Saturday, January 26, 2019

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This blog all began with a Bible study on the expression, "the kingdom of God is like" this.  By putting together all of the similes the Lord used to compare to the kingdom of God, we were able to get a relatively good picture of God's kingdom -- a mosaic of sorts.  Later came other articles of a similar nature that helped to show us what the kingdom of God is like.  I hope these prove useful to you as you grow in your understanding of how things operate in God's kingdom.  If you have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, you need to re-learn how to live, since the way God works is very different from the world.

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, 'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.'"  (Luk 18:16-17)

The Kingdom of God is Like This The Secret Kingdom God's Supernatural Hand in Crisis
The Link Between Two Realms God's Supernatural Provision Using People The Kingdom of God as Revealed to James Agboola
A Time for Everything The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom An Incomparable Inheritance
All of His Works Praise Him Thy Kingdom Come The Day of Small Things
Why is the Body So Divided? A Biblical View of the Poor Paradoxes of the Kingdom of God
God's Way to Greatness Faithful in the Little Things Multiplying Your Talents
Against Entropy Changing the Atmosphere The Power of Two or Three
Dependence in God's Kingdom The Authority of the Believer What Do You Mean By "Luck"?
The Mysteries of the Faith

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Image credit: "Suffer the Children to Come Unto me" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38


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Doulos Missions International now offers discipleship training online through the Doulos Training School (DTS).  Please visit the DTS online at Doulos Training School to find out more about how you or someone you know can participate.
___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Mysteries of the Faith

My Bible reading today coincidentally included Dt 29:29 and Mt 13:11-12. These two passages contain very different messages to the people of the Old and New Covenants regarding the mysteries of God. Before we take a look at what they say, let me just tell you that the message for those of us under the New Covenant is much better.

The Secret Things Belong to the Lord
First I read in Deuteronomy where Moses said, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law." (Deu 29:29). I have always liked that verse, which I've underlined in my Bible, because there are some passages of Scripture that we don't always understand clearly. When that happens, it's helpful to remember that the secret things belong to God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever. There are some things the Lord chooses to keep secret, at least temporarily, rather than reveal them to us. Those may include the meaning of certain difficult passages of Scripture, for example. Or they may include the reasons for certain unexplainable events that can happen in life, especially tragic ones. Of course, we can pray and ask the Lord to give us understanding of these passages of Scripture, or to explain the reasons why some event has happened, and He can answer such prayers. After all, He has promised us, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jer 33:3, NIV). But sometimes He chooses not to let us know, while we are still on this side of eternity. When He does so, we have to learn to rest in Him and be content with not knowing. We must accept the fact that we are not God, and we cannot fathom all mysteries.

The Knowledge of the Secrets of the Kingdom Given to Us
Then After reading Deuteronomy 29:29, I turned to my New Testament passage for the day, as I've been reading through the Gospel of Matthew. In the thirteenth chapter , I read that "The disciples came to [Jesus] and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?' He replied, 'Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.'" (Mt 13:11-12, NIV). That was quite a coincidence to read about secrets again, when I had just read about them in Deuteronomy, so I knew the Lord must have something to say to me about secrets. Therefore, I looked more closely at this passage and realized for the first time that it contains a message that is at the same time both different and similar to what it says in Deuteronomy 29:29.

Under the Mosaic covenant the secret things belong to the Lord and only the things revealed belonged to us and to our children. but under the New Covenant, the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given to us and belong to us. It has been granted to us to know mysteries. Praise the Lord!

Uttering Hidden Things 
Then He went on using parables to tell them what the kingdom of God is like. Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world." (Mt 13:34-35, NIV). Jesus has uttered to us things hidden since the creation of the world. Hallelujah!

I trust you can see how that is quite different from the way it was under the Old Covenant. The New Testament Scriptures are filled with things long hidden but now revealed to us. What a privilege it is to know these things. That which was enfolded in the Old Testament is now unfolded in the New. Now that the veil has been removed from our eyes, we understand the mysteries that were hidden for ages past in the Hebrew Scriptures. It's all made possible because of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Yet we know that unless He reveals something to us, it remains a secret to us until He does. That's why you can read the same passage for decades and still get something new out of it, because you are hungry and you dig for it with a childlike heart, and the Lord speaks to you a fresh word. You humble yourself as you open the Word and ask the Lord before you read to speak to you, because you know that unless He reveals it to you, you cannot understand it on your own.

