John Piper on Entertainment Addiction” “tear our your eye” can be applied to devices

01_is_text_neck_a_real_thing_bokan76Below is an article published in the Christian Post by Leah MarieAnn Klett, concerning comments John Piper made dealing with the rise of Christian’s being addicted to entertainment and devices. According to the first-quarter 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report, American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media. As a pastor it has been my experience that among those I have ministered to, many fall within these numbers. God help us, our addiction is killing our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

John Piper on entertainment addiction: Jesus’ command to ‘tear out your eye’ can be applied to devices

by: Leah MarieAnn Klett

For those seeking to break the cycle of their entertainment addiction, theologian John Piper argued that Jesus’ command to “tear out the eye that causes you to sin” can be applied to devices too.

In a recent podcast, Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, responded to a listener identified as Cesar, who said he cannot break his addiction to video games.

“I am convinced that the short-lived emotions of entertainment do not compare to the pleasures found in a deep life of communion with God,” Cesar said. “But I can play a video game for three hours, and feel my emptiness and dissatisfaction, but the next day my desire for more entertainment is renewed, and this has turned into a horrible, vicious circle. I am very stressed with this situation. I want to grow spiritually. I do not want to waste my life in trifles.”

The pastor began by advising Cesar that he can, in fact, stop playing video games. “You’re not in bondage to that game,” he explained. “You can stop. You can walk away from it. I promise you. With a blowtorch in your face or a million dollars in your pocket, it would be easy. It would be easy to walk away. The fear of pain or the pleasure of money would have instantly replaced your desires for that game.”

Piper went on to point out that Cesar is not actually “convinced” that the pleasures of entertainment do not compare to the joy that can found in communion with God.

“No, Cesar, you’re not convinced of this. You say you are, but these are just words,” he said, adding that Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.”

“The essential thing he meant was that people say many things, feel many things, think many things, but a decisive test is fruit. So three hours on a video game day after day, wasting your precious life, is not a fruit of being convinced that communion with Jesus is better. It’s not.”

Video games, Piper contended, have “re-throned” Jesus in Cesar’s life: “It takes its place as the king of your will. It means that you then take your seat passively at its feet, and you do its bidding like a slave. Two-bit, no-count, low-grade, wasteful video games are beating him up, deceiving him, making him a lackey and a slave.”

Piper applied Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28 to devices: “I say to you that everyone that is suckered in by the fluttering eyelashes of a video game commits adultery with the game in his heart. If your right eye causes you for a video game to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to be glued to a video game, cut it off and put a blowtorch to it. For it is better that you lose one of your members than your body be thrown into Hell.”

“Here’s my counsel,” he concluded. “Tear out your eye and cut off your hand. That is, get rid of all the apps that suck you in and make a slave of you. Just tear them right off your phone. Tear them right off. I mean, tearing out your eye surely has an application to your devices.”

“Then turn away from the games and receive the million-dollar gift from Jesus,” he added. “No, no, no, no — that was an understatement. Billions, billions, and billions of dollars worth of reward. Better than anything else.”

According to a 2018 study by market-research group Nielsen, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media — up from nine hours and 32 minutes just four years ago.

Previously, Piper offered five ways Christians can cultivate a greater love for God than for entertainment in today’s media-dominated culture.

  1. Recognizing it is a huge step in the right direction.
  2. Seek the Lord earnestly about it. Pray like crazy that God would open your eyes to see wondrous things out of His law.
  3. Immerse yourself in the Bible, even when you don’t feel like it, pleading with God to open your eyes to see what’s really there.
  4. Get in a group where you talk about serious things.
  5. Begin to share your faith: “One of the reasons we are not as moved by our own faith as we are is because we almost never talk about it to any unbeliever,” Piper said. “It starts to feel like a kind of hothouse thing and then it starts to have a feeling of unreality about it. And then the powers of entertainment have more sway in our life.”

Christian Post: Klett, Leah MarieAnn (2019, February 28) “John Piper on entertainment addiction: Jesus’ command to ‘tear out your eye’ can be applied to devices”.

Posted in Addicted to devices, Christian Post, John Piper, Matthew 5:27-30, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Time in the Wilderness

Related imageRecently while reading “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, I was awakened to a  Biblical truth I had not considered: The necessity of the wilderness in the life of the believer. The author explained that few people consider that the barren, hostile and inhospitable nature of the wilderness, is actually necessary to the proper formation of the saints. He sighted Deuteronomy 8 as evidence.

Deuteronomy 8:2-5 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.

