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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Speaking in Wisconsin

I'm going to leave this up for the rest of the week, because we have a treat for everyone who lives in Wisconsin or neighboring states. This Sunday, May 31, at 6pm I will be doing a conference on discerning the times with Gary Kah. Both Gary and myself will be speaking, and this is my last speaking engagement before I return to Romania for a little while.
Sunday May 31 6pm
Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center
2810 Golf Road
Waukesha WI
If you live in the area, please come, it promises to be an interesting evening. Seating is limited, so come early. No, there is no door charge.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Love

The first of nine ingredients that Paul asserts as making up the fruit of the Spirit is love. Love is the measure of all things, the yardstick that God uses to measure the true intentions of the heart. Much has been written about love, songs have been written, poems have been uttered, with pathos and conviction, but none come close to defining the true measure of God’s love for us.
Love is also the atmosphere, or the environment of the Christian life. Love fuels our devotion, love fuels our worship, love fuels our sacrifice, and love fuels our commitment.
Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
As children of God, we must not only speak of love, sing of love, or feel it once in a great while, but we are admonished by the Word to walk in love. We have the example, the prototype of what it is to walk in love. Jesus is our example; He exemplified, and still exemplifies what it is to truly love.
If we do not walk in love, then nothing we do has any relevance in the sight of God. We may preach well, write well, be good administrators of ministries or churches, but if we have not love for the lost, for the unsaved, for the brethren and for Christ it is all a vapor, absent of substance.
We often fail to understand that love is the universal motivation of the Christian life. It is the driving force of all our pursuits and endeavors. As Paul states, we can have the gift of prophecy, and understand all the mysteries and have all knowledge, and possess all faith so much so that we might move mountains, but if we have not love, we are nothing.
Even if we were to give all our possessions to feed the poor, and give our bodies to be burned, if these actions were done absent of love it would profit us nothing.
There are some who pursue ministry for personal wealth, others for notoriety, others to exert their influence or control over a group of people, but the only service God will receive as a sweet-smelling aroma, will be the service performed out of love, with no ulterior motives or hidden agendas. God sees the hearts of men as readily as we see the color of a preacher’s tie as he takes the pulpit and begins to speak. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, and He weighs not only men’s service, but whether or not it was performed in love, if it sprang out of the fountainhead of love.
Love is also the secret of Christian unity. I realize full well that looking at the Christian church today, unity is not the first word that springs to the forefront of our minds, but for the true believers love unites us, and acts as a bond that is strong and unyielding.
It would be disingenuous for me to say that the church is not fractured, but I believe much of the damage done to the church today is due to the wolves that we’ve allowed to sneak in, and commence the slaughter of the sheep. I will not shun our own accountability in this matter, as those who are saved and sanctified, because if we would have been more vigilant, if we would have voiced our outrage at the continual distortion of the Gospel, perhaps things would not have gotten this bad. The state of the church however, cannot take away from the lasting truth that love unites the children of God; love is the bond that holds us together.
Colossians 1:3-4, “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.”
When we possess the fruit of the spirit, love is self evident in all our actions. Our nature is transformed, our purpose shifts, in that love is the driving force that propels our decisions. When we possess love, our inclinations are no longer self serving, but rather we are inclined to serve, to sacrifice, to pour ourselves out as a sacrifice for the wellbeing of the body of Christ.
Love has a universal sphere of influence. When we have the love of Christ burning in our hearts, we love not only the brethren, or our church leaders, but we love mankind as well. To love is one of God’s great commandments, and apart from love our labors and our endeavors will be futile.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”
Love also compels us to be concerned about the spiritual wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. When Paul heard that the church of Thessalonica was undergoing afflictions, and that they had heard of Paul’s hardships as well, he sent Timothy to establish and encourage them concerning their faith, that they might not be shaken.
Rather than be concerned with his own predicament, rather than lament the fact that he was being beaten and rejected, imprisoned and tortured, Paul’s first concern was for the spiritual wellbeing of those within the body of Christ.
After Timothy’s return to Athens, and receiving a good report concerning the church of Thessalonica, Paul writes back to the church, and informs them of the exceeding joy and encouragement he received at the hearing of their spiritual maturity.
1 Thessalonians 3:6-8, “But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you – therefore, brethren in all our afflictions and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.”
Paul found comfort in the faith of the Thessalonians, even though he himself was enduring afflictions and distress. Love is not self serving; it is always focused outward, and not inward. Yes, Paul was enduring hardships, he was enduring afflictions and distresses, but he valued the brethren more than he valued himself, and his concern was not for himself but for those that he had raised up in the faith.
The only reason Paul’s afflictions came into the discussion, was because he thought they might adversely affect the faith of those in the church Thessalonica. He encouraged them, by reminding them that in fact he had told them before, while he was with them, that he would suffer tribulation.
When we are more concerned with ourselves than with the body of Christ, when we are more concerned with how we will be perceived, how we will feel, or how we will cope, than with the Church being adversely affected by our actions, trials, or conduct, then though we might say it with our lips, we do not possess the love of Christ in our hearts.
The love of Christ in our hearts also compels us to share Him with the lost. Love is the motivation that causes us to preach the gospel. If we possess the love of Christ, then we possess the same desire as He did to see those in the darkness brought into the light.
Love also has clearly defined dimensions, which we are encouraged and admonished to know as children of God. When we begin to understand the width, length, depth, and height of Christ’s love, we begin to understand not only how much Jesus loves us, but the level of love we ourselves are required to show as His ambassadors on earth.
Ephesians 3:14-19, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
We can draw conclusions, or hypothesize as Augustine did, and say that the width is love itself, the height is hope, the length is patience, and the depth humility, but I believe the explanation is much simpler, and more profound. When we bring together the width, the length, the depth and height of love, we discover none other than Jesus Christ. He is love; He exemplifies love, and He defines love.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Fruit of the Spirit (Overview)

Today we begin a study of the fruit of the Spirit, that will extend into the next few weeks. I realize many are eager to hear my take on North Korea's successful nuclear test, or Iran's rejection of talks as well as their recent show of force, but these are just the signs of the times. Just as a man who sees the storm clouds on the horizon but refuses to take an umbrella would be considered foolhardy, so is a Christian who is only concerned with the signs of the time while refusing to do what is necessary to be in right standing with God considered unwise.
God foretells of coming events, that we as His children might not be ignorant, and that seeing the signs, we might press in, grow in faith, maturity, and spiritual strength.
Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
There is something undeniably sad about a fruitless tree. A fruitless Christian however, is outright tragic. Spiritual fruit is a byproduct of a spiritual life. When a tree is deeply rooted in the ground, it is inevitable that the tree would blossom, and produce fruit. When a Christian is deeply rooted in Christ, it is likewise inevitable that the Christian would manifest, or produce the fruit of the Spirit.
A fruitless tree always seems out of place, it stands out among other trees that are bearing fruit. What draws our attention, what catches the eye, is not the hundred trees in an orchard that are heavy with fruit, but the one tree that is dried up, whose branches are barren and absent of life.
What catches the world’s eye when it comes to Christians is not those who endeavor to follow after Christ faithfully, those that have spiritual fruit in abundance, but those that have dried up, and show no fruit. This is why it is essential for the keeper of the orchard to keep a vigilant eye on every individual tree, and if he notices that a tree is not bearing fruit, or that it has withered, take measures to either return it to a healthy state, or take steps to remove it from among the fruitful trees.
The primary concern of the orchard keeper is to make sure that whatever killed the life in the fruitless tree, would not spread and become an epidemic killing off the entire orchard.
When sin goes unchecked with in a church, when it is overlooked and swept under the rug, it inevitably infects more and more of the congregation, until you end up with more fruitless Christians than fruitful Christians.
There are two major reasons a tree becomes barren and stops bearing fruit. First, something has separated its roots from the source of life giving nutrients, and second, something is eating away at it from the inside out. Whatever the reason, the end result is always the same; a lifeless hunk of wood that will be felled to the ground by the first storm that sweeps through the church.
In his letter to the Galatians Paul itemizes the fruit of the Spirit, in order for us to understand what God expects us to produce once we’ve been born again, and received a new life in Him.
What we must also keep in mind, is that one tree, one Christian must possess all these virtues and the combination of these virtues are counted as the fruit of the Spirit.
Pay close attention to the first seven words in the passage that was quoted at the onset of this teaching: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is’
Paul didn’t say the fruits of the Spirit are, but the fruit of the spirit is!
What does this mean?
In essence, it means that love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, are all one fruit. We are not encouraged to possess just one, but we are admonished to possess all these virtues, for only when we posses them all do we possess the fruit of the spirit.
Even those in the world can possess a single solitary virtue of which Paul speaks, whether it be goodness, kindness, love or gentleness, but only a child of God can posses them all as one indispensable proof that we are alive in Him.
It may seem like I am belaboring the point, but this is one of those important things that has been widely overlooked within the churches today, and is essential if we are to grow in God, and walk in His will.
The best way I can describe the fruit of the Spirit, is to view it as a multivitamin. In one multivitamin you will find calcium, magnesium, niacin, folic acid, potassium, and a score of other individual ingredients that make up the whole.
In the same manner, the ingredients in the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. It is the individual elements that make up the whole.
Granted, there are some who need to supplement certain individual ingredients, such as taking an extra dose of iron, or potassium, B12 vitamin, or Calcium along with their daily multivitamin, but in most cases one recommended dose per day, is enough to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.
In the same manner there are Christians who need to infuse either more love, more peace, more joy, or more kindness into their Spiritual fruit, in order to compensate for some deficiencies.
Although some have stated, that love is the primary ingredient, or the primary component in the fruit of the Spirit, because Paul named it first, I tend to believe that in the context of this passage, all are equally important for our spiritual wellbeing. There are nine things Paul names, as the ingredients that make up the fruit of the Spirit, and just as removing one ingredient from a recipe will produce something other than what we envisioned, removing one of these nine ingredients from our Spiritual fruit will also produce something other than a fulfilling and overcoming spiritual life.
God’s desire is that we be complete, that we do not lack in any of these nine virtues, because to lack in one, is to be deficient, and to be deficient, is to be less than what we can be in God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Leprosy of Sin

