If Thou Canst Believe

Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

This verse begins with the supposition that “If thou canst believe” then all things are possible.  Since this is the KJV  it may not make sense to you so it can be easily translated to “If you can believe”.  The first question that comes to mind is, Why couldn’t I believe?  What are the qualifiers that limit my believing?

First of all, believing is a spiritual response rather than an emotional or mental response.  It is not based upon anything that lies within us alone but it is based upon our relationship with the Lord Jesus.  No amount of straining or effort will aid us in our believing.  Our predicament  does not necessitate the working of the Lord nor does our desires.  What God will respond to is our faith in Him.  It is our dependence upon His wisdom and ability that produces great results.

In order for us to believe, we must first believe that He is limitless in His power and love.  This comes by our knowing Him.  Experience by experience we grow in our faith in Him.  Time and Time again He has proved his ability to overcome life’s barriers and give what is best for us.  This relationship is built one trust at a time.

The question then becomes, Have you walked with the Lord until you are at rest with Him in charge, against whatever you face?  The possibilities are only limited by your faith in Him.  Do you believe that He has your best interest in His heart?

 

 

Update

This past week has been difficult for me as I have had cataract surgery on my right eye on Tuesday.  I have had a cold that settled in my chest all week and then on Wednesday I had a return trip to the eye doctor and then a class on Wednesday and I got run down  so I took a rest day on Thursday and then back to preparation for the Sunday class.  In all of that, I failed to make my blog entry on a couple of those days.  I’ll do better this week as I am feeling better and don’t have the extra doctor visits.

the good news was that when they checked my eyesight on Wednesday, I was 20/20 in my right eye only one day after surgery.  I have since noticed that things are not fuzzy like they were before and I no longer have double vision.  God is so good to allow me to live is such a time as this that they can do so much to help us see.

Seeing

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God

I was thinking about how amazing it is to be able to see.  I have also tried to comprehend what it would be if you were blind.  It seems that there are several facets to seeing.  There is the physical aspect and there is the aspect of understanding and then there is the aspect of seeing spiritually.

Looking at the physical aspect it is fairly easy to grasp the difference in seeing and blindness by simply closing your eyes.  What happens is that you quickly loose the imagery of sight and your reality takes on a new dimension.   I used to work in the mines in Colorado and have been in total darkness for a little while.  You try to see but you cannot make out any details of any kind.  Your reality lacks definition and you begin to grope about to find anything that you can detect with your other senses that you know and can understand.  It can be very confusing.  There are stories of people who have been in total darkness for extended periods and have gone mad  without light.  Physical blindness is a definite handicap on life but it is not the worst kind of blindness.

I like puzzles and have a number of them in my study.  I find great pleasure in figuring out how the puzzle is  solved.  Solving problems is a big part of what makes our society work.  Understanding is essential in the overall function of all machinery.  It is basic to our value system and defines relationships.  You have all seen the “Ah-ha” reaction expressed in a cartoon as a lighted bulb or the expression of realization with the widening of the eyes in understanding.  This is seeing through the problem to a solution.  The inability to see through a problem is another type of blindness that will greatly limit your quality of life.

Perhaps the worst type of blindness is the inability to perceive the spiritual.  Those who have this type of blindness do not even know that they are blind.  Perception for them is limited to the physical and mental dimensions of the physical world.  They are unaware of the spiritual realm because they do not even have the eyes to see it with.  To get them, a person must be born again.  He gets his spiritual eyes upon his spiritual birth, just as a person gets his physical eyes at his physical birth.  Yes, I know that he has them before his birth, but their function really begins upon their birth.  Until you are born again you are spiritually blind; and that is the worst type of blindness.  This is just one of the reasons that Jesus said, You must be born again!

The Gospel

On my last post I shared some basics on writing your personal testimony and pointed out that the key to an effective testimony is the gospel.  It is a word that we Christians use a lot and with a lot of different meanings.  I would like to clarify some of the confusion about what the “Gospel of Christ” really is.

