Thursday, July 28, 2011

Back to the Basics, Part 3

Cliffdale Christian Center’s core values form an acronym: W.O.R.D. We’re keeping it simple. Here are the core values at Cx3:

“W” is for “Worship”: We will be a worshiping community wherein Christ is glorified.

“O” is for “Outreach”: We’re going back to being aggressively involved with outreach, be it in our own community or other places in the world. It used to be that when people talked about Cliffdale Christian Center, two characteristics of our church were always mentioned. I can even ask people who’ve been at Cx3 for any length of time: “Why did you come, and why did you stay?” Invariably, the answers are the teaching of the Word of God and the outreach.

I could go in places in the community and people wouldn’t know who I was, and I would mention Cliffdale or someone else might bring up the name, or ask me where I go to church. The response generally was, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about that church. They do so much outreach.” We were radical about outreach. I mean downright radical. And today I can still say that I’d rather get crazy about outreach than just sit in church and do nothing.

Yes, we did some foolish things. I don’t know if I ever concluded the story about the night I was arrested. I told part of that story to a group of people recently. Anyway, I was acquitted of all charges as we appealed the case when it went to Superior Court. You may not know what I am talking about; that’s probably a good thing. Then again, just in case you’ve heard part of that story . . . I was actually defending our youth pastor. I was standing in the gap; of course we both got arrested, and thankfully, both were acquitted.

I can tell you this: I’d rather be radical than lifeless. And we’re gonna get radical again. I hope you’re ready for some radical Christianity and outreach in our community. It doesn’t mean that you have to get arrested. I’ll be the first one to take that hit.

Repent and do the first works.

“R” is for “Relationship”: We’re committing to building solid, loving relationships within the Body of Christ. And it doesn’t only have to be people in our fellowship; in fact, I’ll submit to you that it doesn’t only have to be with Christians. I have asked, “How many unsaved friends do you have,” and I get a response that sounds like, “Oh, touch not the unclean.”

I remember Pastor Bill handing me a book right after I got baptized in the Holy Ghost, and he said, “Read this book.” It was called, “Soul Winning Out Where The Sinners Are,” and man, I got so radical about soul winning out where sinners were. Wow!

Oftentimes I look at the congregation at Cliffdale, and I think, “Where are the missionaries? Where are they?” “Oh, you don’t understand, Pastor.” Yeah, I do. I had a very secure job at the power plant in Crystal River, Florida. I had the proverbial house, two cars, dog, and boat. “How do you just take two kids to the mission field”? Well, you just do it. “How do you live in a place like that when you have children? Don’t you care about them”? Look at my kids today. I don’t prove that I care about my children by giving them everything they want. And again, this is not a condemning word.

That also reminds me of when I came home from my very first one-week mission trip in June of 1981. I had just gone through Bible school, and we were offered an optional trip to Haiti. Not for vacation, but to do missions work. That’s where I preached my first real sermon. We were up on a mountain, probably about six thousand feet high. It was a place where they raised and ate guinea pigs, and some of them had never seen a Caucasian.

Pastor Bill looked at me and said, “Are you ready to preach, son?” I didn’t even know I was supposed to preach that night. I said, “Pastor, I . . . I,” and before I could finish he said, “Just go tell them about the love of Jesus. Go tell ‘em what God’s done in your life.” And I did. When I finished sharing and gave an altar call, they had me pressed against a wall trying to get me to pray for them. I said, “My goodness sakes, something’s going on here.”

I want you to experience things like that. I know everybody can’t go, but like Keith Green sang when he was alive, “It ought to be the exception if we stay.” All of us can go somewhere. All of us can do something. If we’ll not be ashamed of the Lord Jesus, we can make a big difference where we work, where we go to school, and where we fellowship in the community. We can all make a difference!

NOTE: I’ll conclude the “D” of “WORD” in my next blog. Thanks so much for being such a great part of who we are at Cx3. We’re out to make a difference in our community and in this world!

~ PG

Monday, July 25, 2011

Back to the Basics, Part 2

In my last blog, I referenced something that the Lord spoke in Revelation, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen." I began to think about some of the things the Lord had done for me, not only recently, but also in my B.C. life (before Christ). He has always remained faithful to me, even when I haven't done the same.