Perhaps the greatest of all lines in a movie comes in the TEN Commandments, when Moses is walking through the wilderness after being exiled from Egypt. In the middle of hot death as far as the eye can see, the narrator says this…

tumblr_nmcp7rgyxl1qetb0ho1_1280“The man who walked with kings, now walks alone… stripped of all rank and wealth, a forsaken man, without a country, without a hope… his soul in turmoil, like the hot winds and raging sands, that lash him with the fury of a task-masters whip. He is driven forward, always forward, by a God unknown and a land unseen. Into the molten wilderness of Sin, where granite sentinels stand as towers of living death, to bar his way. Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness. In the mocking whisper of the wind he hears the echoing voices of the dark. His tortured mind wondering if they call for memory of past triumphs, or wail foreboding of disasters yet to come… He cannot cool the burning kiss of thirst upon his lips, nor shade the scorching fury of the sun; all about is desolation… he is driven onward through the burning crucible of desert, where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged, for God’s great purpose. Until at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came, the metal is ready for the Maker hand”

Poor Charlton Heston… I mean Moses. But in all fairness, if you love Jesus and desire to bless Him, you have experienced times that felt like what was just described, even if you were not actually walking through an actual desert.

We may not like the wilderness but as God had a purpose for Israel in their wilderness wanderings, so He does for us as well. From the passage we discover His purposes.

  1. To teach us how to follow Him not based on material supply, but the words of His mouth (vs. 2)
  2. To humble us, as are tested, that we may see what is really in our hearts, apart from Christ (vs. 2-3); which is the first stage in the progression of sanctification.
  3. To reveal God’s sufficiency and provision (vs. 2-4).
  4. To reveal His love through discipline (vs. 5)

These purposes are all wonderful, but let us get into a wilderness situation for any stretch of time and we see how much we really appreciate the work God intends to do in us in the wilderness. Sadly for most of us, what comes out is the whiny, complaining, selfish impatience, which stand in the way of our being more like Christ.

In addition to God’s purpose in molding and shaping us the desert is also the place where we learn to overcome the devil, in the power of God’s Spirit, just like Jesus Christ the Lord. When this occurs we can walk into more than effective ministry for Christ filled with His Spirit.

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Luke 4:1-21 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

In light of this truth, let me encourage you, no matter why you are in a wilderness situation, know He is with you and should you humble yourself, our Father will accomplish His purposes.

I, myself, have just recently been walking out of a wilderness period in my life. This period has amounted to multiple years, where I have been tested often–seen what is in me apart from Jesus Christ–learned the steady cadence of the leading of the Holy Spirit–learned to trust Christ’s viewpoint of me. The one last thing Christ had done in me, is to confirm what I knew from the beginning of my walk with Jesus… Love not the world, do not partake in its system of thought, recreation, or sufficiency. Live dependent on Him and pursue holiness, because He has made me holy.

I have learned Christians, especially those who will lead, must not dabble in the worldview, which says we Christians need to relax and have fun as well. It amazes me, how the book of Acts, as well as the rest of the New Testament, speaks contrary to our viewpoint of what is allowed in our Christian experience. We spend hours searching for and planning how we will spend our time off, even ministers, looking for good moral ways to waste time.

We often complain that we cannot easily find a media outlet to match our high morals, and then justify anything that we feel is relatively cleaner in its moral content, as approved. Sorry, the Christian movie, music and book industry is fueled by this mentality. So we who are called to “walk circumspectly”, walk right into mine fields, where each encountered darkness, even for a little bit, gives us spiritual PTSD. We who are called to “redeem the time”, waste it on our pursuit of a “good” and “virtuous” way of entertaining ourselves. We who are to not be “unwise, but know what the will of the Lord is”, often are clueless, as to God’s purpose for our life and ministry (Ephesians 5:14-21)

the-walk-is-a-battleground-slide

To assist in seeing this clearly, let’s consider that we who are in Christ are members of the body of Christ. This body of Christ is not only those who you encounter in fellowship on Sunday and Wednesday, but all the hundreds of millions of Christians around the wold. Let’s just take the hours from 7 pm till we go to bed and what we engage in. Now we Americans say I’m not sinning to watch T.V. if its not violent, sexually immoral or perverse (some we can be sure don’t even care about those standards)–we think so long as we are surfing the net, on our phone, tablet, or computer, so long as its not violent, sexually immoral, or perverse, we are fine.

This means that we believe that we are allowed to live with a bit of selfishness and unintentionality, because after all we’re not Jesus, right? Yet we are called to walk circumspectly, redeem the time, and know God’s will, which never takes time off.  Let us now consider, being members in the world-wide body of Christ, that while we are watching, reading, vegging or relaxing with our favorite things, around the world there is a member of the body of Christ (or multiple) who are…

  1. Suffering persecution to the point of injury or death
  2. Alone in a prison cell for their faith
  3. Afflicted with disease, needing Christ the Healer
  4. Walking through temptation
  5. Needing comfort for personal loss or failure
  6. Needing answers to prayer
  7. Needing encouragement
  8. Needing prayer for all of the above

My time in the wilderness has reaffirmed that all of my time is His time, for His offspring are too numerous to count, and He has called us to be our brothers and sisters keepers and supporters, whether we see each other this side of heaven. God forgive me for all the time I have wasted sowing to my flesh, in ways that are not seen as overtly wicked, but waste the precious time You have allotted me. Thank You for delivering me from the corruption that sowing to the flesh produces. Thank You, galvanizing what you placed in my heart all those many years ago. Have mercy on your church in America, especially ministers who have fallen prey to walking through mine-fields of pursuit of preference and hobbies, where we waste time, and step out of the will of God.

