Why does God keep asking the impossible?

4 02 2011

Have you ever noticed that God asks us to do things that are impossible?

Be born all over again
Give up everything & follow Jesus
Speak to a mountain and tell it to move

Several times in the new testament Jesus brings his followers to a place where all they were left thinking was: “It’s impossible to be saved!”

Let’s start with Nicodemus.

In John chapter 3 Jesus tells him that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Nicodemus becomes confused and asks “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Then after an explanation from Jesus he asks “How can this be?” The verses that follow teach us that Jesus had to come to earth and be crucified in order for salvation to take place. Then we are led right up to a very popular scripture, John 3:16. Here is the way it is translated in The Message.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”

John 3:16-18 (The Message)

Jesus ends his discussion with Nicodemus by explaining that faith in Christ was the only way to enter into the kingdom of God.

The Impossible Pattern

This is the pattern that I am referring to when I talk about Jesus bringing a person to the point where they feel they cannot be saved. It seems as though Jesus brings them to the point where they ask “How on earth can I ever accomplish this?” Then he drops the truth on them. The deep truth that they cannot accomplish it. It can only be accomplished by God himself.

Give up everything and follow me!

In Matthew chapter 19 we see a young man who approaches Jesus and asks what he needs to do to get eternal life. When Jesus begins to explain about keeping the commandments the young man boldly exclaims that he has kept all of them ever since he was a little boy.

If your spiritual ears are open while reading this scripture red flags should immediately raise up. This young man is telling God that he has never sinned in his entire life. His statement is absolutely absurd since everyone has sinned at some point in their life.

This mans boldness had him believing that he was sinless and perfect before God. Pride had surely taken control of this young mans life and Jesus was about to break some pride off of him.

First off understand this. All throughout the scripture to be rich was to be blessed by God. you don’t have to look very hard to see that many of God’s servants, prophets and chosen were, in fact, VERY wealthy. It was believed that God blessed those who he was pleased with by giving them more sheep, more servants, more land and so on.

Now Jesus tells the young man that the one thing he needs to do is to give up everything he has, give to the poor, and follow him. Essentially it would seem that Jesus was saying give up all the blessings of God and come follow me.

Then Jesus makes a statement that makes everyone cringe.

…Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”

Matthew 19:23-24 (The Message)

At this point, the disciples are shell shocked! But do we understand why? One must understand that what Jesus was saying seemed to contradict all that God had been doing throughout history while dealing with the Jews.

Jesus “seems” to contradict God and His laws in many cases throughout the New Testament, but of course, Jesus is not wrong – only our understanding of God and salvation are wrong.

The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”

Matthew 19:25 (The Message)

In the eyes of the disciples and everyone around him, this man has been blessed by God. This man was a good man. Jesus himself said that he only lacked ONE thing – Christ.

So, we should easily understand the shock going through the disciples’ minds and hearts at this time. They were likely thinking- “if this man who God has blessed and who has kept the commandments has a hard time entering into God’s kingdom, then we have NO chance! We’re just a bunch of poor (not blessed) men.”

Can you see the pattern here? Jesus brings everyone there to the point where they feel like nobody can be saved. Then he drops the faith bomb on them all.

Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

Matthew 19:26 (The Message)

Conclusion

After His followers came to the conclusion that it would be impossible for them to achieve salvation He would basically then tell them that with faith in God all things are possible. In effect God wants us to understand with all our heart that salvation cannot be achieved through our abilities, or our achievements.

Are there other places that you can see this pattern playing out in scripture? How about in your own life?

The impossible challenge!

God challenges us every day. Just maybe he is challenging you to force you to the reality that you cannot make it without him. Maybe he knows that you are not really trusting him with your whole heart.

Have you totally put your trust in Jesus Christ? If everything in your life was taken away today could you still stand and say, “God I trust in you! You are my provider and my Saviour!”

