The Real Reason

I was praying from Ephesians 1 this morning and I realized afresh why so much angst.  So much anger. So much emotional fist waving…especially right at the moment by so many.  Sometimes the “angsters” would say, “I’m raising a call for freedom!”  Probably true…at least partially.

But, I would also like to say that many times the “gushings forth” is also rooted in…

The fear of loss.

That fear is detailed differently for each person.  Yours might be fear of loss of health.  Or, the loss of economic stability.  Or, the loss of physical security.  It may be all of the above and more.

My purpose in this brief article is to make a statement of truth from the scripture.  My hope is that it will have sufficient power to calm your fear and set your mind on a better track.

“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.”  (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)

Here’s the encouragement:

We have an inheritance because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  When I say that, I don’t simply mean, “…get saved and ya get to go to heaven instead of become a crispy critter.”  We have an inheritance of all kinds and manner of treasure. 

And guess what?  There’s a Guard at the door that ain’t nobody nor nothing getting through!  The Holy Spirit!

The last part of His statement through Paul was, “…until we acquire possession of it…”

Obviously “until” references the ultimate future date of heaven.  But, other teachings of Scripture indicate that “until” also points to a closer time here on earth.  The word “until” is full of possibility for us to ponder as the Holy Spirit speaks to us personally.  I encourage that pondering!

One thing I’m sure of is this.  There are many of us that angst over this issue and will discover one day that the things that ultimately matter the most and last the longest have been protected all along.  And just perhaps there will be more than a few sorta silly grins on our faces when we make our discoveries.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please leave your comment directly to my blog or in the space under the FB repost.  🙂

Gary
 

 

Bigger Fish To Fry

If a person doesn’t “see,” they don’t “see.”  It doesn’t matter how good (in your opinion) your argument is.  To believe otherwise is, in itself, a form of blindness.

We are all layered mentally and emotionally with a multitude of invisible biases.  We came by them in many ways through our growing up.  Everything we believe consciously has filtered through those pre-set biases.

We recently have seen a perfect example of that in the election process.  People…good people…sincere people were arguing from both sides of the political fence.  They listened (or not so much) through their bias.  They also argued through their bias…even in the truth things that were stated.

The Bible records a multitude of “abundant life” promises.  We stand on them.  We quote them.  We “believe” them.  However, our actions and emotions often betray our real inner convictions.

(That, btw, is how you know what a person really believes.  Their actions, and their emotions)

The country is polarized, now, perhaps more than ever in our history.  Good people are saying dumb things.  Unhelpful things.  Crazy things.  Many are also speaking words of hope in God…but not telling people practical ways to get there.

To tell the truth, a root issue is found in going back to the beginning of political systems.  There we find God’s attitude in 1 Samuel 8:

  • The people demanded a King that they could see to rule over them
  • God said they were rejecting Him with that demand
  • He told them what the results of a visible King would be
  • He added that in the day of their frustration over their leader, they would pray to Him and He would not answer.

Not answer!?  What!?  God always answers faith believing prayer, right?

Right and wrong.

If the prayer is according to His will.  I John says, “This is the confidence we have in Him that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and we have that which we’ve desired of Him.

We CAN know His will…at least on the basic issues of life.  We find His will regarding national leadership in I Samuel 8.  He permitted Man’s desire….

But it wasn’t His will to turn to a King they could see, touch, and hear…instead of following Him.

But…I can have it both ways!

In my opinion you can’t.  Now, I am NOT suggesting insurrection.  We will continue to have a “King” ruling with his cabinet.  That is the way it is in the American…and other systems.  We are given responsibilities in our support of them.  Please don’t read abandoning our form of national government as the point.

We’ve got bigger fish to fry:

Instead, I believe we need to learn and re-learn how to live in very practical terms connected to the rule of the Kingdom of God while conducting daily life on planet earth.

Because of so many religious biases, I believe that’s a rather tall order.  Therefore, we need spiritual leaders to arise and practically train people to do that.  We also need for God’s people to seek Him with ALL their hearts.