There are countless parallels between leprosy and sin. It is perhaps one of the best illustrations one can present, to show not only how dangerous sin truly is, but how disgusting and off-putting it is as well.
Leprosy is one of those dreaded diseases that you don’t hear much about anymore, although it still exists, but in the olden days, during the time of Moses it was a typical enough malady wherein God gave Moses the law of the leper, in the book of Leviticus and commanded him to institute it.
I remember my grandfather telling the story of a time when he spend a few days in a leper camp in Romania, and where he got a chance to preach to them, but that is not the point of this writing, and since the thoughts I have floating through my head are not few in number, I get the feeling this will be longer than I first envisioned.
From the research I’ve done on leprosy, the beginning stages of this disease seem innocuous enough. Leprosy begins with a small wound, something that although visible, seems harmless and innocent enough that most tend to overlook it, or put a band aid on it.
In much the same fashion, sin in one’s life at first seems inoffensive and mild. We have the tendency to reason with sin, to justify it, by thinking to ourselves that it’s not that bad, it’s not like we’re killing people or robbing banks, it’s a little thing, and if we’re careful enough to hide it from view, no one ever has to know.
The problem with this mindset is that just like with leprosy, sin spreads. Leprosy and sin are very similar in the fact that they will attack the host with such brutality and force until the host expires. Unlike a tumor, leprosy is not isolated on one part of the body, but spreads over every inch of the human form. Sin will never be content with you giving it five minutes per day, it will never be content with part of you, it will desire to devour and destroy the whole. Five minutes soon turns into ten, ten turns into twenty, and before you know it you are a slave, bound by the sin you thought was innocent and harmless!
A leper can’t hide his leprosy forever, just as one who is living in sin cannot hide his sin forever. Sooner or later all the perfume in the world, and all the makeup in the world, won’t be able to hide the stench of the rotting flesh beneath.
We have repeatedly witnessed the spectacular downfall of prominent Christian names, because there came a point when their sin could no longer be hidden, when the disease had so spread throughout their entire countenance that it was clear and present for all to see.
Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Leprosy is also highly contagious. In ancient times those that were struck with leprosy would be forced out of the city, made to live with others of their kind, far from those who were healthy for fear of contracting the disease themselves. Whether a mother, a father, or a child, whoever contracted the disease was shunned and not allowed to remain within the family unit for fear of passing the leprosy on to others.
Now how could the contagion of sin be likened to sin? Surely sin is not contagious! On the contrary, just like leprosy, sin is highly contagious. When sin goes unchecked, when it is not rightly and sternly confronted within the house of God, those who have not been marred by it, look to those who are allowed to continue living in sin as license to sin themselves.
Sin never presents itself as the foul and destructive thing that it is, but rather under the guise of progressive thinking, freedom, liberty, and self expression. When sin is present within the body of Christ, it must be confronted, it must be removed, and shown for the horrid thing that it is, so that those who are weak in the faith, those who are babes in Christ would understand the severity of sin, and keep away from it. If sin is overlooked or even embraced within the house of God, then those who do not possess the understanding of how dangerous it truly is will come to the conclusion that sin isn’t really all that bad; it just got a bad reputation. If it were truly that horrible and destructive, surely the pastor would speak up against it; surely the preacher would call those living in sin to repentance.
When the serpent came to Eve he did not speak the truth to her concerning the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit, there was no full disclosure on his part. The serpent twisted God’s words, and Eve was so gullible, that although God’s command was clear and to the point, he made it seem as though God just didn’t want Eve to be like Him. When the serpent was done with his presentation, it was no longer that God wanted the best for His creation, and as such forbade them from eating the forbidden fruit, it was that God didn’t want any competition and so out of sheer selfishness forbade them from partaking of it.
When you flirt with sin, you never win. If you allow sin in your heart, if you do not treat it as an enemy of the soul, it will eventually overcome you. One compromise after another, one small step after another, and eventually the soul finds itself riddled with the leprosy of sin because it did not heed the Word, and did not despise sin to begin with.
There is no known cure for leprosy except for divine intervention, just as there is no cure for sin except for divine intervention.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Repentance makes us whole again; repentance washes away the stain of sin from upon our countenance. But even something as straightforward as repentance has been diluted within today’s church, into a practice that has no lasting value. What I mean by this, is that contrary to popular belief, repentance is not just saying we’re sorry, but actually turning away from that which we know was a stumbling block between us and God, and never returning to it again. That is true repentance, and anything less, will bring us back to the same sin, like a dog returning to its vomit, or a sow that was washed to wallowing in the mire. Not a pleasant word picture by any means, but these are not my words, they were the words of Peter when describing those that were once made whole, who then returned to the murderous embrace of sin.
It may sound harsh especially in our all embracing and tolerant times, but just as one who suffered from leprosy was removed from the citizenry, so must one who refuses to repent of sin, or somehow justifies it, be removed from within the body of believers.
‘But that’s not very loving’, one might say, but it is necessary so that the contagion doesn’t spread, and so that which remains may survive. It is one of the most difficult things a leader must contend with, one of the most heartbreaking practices within the body of Christ, to remove a member from among the body of believers, but sometimes it is necessary. What more can be done, when someone with a terminal disease refuses the treatment, and not only that, but goes about trying to infect others with the selfsame disease?
Revelation 21:27, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
The enemy has used many disguises over the centuries in order to infiltrate and pollute the house of God, and one of the most effective disguise at his disposal is that of feigned tolerance and love.
‘You can’t be a Christian, because you’re not tolerant and loving! We’re supposed to show unconditional love to everyone, and accept them just the way they are!’
On the surface it sounds good doesn’t it? The problem is that such esoteric drivel is not Biblical. What is Biblical is the fact that we are to be holy for He is holy; what is Biblical is that we must not love the world or the things of the world; what is Biblical is that when we surrender ourselves to Christ, we must break ties with those things that seek daily to destroy us, and drag us back into the mire from which we were rescued.
When an individual refuses to secede the point that sin is harmful, and fatal, when they defend their proclivities with the ferocity of rabid wolves because they are unwilling to part with them, then there is no common ground, we can’t agree to disagree. We must make our stand and say with no equivocation that such things will not be allowed within the house of God.
If one who has the leprosy of sin desires to be cured and made whole again, the question that remains is what must they do? As with all things pertaining to spiritual well being, the Word of God has the answer.
Just as in the days of old the leper was to be brought before the priest, today we must come before the Great High Priest, and acknowledge that in and of ourselves we cannot be renewed, we cannot be made whole, nor can we be sanctified. We must acknowledge that we need Him, for He is the only One who can cleanse us, and reconcile us unto God.
Romans 4:4-5, “Now to him who works, the ages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”
There was another thing that had to take place when a leper was brought before the priest, namely a sacrifice. Yes, a sacrifice had to be made and if the sacrifice for the leper was a clean bird, today the sacrifice for our sins is the Lamb of God. There is no other sacrifice that will suffice, there is no other sacrifice that will justify, and there is no other sacrifice that will cleanse us and make us whole, that will remove from us the stain of sin, than that of Jesus Christ.
Are you washed? Have you been made clean by the blood of the Lamb? Are your sins forgiven? Are your garments spotless? Have you repented? Do you know Jesus as preeminent, above all, Lord, Savior, King, and Great High Priest?
These are the paramount questions that we must ask ourselves before we get into eschatology or millennial debates, before we dissect every Greek and Hebrew meaning of the word ‘beast’, before we discover clues that just aren’t there in the Bible Code Book, and before we pass on every date someone ‘feels’ something bad is going to happen.
I realize this will not endear me to many of you, but it must be said. For the past few weeks I’ve receive so many dates, that within the next two months the world should be destroyed fifteen times over, if we’re lucky!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. God doesn’t telegraph! It happened once, with Nineveh, they were given forty days, and they repented, but as far as God giving specific dates for certain events, it would be counterproductive to His desire for His children to be ready at all times.
I urge you, as a brother in Christ, as one who has seen more of what the future holds than he would have liked, focus on what matters; focus on Jesus; focus on a relationship and an intimacy with Him; learn to hear His voice; love to be in His presence, because these are the things that will carry you through the coming days of darkness and dread, whether tomorrow, a week, or a month from now.
If anyone reading this happens to be suffering from leprosy, I apologize in advance, but many Christians today are like a leper in the late stages of his malady reading up on how to compete in a triathlon. Get cured first! Get healthy first, and then read up on the most taxing and exhausting competition around.
In simpler terms, I pray we don’t put the cart before the horse. Our spiritual wellbeing and our spiritual maturity are the principle things! Jesus first! All else pales in comparison!