You have to understand that when the Lord found me, He found me on the dump of life. I was in the gutter. So I began to recount where I had come from and reflect upon what I had come in to, and how remarkably my life had changed. I remember being baptized in the Holy Ghost on Good Friday of 1982, and almost exactly two years later found myself full-time on the mission field in Haiti. And then I considered some of the experiences I had in Haiti, and then again what my life looks like today. Wow! And again, not just what the Lord had brought me through, but what He had brought me to!

I was thinking about all of these things and then the Lord said, "Consider it. Think about it. Remember." And then He said, "Repent and do the first works." Repent. Now the Lord doesn't tell us to repent if we don't need to. I needed to repent on my behalf and on that of the church. Not an ambiguous repentance, "Oh Lord, forgive the entire Church." No, forgive Cliffdale. Forgive me as a leader."

You say, "Why did you have to repent?" Because we had stopped doing many of the works that we used to do that had such a significant impact on the lives of people in this community and around the world, and we had turned inward. We had become an introverted church, something to which I've always been vehemently opposed. We had become the very thing that we said we would never be. So I said, "God, I truly am sorry. I see." But repentance is not only words; it's a change of heart and mind. It's a change of direction, isn't that what we teach?

So we have to change direction. We have to go back to doing many of the things that made us strong, healthy, alive, and have made a difference in the lives of people, not only within our own community of faith, but also outside of our walls. I went into our Sanctuary and looked at the pictures of Thailand on the back wall. I think overall we helped plant/build over fifteen churches in the remote jungles of Thailand. Cliffdale did that! The people did that! Yes, God did it through us, but we had the audacity to believe God and say, "Yes, Lord, we will do this." And we did it!

And as a result, hundreds, even thousands of lives are being touched in the most remote areas of the jungle. These are places that previously did not have a church nor had ever heard the Gospel. Do we realize that there are some six billion people alive in the world today? Six billion people! And two-thirds of them do not know Christ! If we do the math, that is two-thirds of the world's population . . . approximately four billion people . . . who don't know Christ as "the way." They may have never even heard that there was a way.

I want us to be reminded today of the Words of Jesus: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He didn't say, "I am one of many ways. You choose how you want to find Me." He said, "I am THE way." THE WAY! Not A way, the ONLY way. There's only one! "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh to the Father except through Me. I'm the only way you can truly know your Father in heaven."

Now folks, this is not a condemning word. I'm just sharing my heart with you. I'm simply communicating what I've been experiencing the last few weeks, perhaps longer. You can ask my wife. We've had several conversations in the last few weeks and months about doing some stuff. Changing direction. Changing course. Making sure that our lives are on track with the will of God.

The American church has preached a message of Christian comfort, and it's caused the church to lose its impact on the world in which we live. It's as though we believe that God blesses and prospers us just so that we can have more stuff and live more comfortable lives. Our purpose for being here is for glorifying God and influencing the culture in which we live. I submit to you that the first culture that has to change is the culture of the church. Remember from where you have fallen. Repent and do the first works, or else I'll come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place.

We are establishing some very clear core values here at Cliffdale, and I want every person who hears me to understand that. They are very simple and easy to comprehend. If we're going to be a Word church, then let's be a Word church! I'll write more about Cx3's core values in my upcoming blogs.

~ PG

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back to the Basics

Several weeks ago I was reading the Word and one phrase kept jumping off the page at me.

“If you’re going to be my disciples, then you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” We read this in every Gospel account. So this was something that Jesus wanted to be made abundantly clear to His disciples. If you’re going to be My disciple, then you must: “if” and “must.” Sometimes I wonder how serious we truly are about our discipleship.

I remember a few years ago preaching a series that lasted approximately six months regarding becoming and being a disciple of Jesus Christ. You would have thought that I was trying to preach the church empty because the Lord just wouldn’t leave me alone about this Word, “Being a Disciple.” And it was all from the red print in the Bible. We talked about the things that Jesus said we must do if we are to be His disciples.

Here’s what a disciple of Christ looks like. You’re going to have to be willing to do “these things” if you’re going to be His disciple. And one phrase that repeatedly shows up in the Scripture is that you’re going to have to deny yourself, take up your cross every day, and you must follow Him. Those are two powerful words, “Follow Me.” We read that when Jesus would talk to a potential disciple, it was ordinary for Him to simply speak two words. I don’t care if we’re talking about Phillip the fisherman, or the tax collector, Matthew. In every case, Jesus approaches them and says these words, “Follow Me.”

