Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A God of Purpose - A God of Provision

The descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of t...Image via Wikipedia

L.D. Turner

I am convinced that few of us truly understand our true potential as children of the Father of Lights, the Living God. By remaining ignorant of who and what we are, we end up limping through life rather than soaring. We end up settling for scraps from the table when we should, in fact, own the table and the house that it sits in.

For many years I either failed to understand the blessings of the full gospel or I misunderstood it. Either way, I wasted a lot of time thinking I knew what I was talking about when, in fact, I didn’t. I would be greatly saddened if that happened to you and this, my friend, is one of the main catalysts that gave birth to Sacred Mind Ministries. God etched upon my heart the need for sound teaching and quality educational materials that would foster deeper awareness of the Christian’s true potential and identity “in Christ.” Further, I began to understand that the primary purpose of having this blessed gift of a new identity and new personal power in Christ is to assist in the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. It is to this mission that we at SMM remain committed.

Understanding our true identity is intimately connected with the realization of our divine potential. These issues are among the deeper things God, working through the Holy Spirit, wants to impart to us. All we need to receive these vital revelations is an open mind and a receptive heart. We don’t need to wait until we arrive in heaven to gain awareness of these gifts – in fact, by the time we get to heaven we will have already been utilizing our divine power here on earth for many years. Dr. Myles Munroe speaks clearly to these themes:

God has prepared so many deep things about who we are. Our eyes can’t see them, nor can our minds conceive them, yet God is revealing them to us through His Spirit. God doesn’t want us to wait until heaven to know our full potential. He didn’t give birth to us so we can develop our potential in heaven…..God wants us to realize here on this planet who we are. That is His purpose in creating us. We need the Holy Spirit because eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, nor has it entered the minds of men who man really is. Only the Holy Spirit searches “the deep things of God.”…..God beckons you to take another step into a deeper, more relevant knowledge of your potential in Christ – Though you may have been saved for years. You need to take this step because you still don’t know who you are.

You see, friends, most of us claiming to be followers of Christ are well intended but poorly equipped to make those intentions a reality in daily living. This statement is not intended to be a criticism of the modern church or a slap in the face of well-meaning Christians who are committed to bringing God’s kingdom out of the spiritual realm and making it manifest right here on earth. Instead, I say these words because they are true. Most of us do not have a clue as to what we can do to not only make our lives more fruitful and productive, but also to bring success to the calling that God has placed in each of our hearts.

The good news is, however, that we serve a God of purpose and provision. The Father of Lights has a well-planned purpose for this world which involves redemption and restoration. He is proactive in redeeming what was lost in the Garden and, joined at the hip of this plan of redemption, is the reality of restoration. Each of us, and that includes you and me, are being redeemed for the purpose of restoring God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. We are being redeemed in order to bring about the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth.

Please note that I use the word “redeemed” not just in the past tense, but in the sense of an ongoing process. We were indeed redeemed when we acknowledged and accepted Christ for who and what he was and is, but it doesn’t stop there. The process of redemption continues and goes deeper and deeper as our bodies, our minds, our wills, and our spirits, become properly aligned with those of the Master. In essence, we were given new life and a new identity at our second birth. Now each of us is in the process of growing into that life in increasing measure. The goal is that we have, as Paul so aptly puts it, the “full measure of Christ” within us.

We are given this new life, this new status, and this new power for the primary purpose of continuing the incarnation that we saw so vividly in the life of Jesus. The Master announced the coming of the kingdom and then proceeded to go about the work of making it manifest in this world. And hear this, he charged us with the task of carrying on where he left off. Furthermore, he sent the Holy Spirit to live in us, empower us, and guide us forward in that holy process. God not only has given us a calling and a purpose, he has provided the power we need to meet that purpose and make it a living reality.

In 2 Peter 1:4 we are told that God has put us in a position where we can share in his divine nature. No, that doesn’t mean he has made us Gods, or even little gods as some have suggested. It does mean, however, that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead now resides in each of us. The Father of Lights, as stated earlier, is not only a God of purpose, but also a God of provision, enabling us to meet the challenges of doing those things that he has called us to do. Friends, if you can understand that principle, make it yours through faith, and take action based on it, you can succeed at any God-directed, God-ordained calling.

© L.D. Turner 2010/ All Rights Reserved
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Today's Encouraging Word

Christian Bible, rosary, and crucifix.Image via Wikipedia

God has given you authority and power to take dominion over all things on earth. Your first responsibility, however, is to subdue and take dominion over the only enemy that can defeat you – YOU!