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Devoured Strength

Hosea 7:8-9, “Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it; Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.”
The history of Ephraim is a tragic thing to behold. The religious experience and the repentance that Ephraim underwent were temporary and fleeting, like a morning mist that dissipates with the advent of the sun. With each act of disobedience, with each willful rebellion, with each refusal to repent, Ephraim’s strength was being devoured while he remained ignorant of it.
For Ephraim the aliens that devoured his strength were, departing from the Lord, burning incense to Baal, committing adultery, cursing, lying, stealing, murder, mixing with the nations, and stubbornness. This is by no means a detailed list, and as hard as it might be to believe, the sins of Ephraim extended beyond those just mentioned.
With every act of rebellion, with every sin committed, the spiritual strength of Ephraim was devoured, and he became weaker, thereby becoming more susceptible to the attacks of the enemy. The growing weakness of Ephraim was evident to all, in the graying hairs, except to Ephraim himself who considered himself unaffected.
To this day there are things that devour our spiritual strength, that sap us of our energies and cause us to become visibly weaker with the passage of time. I want to discuss, if only briefly some of the things that devour our spiritual strength, because if we know the causes, we can guard our hearts against them.
There is nothing more pitiable than a man who was once spiritually strong, become spiritually impotent and not even know that his strength has been devoured by certain things he allowed in his life.
The first sin that devours strength faster than we would like to acknowledge, is pride. Pride is a sin! It is a sin that God abhors, and is disgusted by. There are a multitude of examples, both in our present day, and in the Word that opens our eyes to the destructive power that is pride. One of the most vivid examples of the destructive power of pride is the first King to ever rule over Israel, namely Saul. The reason I mention Saul, is because the aftereffects of his pride reverberated in the lives of the entire nation, and they felt the weight of his sin for generations after his passing.
Looking back at the history of Saul, it is easy to conclude that pride was what devoured his strength, and left him a shell of his former self. As a young man, Saul had a spirit of humility and simplicity.
During their first encounter, when Saul was out looking for his donkeys, and sought the aid of Samuel to show him which way he should go, Samuel speaks some glowing words concerning Saul for God had shown him that Saul would be king. Saul’s answer to Samuel’s praise was one of utter humility, as he said, ‘Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families in the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?’
So basically Saul said, I know who I am, I know the family I come from and the tribe from which my family comes from, and I don’t deserve this praise. From this position of utter humility, Saul allowed pride to leech its way into his heart, and his end was less than glorious or pleasing to God. In the end, because of his pride Saul was rejected by God.
1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
Pride is the mother of both rebellion and stubbornness, because pride keeps an individual from submitting to the authority of God, and deceives them into believing that they know best. Pride devours the spiritual strength of men, depleting their level of obedience and submission to the point that they become nonexistent.
Saul had everything; he was king over Israel, the power of God resided in him, yet due to pride he forfeited all that God had granted him becoming pitiable among men.
The second sin that can readily devour one’s strength is disobedience. It is undeniable that Jonah was tasked with a difficult mission. Jonah was told to go to Nineveh, a solitary messenger, with no preparation in advance of his arrival, with no one renting a hall, or putting up fliers, and no one heralding his arrival. Add to all of this the fact that the message he was commanded to proclaim was not one of cotton candy and candied apples, but rather of destruction within forty days, and one could understand how this could overwhelm a man and cause him to flee from before the face of God.
Often when we look at someone like Jonah, we have a tendency to view the largess of his disobedience, and take comfort in the idea that our disobedience is small compared to his.
‘Sure I’m disobedient in some areas, but it’s not like Jonah’s disobedience. I mean, compared to Jonah’s disobedience my own is infinitesimal.’
What we fail to understand is that small disobediences ruin the soul just as thoroughly as large ones. Disobedience is disobedience, it is not quantified by how big or little, it must be repented of. In His goodness, God will forgive, but we must repent. We cannot bypass repentance just because we think our disobedience was miniscule to someone else’s. God doesn’t grade on a curve. His standard is fixed, and remains the same for all of mankind. Whether one disobeys of five billion, God is not trying to fill heaven and so in a pinch will decide to lower His standard of obedience. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore.
Another thing that can devour our strength is neglecting our own spiritual walk. Even the most humble and obedient servants can sometimes fall into this snare, of getting so caught up in ministry, getting so caught up in reaching the lost, getting so caught up in preaching, or helping the poor that they grown neglectful and become indifferent toward their own spiritual wellbeing.
During the time of the judges in ancient Israel, there was a man by the name of Samson. We all know the sad story of Samson, and witnessing his dramatic downfall should be as a warning sign to all who aspire to serve God.
Samson was a judge of the people, a man upon whom the Spirit of the Lord moved, a man who not only killed a lion but tore him apart with his bare hands, the selfsame man who killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey he found on the ground.
This was the man who no bonds could hold, and who armies feared, yet because he neglected his spiritual walk, because he did not watch over his relationship with God, he became a grinder in a prison, being bound in bronze fetters, with his eyes plucked out.
As tragic as this might seem, to me the most tragic thing of all takes place before the Philistines captured him, when he woke from his sleep and purposed to himself to shake himself free of the Philistines that were attempting to overtake him, not knowing that the Lord had departed from him.
Here he was thinking he had the strength he’d always had, here he was thinking he had the might he’d always possessed, yet the Lord had departed from him, and Samson found himself powerless and impotent.
Men cool in their relationship with God over time if they do not fan the flames of their love for Him. Samson did not fall suddenly, but he did fall. He neglected his spiritual walk and paid the ultimate price for the neglect.
Negligence leads, and inevitably so, to choosing the wrong path, and making fatal decisions. God had bestowed an awesome power upon Samson, but due to his carelessness, and the fact that Samson did not cherish the gift he had been given, God simply removed His power from Samson. Now some might say that God is not an Indian giver, and I agree, He is not, but we can forfeit His gifts, we can force God to depart form us by neglecting or otherwise abusing them. God will not reside in a dirty vessel, and an impure heart. Yes, God departed from Samson! I know this might not sit well with some, but the Word is the Word.
Judges 16:20, “And she said, ‘the Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.”
Living on the bottom of the ocean, where the light does not penetrate, deep water fish actually lose their sense of sight. Because they were away from the light for so long, these fish lose their ability to see. When a man is apart from God, when he willfully turns his back and walks in the opposite direction from where God is standing with open arms, they lose their spiritual senses, and their spiritual strength is devoured.
Another example that we can use is that of a perfectly healthy man immobilizing his arm for twelve years. If somehow he managed to keep the arm unmoved for twelve years, that arm becomes atrophied, even though it is perfectly healthy. Blood is still pumping through the appendage, but because the man has not flexed his muscles in such a long time it becomes useless.
If we have light, then we must walk in the light. If we have convictions then we must live our convictions, and do our utmost to follow the will of God.
Having seen the means by which our strength can be devoured, what are the signs that we can look for in ourselves as warnings that this is taking place in us?
For Ephraim the sign that his strength was being devoured was gray hair. This, thankfully since my hair is graying at a disturbing rate, is not one of the signs we need to look for in our own lives.
One of the most common signs that something is devouring our spiritual strength is a continued and pronounced neglect of studying God’s Word. It is imperative to study the Word of God, to nourish ourselves with His Book, and no matter how long we’ve been in the faith, no matter how many years we’ve been in ministry, we never outgrow the need for being in the Word regularly.
How can I do the will of God if I do not know it? How can I know the will of God if I do not read the Book in which His will is revealed? Can we honestly say that we can receive the Holy Spirit’s daily nourishing and encouraging absent the Word? It is the Word that lights our path, it is the Word that illuminates our understanding, and it is the Word that reveals God’s will to us and for us.
Another sign that something just isn’t right is neglecting personal prayer time. Prayer is our means of communicating with God; it is the avenue by which we share our burdens, our joys, our sorrows, and the means by which we thank Him for His daily blessing. Prayer is fellowship with God! It is beautiful and fulfilling and necessary on a daily basis so that we grow from strength to strength, rather than have our strength devoured by those things which so readily threaten to ensnare us.
The last thing to look out for is neglecting service, neglecting to do good, and neglecting the opportunities we have to share Jesus. When we come to Christ we are transformed, and His nature becomes our nature. We can’t help but call people to repentance, we can’t help but reach out to the lost, nor can we help but be there for the poor, the widow and the orphan. When we cease doing these things, when we stop being the hands, the feet, and the heart of Christ, then we must search our hearts, and look into the mirror of the Word that we might discover if something is devouring our strength.
Our Christian walk is constant and perpetual. It is not reserved for one day per week, it is not reserved for when we have nothing else to do, but we must daily walk with God, daily seek His face, and daily read His Word.
As a famous musician was discussing the daily practice of his chosen instrument he said, ‘if I don’t practice one day I feel it; if I don’t’ practice for two days, my friends feel it; if I don’t practice for three days, the whole world knows it.’
This should be our mindset as we daily go about bringing glory to God, that if we miss one day of fellowship with Him, we will feel it, if we miss two, those around us will know it, and if we miss three, the world will see we are no longer in communion with Him.
With so many means by which the enemy attacks, with so many ways in which our strength can be devoured, we must be diligent in walking with God daily, for He is able to deflect the fiery arrows of the enemy and keep us safe in His embrace.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Poor Rich Man

