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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Various Trials Part 2


It is quite possible that a trial which might serve to make you stronger and more dependent upon God would fell me to the ground with minimal effort. The reason our trials vary is because we as human beings vary. In His love and all-knowing wisdom God does not send the same trials over one and all, because the purpose of the trials He allows in our lives is not to tear us down but to build us up. Trials come upon us to make us stronger, to teach us dependence upon God, and to show us that we can overcome through He who promised us victory.

God knows every single one of us intimately. He knows what we can endure, He knows how much heat we can take, and He brings us to that point wherein we are refined, tested, and purified, but not destroyed, broken or disillusioned.

God does not give us trials equal to our strength or ability to overcome them, He gives us strength and ability to overcome equal to the trials we are facing.

To some God gives strength to overcome financial trials, others He gives strength overcome physical trials, others He gives strength to overcome family trials, trials on the job, traitorous friends, and the list goes on. Whatever trial we are facing, we must acknowledge the strength to overcome comes from above. Our strength comes from God, not of ourselves, and so when we do overcome, when finally we’ve come through the valley and out the other side, we cannot glory in our own strength but rather glory in His strength.

Another universal truth concerning trials is that they are passing. ‘For a little while’ we are grieved by various trials, but just as the sun rises every morning and sets every evening, our trials will pass eventually. Granted, when you are in the midst of a trial it seems as though no end is in sight, and each minute seems like an eternity, but the nature of trials is that they come and that they go. Yes, new ones will come, but those too will pass, and every trial becomes a memory sooner or later. With each trial, with each hardship, with each testing we will be all the more refined, all the more mature, all the more rooted in our God and Father and that is God’s intent in allowing these things to come upon us.

Another great benefit of the various trials we are called upon to endure, is that what we thought of as insurmountable as little as a year, or a few months ago, now seems easily scalable, and beatable. Looking back on the trials we’ve had to endure, looking back on the trials we’ve had to get through, we realize that they seemed much bigger as we were going through them than they were in reality.

At the time we could not see our way out, at the time we could not see how we would be victorious, at the time we could not see how we would endure to the end, yet we did, and when the next trial comes, when the next tribulation begins, we will remember the previous trial and realize we will get through these as well.

When our faith is small, our trials seem to be on par and of the same scale. When our faith grows and matures, out trials likewise seem to grow, because they have to keep abreast of our faith, or our faith needs to keep abreast of our trials. Either way, live with the expectation of an increase in the intensity of your trials as you mature and grow in God.

I must confess I used to be one who did not welcome the notion of trials in my life. That is until the day I had an epiphany of sorts and realized that the greater the trial, the greater God’s trust that you will not break beneath the weight of said trial. When I realized that my trials are God’s way of entrusting me with more of His grace, when I realized that my trials were God’s way of telling me He sees the growth and the maturing, I began to welcome my trials knowing their good end.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Various Trials Part 1


For the true believer it is peace and tranquility that are fleeting not trials and persecution. I know full well in a nation such as this, wherein the notion of suffering for the cause of Christ is as alien as molecular biology is to a kitten, it’s difficult to wrap our minds around the notion that hardships, trials, and tribulations for the believer are inevitable, and a normal part of their existence.

‘In the world you will have trouble!’ These were the words of Jesus, and their brevity is astounding. He did not attempt to soften the blow, or encourage those who heard Him by adding caveats, or saying that only a handful will have trouble, He meant what He said when He said it, and it holds true to this day.

If we are sons and daughters of the Most High God, if we follow after the precepts of His word, if He is first in our lives and His will is our command, then trouble for us is inevitable. The reason for this is a simple one: the sons and daughters of light will always be at odds with the sons and daughters of darkness, and as long as we are here, we are a thorn in the enemy’s side that he will go to great lengths to remove.

Although no one got a waiver or an exemption from having trouble in this world, Jesus did tell us to take heart, not because we might not have as much trouble as some do, or because it would be an easy proposition for us to endure, but because He overcame the world. Because He overcame the world, we know that by His strength we too will overcome. No matter the trouble, no matter the hardship, we know that with Christ, in Christ, and through Christ we will overcome, and be all the stronger and spiritually mature for it.