– – – The End – – –

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If you would like to use this article on your website, blog, or in another form you may do so as long as you include the text and link below:

Why does God keep asking the impossible?
By: Raymond Brady

Article Source: https://buildyourhouseontherock.wordpress.com/

 

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Beard or No Beard

27 07 2009

beard_research

If you have kept up with me in the past you know that I was a member of the United Pentecostal Church International for over 17 years. I mention this because in all my 17 years of attending the UPCI I was taught that men should not have beards, mustaches, or any kind of facial hair. It was strictly forbidden. If you ever were found with facial hair you would be called aside and told you must shave. I personally seen this happen several times. So you can imagine my amazement to learn that the Old Testament actually teaches NOT to shave.

I didn’t go looking for the scripture I am going to talk about today it kind of found me. I was listening to the radio the other day when someone mentioned there was a scripture in the old testament that said you were not supposed to shave or trim your beard. My ears perked up when I heard this because I had never heard of such a scripture.

Leviticus 19:27 “Don’t cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim your beard.” – The Message

I find the teachings of the UPCI very odd on this subject and with no biblical foundation. There are many other issues in which the UPCI explicitly uses Old Testament law to back up their doctrines but it seems they have chosen to ignore the Old Testament law when it comes to mens facial hair. This is just another false teaching from this group who continues to try and mandate following Old Testament laws in order to obtain salvation.

I stand with Paul on this issue. If you decide to live by one piece of the law then you have to follow after ALL the law. You cannot pick and choose which laws you will follow. Also, if you choose to live by the law then Christ will not benefit you at all. Here is what Paul had to say to the Galatians on this subject.

Galatians 3:11-12
The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that’s the real life.” Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.” – The Message

If you only like the King James version then here it is:

Galatians 3:11-12
11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

Galatians 5:2-3
2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. – NIV

I find the UPCI teachings on facial hair very odd and with no biblical foundation. Their teaching on this subject actually contradicts the Bible. This should set off a red flag for anyone considering such beliefs.

Here is a link to the UPCI website which talks about a few of their beliefs.
http://www.upci.org/doctrine.asp

– – – The End – – –

If you would like to use this article on your website, blog, or in another form you may do so as long as you include the text below:

Beard or No Beard
By: Raymond Brady

Article Source: www.BuildYourHouseOnTheRock.org





A Calling Away From Self-Criticism

23 05 2009

monkI was reading some C.S. Lewis the other night and stumbled upon an amazing concept that I had not realized was in the bible. I don’t guess I have ever heard it taught about so I thought it would be good to write about. So what is this great amazing concept? It is simply how to deal with your own self-criticism. All of us deal with a certain amount of self-criticism but some people deal with an unhealthy amount of the stuff. Well, today I am going to tell you how to get rid of it, or at least bring it to a healthy level.

Martin Luther is known as a great leader and the father of the Protestant Reformation. He single handedly took on the Catholic Church and changed history forever. But if you study his life you will learn that he dealt with a great deal psychologically. His guilt before God drove him to become a monk after the Augustinian Order and his devotions as a monk nearly took his life. Living a life of Monasticism and constant confessions seemed to never be enough for Luther.

In 1511 Luther was assigned to the University of Wittenberg in Germany under a wise monk named Johann van Staupitz who understood how to help Luther. Staupitz was determined to release this younger monk from his cycle of despair and made Luther the Professor of Bible Studies at the university. Luther would be assigned to teach the bible to other young monks, thus taking his mind off of himself. If Luther was going to teach the Bible to others then Luther himself realized he must understand what he was teaching. 

Luther was simply doing what was taught in 1 John chapter three by practicing real love. By loving and serving others we are released from self-criticism. Not by just saying you love them but by showing, or proving, your love for them. First John 3:18-20 explains that by showing love through practicing real love we actually shut down self-criticism. 

1 John 3:18-20 (The Message)
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

This period of study and teaching in Martin Luther’s life released him from self-criticism and led him to understand that salvation can only be achieved by faith in Jesus Christ. No amount of monkery or dedication would ever be enough to save a person. Luther’s teachings would ultimately undo generations of Catholic teaching and change our world forever.

Another beautiful thing about the teaching in 1 John 3:18-20 is that it works even when you deserve the self-criticism. Wow, what a thought. Self-criticism which we rightfully deserve can even be removed by simply practicing real love toward others.

