By Neil Anderson
See the above picture? That’s it. That is the actual doorknob that caused so much panic, fear and frustration at my house over a week ago. (Not to mention a few, good belly laughs from yours truly.)
It was hysterical. I had warned people when they first showed up for the party. I had shown them how to use these new doorknobs that were stiffer than molasses on a cold winters night in Alaska. I told them not to worry, that they would not be locked in, even though it would feel like it. They just needed to relax – and get the feel for the doorknob. Once they did, they would be able to open the door and walk freely.
But they didn’t listen. Or perhaps didn’t believe me. And so they panicked and, in the process, got stuck in the bathroom. Like I said, hysterical. Picture it . . .
- People were banging on the door, yelling for help because the bathroom was far from the party and they feared no one could hear them.
- One person actually unscrewed the door lock thinking that was the culprit.
- Another group decided not to close the bathroom door so they wouldn’t have to use the doorknob and instead, had their peeps stand outside the door on lookout.
- Someone else argued with me that he really had been locked in – until I gently showed him otherwise.
I laughed my head off (with great empathy, of course). That precious doorknob made a mockery of even the most secure adult.
In everybody’s panic it probably felt like they were going to be stuck there forever; or at least until the next person would need to use the bathroom, (neither of which would give much consolation). The more stuck they felt, the more fervent they became at trying to force that knob to turn and set them free.
As I was thinking about these scenarios the other day and getting a good chuckle on, it got me thinking: Isn’t this how we are?
- God tells us not to worry about our needs. He will provide. (Matt. 6:25-34)
- He tells us we’re never alone; He will always be with us. (Heb. 13:5)
- He says He will work everything out for good in our lives. (Rom. 8:28)
- He reminds us we don’t have to be anxious because He cares deeply for us. (1 Peter 5:7)
- He says anytime we need mercy and grace we can boldly ask Him. (Heb. 4:16)
On and on, God gives us promise after promise. And yet, when we’re in the middle of our crisis, we don’t listen. Or we don’t believe Him and so we freak out. We pound on doors. We yell for others to help us. We try to force situations which only makes matters worse. We break out in cold sweats, feeling like we’ll be stuck forever.
Do you know the real problem with stiff doorknobs? The more freaked out a person is, the less chance they have of getting out. Panic, by its very nature, cannot produce calm, right thinking or action. Just as well, the more frantic we are, the more stuck we will feel, and the harder it will be for us to move into freedom.
People trying too hard to get out of the bathroom ended up going nowhere. If they would have just trusted me and relaxed and let the doorknob do its job instead of trying to coerce it, force it, or dismantle it, they could have gotten out very easily. And walked free.
We can walk free anytime, too. Even in the middle of our predicament. If we relax. And trust God. He says, I am the doorkeeper. Rest in me and you will be free. Free indeed.
By Neil Anderson
Hebrews 11:33, 34
. . . Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong
Is faith a risk? Of course. But failing to step out in faith is to risk missing real life. I have been challenged by the following thought from an unknown author.
To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To place our ideas, our dreams, before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love . . . live. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom.
What a privilege for us to be able to walk by faith in God Himself, armed with all the promises of His Word. I suppose we all desire the security of the solid tree trunk, but the fruit is out on the limb. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The timid soul asks, “What do I stand to lose if I do it?” The fruit-bearing Christians asks, “What do I stand to lose if I don’t do it?” Real life is lived on the cutting edge.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me stand up for what is right, to reach out and love others, and to dare to believe.
During this summer, I have spent some time clearing out a worship spot at my house in the back of our woods. I must say, I really enjoyed doing it. I wanted a spot that I could go and spend time with God in solitude. I gathered old down trees to use for seating, found various pieces of old furniture to place back there, and Tiki Torches to help keep away bugs. In the middle I built a good-sized fire pit for bonfires. The other evening I went out to that spot to spend some time with God. My brother was with me and we were trying to light the fire. The pit had quite a bit of wood in it so if we ever got it lit, it would be a very big and nice fire. The problem was we couldn’t get the fire lit. Granted the top pieces were a little wet, but the rest of the pile was dry, so we didn’t think it would be much of a problem. We had pieces of cardboard to help start the fire, but it didn’t work. We lit some of the dry leaves in the midst of the sticks, but it didn’t work either. We even found some straw to light to help with the process, but all it did was burn. It didn’t stay lit and the fire died quickly. So finally after much frustration, we got the gasoline. Now, I realize this is not the smartest choice nor safest, but I wanted a fire! Luckily nothing bad happened! So we light a few more pieces of cardboard and paper just enough to keep it a flame for a few minutes. Then we doused the places we didn’t have lit with some gasoline so with the fire caught it, it would light up. The finally we applied the gasoline on the flames that were going and instantly, the fire went ablaze. We experienced the thrill of getting our fire lit and the fire was glorious…for about ten minutes. But soon, that gasoline had burnt away, the wood had never really caught a flame, and the fire died out again quickly. Now I realize that there are better ways to light a fire, and if I did some other things I could have probably got that fire going. However, I’m glad I tried to light the fire the way I did because God used it to teach me something.