There are a lot of gospel messages going around today.  I even saw one that was titled the gospel of the mechanic.  We need to identify what gospel we are addressing.  When we address the gospel of the Bible we are talking about the good news of Jesus Christ.  This is not the good news of the sports world or financial possibilities, but is specifically about what is the good news about Jesus Christ. The word Gospel means “Good News”, so it begs the question, “What is that good news?”  To be the gospel about Jesus Christ it must be good, that is personally beneficial; and second it must be news, that is current.  Sometimes I hear the definition of the gospel as, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  However great and wonderful that story is, yet it is not the gospel, but history.  Yet it is not to be dismissed either because it is the foundation of the Gospel of Christ.  Without it the gospel would never have been possible.  So we come back again, What is the gospel of Christ?  It can be summed up in two words, New Life.

It is not a life patched up, it is not a life of doing better, or trying harder.  It is altogether a new kind of existence.  It is the life described in II Cor. 5:17 (the new creation of God).  What was utterly impossible before is now possible when we live our lives by faith in Jesus as Lord of our lives.  I could never live up to the demands of the law but I can follow Jesus by faith in His ability to deliver me spotless and blameless to the Father.  God’s requirement is no longer for me to meet the demands of the law because Jesus has met all those requirements.  God’s requirements for me now is to accept Jesus by faith. He is the provision for the laws requirement and He will then deliver us spotless and without blemish. (Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.)

Provision for a sinner like me has been established that I might be presented spotless to God is indeed, Good News!

Writing your Personal Testimony

In today’s Sunday School class we studied the apostle Paul’s personal testimony and we closed the class with the challenge that if you haven’t written out your personal testimony, then you should.  It is one of the most powerful tools you have as a Christian to share the Gospel with others.  They may disagree with it but they cannot deny it.  Like the song goes, “I was there when it happened, so I guess I ought to know.”

There are three essential elements that go into an effective testimony.  The first element is what were you before you were saved.  You are not trying to tell all of the stories of your life, just enough to validate that you were on the wrong track.  Essentially, it will boil down to I was trying to go through life without Jesus to forgive, love and guide me.

The second essential element is What Happened?  What occurred that caused you to see that you were on the wrong road and how did you discover the right road?  The circumstances will probably be unique and different but the outcome will wind up as a personal experience with the one who died in your place and is now alive and you now know who He is, Jesus.  If this had never happened to you then you still don’t know for sure.  If it has, then it caused a life changing direction in your life and you are now dependent upon and a follower of, Jesus, who is the Christ.  (Jn 7:17)

The third essential element is What changes has this experience made in your life?  If there has been no changes and you are living just as you were before this experience then there is a problem with your testimony.  It could be that you did not meet the Lord but were dependent upon an experience or something other than the Lord.  If you meet him then there will be a change.  It may take a while for you to learn to listen to His voice or to know when He is guiding you but change will certainly happen.  If there is no change then it is worth finding out why.  It could also be because you have some doctrine (teachings) that you hold that contradict with the Bible.  If you truly want to know then read you bible and He will show you the error.  It may be painful to discover that what you always thought was so was really tradition or even superstition.  Another possibility is that you have been deceived in some manner and you need a trustworthy source that will aid you in your search.

You should write it out then review it.  Then see if you can improve it.  Then use it and then go over it some more so that you have the document that accurately relays your story.  It is one of your most effective means of sharing the gospel.

Interruptions

I spend a lot of time at my desk because that is where I do most of my work.  I also have an amazing focus on what I am doing.  This is both good and bad.  It is good because I can zone out a lot of distractions and get a lot of work done.  It is bad in that an interruption really throws my focus off and I have on occasion been quite frustrated because I lost my train of thought.  It then causes me to be rude and sharp.  It is bad also, because I have lost track of time and missed important meetings or stayed up much later than I had realized.

I am currently learning to look at interruptions in a whole new light.  Where I had formerly considered interruptions as a detriment, I am now learning that they are a part of life and sometimes contain a wonderful blessing.  Whereas, in the past I have not appreciated the outcome of my reactions to an interruption, I am now starting to see a better result.  So what is making the change?  First of all, I think that my attitude is changing.  I now view an interruption as something that is important rather than a hindrance to my progress.  Other people make a huge contribution to our progress in life and therefore should be treated as an asset and a blessing.  Situations do not have feelings or preferences, they just are.  Blowing up at them only demonstrate our own need for growth.  Sometimes they are the opportunity we have been looking for.