I have a short list of people I want to meet when I get to heaven. At the top of this list is the Apostle Paul. His entire life has fascinated me from early youth, including his upbringing, his education, and the dramatic means by which he was converted on the road to Damascus. Now before I start getting letters asking ‘what about Jesus?’ I don’t categorize Jesus as a man, He is after all the Son of God, and we will all see Him face to face on that great and glorious day.
What impresses me most about Paul is not his sharp wit, his knowledge of the Old Testament, or even his high threshold for pain. What impresses me most is Paul’s utter dismissal of the material, and his constant view of this life from a spiritual perspective.
We can choose to see this life through the eyes of flesh, or through spiritual eyes. If we choose to see this world, and this life through eyes of flesh, we will live in perpetual defeat, we will never be satisfied, we will desire and pursue material things, only to be disappointed when we attain them and they do not offer the peace or happiness we thought they would bring.
Then there is the better way, the way of seeing this life through spiritual eyes, and realizing the truly precious and priceless things in life have nothing to do with how much money is in the bank account, or how new a car we drive. When we view the world through spiritual eyes, when we view our existence through the prism of spiritual insight, though we might be poor by the world’s standards, we are rich beyond measure.
Consider the fact that Saul, before he became Paul was well on his way to being a Pharisee. Not only did the Pharisees of the time have authority over the people, they also shared countless perks and the resources of the temple’s treasury. These men were affluent, sort of like a prosperity preacher until a year or so ago, because let’s face it, the biscuit wheels have fallen off the prosperity gravy train. But I digress!
Saul would have been a man of means and a man of considerable authority if he had continued to pursue being a Pharisee. Instead, he became a follower of Jesus, and was constantly beaten, whipped, jailed, mocked, and hunted like an animal. No paisley robes, no ceremonies, no adulation from the masses, but constant and continual hardship, at times being thirsty, at times being hungry, and at times even being left for dead.
Through it all Paul sees his trials, his hardships, and his pain through the prism of spiritual eyes, and so remains undeterred. He rejoices in persecutions, he rejoices in trials, he rejoices in need, and as he said, learned to be abased, and to abound, everywhere in all things, he learned to be both full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
What prompted this writing were eight little words that Paul penned, in 2 Corinthians that should serve to instruct us on how to view our present circumstances, whatever they might be.
2 Corinthians 6:10, “As having nothing, and yet possessing all things!”
It is undeniable that Paul became poor for the love of Christ, but he did not ask that anyone pity him because of this. Paul knew what his reward would be, he remembered the promise of Christ that everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters of father or mother or wife or children or lands, for His name’s sake would receive a hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life.
So what does it mean to live as having nothing, and yet possessing all things? First off, let’s face, it there aren’t many if any people living in American who live as having nothing. Our notion of poverty is very different from the notion the rest of the world shares in reference to being poor. While we define poverty as not being able to afford the third television in the kid’s room, or the third car we’ve had our eye on, most of the world defines poverty as not having food for days on end, as not having a roof over one’s head, or more than one change of clothes.
In order to understand what Paul was saying, we must consider that the world was created for man, and the better part of it is beyond our front door. No mogul in the world, no matter how rich, could buy a sunset or a sunrise, because the truly priceless things were created for everyone, not just for a select few who could afford them.
The five senses that God has given us allow us to enjoy and appreciate all of God’s glorious creation, from seeing a sunrise, to smelling a ripe peach in the heat of summer, to touching a rough piece of marble, to tasting a freshly picked strawberry, to hearing the symphony of God’s creation on a summer’s evening in the birds and the critters that are ever present, yet unseen.
Although we haven’t even gotten to the spiritual aspect of living as having nothing yet possessing all things, consider that the great works of art, the great masterpieces of our time and generations past, are all public domain, easily visible in any museum. The true beauty of the world that God has created is accessible by prince and pauper alike.
A life lived in simple faith, trusting in God, gives us possession of all things. Jesus chose a life of poverty for Himself when He came to the earth. I realize there are dissenting opinions on the topic, but the Bible says Jesus was poor, and He had no place to lay his head, so I tend to believe the words of Jesus over some surgically augmented man with a southern drawl that always seems to have a smile on his lips that never quite makes it to his eyes.
Unlike the preachers of today, Jesus lived what He preached, and when He taught that we ought not concern ourselves with the things of this life, He did not teach this from a position of wealth and opulence, but from a position of poverty, to such an extent that He, Himself was uncertain of tomorrow, yet did not concern Himself with it.
God has freed us from the burden of having to fear for our earthly goods, he has freed us from the burden of having to worry and consume ourselves over what the economy is doing, or how the stock market is performing, because we know that He will always supply our needs according to His riches in glory.
I could not imagine a worst way to live, than being subject to my circumstances, and allowing my circumstances to dictate the level of my peace and joy. This is what many prosperity preachers just refuse to understand; I am not sad, angry, hopeless, or desperate in my poverty, my circumstances do not dictate my emotions or my state of mind. I know that tomorrow is another day, and each day is another opportunity to see the hand of God move in my life.
Could I afford to buy a house? Sure I could, but I would rather use the money to feed the hungry, because I’m quite comfortable with living in an apartment. I have a roof over my head, when it rains I have shelter, I’ve got a place to keep my books, and a couch where I can write, I am blessed!
It is when we begin to compare ourselves to other people that we start seeing ourselves as not blessed, because although we have a home and a car, the neighbor had a bigger home and an extra car for special occasions. It is one of the enemy’s oldest tricks, which makes the children of God unthankful for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them.
We will always find somebody to compare ourselves to, someone that has more than we have, and we equate their possessions with having more joy, and more peace.
So often it seems the possessions posses the possessor rather than the possessor possessing the possessions making men who should be free, slaves of things rather than servants of Christ. This is the danger of focusing on anything other than Jesus.
1 Timothy 6:9, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
Gold corrupts those who desire it, and those who desire to be rich fall into temptations and a snare, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
We must return to the paramount truth that Jesus is a treasure, and Jesus is enough. We receive salvation without cost, a salvation which is priceless in its value and worth, and this makes us rich beyond measure. No amount of money, no amount of homes or cars can compare with that which we have freely received from Christ. For what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but lost his soul? We all die; it’s the cruel reality of life. We all die, whether rich or poor, handsome or ordinary looking, bald or with a full head of hair, intelligent or illiterate, we all die, we all expire, we all breathe our final breath, and close our eyes for the last time. So what does it profit me if I die rich? What does it profit you if you die in a palace? Dead is still dead!
Consider the wisdom in the words of Jesus, and realize that the only thing of profit, the only thing of value and worth in this present life is the knowledge of He who is able to grant us eternal life.
There is this inane tendency to forget God when everything is going well, this overwhelming pull to trust in things rather than the giver of things, and so the hearts of men grow cold toward God, they become immersed in amassing and hoarding possessions, rather than following after the will of the heavenly Father.
There is no greater gift than that of eternal life, and this is the gift that God joyfully bestows on all who deny themselves, pick up their crosses and follow after Him.
Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
‘But brother, what about the song, you know, let the poor say I am rich? What about that?’
This is a disingenuous question, because if we have any sort of maturity in Christ, we know that the riches of which the Bible speaks are of a spiritual nature rather than a material one. There is no comparison I can come up with that will adequately convey the difference when it comes to the things that God has reserved for His beloved, and the things that the world has to offer.
James 2:5, “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”
That which we have received by the cross of Christ, is greater than the greatest treasure known to man. Nothing can compare in worth, nothing can compare in grandeur, nothing can compare in majesty. Why can we live as having nothing and yet possessing all things? Because we are Christ’s and as such are the richest people on the face of this earth.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Inactive

