Ephesians 3:17-18

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 24, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Today, I’m going to take a look into four key phrases from Ephesians 3:17-18 that should guide your life as a follower of Jesus Christ. This passage is part of a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus to encourage them in standing strong and following Jesus.

“Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”
Faith in Jesus Christ is essential to following Him. After all, we can’t (and wouldn’t) follow someone who we do not believe in. This statement is not a conditional one, where if we have faith then Christ will dwell in our hearts; rather, it’s one of constant experience. As we continue to trust in Christ through the faith that we have, He will continue to dwell in us. As He is dwelling in our hearts, His teachings will guide our thoughts, words, and deeds.

“Be rooted and established in love”
As we trust in Christ and have His presence in us, the result is love. This love isn’t the kind of love like saying I love chocolate or I love sunny days, but this is the ultimate, unconditional, self-sacrificing love that only God can truly demonstrate for us all of the time. There is absolutely zero selfish motivation in this love. Paul uses two metaphors here. One word picture of biological, that of a tree with deep roots in the soil of love. This imagery is also reflected in Psalm 1 and Colossians 2:6-7. The other word picture is architectural - a building with a strong foundation, established on the rock of love. We see this reflected in Colossians 1:23 and 1 Peter 5:10.

“Have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people”
While this passage was written directly from Paul to the church at Ephesus, it’s not limited to them. Even back in the days of the early church, there were believers in multiple locations. All of them would have this power together. This applies not only to all people across the geographic distance of the church back then, but across all time as well. This power is for all believers, everywhere, and in all times. We receive this power through our faith in Christ, Him dwelling in our hearts, and having our spiritual roots deep into His love.

“Grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”
This idea of grasping the fullness of the love of Christ means to perceive it, comprehend it, and hold it as our own. Christ’s love is way too large to be explained by any geometric measurements! We cannot fully grasp it with our feeble human minds, but we are commanded to try and grasp it anyway. This love is the self-sacrificing and completely unconditional love that Christ has for His Church, for everyone who trusts in Him. This is available to anyone and everyone who wants to have that relationship with Jesus Christ.

Dig your roots deeper into His love. Establish your firm foundation on Christ alone.

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Justice Served, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 22, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you ever found yourself shouting at the screen during a movie, especially at home, when the bad guy seems to be ruthlessly getting away with everything? We especially feel the tension when the good people and the heroes are injured or killed. We feel the sense of horror and outrage, and a part of us cannot help but speak up. We especially feel our anger grow when the villain makes his 'final' move to power.

When the bad guy turns on the evil henchmen he used to gain power, we see him securing his position as the strongest, the most powerful, and the only one left with enough power to control the people, the nation, the world. It's in that moment we see the full narcissism and depravity of evil. Turning on those who were friends, or at least cohorts, in achieving their position, the truly evil character reveals the corruption of ambition and the total selfishness of tyranny.

Read Judges 9:42-49 and look at Abimelech. After he kills Gaal and everyone who turned Gaal in, he hears that Shechem's leaders have gathered. It doesn't take much to interpret Abimelech's motives. This is the moment where he believes he could rise to power, even above those who helped him get power, and he moves to destroy them. Not only is he successful, but now he has the confidence to move against anyone who will not bow to his power.

The saddest part of situations like this is that they are very true - and happen in our world VERY often. The hunger for control and power has, at its core, a disregard for others. The disregard is so strong that it sees others as merely tools to accomplish our own goals. This desire is in all of us to some degree, depending on the situation or goal. And if our desire is strong enough, we will even eliminate anyone who gets in our way.

I invite you to do a heart check on your own motives as you interact with other people. Do you see them and their story? Do you see what you can do to help them reach their goals? Or do you only see where they can help you reach yours?

When it comes to our election this year, we must do our best to discern if this is a season for an 'Abimelech' to run his/her course through our nation, or if we are to stop them from coming to power. And if God does bring them to power, will we have the trust that He will make sure things turn out the way they should?

Next week's blog post may help in reminding us to trust Him. Stay tuned.

