April 26, 2015

The Path of the Upright

Posted in Humility, Teaching tagged , , , , , , , at 8:51 pm by tclickenger

Proverbs 15:19

The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is paved.”

The inspired words of the Lord are so beautiful and rich with meaning and truth.  In Hebrew the phrase “… but the path of the upright is paved.” is only three words.  But, my goodness, the depth of meaning contained in just those three words is incredible.

In Hebrew it reads, “v’orach yisarim s’lulah.”  “Yisharim” is the plural form of the word “yashar.”  So literally it would be upright ones.  Samson Raphael Hirsch, a 19th century Jewish rabbi, describes an upright one as “an individual whose thoughts and will are directed exclusively upon the aim which has been set for him by his sense of duty and destination.”  Now compare his words with those of the writer of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:2

“Looking upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I’d say according to that definition, Jesus would definitely qualify as an upright one.

“Orach” means path or way.  The upright ones, their path or way of life  is “s’lulah” or always even, going continuously straight and upwards.

The upright one is contrasted with the lazy man.  A lazy man completely shuns this sense of duty.  When difficulty comes, he gives up.  When the difficulty he faces is just the fact that he doesn’t feel like it, he has the laughable faculty for inventing excuses to shirk responsibilities.  “There is a jackal in the way, a lion in the street.”  Because of this way of living, the lazy man’s life is increasingly difficult.  Like trying to walk a path through nothing but hedges of thorns.

The upright one is a person of fierce resolve.  When the real difficulties come, and they will come, he overcomes.  Difficulties become increasingly easier to conquer.  Laziness is always in the way, no matter what you wish to do for yourself or for other.  It is a hindrance that God, as your loving Heavenly Father, will chasten you to overcome.  Are you having difficulty in your life?  Does it feel like you are trying to walk a path through the briar patch?  Do some inventory.  I am not saying that you are certainly being lazy but we (me included) need to consider the possibility.  We are called to disciplined spiritual work.  And even if you are physically a hard worker, you could be spiritually lazy.  Are you studying your bible?  Are you being disciplined in your prayer life?  If you are going to my church right now, you are being exhorted to pray more and pray with more understanding.  Get your thoughts and will directed, resolved on this aim.  If you’re having trouble disciplining yourself, find a partner.  Meet together every morning until you have the discipline to continue on your own.

Ecclesiastes 4:9

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”

Remember, “Nothing of eternal consequence (eternal significance) happens apart from prayer.”

Prayer is but one spiritual activity we can be lazy in.  There are others to consider while you are doing inventory.  Prayer is meaningful spiritual work though and must not be neglected.

My Father and my King,

I pray that I am ever reminded of the duty and destination set before me.  Help me to maintain a fierce resolve, keep my undistracted attention on my example, Jesus, so that one day where He is, I will be also.  Help me to overcome the hindrance of the flesh and it’s tendency to be lazy.  May I rest when you tell me to rest and be active when you desire me to be active.  Help me to realize the rewards of: rest for my soul as I yoke myself with Your Son; a way of life that is always even, going continuously straight and upwards; and the privilege to hear you say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”

Amen

March 20, 2011

Does God Know What is Everyone’s Heart

Posted in Faithfulness of God tagged , , , , , , , , , at 10:17 pm by tclickenger

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That is one of the many questions that a skeptic poses to point out what they believe are contradictions in the bible.  So let’s look at their view-point.  On the one hand, the Word says He does:

Acts 1:24, “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men.”  Psalm 44:21, “He knoweth the secrets of the heart.”  Psalm 139:2-3, “Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising; thou understands my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.”

Then on the other hand they believe His Word says that He doesn’t:

Deuteronomy 8:2, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”  Deuteronomy 13:3, “For the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your soul.”  .2 Chronicles 32:31, “God left him [Hezekiah], to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.”

The simple answer to this question is, yes, He does know everyone’s heart.  If you will notice, the passages that mention “to know” or “to prove” are all attached to a trial.  God “proves” the hearts of His people in the same way we prove a precious metal.

