07
Nov 11

Sola Scriptura: Not Talk but Power

This is a series about taking the Scriptures seriously, especially in areas that I (or we?) have overlooked or missed.

In 1 Corinthians 4:20, Paul writes, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Here’s one way I’d like to describe it.

First, imagine that you are the personal friend of a man named Sam. This man has years of experience in business and has keen insight into all facets of business and leadership. You and I get together for lunch one day, and I begin spilling my troubles to you. My business is failing, and my personnel are discouraged. I’m working 80 hour weeks trying to save my business, but everything under my leadership is failing.

Immediately you tell me about Sam. “You need to meet him!” you tell me. “He knows so much about business.”

“Yes!” I reply. “Can I?”

“Certainly!” you respond. “Let me tell you what he’s like. He’s very intelligent, and he has started many companies in his past. He has become a business consultant, and he travels the world, working with multinational corporations, resolving some of their most complex investment strategies.”

“Wow,” I reply. “When can I meet him?”

“Right now,” you say. “In fact, he’s just started working with international governments, developing techniques to stimulate their economies. But more than that, he is an amazing friend to me. He’s just a great person! He is married, has children, and is an amazing husband and father.”

Our conversation ends, but I am never introduced to Sam. I leave, excited over how amazing Sam must be, but I remain imprisoned in my cycle of mistakes because I never met the man who had the answers.

We’re like that sometimes.

It’s easy sometimes to tell people about Jesus and forget the introduction. People don’t primarily need to hear about Jesus. They need to meet Him; they need to be introduced to Him. What good is it to hear a third party’s account if you can’t meet the person? You can’t relate with a description. You can only relate with a person!

Sometimes we try to do the same thing with the kingdom of God. Many of us are awakening to the reality that the Christianity we read about in the book of Acts looks very different than the Christianity we see in many churches today. Many of us begin asking questions about the kingdom of God. How do we get there? What do we do? What does it look like? Does God heal the sick? How does He heal the sick?

While some of these questions need to be answered, they are only effective as a description, not as an introduction. I am coming to realize that the best way to introduce people to these spiritual realities is not by telling them about it, but praying them into it. Information goes to the mind; an encounter reaches your heart.

I am in no means against information and facts! Truth to be told, anything you tell me about Sam will probably be helpful as I relate with Him. However, your information is meaningless to me until I have been introduced to Him.

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. It is more than the expression of doctrines and ideas (though doctrines are important!). It is a demonstration of the power of God that turns people’s hearts towards God. I do not condemn those who have not encountered the power of the kingdom. Yes, some people have closed their hearts to it, but many more live their lives unaware of the power of Christ dwelling within them. Yes, these people may need more information, but most importantly, they need a fresh and deep encounter with the one who is everything–Jesus Christ. That power radically changes people’s lives.

May God take us on whatever journey necessary to become the kind of people who live out the kingdom not in words but in power.

Soli Deo gloria.


04
Nov 11

Told or Taught?

I have been told many things in my life. Fewer things have I been taught. Told implies hearing; taught implies learning. Told often implies mind; taught often implies heart.

You were told about God, but did you learn to know Him? You were told to love, but were you taught it? You were told ____________, but were you taught?

(The list continues forever.)

What about you?

You are telling people many things.

But are you teaching?


27
Oct 11

Living in Wonder

One of the things I continually fight for in life is wonder.

Sometimes it means drinking in the fall leaves and the sun’s rays on the beautiful mountains surrounding my town.

Sometimes it means opening the windows and turning up the music, even in the bitter cold.

Sometimes it means sitting by the front window of a coffee shop, drinking coffee, watching snow, and writing code.

But we also have enemies of wonder. Sometimes it seems it’s in our greatest blessings that we lose our greatest wonder.

I have the opportunity to serve a man of God, someone whom I can call my friend and someone who willingly gives of himself for the good of his team. Yet, the drudgery of today can blind me to the wonder of the opportunity I have.

This weekend I will have the opportunity to impact young, energetic men and women of God. I get to use my talents to teach, encourage, and inspire them. In so many ways, it’s a dream come true, but my own pressure of giving them my best can rob me of wonder.

I have the privilege of spending time with my girlfriend and building a relationship unlike any other I’ve had. Still, the unanswered questions of life and the cares of today can rob me of the joy of this season I’m in.

I keep learning, then forgetting, then remembering it again. Life is a journey.

Enjoy the journey. Take joy in the work of your hands, knowing that the work of today will yield the fruits of tomorrow. Throw yourself wholeheartedly in the arms of Him who cares for you, trusting Him to provide everything you need. Cast aside worry, which does not benefit you, and trust in the One who holds together all things.

