Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Folderal

“Folderal,” a useless accessory, nonsense.  

Much of what passes for Worship these days is nothing less than “Folderal.”  Jesus, speaking to the woman at the well of Samaria in John 4:23,24 said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

What is your view of worship? Is worship what happens in church on Sunday? Do you identify it with an emotional experience, spiritual thoughts, or maybe performing certain rituals?

The fact is, true worship is not defined by a place, a feeling, or a ritual. God set the standard for worship in His Word, and the standard is much higher and more rewarding than most of us ever imagine. 

God is not impressed by our performance, rather He is moved by the honest expression of response by us to His love.  He wants us to mean what we say and sing.  He wants each activity of the day to reflect such a response. 

There is a place for singing, preaching, listening, shouting, teaching, and even passing out bulletins.  It can all be true worship, but in all our doings, if we are not genuinely responding to God’s great love toward us, then we are not engaged in true worship, and it is nothing less than “Folderal.” 

You do not have to wait for Sunday to worship Him.  Jesus told that same woman in verse 21 that the hour is coming when your worship will not be confined to the central place of worship.  I think He was saying that true worship definitely can, and should, take place on Sunday in corporate worship with the body; but with the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell each Believer true worship occurs in everything we do throughout the week.  If we begin to understand that every interaction with others, every thing we do, and every word we speak should be done as a conscious reaction to His wonderful, redeeming love, we will find ourselves worshiping Him continually and there will be less and less “Folderal” in our lives.


©                    Mike Rasberry              2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Deliverance From The Dungeon of Despair

I believe there are untold numbers of Genuine Believers today who are struggling with despair.  They wonder why nothing is working out, and why life just seems so very difficult.  Now if everything is going well for you today, just hang on; if you live very long, you’ll face some daunting challenges.  But there are some who are really in a deep dark dungeon, and they see no way out.

Let me tell you there is light and hope for you. 

John The Baptist was a great man, yet he was in the dungeon of despair.  He had though Jesus was the one who would finally deliver the Jews, and he had testified that Jesus was the Son of God, yet John was in prison, facing an uncertain future.   He could not understand why, if Jesus was who He claimed to be, that John was going through all this trouble. 

Do you ever feel that way?  “Jesus, I believe in you, but here I am.  Why?  If You’re really God why don’t you deliver me?”

John asked that same question, and Jesus answered him in Matthew chapter 11 with these words, “...Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” 

Jesus was saying to John, “I’m still in charge, don’t despair because things aren’t going according to your schedule, or according to your plan.  Trust me.  I have not been sidetracked from My plan which is set from eternity past.”  If you’re in despair, look to Jesus, the author and finisher of you faith.  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Heb 11:6

Jesus will not castigate you when you come to Him and honestly admit that you have fallen into despair because of the dungeon you find yourself in.  He will comfort and encourage you.  He will empower you to face each day, trusting Him that all is going according to His plan.  You can sing with the hymn writer,  “I know what ‘ere befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.”

©                  Mike Rasberry             2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mastication

“Mastication” is a Greek word that means "to gnash the teeth" (and related to the Greek words for jaw and chew).  In everyday parlance it means chewing.  While looking at this word this morning I was reminded of an expression I grew up with: “I’ll chew on it awhile” meant that the person would ponder, or think, about it for a while.

When someone would want another to think about something, the common expression was, “I’ll let you chew on that for a spell.” 

I’ve been “chewing” on some things recently, that give me hope for the future, even in these days of growing official opposition to Biblical Christianity. 

Look for a moment at Isaiah 34:1-7.  1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, 
And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  3 For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. 4 Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. 5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east,   And gather you from the west;  6 I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth– 7 Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him."


If you would “chew” on this for a spell, it might give you hope also.  Here Holy God declares His sovereignty over all, and lets those who are His understand that each and everyone of His have been created for His glory.  Nothing this world offers can separate us from the One Who holds us in His strong hand. 

Glory!  Glory!  Glory!

©            Mike Rasberry        2015


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Truth And Godliness

Is knowing and accumulating truth enough? 

In today’s world of instant communications and the ability to google almost anything to find an answer, nearly everyone is suddenly a theologian.  In James chapter 2:18ff, the writer is telling the listener that there is more to Godliness than simply accumulating truth.  In fact, he compares those who do so with the demons.

So is James teaching that knowledge of truth is not important?  Certainly no!  He is simply explaining that truth which does not work itself out through one’s heart and thereby show itself in one’s doings is empty truth.