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Effectual Prayer

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 21, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here.]

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” ~James 5:16

What makes our prayers effective? What makes them work? First let us look at this verse. “Confess our sins to one another.” Let us be careful about what this means. I heard one person share during a sermon how he and his wife were at a conference and repenting of their sins, but this man kept on going. His wife asked him this: “Are you confessing sin, or re-living fond memories?” Confessing sins to each other is important because it releases guilt, and it restores relationships that can hinder our prayer. But do not use that to bring back sins you want to “re-experience.”

Pray for one another. How often do we support each other in prayer? How often are our prayers just about our needs, or rather our desires? I have yet to address Intercession in the context of prayer, but that is what this is about and that is necessary of a separate post.

Our prayers need to be fervent. What does that mean? According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word is “energeho,” which is the same root as “energy,” meaning to be active and mighty. Too many of my prayers have been very weak. I have not wrestled and done “battle” with God to get my prayers answered. When I wrote about hindered prayer, one of the things I addressed was when we quit praying. We do not see results as quickly as we’d like so we stop and say, “We’ll try again later.” We aren’t being active in our prayers. We tend to be couch-potatoes watching the athletes do their sport with great energy and endurance and we wish we could do that… without getting up off the couch and starting to work out. We won’t be instant athletes in the field of prayer, but let us start moving so we could be one day. Start with five minutes, move on to ten, to one hour. When I hear of Rees Howells praying for 11 hours in intercession for acquiring a building or for praying for the outcome of a battle in World War II, I know I have nowhere near that capacity. I do not sense having a calling like Howells had, but I do know every one of us has a calling to pray. And the saints praised for their prayer life throughout the Bible were prayer-ers who had an active, fervent prayer life.

The kind of person we are also make prayer effective, but only for one kind of person: a righteous person. We cannot expect our prayers to be very effective if we are living in sin, if we are living for ourselves. We spend 1-2 hours in church on Sunday morning, maybe one hour Wednesday evening, and say a few minutes of prayer for our meals and expect God to answer our prayers when we spend hours and hours on TV, internet, and games? I’m guilty here. Not that TV, internet, or games are evil by themselves. What we put on them is more the issue. When I was preparing this series, God told me to put the video games away, so I did. I had several times where I really wanted to play, but I chose not to. Don’t think I was being all holy and spending all that time in prayer instead. I ended up vegging on the computer a lot, even when listening to sermons. I was praying more than I had, but not like I could have been. God later said if I wanted to play again, I could. For several weeks, I still did not, because part of what I was to learn in this process is more dependence upon him. So now, I am able to turn off the Denver Broncos when God wants me to pray (that was a tough one when the game was on) and I am able to turn off the games when God wants me to pray. God is still not done with me on these issues.

If our prayers are to be effective, prayer needs to be our priority. Not that we cannot do anything else, but it needs to be our priority. That means we need to schedule our day around prayer, not schedule prayer around our day. If we make our prayer time an extra thought, and not something we schedule our life around, do not be surprised when God treats your needs as “if I get around to it.” You can tell who makes God priority in how they handle church. I reserve my schedule so I can make it to church early. When my church has activities, I make it my priority that I be there for them. Look at the prayer meeting. The only reason I stopped going to my church’s Wednesday prayer sessions (which is what sparked this whole series and study) is because God told me to get involved with the youth group, which is at the same time.

Read this quote from E.M Bounds:
"His [Paul] teaching is that praying is the most important of all things on earth. All else must be restrained, retired, to give it primacy. Put it first, and keep its primacy. The conflict is about the primacy of prayer. Defeat and victory lie in this one thing. To make prayer secondary is to discrown it. It is to fetter and destroy prayer. If prayer is put first, then God is put first, and victory is assured. Prayer must either reign in the life or must abdicate. Which shall it be?" (The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds, page 99)

This is one of many quotes by Bounds that my pastor addresses so simply: “You spend half your time reading, half your time repenting.” Is praying priority in your life? Is spending time with God your top motive, your top task that must be done? It does not matter if you spend your prayer time in the morning, noon, or night, but do you schedule your time with God first over everything else you do? What if you were to schedule your prayer time first, then your job schedule? So if God told you to pray at a certain time, then you would purpose to arrange your work schedule around it? You may need to stay up later than you normally would or get up earlier than you normally would. John Wesley was invited for dinner with one of the elite of London. At a given time, he suddenly got up and left his host. The host asked, “Where are you going? It’s not even 9:00.” Wesley said something like, “I have an appointment with the Lord, and I need not be late.”