You cannot triumph over the external world until you subdue and take dominion over you! You will have to wage war against every argument within you that challenges what God has said about you.

You have been taught by the world to see yourself as inferior to what God’s original plan was for you. Your years of conditioning and indoctrination will cause you to doubt what the Almighty said about you. You will find yourself struggling against what God has said. Doubt and unbelief will be unrelenting in their challenge to influence you to believe what God says cannot be true.

It will take some time to undo the conditioning of years of misinformation, but God’s Word is sure and powerful. If you continue hearing the Word of God over and over again, your thinking will become aligned with it and your mind will be renewed. Then, because of our persistent and diligent efforts, your life will be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Bishop Jim Lowe
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today's Encouraging Word

Cover of "Revolution"Cover of Revolution

The United States is home to an increasing number of Revolutionaries. These people are devout followers of Jesus Christ who are serious about their faith, who are constantly worshipping and interacting with God, and whose lives are centered on their belief in Christ. Some of them are aligned with a congregational church, but many of them are not. The key to understanding Revolutionaries is not what church they attend, or even if they attend. Instead, it’s their complete dedication to being thoroughly Christian by viewing every moment of life through a spiritual lens and making every decision in light of biblical principles. These are individuals who are determined to glorify God every day through every thought, word, and deed in their lives.

George Barna

(from Revolution)
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Christian Optimism is Grounded in God's Love and Grace

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1886-94) from ...Image via Wikipedia

L.D. Turner

One of the very first praise songs my daughter Salina learned in the Christian pre-school she attended was the same classic that I learned when I was her tender age.

Jesus loves me, this I know
‘Cause the Bible tells me so

Chances are this is the first praise song most of us learned, especially if we grew up in and around the church. Interestingly enough, these innocent words of this simple children’s song contain two of the most basic yet strategic reasons for being a Christian optimist.

First, the song gives us the basic premise of the gospel message right out of the gate, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Christian optimism begins with the fundamental biblical truth that God loves us, whether or not we deserve it. The fact that I am loved by God (as are you) is the crown jewel of the gospel and the cornerstone of Christian optimism.

“For God so loved the world…”

So begins the most famous verse in scripture. Along with the simple praise song we have been talking about, I suspect that John 3:16 is one of the first Bible verses we came in contact with. Just as in the Jesus Love Me hymn, the message here is that God loves us in a way that we can’t imagine. He loves us enough to offer up the greatest sacrifice that can be offered and, tied to our belief in this truth, comes the incredible love gift of eternal life.

“Shall never perish, but have everlasting life.”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have to pause, pray a little, and let the enormity of the implications of this all-too-familiar passage of scripture truly sink in.

“Shall never perish, but have everlasting life.”

With the promise of such an incredible gift flowing out of God’s heart of divine love, how can we be anything but optimistic? In fact, I think anything short of radical optimism in response to what God has done may be right on the cusp of sin.

As Christians we often hear about God’s love for us but perhaps it is the very frequency at which these words, “God’s love,” are spoken that make us deaf to the real message here. Unlike other religions and belief systems, Christians worship a God that is proactive in his desire for us to enter into a life-giving and life-changing relationship with him. Remember the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son? He didn’t just sit at home hoping that his wayward child would some day find his way home. No, the father lived in faith and positive expectancy. As a result, he went out to a place that overlooked the road and waited in anticipation for that tiny speck to appear on the horizon and, as the speck drew closer and grew larger, he ran out to meet his prodigal. It is this kind of proactive love on the part of God that makes our human capacity to love even possible.

John, who liked to call himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” As we can clearly see from this scripture, not only is our optimism grounded in God’s love, but also our capacity to love itself.

In closing, let me say that if you are seeking justification for Christian optimism, just turn to scripture. The Bible is filled with reasons, stated in ways direct and sublime, which give us great cause to be optimistic. If you happen to be person with a long history of pessimism or thinking that gravitates toward the negative, take specific scriptures that give you reason to be optimistic and read them over and over. Turn them into positive statements and use these powerful scriptures as affirmations. Doing this is a standard part of what we at Sacred Mind Ministries call ‘proactive prayer.”

Here is an example. Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Also, 2 Corinthians 5:17 affirms that, “…anyone who belongs to Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone and the new life has begun.” Turning this pair of powerful scriptures into a positive, proactive prayer, you might say:

I take possession of the reality that in Christ I am a new creation and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

If so moved, you might even add:

Behold, the old life has passed away and my new life has begun.