We all envy the relationships the great men of God had with Him, wherein He would speak to them audibly, direct them, guide them, and open their eyes to the spiritual realm, but very few of us would be willing to endure, to suffer, and to go through some of the trials they went through in order to achieve such a remarkable relationship.

We want the experience with God, but very few are willing to pay the price in order to have the experience.

Nothing worth having comes easily, and nothing worth having comes for free. This is the reality anyone who has been alive longer than a handful of years has come to understand as a universal truth.

One must be willing to pay the price in order to attain the sort of relationship one such as Moses, or Elijah, or Jeremiah had with God. If we think that somehow God has lowered the bar, or the testing through which one who aspires to closeness with God must go through has become less strict over the centuries, we are deceiving ourselves to the utmost.

There is not one man of God whether in the Bible or in our modern day who having a deep and intimate relationship with Him, has not, first and foremost, gone through the threshing and the sifting. In His love God refines us, in His love God purifies us, in His love God burns away every last remnant of dross and flesh and self that He may reign supreme.

Not everyone goes through the same trial. Trials take on various forms, hence the reason Peter encourages those to whom he was writing, telling them that though now they go through ‘various trials’ they ought not lose heart, nor lose sight of the reason for the trials through which they are going.

The trials I’m going through may not be similar to the trials you’re going through, and the trials you are going through may not be similar to the trials someone else is going through, but they are, nevertheless trials.  

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Though Now You Do Not See Him


1 Peter 1:6-9, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.”

From this handful of verses we come to realize that Peter is writing to believers who had not physically seen Jesus while He was among them. They had not heard Him preach, they had not sat at His feet moved by His teaching, and Peter is acknowledging this beautiful faith of theirs, telling them that though they had not seen the Christ, they loved Him nevertheless.

If we think about it in practical terms, it must have been easier for one such as Peter to believe, and love, and follow after Christ, than it would have been for one such as Paul who never met Him, except on the road to Damascus, nor heard Him preach or teach.

It is far easier to draw conclusions and make up your mind about someone with whom you are often in contact, whom you see on a daily basis, and are able to watch closely. It is far more difficult to believe and love someone whom you have never met, whose only frame of reference regarding their person is the teachings they left behind and the testimonies of the disciples He sent into the world.

Nevertheless, these individuals to whom Peter was writing loved Jesus though they had not seen Him. They believed in Jesus though they had not seen Him, and even rejoiced with joy inexpressible and full of glory though they had not seen Him.

It wasn’t as though these individuals had run down to the local bookstore and bought themselves a Bible, or the sermon anthology of the Christ. At best, they heard via word of mouth about the One who had conquered death, the One who had come to save those who would believe on Him, the One who by His sacrifice reconciled us unto the Father, and they believed.

I’ve run across individuals throughout my life who say that if only they could see Jesus, they would believe. Others, in need of less convincing only wanted to see an angel, or witness a miracle, and then they too would believe.

We see here that these individuals to whom Peter was writing had neither seen Jesus, nor had they seen angels, nor had they witnessed the sea part, yet they believed and rejoiced.

Men today are phenomenal at making excuses. Ask them why they will not believe, and chances are better than good that what you will hear coming out of their mouth will be an excuse. Whether it’s because their parents left a bad taste for religion in their mouth, or because they feel as though they’re spiritual enough without having to pick a team, or because they believe all paths lead to the same destination, men excuse their unwillingness to bow their knee at the foot of the cross of Christ in various fashion but with the same underlying reasons.

They love their sin, and are unwilling to part with it. They love the world and the things of the world, and because they are encouraged to continue in their lukewarm condition by leaders who ought to know better, they take no steps toward believing as those to whom Peter wrote had.

Another thing which leaps from the page as we read these verses is that Peter is either heavily generalizing when writing to these believers, or all of them, to the last, had been grieved by various trials.

He did not say ‘though now for a little while some of you have been grieved by various trials’, nor did he say ‘most of you’, but simply, you!