That is a prayer He will answer.

As we begin running on our knees, we will discover His ways.  (We will begin to really “see”)  We will say, “I once was blind…but now I see.”  True abundance of life will then be found.

Let’s get on with “frying the bigger fish.”

I’d love for you to respond with your own comments!

Gary

 

 

When You Feel Weak

Do you feel weak today; yet you know that you need to “be strong?”  Do you think to yourself, “I don’t know how I can face this situation.  I just feel so weak against it.”  There’s hope, my friend…

Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

The Lord never told you that He expected you to be strong!  The Word of God says, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” 

When a policeman stops traffic, are the drivers responding to the individual in the uniform or are they responding to the authority they know the uniform represents?

Followers of Jesus have been delegated authority.  Our strength comes from that authority, and not from ourselves. 

In ourselves, we don’t have the authority we need to navigate this life.  However, in the Lord we have more than enough authority to rule and reign.

Today, recognize that your strength isn’t really what comes naturally, but what has been given to you supernaturally through Christ.  He is your hope of glory (beautiful and ultimate victory) over all “enemies.”

Gary

 

Prescription For Abundance

You’ll never be strong enough for God to use!  Having said that, you (and I) are subtly wasting our time to dedicate our talents to the Lord!

Whoa!  Those are pretty radical statements to make.  Radical, but true.

Anything that focuses our relationship with the Lord or our service for Him on the arena of our own natural abilities, strengths, and talents sets us up for a fall.  Even when it sounds honorable.

The Apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10…

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

It sounds noble and authentic to want to be “strong enough” to serve the Lord.  After all, doesn’t He deserve us to be in the fittest shape possible?   It also seems appropriate to dedicate our good gifts and talents to the Lord, doesn’t it?  Here’s the subtle devastating shift…

The focus is not on the strength of Christ.  It’s on the development and confidence in my strength.   Dedication of “my talents” does virtually the same thing.  It draws our attention to our abilities.  But, didn’t God give us those gifts and talents?  Yep.  To submit to His strength.  They have no intrinsic energy of their own to accomplish a God sized eternal task.

As I’ve studied the stories of the men and women through whom God has most clearly demonstrated the power of His Spirit, I’ve discovered that all of them have come to the end of all confidence in themselves.  In parallel with that discovery, they’ve realized the reality of consciously giving themselves as empty vessels to be filled by His Spirit.  Not as an occasional submission, but as a daily choice.  Sometimes multiple times daily.

The most blessed place to be is at the end of your rope and the beginning of His strength being made perfect (complete) in and through your weakness.
It’s also the most frustrating to the flesh.  We just don’t want to believe that we can’t be at least partial contributors to His victories.

You and I have a great deal to offer the Lord.  Ourselves.  Not our talents.  But, ourselves as His children.  Not our strengths.  (We have none to match the the reality of the task in front of us.)  But, we have ourselves to offer Him as vessels to use any way He deems fit at the moment. 

There is a treasure.  But, it’s in an EARTHEN vessel.  He delights to flow through us to accomplish what we could never attain on our own.

Be emptied and be filled, daily.  That’s the prescription for the ABUNDANT LIFE.

Gary

Laughing Jesus by Gary Ellis

I love this image of Jesus.  I know that Isaiah 53:3 prophetically refers to Him as, “…a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.”  However, Hebrews 1:9 says that Jesus was anointed with the oil of joy.

As I was working on an invitation postcard for my church, The Sanctuary of Davenport, IA, I came across this picture.  It visually demonstrates the message I want to convey.  Joy in Jesus.  Hope in Jesus.  Love in Jesus.

I love the phrase, “Daddy’s not mad.  You can come home.”  I believe this image of Jesus conveys that as well.

The caption will read:

“Come As You Are To Meet Jesus As He Is”

If you have a chance, come visit us as of November 6, 2011 at 230 W. 3rd St., in Davenport, IA. – 10:00am Sundays.

