Go Take Your Mountain!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day! (Joshua 14:11-12)

These were the words that Caleb spoke when he was 85 years old, after being forced to wait 45 years for his inheritance. Caleb was talking about the day that he, Joshua, and 10 other leaders gave their report of the Promised Land they were sent to inspect. The story in Numbers chapter 13 describes the sad occasion of hearing ten of the leaders offer their faithless and small-hearted report of the land that God had previously stated, "flowed with milk and honey," to describe its abundance and fruitfulness.

The ten leaders went on to describe the giant-sized men of the land. At that moment, their description turned faithless, fearful, and fateful. Not only did they characterize the giants as insurmountable obstacles to possessing what God promised them, they even disrespected the integrity of God by suggesting, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are" – as if "we" did not include God.  These leaders began to deeply discourage the hearts of the whole congregation.

Caleb and Joshua tried to intervene to stop the congregational slide into unbelief with faith-filled words, "We are well able to overcome them." But it was too late. The people had formed an inner image of defeat in their hearts, rather than an image of victory.

45 years later, Caleb is still walking by faith, not bitter, trusting God's promise, making no excuse for his advanced age, and asking for his inheritance in no uncertain terms, "Just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in....Give me this mountain!"

In the natural, it was not possible that Caleb was actually as strong as he was at 40 years old. But that didn't matter. He was not trusting in his physical strength! He had long ago locked himself into the faith and strength of God.

For those of us who are believing for the remaining promises we heard from God many years ago, let's take Caleb's example and mindset...

...Go take your mountain of purpose and promise!


Pastoral Joy Made Complete

Monday, March 22, 2010 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:1-3)

In this text, the Apostle Paul shared both a universal passion and a pastoral sentiment. His universal passion was to see all the Body of Christ share in common love, compassion, like-mindedness, and purpose.

As with all biblical mandates, this must be lived out locally among congregations of believers. The greatest challenge of pastoral ministry is to unite the congregation around a God-ordained vision, and behind a senior leader, such as the pastor of a local church.

One of the greatest joys is to see that unity of like-mindedness and purpose. Paul made his appeal directly to the Philippian church by saying, "Make my joy complete..."

One of the greatest heartbreaks is to witness a failure in common love, compassion, like-mindedness, and purpose. Sometimes this failure is due to a lack of understanding or sincere shortcomings in one area or another. At other times, the failure is do to what Paul called "selfish ambition or vain conceit."

Regardless of the source of the failure, leaders and believers must embrace biblical, Kingdom imperatives as well as local church mission/vision priorities as articulated by senior leaders.

Paul made a similar appeal to the Corinthian church,
"I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Cor. 1:10)

This is an appeal worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ and for all who love Him and His church.


Be Strong and Courageous Today!

Friday, March 19, 2010 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Joshua 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

God's counsel to Joshua still rings true today. When we make God's word our words, and set our plans of action based on God's word, we lay a firm foundation of blessing and success for ourselves and others.

Let go any fear of the future. Settle it in your mind that, "The LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."


Let Your Light Shine

Monday, March 15, 2010 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Jesus wants people to see our light so that they can see our "good works" and experience the presence of God. Since it is the "goodness of God" that leads people to repentance (Rom. 2:4), we have an opportunity to lead people out of darkness by showing kindness and demonstrating to them a positive, fruitful life.

Let God's light shine through you today and everyday! To people in darkness, it will look like dawn.
Matthew 4:12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 15 “ The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

The Apostle Paul called us "Sons of Light" and of the "day." Everything about us should dispel darkness. (I Thess. 5:5)

Light speaks of all that pertains to God and godliness because God is light. We are cleansed by fellowshipping in the light. (1 John 1:5)

Light comes from the Word of God and the God of the Word.
Psalm 119:130, The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
2 Peter 1:18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

When Jesus was on earth, He was the Light of the world.
John 8:12, Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 9:4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

When Jesus left the earth to return to heaven, He empowered the church to carry His light to the world.
Matt. 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Today, and until Jesus returns, it is our assignment to shine our light and faithfully serve Christ
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.


How Prayer & Fasting Helps Overcome Unbelief

Tuesday, March 09, 2010 Bryan Hudson 2 Comments

Matthew 17:14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”  20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Unbelief is a major obstacle to doing the works of Jesus.

Jesus did what the disciples were unable to do. He successfully ministered to the man’s son. When the disciples asked Him, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” Jesus plainly stated, “Because of your unbelief.”