Proverbs 24:11-12, “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘surely we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to His deeds?”
Even those of the world who do not have the Word as a guide or a plumb line have concluded recently that we have become a generation of self obsessed and hedonistic narcissists. We have turned our focus inward, and as long as the self is happy and tended to, we are unconcerned with what’s going on in the world or the spiritual state of those closest to us.
We have cocooned ourselves in the tired and worn out musings and one liners that keep us headed down the same path, coming up with a new catchy phrase or two whenever the need arises, and when the old standbys don’t have the same impact as they once did.
Like a distracted child, who stops crying in the middle of an outburst because something else has caught its attention, the reality of the world we are living in often times causes us to go silent mid slogan, managing to muster up enough enthusiasm to barely whisper what we once proclaimed so ardently.
Crying out ‘God wants you to prosper, and God wants you to be rich’ is sort of difficult when the church building is getting foreclosed on and the shiny Bentley in the driveway is just a memory since the repossession man drove away with it in tow. No doubt it is significantly more difficult to live your best life now on an empty stomach, than it was when you had a full wallet.
We’ve gotten distracted, sidetracked, detoured from that which should be the primary purpose of God’s children, namely to deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. Maybe we have more important things to do, maybe we’re just too full and need a nap, whatever the reason, the house of God is not doing its duty before a sovereign Lord, and those who are stumbling to the slaughter are increasing in numbers as never before.
We’ve grown disturbingly comfortable with being labeled ‘inactive’ within the house of God, or reason to ourselves that throwing a few shekels in the collection plate from time to time, is our means of being active for Jesus.
We need to be reminded of our responsibility toward God as pertains to the unsaved, as well as the consequences we will surely face if God’s command goes unheeded, and we fail in fulfilling our duty toward Him who sees and knows all things.
I was amazed as I reread this passage in proverbs recently, to discover just how much wisdom and insight are packed into two little verses, and just how much ground they cover.
First, we are offered a glimpse of what the condition of the unconverted and unrepentant can be likened to. They are as men dragged toward their death by the chains of their sins, and as those stumbling to the slaughter, drawing ever closer to that fateful day with each breath they breathe, and each sin they commit.
Even though the mission statement of many churches has changed recently from saving souls to combating global climate change, from preaching Jesus to preaching an all inclusive brand of ecumenical universalism, the enemy has kept his focus, and remained on task. Since the first day he slithered up to Eve and beguiled her into tasting of the forbidden fruit, the enemy has not changed in his purpose and ultimate desire to destroy the children of God wherever they might be found. His methodology might have changed somewhat, his means of temptation might have been refined over the centuries, but in purpose the enemy has always been singular, steadfast, and unchanged.
The second thing that struck me about these two verses in Proverbs is that we cannot plead ignorance as pertains to the terrifying fate of the unsaved and unregenerate. We cannot say ‘surely we did not know this’ because the word of God is very explicit on what becomes of those that do not know Jesus, that have not been bought by His precious blood and redeemed unto everlasting life.
The only way we can walk the streets of any given town, in any given country on the face of this earth and not be stirred to proclaim Jesus, not be stirred to deliver those who are drawn to death, is if we have willfully shut off our hearts, and close our eyes. Choosing to dismiss a truth is not equal to never having known the truth. This is why the Word reminds us that we cannot claim ignorance; we cannot say we didn’t know.
A Christian is not so much inactive, as he is absent without leave if he is not doing his duty before God. Far too many have been found to have abandoned their post, and far too many have chosen to disobey direct orders when it comes to holding back those stumbling toward the slaughter.
Our excuses are plentiful, from ‘I’m just one man, what can I do?’ or ‘I tried but they just won’t listen’, however the truth remains unchanged, we are to deliver those who are drawn toward death, by continually presenting them with the Life.
If we present anything other than Jesus to those who are lost in the darkness, then all we are really doing is putting them on a different path to the same destination they were previously headed toward. We must preach Christ, and Him crucified, regardless of who they are, or what they’ve accomplished, and regardless of their reaction to our efforts to reach out to them. Some will reject, in fact most will reject the message of the cross, but it is still incumbent upon us as ambassadors of Christ, to testify of His grace, goodness, and love.
Ezekiel 2:7, “You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.”
Our sovereign duty and responsibility is to speak His words. Whether men hear, or they refuse to hear, is inconsequential. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts a heart; it is the Holy Spirit that prepares the soil so that the seed of the Word falls on good ground. Our duty is to plant the seed, and let the Holy Spirit take care of where it lands, and the root that it takes.
Ezekiel 33:8-9, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”
For those who remain silent when God commands them to speak, or omit the truth for fear of offending the hearer, these are frightful words indeed. God knows the intent of the heart, He knows why we chose to keep silent, He knows why we chose not to speak the words of truth. Throughout the Word there are instances, especially in the book of Revelation where God reminds us that He knows our works, He knows our thoughts, and He knows whether we are hot, cold, or lukewarm.
It is an easy thing to proclaim that we love Jesus; it is however more of an effort to go and witness to those souls for which He gave His life. The question that must be posed, painful as it might be, is how can we say we love Jesus, if we do not love the lost as He did, if we do not sacrifice of ourselves, of our time, and of our resources, to reach those that are still in darkness?
Talking the talk is an easy thing. Walking the walk, is something that requires self denial, and a constant prioritization of His will over our own. The enemy is not concerned with the inactive Christian, because an inactive Christian poses no threat or danger to his plan. It is those who with boldness stand and proclaim Christ crucified that he wars against, that he detests, but that he also fears.
The enemy fears the Christ that is in us, because he knows he is powerless when Jesus is present. Jesus has already overcome the enemy, and we as His beloved are given the same power and authority.
Granted an inactive Christian might not suffer the slings and arrows of the enemy, he might not have to endure warfare on a constant basis, but then again he will never know the glories of victory in Jesus either. God weighs the heart, He knows the soul, and He will render to each man according to his deeds.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fools For Christ