To those who believe they have a special dispensation to bypass trials and hardships, I would urge you to read, and reread this handful of verses in 1 Peter. To those who believe that because you belong to a certain denomination, or are the citizen of a certain nation trials and tribulations will avoid you, I would urge you to think again, and prepare your heart for the inevitable.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kept


1 Peter 1:5, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

There is a marked difference between being kept and being spared. Though many today hope against hope that there was a misprint in the Bible, or that the translation from the original Greek got a little wonky along the way, nowhere in the Book does it say we will be spared trials, afflictions or tribulations, but rather that we will be kept through them by the power of God, through faith for salvation.

I realize full well that many believers today feel as though they are entitled to be spared trials and tribulations. They feel as though they are deserving to not be called upon to endure hardships or afflictions, but oddly enough this sort of believer is mostly clustered in western nations, who have, as yet, not had to endure for the cause of Christ, or suffer what so many throughout the world are currently suffering today.

There seems to be a total disconnect between what other Christians are going through in many other nations on the globe, and what we feel we are entitled to or believe salvation, reconciliation, and redemption to be.

We have redefined salvation over and over again until all it means for many people today is God giving us stuff, making us rich, improving our self-esteem and giving us our dream spouse. Never mind the fact that none of these things were either implied or inferred in the Bible, nor were they promised by Jesus in any way. Never mind the fact that all our expectations seem to be geared toward the earthly, the banal, the temporal and the meaningless; it’s all good as long as we can find a way to spiritualize greed and covetousness.

It is because of the false view and understanding many have concerning salvation and the promises of God that I believe the soon coming falling away will be shattering even to those now considered pessimists and doomsayers.

When we look at what much of the church is expecting of God – because the leaders are teaching them over and over again that these are the things they ought to expect – we can see a perfect storm brewing, wherein a great majority of today’s professing Christians will feel as though God failed them, abandoned them, and left them to suffer needlessly. They will not blame the men they followed, and they will not look to the Word to see that what they believed was a lie. They will simply shake their fists at God as Israel of old, deranged by their anger and bitterness toward Him.

Understanding the difference between being kept and being spared is necessary in order to be in the right frame of mind so that one might endure to the end. If I perceive my trials and tribulations as God’s means of refining me and proving the genuineness of my faith, then I will suffer joyfully towards this end. If, however, I perceive my trials and tribulations as something I ought to have been spared from, as something I was promised I would be spared from, then I will inevitably grow bitter and disillusioned while going through them, doing my utmost to spare myself and avoid said trials altogether.

Peter was not a novice when it came to trials, or the notion of being kept through them rather than being spared from them. It was to Peter that Jesus said, ‘Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail.’

Why not pray for him that he might be spared the sifting? Why not pray for him that he might be able to avoid the trial altogether? Why just pray that his faith should not fail? Because the genuineness of our faith must be tested, that it may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

What keeps us is not ourselves, it is not our own strength, it is not our own tolerance for hardship or pain, but rather the power of God, through faith, for salvation.

We are kept by the power of God, and knowing that the power of God is supreme above all powers, we rest in the knowledge that He will carry us through, being ever faithful and true.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Sprinkling of the Blood


Of all the things men undervalue and underestimate in their lives, the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, what it all entails, and what it means for us as individuals is perhaps the most undervalued and underestimated.

We see something truly wondrous as something ordinary, because rather than highlight the glory of Jesus and what He did for us on the cross, men would rather seek the limelight for themselves, or promote their chosen denomination. It’s all about Jesus only insofar as the lies we sing, but when it comes down to it, our own self-interests and misguided pride will always win out to the detriment of Christ, His words, and His will if we have a personal agenda or some vested interest.

Given that those of our present generation have become so averse to deep thought that between choosing to spend fifteen minutes alone or physically hurting themselves they would choose the latter, it’s no wonder prefab doctrine, and prefab theology are so popular nowadays.

Although it sounds like I’m making that up, it’s actually the result of a study that was conducted recently. So, basically, men would rather endure physical pain than endure the pain of deep thought, or being alone by themselves, thinking about something more profound than who is going to win the singing competition on television, or when the newest video game is set to hit the market.

