FAITH NUGGET #1
The FINISHING WELL Conference Darcie & I had the honor of conducting at The Church in Ramey this past weekend was an absolute blessing, but it did help us to see that we have some “holes” in it. To help fill in some of those holes I thought this “FAITH NUGGET” series may be helpful.
The first nugget that I want to deal with is the “faith like a grain of mustard seed”(ESV) vs. “faith the size of a mustard seed”(NASB).
FACT # 1 was that the words “the size of” do not appear in the original Greek manuscripts but were added by some well-meaning translator in the NASB & NIV……..thus making it very confusing and a contradiction.
FACT #2 was that Jesus was rebuking His disciples for having an “undeveloped” faith, one that should have been far beyond its beginning point……..they were called “little faith people” by Jesus several times in their earthly journey with Him.
The nugget I would like to add into the mix of this has got to do with this whole area of “development”.
A mustard seed, being the smallest of all the food producing seeds, needs to be;
1. Planted in rich soil to grow properly,
2. Protected from insects and disease,
3. Pruned properly so it doesn’t grow lop-sided.
A disciple’s FAITH needs the same thing. The author of Hebrews & Paul said this about a disciple’s FAITH;
Hebrews_5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Hebrews_12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
It is crystal clear here to see that Jesus is the “planter of the seed” of a disciple’s faith, and that the faith given was given in “measure”( or a limited portion in the Greek). The idea here is that the FAITH that God gave was enough to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He did implant the Holy Spirit within His disciples as a guarantee that He would finish the job AS DISCIPLES ALLOWED HIM TO DEVELOP THAT FAITH.
Ephesians 1:11-14 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Okay……..the “planting” part seems to be covered enough. Next time we will look at #2 & #3, see if you can jump ahead and find some for yourselves.
After my “quiet time” this morning I felt the need to add a few lines to this post in regard to “focusing”! When Paul was writing to Timothy in the final days of his life he penned; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the FAITH”. What that verse tells us is that this was a man who was FOCUSED. He had a “God-given” goal and he didn’t allow anything or anyone to prevent him from accomplishing that goal. In my quiet time I was impressed (again) with the word “preoccupation”……..a “faith killer”! So, my challenge today is to allow the Holy Spirit to prompt me when I am tempted to lose focus on anything that preoccupies my time………anyone like to join me?
Please click on the “FOCUS” link a second time when it comes up with the caption.
“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James
rav•ing (ˈreɪ vɪŋ)
1. talking wildly; delirious: a raving maniac.
2. extraordinary in degree: a raving beauty.
3. furiously; wildly: raving mad.
4. Usu., ravings. incoherent or extravagant talk.
1. an insane person.
2. a person whose actions and manner are marked by extreme eccentricity or recklessness.
3. Law. a person legally declared to be of unsound mind and who therefore is not held capable or responsible before the law.
So……………..a speaker of truth in the midst of a deluded mass of humanity………is considered a “Raving Lunatic”.
John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (emphasis added)
So…………………..you could label Jesus as a “Raving Lunatic”……..which they did……..you could label all who faithfully “keep His word” as one too.
So……….who do you want to be identified with………and are you prepared for the consequences of that decision.
I always liked Keith Green’s description of himself……..he would say; “I’m bananas for Jesus”……….I would hope that people will say that about me once I’m gone……….maybe my kids will put it on my memorial plaque!
How about you?
“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”
If you consider this quote by Dresden James and apply it to the convoluted definition of the Pre Tribulation rapture position being force-fed to the masses of Christianity……..you can clearly see who has really created the “well-packaged” web of lies.
The enemy of our souls is working overtime in deceiving the saints in any way he possibly can. He is a master at his craft…….just like a spider is a master at creating a web and then positioning it close to a “light” to optimize his snaring of his prey.
The false teachers in today’s apostate church, who are being guided and directed by the spirit of antichrist, are very much like a spider……..positioning a “well-packaged web of lies” in front of the “light” of God’s Word. The spider catches its prey to eat it…….the false teacher catches their prey to only cripple them in regard to the “TRUTH”……..so that they will not be prepared to stand firm in their faith until Jesus returns……..they are preparing to escape.