Another adjustment I am making is that I realized that I was not demonstrating the grace of God.  Instead of being reactive, I am becoming more patient to allow the Lord to work on me and to give the interruption its due attention.  After all it is the Lord that guides the events of our lives and supplies us with all we need to do His will.

In spite of the progress I have made so far, I still have moments of confusion as to what is the right course to take.  I am still a work in progress but I know that the Lord will not leave me half done and He will continue to work on me until He finishes His work on me.  Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Enough Time

“I just don’t have enough time.”  Have you ever heard someone say that?  Perhaps you have said that yourself.  Isn’t it is interesting that everyone has exactly the same amount of time, 24 hours a day.  It isn’t how much time we have but how we use it.  I remember riding with a guy once and he was cut off in traffic and his response caught me off guard.  He said, “I wonder how he is going to use the 3 seconds he just saved?”  Every second we have is simply an investment into what we believe is the most valuable.

Then there are those who “have nothing to do.”  There seems to be no urgency to do any particular thing.  They are simply marking time.  Often you see people watching the clock, just waiting until a certain time when they can cease their inactivity to do something else.  I know that sounds silly, cause it does to me, but that is how they live their lives. Their creative juices have dried up.  They are not working toward a goal to improve themselves or their circumstances.  They are dutiful in their work and bored.

Then there are those who are always looking for another existence.  Everything is wrong and they fight the system and the people around them.  They do not have any hope and they just want out.  They are not living life, just trying to escape it.

Occasionally, you run into someone who just seems to be doing everything.  They are excited about everything.  They are productive, happy, energetic and find meaning in every event that comes along.  Especially, the small things, simple things, discarded things, and society’s rejects.  They always have a listening ear, time to help, defend the bullied, etc.

So what is the difference?  It is in their value system.  The things they invest their time in are the things that are often overlooked, or undervalued.  They see Mr. opportunity knocking and respond.  They have the belief that seconds are precious and life is soon gone, never to return.  They have discovered that time is a precious gift from God and the proper use of it is part of their stewardship.

Divine Appointments

Monday was my scheduled time to meet with the prayer team for our church.  You never know what God has in mind for you and Monday was no exception.  The weather was cold and windy. When I got there the attendance was lower than normal.  But here was a man I was unacquainted with, who was there.  As it turns out he is representing the Southern Baptist Convention in ministering to the Sutherland Springs Baptist church. He shared some things about the horror of the shooting, how the church is responding and how the Lord is using this situation to further His kingdoms work.

It was such an honor in getting to pray with him and then later to get to know him a little more.  I had an immediate connection with him as he also has a burden similar to mine.  He works with disciplining new pastors, equipping the saints and seeking revival. He then told me that before coming to this prayer meeting that he felt the distinct impression that the Lord was directing him to come.  When he thought about it and was thinking I don’t really see any reason to come, then the Lord persuaded him that he really needed to come, so he did.  Then he surprised me by telling me that he we also have another common bond in a man who was instrumental in my own life, Manly Beasley.  As we talked together I quickly realized that this was one of those divine appointments.  He and I both left with the distinct impression that we will be working together in the future.

Today I was in Home Depot getting some things for my small garden and as I was checking out, I felt impressed to engage the clerk in conversation.  When I did I found that he was more than willing to talk.  He not only responded to my lead but engaged me in conversation about the Lord.  He asked me several questions and even opened the door to further contact so I gave him my card.  As he looked at my card he noticed the picture of my book and began to quiz me about it which led to my website.  He thanked me and assured me that he, too, felt that this was a meeting from the Lord.  As I walked away, once again with the distinct impression that I had been at another divine appointment.

If you remember that I invited you to come along with me while we go on an adventure of faith.  I confessed then as I do now that I do not know where this journey is leading but it is quite evident to me that He is leading.  It is so exciting to see the Lord as active now as he was 2000 years ago..