Do we have that kind of conviction about our prayers? Are we willing to cut off our appointments, our social meetings, even if we were to appear to insult our hosts, so we make our appointments with God? You don’t dare show up late for work. Why do many of seem to think it is okay to be late for God? And then we wonder why are prayers have so little effect. Let us make God our priority. When we do that, we’ll start seeing God making our requests, as they align to his will, become priority as well.

Next week, I am going to address a very difficult aspect of prayer for me: praying in anguish. Inspired by a sermon by David Wilkerson, I will address praying to the point where it hurts.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Judges 9:42-49

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 17, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelech. So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. Abimelech and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. All that day Abimelech pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.
On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. When Abimelech heard that they had assembled there, he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, 'Quick! Do what you have seen me do!' So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.” (Judges 9:42-49)

I encourage you to go read my last two blog posts (here and here) to get the full context of this story. Abimelech and his army have come to Shechem to stop a plot to overthrow him as leader, which they successfully did, running Gaal the Canaanite out of town. So what are they doing still staying in Shechem?

Abimelech decided that he needed to punish the citizens of Shechem for their lack of loyalty to him. If he hadn’t immediately intervened, it’s likely that Gaal would have rallied the people and even more of them would have been fighting against Abimelech. Abimelech decides that one more good ambush should do the trick.

This was all going on during their harvest season. The city of Shechem had walls around it, and only the city proper was inside the walls. The fields where they grew their crops were outside the walls. To harvest their crops, the people had to leave the protection of the city’s walls. After Abimelech ran Gaal out of town, the people would not have expected any further military action, and they had to get back to the work of harvesting.

So what does Abimelech do? He ambushes the unsuspecting civilians of Shechem! While the men were all out working in the fields, Abimelech’s army got between them and the city so they were unable to retreat to safety, and he killed them all.

After the ambush of the workers in the fields, Abimelech wasn’t done yet. He and his army went to the tower, which was 68 feet wide and 84 feet high. It was located inside the city, and its purpose was for people to take shelter in and defend the city. However, the tower didn’t provide enough protection this time; Abimelech and his army set it on fire, which only furthered the mass slaughter and Abimelech’s total capture of the city.

It says in verse 45 that “he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.” Scattering salt over it symbolizes the utter destruction of Shechem and its perpetual infertility. There are other references to this in Deuteronomy 29:23 and Psalm 107:33-34. If salt is scattered on plants, that plant will die, and Shechem died. The city wasn’t rebuilt until almost 200 years later (1 Kings 12:25).

What can we take away from this story? Abimelech was a ruthless leader. He may have looked good to begin with (for those who weren’t paying attention to how he came into power - by killing 68 of his half brothers), but as time goes on his true character was revealed. In this election season, take note of the true character of the candidates. Look at their past actions to see how they handle certain situations. Will he or she be a person who follows God’s will for this country? Or will he or she say that up front, but then show their true character and not lead well? Only time will tell, but make sure you look for clues and thoroughly investigate each candidate before placing your vote. Pray that God would guide your heart in this process, and the hearts of the candidates as well.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


What Does the Cross Mean to You?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 16, 2016 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

Recently I was flipping through an old notebook and I found a drawing I had done. The picture was of a cross that was large enough to write inside of it. On the cross I had written words describing what the cross means to me.

Here is what was written on the cross:

He Gave All to offer a free gift for all
Conquered the Grave
Overcame the World
Sinless for Sinners
Shed Blood
Ultimate Gift
Father’s Love
The very last entry read
The battle is won.

At the bottom of my drawing I had written, “What does the cross mean to you?”

I would like to encourage you to create your own illustration of the cross, and write on it what the cross means to you. I even took colored pencils and added some color. Take my idea and run with it. See where your thoughts and creativity lead you.

Maybe you are thinking that you’re not very good at drawing. That’s ok, because this is just for you. It is more about the reflection of what the cross means to you rather than a perfectly illustrated picture. No one else has to see it, so don’t worry about how it looks. Believe me, I am no artist, but I do like to doodle and draw from time to time.

Take a few minutes and reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross and ask yourself
What does the cross mean to you?

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Watch Your Mouth... and Your Back!

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 15, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I will probably never forget the times where, when I was younger, my temper caused me to say things that got me into trouble. From childhood outbursts over family yard games, to a middle school lunch room argument that lead to an almost comical after school showdown, to many other moments I'd rather not mention. As a human being, I am not immune to the syndrome that periodically afflicts us all - inserting our foot into our mouth.

If you read the passage for today in Judges 9:30-41, you will see the Gaal was unfortunately afflicted with this same problem, and it cost him his life. Not only did Gaal take things into his own hands and not wait for God to deal with Abimelech, but he publicly boasted that he would destroy Abimelech if the people would follow him. Gaal had gall, to the point of arrogance. Gaal also was not smart enough to check his audience and watch his back (along with his mouth).

Zebul, the leader of the city of Shechem, reported Gaal to Abimelech. Abimelech comes to fight Gaal. Zebul criticizes Gaal and taunts him to go out and fight Abimelech. Based on the passage, others did join Gaal, but probably very few. Gaal is chased off, and Zebul drives Gaal's family out of the city - probably thinking that his 'loyalty' to Abimelech will be rewarded in a good way. But it isn’t; more on that next week.

Gaal had a big mouth, passion, and courage to stand up to Abimelech. But he didn't have God's support, and he didn't have the support of the people around him. So, props for fighting the bad guy, Gaal, but next time you need to check your ego at the door and wait on God.

Have you ever been like Gaal – so confident of how right you were, or what you could do, that you blurted it out, almost daring everyone to test you? Have you had a Zebul, who decides to protect his own interests and sells you out to the local bully, or to those who are looking for a way to bring you down?

There are a couple simple things we can remember from Gaal's example:
- Don't boast about what you can do.
- Don't threaten a powerful person unless you have an army to back it up.
- Don't fight an enemy without God.
- Don't assume everyone who agrees with you will join you or have your back.

The last one is important for young people and young leaders. Sometimes, people who agree with your stance on an issue may not agree with your solution. Worse yet, they may see your solution as a way to betray or remove your position and protect themselves. Had Gaal been listening more to God, and more aware of how others perceived the danger he was inviting, he may not have created the prideful situation that came before his fall (or more accurately his 'run').

And let me take this one step farther, by connecting it to our online social media chatter. What are you saying? Who is reading it? What could be the consequences of your words (Matthew 12:36)?

I am dismayed to see such shaming, judgment, and just downright ignorant banter on almost every current topic in the media. Even if you don't have a 'Zebul' listening and ready to sell you out, you will have to explain the words you said to God one day. Are you going to be ok with the consequences you face for careless words?

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Praying Through a Fog

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 14, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

One of the most frustrating situations we tend to go through is a time of uncertainty and a time where things do not seem to make any sense. It is like we are lost in a thick fog and we cannot see where we are or where we are going. How often would we feel so much more peace in our situation if God simply allowed us to see what was going on and explained why he was putting us through these situations?

I just came through one of those fogs, which I wrote about last week. I was in a fog, where I did not know what was going on with my job. I made the mistake of allowing the position I was teaching as a substitute to become an idol in my life, and that clouded my vision on what God was doing in my life. At the end of last year, God told me I was to substitute teach for another year and then he would open up some doors. Just that little light put everything back in perspective, which helped me see where I was and helped me to stop idolizing that position. I can say I am still in a fog right now, but God gave me a tiny glimpse of where I was, which gave me confidence to keep going.

How do you pray when things do not seem to make sense? How do you hold onto the faith when God seems so far away and you have no idea what your situation is? Adrian Rodgers has a very practical sermon on “When Nothing Seems to Make Sense.” I touched on this in my post Do not Doubt in the Dark, but here is another facet to his message. If things do not seem to make any sense, “Do not demand to understand. Try to understand if you can, but do not demand to understand.”

In the Bible, Job had the problem of demanding to understand. He wanted God to explain himself right then and there. Job did not understand the spiritual wager that went on in heaven. If he had known about it, it would have been easy for him to pass the test. But he also would not have learned his lesson, and neither would we have learned his lesson. Do not try to force God to explain himself to you and at the same time, do try to grasp your situation in light of the big picture if you can.

Another important thing to do in times of confusion is to hold your position. Some of the best advice I have ever heard on these types of situations is to never make any rash decision in such times. If you are not sure what God’s will is, go back and revisit the last thing you know God told you to do, and obey it. We need to know our position on where God has placed us. When the Bible says, “Be still,” it is not talking about staying motionless and being quiet. It actually is a military command: “Hold the line! Hold the position! Do not move from where God put you!”

But there are times where we need to move. One of the best stories I have read that shows this situation is by C.S. Lewis in The Horse and His Boy. Shasta sprints ahead of Rabadash and successfully warns the king of Archenland about the coming invasion. But then he stumbles along a mountain path alone in a dense fog. Instead of just staying still, he follows the voice of Aslan. In doing so, he ends up in Narnia where he alerts them. When he returns with Narnia’s forces, he goes along the same path and discovers it was a treacherous mountain road where he easily could have fallen off, had he seen where he was and not listened to Aslan’s voice.

A friend of mine told a similar story to this situation. He described how a friend of his was in a deep spiritual fog, with no hint of orientation or anything. It was totally dark around him and he kept praying and praying for God to show him some light so he knew what was going on. Eventually God did “turn on the lights” and in his spirit, this friend of a friend saw a demon sniffing around, looking for him. He immediately prayed, “Turn off the lights!”

There are times where God purposes to get you into that fog and that is to protect you. In one situation, it could be to keep your eyes off your surroundings so you do not get distracted and so you do not get struck with fear by what you see. In another situation, it could be not to keep you from seeing, but to keep you from being seen. Many armies have successfully maneuvered around other forces in fogs and they did not complain about not being able to see. They knew in that fog, they were hidden from enemy sight.

Too often we do not have the full picture, and many times God purposes not to show it to us. Why? I believe part of it is this: if God did show us what we would face in advance, most of us would not do what he wanted us to do. That being said, I can testify that those of us who have entered into partnership with God and obeyed him through the trials and difficulties and times of uncertainty, we would not trade it for anything else. The only thing we would regret doing was not going through that situation, but for not trusting God earlier than we did.

Do not try to force God to explain himself in times when things do not appear to make sense. As you pray, pray that God will get you through your dark times and through the fog. Do not try to rush him. When you are in that fog, God does not put you there to confuse you. God is not the author of confusion. He puts you there to keep you from being distracted by what you would see if you did have clear vision. He puts you there so that you are not frightened by the enemy’s maneuvers. At the same time, God can also take you through a fog to hide you, so he can put you in a position to strike the enemy from under the cover of darkness.

Trust in the Lord in times of confusion, in the dark fog that blots out the sun. He knows the situation far better than we do and far better than our enemy does. As you pray, pray not explicitly for vision, but for God’s clear direction. Pray that God will take you and prepare you for his tasks during that time. Praying for God’s glory to be demonstrated as you walk with him in absolutely surrendering trust. When you focus on the Lord in complete obedience, you cannot lose. Next week, I will address effectual prayer along with secrets on how to get answers to prayer.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.