THINK ABOUT IT………PLEASE!
EPHESIANS 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
2 TIMOTHY 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Ever since I was compelled by the Holy Spirit back at the end of October to stop all “warnings” I have had a ache in my heart for much of the body of Christ. Because of that ache I still look for things that will be beneficial in the “tumultuous” days ahead spoken of in 2 Timothy chapter 3………the following is one of those things………please read and consider it.
I haven’t issued any warnings for the past 60 days since I received a prompting from the Holy Spirt to “stop”………so this is not from me but a warning that needs to be listened to and seriously pondered.
As I was sitting in a church service yesterday, listening to a great teaching on the LORD & SAVIOR of Christmas, the pastor gave a short, but very profound, example of “church” gone wrong. He was sharing about what he had seen at a gas station on his way “to church”. There was a really nice canoe, with all of the fancy fishing stuff, on its way to some great fishing hole. The fisherman that was pulling this canoe had named it “MY PEW”. Now you can imagine how that was interpreted by a pastor…… on the way to his “church” …..ready to give a message to his sheep….. in their “PEWS”. However, as he gave his interpretations, they were not the same as mine…………I was asking myself the question; “what was it that this person did not get in the PEW of the church building that caused him to exchange it for a seat in a canoe”. It could have been (and probably was) the obvious fleshly desires we all have…..or it could have been an absence of TRUTH from the PULPIT that finally just drove him away. I’m sure if this pastor would have seen that same canoe with “MY PULPIT” written on it he would have looked at this person entirely differently.
That thought led me to the question of myself………self, where is your PULPIT? If we truly are “THE CHURCH” (a living and breathing ORGANISM)…and we have sat in the PEW under some teachers of TRUTH….then each of us should have a PULPIT……..not just sit in a PEW for our entire Christian life being fed tidbits of the latest “so-called” Christian FAD OR SELF HELP PROGRAM. I thought back to a TV commercial of the 70s for Burger King………”WHERE’S THE BEEF”!
Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
The last line of the verse above has a very profound statement which is absolutely applicable for the times and seasons we are about to venture into as the “living and breathing organism” of the CHURCH that Jesus is building. You will notice in the following verse that this is what took place AFTER the church was persecuted and scattered (Acts 8:1)……..not while they were comfortable in the PEWS of the church in Jerusalem………think about it!
Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
This living and breathing “ORGANISM” (Jesus’ Church) continued to increase to over 1,000,000 million souls over the next 300 years……..that totally encircled the Mediterranean Sea……….and then it got institutionalized………..and mostly turned into an “ORGANIZATION”. The book of Acts is still being written today by those who are “going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit”! Is your “COMFORT” in the Holy Spirit’s guidance……..or are you just “COMFORTABLE” in the pew?
Paul wrote to Timothy about the “difficult times” of the last days (2 Timothy 3), and I have known for a long time that my PULPIT is for a selected few who are “being built up” to help Jesus’ church to stand firm in their faith during this time. I would ask for your prayers as I continue in this quest……..and that I won’t succumb to the temptation to just name my fishing boat “MY PEW“!
This world is not my home….
I’m just passing through….
My treasures are laid up….
Somewhere beyond the blue….
The angels beckon me….
From Heaven’s open door….
And I can’t feel at home….
In this world anymore!
1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliensG3927, scatteredG1290 throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
G3927 παρεπίδημος parepidēmos
From G3844 and the base of G1927; an alien alongside, that is, a resident foreigner: – pilgrim, stranger.
G1290 διασπορά diaspora
From G1289; dispersion, that is, (specifically and concretely) the (converted) Israelites resident in Gentile countries: – (which are) scattered (abroad).
As I was sitting in my quiet time this morning, this song was going through my mind; VISIONS / NOT OF THIS WORLD . I took our daughter to a concert some 25 years ago where this group did this song……….and the words of TRUTH are playing out in our lives each and every day since then.
As we continue this study in 1 & 2 Peter I think it would be appropriate to stop and go back to the very beginning of the letters……..and see if perhaps we have forgotten just who (and what) we are. Give the songs (whichever one you are familiar with) a few minutes of your day and then look at the rest of it in that light.
