Month: May 2016

Tuesday Devotional: Ecclesiastes 2

bibleRead Ecclesiastes 2

So much of our pursuit of happiness depends on steps we’ve yet to take, goals we’ve yet to reach and places we’ve yet to go.  So much of our pursuit of happiness depends on future things.  But how often have we seen people leave this world earlier than expected?  How often have we witnessed a person die before ever reaching their full potential?  Although all evidence points toward the fleeting nature of this world, we stubbornly commit to finding security in this world and true happiness from that security.

If someone were to come to you and tell you that they’ve found the secret to true happiness, what would you do?  You would ask that person, “What is it?  What is the secret?”  And what if that person responded by saying, “The secret of happiness is simply to submit your life to a greater authority than yourself that can lead you in the way of true happiness.  A life of complete submission and sacrifice of yourself for others, and a complete restructuring of your heart for His.”  Would you continue the conversation?  Would you ask more questions?

The truth is, while happiness will always elude us while we pursue the things of this world, it is obtainable at this very moment in Jesus Christ.  The happiness you feel in having a large savings in the bank account you can have forever, knowing that in Jesus Christ we have been promised security and peace in the Kingdom of God.  The happiness you feel in buying something new you can have forever, knowing that our truest value is in understanding that you are known and loved by the Creator of everything you can see.  The happiness you feel in getting yourself in peak physical fitness you can have now and forever, knowing that our eternal life with God will be in spiritual bodies more perfect than anything we can ever achieve in this life.  Our unhappiness is not a problem that we are meant to or ever will solve.  The problem of our unhappiness has been solved by Jesus Christ.  Our job is to investigate the truth of His claims and once we’ve found it, to believe.  Happiness is meant to be found now, not later.  It is ours to take and ours to own.  Will you take it?  And if not, do you know why?

Mobile Word Podcast!

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We are happy to announce the launch of our Mobile Word Podcast!  We are always seeking the Lord and asking Him how we can share our faith and our resources here at Mobile Word with all of you and we are excited to add this medium to our options for all people pursuing God online.

I will be uploading one or two episodes each week with the potential of more depending on the weekly schedule but the prayer is always for more in God’s timing.  The format will essentially be the experience of sitting down with me and going through the scriptures much like you would if we were in a Bible study together.  There is no over-arching plan or strategy concerning themes or topics when approaching the focus of each podcast.  I will sit down, pray and pick a scripture before recording the episode and walk through the scriptures with you.

However, the prayer as it relates to format is to have the podcast be as collaborative and interactive as possible.  The scriptures are so much more vivid and powerful when people come together seeking God’s presence as opposed to in seclusion and isolation.  We pray that the podcast and other resources here at Mobile Word fulfill a need of yours, whether it be for Bible teaching and exposition or daily reflections and devotionals relating to the scriptures.  But, we need you too!  Often the scriptures look beautiful through our own eyes but stunning when combined with the perspective and experience of someone else.

With that said, we would love to hear from you!  If you have a scripture you love or a scripture that you find difficult and need some help understanding, send us an email at mobilewordministry@gmail.com and your scripture or question will be the launching pad for the next podcast.  You can find the podcast on our Mobile Word Podcast
tab or by clicking on the link below.

Once again, we are thrilled to start this new endeavor to better serve you in your pursuit of truth in Jesus Christ and we pray that the podcast alongside the other resources found here at Mobile Word lead you into a stronger faith in Jesus and a more confident understanding of the truth of the Gospel grounded in the Bible.  Be well and God bless.

In Christ,

Nathan

Mobile Word Itunes Podcast

Spiritual Gifts: Prophecy and Vision

gifts

For the next four weeks, we will examine the role of spiritual gifts in our Christian walk. Just as the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been debated throughout church history, the nature of spiritual gifts has also been a topic of much debate. This reflection series will outline four of the most debated spiritual gifts that often follow a baptism by the Holy Spirit. There are other gifts, such as prayer; however, for the moment we will only discuss four. The four spiritual gifts are:

  • Teaching
  • Tongues
  • Prophecy and Vision
  • Healing

All four of these gifts have a core purpose in common but as we will see they are unique from each other in the way they are used. This week, we reflect on prophecy and vision.