1 Corinthians 4:10, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”
In the old country there is a saying, that since the dead can’t speak, sometimes we have to speak for the dead. I know it sounds creepy, but there is good reason for me mentioning this. It would seem in the estimation of some so called progressive Christian thinkers, that all the martyrs of the past, including the eleven Apostles that died violent deaths, the countless Christians that expired at the hands of Nero in various ways from being dipped in tar, and lit like torches, or devoured by animals, were not fools for Christ, but merely fools.
To this day persecution is a reality that many Christians throughout the world are being confronted with, some even being called to martyrdom, and those leading the charge of what has become a worship of philosophy or a set of ideals rather than the person of Jesus, are dismissing their sacrifice, as nothing more than the ignorance of ignorant men who were not willing to go along to get along.
In the eyes of these new progressive thinkers, if you believe in the preeminence, sovereignty, divinity and exclusivity of Christ being the one and only way into the Kingdom of God, then you are a fool worthy of pity, if not outright ridicule.
No, men such as Paul, Peter, John and Luke were not fools for Christ; they were just fools who held to their beliefs so ardently that they died for what they believed in. This is the new face of progressive Christianity, wherein the martyrs of old, and those that are suffering for the cause of Christ, are no longer respected or looked up to, but discounted and mocked as being some throwback to the olden days when men would draw a line in the sand and say with conviction, ‘this far, no further.’
Spirituality and Christianity are being redefined, so much so that spiritual maturity is now measured by how understanding, tolerant and all embracing one is of sin, rather than how committed and steadfast they are in Christ.
We no longer believer that friendship with the world is enmity with Christ, not really, because if we did, we would stop throwing ourselves at the world hoping it would take notice, we would stop flirting with those who hate God, we would stop lowering the bar and dismantling the Word of God just so we don’t come across as offensive, or intolerant. If one were to say to me that the primary goal of the modern church is to please Jesus, I would have the audacity to laugh in their face!
We have talked ourselves into believing that the path of least resistance is always the better path, that confrontation or the expression of contrasting opinion is somehow sinful, and goes against the nature of God, which is after all love. We have spiritualized indifference, we have spiritualized apathy, and we think ourselves better Christians, more spiritual and enlightened when our opinion is to have no opinion, when marching along with the rest of the world toward a sure and tragic end is the accepted denominational line.
‘Don’t make waves’ this is the cry heard round the country from many a pulpits. ‘Jesus understands your lack of conviction, Jesus understands your lack of boldness and courage, just sit there and listen to my latest sermon series on how to overcome your urge to binge eat, and throw your tithe check in the bucket as the ushers pass by your pew.’
For fear of being labeled fools for Christ, for fear of the world seeing us in an unflattering light, we’ve become experts at playing the ostrich, sticking our heads in the sand hoping nobody spots us, hoping we don’t come under fire, hoping no one thinks ill of us.
One need look no further to see the glaring disconnect between true men of God, and what passes for a man of God today, than to do a resume comparison between any of the major preachers of today, with the life of Paul.
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul does not boast of his private jets, his mansions, his multimillion dollar book deals, but rather he boasts in his tribulations, in the fact that five times he received forty stripes minus one from the Jews, three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked, and he spent a night and a day in the deep. Paul then continues to share his heart, informing the church in Corinth that often he went hungry, often he was in peril from robbers, often he was weary, and thirsty, and cold and naked. At the end of his journey this man of God is said to have been beheaded in Rome by none other than the aforementioned Nero.
Yet such men are no longer seen as a worthwhile model, they are not seen as those we ought to emulate, because in our butterfly and rose petal view of the world, such men are shocking to behold.
Our prosperity has made us cowards; we have come to love the things we posses more than we love Jesus, and are unwilling to stand for truth for fear of losing all the stuff we’ve amassed. What we fail to see, what we so readily overlook, is that the enemy is more than willing to offer us material possessions, and abundantly so, if he can keep us from being fools for Christ, if he can keep us from proclaiming the message of the cross, and the Lordship of Jesus.
“What me suffer need? What me go hungry? What me be beaten for Christ? What me be put in prison for my beliefs? No sir, not I, why resist the world when resistance is by and large futile? Why stand against sin, why proclaim righteousness when nobody listens anymore anyway? No sir, not I, I am not a martyr, I am a survivor. I am no fool; I am wise in my understanding!”
1 Corinthians 3:18-20, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’, and again, ‘the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
It’s bad enough when others deceive us; it is exponentially worse and more detrimental to the spiritual man however, when we deceive ourselves. Self deception shackles us, and fastens us to the notions we’ve appropriated, because although it is easy to point at others and call them fools, it is far more difficult to look in the mirror and utter the word.
There is one sure remedy for self deception, and that remedy is for us not to be wise in our own eyes. The admonition of Paul is that if we seem to be wise in this age, if we see ourselves as wise, then we must become a fool that we might be wise indeed.
To be a fool for Christ is to be empty of oneself, and allow Jesus to fill us with His Spirit, power, authority and purpose. When we come to that place in our walk with God, wherein we can say ‘not my will but Your will be done’ then we have officially become fools for Jesus, and as such will be ridiculed, maligned, and mocked by a world which cannot comprehend the beauty of Christ because they do not know Him.
We should also take into account the times we are living in, and realize that we must choose now, whether we will be fools for Christ, or cowardly men who would compromise the truth for the most selfish of reasons.
The freedoms we’ve taken for granted in this country can now be seen in the rearview of our daily existence, and whether we want accept it or not, whether we want to believe it or not, worse is coming. The day is coming when we will have to choose between our lifestyle and Jesus, between our possessions and Jesus, perhaps our very lives and Jesus. We must commit to the course we will endeavor to pursue now, and purpose in our hearts that we will be faithful to that course, rather than wait until it’s too late. May we be wise in our choosing!

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Believer's Hope

We are living in a time when the hope of many a soul is perceptibly dwindling with each passing day. Those things in which they placed their hopes are failing the masses, and what was once an optimistic outlook on the future, becomes a seething desperation as they see the foreboding clouds gathering on the horizon. Their circumstances dictate the level of their joy or sorrow, and when things begin to turn sour, their hope begins to evaporate like a foggy mist in the midmorning sun.
I’ve known people who seemed the happiest and most well adjusted souls on the planet, walking about as though they were floating on air one day, and because their investment did not pan out, or they lost some money in the stock market immediately deflated, not coming back to center, but going to the extreme of hopelessness.
I believe the key lies in the consistency and the character of our hope, what our hope is placed upon, and what fuels it.
The Word tells us with great regularity that we are not to act as the world, and even more important react as the world does. When we see hard times, when we see trials and tribulations beginning to unfold, the Bible tells us we are not to be troubled, but remain steadfast in the hope we have in Jesus.
So what are the attributes of the believer’s hope that sets it apart from the general hope of the world? What are those things that make are hope unique, lasting, and constant?
First, the believer’s hope is steadfast. Being steadfast is defined as being fixed in direction, firm in purpose, resolute, firmly established, and unwavering. The believer has an unshakeable faith, a faith that cannot be affected by circumstance.
2 Corinthians 1:7 “And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”
Our hope is not tethered to some earthly thing, to some possession, or even some person, which are all passing and temporal. Our hope is tethered and anchored in the eternal Creator, and His Son Jesus who showed His love toward mankind when He hung upon a cross.
Hebrews 6:19-20, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The second attribute of the believer’s hope that sets it apart, and that makes it unique, is that our hope is full. We do not possess a partial hope, but have a full assurance of our hope in Christ. When our hope is anchored in Christ, we never have to ask ‘what if’ as so many are doing today. They wonder, and are overcome with worry thinking what if they lose their job, what if they lose their health, what if they lose their retirement account. Our hope in Christ is full and certain; it is assured, and as such we do not question or doubt it.
Hebrews 6:11-12, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promise.”
Besides being steadfast and full, the believer’s hope is also a living hope. We do not possess a dead hope, nor do we place our hope in dead things, but we have a living hope in a living Savior. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, makes our hope a living hope, which is looking ever forward toward the prize of the incorruptible inheritance, that does not fade away, which is reserved in heaven for us.
Those who possess a hope that is only in this life, a hope that is anchored in the now, contingent on what the eyes can see, and what the hands can touch, possess a dead hope, a hope that cannot carry them through the dark days or the difficult times.
1 Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
It was because they possessed a living hope that the martyrs of old were able to stand and proclaim Christ in the face of death. Consider, that it was not a threat to take away their possessions, or fine them, or even throw them in prison; these saints were brought into the coliseums, shown the wild animals that would tear at their flesh, and then told they would be released if only they denied Christ. Only a living hope can keep you in the face of such a death, only a living hope can sustain you.
A believer’s hope is the only hope that will not disappoint. No matter the trial, no matter the hardship, no matter the circumstance, our hope in Christ will never disappoint.
Romans 5:5, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
If we understand the context in which this verse was penned, we begin to discover the wondrous works of our God, and how a believer’s hope is produced. It begins with tribulation, in which the Word tells us we are to glory, because tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character. Once we have attained character, a not just any character, but approved character, or godly character, hope is made alive in us. The beauty of hope is that it is the end result of a process wherein God continually proves Himself, and His faithfulness. We have a steadfast hope, because we have seen the hand of God in our lives. We have fullness of hope because although men have regularly disappointed us, fallen short of our expectations, or otherwise turned out to be less than we envisioned, God has always exceeded our expectations, and His faithfulness is an enduring one. We have a living hope, because the object of our hope lives. Jesus is alive, and as we focus on Him, our hope will only grow. Lastly, we have a hope that does not disappoint, because even in our darkest hour, we realize God is doing a good work in us, and producing in us those necessary virtues that will serve to grow our spiritual man.
Yes, the believer’s hope is a unique hope, an authentic hope, and a lasting hope, built upon the foundation of God’s Holy Word, and His beloved Son Jesus.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, May 8, 2009