Ephesians 5:14-21 “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” Walk in Wisdom 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

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All Hail the Power of Jesus Name V: How We Get in the Way

Image result for there is power in the name of JesusActs 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Over the course of the last month, we have looked deeply into the implications of the passage above. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ or Yeshua Hamaschiah or however His name, which is above all names, is spoke in one’s native tongue; so long as it is proclaimed in faith. The power in His name means He is present with us, do perform all the promises of His word; and the word of God never so much as gives any inkling of that power being diminished over time. In fact scripture indicates otherwise.

John 14:12-14 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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Therefore in any nation anywhere in the world, Christ’s followers ought to expect the same expression and outpouring of power encountered when exercising faith in Jesus’ name. The problem for those of us who dwell in a nation of every kind of cure, product, program or diversion, is we tend to justify the use of these things over God’s prescribed means (Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:2-3; Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:4, 8), because of convenience, impatience or even a lack of faith. When this occurs we tend to behave as though God affirms whatever we do, in an effort to get rid of our discomfort. This attitude is in error.

What we fail to grasp is that all true transformation (‘spirit, soul or body” I Thessalonians 5:23) comes through our encountering His presence, with us by the Holy Spirit.  As the woman with the issue of blood, who tried all other means till exhausted, we must walk by faith through hindrance, in order to encounter His presence and touch the hem of His garment. It is our seeking to touch our Savior and bringing other people to believe they can trust Him alone, that releases the power that is inherent in Jesus’ name. Our choices, concerning the exercises of faith in the power of Jesus’ name, affect all areas of encounter with God, including the conviction of sin, repentance and faith in ministering to the lost–including deliverance from the demonic, healing and signs and wonders in Jesus’ name–and the life of Christ for the physical body of the believer.

Outside of what is referred to as developed nations of the west (America, Australia, Great Britain, Europe), where we have a drought concerning these truths, we find regular occurrences that could have been written in the book of Acts of the Apostles. Why is it such a struggle in our geography and culture?

HINDRANCES

  1. In the United States of America we live out our faith in a Christian culture largely devoid of the biblical paradigm of the power of God present and evidenced by supernatural works. One need only consider evangelistic events in relation to America and the country of India. In our evangelistic idea the responsibility is placed largely on men, who preach in stadiums, with great music and kindly counselors to dot every “I” and cross every “T” concerning the question of Christ. Great effort is made to not come off as kind and not judgmental.  In India, evangelism is lead and modeled by leaders and taken up by the rank and file of believers. Miracles, signs and wonders are expected as a means of displaying God’s Almighty power over the very real demonic personages, which had held millions in bondage. Consider this is the case almost across the board regardless of country. In one southeastern Asian country, Christians were kicked out of their village, having their homes confiscated, and being forced to flee to a neighboring village. They were allowed to stay in a filed where sick , injured and undesirable people lived. They began to pray for the sick and afflicted and God healed in Jesus’ name supernaturally. Many others came to faith in Christ.
  2. Related imageSaving faith is misrepresented in American Christian culture. In our educated and “enlightened”culture, we treat matters of faith, as matters of intellect that leads to transformation of behavior. This is not only an error, but a great and semantic change in what faith in Christ is. Biblical and saving faith is not mere assent to biblical truth concerning Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and implications of those truths, anymore than it was for Abraham. Real saving faith is first seen in true immediate repentance, a necessary implication to the truth of Christ’s atonement on our behalf, because our faith calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Saving faith is seen in beginning the walk out, as He conveys us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:13-14). With acting upon this understanding, because we believe that if you “believe and confess” you are in,  we stifle God’s power to transform us as truly new creations in Christ. This leaves an incomplete sanctification and no true resurrection power to minister in Jesus’ name.
  3. In this culture we categorize two accepted classes of Christian’s, the “carnal” and the “spiritual”, because we assume Paul’s intentions in the Book of I Corinthians. God does not accept two categories of Christians. To be a carnally minded Christian means you are in enemy status in your behavior towards God (Romans 8:7). Some have taken this error as far as to produce separate terminology for the “carnal” and the “spiritual”. The “carnal” is said to be “saved” and “accepted Jesus:, while the “spiritual” has “made Jesus Christ Lord”. WOW, how dangerous. A mere cursory reading of Roman’s 10:9-10 declares that for the saved, Christ is and must be both Lord and Savior”. Once more the reason behind this is to accommodate the rebellious and unrepentant. This leaves countless without the ability to be transformed, by thinking they can remain master of their own lives. This error also grieves the Holy Spirit, and diminishes the spiritual power of the church in ministering the gospel.
  4. A lack of consecration to Christ, by coming apart and being separated to God alone, arises from the above error (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1). We certainly do not lack for effort in trying to minister the gospel, but  with little effect. We must remember that our life is not our own, we are to redeem the time, know what the will of the Lord is and not to love the world. we are also called to deny ourselves continually and love God with all our heart, expressing this love in loving our neighbors. This takes one who is a willing bond-servant, not looking to meet their own desires, and needs. In essence this is what it means to be sanctified, or consecrated to God alone as a sacred vessel (I Thessalonians 4:1-3). No matter how great our faith in Jesus’ name is, He will not fill a vessel, which is holding other contents.
  5. We lack operational faith in the power of His name and are merely giving “lip service” to the truth of Christ and it’s implications. We all have to admit that we are masterful in saying something with great confidence in profession, but denying it by how we walk after we have spoken. This is hypocrisy and we are all being cleansed from it. So long as we are aware and not letting ourselves off the hook, we will grow to great operational faith in Jesus’ name. It is when we begin to justify not walking in nor ministering according to a biblical pattern, that we become “lip service” Christians; where we hinder the power inherent in Jesus’ name.