And then what does Jesus do? He walks away. He keeps on walking. He doesn’t say, “If you really want to know Me, come to My comfortable environment where you can sit in a comfy chair, with carpet on the floor, and with the air conditioning set just right. And if it’s too hot or too cold, just let Us know, because We are here to make you happy. We are here to make you feel good. Everything is okay, and it’s only going to get better.”

God wants to prosper us, but may we never be so deceived as to think that He wants to prosper us just for us. That is a deception that is running rampant in the Church. Jesus says two words, “Follow Me,” and then He keeps moving. And it’s pretty obvious that relatively few took Him at His Word and were willing to follow Him until the very end.

So I received this Word early in the morning that the Lord wants you and Cliffdale to know that you have left your first love. What is a pastor to do? Well, I don’t know what else I could have done, but the first thing I did was repent. But you see, repentance doesn’t only involve saying you’re sorry. Repentance doesn’t only mean “Oh Lord, I acknowledge that I, and we, have collectively left our first love. Therefore God, I’m asking You to forgive me, and oh, I thank You that when I confess my sins, that You’re faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness, and today I’m forgiven,” and then I go about my merry way.

No, He actually brought me to the book of Revelation, chapter two. Fortunately in this case it was not the Laodicean church. But it was another church for which the Lord had a strong Word.

This church was located in Ephesus, one of the most influential cities in Asia Minor at the time. It was a port city that had been developed to accommodate a multitude of docks and shipping; hence, a lot of commerce, money, and people moving into the area.

Look at this portion of Scripture:

1“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary” (Revelation 2:1-3).

So He says, “I know your labor, I see that you are working, that you are giving out, putting out.” He continues, “I see your patience, the fact that you are enduring, and you’re remaining constant and steadfast. And you’ve labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary in well-doing” (paraphrased). But then in verse 4 He says . . .

4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. I see your works, and I am intimately acquainted with what you do” (Revelation 2:4-5).

You can still be engaged in and very active with all of these other things and perhaps not even realize that you have left your first love. In fact, it’s possible that your work and even your ministry have become your first love. It’s feasible that other people and/or things have become your first love. It’s possible for you to think that God has prospered you so that you can buy more cars, flat screen TV’s, bigger houses, and more new clothes. It’s just possible. So the Lord says, “You have left your first love.” And then He says, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen.” Wow! Remember from where you have fallen.

I need to stop here for time’s sake, but I will continue with this story in a few days. Thank you for joining me on this journey; I am truly excited about what Christ is revealing and where He is taking us!

~ PG

Friday, July 15, 2011

Opportunity Knocks, Part 6

There’s a wonderful story in 2 Kings 7 about four lepers. This account takes place during a time of famine. People were starving and under siege, and God used these four lepers. Beginning at verse one, “Elisha said, ‘Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord: “Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.’”

Now that’s a bargain price. That’s like me saying, “At this time tomorrow, gasoline will be a dollar a gallon, a gallon of milk will be a dollar and a quarter, and a loaf of bread will be fifty cents.” That’s about how relative this is.

2 Then the officer who was close to the king answered Elisha, “Even if the Lord opened windows in the sky, that couldn’t happen.” 3 There were four men with a skin disease at the entrance to the city gate. They said to each other, “Why do we sit here until we die? 4 There is no food in the city. So if we go into the city, we will die there. If we stay here, we will die. So let’s go to the Aramean camp. If they let us live, we will live. If they kill us, we die.”

In other words, “What have we got to lose? Let’s at least do something!” Sometimes I want to say that to Christians. “You know, just do something!” Because too many in the church are doing nothing.

“Well, I don’t know what I’m called to do.” You probably never will until you do something! Just do something. Do something. You’ll find the fit. Their mentality was, “If we stay here we’ll die, if we go out there, we’ll die. If we go to the Syrian army we might just have half a chance at living. Maybe they’ll take us prisoner, and then we’ll live and they’ll feed us.” So they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians, and when they got to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, much to their surprise, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the army to hear the noise of chariots, horses, and that of a great army. But if you study this, there was no great army that they could have been hearing because Israel certainly didn’t have such an outfit at that time.

8 When the men with the skin disease came to the edge of the camp, they went into one of the tents and ate and drank. They carried silver, gold, and clothes out of the camp and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent. They carried things from this tent and hid them, also.