How could the disciples operate in unbelief if they obviously “believed in” ministering to oppressed people? Clearly, they tried to help the man’s son, but were not successful.

For followers of Christ, unbelief is not a rejection of truth. It is not failing to believe the Bible, or not believing in God. It is not a lack of conviction about what God can do.

Example: Consider an athlete who high jumps who has leaped over seven feet on many occasions. He “believes” that he can jump over seven feet because he has done it many times. What if the athlete stops practicing? What if he loses his discipline and joy of training?  If then he attempts to high jump seven feet, but repeatedly fails to make the height, we have an example of unbelief.

Unbelief is an inability to do what needs to be done because of a lack of faith and corresponding action. As the Bible says, “Faith without works (or corresponding action) is dead, being alone.” (James 2:20)

The high jumper, Jesus’ disciples, and we also, sometimes have the problem of not preparing properly. The work of God relies on grace, the Holy Spirit and faith in God that inspires action. God always honors genuine faith.

What is the solution to the problem of the “unbelief” of believers? Again, Jesus answer was plainly stated, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

“This kind” is not referring to a special kind of demon, but to “this kind” of faith and relationship with God that is developed through prayer and fasting.

Praying and fasting does not “move God” towards us, it moves us towards God. Nothing in God needs to move or change. Everything in us needs to move or change.

There is no magic about prayer and fasting. It is effective because prayer and fasting helps us clear obstacles to our faith and faith-filled actions. Fasting is more than not eating, it is a season of denying conveniences, choices, appetites, and desires for other things, in order to place full emphasis on God.

Whatever helps us focus on God helps us walk in faith, understand the Bible better, be more completely led by the Spirit and much more. This is like the high jumper who stays in shape and continues to practice—never taking past achievements for granted.

Obviously, fasting is not eating, but it is also an overall focus on drawing closer to God by removing fleshly and environmental obstacles. If a person fasted food, but spent the whole day watching movies or playing video games, this would be a worthless fast from a spiritual perspective.

One of the important functions of fasting is restoring the proper order for living. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 states, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Note the sequence of the words, “…and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless.” The proper order for living is: 1) Spirit, 2) Soul, 3) Body.

However, most of the time people operate in the reverse order of, 1) Body, 2) Soul, 3) Spirit. This lifestyle can only fuel unbelief and not help us develop strong faith and faith-filled actions.

Develop your faith and eliminate your unbelief by strengthening your relationship with God through prayer and fasting.


The Goodness of God Leads to Repentance

Thursday, March 04, 2010 Bryan Hudson 4 Comments

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. (Hebrews 10:1-2)

One of the bad effects of religion that often carries over into Christianity is its focus on man-made solutions to spiritual problems. The Apostle Paul affirms that, "the law is good" (Rom 6:16) to the extent that it highlights the sinfulness of humanity, "so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful." (Rom. 7:13)

For all its righteous commands against sin, in vivid detail, the law could NEVER REMOVE sin from the hearts of people. Equally, all our proclamations against sin, sinners, warnings and threats regarding sin's consequences, and more, never leads people to genuine faith in God. In other words, so long as the "consciousness of sins" remains, people are not truly free.

Too many Christians miss this powerful truth from Romans 2:4: "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

It is God's GOODNESS that leads sinners to repentance, not our legalistic efforts of trying to impose conviction on sinners (and even on Christians!) with statements like, "You are going to burn in hell if you don't repent!"

What sinners need is "purification" from sin. They need to know that God loves them. They need a Gospel and a Savior, whose power alone is sufficient to deliver sinners from their sinful nature. Like Jesus told Nicodemus, the miraculous moment of regeneration is a "New Birth" where, "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) Either a person is born of the Spirit or not. There is no middle state. Neither the law of Moses nor the "law of Christians" can produce this new birth. Only the Holy Spirit can do the work of regenerating the human spirit as a result of the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).

We are not in the Holy Spirit's position to judge the "quality" of someone's faith and salvation. Jesus was very clear on this matter, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) We can only inspect the fruit to know the outcome of anyone's faith. That's righteous judgment.

In the final analysis, the work of conviction of sin, of righteousness, and of justification is God's work. Our role is to effectively preach the gospel, invite sinners to repent and believe on Jesus Christ. What happens in a person's heart is God's work. When Christians try to "add" to God's work, they invariably end up imposing their version of the "law" in which people are only as "saved" as determined by others.

I recommend you keep God's word, not man's words, as the only authoritative, reliable, and effective means of salvation. The Hebrews writer goes on the say….

"15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin." (Hebrews 10:15-18)