An Evil and Unbelieving Heart

Jesus stood in the temple and taught. Whether in the villages, the cities, the wilderness, or the temple, Jesus loved to teach. As he taught, he was approached by the chief priests, and the elders of the people, and they asked Him two questions: ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?’
Notice that they had no quarrel with what Jesus taught. Their quarrel was the authority by which He taught. This would come later, when the Pharisees accused Jesus of preaching heresy, for now they thought they could shut Him down by challenging His authority.
Jesus taught truth; they could not deny the truth that He taught and they knew it, but if they could find something they could attack it was the authority by which He stood in the temple and spoke to the multitudes.
Now Jesus could have readily identified Himself as the Son of God, called a few angels down from heaven, and the story would have ended very differently. Rather than taking this route however, he answered the question of the priests and elders with a question of His own, promising that if they answered His question, He would answer theirs.
Matthew 21:24-25, “But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?”
As simple as the question may have seemed on the surface, it rattled both the priests and the elders, because in their estimation there was no right answer. If they answered that the baptism of John was from heaven, then Jesus would retort by asking them why then did they not believe him. If they said it was from men, then they would have to contend with the multitudes, which saw John as a prophet.
And so, as weak willed men often do, they gave the only safe answer: ‘We do not know!’ Jesus had not given them a third option, He had not asked whether the baptism of John was from heaven, from men, or none of the above, He expected an answer from these men, but it was an answer He never received.
Why is this important? Because it reveals the evil and unbelieving hearts of those who questioned the veracity of Jesus’ authority, and it serves as a teachable moment for us today.
When there is no faith, every question we ask in matters of faith, and every word we speak are nothing but hollow and empty. These men did not want to know the truth, they just wanted to stump Jesus, to get the crowds that were listening to His teachings doubt His words.
An evil and unbelieving heart, will always act in a similar manner, and it would be wise for us to know the signs, that we might understand the reason and intent of why some people, and some modern day junior Pharisees, say what they say, and do what they do.
Even if it knows the truth, an evil and unbelieving heart will hide it to reach its desired goal. Jesus could have spent days upon days explaining everything He taught, and everything He did in detail, and still they would have denied Him, rejected Him, and mocked Him. The truth to those who were trying to protect their tradition, their preconceived notion of how things ought to be, was a relative issue, and if it didn’t serve to further their cause, it was not only irrelevant to them, but became a mortal enemy.
The priests and elders should have known by what authority Jesus taught and performed miracles, and also who gave Him the authority. Their religiosity would not permit them to see what was before their eyes, and so they struck out blindly, hoping to do damage to the ministry of Jesus. They also should have known the truth about John’s baptism, whether it was from heaven or from men, but revealing the truth about this topic, would have led to the inevitable conclusion of who Jesus was, and by what authority He did what He did.
Even if it knows the right answer, an evil and unbelieving heart will give the wrong one. The worst thing imaginable for such a heart is the idea of submitting, of acknowledging that it was wrong, that it did not judge fairly, and that it did not rightly divide the Word.
We see examples of this even in our modern age, wherein men who have been teaching a doctrine of wealth and excess, will not repent for their error, even though they are witnessing firsthand the implosion of their doctrine.
I often wonder what Jesus felt as he looked upon what were some of the most respected religious men of that time. Was it pity, was it anger, or was it empathy?
Since they did not answer His question, Jesus simply answered them saying, ‘neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’
In order to make His point, Jesus then proceeded to tell a parable of two sons. The first was asked by his father to go and work in the vineyard, and he refused his father outright. Afterwards, regretting saying no to his father, he went and labored in the vineyard. The second son was asked to perform the same task as the first, and told his father that he would go, but never went. Then Jesus asked the priests and elders that had assembled, ‘Which of the two did the will of his father?’ ‘The first’ they answered, failing to realize that they had just proven Jesus’ point.
The condition of their hearts had been evidenced by the fact that even though they knew to do good, they did not do it. They verbally accepted the will of the Father, but rejected it by their deeds. They were the sort that submit out of fear, but rebel out of nature.
Their words having betrayed them, and the condition of their hearts having been seen by all as evil and unbelieving, Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.’
May we be wise, and follow after Jesus, may we be wise and believe in His holy name. May we not resist the love He freely gives due to some preconceived notion, or personal doctrine, but submit to the truth of His word which gives life and life more abundantly.


With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Discipline of Submission

Some time ago I was asked to teach a Sunday morning Bible study in a friend’s church. After a time of prayer, I chose to teach on the parable of the ten virgins, five who were wise, and five who were foolish. There were about thirty people in attendance, and as the teaching progressed, I could see I was connecting with most of them.
As I got to the part about the five wise virgins refusing to share their oil with the five foolish virgins, a lady started waving her hand and as I acknowledged her, she stood up and said, ‘I don’t think that was very nice of the five wise virgins. I don’t feel that was very loving of them.’
I proceeded to explain that all ten virgins had the same amount of time to prepare for the groom’s arrival, and if five of them chose not to prepare adequately it was not the responsibility of the others to put themselves in danger just because the foolish virgins had been indifferent and unprepared. I then proceeded to emphasize the importance of personal accountability, and the need for individual preparation and sanctification.
It seemed that my answer was satisfactory, because the lady didn’t have any follow up questions, and as I was coming to the end of the lesson, I emphasized the fact that the five virgins who had gone to buy oil from those who sold it, had missed out on the groom’s arrival, and as consequence were shut out of the wedding.
The selfsame lady that interrupted earlier started waving her hand again, and after once more acknowledging her, she cleared her throat and said, ‘in my humble opinion what the groom did wasn’t right. They were all virgins after all, and that had to account for something.’
Maybe it was just too early, or I hadn’t had coffee that morning, or perhaps I’d heard ‘in my humble opinion’ one too many times in regards to the absolute Word of God, but I looked at the lady and said in the most soothing voice I could muster, ‘when it comes to the Bible madam, your opinion or my opinion, humble or otherwise, is irrelevant.’
‘Well that’s just rude’, she muttered and sat back down.
Of the estimated six billion people walking the earth today, everyone has an opinion on something, and most have an opinion on everything. Opinions have been likened to many things, and I’m sure you can think of at least one thing that opinions have been likened to.
I don’t mind opinionated people! You can have an opinion about the weather, the color blue, whether it should be mandatory that you eat with chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant, but what we are not allowed an opinion on, are the established fundamentals of the Gospel.
It always amazes me when people inquire what my opinion is regarding something that the Bible is very clear on. How can I have an opinion in opposition to the Word, when I am a follower of the Word?
We have diluted ourselves into believing that we will somehow change the mind of God simply because we feel, think, or have a different opinion than what the Gospel declares as truth. As such we have transformed that which is absolute into something relative, that which is established and eternal, into something subjective and trivial.
Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
When it comes to the Word, expressions such as ‘I feel, or I think, or in my humble opinion’ should be stricken from our parlance. It doesn’t matter what I think, it doesn’t matter how I feel, all that matters is what the Word of God says on any given topic or subject. Either I submit myself to the Word of God, or I am in open rebellion.
Truth remains truth regardless of what I believe, regardless of how I feel about it, or that my opinion differs from that of the Word. It is the pinnacle of pride and arrogance to assume that what we think, or how we feel takes preeminence over the written Word of God, or that He will overlook our rebellion and disobedience, simply because we weren’t on the same page as Him, and we considered His ways too extreme, and too constrictive. It amazes me and frightens me how readily men can appropriate God’s authority, and establish their own righteousness rather than submit to the righteousness of God.
Romans 10:3, “But they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”
Men and women who by their own assertion of being servants of God, and followers of Christ, are following in the footsteps of those Paul called ignorant of God’s righteousness, dismissing and resisting the will of God thereby establishing their own righteousness.
In order to submit to God we must first mortify pride and humble ourselves, and this is the most difficult aspect of the discipline of submission for countless souls.
Blinded by our own sense of self worth, by our estimation of our own wisdom, we rebel against He who is the source of wisdom, and as stiff necked and stubborn sons of disobedience we refuse to submit to the authority of God.
‘We have found a better way; we have found an easier way; we have found a simpler way;’ these are the cries of the rebellious heart, the heart which is unwilling to bend its knee, and yield itself to the will of God.
Although the starting point of rebellion differs from one individual to another, some seeking justification for sins, others simply dismissing the commandments of God, others still refusing to believe the fundamentals of scripture, the end result is always the same. Regardless of where disobedience and rebellion begin, the end result is being left to the desires of our wicked hearts, deceived into believing that the god of our making will save us.
James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
This admonition comes at the end of a lengthy rebuke, one which if preached in many churches today would be grounds for dismissal of the pastor for having so offended, and psychologically damaged his congregation.
Among the choice words used to describe the designated readers of the epistle of James, they are called adulterers and adulteresses, murderers, covetous idolaters, lustful creatures who desire the friendship of the world, knowing full well this will mean enmity with God. James simply holds up the mirror of God’s truth, and describes the reflections he sees within what ought to be the congregation of the saints.
The cure for their condition was a combination of two necessary attributes every Christian ought to posses. James admonished all who would heed his warning to repent, and to submit to God.
All the evils that had befallen those to whom he was writing and unfortunate as it might be, we see the selfsame evils alive and well in many churches today, were the root cause of pride and haughtiness. They thought themselves wise in their own understanding, and as such refused to submit to the authority of God.
We cannot hope to be fruitful, we cannot hope to obtain peace, and we cannot hope to live in victory, or have a full Christian life without submitting to God.
The Word is very clear on the topic of yielding ourselves, of submitting ourselves to God, but nothing is more contradictory to human nature than submission. It is only when we submit; when our will and God’s will are one, that we obtain those illusive attributes such as peace, joy, and comfort.
Where there is no submission to God, there can be no holiness. When an individual refuses to submit to God, that individual is rejecting the Lordship of God over his life, and as such begins to doubt God’s wisdom, is dismissive of His love, and despises, scorns and disdains the Word.
Seeing the consequences of not submitting to God, the question that arises is how do we acquire the discipline of submission?
In his letter to Timothy, Paul encourages him to adopt a certain mindset concerning ministry that can also be brought into the discussion of learning to submit to God.
2 Timothy 2:3, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
The first thing a newly enlisted soldier learns, before he gets to play with guns and learn tactics, is submitting to authority. The entire success of a military operation hinges on whether or not the soldier submits to the authority of his commanding officer, and obeys the commands that are given to him.
Imagine an army on the battlefield and as the commanding officer gives the order to engage the enemy, all the enlisted men of his platoon start offering their opinion on the matter.
“With all due respect sir, I don’t think that’s a very good idea. Instead of engaging the enemy, why not retreat to higher ground?”
“Your plan is sound sir, no offense intended, but I think I’ve come up with a better way. In my honest opinion I think we should try to talk the enemy into surrendering rather than actively engaging them in battle.”
Then there are those who just enlisted for the signing bonus, whatever they thought that bonus would be, whether prosperity, good health or straight teeth, who would rather just surrender to the enemy than have to exert themselves in combat.
The examples are limitless, but the end result of this exercise is always the same. When the soldier does not obey his commanding officer’s orders, there is a breakdown in the cohesion of the unit, and the objective is never reached.
Paul encourages Timothy to be a good soldier, a single-minded soldier of Jesus Christ. If Jesus commands me to be righteous, then I do not question His orders, I submit to His authority and carry out my assignment.
It is common knowledge that an enlisted soldier can face a court martial for disobeying a direct order from a superior officer. If the standard of the world is set at such a high level, what makes us think God’s standard is lower?
We must realize that God knows the enemy better than we can ever hope to know him. As such we must trust in the wisdom of our General, and submit to His authority that we might win the battle, and obtain the victory. God knows that our enemy will not be talked down, he knows that our enemy cannot be reasoned with, because he is as a roaring lion, the madness of his rage knowing no limits, and the sum of all his energies are directing at destroying the children of God.
The devil knows he can’t hurt God directly, so he attempts to break God’s heart indirectly by going after His children. Jesus is a good general, and as any good general will tell you, he feels the loss of those under his command deeply and profoundly.
If we are good soldiers of Jesus Christ, than we must submit to His authority. We have enlisted, and we are at warm. Make no mistake about it, every day of our lives we fight and we wrestle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. If we hope to win the battle, we must know the weapons of our warfare, and follow the orders of our General who is always before us.
Another mindset that we must have in order to grow the discipline of submission to God in our hearts is that of an athlete, competing in athletics.
2 Timothy 2:5, “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”
Imagine what would happen if someone showed up to compete in a marathon on a motorized scooter. While everyone else is running, panting, sweating, exerting themselves, the guy on the motorized scooter just releases the throttle and away he goes. He putters along on his scooter careful to stick to the assigned route, shows up at the finish line hours ahead of anyone else, and with a beaming smile declares himself the winner of the marathon.
Would anyone take this person seriously? Would anyone give this person a medal simply because he did not stray from the assigned route?
If we want to be crowned at the end of our race, we must compete according to the rules. We can’t make up our own rules as we go along, nor can we say certain rules in said competition do not apply to us. If we choose not to compete according to the rules, we will be disqualified!
Any form of competition has an adhered to set of rules. A pugilist can’t step in the ring brandishing a baseball bat; a cyclist can’t race riding a Harley; a soccer player can’t pick up the ball and throw it into the net, and a Christian cannot dismiss the truth of the Gospel and still consider himself in contention for the crown, or a Christian for that matter.
“Yes, the Bible speaks of repentance, sanctification, the pursuit of holiness, and obedience, but I just don’t see it that way. I feel like, you know, God knows my heart, and He’s not as strict as He used to be, and besides, love covers a multitude of sins so don’t give me any of that brimstone talk.”
When we choose not to submit to the Word, when we choose not to submit to God, we are competing in a race of our own making, wherein we are the only participant, and we determine the rules and regulations.
There is a discipline in submitting ourselves to God, a breaking down of our own will, a renunciation of our own ideology, and a willingness to serve, obey, and follow after Him with all our hearts, and minds.
Just as an athlete trains for a competition, denying himself the things he knows will limit his ability to be the best he can be, we too must deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow after Jesus that we might also be the best that He can make us.
Along the way, if we are honest and forthright with ourselves, we realize that those things which we denied ourselves, those things which we forsook weren’t really that important, necessary, or even worth having.
The closer we get to the finish line, the closer we get to the completion of the race, the more visible the crown awaiting us becomes, and it only serves to quicken our pace.
We need to stop thinking, stop feeling, and start submitting to the Word. Either obey, and compete according to the rules, or stop wasting your time and energy!
I will end this teaching with the words of what I consider to be the most honest and forthright of Biblical authors, Paul the Apostle, and his admonition to all who would hear to run the race in a way that they might obtain the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”
1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, May 4, 2009