We place the metal over a fire (trial), the metal becomes molten, we find the impurities within the metal, we draw off the impurities and the essence of that which is precious is made more pure.

May we all thank God for the skeptic.  Who poses hard questions that we cannot answer using our own intellect.  And, thank God for the hard and difficult times.  Through both, we must depend on God to give us His wisdom, His understanding, His strength, His endurance and our humility and trust.  Both our faith and His wisdom are made more pure within us and our essence, our character, is made more precious than before.

God Bless you all, Through Christ I can love you all.

May 17, 2010

Is Christ Divided?…Continued

Posted in Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:09 pm by tclickenger

As I finished my post on the division of the church (Is Christ Divided?), I asked the questions “So what is the remedy? In all the many voices claiming to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and has a lock on the truth, how do we recognize God’s wisdom?” What is the way to unity? I have read a number of messages that insist that unity must be based on truth. It seems to me when someone is saying that, they are just trying to insist that their beliefs are “the truth.” I went on in my post to quote James 3:17-18.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

To put this in context we need to go back a few passages and read James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

So he is describing the qualities of the character and temperament of someone who has a mature measure of Godly wisdom and understanding. What I feel God is telling me in these passages is that we are to not only consider the message of the speaker but also examine the speaker himself. The verses 14 through 16 explains some attitudes and qualities that indicate the message is not from God. Then 17 and 18 some attitudes and qualities that indicate that it is.

As a disclaimer, note that when examining the speaker you cannot base your discernment from a first impression. You need to get to know the speaker, examine his conduct out of the pulpit as well as in it. Not just when he is speaking about God but in his everyday communication. A red flag should go up if he is talking more about himself than about God. Is he so convinced of his doctrinal views that he wouldn’t even consider hearing something that is in opposition to his current beliefs? In writing this I recognize that I am not exempt from this examination and welcome it.

So lets look at the qualities of one, as James said “Who is wise and understanding among you”

  • He is first of all pure – Pure in motivations. Without a hidden agenda.
  • Peaceable – They are more interested in the relationship they have with you than that your views are in agreement with their own. They don’t become angry or argumentative over a different belief.
  • Willing to yield (submissive) – Willing to yield to good reason. If the view they are presented is more reasonable than their own, they are willing to abandon their previously held belief for a better one.
  • Full of mercy – The individual that is wise with the wisdom of God will be more spiritually mature than those they are teaching. The spiritually immature are always getting offended about something and usually respond with offensive behavior. You will find that the one who has the wisdom of God is always extending mercy to everyone. I have personally received that mercy many a times.
  • Full of good fruits – The fruits this is referring to of course the fruit of the Spirit. Those qualities are pretty self explanatory.
  • Without partiality – Receives all people where ever they are in their development. Knows that truth can come from any of God’s children.
  • Without hypocrisy – You will find this person consistently displaying these characteristics. In the best of circumstances and in the most difficult. With their best friend, with their harshest critic, with their persecutor, with someone who has made themself an enemy to him.
  • Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    So again, what is the way to unity? Of course, we should all work toward being unified in “faith and knowledge” but from my understanding of the scriptures, unity is established and held together by peace. How is unity established and held together by peace? Is it our job to put peace in our hearts or does Jesus do this without any effort on our part?

    May the peace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, be with you and may he prepare our hearts to receive his truth.

    May 4, 2010

    Your Value to God

    Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 12:04 am by tclickenger

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    To God your value is not defined by your past. If you have been a user, an alcoholic, an abuser, you have no less value to God. Your value is not define by your looks. Your value is not defined by your job, how many friends you have, how good looking you are or are not or your weight.

    If I took a hundred dollar bill from your wallet and stomped it into the mud, would you want it back? If I wadded it up, would you still want it back? If I took it to the nearest pig farm and threw it in with the pigs and then retrieved it, would you not take it back, wash it and put it back in your wallet, your treasury?

    Most people have heard the story of the prodigal son but you may have not consider one aspect of the story. I had never considered this aspect until it came to mind today. The son ends up tending pigs in poverty at the end of his reckless living. If you have ever been around pigs you know they stink. No, I mean they really stink. It is a smell that lingers. If you work with these animals the smell gets in your clothes. Even when you wash your clothes the smell is still so noticeable that you wouldn’t want to wear the clothes in public. When the prodigal son returned to his father, do you think his father noticed the smell of pigs on his son?