Thankfully, and I mean  ‘thankfully’ in the most sarcastic way possible, the modern day church saw the opportunity, and since demand for nonsensical pabulum and extra biblical rhetoric was high, it decided to provide the supply with fervor and gusto. No thought needed, no intellectual curiosity, no deeper introspection of what redemption and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus truly mean, just raise a hand, say a prayer, give some money, and when you get to the pearly gates you get a pat on the head, a cookie, some warm milk, and as an added bonus you get waved right on through.

We use terms like ‘blood bought’ without understanding what it all means, or without seriously contemplating the fact that the only begotten Son of God hung on a cross beneath the blazing sun, bleeding and thirsting and feeling the agony of being nailed to a piece of wood, but also the agony of all our sins, and our trespasses.

The Son of God gave His life that we might have life, and we were sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, washed and made new, wholly beholden to Him, having no other recourse but to surrender our lives as He gave up His.

If we allowed this singular truth to permeate to the innermost parts of our hearts, if we allowed it to take root and blossom, we would no longer be looking for excuses and justifications for our sins, or ways around repentance. We would no longer be spending our time trying to justify compromise and faithlessness, but rather pursue the things of God with the abandon they ought to be pursued with.

Are we living the reality of having been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus? This is the single most important question the church ought to be asking itself today. Not whether or not we are being seen in a flattering light by the world, not whether or not we are being embraced by the godless, not whether or not our denomination agrees with our position, but whether or not we are living the reality of having been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus.

If we are living this reality, then our lives will show it, our ministries will show it, and contrary to popular belief, we will also be more effective for the cause of Christ. Passion is contagious, and once men see that you have been set free indeed, they will be drawn to the reality that you are living, and desire to know more about it.

I think we’ve spent enough time seeing the results of the watered down gospel to conclude that it does not work. We’ve spent enough time seeing seminaries churning out agnostics, and men who doubt the reality of Jesus and who He is, to realize that trying to make the true Gospel more palatable has robbed it of its ability to stop an individual in their tracks and compel them to choose between light and darkness.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Free Reign


Individuals not wholly sold out to God have a difficult time understanding the notion of giving God free reign of their hearts. To such individuals it is perfectly reasonable, and even generous on their part to offer God half, three quarters, or even 80% of their hearts, reserving a piece, a slice, a little alcove for themselves, for their predilections, proclivities, or passions.

Because these individuals do not understand that serving God is an all or nothing proposition, they find ways of excusing sin in their lives, they find ways of excusing compromise in their lives, and they find ways of excusing duplicity in their lives.

The prism through which men perceive service toward God determines whether or not they will dedicate their all to Him, or feel as though they are doing Him a favor if they acknowledge Him from time to time, as long as He doesn’t inconvenience them too terribly.

I’ve said this before, but it bears mentioning it again, God is not interested having roommates. God is not interested in sharing the space of your heart with anything else that isn’t Him, and because He is God, He can do that. It is God’s prerogative to demand exclusivity to your heart. It is God’s prerogative to expect that once you invite Him to move in, every other tenant must move out.

Anything less than that, anything less than God being solitary on the throne of your heart is self-delusion, and self-deception.

Man, in his hubris, has been trying to put God in a box since the beginning of creation. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many mental aerobics and theological machinations we seem to put ourselves through, we never quite succeed, and God remains God, His nature remains ever the same, and those who boldly claim that God has changed and now embraces the darkness as though it were light are proven fools and liars eventually .

What does this have to do with Peter’s first epistle? Well, everything. Peter was attempting to prepare the household of faith for what was about to come upon it. I believe wholeheartedly that Peter receive revelation of what was to transpire, of the hardships and trials the church would have to go through, and inspired of the Holy Spirit, Peter writes to the church and tells them that without being sanctified, without giving God free reign of one’s heart, we have no hope of enduring to the end, and overcoming as we ought.

How can today’s church hope to endure hardship, trials, tribulations, persecution and even martyrdom if we are unwilling or unable to do away with the sins, vices, and predilections we hold close to our bosom?

I realize the following will come across like a lead balloon, but if you can’t break ties with your sin, if you can’t break ties with your addiction, if you can’t break ties with your lust, you will never have the strength and wherewithal to stand for the name Jesus in the face of certain death.

If we can’t live for Christ, we will never be willing to die for Him.