I preached this message many years ago, but this time I saw something that I had never seen before. What did they do with the stuff? They came back from another tent and carried some from there also, and then what did they do?

9 Then they said to each other, “We’re doing wrong. Today we have good news, but we are silent. If we wait until the sun comes up, we’ll be discovered. Let’s go right now and tell the people in the king’s palace.” 10 So they went and called to the gatekeepers of the city. They said, “We went to the Aramean camp, but no one is there; we didn’t hear anyone. The horses and donkeys were still tied up, and the tents were still standing.” 11 Then the gatekeepers shouted out and told the people in the palace. 12 The king got up in the night and said to his officers, “I’ll tell you what the Arameans are doing to us. They know we are starving. They have gone out of the camp to hide in the field. They’re saying, ‘When the Israelites come out of the city, we’ll capture them alive. Then we’ll enter the city.’"

Anyway, here’s the long and short of it. He sent a contingency, they find the camp, they get all the stuff, and the price of bread goes down by the next day, just as the man of God said it would be. The gatekeeper who questioned the ability of God got trampled. He saw the treasure, but didn’t get to partake in it.

But here’s what I got to thinking about last night. I can’t help but consider those four lepers, four outcasts, four people in society who don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of accomplishing any success. These are four so-called “losers” who were considered human trash. They sat at the gate and hoped that somebody would have pity on them and throw a few crumbs. Four losers who said, “Hey if we stay here we die, if we go there, we die, let’s do something! LET’S DO SOMETHING! It just might be that God will bless it!” They go, find the deserted camp intact, and start eating and drinking.

They saw all those nice clothes that they’d never owned. We’re not talking Wal-Mart, this is the caliber of Macy’s and Nordstrom’s . . . the fine clothing of the Syrians. They’re eating and drinking. It occurs to them, “Man, let’s take some of this stuff, whoa, silver and gold.” They take it out and hide it. Then they go to another tent, empty it out, then take that stuff and hide it, too. Suddenly, they feel guilty! “Wait a minute; we can’t keep all this for ourselves while people are starving back in the city. Let’s let it be known.” They go and tell the king.

What happened to the stuff they hid? I think I know. I bet they went back and got it! That was an opportunity for them because if they would have left themselves at the mercy of the King, they may or may not have been rewarded. But they recognized the moment of their opportunity. Their opportunity transcended their own lives. They were able to bless their entire community. When your eyes are focused on blessing the entire community, God has treasure hidden for you, and you will not suffer lack!

~ PG

Monday, July 11, 2011

Opportunity Knocks, Part 5

Opportunity is all around us, here and now, where you live. I don't believe that we have to go hither and yon looking for it. Have we tapped into the opportunity around us? Here's the problem: we don't see it. I think oftentimes God would speak to us the way that He spoke to Moses, "What's in your hand, Moses?" And then He might say the same to us, "What's in your hand? Stop telling Me what you don't have. Stop telling Me what you can't do. Begin to recognize what you do have and what I've equipped you to do. You're focused on the wrong thing."

I think about Elijah and the widow at Zarephath. I love that story of how God sent the ravens to the prophet when he was there at the brook. And he said, "Get up and go to Zarephath because I've already spoken to a widow there to provide for your needs." He gets there and how does the widow respond? "Oh we're going to die. I'm just gonna make me a biscuit for me and my boy, and we're gonna die." God had already spoken to her to provide for the man of God. The man of God shows up, and she's not recognizing the opportunity. Hello! Why? She's walking in fear, discontentment, and frustration. It's a time of famine; people are sick and dying.

You may say, "Don't you see what's going on in the world today?" I don't care! I'm not going to be moved by what's going on in the world today. If God has spoken, I need to open my eyes. If God says, "I want to prosper you," then you need to open your eyes. If God says, "I want to bless you," then you need to stop walking in fear, because fear will keep you bound and withhold the blessing from your life. This woman was fearful. She didn't recognize that the very opportunity that God had spoken to her was standing in front of her. Here's the man of God. It's not like people didn't know who Elijah was back then.