    We know he was living in poverty, so he probably didn’t have a pair of “nice” clothes to change into before he went to see his father. He was probably still wearing the clothes he wore to tend the pig and worse yet, he probably was not able to wash them well before going to see dad. I will be bold enough to say that his father did smell the filth of pig on his son and chose to embrace him anyway. Not only did he chose to embrace him he chose to place the clothes and jewelry of his authority upon him over the son’s clothes of filth. That is how much he valued his son. The son’s value was not defined by his past (where he had been) or his present (how he appeared and smelled), the father valued him simply because he was his son.

    Thank God for the infinite value I have with Him.

    March 19, 2010

    Faithful to His Word

    Posted in Faithfulness of God tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:28 am by tclickenger

    Amazing Grace

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    One of my brothers in faith was describing an experience that he had while he was fallen away from God. My brother, we’ll call him “Allen” and two of his “friends” were drunk one night. At one point in the evening they began singing country music songs. After a while, two of them began singing “Amazing Grace.” One of them left the room because he didn’t want to hear it. Allen and his friend ended the song sobbing like babies, talking about how wrong they were to be living the lives that they were living.

    While Allen was telling this story it reminded me of a passage of scripture, Psalm 22:3 “You are Holy, You dwell among the praises of Your people.” While these boys were in their intoxicated state, they began singing praises of God and He showed up, lovingly reminding them of their need to be right with Him.

    This is just so wonderful to me. That even when were rolling in the pit of mud of our despair and corruption, God will do what his word says He will do. God will honor his word even when we are not in an honorable condition or are not being honorable to Him. How many men or women of this world can you say that about? God is good all the time.

    March 14, 2010

    Desires of the Sinful Nature…continued

    Posted in Desires of the Sinful Nature tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:28 am by tclickenger

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    The desires of the sinful nature is many times called the flesh. I am currently studying material for recovery and addiction and I find it fascinating how science has discovered how the biochemical processes of the brain influence our behavior. Most of the behaviors that these processes reinforce are ultimately destructive. These biochemical processes could be called the flesh. Scans show that acting in behaviors that are “addictive” lights up the brain pretty much the same way, whether it is sexual addiction, substance abuse, gambling or workaholic, approval seeking, success addiction.

    The bible describes it in this way, “He that sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.” Galatians 6:8

    While we are alienated from the life of God through Jesus Christ, the effects of satisfying our natural desires, personal needs and lusts, draw us further into alienation by becoming one with the condition itself. We are not only corrupted but we are the very agent of corruption. Our character and activity persuades and encourages corruption in the life of others.
    All these behaviors are acted out to get some satisfaction or peace. The flesh is seeking out peace in worldly activities. Initially these activities deliver a sense of satisfaction or peace but ultimately they lead to despair and destruction. But Jesus said that He gives us peace, not as the world gives us peace.

    Galatians 6:8 continued, “But he that sows to the Spirit, will of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

    The mind sowing its will into activities that are of the Spirit’s power and purpose, produce true peace and joy. This is because through obedience to the Spirits desires we receive a relationship by personal experience of the Father through the Son, which is life everlasting.

    John 17:3 “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only True God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

    When I made the post earlier this month about the desires of the sinful nature, I had not yet started the training in addictions. In that post I wrote that the sinful nature is self-gratifying, pleasure-seeking, entertainment loving, rebellious of authority, desiring social attraction (popularity), and public applause. This class confirms each and every one of these qualities. I am not saying that I was right but that God was. He always is. It is just so awesome to see science confirm what God has always said.