As the old adage so aptly puts it, ‘dying is easy…it’s the living that’s hard.’

It is only when we’ve surrendered our all, when there is nothing left to give, nothing left to surrender, nothing left to lay on the altar, that we can, with certainty, declare our unshakeable faithfulness to He who was faithful, no matter what the future might hold. If there are still things we are holding onto, if there are still vices, if there are still unconfessed sins, if there is still pride, then when we say we surrender all to Jesus, we’re lying to ourselves as well as those around us.

It’s the sins you keep close to your chest that will kill you, not the ones you’ve surrendered and laid down at the foot of the cross.

God must reign in our hearts unimpeded. He must reign in our hearts unrestrained. He must reign in our hearts unfettered, and He will accept nothing less, no matter how much we might like Him to.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sanctified


Man cannot sanctify himself. I cannot sanctify you, you cannot sanctify me, and the guy with the hair helmet on television cannot sanctify himself let alone anyone else. It is the Holy Spirit that sanctifies, it is the Holy Spirit that consecrates, and it is a divine work from beginning to end.

What becomes of one who is sanctified? What becomes of one who is consecrated? Can they return to being what they once were before being sanctified? Did Matthew return to tax collecting once he was consecrated and sanctified unto the Lord? Was it just one of those experiences you look back on with fondness but without any true and meaningful change?

Is true sanctification like the ‘getting saved’ experiences so many are having today where they walk the isle, raise their hand, say the sinner’s prayer and return to the life they’d lived thus far without batting an eye?

Ask them, and they’ll tell you they’re saved, even though their lives do not mirror salvation, even though sin still has them bound, and even though they had not stepped into another house of worship since the encounter.

When one is sanctified and consecrated they are removed from their current spiritual reality and translated into a new spiritual reality. They cannot, by the very nature of what just occurred in them, remain the same, think the same, act the same, or have the same proclivities and passions as before.

We are sanctified by God via the Holy Spirit, unto God. We are not sanctified unto ourselves; we are not sanctified unto our denominations. We are sanctified unto God and are accountable to Him from that day forward.

Oddly enough, only Peter tried to return to his previous life once he was sanctified, and we all know how that worked out. Why couldn’t he just go back to being a fisherman? Why couldn’t he just go back to his wife and mother in law and live out his days? Because the One who sanctified him called to him, compelling him to do his duty and forsake all in order to obtain all.

The sanctified individual inevitably comes to that place in his existence wherein his singular desire is for the will of God to be made manifest in his life. Nothing more, nothing less, just the will of God made manifest, whatever that will might be.

The sanctified individual has no agenda, no aspirations, no dreams of hitting it big and getting to rub elbows with some talk show host or another. The sanctified individual knows that God will place him where He needs him, direct him where he must go, and set him about tasks that might seem beneath his station to many a soul, but not to him because he knows he is living out his obedience.

Just as the Son cannot love what the Father abhors, we cannot love what God hates, and hate what God loves. If sanctification has taken place in us, if we have been transformed from within, then our preferences, the things we love, and the things we gravitate towards will be the things of God.

From time to time we mere mortals get a glimpse of one of our spiritual betters spewing some inane foolishness, wholly against what the Word of God clearly states, and we wonder to ourselves how one who is supposed to be sanctified can utter such heresies. Well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusion, but, again, I remind you that one cannot be diametrically opposed to the will of God, denying His righteousness, and still be an obedient child of God.

Truly sanctified sons and daughters of God do not pander to the world, they do not sacrifice truth on the altar of compromise for the sake of inclusiveness, and they do not diminish the holiness of God for the sake of the world’s acceptance.

We cannot defend the indefensible, nor can we continue to excuse those in our midst who would do away with the Gospel altogether if they could. As per usual, I know I will get some fan mail over this post, because every time I write something with a bit of bite, the ‘love the sinner hate the sin’ crowd begins their vocalizations. Just as an afterthought, that whole love the sinner hate the sin thing, not in the Bible!
 
We love sinners enough to tell them the truth. We want to see them saved, and reconciled unto God. Letting them think that God’s perfectly fine with anything and everything as long as we tithe every month is not love, and I’m tired of the word being perverted by snake oil salesmen.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.