“The Church In The Coffee Shop”

Gary

 

 

Watering Healing Seeds – by Gary Ellis

In the last post, “Healing Questions Often Asked,” I described a living parable the Lord showed me about needing to water the healing we’ve been already given in Christ Jesus.  Today, I am going to further describe that “watering” process:

The Scriptures describe the Word of God as “water.”  However, don’t be mistaken here.  The water of the Word is far more than “correct doctrines.”  Jesus told the Pharisees that they studied the scriptures because they believed that eternal life was found by knowing them correctly (in their opinion).  But, Jesus said the Scriptures have as their purpose, pointing us to Him.  It’s in HIM that we discover eternal life.

It’s not simply a matter of collecting a set of verses about healing and speaking them out loud as if healing would be found in the “right” verses confessed.

Let me quickly add that there is great value in relying on what is realized in one’s heart through healing promise scriptures!  But, that’s something quite different than saying them over and over without marinating, with the Holy Spirit, in their truths.  It’s the light of revelation given by the Holy Spirit that leads us to Jesus our healer.  And, HE is the healer…not the words themselves.

Many people try to “water” the seeds by working at “feeling” like the words are true.  Often, they also take actions that they hope will prove to God that they believe Him.  Personally, I don’t believe that is the same as watering the healing seed with healing truth.

To me, the point is to use the Word of God as “material” for pondering.  In that way we pursue Jesus and allow the revelation of that pursuit to overtake us with His intended  confidence in Him.  Part of the pondering process can be speaking the words out loud to oneself.  But, that’s only one helpful element in the pursuit.

A mother would never allow a child who’se become dirty, to splash a little water on the soiled skin.  The child has to properly wash themselves.  Apply the water and scrub.  It’s really pretty much the same in spiritual issues like healing.  The dirt of doubt, fear, frustration, etc. builds up simply by being in the world. 

I’ve actually changed the metaphor here from watering seed to washing oneself.  But the core of the truth remains the same.  Very recently the Lord spoke to me afresh when I was becoming “agitated” about conditions around me.  He said, “I am always faithful to my Word.”

In Christ Jesus, we all have the seed of full healing.  And ultimately the Seed of full healing is Him and His union with us.  Activating that understanding takes a serious application of the water of truth.

Gary

 

 

Get Destuckified by Gary Ellis

Do you feel like your life is stuck on a treadmill?  Going and going and going.  Doing and doing and doing…with the same ‘ol results.

There is a very effective, efficient solution!

This answer to your dilemma is right within your grasp.  It will take a commitment.  But, it will destuckify you, and set you on a fresh life path. 

This path is worth every second of time and every red cent.  No brag.  Just fact!

Take the next step and click (here) for more information.  I mean really.  Right now.  Your future is in your hands (whether you are 18 or 80).  I stake my reputation on it!

Gary

 

 

Which Comes First? by Gary Ellis

Which came first?  The chicken or the egg?  I’ve heard this question all my life.  Until recent days, I haven’t thought it really mattered that much.  But it does!

Many of the concepts of Christianity we’ve been taught are not inaccurate.  They’re just incomplete and/or out of order.  Here’s a couple of examples that will make ALL the difference in your world:

  • In the creation story of Genesis 1, we read this all important distinction that I’d overlooked for years.  “And there was evening and morning the  (1, 2, 3, etc.) day.”  For a successful journey with the Lord, it’s vital that we work from rest.  Evening is rest time.  Morning begins the work of the day.  Most people figure it’s important to work, work, work, by the sweat of their brows.  Work hard for God, then hope He’s blessed their efforts.  From God’s perspective it is critical to “rest in Him” first.  All successful work will then be a by-product of that beginning by centering in and consciously trusting on Him.
  • When you walk into a Christian bookstore, or the Religious section of any book store, you’ll see the next backwards approach to  Christian growth and health.  There are thousands of titles that address some form of Christian Behavior Modification.  It’s true that personal behavior is an important issue we all face.  I would say that most of the behavior counseling in these books and in a great number of Sunday morning sermons is good stuff.  However…which comes first?  The chicken or the egg?  According to the word of the scriptures, it’s about really recognizing what it means to be “born again.”  It’s about the new nature we’ve been gracefully given and operating from that understanding.  Behavior…true Christ behavior… will only result from a solid stand on “Who you are and who you are not in Christ.”  The change that’s needed is not first our behavior…but our believer!  The more that takes hold as our reality, the less the flesh has to cling to.  The flesh cannot nor will it ever behave!  The new man, in Christ, already knows how!

