heaven's reservation book? Well
Try admitting this to yourself: that you don't know for sure that Jesus is a fraud, and Christianity is false, and heaven and hell are mythical places, but not real places where people spend eternity. You are not 100 percent sure that there is nothing to it.
If we were to name some pastors in America who lead the way when it comes to encouraging Christians to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the first person I think of is Jim Cymbala at The Brooklyn Tabernacle. His latest book, "Spirit Rising," is another home run where he lays out the path to greater effectiveness for Christ. I had the pleasure recently to sit down with Pastor Cymbala in his office and discuss the work of the Holy Spirit in the church today.
Sex is more than just a physical act. There is also a deep spiritual aspect to sex. But you probably knew that already, didn't you? Or at least you may have had an inkling of it in your soul.
A well-known television preacher was earnest in this recent plea to his viewers: "Give your seed an assignment." He compared the Father sending Jesus to earth with an assignment....to that of viewers sending money to his television ministry. The announcer then came on and encouraged viewers to "target your seed toward your greatest need." The announcer said that in response to their financial gift, the minister was believing God to give the donor "a life-changing creative idea, supernatural favor, and a debt canceling miracle." What a deal!
Every human being is influenced by spirits from a different world. Even those people who don't believe in spiritual beings are nevertheless under their control. The reality of the spirit world is not based on human reason. It is based on fact. It is what it is. The fact that it is invisible to the human eye does not make it any less real.
So you got saved. Welcome to the family. But now what? Before you are tempted to go out and try to imitate other Christians who are living a good life, I have a better idea for you to consider. Forget "imitation." Think "impartation." Think filling. Think fullness.
The "Jewish God" is the one true God. He always has been, and always will be. By the term "Jewish God," I am not talking about a definition of "God" that most Jews would endorse. I mean something different. I mean the "Jewish God" of both the Old and New Testaments as revealed to us in Scripture.
OK….so you have been burned in church, or in marriage. Who hasn't been? I mean at least in some significant way. All of us who have been in churches for decades, or married for decades….or even just for a handful of years....we all have a testimony….and I don't just mean a testimony about the good stuff, of which there is plenty….I mean the other stuff too.
As Olympians are currently striving in London to earn medals and get on the platform, I think of all the Christians in the world today who are focused on winning a different kind of medal. St. Paul described this holy pursuit with these words: "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)
So what exactly is a Christian? Is it a person who believes certain things? Or maybe a person who does certain things? Or is it perhaps a person who experiences certain things? Yes. Bingo. That is correct....on all counts. All three of those characteristics describe what it means to be a Christian.
Anyone can be converted to Christianity....even you. If you have already been converted through faith in Christ, then you are thankful for it. That spirit of thankfulness is part of the proof that you have truly been converted. If you have not yet been converted, you have no idea how you will look at things after your conversion. You have not been there yet....all you have are preconceived ideas of what it must be like....and most of them are probably wrong.
If you are a Christian who prefers to stick with definitions which are found in the Bible when explaining your faith to others, try doing this sometime. Ask the spiritual leader at your church, "Is it fine if I never use our denominational label, but instead only identify myself as a 'Christian' when talking to others about my faith?" The answer you are given will tell you a lot about the amount of spiritual freedom in your congregation.
Hollywood can create some incredible special effects, but it cannot heal the hearts of those who lost loved ones in Aurora. It cannot pick up the pieces now that someone has lived out the behavior which the "Joker" presents to us on film. Like those who live out their porn-fueled fantasies, James Holmes lived out his fantasy to be a real life Joker and killer. In the end, he was just a pawn of the "O.G." and he carried out his master's wishes.
If Karl's grandpa knew what he was doing by saving all those cards, don't underestimate what God can do by choosing to leave an inheritance for His children. You are probably not wiser than your grandfather....and you are definitely not wiser than your Creator. Don't allow your defiance to defeat your faith.
Try to imagine an existence where you never have even one desire that goes unfulfilled. Do you have any idea what that kind of world will be like? How often do you allow that approaching reality to flood your heart and your mind?
This one here is a doozy. Did you know that there have been religious teachers in the "Word Faith" movement over the years who have taught that Jesus was born again in hell? Seriously. Talk about a blasphemous doctrine. Anyone who teaches this heresy is presenting a different "Jesus" in their "ministry" than the Jesus of the Bible. God does not need to be born again. He is God....without sin....and without the need for the new birth.
As the dust begins to settle on the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold ObamaCare, no one is questioning the motives of eight out of the nine justices. Only the Chief Justice has had his motives called into question.
How did we get to this point in the Christian church where so many believers dig in their heels when it comes to their view of baptism? It's not like your belief about baptism gives you any more of the Holy Spirit than is given to those born again disciples who believe differently about baptism. "Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it." (1 Cor. 12:27) Your doctrinal position on baptism does not make you as a believer any more a part of the body of Christ.
Have you ever been at your wits' end with a relative or a friend? You have tried over and over again to help that person come to their senses regarding their self-destructive behavior....but to no avail. Sometimes after you have cried all the tears you have to cry for someone, you find yourself shaking your head in bewilderment and even laughing at the foolishness of their reckless behavior.
Two summers ago in our community, a 34-year-old man was strangled by his pet boa constrictor. It took place in his home as he was showing off the snake to a friend. Cory Byrne died in a local hospital just hours after police officers and paramedics pried the 9-foot snake from his neck.
While all born again people agree on the Gospel....and the doctrine of the Trinity....and the doctrine of Christ's two natures....we are not in full agreement on many secondary doctrines. This isn't necessarily a problem in and of itself. Unfortunately, we sometimes take it a step further and attempt to push our "pet doctrines" upon one another.
So you are now a born again believer in Jesus….and you wonder what is coming down the pike for you in this new and exciting relationship with God.
There are few topics more emotionally charged in our society today than the hot potato of homosexuality. It is out of this intense emotion and pressure that some ministers have been persuaded to proclaim that homosexual behavior is no longer sinful. Most of the people who subscribe to this new doctrine have a close friend or relative who struggles with same-sex attraction. It is a highly personal matter for everyone in that situation.
Every Christian hits rough spots at times where a particular sin just seems to get the upper hand for awhile. It might be a grudge....or impure thoughts....or jealousy....or whatever. By God's grace, believers somehow manage to bounce back and get beyond these spiritual setbacks. It's so much better to be living "in the zone" of God's abundant love, power, and boundaries.