Discoveries in Faith

Short, uplifting Bible lessons designed to build faith and inspire obedience. 

The Christ-filled Life

Scripture clearly teaches the Spirit-filled life and yet there is mystery and misunderstanding about this phenomena. To help us better understand what it means to be vessels for the Holy Spirit, consider the experience of Mary and how she quite literally was filled with Christ as she became the mother of our Lord.

In Mathew 1:18-24 notice first THE OPPOSITION TO THE CHRIST-FILLED LIFE. Joseph and Mary were about to get married, but she became pregnant. Understandably Joseph was ready to quietly call off their engagement. Don’t be surprised when good people oppose what they perceive is religious fanaticism. “Filled with the Spirit?” they may ask. “Isn’t that a bit extreme?” The world accepts cold religion, but despises spiritual vibrancy. Mark it down: the world, the devil, and the flesh resolutely oppose the Spirit-filled life. Anyone who desires the Christ-filled life should expect conflict.

Second, notice THE MOTIVATION FOR THE CHRIST-FILLED LIFE. The angel spoke to Joseph in a dream and told him to continue his engagement with Mary. As the angel explained God’s plan to Joseph he mentioned two names for our Lord. These names explain why the Christ-filled life is important for every believer.

“Call His name Immanuel which is translated God with us” (verse 23). The first reason to desire the Christ-filled life is to enjoy the presence of God. To get to God one no longer has to go to a church or see a pastor, or even wait until heaven. Because of the Christ-filled life every believer can enjoy the refreshing presence of the Lord daily, personally, and intimately.

“Call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (verse 21). The second reason to desire the Christ-filled life is to enjoy victory over sin. Every Christian wants to live a good, clean, holy life; yet godliness is elusive and difficult to maintain. Living the Christian life is humanly impossible. The only way to live an upright life is with the assistance of the indwelling Lord. He is holy and helps us live holy also.

Spiritual intimacy and moral victory are but two reasons every Christian should earnestly seek the Christ-filled life despite whatever opposition rises.

In Christ

Colossians 2:9-10 tell us Jesus has two occupants.

  1. God lives in Jesus.

  2. Christians live in Jesus.

Therefore, being in Christ means we have intimate access to the fullness of God.

The Heart of a Champion

“I’ve never not envisioned success” ~ Kyler Murray

1. Who is Kyler Murray? He is an outstanding athlete.

  • 2018 Heisman Trophy Winner

  • Won 3 straight Texas High School football championships, finishing his career with a perfect 42-0 record as a starting quarterback

  • Drafted 9th overall in 2018 Major League Baseball to play baseball for the Oakland Athletics

2. Are his words, “I have never not envisioned success” important?

  • Technically speaking, the double negative is bad grammar but,

  • his optimism is impressive!

3. What does his statement have to do with the Christian life?

  • As Christians we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37)

  • We “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil. 4:13)

  • We go “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7).

  • “Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 60:12).

  • “The Lord will make you the head not the tail, you will always be at the top never at the bottom if you faithfully obey the commands of the Lord your God” (Deut. 28:13).

“God grant me a prevailing optimism, a strong confidence in You. Help me to face life with the heart of a champion, and never imagine failure as I follow Jesus Christ”

A Blood-Bought Kingdom

Solomon secured his kingdom by executing his rivals (see 1 Kings 2). The three enemies he had put to death were old enemies of his father King David. 

In a related way, Jesus also established His kingdom by bloodshed. But it wasn't someone else's blood that He shed, it was His own blood that He offered. 

Also, note the three enemies Solomon had put to death are in many ways symbolic of the flesh, the world, and the devil. Jesus gives us victory over these old enemies through the power of the cross. 

Symptoms of and Solutions for Carnality

According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:4, there are three types of people in this world:

  1. The natural man
  2. The spiritual man
  3. The carnal man

The natural man is someone who does not know Jesus, they are spiritually dead and unable to receive the things of God. The spiritual man is a Christian who is led by the Spirit. The carnal man is also a Christian, but they are ruled by their fleshly appetites. 

Carnality is the widespread crisis of the American church. Too many church members are not yielded to the Spirit, instead they follow their own whims and preferences. Are you a carnal Christian? Evaluate yourself against these biblical standards. Here are six characteristics of a carnal Christian.

  1. Carnal Christians have a protracted spiritual infancy (1 Cor. 3:1). Simply put, they are babies. They remain immature way too long.
  2. Carnal Christians are unable to feed themselves (1 Cor. 3:2a). The baby Christian relies on milk. Solid food is too difficult for them. The carnal Christian needs someone to take the meat of God's word digest it for them and break it down into milk. Typically, this happens on Sunday morning when the pastor simplifies the word of God and gives it to the people. Unfortunately, since the baby Christian cannot feed themself they have to wait seven days until their next feeding. With such infrequent spiritual meals the carnal Christian remains weak.
  3. Carnal Christians are sectarian (1 Cor. 3:2b-3). Like little children are prone to do, their mantra is "us against them." The carnal Christian not only plays favorites, they openly campaign for their party. 
  4. Carnal Christians fail to reproduce (Heb. 5:12a). In the spiritual world, just as in the physical world, reproduction is only for the mature and healthy. Carnal Christians fail to disciple others.
  5. Carnal Christians don't know how to use their Bibles (Heb. 5:12b-13). Being unskilled in the word of righteousness they can neither feed themselves nor disciple others.
  6. Carnal Christians are morally dull (Heb. 5:14). Their conscience is insensitive. They don't see anything wrong with pornagraphy, drugs, alcohol, gambling, extramarital sex, or other questionable activities. 

Here now are three solutions to carnality:

  1. Determine to love everyone. This destroys sectarianism and causes one to cry out to God for help, "Lord I cannot love this person. Please give me the ability to do what I am unable to do." Loving everyone is a spiritual discipline that lifts you out of carnal selfishness.
  2. Begin to disciple someone. The teacher always learns more than the pupil. You can begin to grow by helping someone in their spiritual walk.
  3. Chew on the meat of God's word. No one can be a good Christian who gets fed every seven days from the preacher's sermon. You have to learn to feed yourself everyday. You may wish to pray, "Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law (Ps. 119:18). 

The three types of persons are seen in the experience of the Hebrews.

  • Egypt is a type of the natural man in worldliness and bondage.
  • The wilderness is a type of the carnal man. They are out of Egypt but Egypt is not out of them. They wander in defeat, dry and thirsty.
  • The Promised Land is a type of the spiritual man. Here the believer enjoys rewards they have not earned and feasts in the land flowing with milk and honey. (Note, unlike the travels of the Israelites, Christians can revert from spiritual back into carnal.)

If you are in the desert of carnality, I encourage you to "leave the elementary principles of Christ" and cross over the Jordan River and become a spiritual person so that you can begin to "taste and see that the Lord is good." 

The Right Way to Listen to a Sermon

There is, in fact, a right and wrong way to listen to a sermon. James 1:21-25 describes two groups of people: the blessed and the deceived.

A deceived church-goer is the one who hears the scripture, but never acts on it. They are a hearer, but not a doer of the word. Consequently, they receive no blessing. 

The blessed church-goer is the one takes God's word seriously, not casually. Here are seven imperatives for being blessed by your pastor's sermon.

  1. You must be clean. "Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness."

  2. You need to be teachable. When it comes to God's word, "receive [it] with meekness." The idea of meekness in the first-century was used to describe powerful horses brought under the control of their master. In other words, don't argue with God's word, yield to it.

  3. You should receive God's word deeply into your heart. James describes it as "the implanted word." Think of seeds placed in the earth, not sprinkled on top of the ground. Thus, we are to receive God's word deep into our heart, our mind, our memory, our conscience, into the very essence of our soul.

  4. You must stop and investigate God's word. James says he who is blessed by God's word "looks into [it]." This is the same Greek word used in Luke 24:12 to describe Peter coming to the empty tomb, "stooping and looking in." In the same way friend, if you want to truly be blessed by God's word, slow down, quit speed-reading the Bible. Take a deep inquistive look at what God says in his word. 

  5. You need to live in God's word. James says the blessed one "continues in it." Stay in the word, go back to it often. Read it daily. Persevere in it.

  6. You must remember God's teachings. Don't be a "forgetful hearer." Take some notes, put something in your journal. Memorize key verses. Meditate on what God says.

  7. You need to obey God's word. When it says God's word is able to save your soul think sanctification, not just justification. God's word lived out will help you overcome sin on a daily basis. You will walk in victory. James says, "[the obedient] one will be blessed in what he does."

Take it seriously when your pastor shares God's word. Use the above imperatives from James and be a blessed hearer.

The Cure for Double-Mindedness

In his one and only epistle, the Apostle James discusses double-mindedness. In Chapter One he shares the symptoms and in Chapter Four he reveals the cure. How does one overcome double-mindedness? See James 4:7.

  1. "Submit to God." Literally this means to stand under. Like a soldier we are to obey our commanding officer Jesus Christ. God's way is the best way. 
  2. "Resist the devil." Literally this means to stand against. We must oppose and withstand the advances of the wicked one.

Overcoming double-mindedness involves growing faith and eliminating doubt. Thus, it is important to know who will help us and who will hurt us. God inspires faith and Satan creates doubt. So, stand under God and stand against the devil.