Now this doesn’t mean that one should not seek to expand his understanding of Biblical Truth.  Quite the contrary.  Trying to live “godly” without the basis of Biblical Truth leads to the shallow understanding permeating the contemporary church.  Without the solid basis of Biblical Truth, “I feelism” and “It seems to meism” has created mass confusion leading to a lack of Spiritual Power.

Those depending upon feelings are not intentionally trying to wreck and limit the work of Christ.  They are much like those described in the book of Judges who acted according to what was “right in their own eyes.”  They did not base their actions and lifestyles on the unchanging Word of God, but on their understanding of life.

If you and I desire true “Godliness,” we must look to The Bible, God’s Holy Word, and learn of Him, while submitting ourselves to Him as His instruments, thereby “working out” our faith in all our doings. 

©               2015              Mike Rasberry

Friday, April 04, 2014

PONDERINGS AFTER READING “THE AUSCHWITZ ESCAPE”

Satan’s attack on the people of God has taken many turns throughout history.  Beginning there in the garden shortly after creation, it continues even until this very hour.  The natural man does not see the hand of the prince of this world system at work in the Pharoahs’ genocidal harshness, or the Moabites desire to keep them from passing through their land.  The continual Philistine attacks and subjugation of God’s people is considered a natural progression of barbarism of those early days of civilization. 
Tiglath Pilesor IV and Sargon II are merely kingdom builders with highly advanced political and military skills in the eyes of anthropologists and historians.  Babylon’s unsurpassed cruelty, Persia’s military acumen, and Alexander the Great’s visionary boldness are viewed as progressions in the development of an evolving cultural awareness with absolutely no consideration of the possibility of a hand behind those great movements always moving with one though, to destroy the people of God through whom would come the promised Messiah whose heel would bruise the head of the prince of this world system.

Then as mighty Rome enveloped the civilized world, the Messiah was brought forth and Rome became the tool first to prevent His birth, then to wipe out the Jewish nation which birthed Him, and finally to discredit, discourage, and annihilate those who became joint heirs with Christ.   Unable to destroy the teachings of The Christ, this latest instrument of this world’s prince, developed a highly technical substitute for simple faith in Christ, which held a large portion of the world’s population in dark bondage for more than a millennium.  The twentieth century brought about a change in this Roman system and it moved from a quasi military system to a totally religious system, continuing to offer a substitute of religious activity for genuine faith based conversion.

The prince of this world system did not place all his hopes on victory in basket, he stirred the sons of Ishmael to develop a virulently anti Jewish faith whose primary purpose has always been the suppression of Jews, and since 1947 the extermination of them. 

Throughout Europe two competing systems, Communism and Nazism, have tried to destroy both the natural and spiritual Jews.   While Nazism was squashed, Communism continues to spread its poison through Asia and South America and seems to be making a comeback in Eastern Europe. 

The last six decades have seen a new and different attack upon the spiritual children of promise as the evil one has attacked them with the conscious numbing tactic of materialism.   Such an approach just might be the most insidious and effective tactic yet employed by the powers of darkness.  Both cultural and genuine Believers seem to have fallen under this pervasive spell even while seemingly unaware that it is robbing them of the discernment necessary to employ the power to live victoriously in this age.

That the prince of darkness operates behind translucent curtains design to obfuscate and misdirect is his greatest continuing victory.  Hitler’s evil genius is decried and bemoaned, but he had far too much influence to have drawn it from his own mind and energy.  His life epitomized one who had fallen under the spell of the prince of darkness without even realizing it.  

Today political leaders rise unaccountably to positions of prominence without experience or expertise due to their ability to influence the masses to follow them on their destructive and illogical policy paths.  These leaders are as closely aligned with the forces of evil as were those of the inquisition or the holocaust.  Yet cultural and genuine Believers are unwilling to risk the comfort of contemporary materialism to expose these people and warn the masses.

Reading the book, “The Auschwitz Escape,” has reminded me that evil triumphs when holiness is silent.   I pray God will raise up a band of people willing to risk everything in order to prevent another Auschwitz.  

©       2014               Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Westboro Folks Are Wrong

The Westboro Folks are definitely WRONG in their approach to opposing homosexuality.  No one should be called names and attacked like the Westboro folks do.  What they do is degrading. 