If you deal with a load of self-criticism and struggle with how to get out from under all of it, simply start loving others around you. Not with words but with deeds. Do something nice for your neighbor. Give a friend of yours some financial help by paying their utility bill this month. Love those around you with all your heart, even your enemies, and the load of self-criticism will suddenly be shut down.

– – – The End – – –

If you would like to use this article on your website, blog, or in another form you may do so as long as you include the text below:

A Calling Away From Self-Criticism
By: Raymond Brady
Article Source: www.BuildYourHouseOnTheRock.org





Just a Branch?

18 05 2009

John 15:4 – Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (NIV)

grapevineHave you ever noticed braches on a fruit tree? The braches are where the fruit is produced. You will not find a fruit tree that grows fruit on it’s trunk. The branches must first grow and become mature enough to produce fruit. This maturity process involves nutrients being fed to the branch from the trunk. In fact a branch is created by the trunk.

As the branch is fed by the trunk it grows stronger each day. Once it has grown enough to support fruit it will begin to produce fruit in the right season. Jesus said we are the branches and if we want to bear fruit we must remain in Him.

The branch has an interesting job. It has a unique ability to create fruit for people to eat yet it cannot create this fruit on it’s own. It has to stay connected to the trunk in order for it to fulfil it’s purpose. If it becomes disconnected from the trunk it cannot create fruit.

The branch also does not have to work to be part of the trunk because it is already connected. The branch also does not have to strive to produce the fruit. What this means is that the branch does not do any real work at all in producing the fruit. It simply acts as a conduit to take the nutrients given by the truck  and transfer them out of itself. As these nutrients are pressed out an amazing transformation takes place and fruit is created.

Our job is simply to remain in Him. This simply means to rest in Him. He is everything we need and He will supply all that we need. How do we remain in Him? Simply by keeping our faith in Him. Verse 5 tells us that if we remain connected to Him we will produce alot of fruit and Jesus also reminds us that we cannot do anything on our own.

We have a purpose and we can produce an amazing amout of fruit as long as we stay connected to Christ. It is Him that does the work through us and not ourselves therefore we must remain in Him. We remain in Christ simply the same way we came to Him, by trusting Him and placing our faith in Him alone.

Colossians 2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.





Seeing God in 3D

14 05 2009

eyeMy wife and I were at a zoo several years ago and we were watching an ape play around in his cage. Well, he was actually eating his own feces but I won’t get into that too much.

While we watched the ape an older couple standing next to us started to talk about how amazing our ancestors were and how much we had evolved. My wife and I chuckled toward each other after hearing them talk. We don’t believe that humans evolved from monkeys so we thought it was kind of humorous as we all watched the feces eating ape play around in his cage.

A while back I wrote about how two are better than one. I referenced a study where it was proven that having two nostrils allow your sense of smell to perform some amazing things. It is also true of your eyesight and I want to relate all this to how we should be studying the scriptures.

YOUR PHYSICAL EYESIGHT

Each of your eyes are like a mini super-high resolution video camera. Each eye takes full motion video footage in sync with the other eye and feeds it into your computer, a.k.a. your brain. Each eye has a unique angle that it takes in footage. In your brain the images from each camera/eye are meshed together to create stunning 3D “real-time” video footage. Using this footage your brain can judge height, width, depth, and a host of other attributes about the objects that you are looking at.

Now take away one of your eyes by covering it up. You lose the 3D image and your senses are affected by the lack of information from the closed eye. Try to walk around with only one eye or better yet try to drive your car with only one eye. It suddenly becomes hard to operate without the complete 3D images being fed to your brain.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says that “Two are better than one”. We can see this principle everywhere we look. Two eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs of two as well. So, we can come to the conclusion that our eyesight is extremely enhanced when both eyes are fully operational and functioning in sync with one another.

YOUR SPIRITUAL EYESIGHT

When we study the scriptures we need to remember this principle as well. It is easy to read one scripture and form an opinion about what it is telling us. But we cannot see the object in full “3D” unless we look at it from all sides. So, we have to look at other scriptures that deal with the same subject/object.