Redeeming the Time

You’ve heard the phrase, “Time is money”.  You have 24 hours each day, which equals 1440 minutes a day.  If you assume that you need 8 hours of reset each day and you need 4 hours a day for personal time for things like eating, dressing, bathing, etc. then that leaves you with 12 hours a day for you to invest into things like Worship, study, work, ministries, recreation, creativity, etc.  To put it another way you have 1220 minutes per day to invest into the activities that you deem the most important.  Consider your investment of time as you would a budget.  Where did you invest your 1220 minutes today.

You can understand a person’s values by analyzing his budget.  Since today is Sunday and it also happens to be the date of the Super Bowl, it would be insightful if we would evaluate how we spent our 1220 minutes today.  We often say that worship should be high on our list of values so we could count 1 hour for Sunday School and one hour for Worship services and 30 minutes for travel to and from these events making a total of 150 minutes of the 1220 minutes of your day, or 12% of your available time for worship which would say that you have made worship a priority.

Now let us look at a second event, the Super Bowl.  A game is 60 minutes but by the time you add in all of the commercials, the breaks in the game such as halftime, etc., the game will become a three hour investment or 180 minutes 16.4% of your day for entertainment.  If you add a pregame and/or post game event it could turn into a  major portion of your day

But you argue that the Super Bowl only comes once a year, which is correct.  But to be equally correct you should add in all of the time spent on football for the year.  It could be equally argued that Sunday only comes once a week so that percentage would be much less on a weekly basis.  It could also be that you spend time in your daily devotions, study, etc. which would also affect the percentages.  It could also be argued that football is only one type of recreation which would also effect the percentages.

My point is not to determine what the percentage is but to invite you to do some personal inventory on how you invest your 1220 minutes of each day.  It can be an eye opener, especially if you are honest with the total picture.

Because each day is filled with different opportunities as well as challenges, you will find that there is a variation of results and over a longer period of time it can help you to see where your values really are.  The main thing is that you make each day count.  It may be an expenditure, an investment or even a waste.  Your values will determine that, but even if you don’t agree with how you spent your 1220 minutes you still have the opportunity to adjust it each day you are given an opportunity.

I leave you with two verses that you may want to study a bit closer.                            Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.                               Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

 

Pruning

Joh 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just shortly before He faced the cross and may well have been His last opportunity to leave them with insights on how to move forward in the kingdoms work.  He was using the illustration of pruning grape vines in order to increase grape production, but it is applicable to all fruit growing plants.

I planted a peach tree in my yard a year ago, I thought it was dead last spring but it began to grow and grew over 4 foot during the year.  In fact it did so well that I had to prune it this spring.  I am not expecting fruit this year and if any does develop, I will knock it off.  Right now I am trying to develop the tree that will be able to support a large crop.  The sacrifice today will be more than repaid in the years to come.

There are two vital principles that are involved in this illustration. One is that the tree or vine will produce limbs and leaves in preference to producing fruit.    It will use the bulk of its resources to produce limbs and leaves and of whatever remains it will produce fruit.  Consequently the fruit is mostly seed, the flesh is smaller and doesn’t taste as good as it should.   It has the mandate from God to grow so it interprets that as producing limbs and leaves with fruit production as of lesser importance.

This could be a description of some of our churches today.  Growth is equated to having facilities, programs and certain doctrines.  It appear healthy and may even be carrying its financial obligations.  But there is a glaring problem.  Baptisms are down, there are additions but there is also a steady loss of members. The membership knows that there is something wrong but cannot identify what or why.  They have fallen into a subtle trap that Satan is using very well today known as program-ism.  It is based on the misconception that God’s delight is in our building churches with full programs that meet everyone’s personal needs.  When it truth, God delights when we grow in faith (Heb 11:6) and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

The second principle is that fruit only grows on new growth.  You never get fruit on last years growth.  Pruning the tree or vine will cause the tree to produce more new growth, on which the fruit will be the natural product. We must be thrust into situations that require us to trust the Lord, for that is where we grow in faith and the fruit of the spirit comes out as a result of faith.  We constantly undergo change and find ourselves pushed to our limits.  Its okay because God is the gardener and He knows how to work all things for good.  We can trust Him.