Which comes first for you?  The chicken or the egg?

Gary

 

Your Bed of Roses by Gary Ellis

“You have a bed of roses.”  That’s what I “heard” the Lord say to me.  He added, “It’s complete with thorns and always will be in this earth.”

You may be thinking, “Well, Gary, my rose bed has more thorns that roses!”  If you’re saying that, I’m sure it does feel that way many times…or most of the time.

When my wife and I lived in Mexico, one of the homes had a rose garden of 70 different species of roses.  They were absolutely beautiful.  Some were very exotic.  All of them, of course, had thorns.

Many people (especially Christian people) are looking for a time when the thorns won’t exist.  At least there will be very few.

“When will this end?!”  is what I sometimes hear.  As if the favor of the Lord…the demonstration of His victory…was waiting for the person who finally does everything right.

Here’s what Jesus promised God’s sons and daughters living in this world’s condition.  He said, “In the world you will have tribulation.  But, be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world.”

Another question the Holy Spirit put on my heart was, “What do you look at when gazing upon a rose bush or garden of roses.”  I responded, “at the roses.”  There’s the key.  It’s natural for a man, woman, boy, or girl to look at the beauty of the roses.  And that holds the key.  Fix your eyes on what comes naturally to a person.  Fix your eyes on the beauty of the roses.  You know the thorns are there, but do not put your attention on them instead of the flowers.

Many people have focused for so long on the thorns of life (and in some cases understandably so) they’ve become “blind” to the roses that are right there.

If your eyes are consumed with the sight and sting of the thorn, ask Him to help you see the rose blooms.  They are there!  It may take a little while of making a conscious choice to do so.  Perhaps you’ll have to retrain your eyes moment by moment.  But, I can attest to the fact that your life is, in fact, a rose garden and not truly a thorn patch. 

The Apostle Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”  (Romans 12).  Let Jesus walk you through the garden of your heart.  Come awake and smell the roses!  It’s actually factually our choice.

Gary

 

Who Gets It Right? by Gary Ellis

“…because they desperately wanted to.”

That’s the last part of an illustration of a true experience Paul Tournier witnessed with his own eyes and ears.

Paul Tournier was a Swiss Physician who was also eminent in the field of pastoral counseling.  On a trip to France, Paul’s attention was caught by an Englishman and a Frenchman struggling to communicate with each other.  And yet…even though neither spoke the other’s language…the Englisman and the Frenchman were connecting with each other.  There was an understanding taking place without the advantage of common languages.  How?

Now, we push the rewind button to the top of our story:

Because, says Tournier, “It was clear that they desperately wanted to.”

How rare a commodity of character these two men exhibited. What a profound lesson in how to walk the pathway of understanding and peace.

What’s more typical is people not really listening to each other…not trying to hear the heart of the other person.  Most listening is done with a prejudice of proving one’s point.  Instead of hearing what the other person is trying to articulate from their heart, our “faux listening” really amounts to us thinking silently about our next comeback in the battle of words.

How much do we care about what the other person is thinking and why they came to that conclusion?  Or, instead, how much are we continuing to frame our words as arrows to penetrate and drive our point home….because….after all…”they need to know I’m right.”

“Cuz, if they have half a brain they will realize I’m right…if they will just listen to what I am saying!

My cry is, “Will you please shut up for just one minute and listen with the ears of your heart to what he or she is really trying to say to you!”  Then perhaps “they” will hear you.

Who gets it right?  The one who intently desires to understand and listens to what the other person is saying.  Not the one with the preconceived notion that they are always right.  You may be right (factually) but wrong in (actually…in attitude).

Gary