People of the Light

We just got back from South Dakota, and I've come to the realization that I am getting too old for long drives. By the time we drove the five hundred or so miles last night, I was utterly exhausted, and just wanted to sleep. Feeling better this morning, so here's another post. God bless.
Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
It may sound like some hokey Eastern saying, coming from the likes of Confucius but I assure you it isn’t: ‘Before we can do something, we must be something.’ Countless well meaning Christians desire to make a difference for Jesus, to win the world for Christ, to have an international ministry, write bestselling books, and the list goes on. Too few however are willing to go through the process of becoming that which Christ requires us to become, namely the light of the world.
Becoming light is a process that begins with self renunciation, with self mortification, with emptying ourselves out of all that was there, so God may fill us with His Holy Spirit. It is not an easy process, and most often I liken it to pulling weeds. We must rip the old vices, the old sins, the old habits, from the earth of our hearts, and not simply clip them, hiding them on the surface while they are still rooted in us. Men might not be able to see the roots, but God certainly does, and He will not receive or accept a heart still cluttered and weighed down with various sins.
Before we can make a difference, before we can effect change, we must become the light Christ desires us to be. If the light is not within us, then we walk in darkness as the rest of the world, unsure of our footing, and always second guessing ourselves.
Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The light of God in us must be evident. Whether in our speech, our conduct, our actions, or our interactions with men, Jesus must rise to the surface, and His presence in us must be undeniable.
In order for the light to be effective, in order for men to glorify the Father in heaven due to the light they see in us here on earth, we must be diligent in separating the light from the darkness. I realize speaking of separation, when everyone else is speaking of all inclusiveness, is like being the only individual running in one direction while a sea of people are running in the opposite direction, but we must stand for truth, even if we stand alone.
2 Corinthians 6:14-16, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”
In his ever present wisdom Paul began to ask the church of Corinth a series of rhetorical questions to which they already knew the answer. There could be no fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness, there is no communion between light and darkness, nor does Christ and Belial have any common ground. As believers we have no part with unbelievers, and as much as some today would like to see it there can be no agreement between the temple of God and idols.
Light and darkness cannot coexist; they must be separated from one another. The individual’s greatest stumbling block in achieving this much needed separation is the desire to be like everyone else. We fear being singled out, we fear standing out in a crowd, and we reject the idea of being separate, because we know in our hearts that we will inevitably be part of a very small minority.
This attitude is not new. It has been part of the human psyche for far longer than we care to remember, but in recent decades it has escalated to an entirely new plateau.
Even Israel as a whole suffered from this fear of being unique, when they went to Samuel and informed him that they desired a king to judge over them like all the nations. Up until that point they had been unique in that they were the only nation on the earth to be led and governed of God. They no longer desired this however, and in their desire to be likened to other nations, rejected the governance of the Almighty.
So why is it so important that the light be separated from the darkness? The reasons are many in number, but the most important reason of all, is that they will always be at odds with each other. The darkness will always attempt to overtake the light and the light will always fight back keeping the darkness at bay. To believe that light and darkness can somehow come to an agreement and call a truce, is the pinnacle of folly, because no matter how convincing the darkness might be concerning its intentions, its very nature will compel it to war against the light.
John 1:5, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
To a great majority in the world today, the light is a bothersome thing indeed. Light exposes that which is hid in the shadows and in the darkness, the light brings to full and unobstructed view that which men have tried to hide so well. How could those of the darkness not hate the light? How could they not make war against it?
It was Jesus who reminded all who would hear, that those who practice evil hate the light, and do not come to the light, lest their deeds should be exposed. Now if we are the light of the world, how can we live with the expectation that the world might ever embrace, love, or otherwise tolerate us?
I accepted long ago that the world would hate me, and even those I would consider my brothers or my sisters might throw a rock or two, because it’s easier to throw a rock than to build a wall, but I purposed in my heart that it would not deter me.
You are the light of the world! Shine with compassion, shine with love, shine with joy, shine with obedience, shine with righteousness, shine in this darkened world that those who would be drawn to the light might glorify God in heaven.
The light will always have opposition, the darkness will always attempt to overtake it, but try as it might it will fall short every time, because the light in us is none other than Christ Jesus, the selfsame Jesus that conquered death itself. Blessed be His holy name forevermore!

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.