Revealing Hidden Things to Little Children
God is pleased to reveal hidden things to little children and hide them from the wise and learned. In Luke's gospel it says, "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'" (Lk 10:21, NIV; cf. Mt 11:25). The wise and learned ones study and accumulate lots of head knowledge, which is primarily a cerebral exercise. As they do so, they tend to become wise in their own eyes, and they think they are something when they are nothing. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. As they become more and more conceited, God opposes them, because He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Meanwhile, the little children are able to understand mysteries that the wise and learned don't even know, because God reveals it to them. The little children don't have all that baggage in the way. They haven't become complicated yet or been taught how to be skeptical of the Word. They haven't learned how to doubt and question God.

I spoke with a repair man from England who did some work on our home here in the States recently. He was a very nice man. But when I talked to Him about the Lord, he said that when he received religious training, he came to the opinion that we can not prove that God exists and we cannot prove He doesn't exist. Therefore, he became an agnostic and no longer believes in God or heaven or hell. That's what some religious training does for people, it helps them lose their faith. Some seminaries are more like cemeteries. Young students go into them with an eagerness to learn the Bible and be trained for ministry, but after sitting under the so-called wise and learned professors who are skeptics that deny the power of God, they learn how to rationalize and become critics of the Bible. They become unbelieving believers. And by the time they graduate, their faith is shipwrecked and they are useless for any kind of ministry.

Before you go heading off to seminary, you'd better make sure the Lord told you to go there. I don't have a problem with higher education, especially of the biblical kind, but it can be very dangerous to your soul if you go someplace the Lord has not sent you. What you really need is not more head knowledge, but discipleship. That's what we offer in our Doulos Training School, which is a free, three-year discipleship training program that provides both the theological, biblical training you need, and the necessary practical development where you learn to put what you've learned into practice. It's not for everyone, but we have people from various walks of life, including pastors and university students growing in God through this training. If you are interested in knowing more about it, let me invite you to see our DTS Overview and prayerfully consider whether this is something the Lord would have you do.

Bringing Old and New Treasures Out of the Storeroom
I'm reminded of what the Lord said to His disciples, after He taught them the meaning of the parables about the kingdom and uttered things hidden since the creation of the world. “'Have you understood all these things?' Jesus asked. 'Yes,' they replied. He said to them, 'Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.'” (Mt 13:51-52, NIV). Since it has been granted to us to know mysteries, then as we teach the Word to others, we can bring out of our storeroom new treasures as well as old, both the things that people are familiar with, as well as new revelations given by the Holy Spirit. It's not merely one or the other, but both the Old and the New.

The apostle Paul said, "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." (1Co 4:1). He wanted to be regarded as a steward of God's mysteries, and that is what every disciple should strive to be. To one extent or another, we as disciples have all been entrusted with the mysteries of God, and He expects us to be good stewards of what He's entrusted to us. Let's be faithful with what we've been given and not take these precious things for granted.

In describing the qualifications for deacons, Paul wrote, "But holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience." (1Ti 3:9). There are those believers who have not maintained a clear conscience after receiving the secret of the faith, and the Lord is not pleased with them. But we're not of those who do so. Instead with the Lord's help we will have the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

Closing Words
I trust this little study has helped you to realize that we as disciples have been given a great privilege that they didn't have in the Old Covenant. The Lord has given to those of us under the New Covenant the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom and the things revealed to us belong to us and to our children forever. Even so, we must hold these mysteries with a clear conscience. And let's never forget that even if we could fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, if we have not love, we are nothing (1 Cor 13:2).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted. Image from Sid Roth, It's Supernatural, is used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only. It may be subject to copyright.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading The Secret Kingdom, Paradoxes of the Kingdom of GodThe Kingdom of God is Like ThisThe Link Between Two Realms, The Power of Two or Three, Changing the Atmosphere, The Kingdom of God as Revealed to James AgboolaKeeping a Good Conscience, God's Way to Greatness, and The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

What Do You Mean By "Luck"?

I often hear people -- even Christians -- say to me, "Good luck with that!" Or else they simply say, "Good luck!" What do they mean by wishing me luck? Luck is for bunnies! I don't need it. It's a worldly myth or superstitious belief that the chances of good fortune or misfortune are increased by certain objects, words, actions, and events apart from God. People who don't know God attach superstitious significance to certain things like four-leaf clovers, rabbits' feet, horse shoes, and crossing their fingers. They wish each other good luck, and even ask others to wish them good luck. However, as the children of God, we rely on the grace, favor and blessing of Yehova, the one, true, and living God, who is sovereign over all the events that take place in the universe. For more on this, please see my article God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes.