Numerous stereotypes obstruct the true Gospel of Jesus from effectively healing the world. One such stereotype is that all Christians claim to possess secret knowledge of the future. With the frequent prophetic pronouncements of certain evangelists concerning the coming Rapture or Second Coming of Christ that are invariably debunked, the non-Christian world has come to view the idea of Prophecy and Vision as something in which the “extreme,” “fundamentalist,” or “crazy” Christians dabble.

While “extreme” or “crazy” are not necessarily fair, “fundamental” is a word that says more than most who use it casually are aware of. In fact, the presence of prophecy and vision is absolutely fundamental to the nature of God and is a fundamental characteristic of the Church. Prophecies concerning God’s people have been spoken since the beginning and continued to be spoken following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. The early Church exhibited the gift of Prophecy and for us to assume that at some point between the 1st and 2nd century, the gift of prophecy simply ran out, like air slowly leaking out of a balloon, is  justifiably labeled “extreme” and “crazy.”

However, the gift of prophecy is one that can never be used to glorify an individual. While the gift of tongues is uniquely personal in nature, the prophecy is a collective and corporate gift. This gift is not for the gifted but for those whom the prophecy concerns. In all situations where the gift of prophecy is used, there is one underlying purpose for words spoken: to express the divine authority of God in all situations and circumstances. Prophecy does not illuminate the power or knowledge of the prophet. Rather it often bypasses the prophet and is aimed directly at the listener. Prophecy exists simply to remind us of the past, present and future nature of the living God, the great “I am.”

The gift of prophecy is rare to most people in the Church these days, and that begs the question, why? In my opinion, the answer lies with a closer examination of people professing the possession of spiritual gifts. People who chase after spiritual gifts are often hungrier for the gifts than for God himself. Thus, the sinful temptation to fake the actual spiritual gift for the sake of possessing one becomes increasingly powerful unless the Holy Spirit Himself is allowed to intervene. As a result, the gift of teaching can often be faked by charisma, knowledge and preparation. The gift of healing can often be faked by the presence of lighting, volume, adrenaline, emotionalism and again, charisma. The gift of tongues can often be faked by the presence of emotionalism, corporate enthusiasm and again, charisma. On the other hand, prophecy is verifiable. Prophecy cannot be faked. The gift of prophecy is powerfully alive in the Church today but, like the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, can only be given, blessed and used by God Himself.

Tuesday Devotional: Proverbs 19

bible

Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way! -Proverbs 19:2

A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will not go free. -Proverbs 19:5

A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will perish. -Proverbs 19:9

A corrupt witnessmocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil. -Proverbs 19:28

 

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. -Acts 1:6-9

Do you call yourself a Christian?  Why?

A Christian identifies with Jesus Christ and believes confidently in his claims.  While those who actually saw Jesus in person have long since passed away, to be a Christian is still to be a witness.  A Christian is convinced in head and heart that what they have seen in the Bible and in their own life is evidence that Jesus Christ is who He said He is, and that His Spirit remains with us in the person of the Holy Spirit.  To be a witness, a person has to have seen someone or something personally.  To be a witness of Jesus Christ, and therefore a Christian, a person has to be a witness of His presence in history and in their own life.  Before you answer “yes” to the question “Are you a Christian?”,  ask yourself a much more important question: “Am I a witness?”