If you have not read the first four parts of this series please click the links below.

“lip service”… All Hail the Power of Jesus Name!!!

All Hail the Power of Jesus Name II

All Hail the Power in Jesus Name III

All Hail the Power in Jesus Name IV

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Posted in Acts 3:16, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, John 1:12, John 1:12-13, power of God, The Ministry of Healing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All the Hail the Power of Jesus Name IV

Related image(Acts 3:16)  And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

After three posts examining God’s power in the name of Jesus Christ, we will now focus our attention on how this power was manifested, in the miracle chronicled in the third chapter of Acts of the Apostles.

I realize some of the readers are skittish concerning miracles, signs and wonders, as testifying elements of the veracity of the gospel message (Mark 16:15-20). Sadly, here are those who have damaged the message of Christ, as they extend a hand and use His name a magic incantation to attain what’s needed. With their other hand they fleece the flock of God. These are heretics and hucksters, God will give them their just desserts whe

Despite the damage done, we must not feel free to change the words and intentions of the Savior, because we are uncomfortable with the possibility of error, or because they do not fit our modern and American Christian mind. Jesus was clear in what will occur when men believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God…

Mark 16:15-18 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Above I underlined and placed in bold type the word “will”The reason I did this, is that Jesus never indicated, nor do any of the epistles, that miracles (n His name) would end after the apostolic age. In fact, beyond the apostolic age, through the age of the church fathers, in recorded revival history up to the full gospel movements in England and America, we see miracles, signs and wonders testify to the truth of the gospel message. This continues throughout the world today, largely outside of westernized Christianity, when and where the gospel is preached.

It is for this reason, we need to digest the operational aspect of laying hold of the power of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, as we walk in relationship to Him. Let us begin with Acts 3:16.

As Peter explains, the lame man at Beautiful Gate, was made well “through faith in His (Jesus Christ) name“. He further elaborates “Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all“. This is very revealing, especially to those who question whether they can conjure enough faith to pray or pronounce a person healed in Jesus name; or like the apostles exercise enough faith to believe to be healed for themselves.

The phrase “Yes, the faith which comes through Him” reveals the awesome nature of faith and where it comes from. Let’s look at Galatians 2:20, a very well know and often quoted passage.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; 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 (the) faith in (of) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

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You’ll note I added (the) and (of) next to “in“. The reason is that this is what is reads in the KJV Bible “by the faith of the Son of God”. This translation is actually the most accurate Greek translation into English, and reveals that our faith to believe for salvation is not our’s–nor is our faith to be healed because of Jesus’ Name–nor is our faith to believe for our sanctification or whatever other promise God has given us in Christ; the faith is given to us by Jesus. It is His faith.

Jesus perfectly walked in the Spirit, by walking in faith. This is why He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Remember in Christ’s self-emptying, though He is fully God, He chose to lay aside His right or prerogative to express His character as God, unless led by the Holy Spirit to do so.

Therefore we can understand a passage like “for the joy set before Him, he endured the cross...” (Hebrews12:2). The joy set before Him was resurrection, reuniting with the disciples, ascending to His Father, the salvation of all who would believe on the cross. These were all future events that were promised. Despite this joy, he still needed to die a horrible death. Therefore His endurance was by faith “the substance of things hoped for… the evidence of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1).