We acknowledge His over-ruling power and providence, the effects of which may seem to our mortal minds to be casual, and we might call them "chance" or "coincidence," but actually they are according to God's predetermined counsel and foreknowledge. All your days were written in His book before one of them came to pass (Ps 139:16), and He ordained all your days before you were even born. Before a word is on your tongue, He knows it fully. See my article Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.

Men's best efforts are broken, and their hopes are shattered by his sovereign providence. He teaches them that man's course is not merely up to them to decide, but it is subject to His divine will. As the proverb says, "In a man's heart he plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." (Pr 16:9). And another proverb says, "A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" (Pr 20:24). Jesus taught us, "Apart from Me you can do nothing." (Joh 15:5b). We must employ our efforts and use the means He has placed at our disposal in life, but we must not trust in them; if we succeed, we must give all the praise to God alone (Ps 44:3; Zech 4:6). As the psalmist said, "Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." (Ps 115:1). All things are from Him, and through Him, and to Him. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Ro 11:36).

It was not because of luck that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary (Lk 1:28), or that she conceived Jesus the son of God in her womb while she remained a virgin (Lk 1:35; Mt 1:18,25), or that the star of Bethlehem guided the Magi from the east to the newborn King of the Jews (Mt 2:1-11), or that they were warned in a dream not to return to the evil king Herod (Mt 2:12), or that Herod was unable to kill the baby Jesus when Joseph escaped to Egypt with the child and his mother (Mt 2:13-14). It was not on account of luck that Simeon just happened to be there at the temple to see the baby Jesus when His parents presented Him to the Lord (Lk 2;22-35), or that Jesus' parents found Him in the temple at age twelve after he went missing during their return from Jerusalem (Lk 2:41-50), or that the Spirit of God descended upon Him in the form of a dove when He was baptized in the river Jordan (Lk 3:21-22), or that the Father's voice spoke from heaven to Him saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22).

It was not on account of luck that the ten lepers were healed (Lk 17:11-19), or that the man born blind received his sight (Joh 9:6-7), or that Peter's mother-in-law was instantly healed of her fever (Matthew 8:14–15, Mark 1:29–31, Luke 4:38–41), or that the deaf mute in Decapolis could suddenly hear and speak (Mark 7:31-37), or that the paralytic man was healed at the pool of Bethesda (Joh 5:8-9), or that the blind beggar Bartimaeus could see (Mark 10:46-52), or that the centurion's servant was healed (Mt 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10), or that the woman who had been bent over for eighteen years was suddenly cured (Lk 13:10-17), or that the man's withered hand was restored (Mt 12:9-13), or that the hemorrhaging woman suddenly stopped bleeding when she touched the edge of Jesus' garment (Mt 9:20), or that the Gerasene demoniac was delivered from a legion of demons and restored to his right mind (Mark 5:1-20).

It was not because of good luck that Noah and his family survived the flood that destroyed everyone else on earth (Gen 8:15-18), or that Lot escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah right before it was destroyed by burning sulfur (Gen 19:23-24), or that Rahab the prostitute was spared, with her family and all who belonged to her (Josh 6:25), or that David was anointed king by Samuel (1 Sam 16:12-13), or that he defeated Goliath the giant (1 Sam 17:41-52), or that Daniel was able to tell the king his dream and its interpretation (Dan 2:26-47), or that he was promoted as ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men (Dan 2:48), or that he shut the mouths of the lions (Dan 6:21-22), or that the three Hebrew young men quenched the flames of the furnace (Dan 3:26-27), or that Lazarus was raised from the dead (Joh 11:1–44), or that the widow's only son sat up in his coffin and began to speak (Lk 7:11-17), or that the daughter of Jairus was raised from the dead (Mk 5:35-43), or that the water was turned to wine at the wedding (Joh 2:1-11), or that Peter found a coin in the fish's mouth to pay for his and Jesus' taxes (Mt 17:24-27), or that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea as on dry land (Ex 14), or that the lame man at the Gate Beautiful could suddenly walk (Ac 3:1-25). It was not because of luck that an angel appeared to Cornelius and told him to send for Peter in the home of Simon the tanner at Joppa (Ac 10:1-6), or that Peter just happened to receive a vision and hear the Lord's voice telling him to go downstairs and meet the three men sent from Cornelius just as they were knocking at the gate (Ac 10:9-20).