Repeating these positive, proactive and affirmative prayers repeatedly helps sink the potent words of scripture deep into your subconscious mind, bring a healing presence and a voice counter to those old negative tapes that have been playing for so long. Granted, change won’t come overnight but believe me, friend, it will come. Few people went through life more negative than I did. I could find a dark lining in any silver cloud and often did. God’s grace, working through the personhood of the blessed Holy Spirit, has helped me heal many of those deep-seated scars in my psyche. Don’t doubt the process of positive repetition of scripture – it will work wonders.

As they say in the Nike ads – Just Do It!

(c) L.D. Turner 2010/All Rights Reserved
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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why I Am a Christian Optimist

A dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, who is be...Image via Wikipedia

L.D. Turner

I am often asked why I believe so strongly that Christians should be among the world’s most ardent optimists. I normally respond by saying that it is, more than anything else, due to the nature and the character of the God I worship. Most folks leave it at that. On occasion, however, an inquirer might want a bit more detail.

The reasons that I have adopted Christian optimism as my foundational philosophy of life are too many to mention in any short conversation and certainly within the framework of this article. Suffice it to say that once I began to take my walk with Christ seriously and put in to practice as best I could a sincere desire to live according to his teachings, the Holy Spirit gradually revealed to me why optimism was the Christian’s inherent approach to life.

As I began to explore scripture through this frame of reference, it is as if the Bible became a living organism, consistently revealing its truths in relation to the nature and character of God. These revelations of God’s love, his faithfulness, and his integrity brought about a positive response in my being and this response flowered into an optimistic approach to life. Over time I came to understand that the optimal way to live is as a Christian optimist. Even our language reflects this reality as optimal and optimism have the same prefix and the same root.

As I said earlier, the confines of this article does not allow for a detailed list of the reasons why I am a Christian optimist. I do, however, want to list a few of the reasons below. Should you desire a more in depth study of the subject, I suggest that you study the Bible, focusing of the nature and character of the Father as revealed in scripture in general and in the persons of Christ and the Holy Spirit in particular.

I am a Christian optimist because:

The Biblical God is a God of love. Further, he loves me.

The God of Scripture loves me with a proactive love, not a passive, indifferent, and conditional type of love. The Bible reveals that God loves me enough to send his only Son to die for me so that I might have life to the fullest and, on top of that, have life eternally.

The God of the Bible further exhibits his proactive love by pursuing me. He chased me down when I ran from him. Consistently acting as the “Hound of Heaven,” the God I worship continues to come and find me when I have strayed from the sheepfold and, wonder of wonders, loves me still.

If ever there was a prodigal on this earth, it is I. Still, my God not only accepts me back after I wander here and there, he comes out on the path to meet me and, in spite of my faithlessness, he celebrates my return. Even though I am undeserving of his love and his grace, he gives it freely.

My God is a God of mercy, not justice. I shudder to think what life would be if I got what I actually deserve.

The Biblical God gave up a part of himself so that I might be forgiven; and he sent another part of himself so that I might live the kind of life he wants me to live. I am optimistic because I am forgiven and I am empowered.

God allows me to partake of his divine nature.

The Christian God has already blessed me with all that I need to live a holy life and has further blessed me by indwelling me with the power to make that life manifest on a daily basis.

The Biblical God has placed within me the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

The God I worship has made me a New Creation and has promised that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

My God has said that he has prepared even greater things for me in the next world.

The God revealed in Scripture has told me that Christ will, indeed, come again.

Obviously, I could go on and on here but by now I hope you get the picture. As a Christian I have every right to be an optimist. In fact, I could be nothing other than an optimist. Sure, life has problems and will always have problems. The Christian life is not a pleasure cruise. Far from it. Yet in spite of this, I am an optimist because I know that I have the power within me to handle any situation that may arise. God has promised me that he will never make me face more than I can handle.

I am a Christian optimist because he that is within me is greater than he who is in the world.

(c) L.D. Turner 2010/All Rights Reserved
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Today's Encouraging Word

Cover of "The Monday Morning Church: Out ...Cover via Amazon

You are not just a bad person getting better. You are a new creature in Christ Jesus, and the old things are passing away (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). They’re on their way out, not because are working on them, but because there’s a new life principle working in you…Because you’re new, the old can’t last. The newness is replacing all that is obsolete. A new person is emerging, not because the old one is changing a little bit at a time, but because you are a new person. You are complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10 says, “You have been given fullness in Christ.” You’re fully who he wants you to be. And you’re in the process of becoming who you really are…..What God does is establish your identity and then pull you up into it. You’re in that process – of being pulled up! God deals with you according to your true identity: a new creation in Christ with a new power source, a new position, a new potential, and a new purpose.

Jerry Cook
(from The Monday Morning Church)

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