It was a set-up for an even greater miracle. She made the biscuit. Her little boy dies. In another biblical account the discussion was, "Who has sinned, Jesus, the man or his parents?" This wasn't about who sinned. This is about giving glory to God! That's all it's ever been about. Gideon. I love the story of Gideon and how he defeats the enemy army that was such a formidable force against the army of Gideon. And how does he do it? By smashing a bunch of clay lanterns and blowing on horns. Just read the story. They smash the lamps and blow the horn. It's amazing to me. It throws the enemy into utter chaos and confusion. Why? What made the difference? It wasn't just that they blew horns and broke lamps; it was the fact that God found somebody who would obey Him!

Just do it! What's in your hand? Use it! I believe that God can do a lot with a little when that little has been consecrated to Him.

~ PG

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Opportunity Knocks, Part 4

Why is there such discontentment in the Body of Christ? It seems that so many are not content. Let’s look at Philippians 4:10-13:

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Now there is something to be said for wanting to pursue success and not stagnate; I’m not necessarily talking about that. I believe we are to progress in life, and we are to go forward with a high level of gusto. We’re to live life to the fullest. But I have also learned that there is something to be said about learning to be content no matter what state we’re in, knowing that it’s only a season, and seasons come and go. Part of our success is learning to be content no matter what state we’re in. Sometimes I think that we put ourselves in a state of misery. And we sentence ourselves to that state because we fail to be content no matter what situation we’re in. Thus our life becomes a hotbed of misery, frustration, and malcontent.

And if we’re not careful, it affects everyone around us: not only ourselves. Paul says in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak in regard to need for I’ve learned in whatever state I am to be content.” He’s not saying that it doesn’t matter to him if he has food to eat or a place to sleep, but he’s learned to be content, understanding that God is with him no matter what situation he finds himself in.

I can say this regarding my own life: I’ve lived in tin shacks in Haiti where it’s 110ยบ; I’ve lived with no electricity or indoor plumbing, and I was just as content in that situation as I am now that I live in a beautiful home. Contentment ought not be based upon what we have. That is the world’s way of thinking, and it’s become pervasive in the Church as well. Christians often base their contentment on what they have. “If I could only have this, or only have that. If I could have enough money to do this, if I had enough money to pay my bills, I’d be content.” No, you wouldn’t!

I used to think the same thing. Now I’d be happy to give away a million dollars. Bill Gates committed to give a billion dollars to charity. Guess what? He is not worried about whether his mortgage is going to be made this month. God doesn’t want us concerned with whether or not we’re going to be able to pay our bills. That is a state of frustration and discontentment. Chill. You need to chill. You need to trust and obey. Look around you. Hear the voice of the Lord. God may be saying, “What do you have”? We keep telling God what we don’t have. We tell Him our perceived need. The problem is that when we do get it, we’re still not content. Why? Because our need is much greater than things. Our need is greater than stuff. Our need is Him, and when we find Him and grow in His knowledge, we come to understand He’s already provided all that we need.

This leads to a greater sense of contentment. We are discontent because we have our eyes on things. Paul says in Philippians 4:12, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. And in everywhere and in all things I’ve learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” It makes no difference. And then he says the now infamous Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Here’s the point, and I believe that it is at least part of the essence of that passage. When Paul says he can do all things, it doesn’t mean that he could physically do every single thing. What it does mean is that he could do everything that God had created him to do. Why? Because Paul understood that everything he needed in order to do what God created him to do was already his. It had already been made available to him. He simply needed to know how to turn on the tap.

And that’s where many of God’s people are missing it today. They’re not walking in the overflow because they don’t think they can do all things. Christ enables us to do all things. You are able to do everything that God has called you to do. He has already seen to it when He made available to us all things pertaining to life and godliness. Now it’s either true, or it’s not! He’s either given us all things, or He’s a liar. If He says he has given us all things pertaining to life, then it’s there. It’s mine. It’s available to me. I just need to be able to get it from the unseen realm into the seen realm. And I don’t do that by fear and discontent; I do it by faith, through trusting and obeying Him.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Opportunity Knocks, Part 3

How many want grace and peace multiplied to you? Hey, I like that kind of multiplication! Let's look at 2 Peter 1.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:1-3).

Of course, we've always heard it said that grace precedes peace. No grace, no peace; know grace, know peace. Peace is the fruit of grace. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Grace and peace will be multiplied to us as we grow in the knowledge of the Lord. "His divine power," this is what we really want to focus on in verse 3, "has given." "Has given" is past tense, and His divine power has given to us "all things." I'm not going to focus too much on that because you know we talk a lot about "all things." All things include what? All things! If God has given you all things, is there anything that He's not given you?