Have I personally witnessed the presence of Jesus Christ in my own life?  Do I believe that the Holy Bible testifies to the evidence of Jesus Christ in history as a man and the incarnation of the living God? Are YOU a witness?  If the answer is still yes, we must then understand and count the cost of what it means to be a witness.  We must understand that we have been shown the living God in Jesus Christ, and that we are commanded to testify to our experience in His life, death and resurrection and what we hear Him say in the Gospels.  Just as a witness in a court proceeding puts their right hand on the Bible and promises “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”  This oath poignantly and convictingly speaks from the place of Christian identity.  Jesus identifies Himself as, “the truth and the life.”  Therefore, as Christians we are not only proclaiming to the world that we have seen and believe in the presence of Jesus Christ, but we are also promising to share only what we’ve seen and heard, so help us God.  We not only share what we’ve witnessed in the Word, but we primarily show what we’ve witnessed in bearing the Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our daily lives.  Our faith in Jesus Christ MUST replicate His spirit in our own.  If we allow His spirit to become our own, we provide the world with the most honest and powerful testimony to what we’ve witnessed.  If our lives bear witness to the life of Jesus Christ, we are loved by God as a true witness.  But if our lives conflict or contradict the life of Jesus Christ, we stand condemned before a God who warned us not to bear false witness, so help us God.

 

 

Spiritual Gifts: Tongues

gifts

For the next four weeks, we will examine the role of spiritual gifts in our Christian walk. Just as the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been debated throughout church history, the nature of spiritual gifts has also been a topic of much debate. This reflection series will outline four of the most debated spiritual gifts that often follow a baptism by the Holy Spirit. There are other gifts, such as prayer; however, for the moment we will only discuss four. The four spiritual gifts are:

  • Teaching
  • Tongues
  • Prophecy and Vision
  • Healing

All four of these gifts have a core purpose in common but as we will see they are unique from each other in the way they are used. This week, we reflect on tongues.

The gift of tongues is often a polarizing topic of discussion. Some Christians are raised understanding that the speaking of tongues is commonplace in the Christian life. However, others have lived a Christian life for many years and have never been in an environment where the speaking of tongues ever occurred. Since two separate groups living lives devoted to God can have such different experiences in regards to the speaking of tongues, why has it become so synonymous with the gifts of the Holy Spirit? While “speaking in tongues” can be left for a different time, at its heart, this particular gift has very little to do with “words,” “sounds,” or “body language.” In fact, at the heart of speaking in tongues is simply “worship.” Worship that is not corporate, but deeply personal and intimate.

When we read the account of Pentecost where the Apostles were baptized by the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues, what is most important is not so much that they were “speaking in tongues” but that for the first time they were caught up in deeply personal worship, not simply for, but with the creator God and according to his will. This worship was unique to them personally and was not necessarily for the benefit of the group.

The gift of tongues is entirely about the personal celebration of God. While all Christians possess a deep joy in being Christian and being known by God, someone with the gift of tongues has a specific means by which to express that particular celebration of God. When the non-Christian world uses the phrase, “speaking in different tongues,” they do so to express the presence of different languages, accents or dialects. Thus, speaking in tongues is known by everyone, Christian and non-Christian, as a way of communicating that is uniquely understood by one group but not by another. The gift of tongues is similar within Christianity. For example, someone who has been gifted to compose music for the worship of God has a unique ability to craft melodies to produce a song that glorifies God.   While most people might not understand the process of songwriting, composition or musical theory, when hearing the final product in the music, it is clear that God is beautiful and beautifully good to us. Similarly, if a person finds true celebration of God in creating recipes that illustrate his provision and creativity in a delicious and beautifully nutritious meal, this also is a tongue that many people cannot understand the intricacies of, but can all come away worshiping the creator God as a result thereof.

While there are many who do speak in tongues, Scripture tells us that if traditional speaking of tongues does not express a celebration of God, then as Paul has said, it is simply the sound of an obnoxious cymbal.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. -1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Associating the gift of tongues with music or food might seem radical, but I believe that these unique abilities in all of us achieve the designed purpose of speaking in tongues in the first place. That purpose being the personal expression of personal celebration of God. Some people possess a unique quality, skill or even tongue that allows them to experience this deeply personal worship and in turn bring glory to God by sharing that gift with others, while never assuming that all must possess that gift in identical form.