Our great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who provides each man a measure of faith, and in critical encounters (like the one we are looking at in Acts 3:16), He provides faith to believe and act upon what is seen, in His name. In our case “the faith which comes through Him” is seen in both the lame man and the ministering apostles.

The lame man was expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5), upon Peter’s insistence that he look at them. What did he expect to receive? Did he recognize Peter and John as men who had been with Jesus and expect soemthing supernatural? We don’t know. It’s possible at first he simply thought he would receive some alms. What we do know is that when the man heard the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth something clicked.

At first we see Peter kind of took his hand and lifted him up, but after standing, we read in verses 8-9, that he did some additional things in faith, without Peter (leaped, stood, walked, went walking in the temple, leaping and praising God). These things he did by faith. It was the faith in Peter and John to stand him up, but it was his faith in Christ, by which he attained the rest.

This man had been laying there for decades. He most likely knew of Jesus’ ministry, which over the course of three and half years had many stops at the temple. Perhaps he had seen Jesus and wanted to be healed or hoping for an opportunity that never came. Whether he knew Peter and John is a moot point, because when he heard the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Holy Spirit gave him the needed faith to move. Once up on his feet, it was up to him to put one foot in front of the other.

This is why Peter declared to the amazed onlookers “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all“.  So healing does take faith in the one receiving, but God be praised, in His mercy He provides the faith. Therefore, little faith is not the key issue the issue, but unbelief , when there is a delay to healing(but that is for another time).

Despite this revelation, there would have been no miracle, had the apostles not first acted with faith in the power that is in Jesus’ name. Their actions reveal a little understood truth, that in cases of miracles which lead too or testify to evangelistic efforts, the operation of faith is a gift of the Spirit. What we are about to discuss is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

In Pentecostal circles, the manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit (detailed in I Corinthians 12:1-11), are mostly relegated to congregational gatherings. This is a grievous error, as the gifts are to operate wherever the church gathers in Jesus’ name, for the kingdom purposes. The lack of the full complement of the gifts of the Spirit, in many Pentecostal settings, ought to reveal these gatherings are not forwarding kingdom purposes. Consider where the gifts of faith, healing, miracles, discerning of spirits, word of wisdom, or word of knowledge mostly took place, in the Book of Acts… where two or more believers were ministering in Christ’s name.

Full gospel people, must not settle for a trickle of kingdom power in the places we gather for worship. We must walk outside the sanctuary, expecting God to manifest the gifts of the Spirit, in our efforts to declare the good news. This is exactly what happened in Acts 3. Between Peter and John the gifts of the Spirit were in operation, such as, the gift of a word of wisdom, the gift of faith and the gifts of healing.

It is the gift of faith which leads Peter to declare “Look at us” and subsequently, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:4-6).

For those who find this a bit strange to consider, consider what took place with Paul and Barnabas in Lystra in Acts 14:8-10…

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Acts 14:8-10 8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

Here we see Paul, with the a gift of knowledge “Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed“. How did Paul see faith in a man who was sitting and listening to him preach, but by a gift of knowledge from the Holy Spirit. This gift was coupled with faith and the gift of miracles. In response to this the man had faith to get up and then “he leaped and walked“.

This process and endowment of faith in the name of Jesus, beyond the measure of faith given in salvation, ought to set many at ease as to who is producing miracles, signs, wonders and bringing transformation power… The Holy Spirit! He also supplies the faith in the moment of need. We simply must believe for the power that is in His name and obey His leading. For there is power in the name of Jesus Christ.

Have you ever felt the prompting of God’s Spirit, to declare a miracle, lay hands on the sick, pronounce a word of wisdom, knowledge or seomthing prophetic? How did you respond and if this has not occured, what could be hindering? Let us remember God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He equipped His saints in Acts of the Apostles, He will continue to do so, for all who follow Christ, even until He comes.

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All Hail the Power IN Jesus Name III

Related imageAs we have been considering that there is power in the name of Jesus Christ, we have looked at two primary passages.

(Acts 3:16)  And His namethrough faith in His namehas made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

and…

(John 1:12-13)  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of Godto those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

In summary, we understand that the man who was lame from his mothers womb (Acts 3:1-2), was healed because he had faith in Jesus’ name. John 1:12-13 further reveals that faith in Jesus’ name is to lay hold of (believe) the truth about Jesus contained in His name. As we looked almost exclusively at John 1, in our last post, we discovered that the name of Jesus contains powerful truths about His person, presence, and power towards us.

*If you have not read “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name II” click the title, and you will be able to see the references for each of the above revelations.

To have faith in His name one must receive Him, which is to lay hold of all Christ is, as is revealed in His name. Yet before we can grasp the depth of what that means in our life we must first step away from our two passages to look at the name bestowed upon Jesus  because of Him being the one to fulfill God’s plan of redemption.

