05 Apr 2015

How Should We Then Live?

In 1976, a very intelligent and dedicated man, Francis Schaeffer, wrote a book entitled How Should We then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. It began in Switzerland in 1955 when Francis and Edith Schaeffer decided in faith to open their home to be a place where people might find satisfying answers to their questions and practical demonstration of Christian care.

It was called L’Abri, the French word for “helter,” because they sought to provide a shelter from the pressures of a relentlessly secular 20th century. As time went by, so many people came that others were called to join the Schaeffer’s in their work, and more branches were established.
 
Throughout the history of the later part of the 20the century many evangelical movements have gained traction within Christianity. The Bill Gothard Seminar was very popular in 1970’s and this was accompanied by the Discipleship/Shepherding movement. Then the decidedly new age Jesus Seminar, and a host of others new kids on the block teachings like the Purpose Driven Life and the 40 Days of Purpose, Love, Life, Community, Prayer, Fire and a partridge in a pear tree became popular programs within the evangelical community.

We highly recommend all other such biblically based programs such as The Search for Significance, The Alpha Series, Classic Christianity, etc., so we are not saying that these programs are not useful or helpful. We are saying that often programs, no matter how good they might be, are used as substitutes for a personal devotional life. We end up growing in spurts where we get a concentrated amount of teaching in a relatively short period. This growth is good; however, the method that God has given to us for personal growth on a regular basis is to spend time daily in the presence of our King.

April 12, 2015 – We Are Creatures of Habit

 

Behavioral specialists tell us it takes approximately 21 days to condition a new habit into existence. Doing some repetitive behavior daily for 21 days will condition a human being into a new habitual behavior pattern. Here’s an experiment you can try. Put your watch on the opposite hand. After 21 days, you will stop looking at the wrong hand when seeing what time it is.  You can use any habitual behavior you have in order to see this transpire.
 
Have you developed the habit of spending time with God? Our best example is Yeshua, Mark 1:35; John 17:1, and we also read that, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed, Luke 5:16. Yeshua spend much time in prayer. Communions with His heavenly Father was an essential factor in Yeshua’s life and ministry.

Nevertheless ‘face time’ with the Savior is more than prayer, it is communion with Him, a time of special intimacy where we can listen and hear the ‘still small voice of God’ speaking to us in the inner man/woman. It also encompasses meditation as well as verbal communication.

• On His Law (Word), Josh. 1:8; Psalm 1:2, 119:23,97,99
• On His love, Psalm 48:9,
• On all His works and mighty deeds, Psalm 77:12, 143:5, 145:5
• On all His precepts and ways, Psalm 119:15,78
• On His wonders, Psalm 119:27
• On His promises, Psalm 119:148

How important is this practice of meditation focused on God’s Word? We are instructed in the New Covenant to take this practice to its ultimate level. We are instructed to examine diligently the content of our own mind.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, II Cor. 10:3-5.

 

April 19, 2015 – Not Controlled by the Holy Spirit


What does it mean to be controlled by the Holy Spirit? In order to discern what this looks like, let’s see what interferes with this process. What does it look like when we are not controlled by the Holy Spirit? How we can learn from the mistakes of others whose fear and carnality sometimes overwhelmed them.

1) Samson, Judges 13-16. Samson was a good example of what happens when a person’s emotions overwhelm them. In Samson’s case, the emotion was anger that turned into rage. When our emotions are under the control of the Holy Spirit, our behaviors will consistently reflect our true nature, e.g. holy ones. Still, God’s promises to Samson (and to all His children) are trustworthy. Even in his carnality, Samson was used by the Lord as an instrument of God’s judgment against Israel’s enemy the Philistines.

2) Gideon, Judges 6-7. Gideon was a fearful man who needed to see himself the way God saw him in order to be set free from his fear. We find Gideon paralyzed by fear, hiding from the Midianites (another of Israel’s enemies during the time of the Judges). It is here the Angel of the Lord visits him and addresses him as “a mighty man of valor.”

3) Peter, John 18. He gives us a twofold example of emotions not under the control of the Holy Spirit as well as the ‘fight or flight’ response. First at Yeshua’s arrest we find Peter responding to the oncoming soldiers with a ‘fight’ response, John 18:10, as he chops off Malchus’ ear, verse 10. Then we see fear causes Peter to exhibit the ‘flight’ response as he denies knowing the Savior three times.   

We need to remember that prior getting a post-resurrection visit from the Savior, all of the Apostles and disciples were natural men and women, None of them were born again until Yeshua breathed on them in the upper room, John 20:22, and sealed them with His Spirit. Even then, we have the treasure in an earthen vessel, II Cor. 4:7.

When we believe God, we walk in faith, when we relapse into fear (old tapes left over in our brains from the person we were before we were crucified with Messiah, Gal. 2:20) old behaviors, the deeds of the flesh will soon follow. At this point, we are no longer controlled by the Holy Spirit. Even so, restoration can be achieved by taking that fear-based thought captive and replacing it with the truth, II Cor. 10:4-6.

April 26, 2015 – Controlled by the Holy Spirit

 

Let’s remember that emotions are more powerful than intellect. That is why when our emotions are out of control, no amount of reasoning will bring them in line. When we are emotionally ‘off to the races,’ it will require time and divine intervention to bring them under the control of the Lord, thereby restoring us back into the proper alignment with the biblical model, As a man thinks in his heart, so is he, Pro. 23:7; Luke 6:45.

The following are some examples of Old Testament saints who were controlled by the Holy Spirit during very troublesome trials.

1) David, I Sam. 17. He confronts the giant Goliath in the name of the Lord. David had a long history of experiencing God’s faithfulness to him. This encouraged him that God would continue to fight and win David’s battles, verses 34-37. Because God is always true to His Word, David is triumphant.

2) Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Dan. 3. These three Jewish boys stand strong in the Lord in the face of what appears to be certain death. Their response has been immortalized in the Word of God, Dan. 3: 16-18.

3) Jonathan, I Sam. 20. He is a man who, when contrasted to his father, Saul, can be seen as being Holy Spirit filled and lead throughout his life. His father responded to God’s grace in David’s life by becoming jealous. However, Jonathan, who had every reason to be jealous because he was next in line to be the King, loved David. Both Jonathan and David desired God’s will done regardless of their own personal situations. Jonathan’s anger at his father’s plan to kill David is channeled to defending his friend and honoring the Lord, I Sam. 20:34-42.

The life-lessons learned from these examples will benefit us if we continue to operate by grace through faith. Preparing to form spiritually beneficial habits will go a long way in empowering us to operate in faith when trials and tribulations come our way. Remember, the major theme concerning how we should life our lives is the just shall live by faith, Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38. A faith-based life is a Holy Spirit controlled life.

 

Steven Rowitt, Ph.D.

Pastor Steve has been an Ordained Minister of the Gospel since 1982. He has worked for 20 years in the medical laboratory as a Certified Medical Technologist (Licensed Clinical Laboratory Supervisor, Retired).  He has a B.S. degree in Health Sciences, a Th.M. (Theology) and a Ph.D. in Health Sciences. He has served the Lord as the Senior Pastor of Biblical Alternatives Fellowship as well as the Chief Technical Advisor for the Creation Studies Institute. All that he is, and all that he has achieved, is due solely to the grace of God found in the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.