    Holy and gracious Father God, I pray that Your good news is received far and wide. That all may see that You love us and desire to save us from this body of sin, despair and destruction. I thank You, Lord, for illuminating my understanding of Your love, my brokenness and Your will. I plead for your strength for all by brothers and sisters to grow in accomplishing your will through the peace you have given us. I could never express the gratitude I have for the gift you have given, an eternal peace for my soul. What soothing water it is. It is in the name that has provided my peace and salvation, Jesus Christ, that I pray right now. Amen

    February 25, 2010

    Desires of the Sinful Nature

    Posted in Desires of the Sinful Nature tagged , , , , , , , at 7:14 pm by tclickenger

    What are the desires of the sinful nature

    spoke of in Galatians 5:16-26? These are desires and cravings of our human nature apart from God. While the world we live in has changed in many ways from the world that existed at the time man was created, the nature of man has not. He is self-gratifying, pleasure seeking, entertainment loving, rebellious of authority, desiring social attraction (popularity), and public applause. These are the desires of a heart that is not of God.

    As we read his word, we grow in the knowledge of God’s will and are given the understanding through the Holy Spirit. With this knowledge and understanding we are able to recognize how the sinful nature tries to push us to act against His will. We can then choose to capture those desires, pick up our cross each day and nail those desires to it. We are not supposed to crucify these desires buffet style. Each and every one of them are to be put to death for the life in Christ to be fully effective. Any one of these desire left within will compete with the will of God and the work of the Spirit. If fact they will also compete with others to keep them to a spiritual achievement, blessing and divine favor that is equal to or less than our own. The one who considers himself less superior than others and works to make others superior to himself will be the greater. Words from Jesus himself! We are to complement, complete, lift up each other not to compete with, put down, or step on.

    I pray, Lord, for your strength to be poured out into me that I may put those desires to death, that new desires may be renewed in my mind, my life sown into Your will and that Your will might be accomplished in my life. May I lift the ones around me high in Your name. I love you God, all your ways and beauty. Amen

    February 17, 2010

    Reason for praise

    Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:23 pm by tclickenger

    God’s will has been revealed to us. The way to achieving His will was presented as a living example (Jesus). He then gave us His Spirit to work in us to accomplish His will in our lives. He paid the price for all our failure, so even when we don’t get it right we are still found blameless in His love. We were unworthy of His grace before we were saved. We are unworthy yet now. What an amazing gift grace continues to be each and every moment. How can we not have a heart filled with gratitude for such a gift. Praise Jesus!!

    January 9, 2010

    Is Christ Divided?

    Posted in Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:59 am by tclickenger

    My first blog post ever.  What is Koinonia about?  The short version of what it’s about is Christian unity.

    One of my brothers in faith recently posted on his FB wall, “One Mind One Body One Purpose thousands of Denominations? Go Figure!”

    I don’t know what he meant by “Go figure!” but I believe this multitude of division is a terribly serious condition that warrants strong consideration.  Does The Word of God, the final authority in all truth, have anything to say about why we would have this sort of condition in the church?

    The Apostle Paul had something to say about this in 1 Cor. 1:11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions (disputes) among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” (divisions, denominations)

    Does this sound familiar? “I am a _______” you insert the denomination title. The term “denomination” has its roots in mathematics. It is a division of a number. You are probably most familiar with it from working with fractions, where we have a numerator and a denominator.

    13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

    Continuing in this thought, Paul begins to compare the wisdom that starts and continues these divisions with the wisdom of God.

    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    James had some writing that was very similar to Paul’s on this topic.

    James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, (Would you consider these attitudes that would cause disputes and divisions?) do not boast and lie against the truth.

    Is this such a serious condition that we need to concern ourself about it?

    15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

    Sounds pretty serious to me. In fact it is so important that Jesus said that being ONE is the one and only way that the world will know that we believe in the word of Jesus!! Paul even wrote in the book of Ephesians that being ONE was the ultimate end purpose of God in creating all things (Eph. 1:9-10). Wow! You can’t get much more serious or important than that.

    Notice again, James compares the wisdom that is behind these attitudes with the wisdom of God.  He even goes on to say that this is evil and demonic.  So what is the remedy? In all the many voices claiming to have a lock on the truth, how do we recognize God’s wisdom?

    17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    I pray that any pride I have in myself is destroyed and never sets my thinking up against the revelation of God and His truth.  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God.