When we put each of these “views” of the scripture together we will begin to see a 3D object take shape. We will begin to understand the depth, width, and height of the Word of God. As all these scriptures begin to mesh together we will begin to see a beautiful vivid picture and behold the beauty of God through His Word.

It’s easy to ignore scriptures that we do not understand or that do not fit into our “image” of what we think God should look like. I believe this could fall into a form of idolatry if we are not careful. God is who He is and we cannot form or fashion Him into what we think He should look like. Rather we should carefully examine all the scripture making sure that harmony is achieved in all things.

My wife played the flute in the High School band. I think the flute is a pretty sounding instrument even when played all by itself. However, there are some instruments that when played alone create nothing but irritating noises. When these instruments are joined with the entire orchestra beautiful music is created. So are some scriptures. If you proclaim them alone they will not be of any use to anyone except for irritation. We must strive to harmonize all the scriptures together. After all we as Christians believe that there are no contradictions in the Bible, right?

CONCLUSION

If we understand a scripture to mean one thing and our “view” contradicts with other scriptures then WE have created the contradiction and must change our “view” in order to see properly what God wants us to see. We have one eye covered and cannot/will not see completely.

Pride tends to distort our vision since we as people do not like to be wrong. Because of this we will hold to a contradicting opinion as if it were truth. The whole while God is trying to bring us to see the beautiful 3D image of His Word. We only do this by using both of our eyes.

Make it a point when you study the scripture to abandon all your own pre-conceived ideas. Open both eyes widely and allow all the scriptures to present you with a beautiful 3D image of the Word of God.





God’s Master Craftsman

8 05 2009

woodworking-toolsThis morning I was studying Proverbs chapter 8. This chapter brings out some amazing imagery about wisdom. In verse 22 Solomon tells us that wisdom was one of Gods first creations, even before the very creation of the earth.

Then verses 30-31 tell how wisdom was like a craftsman at Gods side during creation. Using this ‘wisdom’ that God created He created all things as we know it. Wow, what a thought. I am thinking about Isaiah 55:9.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Our age has seen a tremendous increase in knowledge and wisdom yet this type of wisdom (earthly) is only a word out of the mouth of God. We can’t even begin to imagine the true wisdom of God.

Through reading this chapter we can conclude that the principles of wisdom are built into the very structure of the creation. Solomon had a unique way of teaching wisdom. One way he did this was using animals that God created like the ant. He looked at creation as being full of wisdom.

In high school I took wood shop for a few years and learned to make furniture. To this day when I am looking at furniture I always look at how it was made. I can understand a lot about the craftsmen that made a particular piece of furniture just by looking at his/her work. I am only a novice at woodworking but I can still understand things about the craftsman.

We can also learn about wisdom simply by looking at Gods creation, because it was made using a craftsman created by God called wisdom.





Increasing Your Attention Span

2 04 2009

If you have kids then you can really understand the human attention span. How many times a day do you have to remind your kids to pay attention and listen to you? If you want to increase your attention span and be more attentive to God this article will help point you in the right direction.

I have been studying the book of Proverbs for a while now, and have learned many things. I wanted to blog about what I studied today.

Being attentive to God and His Word is like a springboard to gaining wisdom. The most common command in the first nine chapters of Proverbs is a call to pay attention. Being attentive to God is crucial to gaining wisdom.

If we listen to human reasoning or philosophy them we will end up with earthly wisdom, so let us listen all the more to God so that we may end up with heavenly wisdom.

Here are five practical steps to attentiveness:

1. “Make your ear attentive” – Proverbs 2:2 NASB, Matt 13:9-15

Choose to listen actively and receptively.

2. “Incline your ear” – Proverbs 4:20; 5:1 NASB

When we want to be sure and hear someone we will lean forward and turn position ourselves so we hear every word.

3. “incline your heart” – Proverbs 2:2 NASB

Lean forward mentally as well as physically. Placing much value on the words being spoken or read.

4. “treasure” – Proverbs 2:1; 7:1 NASB

Place a high value on it and make it a point to retain what you have learned.

5. “do not forget” – Proverbs 3:1; 4:5; cp. 3:21; 4:21

Wisdom is so valuable that a sensible person wants it to be a permanent part of their life.