Let me say that I believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is gross sin, and that the open acceptance and promotion of it is the judgement of God upon a land prior to destruction of that land.  But we ought reach a hand out to those caught in the grip of this dread sin.  Certainly we ought not appear to celebrate them, but we ought also not appear to hate them.

Rather than attack individuals, Westboro would better serve the cause of Christ to use the system God has provided to change the government leadership which facilitates and empowers this sinful lifestyle.  

Conversely those professing Believers who give the impression of support of the Homosexual lifestyle by proclaiming that God loves seem also to miss the point.  The prime attribute of God is His holiness and His love is a natural outflow of that holiness.  Because He is holy and loves, He gave His only Son that men need not be enslaved by such things as homosexuality.  He loves so much that he condemns the sin all the while offering to the offender a path whereby he might not only find deliverance, but the power to overcome those tendencies in his life.

When one rejects God's proffered salvation, which by the way is offered ONLY on God's terms, and there is not negotiation; that one will suffer the consequences of that rejection.  That is why we cease not to warn in spoken and written word continually, and do not fear the lament of the populace as they decry our supposed intolerance.

So, one might ask, "Just what is this salvation which is a path to deliverance from homosexuality?"  Simply stated, it is making Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of one's life.   Well how is that accomplished?  I believe Scripture teaches that God offers to every human being the opportunity to turn to Him and the wherewithal to accomplish that turn. (1) First one must be convicted that he, himself, is a sinner and the enemy of God.  This is not a natural thing and is accomplished through the work of God's Holy Spirit.  You can be sure, I believe, that if you see yourself in such a light it is the work of God in your life.

(2)  After recognition of one's condition, he is broken hearted over that condition.  Not because of potential consequences but because of what sin does to Holy God.  Sin caused Jesus Christ to leave the glory of heaven and suffer the indignities of the cross while paying with His totally innocent life the penalty for sin which you and I deserve.

(3)  One must, having recognized that condition and experienced contrition for sin; confess to God in prayer.  Prayer is talking with God and requires no particular formula or pattern.  It is the genuine outpouring of one's heart to God with the belief that He cares and hears.  Confession is simply saying to God that you know your unworthy sinfulness and acknowledge your inability to cure yourself, and your need of an intercessor.  By faith you confess that you believe and trust in Jesus Christ as the only way and accept Him as LORD.

(4)  These first three steps might happen in a moment and be hardly distinguishable one from the other, but the fourth step takes a life time.  It involves conversion from Sin.  At the time of salvation God has been doing a mighty work in the life of the individual.   He gives one a new heart that is bent toward Him rather than toward the world.  However, God does not destroy the pull of the world in the individual's life.  He is given a new purpose, a new direction, a new name, and a new eternal home.  He is also given a new companion, the Holy Spirit, who indwells him and provides strength, direction, companionship, comfort, courage, and whatever else is needed to accomplish God's plan for that life.   The Holy Spirit will warn the genuine Believer when he is tempted to stray from God's purposes, and He will provide the strength to turn from evil.  Should the Believer fail to listen to the warning and become caught up in sin, the Holy Spirit will continue to call to him to repent of the sin and return to God in confession. 

God allows each Believer to make choices continually, with each carrying rewards and consequences.  That is why it is a life long process of turning from sin.  

A word of caution--No one can come to the Father except the Spirit draw him.  Therefore, it is extremely important that one respond to Him when He calls because that may be the only call which comes. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

God's Judgement On America

In light of recent events, I believe Christian people need to understand what homosexuality means in light of God's Word.  At the most recent meeting between the University of Tennessee and University of Missouri basketball teams, Michael Sams, the extraordinarily talented football player who is expected to be a high NFL draft choice was honored with a standing ovation when he entered the basketball arena.  The event which precipitated the ovation was his recent public "coming out" as he proclaimed himself to be a homosexual.

That the people would applaud him rather than hang their heads in shame is testimony that the Judgement of God already rests upon America.  Homosexuality, you see, does not lead to judgement, it is judgement.  The fact that Americans in such large numbers are sympathetic to his position and that governmental leadership at the national and state level are working diligently to facilitate an environment which accommodates him and others like him who shamelessly proclaim their abominable lifestyles is proof that God has turned us over to our own devices.

How long God refrains from wreaking upon our nation the same fate he unleashed upon Sodom seems to depend upon the number of genuine Believers who continue to stand for truth and justice in our day.   The following message, "God's Judgement On America," can be accessed by clicking the link.   I pray you choose to stand for God in these days.