Psalm 126 – Thanksgiving of Restoration

When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them.

The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Four Deadly Faith Traps

I believe many Christians are ensnared in their faith walk because they have skipped the Hebrews 11:1 basics. In this post, here are four faith traps every believer should avoid.

Trap #1:  “Call Those Things Which Be Not As Though They Were”

The scripture quoted (and wrested) is taken from the latter part of Romans 4:17. When read in context, Paul is talking about the blessing and salvation of the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, chapters one through eight in the book of Romans are about salvation, not professing blessings.

God is the only one who has the power to speak and create from nothing.  We can believe it, quote it, and even confess it, but we are not granted authority to apply a meaning that was never originally intended.

Trap #2: “Send the Word”

This is similar to the first but different in that while quoting scripture, the person “sends” the word to bring to pass the object of their faith. The problem with this is we are not in charge of God’s word.

Isaiah 55:11 reads, “so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” The word comes from God’s mouth, he directs his word, and it brings into fruition his purpose.

Trap #3:  “Signs and Wonders”

If you are an external seeker and need the Lord to speak through billboards, passing conversations in the airport, or drawing hearts and rainbows in the heavens, you will be sadly disappointed. God’s method of communication is through the Holy Scriptures. You might receive a heavenly IM in the form of an impression, thought, remembering a scripture or hear his voice, but listening to the voice of signs is a sure way to be bamboozled. Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign…” (St. Matthew 12:39)

Trap #4:  “The It’s Lining Up Belief”

You are doing all the right things, making all the right moves and everything is going exceptionally well, but that does not mean what you are doing ensures you will obtain what you desire.

For example, Suzie who lives on the east coast applied for a position on the west coast.  After the interview, she felt very confident she had the job, insomuch she signed a year lease in her potential new location “by faith,” making it look like she had an offer. A week later she found out she didn’t get the job. That my friend is presumption and effrontery.

So what does it mean to walk by faith?

Walking by faith is God providing you information on a Need to Know Basis (NTKB). He sees your “movie” from beginning to end, but shows you selected scenes. What God reveals might not make sense to you initially, but as you walk in God’s progressive unfolding plan, that “which is in part will be done away” (I Corinthians 13:10) and the Lord will cause his word to fulfill his will and meet your personal need.

Apologetics Gone Wrong

Recently I was listening to a pastor of a very prominent church expound on the topic of apologetics and how important it is for the believer to be able to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (1) and I was intent on hearing the message from beginning to end.

Within a few minutes he briefly defined what apologetics is, explained how God is love (agape), omniscient, and omnipotent. Afterwards he gave a personal story of some very difficult times he endured and how process theology helped him to cope and explain God in these circumstances.

I was all ears until he made this statement (paraphrase): God cannot know anything until it is made known. I listened intently to his explanation of this statement. After his clarification, I quickly ended the video because I was extremely disturbed by his implication that God is, simply put, not omniscient.

In hindsight, there were a few red flags that alerted me that I was not going to listen to the complete bible study:

  1. God is usually (at our basest best) explained as the three omn-ies: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. Explaining God as love (of which he is) sounded a bit contrived.
  2. He told the congregation that there are many scriptures but not to question or send him emails about his explanation.
  3. Blatant contradiction of scripture (Psalm 139 – the omnipresent and omniscience of God).

If this pastor’s belief in process theology supercedes biblical theology, then we must eliminate the following:

  • God’s statement to Adam and Eve: “the day you eat thereof you shall surely die.” (2)
  • The messianic prophesy of the seed of the woman bruising the head of the serpent. (3)
  • God told Abram Israel would be enslaved for 400 years before leaving Egypt. (4)
  • God raising up a Prophet like Moses. (5)
  • Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin bearing a son and the prophecy of Jesus 700 years before it happened. (6)
  • Hosea’s prophecy of God calling his son out of Egypt (7)

Remove all of the synoptic gospels that give an account about the seed of the woman (Jesus) who came to bruise the head of the serpent.

Remove Romans 8:29 “for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…”

Remove the passages in Ephesians chapter one that reference God choosing us before the foundation of the world, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children.

I am sure you get my point.

It is our job to correctly interpret the word of truth by God’s spirit. We are not to rely upon other people’s understanding or even our own. If we believe the scriptures are insufficient and have to break down God to make him fit our concept of him, then he simply is not God.

References

  1. Jude 1:3
  2. Genesis 2:1
  3. Genesis 3:15
  4. Genesis 15:13
  5. Deuteronomy 18:15
  6. Isaiah 7:14, 53:1-12
  7. Hosea 11:1, St. Matthew 2:14

Too Many Schisms

The body of Christ has a long way to “come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) In over 20 years, I have attended three denominations: Apostolic, Baptist, and Non-Denominational with each holding a unique experience providing both positive and negative takeaways.

In the Apostolic denomination, or better stated, Jesus Only, their doctrine was mainly focused on the divinity of the Christ, baptism in Jesus’ name (only) and holiness that expressed separation from “worldly things.” These denominations are characterized by their flowing into the supernatural or gifts of the spirit. In the Baptist denomination, their evangelistic/outreach programs were bar none. With a heavy emphasis in community participation and outreach, their goal was to reach the lost from the poor house to the White House. Flowing charismatically was not a main priority, but as some evolved, they became more accepting. And in a specific non-denominational, although it was a mix of the former, it felt more like a business enterprise than a fellowship of believers coming together to be strengthened and encouraged in the faith.

When I did not believe in Jesus, I hardly paid the church, religion, or Jesus Christ any attention so all of these “Christian selections” were irrelevant. Now as a believer, and with some knowledge about God and his word, I come to one conclusion: we are extremely divided.

The reasons as to why the schisms arose may vary but it can be attributed to one thing: not being led by the Holy Spirit. That would be hard to believe since some of us have had very positive experiences in our respective denominations; however, if you read the history of the first century church in the book of Acts, you will find the division began when some of the Jews attempted to mix law with grace requiring the Gentiles to become circumcised in order to obtain salvation.

Schisms are not new, but they are extremely destructive to our oneness as believers. What makes one denomination more superior to the others?   It cannot be the doctrine because as former unbelievers we never had one. It cannot be lifestyle because each person has a degree of faith that varies from one believer to the next. Behind the traditions, vocations, and administrations, I am sensing a stench of pride that hinders the unity of the faith.

Salvation came from the Jews, but if he didn’t spare the olive branch, he will not spare the engrafted wild one by nature either. The Lord intends for one church: both Jews and Gentiles where there will be one family named JESUS and we will all serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.