When the fire began to die out again, I was getting kind of irritated. Then I felt God speak to my heart saying, “I need people who will tend and stir the fire, not just light it.” I immediately knew what God was saying to me. In order to keep a fire going, you have to constantly add fire to the pile, you have to stir the fire to keep the fire going, and you have to watch it. Gasoline is a nice help, but it is only a temporary fix. It only lasts for a moment. It looks glorious and the flames are huge, but they don’t have much life. God doesn’t need followers who will be like the gasoline. Who will become very passionate and devoted to God one day, and have a devotion to Him that dies at the end of the week. He wants followers who will fan the flames. Who will keep the fire going, even if that means taking longer steps in doing so. Followers who will spend the extra time in prayer, reading of His Word, and living out the life He calls His people to.
I think you would be very hard pressed to find a church, if you asked them, would not want to see people come to know Christ. I mean, that’s just a ludicrous thought. The Church may have many different denomination and beliefs of theology, but I don’t really think there are many people in the Church who do not want to see souls saved. In fact if there are any, I really think those people need to evaluate their life and see if the are in step with the Spirit. But all too often the Church tries to witness to the world with gasoline. With big and glorious displays of various ministries, emotional appeals, etc. Those of you who serve the Lord know exactly what I’m talking about. But those things don’t last. People who come to the Lord on those terms won’t last unless that fire is cultivated. Unless their flames are stirred and wood is added to the fire. If the Church and Christians want to set this world on fire, we first have to cultivate the fire in our own hearts, then also be willing to take the time to minister properly and effectively to help keep the fire lit the hearts of others as well. Jesus told His followers that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they will be His witnesses. The Holy Spirit gives Christians the power to witness to others about Jesus powerfully. God is the source of that fire. I pray that believers everywhere will submit to the Holy Spirit and allow God move in their hearts. I also pray that Christians all over the world will fan into flame the gifts of God and take the steps necessary to keep that flame going. When the fire rises true and proud, the world around us will catch fire too. Don’t use the gasoline. Cultivate that fire.
“Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” ~2 Timothy 1:6
“Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out.” ~Leviticus 6:13
May God be with you.
This is the sermon I preached on Sunday night! Hope you enjoy
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
This passage tells us that not everyone who claims to be a Christian will go to Heaven. Jesus says many times that obeying the will of God is a condition for entering Heaven. It doesn’t save us, but it should be a response to our salvation. It is by God’s power and grace that we are able to live according to God’s will. That means we need to pray for that power and put it into action.
Jesus states that “not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.” There will be people who truly believe they are serving Him, but they really don’t truly know Jesus. They don’t have that relationship. It is important that you strive to know Him more everyday. Your salvation has everything to do with your relationship with Christ. If you don’t have that true relationship, you aren’t saved. No relationship=Unsaved. But when you accept Christ as your Savior (come into a relationship with Him) you get your salvation. Jesus is salvation.
Jesus told the people who “ministered” to people that he never knew them. There it is again. That relationship I’ve been talking about in recent posts. These people are involved in powerful, supernatural activity, but they didn’t have a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul says that what appears to be powerful ministry can actually be the “work of Satan.”
So listen to this warning. Be careful of false teachers! When you hear a message, look into the Word. If the message doesn’t line up with what the Bible says, then throw the message out! Always go back to the Word.
I would want someone to do that for me. If something I say or write doesn’t line up with God’s Word, confront me about it so I can go back to the Word myself and correct my message. I never want to be a false teacher!
God bless! And remember (no matter who the preacher is) check a message with God’s Word.
“You don’t need to be better than anyone else. You just need to be better than you used to be.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV) There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
The refining process of becoming what God created us to be is a continuous one. It involves extreme pressure and yes, pain. When God turns up the heat to melt gold, dross will rise to the surface. Dross is a collection of impurities. Sin is our impurity.
Hopefully, the refining of our spirit will bring about a forward motion in our walk with Christ. With each new lesson God sends our way, we should be growing in our maturity and knowledge of Him. We are not to remain “Baby” Christians all of our lives. Rather, we are meant to become mature, able to teach and witness to others.