Let that get in your spirit because there are those are waiting to get some things in order to do some things. And the Bible says that you already have the things you need in order to do the things. But you don't know that you have the things because you can't see the things. But that does not mean that they don't exist; they just exist in a realm that you don't see. Everything that you need, you already have.

Has He or has He not given us all things? This is the question that you have to settle in your heart. All things pertaining to what? Pertaining to life. Has God given us all things pertaining to life? Yes!

In other words, God has already made provision. The reason we walk in fear rather than faith is because we don't yet see it. And oftentimes, because we can't see it, we don't believe we have it. But the truth is that very few of us have ever seen Jesus. I haven't had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus. I've gotten close, and it has alarmed me. See, that's unbiblical; it shouldn't, but I start shaking and I begin to become undone (Isaiah 6). "Forget it, Lord, don't come any closer, that's as close as I can take. Stop." But I know He exists. How do you know?

We know that He is. We know that He exists. We know that He is who He says He is. How do we know that? By faith. Well, just as God has made Jesus available to us, His Son, He has also made available to us all things pertaining to life through Jesus His Son. And not only has He made available all things pertaining to life, but to godliness as well. You have everything you need to be godly.

There is something to be said for the writings of Paul. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." We're in the process of being sanctified. But everything that we need for our sanctification is available to us. We just have to seize the opportunity to be sanctified, to be consecrated holy unto God. Question: how does this happen? Answer: through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. So if I may take the liberty: by the knowledge of Him who called us by the glory and virtue we understand that all things that pertain to life and godliness have been given to us by His divine power.

But if we don't have "a knowledge" of Him, we don't realize that all things pertaining to life and godliness have been given to us. And the more our knowledge of Him increases, the more we understand that He has made available to us all things pertaining to life and godliness. The more real He becomes to us, the more our knowledge increases. The more knowledge we have of Him, the less we worry. Have you ever noticed that people who have an intimate relationship with God tend to worry less than people who are kind of mediocre or lukewarm in their faith? Why is that? Because the more you learn of Him, the more you understand He's made all things available to you.

God's been dealing with me about coming to Him as a child. And the Scripture that keeps coming to my mind is when Jesus said, "Up until now you haven't asked, but if you ask your heavenly father, He'll do anything that you ask." He didn't say, "tell." He said, "ask." He didn't say, "command," He said, "ask." He didn't say, "spit and stomp." He said, "ask." Ask and come as a child.

I was going to Wal-Mart yesterday, and my little boy said, "Daddy, can I go with you? I want to buy a toy." You're probably thinking that he wants Daddy to buy him a toy. I said, "Do you have any money?" He said, "Yes, I have my own money. Can I just go to Wal-Mart with you?" He loves Wal-Mart. Terrible, dangerous place. The point is that he asked me. He didn't say, "I'm going to Wal-Mart with you." He didn't beg me, he said, "Daddy, can I go with you?" I said, "Sure, come on, son." I like to hang with my boys. I like it when my boys like to hang with me. "Come on, let's go to Wal-Mart and look at man stuff." So he has his own money.

I proceed to make the purchase, and when we went home, I put the money back in his drawer. He hasn't found it yet, but he will, and he's going to wonder where it came from. He'll ask mommy or I where it came from, and I'll tell him that I put it back in your drawer because, "I just wanted to bless you, son." Now, here's the thing. He didn't have to beg. He just asked, "Can I go do this thing because there's something I'd like to have." When he was picking out the toy he asked, "Can I have this one, Daddy?" He wasn't saying, "Is this the one you'll buy for me?" He was so proud of having his own money. I had to tell him that he had to hide his money. You don't walk around Wal-Mart with your money in a plastic Ziploc bag where everyone can see your dollar bills. Gotta teach the boy about life at Wal-Mart.

All things have been provided. Here's the essence. Everything we need to live and succeed has already been made available to us. What we must do is grow in our knowledge of Him because that's where the revelation comes. God has certainly not called us to fail. He has called us to succeed. He has called us to prosper. And it is He who provides and enables, and who strengthens us to succeed. So what we have to do is learn to rest in Him and in the power of His might. This also requires the ability to trust and obey.

~ PG