 

Tuesday Devotional: Psalm 68

bible

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:
The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
10 Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.
11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.

-Psalm 68:5-11

Fatherless.  Widows.  The Solitary.  Those bound with chains.  The weary.  The poor.  These groups have nothing to do with nationality or ethnicity.  These are conditions of people all over the world.  God LOVES these people.  Often the work of Christians or churches fails to do the work Jesus Christ has prepared and commanded us to do.  Christians are very busy people and churches are very busy places.  However, today too many people who have no father are left without any positive male figure in their life.  Too many widowed woman are left without emotional or financial support.  Too many people die in overcrowded prisons with no visitors, no correspondence and no hope.  Too many people are burdened and weary from overwork and stress, no one to lean on or share the burden.  Too many people have no homes, no food and no shelter, left unassisted in the hopeless world of poverty.

It is a fair statement that we as Christians and we as the Church are not doing our job.  Instead of making excuses or pointing the finger, we must repent to God and to our neighbors.  It is not good enough to have a portion of a ministry dedicated to these people. These people are our ministry.  Many people are suspicious of the gospel and the Christians that carry it.  They are angered by the hypocrisy.  They are angered by the judgment and hate.  They are angered by the lack of constructive and effective efforts to create change in neighborhoods, communities, cities and the world.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news not because it helps us to get what we want.  It is the Good News because it is the final answer of hope for everyone in want.

Instead of working on how to refurbish the image of Christianity and the Church we must each turn our eyes upon Jesus and ask Him to show us each how we have failed to carry out His command to love.  The only way to resurrect the image of Christianity, to be in the crowd or”great company” of those that publish the Good News, is to refocus our attention onto God, who loves those people, and Jesus Christ, who became these people.  Our image and the world’s perception of us is not the issue.  The issue is our disobedience and our reckless mishandling of Christ’s message.  We begin to worship and honor God by loving the broken, weary, lost people. By loving these people we will again be the bearers of the best news, not only because these people need help, but because when we were in their condition, Jesus Christ helped us.

 

Spiritual Gifts: Teaching

gifts

For the next four weeks, we will examine the role of spiritual gifts in our Christian walk. Just as the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been debated throughout church history, the nature of spiritual gifts has also been a topic of much debate. This reflection series will outline four of the most debated spiritual gifts that often follow a baptism by the Holy Spirit. There are other gifts, such as prayer; however, for the moment we will only discuss four. The four spiritual gifts are:

  • Teaching
  • Tongues
  • Prophecy and Vision
  • Healing

All four of these gifts have a core purpose in common but as we will see they are unique from each other in the way they are used. This week, we reflect on teaching.

As Jesus said, in order to spread the message of the Gospel to a fallen world, there must be teachers to assist people in understanding challenging teaching. The gift of teaching does not rest on a foundation of successful research.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

   the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. -1 Corinthians 1:18-25

In fact, the gift of teaching has very little to do with knowledge. The gift of teaching goes beyond the mind. This gift is strengthened and powered by wisdom: not the wisdom of men but the wisdom of God. A person gifted in the area of teaching can go beyond well-rehearsed lessons or sayings. They instill in the learners something deeper than mere mental assent. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the teacher channels the wisdom of God in the same way that Jesus did during his ministry. Jesus was able to see things that no one else could. He could see the heart of the issue before anyone else seemed to know the topic. It is this very nature that is given to an individual blessed with the gift of teaching.

The gift of teaching enables the teacher to teach to the heart, the place that needs teaching the most. The gift of teaching also enables the teacher to speak clearly to a variety of listeners. In the Gospels, Jesus’ effect on hearers is not limited by the demographic of his audience. Jesus spoke clearly to every heart ready to listen. The gift of teaching allows an individual to teach clearly and succinctly, in a way that differs from man’s teaching of spirituality, codified and complex philosophical webs of theological nonsense that result in confusion and not liberation. God always desires to be well understood.

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ -Jeremiah 33:3

The gift of teaching allows an individual to teach about God in a way that achieves this goal.