There is danger when we start to compare our growth to the spiritual growth of others. Just as every child is different in personality and looks, so are they different in their abilities to learn. Growth patterns differ between each individual, whether it is in academics or the spiritual lessons from our Father.
When we compare our walk to that of another, one of two things may occur. First, we can become convicted and then inspired to follow their good example. Second, we may become jealous and fall prey to the lies of the enemy who jumps at any opportunity to pull down and discourage the children of God.
Just as the body has many parts, we must realize that the Body of Christ also has many parts. Each part is dependent on the other. We need the eyes to see and the mouth to communicate. We need the hands to heal and serve and the feet to travel to far off lands. ALL the parts are important. We can’t compare the importance of body parts because all of the parts are essential and necessary.
Look to others and be encouraged, not condemned. Map your own course of growth and monitor it to see if you are growing in your walk or remaining in the same place. You do not want a stunted growth. If you see yourself as still requiring milk, like a newborn baby Christian, take steps to stretch yourself. Allow the trials in your life to bring about a maturing. Then rejoice over the gifts your fellow man has and be thankful for your own very personal and unique talents.
A rose is beautiful but so is an iris. Both are flowers and both are beautiful. However, they bloom in different seasons and they both have different aromas. They both glorify God but in different and unique ways.
That is how we are in God’s eyes. We are beautiful and unique flowers in His heavenly flower garden. He adores and treasures each and every one of us.
1 Cor 12: 12-27 (NIV) Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
by Neil Anderson
Not just one dog but two – cooped up in the small handkerchief sized front yard – both vicious and snarling and both pretty worked up because we had dared walk past their territory.
We both talked about how terrible it would be to be attacked by wild dogs and how fortunate we have been so far to avoid it – those dogs were indeed ferocious!
It made us wonder why in the world would anyone want to keep such wild animals as pets!
Somehow I just couldn’t get my mind off those terrible dogs – they were just so savage – yet those people inside obviously loved them – they could see something in them that we were at a loss to explain!
Seeing those dogs and the absolute hate in their eyes for us as strolled/ran past made me think of hate in the world generally!
The world out there is full of hate unfortunately – and if you are a Christian then a lot of the time that hatred is aimed for and squarely at you.
The world hates Christ – and if you are fully committed to Jesus then it stands to reason that the world will hate you also.
James in his letter spells it out pretty plainly that we can’t be friends with the world an friend with God at the same time – God won’t have it and the world will hate us.
James 4: 4 says “Do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
I wrote a further blog about this very subject in November of this year entitled:- “You can’t be in two camps or play for two teams.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote lines along a similar vein when he said quote:- “If you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs in the world yelping at your heels.”
That just about sums it up for me – maybe in not so graphic terms as Spurgeon puts it – but the thought is there – that we make ourselves a walking target when we stand up for and confess that Jesus is our Lord and we are committed to Him.
More than that though – Satan the arch enemy of our Father is out to get us also.
1 John 5:19 says “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”
WOW! the whole world! – pretty awesome when you think of it.
Then in 2 Tim 3:1 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty”
So again that is pretty plain- God has already told us that we will be hated by all men for His name sake – Satan is prowling around tempting us at every turn – throwing our past sins up at us – telling us we are not worthy to come to Christ – even making us believe that we have no need of forgiveness.
Anything to keep our eyes off God and onto ourselves – that is his aim – to make us backtrack – to turn away from God and to give our allegiance to him and the world.
Paul had the same worries about this very thing. He says this to the Corinthians “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3).
So what do we do? If we fully love God and make that love known to others by our actions then the world will resent our commitment for the very reason that it will show them their own sins and iniquities (if I can use that word)
In other words we will become living testimonies to the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives and the world will not like that – they won’t want to hear that their lives can be changed.
We will need the bravery and steadfastness of a lion to face the world at large – we need each other for support and assistance – we need our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord to give us the courage to fight against all the evil powers that Satan will throw at us.
We will need to be brave when we make a definite stand against Satan. We may see our very best friends become our fiercest enemies.
But for Jesus’ amazing love we will be, with the awesome help of the Holy Spirit, courageous, brave and true when facing off with our enemy.
As I have mentioned before, we are only passing through here – this world is not our home – Jesus traveled this road long before us – He has won the battle – we need to uphold His standard in the fight and we desperately need to follow in His footsteps.
It is far far better to fight this brief warfare here and share in our (undeserved) reward won by Jesus Himself than to give in to the world and all the dastardly consequences that that will bring for eternity.
Fight the good fight – Jesus has won the battle – we need to hold His standard high and put on the whole armour of our Lord and Saviour.