Wednesday, July 11, 2018

False Hope

Lovingkindness and Truth
Your prophets have said so many foolish things, false to the core.
They did not save you from exile by pointing out your sins.
Instead, they painted false pictures filling you with false hope.
 Lamentations 2:14 NLT)

People sometimes try to help us and end up hurting us. Hope to be genuine is based on truth. False hope always disappoints us and destroys our faith.

Israel had rejected the word of the Lord from many prophets and had found themselves in exile.  When God is trying to give us a message, there always seems to be an alternative one.  We love to hear things that tickle our ears.  If we are not willing to listen to the good and bad about ourselves, we will never foster godly character.  It is not difficult to develop a following by just telling people what they want to hear. God is not a cosmic Santa Claus. Sometimes he says yes, at other times no, and often he says to wait.  

Are you only being told what you want to hear? Do I like to hear good things about myself?  Of course, I do, but it is not about what I want, but what I need.  I require encouragement and correction.  I only grow spiritually when I hear the good and the bad about myself.  Raising a child where you give only praise without correction, or vice versa will probably create a disobedient teen.  People creating word pictures in our minds that are not based on truth will only lead to false hope.  It will create short-term gain but long-term pain.

Jesus always ministered in that delicate balance between lovingkindness and truth, affirmation and correction.  Are you being told what you need or want to hear? The latter message only disappoints and defeats our faith.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Friday, June 29, 2018

Prisoners of Hope

The Second Coming of Christ
Return to the stronghold,
You prisoners of hope.
Even today I declare
That I will restore double to you. 
(Zechariah 9:12 NKJV)

As Christians, we all have hopes and dreams.  God has promised us to keep us in this world, yet our ultimate anticipation should not be in this world but the next.  Of course, we should maintain until Christ revisits this Earth, yet, looking forward to his emanate return will make us prisoners of hope.

The context of this section of Scripture is that Zechariah was encouraging the Jews about the coming of the Messiah.  A small group of people had returned from exile, but their enemies still surrounded them. He was exhorting them about a coming event.  Hope is always about a future event.  If you have something, you do not have to hope for it.  Hope is said to be the John the Baptist of faith.  It is not the same as faith, but it always goes before it. If you have no hope, you will not have faith.

In this world, we will have troubles.  God has promised either to take away the struggles or to give us grace to go through them, or a combination of the two.  Is our real hope in victories in these temporal issues?  Or is it the one great anticipation that all believers should have, the second coming of Christ.  As the Old Covenant believers looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, should not we, New Testament believers anticipate Christ’s return. Christ is coming again, not as a lamb, but a conquering king, and you will rule and reign with him. He is going to take care of business. Latch on to that truth, and you will be a prisoner of hope.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Manifold Wisdom of God

so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:10 NASB)

The church is God’s theatre to heaven and earth.  Without embracing God’s full expression on this earth, the church with all its varied expressions, we will never understand God’s multifaceted wisdom.

The Greek word for manifold is (polupoikilos) which expressed the idea of multifaceted.  It was used to represent an intricate embroidery of flowers of many colors.   In the New Testament, it is was used to express “most varied” or “many-sided.”  Every believer in Christ has a theology.  All Christians need to know what they believe and why they believe it, yet those who write systematic theology need to understand their limitations.  They need to grasp their need for other believers, especially those with whom they may not agree.  Theologically speaking, they may be producing a bouquet of flowers of only one color.

Of course, we should try to clarify what we believe based on the Word of God, yet we all know in part (1 Corinthians 13:9).  God has designed the Body of Christ so that no one group has a corner on the market of truth.  Theology always has to be within the limits of orthodox Christian thought, but if it is, to discard it, is to take a flower out of the bouquet of God’s earthly expression.   As Augustine said, “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

Maybe the reason we have no unity or experience no liberty is that we lack charity for others in the Church.  If we never understand our need for other Christians not like us, we will never have the manifold wisdom of God.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email: 
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com



Thursday, June 7, 2018

Weighing Motives

All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives. Proverbs 16:2 NASB)

We can feel pretty good about the things that we do, but we often do not understand why we do what we do.  It is possible to give with your hand but not your heart.
 
In my job, we often share the workload.  When one person is down in their caseload, others are often asked to share their cases to keep that person working.  Not long ago I was asked and gave away several of my cases.  I did not really want to lose them, but for the good of the project, I knew this is what I should do.  Recently, I had some medical bills and other extra financial expenses, which wiped out all of the funds I had put away for a rainy day.  At the same time, the bottom dropped out of my workload. I was told that there were some cases possibly available for me to work.  In the end, they were given to someone else.

I started feeling a little sorry for myself.  I felt like I had given up my cases and now when I had a need, there was nothing for me.  I started thinking that if I had not given up my cases, I might not have found myself in this dilemma.  I was in a downward spiral.  Then one morning in my daily reading the verse above in Proverbs hit me right between the eyes.


God was weighing my motives, and I had been tested and found wanting.  What I had given with my hand, I had started to take back in my heart. The universe does not revolve around me. God’s sovereign choices are made including my needs but exclusive to them.  Possibly, someone else needed the cases more than me. Or God in his infinite wisdom assigned the work without regard to need.  God always has the right to choose as he pleases.  What was my response?  God, forgive me, I thought and concluded before I saw it from your perspective.  Purity of motive may only come when we first have the humility to admit that we do not have it.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email: 
kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/
            http://gleanings757.blogspot.com