(Philippians 2:8-11) …He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him THE name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This portion of the word of God is absolutely AWESOME! You’ll note that I have underlined and capitalized the THE in this passage. This little three letter word sets Jesus apart as having the greatest NAME ever spoken to men. In fact this NAME is so high above all other names that the Jewish people were fearful of even writing or speaking it, not wanting to defile it in any way. We English speakers often pronounce this name Jehovah, from Yahweh (Hebrews pronunciation), but in the Hebrews language it is YHWH.

This is the highest name of God in the entirety of the Old Testament, and in Jesus’ perfect fulfillment of the plan of God’s redemption of man, the Father proclaims His Christ,one with Him, YHWH, Eternal God! As this is an overwhelmingly awesome truth, it ought not be difficult to grasp given the context of Philippians 2:5-11, especially when reading verse five…

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God

This means that within the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, we know He has the name of YHWH, being that He is one in being with the Father. But this means more than just a title, so much more, as we remember that the name of YHWH revealed the character of God. Yet more than that, this name was used throughout the O.T. when a servant of the LORD had a personal visitation from God Himself, in a theophany.

Simply put a theophany is a visible manifestation in the Old Testament. Some of these include but are not limited to: the burning bush, the pillar of cloud/fire, Moses speaking with God face to face and in the Shekinah of God, Melchizedek, Samson’s parents speaking to the Angel of the LORD.

Interestingly, when God arrives in His personal presence in these times, we are blessed with a further revelation of His character through what He bestowed, when He was manifestly present to His people. From this we have a host of the Names of God such as but not limited to…

  1. The LORD Will Provide
  2. The LORD who Heals
  3. The LORD our Banner
  4. The LORD who Sanctifies
  5. The LORD my Shepherd
  6. The LORD is Peace
  7. The LORD is There
  8. The LORD our Righteousness

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Each occurrence begins with the Name that is above all names “YHWH”, as represented in English with the all capital “LORD”. I would encourage you to seek out the passages where these names are written and meditate on God being present with His servants in them, because not only is His power present in miraculous ways, so are His presence and power when those names are spoken.

This is one of the reasons for the commandment “Thou shall not take the name of the LORD in vain”. Contrary to popular opinion, where this only means to not use His name as a curse, Jesus defined this in its primary fashion in Matthew 5:33-37. In this portion of the sermon on the mount, Jesus forbids the use of the Name above all Names in oaths. The reason was simple, don’t call God’s weight, glory, presence, power, and authority into something you ought to be able to do on your own; simply let your yes be yes and your no be no.

To the Jewish person, to speak the name of YHWH was to literally call Him to your present tense as a witness. This is not mere mental gymnastics, but truth. To speak the name of YHWH is to believe He is present to do what He promised. Jesus reiterates this truth.

Matthew 18:18-20 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

The primary contest of this passage is when we come together for the purpose of  disciplining a sinning and unrepentant brother, but verse 20 is an across the board specific. When we gather together in Jesus’ name, He is literally present to perform all YHWH promises to fulfill. Christ is present to provide power to save, heal, set free, witness to His Resurrection with boldness, and perform signs and wonders. When considering Acts 3:16, concerning the healing of the lame man, Peter and John (where ever two or three are gathered in my name), go into the temple at the hour of prayer.

Their purpose was to witness to Christ, as evidenced by Peter’s response to the lame man asking of alms “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”. As these men were walking in the Spirit, they knew the presence of Christ in and through them as a living reality, not just a theological belief. In speaking His name, they brought attention to the truth YHWH, I Am that I Am, is in the building. This is where their confident faith came from and why we often lack it.

LET’S NOT WATER DOWN THE TRUTH ANY LONGER

Believing on the name of Jesus Christ, means we hold to all truth about Jesus which is revealed in His name, including that He is literally present in power to fulfill all His supernatural God promises. Yet let us not water down the words for the purpose of walking in the current generalized status quo of the church in America; which is almost completely devoid of His promised power. In pursuit of this let’s look a little closer at the word “believe” from John 1:12-13 and “faith” from Acts 3:16.

Both words are from the same Greek root, so they are close, but together give a full picture of our intended goal to exercise the power that is in Jesus’ name, for His glory and honor. In the first place “believe” from John 1:12 means to entrust our entire well being because of what His name reveals about Him. The word “faith” adds to this the vital element of knowing He is present to do what He says. It is closely related to the meaning of the Hebrew word “shem” which communicates God is present to perform what He promised.

Therefore, to have faith in the power in Jesus’ name means we trust all that His name reveals He is and know that He is present with us, in His name above all names, to save, sanctify, and heal. This means He alone does these things, as we obey Him. The practical outlay is what we see in acts of the apostles, which is still occurring around the world everywhere, except in most of the church in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

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Let me be clear as to what this means… In His name demons are cast out, the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the sick are healed, the saints live in persecution enduring to show the love of God to His enemies. And lest we forget, the churches are not divided over money, programs, or worship music to the largest extent.

The time has come for Christians in the west to examine themselves to see if they are truly in the faith, the once delivered to the saints in the book of Acts, not the one that is more palatable to those who trust in men and themselves more than God.

Jesus is present in power IN His Name! Will we walk being demonstrations of this or will will retreat further into our intellectually reason based house of cards we call the church?

 

Posted in Acts 3:16, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, I am the LORD who Heals, John 1:12-13, Philippians 2:8-11, the LORD provides, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

All Hail the Power of Jesus Name II

Image result for there is power in the name of JesusHow often have we spoken or sung the words superimposed over the cross to our right? How often have we spent more than five minutes considering what that phrase means? It is true, that there is power in the name of Jesus Christ, yet to fail to grasp what that means practically, concerning our walk of faith, places us at risk of giving “lip service” to the truth of God. To do this is unacceptable to God, at best, and irreverent at worst. In either case, failing to grasp that power in Jesus name and properly exercise faith in it, is to damage the testimony of Christ.

Our discussion this time, is not and exhaustive study of the name of the only Begotten Son, in the entirety of the bible, but a hearty morsel, enough for the sincere to “taste and see that the LORD is good”, in taking in the power of Jesus name. Let us consider the passage, we will continue to look to from Acts Chapter 3:16, remembering that Peter is explaining how the man who was lame for 38 years, had been made well, in the midst of thousands of onlookers.

Acts 3:16  And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

BACK TO THE BEGINNING TO LAY THE FOUNDATION

In Acts 3:16 we see clearly that it is faith in Jesus’ name that made this man well. Despite many Christians having read this passage or at least heard of it and would most likely say “Amen” to this truth, few have really consider the ramifications for us in our time.

Jesus had Himself commissioned the disciples to minister in this exact manner in Mark 16:15-18 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel… “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but He who does not believe will be condemned. and these signs will follow those who believe; In My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover“.

Once more we see a statement clearly indicating Jesus’ name at the head of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which confirms the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:20). In order to understand why this is, let’s look at another passage from John’s gospel.

John 1:12-13  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Here we see, that those who receive Jesus by faith, are granted the right to become God’s children. Wow! But what does it mean to receive Him according to this passage. Simply put “received” means to “lay hold of” or to “take”. To receive Him means to take Him as He is, yet this passage gives us a little more to go on. Those who receive Jesus are “those who believe on His name” (vs. 13).

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In the first place we must consider the Jewish context of this passage. In the Hebrew culture of Jesus’ time, in fact middle eastern culture in general, everything about a person was contained within the confines of their name: a persons character, ability, upward mobility, honor and heritage. It is not to say that they chose names considering the message that child would carry. When reading the O.T. prophet Hosea, this becomes clear.

Although names are chosen today for far more frivolous reasons, this cultural under pinning is not lost to everyone. Each one of my children have been named to represent servants of God, as chronicled in His word and my wife and I are disciplined to remind our children who they represent when they are away from us (not the Erdel family primarily, but Jesus Christ the Messiah). Scripture reminds us of the power of a good name.

Proverbs 22:1-2 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.

Once more let us return to what it means to receive Jesus by believing on His name. What is it that is contained in His name that we are to believe? We can begin by looking no further than in the same chapter of John we are looking at; particularly verses 1-5, where we find that contained in the name of Christ is His character as…

  1. Fully God; the Word who was with God and was God (John 1:1).
  2. He is Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-16).
  3. He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14)
  4. This makes Him the virgin born Son Immanuel, the fulfillment of prophesy (Isaiah 7:14).
  5. His name, Jesus Christ (Yeshua) YHWH saves, reveals He is the Atonement of God (John 1:17; Isaiah 53:1-10)
  6. In His name, as the Atonement, He is also “the LORD who heals…” (Isaiah 53:5; Exodus 15:22).
  7. His name, Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamaschiah) reveals He is God’s “Anointed” or “Messiah” and the only Begotten Son” (John 1:17; Psalm 2:2; Isaiah 11:1-11, 61:1-3).
  8. In His name as the Atonement and the Anointed of God, He is the LORD who sanctifies” (Isaiah 53:5 and Isaiah 61:1-3).
  9. In His name as the “Anointed” He is the King of Israel, who will return (John 1:49; Psalm 2:6-12).

To receive Him, is to believe on His name. To believe on His name means to trust that Jesus Christ is all of the above and that in His name is the power that each title brings into the life of the one who has faith in His name. He is our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and soon coming King, but not just in a head knowledge fact sense.; He does these things in God’s power in the one who truly trusts and obeys.

There is still one more powerful truth to consider concerning the name of Jesus. He has been given “the name” which is above every name…

In my next post we will dive into the depths of this wonderful truth concerning the power that is in Jesus’ name!!! You do not want to be left out.

