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unhappy in closet

Last week, we looked at misunderstood scriptures concerning the kingdom of God. We started with a teaching from Matthew 13:44-46, where Jesus told His disciples that the kingdom of God is like a man who found a treasure in a field and then sold all he possessed in order to buy it. In the next verse, He offered a similarly short parable about a man who sold all he possessed the buy a pearl of great value. In other words, possessing the kingdom of God has so much value that one should be willing to give up everything to obtain it.

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unhappy in closet

In this series of articles, we are investigating scriptures which many of us Christians have misunderstood, passed over, or just simply ignored. Perhaps this is not true of you, but it is sadly true of me.

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unhappy in closet

I traveled too long down the road with Jesus in biblical illiteracy. On that road, I preached. I taught. My heart was right. I wasn’t trying to mislead people. And not everything I taught was illiterate. But because of that history, I have found over the last few years how difficult it has been to shove certain verses back into their contexts because I heard them for so many years taken out of context. I honestly can’t recall if I ever taught on these out-of-context passages, but I believed them, nonetheless. I regret this. However, the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. I can only hope some of what I write here, with His help, will open a small window of understanding for those who are stuck in the same ignorance I was.

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unhappy in closet

I read the Bible every day. Commendable, right?

Not so much. Almost every time, I find myself daydreaming, sideswiped by a random thought that pops up and the trail of which I follow. Suddenly I “awake” and go back to re-read the part I had read but hadn’t read. I continue, pressing on.

And find myself daydreaming again.

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Do Christians worship idols?

The Bible says that those who worship idols become like them.

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I’ve been praying about something lately. It’s about a flaw in me—and there are many—but it seems that the Lord has brought this one in particular to my attention in recent months. It began to center around the last sentence of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “For Yours in the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” Actually, it’s the idea behind the last sentence: that the things I have just prayed about and will pray about in my time with Him can only be done by His rulership and power. There is no way that I can accomplish any of the things that I’m praying about. Only He can do them by His sovereign ability.

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My friend, Stephen Norberg, sent this to me recently:

“I got baptized at the front of a large church when I was 16 years old. I announced to everyone that I was getting baptized because I had decided following Jesus was more exciting than anything this world had to offer. Years later, I would be lying if I said my experience in ministry and as a pastor was nearly as exciting as simply following Jesus. And that makes me sad.

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“The prosperity of the church is not what the world calls so—numbers, wealth, extension—but increase in spirituality and love, new and noble victories over sin, greater sacrifices for Christ’s sake, yet more fearless recognition of his name and assertion of his truth. The church of God is often most prosperous when she has least in her coffers, fewest in her temples, and nothing but hostility in the world.”

—John Cumming, Apocalyptic Sketches: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 1854

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We are tempted to begin to think that what we do—our actions—contribute somehow to God’s doing His wondrous works. Pardon the pun, but it doesn’t “work” that way.

Please allow me to explain.

When the Lord wanted to bring water out of a rock, He told Moses to hit it with his staff on one occasion and simply speak to it on another—not that using either method would have extracted water from stone and therefore motivated Moses to take credit for the miracle. However, taking credit is exactly what Moses did. Somehow, he thought that he and Aaron, by their own authority and ability, were responsible for making a river of water flow from a boulder. So he struck it, as he had earlier. He thought he now knew how to make that water flow! (Numbers 20:9-11). He was foolish, and the Lord told Moses that his disobedience did not bring glory to Him and would therefore, sadly, keep him out of the land of God’s promises.

We should pause here for a moment. We are foolish, too, if we think that somehow by the method, style or power of our words or actions alone, supernatural things happen. If we want to dwell in the place where we are the recipients of what God has promised, we should take heed. None of God’s miraculous deeds are dependent on what we say or do, apart from faith. To believe otherwise indicates that we’ve gone over to the pagan way of doing things.

Yes, pagan.

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I guess this indicates how out of touch I am with the American church scene. I just found out yesterday, on the Christian Post site, that the Crystal Cathedral is about to go down in flames.

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101019/calif-megachurch-enters-bankruptcy/

I shook my head in amazement as I read. They spent two million dollars last year for their Christmas program. Two million dollars.

How did we get here?

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