Anxiety…….what anxiety……..do I look like I’m suffering any ANXIETY ????????
Of course…….if that picture was really me there would be a lot less hair to be pulling out!
1 Peter 5:6-10 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, (7) casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
(8) Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (9) But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
(10) After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
In watching the news of this past week it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make the determination that stress levels have increased within much of the population of our country. Stress & anxiety are two of the major “killers” of our hyper-driven society, they account for much of the physical problems of the human body and even can be labeled as a disease……….even coming to that understanding creates its own anxiety………time for a pill!
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
The world has its many ways of relieving stress from heavy drugs, to just going fishing (I’m particularly fond of that one)…….but being a true believer, and accepting the fact that ANXIETY & STRESS are an EXPECTED condition of that position, our Lord and Savior has provided His own “relief system”……..casting ALL of it on Him.
You will notice however that right after Peter admonishes his readers to do that, he goes into a warning of someone who is constantly working on the circumstances around us to create the stress and anxiety……..hoping that we will resort to our own methods (which in actuality are his “methods”) of relief. This is where we get the word “scheme” from in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers;
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemesG3180 of the devil.
G3180 μεθοδεία methodeia
From a compound of G3326 and G3593 [compare “method”]; traveling over, that is, travesty, (trickery): – wile, lie in wait.
So, as the stress & anxiety increase in our lives we are going to have to make a conscious decision to “cast ALL our cares upon Him”…………with the key word being “ALL”. Our human nature wants to cast SOME of those cares on Him and take care of some of the cares ourselves……..thus creating more STRESS & ANXIETY. Hmmmmmm………better go fishing to get some solitude to think about that one!
1 Peter 4:14-17 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to beginG757with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
G757 ἄρχω archō ar’-kho
A primary verb; to be first (in political rank or power): – reign (rule) over.
Because of the many Internet posts being shared over the past couple of days on the judgment of God being immanent for our country because of the overwhelming support of anything and everything godless………and because this coming Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church……….I felt it necessary to jump ahead a little in our study of 1 Peter. In the above portion of scripture the Holy Spirit is prompting Peter to draw a very clear distinction between the two groups who will suffer God’s judgment. He didn’t include a third group that would escape this judgment…….it is simply two groups……..the righteous and the unrighteous. We have to remember that this was a letter to the CHURCH…….not to the general populace as a whole. What he was saying is that within the CHURCH there are those who will suffer God’s judgment as a righteous Born Again believer and those who will suffer as a non-Born Again follower.
We have a tendency to look at the major things listed above in distinguishing between the two groups…..but that’s because in Peter’s day the CHURCH had very definitive lines drawn between the truly saved and the unsaved. Today’s “progressive” & “emergent” church has so blurred the lines that the average Christian has no idea how to distinguish between the two. This has been a very successful tool that the enemy of our souls has used since the beginning……just blur the lines. CHURCH leadership that have listened to & followed the wrong spirit have de-emphasized the importance of things like spiritual warfare, prayer, holiness, ETC. and replaced it with entertainment, psycho-messages, and anything & everything to blur any line of distinction. Much of this kind of folly is because they have lost all fear of God being a GOD-OF-HIS-WORD. God’s word (as written above) is very clear…..judgment will come……and it WILL BEGIN in the household of God……..that they (church leadership) will be held accountable for their leading;
James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowingG3609a that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
G3609 οἰκεῖος oikeios oy-ki’-os
From G3624; domestic, that is, (as noun), a relative, adherent: – (those) of the (his own) house (-hold).
The Greek is very clear here……..these teachers knowingly accept the responsibility of teaching the TRUTH of God’s word IN ITS ENTIRETY! If they fail to do so they knowingly accept the ramifications of their teaching. If there is “NO FEAR” of God and His inerrant Word…..then there is “NO FEAR” of His Judgment for them as teachers and “NO FEAR” of what their teachings have done to the sheep that will face the judgment…….that WILL BEGIN in the “household” they are responsible for!
So…….this Sunday, are we going to be guided to pray for the believers around the world who are suffering for their faith………or are we going to be guided in examining something else……..all WILL be judged……….STARTING IN THE HOUSE!