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Posted in Acts 3:16, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, John 1:12, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“lip service”… All Hail the Power of Jesus Name!

Related imagelip service” is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “an avowal of advocacy, adherence, or allegiance expressed in words but not backed by deeds”. The Urban dictionary provides further clarity by defining “lip service” as “to say something but not actually do it” and “to pretend to believe a certain thing but not practice that belief.

The reality of “lip service” from a biblical perspective cannot be ignored. In Mark 7:6-8 Jesus bridges the Old Testament to the New Testament period, as He quotes Isaiah the prophet.

Mark 7:6-8 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”

In this address the Lord Jesus Christ is referring to Isaiah 29:13. This O.T. prophecy is one of “double reference” or “duel fulfillment”. Simply put this means that some prophesies have a short term fulfillment and a long term and final fulfillment. For the purpose of our discussion, this means that God followers in both the Old and New Testamental period, were called to practice what they proclaimed to believe, concerning God, His word, and our response to them.

One of the most sobering prophetic utterances concerning “lip service” came through the mouth of Jesus, where He declares “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’… And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).

It would appear that our God really despises “lip service”. It is time we consider, very soberly, whether our practice matches our profession. Let’s consider some areas of American Christian lip service.

We believe Jesus is coming very soonImage result for the blessed hope

Christian media is filled with talk of the Lord Jesus’ soon return. Most Christians of any biblical literacy will agree, and even talk of the sign of the times. Despite this truth and the impact it is supposed to have, we find quite the opposite. Consider that Titus 2:11-14 and II Peter 3:10-14 call us to consider how Christ’s soon return is affect our behavior. These passages declare that our Lord’s second coming is to catalyze us to living holy, godly, without spot, blamelessly, zealously and always going about the will and work of God. Let’s be honest, most Christians are ignorant of the true meaning of these words and for the most part unconcerned, assuming that  having “accepted Jesus” they’re cool, no matter how cold they are to His ways, work and will. This is “lip service”.

Even more primary to how we live in the light of our professed belief in Christ’s return is, that it is our blessed hope. This means that regardless of the circumstances we have hope and deep abiding joy, as we look for His physical return to catch us up to be with Him forever.  This has been the fuel for Christians since Christ’s ascension and is the buoyancy of the persecuted church. Yet in America, many Christians live with more hope in the prospect of their party’s political candidate being elected. Hope does not disappoint, as God’s word declares, but many of the Christians in the U.S. are disappointed, frustrated and anxious. This is to give “lip service” to God’s word concerning “our Blessed Hope” the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”.

“Nothing can separate us from His love” & “I will never leave you nor forsake you”

The two quotes above are well known and recited often in Christian circles in America. Let a brother take a down turn and a well-meaning Christian will quote the above verses, to encourage the down Christian to “buck up” and “cheer up”.  Yet, allow the well-meaning encourager to hit a rough spot and they may sing another tune. Being a Christian is filled with trials and joys, in fact the greatest joy, by biblical definition, arises during trials. Perhaps we need to do a better job at living and teaching this truth, but it would seem we can be a depressed group of Christians; in comparison to Christians of other nations, where their trails are life threatening on an hourly basis.

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No matter how often we quote this above passage, to behave as if Jesus Christ has forsaken us, when we say we believe the above passages, is “lip service”. Let us do some personal inventory, concerning this truth. Do we look for an immediate way out of difficulty? Do we feel as if God does not love us, because our circumstances have turned difficult? Do we sulk and question our calling when challenged by obstacles? Do we move into time wasting and carnality to avoid dealing with our problems with faith, as Christ is with us, even when we don’t feel him?

These are only two “lip service” issues prevalent among believers in America. Not only is it “lip service” it is also a poor testimony to the lost around us. Consider this quote from Christian Brennon Manning…

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Although we could explore this topic of “lip service” in many ways, I would like, over the next few posts, to explore it regarding the power in the name of Jesus. In relation to the power of His name consider the passage below.

Acts 3:11-16 11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

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In this passage we see that there is real power in the name of Jesus for all who use it in faith. But what does that mean and how ought it affect us, as we are to walk in faith? These questions are important, for to profess we believe there is power in the name of Jesus yet fail to live considering that power, is to give “lip service” to a most important foundation of God’s word.

The ramifications of misuse or watering down the power in Jesus’ name are far reaching, especially when we sing of the power in Jesus name regularly in our times of fellowship. Over the next three posts we will examine the singularly unique character of Jesus’ name—the power unleashed when we use His name in faith—how this worked practically in Acts chapter 3—and what gets in the way of our walking in the blessing of Jesus’ name.

Please begin to prayerfully consider the name of Jesus and walk with us as we discover the power in Jesus’ name, in the next post.

Posted in I'll never leave you nor forsake you, Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Uncategorized | 1 Comment