It was not because of bad luck that the homosexuals wanting to rape the angels that came to rescue Lot were struck with blindness (Gen 19:1-11), or that Lot's wife became a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26), or that Esau lost his birthright (Gen 25:29-34), or that pharaoh and the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea (Ex 14), or that Joseph was thrown into an empty cistern by his brothers (Gen 37:23-24), or that he was sold by them into Egypt (Gen 37:12-36), or that he was unjustly thrown into prison (Gen 39:20), or that Jeremiah the prophet was lowered into a muddy cistern (Jer 38), or that the three Hebrew youth were thrown into the blazing furnace (Dan 3:19-23), or that Daniel was thrown into the lions' den (Dan 6:16), or that John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded (Mk 6:14-19), or that James was put to the sword (Ac 12:1-2), or that Stephen was stoned to death (Ac 7:54-60), or that Ananias and Saphira dropped dead in front of the apostle Peter (Ac 5:1-10), or that fire devoured the 250 men who rebelled against Moses (Nu 16), or that the ground opened up and swallowed Korah, Dathan, and Abiram alive (Num 16), or that Elymas the sorcerer was suddenly struck blind (Ac 13:1-12), or that Paul and Silas were thrown into prison (Ac 16), or that Peter was imprisoned (Ac 12:3-11), or that King Herod was struck down by an angel of the Lord, eaten by worms, and died while giving an important public address (Ac 12:21-23), or that the ship Paul was sailing on was wrecked on the island Malta (Ac 27:41), or that John was banished to the Isle of Patmos (Rev 1:9). It was not because of bad luck that one of Jesus' twelve disciples was a devil who betrayed Him, or that Jesus was arrested, flogged, beaten, and crucified on the cross (Joh 18-19).

It was not due to good luck that Jesus rose from the dead after three days (Mt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Joh 20), or that Paul and all the others sailing with him survived the shipwreck (Ac 27:44), or that the Philippian jail was shaken by an earthquake and the doors swung open while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God at midnight (Ac 16:25-28), or that Peter's shackles fell off and the prison doors opened for him while the guards all remained asleep (Ac 12:3-11). It was not on account of luck that people were suddenly healed as Peter's shadow fell on them when he walked by (Ac 5:15), or that people were healed when they touched an apron or handkerchief that had touched Paul's body (Ac 19:12).

You won't find luck in the Bible. It's not in the Law or the Prophets, nor is it in the Psalms or Proverbs. It's not in the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, or the Apocalypse. Neither Jesus nor His apostles ever wished anyone good luck or taught that we need it at all. Nobody will ever enter the kingdom of heaven by their good luck (Joh 3:3; Eph 2:8; Rev 7:9-17; 21:26), nor will anyone ever be thrown into hell because of bad luck (Mt 10:28; Lk 12:5; Ro 6:23; Heb 12:14; Rev 20:11-15).

From a Christian perspective according to Scripture, there is no such thing as luck, since God is in control of everything. If something good happens, it is God's gift and blessing, according to His grace. For every good and perfect gift comes from above, flowing down from the Father of the lights, who changes not like shifting shadows (Jas 1:17). There is a time for everything. In fact, there is a proper time and procedure for every matter (Ecc 8:6). God answers believing prayer, and no matter what happens, He is in control, not Satan. Jesus Christ disarmed the devil and his minions at the cross, triumphed over them, and made a spectacle of them (Col. 2:15). He has given us authority over them. If we put on the full armor of God, use our faith in God, call upon the name of Jesus, stand upon His promises, and proclaim the truth, then we can overcome the enemy in the battle against darkness every time. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (1 Joh 5:4).

Even if Christians mean well when they say, "Good luck," they are using a worldly cliché that has no Scriptural basis and is not based on truth. The Bible says we should not conform to the world (Rom 12:2), and Jesus said that we would have to give an account on judgment day for every idle word we speak (Mt 12:36). So let's get the word "luck" out of our vocabulary, and replace it with truth. If you want to wish someone well, then why not say, "God bless you!", or "The Lord be with you!", or "I'll be praying for you that it goes well." Better yet, since Jesus promised that our Father in heaven would do for us whatever two of us on earth agree to ask for in prayer (Mt 18:19), then why not stop and pray for the person right at that moment before you part? For we trust in the name of the Lord our God!

Grace, mercy and peace abundantly to you all who are in Christ..

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted. Images may be subject to copyright, and are used here for commentary and educational purposes only, according to the Fair Use Act.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also read Grace, Mercy, and PeaceFearfully and Wonderfully Made, God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes, The Authority of the BelieverA Time for Everything, The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom, God's Amazing Plan for Your Life, The Lord Will Rescue You, Speak to the Storm, God's Supernatural Provision Using People, Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham?From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord, The Kingdom of God as Revealed to James Agboola, Overcoming the World, Personal Proclamations of Faith, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Remember Lot's Wife, and Angelic Escape from Terrorist Assassins, You may access the Main Directory for The Kingdom of God is Like This, and you may also my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.