If I had to write a proverb, I would say it like this:

For every destination you live for, there’s a journey you miss.

Don’t miss the journey!


13
Oct 11

Sola Scriptura: Deceived in Knowledge

(This is an ongoing series about taking God’s Word for what it says.)

Humility is an important  attitude we must have as we approach Scripture. Unless we are willing to change our lives when we read God’s Word, we will deceive ourselves, believing that we are someone we are not.

In James 1:22 we read:

But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].

When I read this passage, it strikes holy fear in my heart. I know that I am well taught in the Scriptures, but am I equally obedient? I know that every time I walk away from truth unchanged, I am entrenching myself in a mindset that is contrary to God’s will.

The question that burns on my heart, first of all, is, “Are we allowing ourselves to be completely honest as we approach Scripture?” The second is, “Are we willing to pay the price of aligning ourselves with Scripture?” If Scripture teaches something that is contrary to the contemporary trend, how will we respond? If Scripture teaches something that is contrary to our habit or tradition, how will we respond?

Right now, there’s a good chance the Holy Spirit is laying some things on your heart and reminding you of some Scriptures that you have disregarded. Are you willing to turn your face back to the mirror of Scripture, gaze into that mirror, and make the changes to align yourself with God’s Word? The cost of changing is high, but the cost of ignoring it is much, much higher.

“Dear Jesus, Give us the eyes to see who You are, give us the ears to hear Your Word, give us the humility to say we are wrong, and give us the courage to live as You are calling us.”

According to the power of Christ working in us, may we do everything we can to walk in full obedience to God.

Soli Deo gloria.


12
Oct 11

Sola Scriptura: Make Disciples

(This is an ongoing challenge to take the teachings of Christ and the Scripture seriously.)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told them to go and make disciples. Many of their lives would be cut short, and their task was far greater than themselves. Jesus knew that they had to make themselves replaceable for the gospel to continue spreading.

It is easy for us in the church to complain about the lack of leaders in our midst. The truth, however, is that we are at fault. We as the church lack the leaders whom we failed to raise up. The same is true for workers of any kind, whether leaders or those involved in other ways. We have failed to make disciples, and we are paying the cost.

Some of us are overwhelmed in ministry, and we pride ourselves and revel in this busyness. However, Jesus taught us to pray that the Father would send workers into the harvest. Have we done that? And have we taken seriously the call of Christ to make disciples, raising up others to help us out? Is busy disobedience really more  spiritual than restful discipleship?

Moses is a great example. Moses was overwhelmed with the task of judging the people, and his father-in-law suggested that he hand off the easy cases so he could focus on greater needs. We feel powerful pushing ourselves past our limits, but we cannot escape our own finite nature. Even Moses.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.

What are the things that you are responsible for that you can hand off to others? How can you teach them to disciple before they get overwhelmed? How would God have you pray for workers He wants to send into the harvest?

Soli Deo gloria.


10
Oct 11

Sola Scriptura: Things Unspoken

In my recent focus on the Word of God, I have been asking myself the question, “What are the parts of the gospel I not talking about?” When I think of deception, I often think about wrong things that are taught. However, deception comes just as easily through the things that are not taught.

This generation is waking up to the power of grace, and we are tempted to disregard holiness. We experience the same tension with living in the love of God and living in the fear of the Lord, or living with power and living with character. One without the other will take us places we don’t want to go. I believe these are healthy tensions every believer will carry.

It is easy to take our cues from the world around us, but may our focus remain fixed on Christ. He alone is our true standard, and in Him is the fullness of the godhead. We do not stay on course by watching the ditches but by watching the One who is the Way. May He have our full attention!


07
Oct 11

Against All Odds

I’ve taken a haphazard break from blogging, and I’m ready to get back in the rhythm, so here goes! 🙂

I was recently rereading the story of Daniel, and I noticed something about the circumstances surrounding his success. Take a look at three of his circumstances.

Situation 1. To start with, Daniel was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Daniel was taken into a pagan country. This king did not fear God! He took items from the temple in Jerusalem and put them in the temple of his own god. If the odds were against anyone, they seemed to be against Daniel! However, through this strange turn of events, Daniel received a rich education. But more than that, God gave him and his friends a divine knowledge and understanding of the Babylonian culture and literature.

Situation 2. The next time Daniel is mentioned in the narrative, he’s having a conversation with the man who had been assigned to execute him! The king had a dream and wanted to know its meaning, but none of his men could reveal the dream to the king. Daniel requested more time, then begged God to step in. God revealed the king’s dream to him, and as a result, the king promoted him to a high position of authority.

Situation 3. Later we read of Daniel’s regular prayer and devotion to God. Jealous men conspired a plan to get him killed, and Daniel is thrown into the den of lions. God spares his life, and as a result, King Darius sends a command to all people and all nations (“the world”) to fear and reverence God (Daniel 6:24-25).

Look at the great successes in Daniel’s life:

  1. King Nebuchadnezzar provided him with rich education and training, and God adds divine knowledge and understanding to it.
  2. King Nebuchadnezzar promoted him to a high position of authority.
  3. King Darius commanded the world to fear and reverence God.

However, each of these events were preceded by life-threatening events:

  1. Daniel was taken captive by a pagan king.
  2. Daniel was confronted by an executioner ready to kill him.
  3. Daniel was thrown into a den of lions that should have eaten him alive.

You see, it seems God’s blessing did not merely come in spite of these events. God’s blessing came through these events.

My challenges in life look simple compared to Daniel’s, but I face situations that seem threaten my personal success. If you’re following God, you’ve probably had one. And if you’re following God and you’re not in a situation like that, you’re probably about to walk into one.

In the middle of that situation, remember Daniel. More importantly, remember Daniel’s God. The God who worked immense good through Daniel’s situations is still alive. He never changes. Your greatest breakthrough may be hidden behind a life-threatening circumstance only God can deliver you from. No matter your situation, always remember that God works, against all odds, for His glory.

Soli Deo gloria.


26
Sep 11

Letter to the President

This is a series that is focusing on the question, “Am I willing to take God fully at His Word, especially in what He has revealed in Scripture?” In 1 Peter 2:17 we read, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” This is my best attempt in response.

 

Mr. President:

I write you this letter, knowing full well you will probably never read it, but that’s not important to me.  The words I have to write must be written whether you read them or not.

I am writing to honor you as the President of the United States of America.

As the President of this nation, your presence carries an air that no one can replicate. You represent a very powerful, very wealthy nation. The distance that separates you and I is vast, and I do not begrudge it at all. That distance simply demonstrates the honor that is due you. The distance between us makes it difficult to know how to honor you, and this may seem shallow because of it, but it is my best effort. You are a man who has been granted an extraordinary privilege, and I want to honor you as my President.

My honor begins with commitment. Your followers may be some of the most fickle critics, and their praise and devotion is almost impossible to keep. However, I want to be different. I want to the man who honors you regardless of your decisions, no matter of your successes or mistakes. I want to be the man who honors you, no matter how deep our disagreements run. I choose to honor you, because no matter what you do, you cannot escape who you are. The truth is that you are my President, and that truth is the driving force behind my honor.

Because I honor you, I choose not to devalue you. Your critics know your worst weaknesses, and I refuse to join them. Just as I cannot turn a blind eye to your weaknesses, I refuse to turn a blind eye to your strengths. I choose to remain completely honest about your strengths and weaknesses, but I refuse to allow them to define my honor for you. God raises up whom He chooses, and neither you nor I can change that.

I choose to honor you by expecting more of myself than of you. Your job as a leader is hard. I am only one of millions, but I choose today to do my part in contributing to society, carrying my share of the load, and encouraging others to do so as well. While I can honor you with my words, I believe the greatest honor is met with action. When I pay my taxes next spring, I choose to maintain a positive attitude, freely and willing giving the taxes that are due, just as Jesus taught. I choose to invest in those around me, helping them become better citizens. When I recognize the God-given potential within another person, I choose to step aside to encourage them in their potential, knowing that through their gifts they will make the biggest contribution. I cannot solve all issues–poverty and crime are prevalent, and the needs are staggering. Many others are doing more than I can every hope or imagine, and I wish at times I could do more. But I will not let the seeming insignificance of my contribution keep me from doing my part.

I have one more commitment I must make, but it is a greater commitment than I can honestly make. My desire is not merely to honor you, but to encourage others, especially those of my faith who dishonor you, to bestow on you the honor that is yours. This letter is the first step, but it is the cowardly first step. The true test will come in the unexpected conversations that will catch me off guard. I choose to make a commitment that I can keep–that no matter how often I fail, I will fail forward. No matter how often I shrink back, I will continue pressing on to becoming the man of courage who is willing to be unswayed by the opinions of the crowd.

I realize this letter is only meaningless words if it is not followed by action. I realize that this is a decision I must make, that no matter what course is easy, I must choose the course that is right. Though I’ve often said it with words, today I choose to learn to say it with my life: I honor you.

And according the power of Christ who lives within me, I will.

Regards,

Matthias Miller


23
Sep 11

Sola Scriptura: Delegated Authority (Part 3 of 3)

This is a series that is focusing on the question, “Am I willing to take God fully at His Word, especially in what He has revealed in Scripture?”

This week has passed by very quickly! I hope you all enjoyed a break from my writings. 🙂 This is the third part of a series exploring the authority we have in Christ. To recap:

Part 1: God gave dominion of the earth to man, and man surrendered it.

Part 2: Jesus came not only to take our punishment, but also to reclaim the enemy’s dominion.

And now we move on to the final part:

Part 3: Christ has granted us as believers delegated authority and has seated us with Him in heavenly places to reign with Him.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He told His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). That authority was the basis from which He sent out His disciples. However, Jesus did not just send them out as mere reporters or messengers. He sent them out as representatives or ambassadors. Paul explains the authority that was given to the apostles:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

This authority isn’t merely something for the apostles, but it’s something for all believers. Paul also writes, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7). This verse is not a promise but a statement of fact. If you are a believer, you are seated with Christ. This is a position of rulership and authority. Christ has invited you, through faith, to enter His divine rule. It means becoming part of His invisible kingdom, or rulership.

Even though this is a reality, why don’t more believers live in this reality? Once again, we see Paul encouraging the Colossians, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). Even though our lives are hidden in Christ and we are seated with Him in heavenly places, it’s up to us to turn our focus on that fact. As we set our focus on Christ’s rulership and identify ourselves with Christ, we begin to live out of that reality.

Do you remember how I demonstrated from Scripture that Adam’s sin allowed death to reign? Here’s the good news! As Paul explains this, He continues by saying, “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17).

The simple question I have for you is this, “Are you reigning in life?” Are you reigning in your relationships with other people, in your job, in your private life, and in your relationship with God? Or are you merely surviving? From Scripture, we see that God has given you authority, but are you living in it? I invite you to ask this simple question, “In light of your current situation, how does God want to reveal His authority to you, so that you might reign in life?”

If you don’t feel like you understand or “get it”, don’t despair! The most incredible part of this is that it is available to every believer through faith. It is nothing that we have done; it is only because of Christ. He is the center of our lives, He is the one who receives our focus and devotion, and He is the one who receives the glory as we allow His life to flow through us.

May God reveal to you the depth of the mysteries of Christ, and may He write it deep on your heart, that you may point others to the glory of Christ!


19
Sep 11

Sola Scriptura: Authority Reclaimed (Part 2 of 3)

This is a series that is focusing on the question, “Am I willing to take God fully at His Word, especially in what He has revealed in Scripture?”

Last week I explored the authority that had been given to Adam, which he surrendered when he disobeyed God. Today we will explore God’s solution!

Part 1: God gave dominion of the earth to man, and man surrendered it.

Part 2: Jesus came not only to take our punishment, but also to reclaim the enemy’s dominion.

Jesus’ mission on the earth was to break the dominion of sin and restore man to God.

Last week I mentioned Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Satan tempted Jesus by saying, “I will give you all their authority and splendor [referring to the kingdoms of the world]; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.” I used to think Satan was bluffing, but from what I read in the Scriptures, because of the fall, I believe that these indeed were the devil’s to give away. The devil tempted Jesus with a shortcut to fulfilling His call on this earth. However, the offer included Jesus surrendering himself to the devil’s kingdom by bowing down and worshiping the devil. Either way, Jesus would gain authority over these kingdom, but He only had one path to restore them to God.

Jesus also reflected this in the Lord’s prayer when He prayed, “Your kingdom come.” God’s plan in bringing the kingdom to earth was to break the dominion of the kingdom of darkness and to establish His rulership (kingdom) on the earth.

How was this dominion broken?

Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. He was fully man, but because He was the son of God, He was not subject to Adam’s curse. He was tempted in every way, but He was without sin. Jesus, though perfectly blameless, took the curse of Adam’s sin upon himself, and broke the power of sin and death. In rising from the dead, He was the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. He became the first of those who would be part of the kingdom of light, who would reign in life (Romans 5).

Through this, God has given Jesus authority. In Philippians 2, we read, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ” This is big authority!

After His resurrection, Jesus Himself said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). That’s also big authority!

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the question, “If Jesus has all authority and broke the dominion of sin, why does so much of it still exist?”