 

Tuesday Devotional: Job 21

Read Job 21 bible

Does it really matter if a person believes in Jesus?  Can’t someone simply do good, live in peace with others and have a good life?  The answer to the second question is, absolutely yes.  There are many people who do not profess faith in Jesus Christ that are nice people, helpful people, loving people.  If only the self-professing Christians did good deeds, we would have an even darker world on our hands than we do now.

However, the initial question of Jesus does in fact matter.  Professing the name of Christ does not guarantee decent and loving character.  As there are many loving non-Christians, there are also many inconsiderate and selfish Christians.  Sincere and authentic faith in Jesus Christ matters in this world to all people because of security.  Regardless of where a person comes from, everyone in this world attempts to find security in something.  We all do.  We all seek something that allows us to find rest at night.  We all seek something that gives us the permission to find confidence in a world that so often leaves us feeling helpless.

All people have the ability to do good and love others because we were designed for righteousness and love.  On the contrary, all people seek to find something to hold onto in the storm because all people were created to exist in the presence and care of an almighty God but now find themselves alienated and trying to get back what was lost.  The manner in which we pursue security in worldly things gives us a clue about our origins and our Creator.  A person who believes and professes faith in Jesus Christ no longer scrambles to find security in this world.  A person who takes Jesus Christ at His words no longer fears death and what comes next.  Christianity obliterates the fear of death, the fear of failure and the fear of loss.  In the loving arms of Jesus Christ we can finally find the peace we’ve longed for.  We no longer have to live a life of self-preservation and self-vindication.  In Christ we are given the gift that we all seek.  We are given the gift of perfect and everlasting love.  Does it really matter if a person believes in Jesus?  To be a nice person?  The answer is, no.  To find peace and enjoy in what we have without fear and trembling of eventually losing it?  The answer is forever yes.

Tuesday Devotional: Esther 4

 

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. (Esther 4:12-14)

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It is a tragic reality that being blessed by the Lord often leads to a disobedience towards God and vulnerability towards sin.  We pray and fast fervently in times of need because we know that we are without and we are unable.  We seek God and cry out to Him when challenges surround us because we know that in the absence of a savior we cannot go on.  It is in the valleys and deserts of our walk with God where we see the most of Him, simply because we become aware that He MUST become the focus of our life.  These periods are wonderfully fruitful in that we begin to restructure and reorganize the priority of God in our life.  However, seeking to get out of the valley versus seeking to find God IN the valley can create two very different outcomes.  Seeking God in order to get out of the valley can lead someone to become bitter and resentful when the valley becomes home.  On the other hand, seeking to find God in the valley reveals God and becomes a home worthy of staying in as long as necessary.

We must prepare ourselves for the valley.  We have been on the mountaintop for a while now, and many of us don’t have any recollections of what life in the valley was like.  We have been blessed, and although we must rejoice in our blessings, we must proactively prepare ourselves for a life without, with no majority benefits, the life of discipleship that Jesus Christ has offered us from the beginning.  To be a disciple is to count the cost and accept it willingly and joyfully.  A Christian WILL experience persecution.  A Christian WILL experience rejection.  A Christian follows in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and therefore WILL suffer.  This is not an exception or a possibility.  As much as the fruit of His Spirit is our inheritance and our new life by the resurrection, so is His death on the cross by crucifixion.

The nature of our persecution and suffering may vary but to be persecuted and suffer for the name of Jesus is the cornerstone that unites all believers in name of Jesus around the world.  Rejoice in what the Lord has provided for you and accomplished in your life.  As Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say Rejoice!”  Heed the life and words of Jesus Christ in regards to the persecution and suffering that awaits and, “WATCH.”  Be alert and do not be caught unprepared.  Have no fear, because the perfect love of Jesus casts out fear. We must not be foolish and we must not carelessly approach the cross.  To be a Christian is to be united with the cross of Christ as much as we are united with the hope and glory of the empty tomb.