Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Fundamentals of my Faith

I believe that Adam and Eve were real people, and when Adam sinned, that sin was passed on through human nature to everyone that was ever born on earth again. Because of that, we are all hopelessly lost without the free gift of salvation that Jesus gives to those who trust Him and believe that He died for us.

I believe that Jesus was, and is, and always will be God.

I believe that God manifests Himself in Three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, who became pregnant by a miracle of the Holy Spirit, never having slept with a man until He was born. Truly, He is the Son of God!

I believe that Jesus lived an absolutely perfect life, never breaking the Law that God himself handed down centuries early to Moses. Because of that, He was worthy of taking our place in the punishment we deserved. The Law of Moses required sacrifices to cover our sins, but Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, and the only one that could remove those sins forever.

I believe that Jesus died for our sins, rose again the third day, and ascended to Heaven, where He still is and always will be, literally advocating to God the Father on our behalf.

I believe that one day Jesus will return to Earth to set up His kingdom here. I believe that before that happens, He will take the Christians away to be with Him. This event is commonly known as the “rapture.”

I believe that an evil man will rise to power, commonly known as the anti-Christ, who will strive to rule the world after the rapture of the church, but will be defeated by the Son of God at His return.

I believe in a thousand years of peace when Jesus returns to rule the world, but after those thousand years a final battle occurs when Satan is loosed from the bottomless pit to deceive the nations one final time. I believe that Christ then gloriously defeats him, and sets up His eternal Kingdom, as the New Jerusalem descends to Earth.

I believe that Believers in Christ will live and reign with Him, during the one thousand years, then throughout eternity.

I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, meaning that God has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of those of us who follow Him.

I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that loving God is the greatest commandment, and therefore, not loving God is a sin.

I believe that loving your fellow man in the second greatest commandment, and therefore, not loving your fellow man is a sin.

I believe that the whole Bible is the inspired, completely accurate Word of God.

I believe that good solid spiritual teaching is a result of studying God’s Word, making sure the things you believe are supported by God’s Word, and asking God to help you understand it.

So the question to you is, "What do you believe?"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strength In Weakness

Maureen D Eha
Charisma Magazine

I have reached the age at which it is hard to tell the difference between a Holy Ghost rush and a hot flash. It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't come to rely on body temperature as a spiritual thermostat to tell me when the anointing had hit. But now I just have to move out in faith, trusting that God is the initiator even when I don't feel a thing—or when what I'm feeling could be the result of a hormone imbalance rather than the prompting of His Spirit!

This season has brought other physical changes, too—a tiredness I can't seem to shake, wrinkles, sagging skin, body parts that don't want to get in shape no matter how much I do to encourage the process. Perhaps worst of all is the lack of desire to extend myself beyond the minimum requirements for sustaining life. If an activity isn't going to satisfy a crucial need, it isn't worth the effort.

This applies to spiritual pursuits as well. All the passion I once had for fulfilling God's purposes went out the window, I guess, along with good muscle tone and my store of progesterone. It's not that I don't want to be obedient; it's just that I don't want to expend the energy.

But I am learning that in spite of outward indications to the contrary, I am in the perfect condition to carry out God's plans. How is that possible? Because instead of relying on the things that used to keep me going—my own zeal, ambition and commitment to His cause—I am relying on God to compel and sustain me. His Word says that He works in us "both to WILL and to DO for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13, NKJV), so I know I can trust Him to get me moving in the right direction when He wants to use me-in spite of my weakness.

I also know I can trust Him to turn my weakness into strength. Well-known inspirational writer Catherine Marshall discovered this truth during a difficult season in her own life. Her husband, Lenny LeSourd, wrote that it was the central message of her book "Light in My Darkest Night" and summarized the truth this way: "If we will let Him, the Lord will help us grow strong precisely in the weak places themselves."

It's certainly not a new revelation. The apostle Paul wrote much the same thing in his second letter to the Corinthians. Referring to the "thorn in the flesh" that he says was given to him "lest [he] be exalted above measure," he declared: "I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Cor. 12:9).

To Paul, the exchange God offered him-His strength for Paul's weakness-was worth the discomfort the "thorn" caused. "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities," he wrote, "that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (vv. 9-10).

Like Catherine Marshall and the apostle Paul, all of us have areas of weakness, no matter how capable we think we are. Yours might be a physical weakness, as mine is right now, or it might be a different form of handicap. Whatever it is, rejoice in it! Praise God for it! For it is in that weak place that God will prove Himself strong on your behalf. And when He does, the credit-and the glory-for whatever fruit is borne as a result will be all His.

Living for a Purpose

Rick Warren
Saddleback Church

It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. (Ephesians 2:10 LB)

"You were created to add to life on earth, not just take from it. God wants you to give something back." God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on earth to make a contribution. You weren't created just to consume resources—to eat, breath, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. You were created to add to life on earth, not just take from it. God wants you to give something back.

The Bible says,
"God has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10 TEV)

These "good deeds" are your service to the world. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God. (Colossians 3:23-24; Matthew 25:34-45; Ephesians 6:7)

What God told Jeremiah is also true for you:
"Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work." (Jeremiah 1:5 NCV)

When most people think of this "special work," they think of pastors, priests, and professional clergy, but God says every member of his family is to minister. In the Bible, the words servant and minister are synonyms, as are service and ministry. If you are a Christian, you are a minister, and when you're serving, you're ministering.

Have you ever wondered why God doesn't just immediately take us to heaven the moment we accept his grace? Why does he leave us in a fallen world? He leaves us here to fulfill his purposes. Once you are saved, God intends to use you for his goals. God has a ministry for you in his church and a mission for you in the world. Is there anything holding you back from accepting God's call to serve him?