Monday, October 18, 2010

God Speaks

Hebrews 1:1-2 says that God spoke in the past in many portions and in many ways to the fathers in the prophets and has now spoken to us in the Son. Going back even further, all creation came into existence by the word of God, that is, God's speaking (Psa. 33:6, 9; John 1:1-3; Heb. 11:3; II Pet. 3:5). Genesis chapter one is full of "let there be" and "let the earth", and there was, and it did. Having created Adam and Eve, God blessed them and God spoke to them (Gen. 1:27-30). God's speaking is so powerful that it brought the entire universe into existence and yet is so personal that He can converse with those whom He creates. This is truly wonderful!

God spoke in the beginning, continued to speak in many different ways in Old Testament times, and continues to speak today. The question is, have you heard His voice; do you hear God speak? God has so much that He wants to say to us (John 16:12-13), but do we have ears to hear?

God's word was there from the very beginning and one day, miraculously, supernaturally, became flesh and was manifested in the person and life of Jesus the Christ (John 1:1, 14, 18). Jesus is God with us (Matt. 1:23). He is God manifested in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16). If you have seen Him, you have seen God the Father (John 14:9). Today, God has spoken and continues to speak in and through Christ. According to John chapter ten, He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. And what about these sheep of His? They hear His voice and follow Him. Once again I would ask, have you heard His voice? Are you hearing His voice? Are you truly following Him?

There is an odd parallel between the life in the flesh and the life in the Spirit; in both cases, as you get older you may become hard of hearing. The writer of Hebrews warns us of this (Heb. 5:10-12). If our spiritual ears become hard of hearing, we will more likely not know the Lord and follow Him to the extent that we should.

So how is it that we have become or may become hard of hearing? The writer of Hebrews also addresses this matter: unbelief because of the hardness of heart because of the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:8-15). It is possible that we may even hear His word (in our spirit, through the Bible, from His Body, or out of our environmental circumstances or other people in our lives) but not believe because of the hardness of our heart. The hearing of His word must be received by a soft and open heart with absolute faith, believing that His word is faithful and true. Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your heart or you may miss God's blessing; you will come short of His promised rest, and live a live of something less than what God intends for you (Heb. 3:7 thru 4:11).

Seven times in Revelation chapters two and three Jesus says, "he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Brothers and sisters, do we really have ears to hear the Lord? Have we heard His voice? Are we hearing Him speak? Or have we become dull of hearing? Or maybe we just have selective hearing; we only hear what we want to hear and harden our hearts toward what we prefer not to hear. Should we not only be hearers of the word but also doers because we respond to His speaking with action based upon faith? He is our great Shepherd; we are His sheep. He knows us. We hear His voice. We follow Him.

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Respond with faith and follow Him! Glory be to God.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our Mind

As Christians, we have been born of God in our human spirit (John 3:6). Jesus Christ now lives in us (II Cor. 13:5). His Spirit and our spirit have become one spirit (I Cor. 6:17). This is a fact and this is eternal. Although we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and forgiven of all our sins, we still possess the sinful flesh; this fallen nature remains in our mortal bodies (Rom. 6:12). Because of this, there is still the potential for Christians to live a sinful life (I Cor. 3:3). A genuine born again believer in Christ can chose to live, walk, and act in the flesh and not according to the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).

This is our struggle; this is our fight. Will we live according to the Spirit or according to the flesh? This will be determined by the position and condition of our mind. To live a Spirit-filled overcoming life, our minds need to be continually set on the spirit and daily renewed by the Spirit (Rom. 8:6; 12:2; Eph. 4:23). This is both a daily moment by moment exercise and a lifelong ongoing process. If we do not intentionally set our mind on the spirit, it will automatically gravitate to the flesh. The more we set our mind on the spirit, the more our minds will be renewed and function according to Christ.

Although we are eternally one with the Lord, we can still be alienated from Him and a hindrance to Him if we continue to operate out of an unrenewed mind set on the flesh. We have the mind of Christ because He lives in our spirit (I Cor. 2:16). But if we allow our mind to be set on the flesh and on the things of earth and man instead of the spirit, we will not have the mind of Christ in our daily practical application and experience (Matt. 16:23; Col. 3:1-2). Just because you have something doesn't guarantee you will use it.

The more we set our mind on the spirit, the more it will be renewed. As such, we will practically think and live according to the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a sober mind; it is a mind that is consciously and continually aware of the need to deny itself and live according to the leading and will of God (John 8:28-29). The mind of Christ is a humble mind; it is not one that puts himself above others; it does not think more highly of himself above others; it is a mind of sacrifice for serving others (Phil. 2:3-8). God gives grace to those with lowly minds (I Pet. 5:5). This grace empowers believers to live Spirit-filled overcoming lives (I Cor. 15:10). An overcoming life is a life lived according to the mind of Christ.

The mind of Christ should also be the "one mind" in the Body of Christ (I Cor. 1:10; Phil. 2:2). The greatest frustration to the building up of the church for the past two millennial has been that there are too many minds. As the mind is the origin of most of our words and actions, so an unrenewed mind, which is according to the flesh, is a great hindrance to the building up of Christ's church. How many dear saints over the years have acted and reacted, spoken and gossiped, functioned and operated, led and followed, worked and served, taught and preached, fought and submitted etc. according to the flesh with an unrenewed mind? And how much damage, division, and disgrace has the church suffered as a result, and often with good intentions.

The mind of Christ is the only mind that should have preeminence in the church. Therefore, only those who live and work according to this mind, that is, according to the Spirit, bring true blessing and genuine building up to the Body of Christ. It is only in this way that there can be an adequate, practical, and genuine expression of the church. So, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus!