The Gift of Faith

One of our customers came to the dealership several times with frustrating issues on her Wrangler that took a very long time to repair. Then it had damage that needed to be repaired that she never had before. 
Then it needed a new bumper. I spoke with her before she came back the third time. In my heart I knew she would be back. You ever have that feeling?  

The management took care of the vehicle issues but while she waited for a resolution we engaged in conversation again.


It turned toward faith and I explained that I used to be a Pastor. She explained how she grew up in a Christian home and she was not really a believer. She mentioned this and that objection and I cut to the chase (big surprise). 


I spoke to her and said, “God calls us to to do the most simple yet difficult thing to do, believe in Christ and that he died for us, for me, for you.” 


“How does one believe like that? How can a person have such a deep faith?” Elaine asked. 


I said to her, “Elaine, the thing you need to know is that you are radically loved by God.”  She wept. She kept apologizing about crying but I said there is no need. God wanted her to hear this and he in his Providence used her car problems three times to get her back to the dealership so I could speak to her. I love when God does this and allows me to disseminate the Word of God to all kinds of people.

“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Heb. 10:38-39NIV).  


We cannot live in some religious day dream wishing and hoping for faith to present itself in our hearts. The writer of Hebrews tells us the Christian life is marked by the quality, or better the gift of faith. The person who has faith in Christ will never ultimately be at a disadvantage or be disappointed.  God has not called us to have a white knuckled attitude of positive thinking, forced repetitious confessions but a calm trust in God. Faith is unrelenting obedience that places its confidence in God despite circumstances.  Some times you won’t know how or why you believe. 

But sadly there are those that shrink or draw back. The picture form Robertson’s Word Pictures is “lowering a sail on a sail boat.” I imagine that they have to start paddling attempting to move the ship on their own power and eventually it is an exhausting effort. We are bust trying to fix things and people in to get some peace and order but it is useless rowing with the oars of our own understanding and strength. 
The Bible teaches we should be being filled or “unfurl the sails” and be filled with the Spirit of God (Eph. 5:18). God promises us that wind of the Spirit that supply us with the grace and faith we need. We need to stop all our religious paddling in anxiety, fear and doubt and ask God for the gift of his Spirit to fill us afresh with his presence. You cannot muster faith in Jesus by trying hard to believe.

The Body of Christ?

What is it to be the body of Christ really? One time I heard, “The Head and the body are the same thing.”

I means seriously is what we see as church today the body of Christ? I can defend the doctrine of the church with scripture but in experience I cannot.

It seems more like a theory.

Is church is a microcosm of the entire body of Christ?

Paul said, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Even as individuals the scripture says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?”

Do we really have regard for others with the same dependence as we do on our bodies?

I mean I expect to see, smell, taste walk, talk, move my hands and feet everyday-if that does not happen something is wrong. I do not even think about having these abilities it is just a given.

Do we see the body of Christ in the same way?

THE NEGOTIATOR

 

I am smiling as I write this but let me say that my wife loves shopping. I don’t. To this day I see something I click on, buy it and ship it. If I don’t like the price, I forget it. But not my wife. The woman has a gene, I mean I have never seen a person haggle like her. After 33 years of marriage the list price of anything means nothing to her.

I realized it on our honeymoon in Acapulco. We would go to the market, and one time I saw this marble chess set. It was a while ago, but the price was ridiculous. I would have bought it; I was happy to be a newlywed and was feeling especially generous. She was not. I made a grim discovery about my new, lovely bride. She was a negotiator. That’s right. A negotiator. Well, she haggled with the vendors all that week. It was hilarious to watch. I will never forget one of the men taking out a whip and offering it to me saying in his Mexican accent, “Here, for the woman.”

My wife married a preacher, so she has learned how to wheel and deal. Last year she discovered Facebook Marketplace and this unlisted spiritual gift went into overdrive. I have tried everything to stop her. It is futile and it is endless.

My wife is a good Christian woman, and there is nothing wrong with using wisdom in what we buy or sell. But I use this humor to illustrate something of deadly seriousness. Some people want their Christianity at a discount price. They want all the benefits of being a Christian. They must realize that the Bible teaches obedience, self-sacrifice and service but they bristle at the cost and negotiate it down to minimal price. They do it by reinterpreting scripture in such a way that God is more interested in their quality-of-life issues, self-esteem and feelings. They may leave a church, denomination, modify their beliefs not because of them having valid issues over doctrine and practice but because it was not a “good fit” for them.

King Saul was a prime example of a negotiator. At first, we see him as a man who knew the presence of God and prophesied by power of the Holy Spirit even though he was a nobody from an insignificant family and small tribe. He was given a new heart and saw wonderful evidence of God’s Providence in his life (1 Sam. 10:9-13). He was so timid that one time they found him hiding behind the equipment (1 Sam. 10:22-25). He was tender toward those Israeli’s that opposed him as King (1 Sam. 11:12-13). He acted against injustice with holy anger and the Spirit empowered him to rescue Israel (1 Sam. 11:6).

But hidden in his heart was envy, self-pity, impatience, pride and rebellion. They were latent sins, dormant in his heart and hidden in his mind. These vices were subdued by the wonderful things that happened for him at first but somehow his sinful nature began to usurp and dominate his actions.

We are not sure except by what we read but somewhere in his heart he began to negotiate that he was too busy for spiritual things and his downfall began when he would concentrate more on “the work of the Lord than the Lord of the work” and other things became important. After all, he cannot be too heavenly minded and be no earthly good.

Saul stopped praying as much, meditating on God’s word, the glory and honor of God became less important to him, and the praise of people took its place (John 5:44; 12:43).  He became more concerned about what people thought of him and then oddly blamed them for his bad decisions (1 Sam 15:15, 24). Maybe he began to believe his own press and failed the test of humility as he was praised for his height, appearance and charisma (Prov 27:21). He began to depend on his army, his armor and past victories (1 Sam 17:38-39) that despite all of them being gifts from God he began to be like Nebuchadnezzar believing that he did all he did by his own strength and became like a wild animal (Daniel 4:31-33). An evil spirit replaced the peace of God’s blessing and presence, and he became a mad man (1 Sam 16:14, 15).

It all began when Saul wanted to appear godly so in times when he is told to wait, he thinks he knows better and he oversteps godly teachers like Samuel and becomes the priest of his own life using, if you will, “bull” to negotiate with God (1 Sam. 13:8-10). He learned how to create smokescreens with religious verbiage to cover his disobedience. But in his heart, his rebellion was like witchcraft and his stubbornness, idolatry (1 Sam. 15:22-23). What he did was he substituted his obedience with religious rituals (Hosea 6:6; Matt 9:13; 12:7).  But God says, “I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices. I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings to me.” (Hosea 6:6 GW).

This is a great temptation for us all. How many people think because they have been baptized, confirmed, catechized, tithe, attend church and the like that they can escape God’s judgment as they do evil things. Everyone wants forgiveness of sin, but it seems only a few people desire freedom from sin.

The tragedy of Saul is a great warning to those who have learned a well-oiled system of rationalization and have become spin doctors to justify their own sins and yet call themselves believers in Christ. He shows us that this kind of negotiator is a person that plays with demons and worships other gods.

While the genuine Christian has been given a heart of love, faith and a desire to obey God but the presence of the flesh and the old man can dress up in religious clothing. It is amazing how people find comfort in religious products and ceremonies rather than in Christ. No wonder Paul must constantly identify in his writings the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit (1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal. 5:17-23; Eph. 5:4-5). This is not somehow to steal the assurance a true believer has in Jesus Christ, but we must make it clear there is a difference between those that serve God and those that do not.

They look right, eat right and vote right but it is a coverup and a spiritual conspiracy. Most Christians today get overheated about politics but cannot shed one tear for souls in danger of the wrath of God and hell.  They have the camouflage of pathetic fig leaves and hide their own nakedness in the bright daylight of eternity and the One who sees everything.

That is why some church going people have learned the art of avoidance and deflection when it comes to those issues of the heart. They especially cancel or avoid preaching that is like a scalpel getting at the root issue. They love the preaching that dulls or even cauterizes their conscience (1 Tim 4:2). They have forgotten the Bible; God’s Word is like a double-edged sword (Heb 4:12). It is a fire that melts and a hammer that shatters (Jer. 23:29). They want a smooth, soft and superficial word and they end up shallow and one dimensional. They minimize the law and demands of God. Instead they want pity, to feel good about themselves and so they negotiate the glory of God for the heart idols they love and change the truth of God into a lie so they can suppress that truth that threatens the sin of their own heart. They have been negotiators rather than obedient servants and worship a weird marble statue that says at the bottom, “me, myself and I.”

How these people need to see Jesus afresh again. We cannot make up for our many sins, our hypocrisy and negotiation tactics. Christ calls down God’s wrath on hypocrites and yet today he offers the broken sinner forgiveness and restoration. Lay down your religious negotiation tactics. Confess and forsake your sins, and God will show you mercy with all his heart. The Gospel is the friend of the sinner but the enemy of the negotiator.

 

© August 2021 Stephen S. Gibney

Fellowship of the Cross

Sometimes my heart is broken because of the lack of fellowship around the cross.

The cross has become a rock of contention under which we take out our small minded microscopes and take notes.

I want to know that Jesus who bled and died on the cross.

I want the true faith in understanding the constant contact I have with him through his shed blood.

That my soul was in union with him and what he experienced I experienced!

Also to appreciate that you my brethren beautified with salvation have experienced the same thing and we are one in the him because of it!

God and your Dreams?

People talk a lot about God helping them fulfill their God given dreams. I wondered… so I figured I would share this.

After waking up in the morning, a woman tells her husband, “I just had a dream that you gave me the most beautiful diamond necklace.

What do you think it means?”

“You’ll know tonight,” the husband says with a smile.

The woman can hardly think of anything else all day, and she waits in anticipation for her husband to come home.

That evening, the man walks through the door carrying a small package.

Elated, the wife tears into the wrapping . . . and uncovers a book titled “The Meaning of Dreams”

That is what many churches do today, like clouds without water, they do not nurture the sheep with Christ and his grace instead they give you something much less that appears to be like a rain cloud, a little thunder some lightning but no rain.

Yet you still have a drought, with a book on how to make rain.

Whose to Blame?

I love Christ and believe in his unconditional sovereign free and even scandalous grace.

But some people who say they do are just reverse legalists. They leave the good news and attack abstract concepts!

They say,

“Religion is to blame!”
“Tradition is to blame!”
“Churches are to blame.”
“Pastors are to blame!”

That is the problem with most revolutions-we can tear down but don’t know how to build.

It is so, so, unattractive, unintelligent and even, may I say it?- Unspiritual. It is almost hideous.

You know why they do this? Because somewhere along the line they have become stale in their relationship with God.

How can one be softened by the presence of the Son of God and be so hard? They have become bored with Jesus so they don their crusader outfit on and attack the very ones Jesus loves-all in the name of grace? I am incredulous.

They run around saying like they did in Corinth saying, “I am of Christ and you are not!” and then I ask, “Is Christ divided?

If you say he is, you need to read your Bible. You could not attack his people without him coming down from the right hand place and him saying, “Why do you persecute ME! ” The body was hurt and the head cried out.

Newsflash: People are to blame. People just like them. Just like you and me-chronic sinners, saved by the mercy of the gracious Lord Jesus.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Love his people whether they agree with you or not. A lot of those you call religionists and legalists are still saved, God loves them. Is that not the point of the gospel message? Or have you become a grace revisionist and interpret everything in the Word to support your arguments?

All teaching and worship must be must be connected and centered on Christ. In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. The awesome Son of God! The image of the invisible God! In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church! In everything he has supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.

For the Christian, Christ is all. In him and through him and of him.

It is that clear.

A Minister in Two Worlds

“I am just a valet.” I have been saying that a lot lately because I do not have the title of Pastor. But I say things because it is highly possible that, I am grumpy about it, some days hurt, other days confused. It is an irony of sorts because being a valet is a ground level position at the car dealership in which I am presently employed, and I know and have taught that the Bible teaches that God has called us to be servants and the greatest among you is a servant of all (Matt 23:11). Yeah, I know it, but I don’t have to like it do I? But like everyone the Holy Spirit must give me an attitude adjustment, more times than I am willing to admit. 

Lately, it has been hotter than the “hot place” on the blacktop where it can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Thank God my managers both named Chris (one who I call Chris Sandals because he always wears them, the other Longbeard because he has an amazing beard) obtained a cooler for us with bottled water and ice, so we do not faint on the lot. 

Despite the weather, you still smile and greet customers and park cars all day long in a very busy dealership. When I was a real pastor (that’s a joke-take it easy) I loved greeting people as they came into church. It meant a lot especially to our older people. It showed respect. When it comes to a business when people are greeted with a smile and warmth they like it too-go figure. 

The people at the dealership have been very generous with me because of my previous fifteen-year experience in the automotive industry. But I am a valet-bottom line. I like the job, it is busy, time flies and I get to meet many people, pray with them and testify to the Gospel of Christ. By the grace of God, I am a bold witness, always have been always will be.

Maybe you are a minister who works in a secular position. You have been a pastor, evangelist, missionary or preacher or teacher but through different circumstances you need to support your family. Your church cannot pay you a salary, but you continue your church responsibilities. 

Some of you have a call to preach but you do not pastor a church and may attend church for the time serving in some capacity. This does not make you any less a minister. In fact, the man that serves God in these “two worlds” has a holy calling. His work with the church is holy and his work in a secular position is holy to God. Truly he is worthy of double honor (1 Tim 5:17). 

You are always a Pastor; you have the heart of a shepherd. You are not some after thought of God who saw you as some second or third stringer and said, let’s use him as a substitute for the first-string minister. It’s a lie. Your call is just a valid as a man who Pastors a church. Don’t forget it. Besides you can reach people the average Pastor only dreams to reach. It keeps your feet on the ground if not behind the pulpit because you are not pastor, or Reverend so-and-so to them. You do your job and that is what you are there for in their eyes, but God has placed you there for his purpose and allowed you to work eight or nine hours a day with people who need Jesus, and they are so annoying! But God will give you a love for them and provide windows of opportunity to tell them about Christ.

What I am endeavoring to say is that I relate to you who have either no church or must work to pay the bills and I understand how hard these times are for you. What I do not want this article to be is some lame pep talk to keep you pacified, or a snotty rebuke saying, “suck it up buttercup.” Lord help us, no. It is my own feeble way to help you remember the One you serve, and that God is for you and with you despite these circumstances. 

I was not sure I wanted to write this. Why? Well, first, it opens some wounds in my own heart that I may not want to deal with and second, I do not want the readers to think this is just an eloquent whine about my own situation. Third, it is not easy to minister to ministers. People have said that I would be a Pastor ministering to other pastors, and I thought, “You must be joking.” In my humble opinion I have found that ministers are some of the socially awkward, fractured, hurting people I know despite how gifted they are. They are hard to reach sometimes. But the Bible teaches that God works in their weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10). That is why God utilizes them so wonderfully to help others, but the catch is only God gets the bragging rights (1 Cor 1:26-30). Man, the people God used in the Bible had gaping defects and flaws-real issues that would disqualify them in our eyes but apparently not in God’s eyes (1 Sam 16:7). 

You know how they say that doctors are the worst patients. It is the same with pastors and preachers. They know the Word, they are experienced, they have taught and given advice, they know what they believe and well sometimes are not as open to counsel because let’s be honest most of us thought we should have some immunity from this kind of thing having sacrificed so much to serve God in ministry. It just plain stinks to end up back at square one. I am wondering if it is because some ministers trust has been violated by people and they question the motives of those reaching out to them. They feel like they failed, have been disqualified or are second guessing their call to ministry. They have showed mercy and forgiveness, counseled people who struggle with addictions and abuse, loved the unlovable.  Now they are the one who is hurting, and it is hard to be on the receiving end isn’t it? 

I do not want to write a book here and so I want to say some brief things I hope will help. Please be patient with me because I could not completely understand your situation, but I am only putting out there something I hope will encourage you. It is from the heart dear brother and sister, please believe me. I wept a lot writing this as the Holy Spirit probed my own heart and read this to my wife whose heart broke as I did.

First, go to Christ as the One who loved and gave Himself for you (Gal 2:20), He called you to himself by his grace (Gal 1:15) when no one else was around, before your spouse and children, before your church and denomination. In many ways you are like the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.” (Psa. 73:25). Authentic preachers are strange and unique creatures whose sole inheritance is the Lord (Deut. 10:9) they are built differently though human in every way.  Get to know the Lord better and “pursue the knowledge of the Lord.” (Hosea 6:3NKJV). He is still the same one who set you apart for himself and would share you with no one else (Psalm 4:3). He loves to have you around his throne in prayer and holds his ministers like the seven stars in his hands as his holy messengers (Rev. 1:20). Wait for your next assignment in his presence as much as you can. Go to the old vintage of God’s wine cellars and read those classical Christian authors who emphasized on heart religion and the pure Gospel. Those that taught we are saved by grace alone, though faith alone, in Christ alone, according to scripture alone and for the glory of God alone.

Second, along with this remember God will give you grace despite your lack of time. One of the most difficult challenges of being a Pastor full time is organizing your schedule but now you will have hours and a schedule that will limit your prayer and study. Your family time and other things will dog your steps.  Do not let anyone kid you, your time in his Word and prayer is everything as a servant of God. The good news is that I have found that God will compress the time you can spend with him with blessing and insight. He knows how tired you are and the limit on time. 

Let me explain. Remember when David was running from King Saul, and he fudged his information to the high priest told him he was on a mission from the King and did not have time to grab supplies or weapons (1 Sam. 21:1-9). “The kings business requires haste.” (1 Sam. 21:8). There was little time for explanation. Abimelech graciously gave David the sacred bread and then gave him the sword of Goliath. God knows our weak frame and we are only dust (Psa. 103: 14). We get tired and frustrated. But notice with David, God gave him a “forbidden” blessing the bread of presence. Then he gave him a weapon of past victory the sword of the Giant Goliath. Did you see that? God has stored up in his Providence exactly what you need in this time when you feel pressured or inadequate. Things unexpected or forgotten. God will remind you of past victory and has provided the resources you need. It refreshed him body and soul and he will refresh you because you have refreshed others (Prov. 11:25).

My Uncle Tony, worked hard in construction until he was very old. He had a grip like a vise. I would visit and his Bible was always open in the kitchen. When he would prepare for his Italian Bible study, he was tired. Yet God would give him wonderful nuggets. He said to me with tears in his broken English one time, “Stevie, I feel like I steal from the Lord.” Wow. I weep when I think of it. No. It is not stealing you are simply loved by God, and he wants to bless others with his truth through you dear friend.  God will work with us despite our lack of time and energy.

Third, do not let people’s opinion shape and form your beliefs. If you do not determine what God would have you to be, others will. It is a recipe for disaster! If you do not pray and ask God for the next steps it could make you spin in circles. It can happen. The first part of the Bible was a story of people who wandered in circles. God wants to reveal his Son in you so that you might preach so your immediate response should not be to consult with any human being (Gal 1: 16). This call is special God has placed on you he will for his own names sake lead and guide you. God’s reputation is on the line with you and since he is a good and kind heavenly Father, he will help you know what to do, just trust him he will not allow the family name to be dragged through the mud by unbelievers.

Fourth, it takes faith to believe that you are still called of God despite this interruption of God’s Providence in your life. This is a test of much of what you have preached before since you emphasized that everyone is called to serve God in a holy capacity no matter their work. You desired to equip people to obey the Great Commission of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. We are forgiven sinners who must reach rebellious sinners with the Gospel (Matt 28:19-20). You now have been given an opportunity to practice what you preach. In a great sense a bivocational minister truly fulfills the prayer of Christ, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15NKJV). 

I learned recently that since the Protestant Reformation a person’s vocation from cleaning floors to being a wealthy CEO is sacred to God. At one time only those called monks, and priests were considered holy in their work but no longer.  I have to say that a minister is a special gift of Christ to the body of Christ the church and are necessary to the growth and health. But these gifts are for the rebellious also (compare Eph. 4:8; Psalm 68:18). There is a whole world out there not needs an encounter with the God the Bible talks about. If you have a call from God and love pulpit ministry, I understand that. You should. But now God strategically places you around people everyday that break your heart because they are so LOST and you long to tell them about Jesus. They need you dear friend. It is no mistake he has sent some of you, ministers for many years to reach them.

Fifth, this is a test of all you believe. Please listen to me on this because this is not a question of the sincerity of your faith but the development of your faith, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:7NLT). What you believe about God in trial IS WHAT YOU BELIEVE. Oh, our families have watched helplessly as we step into the crucible as Christ sits over your life as a refiner and purifier of the mettle of our lives and doctrine (Malachi 3:3). This is intimate, personal. There may have been misunderstanding about God in our lives and so God is setting the record straight. 

What if I told you that when Jesus said he called us to bear much fruit for the Fathers glory (John 15:8) it meant others would eat it, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” (John 15:8; Prov. 11:30). Unripe, sour and bitter fruit is terrible, so is a man or woman who persists in immature doctrine and practice. Again, if we are transparent, those who study the scriptures like us, may know more than we apply. We are knowledgeable but immature. Is it possible that we cannot move to the next stage of our lives until there is an evidence of growth? It is possible. 

We are called to declare God as he is from Scripture, not what he would like him to be or to make him relative or cater to the culture. We are false witnesses if we do. We are to declare him AS HE IS. Christ is the foundation of the church. Our lives and preaching must be centered around Jesus. The real test of what we have say and do is right now. The incorrect beliefs and ideas we have are like wood, hay and stubble. They will be burned to ashes. The right beliefs we have are like precious metals and gems and they will survive and be purified (1 Cor 3:12-15). 

Seventh, God has just deployed you to the battle where the hottest fighting takes place. You really need the armor of God every day (Eph. 6:10-18) so you may declare the Gospel boldly. Jesus and Paul hardly ministered in synagogues anyway, he was more in the fields and streets preaching and healing. You have escaped the gravity of planet church in which the placebo effect of entertainment and moral deistic therapy is failing many souls. God obviously sees you as faithful enough to send you out to work among unregenerate (1 Tim. 1:12). Be careful in these times. Satan will tempt you to give up and backslide like Demas who used to be a faithful minister! (2 Timothy 4:10). I am convinced that Christ knows you will maintain your testimony among unregenerate people because they need the Gospel desperately.

Finally, you will receive from the God of all comfort hope, compassion and love that you can give to comfort to others (2 Cor 1:3). Paul says, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you.” (1 Cor. 11:23; see also 1 Cor. 15:3).  He received teaching to give to others from the God of the Scriptures, but he also received comfort when he was going through times that were so dark, he thought he was going to die and he could give that hope of life to others. There is some sense that Paul saw his trials and tribulations as identifying with Christ and for the sake of the church. He felt his trials would prevent the churches he pastored from going through unnecessary pain and anguish (Col. 1:24; 2 Cor 1: 6NKJV). That is quite a perspective and I do not understand it completely but what you and I are going through has its own mystery and it benefits others. He did not let his trials immobilize him into inactivity. I hope that means something to you because unlike so many preachers today your counsel will be from valuable life experience. Even Christ’s wounds healed people. Maybe yours can bring healing as well? Paul affirms that what he and others like him endure gives them the ability to “comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:4). In theology that is God being the first cause and he comforts us directly making us the second cause of comfort to others going through difficulty (2 Cor 1:5). Powerful.

If the Christian church in all its gifts, service and administrations is going to succeed in reaching people with the Gospel it is because of people like you with your own unique qualifications and gifts that will bring growth, development and symmetry into the body of Christ. 

Dear brethren we send our love to you and all those that labor in the Lord’s vineyard.

Stephen Gibney Copyrighted August 2021

God loves when you pray

Prayer is such an abused topic when taught incorrectly, but let me propose to you something that may help you pray.

GOD IS ATTRACTED TO YOU.

You do not have to pray as if you needed to melt his heart.

You do not have to protect your words as if you had bad breath. You do not have to change your clothes address him in office attire to impress him and pray the Lord’s prayer as if it were a resume. For God is not cold, distant, or aloof from you.

He is NOT thinking of how long since you have talked to him in prayer. He does not hold a grudge and He has mass deleted all of your sins.

When one prays their soul is bathed in the love of God. They sense his affection because when they pray they are always brought to the foot of the cross.

There they find the available Jesus who was crucified for their offenses and was raised for their justification. There they find a throne not of criticism or moodiness or harshness but a the throne on which One sits who is full of pity, mercy and compassion.

Does that help even a little?

Stephen Gibney

Hard to Pray

Through the years PRAYER brought a lot of emotional pressure to my soul. Old books and the teachings on prayer did not help. It was very typical of people don’t pray but will hand you a book.

All I could think about this the things that I had done; wrong thoughts that I thought; words that I should not have spoken it was like bilge in the bottom of the boat of my brain. Prayer was like an inventory of all I had done wrong -what a struggle this was! All I could think of was how everything I DID was against God answering my prayers!

Honestly, I left frustrated and angry with NO REST after prayer. Satan was relentless and he brought up things so long ago-I was crushed, crushed by the weight of my sin!!! Here I WAS TRYING TO PRAY.

All the time I did not realize that GOD WAS NOT LOOKING AT THAT. The good or bad or right or wrong that I had done was not the BASIS of my prayers being answered.

The basis of my prayers being answered was that Christ was crushed by my sin, my guilt brought him suffering and my selfishness brought him pain and blood that was shed on the cross of Calvary. He took all of them and drank God’s wrath against them to the dregs of that bitter cup and nothing was left but peace, forgiveness and acceptance.

Now, it would almost seem when I utter the words “in Jesus name” that it brings Calvary to God’s mind, the pleasure he has in Christ that now he has in me and that the Holy Spirit takes what I pray and reinterprets them before God with the right language prayed by a righteous person was made righteous only by the blood of Jesus.

Stephen Gibney

Better Than Wine 3

“Your love is better than wine.”

The love of Christ is like those clusters of grapes gathered into a basket. There are so many grapes to gather we could never stop filling them.

The wonderful love of Jesus Christ seen in the manger of Bethlehem,

the love of Jesus in the workshop of Nazareth, the love of Jesus in his holy ministry,

the love of Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness, the love of Jesus in his miracles,

the love of Jesus in his communion with his disciples, the love of Jesus and being so poor that he did not have a place to put his head on a pillow,

the love of Jesus and during such contradiction of sinners against himself,

the love of Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection!