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Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Fitting Comparison

Contrary to popular belief, human nature has not evolved over the course of millennia, but rather has remained eerily predictable. That which was, is again, and refusing to learn from the mistakes of those that came before us, we fall into the same snares, make the same foolish choices, and distance ourselves from God just as our ancestors did.
We have grown tragically comfortable with paying God lip service, with cloaking indifference in the robes of tolerance, and with justifying disobedience by convincing ourselves that God has changed, and His standard has been lowered. We march in orderly fashion toward eternity, dragging our feet in a semi-conscious fashion, no longer bothered by things that only a few years prior would have enraged us, and stirred within us a righteous anger.
With our mouths we say one thing, with our hearts we pursue the contrary, finding comfort in the idea that we are in the majority, and surely God couldn’t punish a majority. We chase after the extraordinary, we want to see the mystical, we want to experience something new and different, no longer content with the simplicity of intimacy with Jesus.
We’ve been deceived into believing that we can bypass prayer, we’ve been deceived into believing that we can bypass righteousness, and still experience the power of God in the fullness of its glory.
As far as sound doctrine is concerned, progress itself has relegated it to irrelevance, like the pony express riders of old, or the telegraph. We’re too educated, too cultured, and too cosmopolitan to take the Word of God at face value. We find sound doctrine too rigid, too politically incorrect, too costly, and so we gravitate toward those who offer the widest path possible, never taking the time to consider where this wide path is leading. As long as we can do what we want, as long as we can satisfy the proclivities and appetites of the flesh without being challenged by the truth, church is great, and the preacher understands us and where we’re coming from, because he speaks to the big needs in our lives, such as greater self esteem, and a positive self image.
We view the men of God as entertainers, our offering as the admittance fee, and if we are not entertained, if we are not made to laugh and feel better about ourselves, we feel as though we haven’t gotten our money’s worth.
We’ve grown so accustomed to dry, monotone, lifeless presentations of a pseudo-gospel that whenever someone comes along who is sincerely passionate about the Word, and the power of God, when someone comes along who is uncompromising in the presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are stirred, but only to a certain point.
During the time of Ezekiel, God forewarned him of the attitude of the people, and their reaction to the warnings he was speaking. Although some twenty six hundred years have lapsed since God spoke to Ezekiel, the core of the message, and the implications are as relevant today as they were then. The spiritual condition of today’s modern churches and the spiritual condition of the people of Israel during Ezekiel’s time are eerily similar, and upon reflection one can draw a fitting comparison.
Ezekiel 33:30-32, “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.”
I do not know what prompted this message to Ezekiel from the mouth of God. Perhaps Ezekiel began to see that more and more people were coming to hear him speak, perhaps he began to see that there was a growing interest in what the Lord was saying, but although the reason for this word is never given, the message is crystal clear.
Just because the people came to hear the word of the Lord, it did not mean that they followed through and did what the word of the Lord instructed.
Today there is a growing interest in the prophetic. The crowds that are gathering to hear what the Lord is saying are growing larger in number, the chorus of amen seems to get louder, and for many who have been preaching a warning message, and a message of coming judgment, this might seem like progress.
I recently received a letter from a brother who preaches a message very similar to our own ministry, basically a message of repentance and obedience toward God, and he was very excited because as he put it, ‘I think we’re finally making headway, I think the people are finally starting to listen.’
The problem has never been the listening, or the hearing, the problem has always been the doing. We are anxious to hear what will be, we are anxious to hear what the future holds, and once we have received this information, we gloss over the most important aspect of the word, namely what we must do in order to be spared and sheltered from the coming storms.
“Keep the repentance to yourself preacher, keep the need for holiness, just tell us what’s coming, and make it quick I have to get back to my life.”
What’s the point? What’s the point of knowing without doing? What’s the point of seeing prophecy unfold without being reconciled unto God and walking in His will?
Every time I preach and someone comes up to me to shake my hand and say ‘great message’, I just want to look them in the eyes and ask, ‘but will you do what the message instructed?’ So many hear the word ‘judgment’, but are somehow wholly immune to the word ‘repent.’
The underlying foundation of the message I preach is not judgment, but repentance that we might be spared the judgment that is reserved for the unrighteous. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I don’t make myself clear enough, but I find no joy in the crowds getting bigger, or the message getting out, because I know a great majority will hear the words, but will not do them.
Knowing what is coming and not taking the necessary steps to make certain that our hearts are pure, and that we are walking in the will of God is allot like a man who is driving down the road, and sees a major wreck blocking all lanes, but rather than step on the break, he accelerates.
The church is hastening God’s judgment, because it refuses to obey Him, and those few who remain that still preach the uncompromising Word, are getting weary, and hoarse, and dismayed.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Wisdom of David

I believe there is already a consensus as to David’s bravery. In fact his bravery is indisputable from what we read in the pages of the Bible. When the whole of Israel’s army trembled at the sight of Goliath, David, at the time little more than a boy had the strength of character to stand his ground and face the giant.
What some readily gloss over however is David’s wisdom. In my free time, whenever I’m not traveling, writing, or doing an interview, I love sitting down with the Word of God and reading the psalms of David. There is so much wisdom within the Psalms, that to dismiss them or otherwise ignore them is utter folly.
The season of his early childhood was becoming a faded memory. David was now king over Israel, the most powerful man in the entire nation, but throughout his life he never forgot his beginning as a shepherd boy, tending to his father’s flocks.
David was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination, but his heart was always sincere before God, and his brokenness and repentance whenever he sinned were evident to all. As I was reading the first verse of Psalm 16, I began to meditate on it, and there are some tasty morsels that revealed themselves as I pondered these few words.
Psalm 16:1, “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.”
To understand the deep profundity of this supplication, we must understand that it did not proceed from the lips of a defenseless pauper, or someone who had no earthly means of defending himself, but from the lips of a king. David had bodyguards, David commanded an army, yet he cried out to God to preserve him, for he did not put his trust in his chariots or his archers, his warriors or his riders. As a nation we can learn much from David’s prayer, and also see where we have gone astray, where we have missed the mark, and why it is that for some time now nothing seems to be going right.
When a nation refuses to acknowledge that it is God who not only made it great, but who preserves it, God will remove His hedge of protection to show the nation the true measure of its impotence. It matters not what nation it is, it matters not how far and wide an empire spans, it matters not how rich they are both in resources and finances, when God’s hand of blessing is no longer upon a nation, and when He no longer preserves it, decline and downfall are imminent.
This is why in his great humility and wisdom David prays this prayer and says; ‘only You can preserve me, and this is why I put my trust in You. Only You can bless me, and this is why I put my trust in You. Only You can protect me, shelter me, give me victory, and so I will put my trust in no other, nor will I put my trust in myself, but only in You O God.’
When times get hard it is inevitable that some turn to God, it is inevitable that they cry out hoping to get some relief from their struggles. Wisdom however dictates that we are to place our full trust in God, even when everything is going well, when we don’t have a care in the world, when the work of our hands is blessed, and when everything is going our way. This attitude is what separates the wise from the foolhardy, this constant and perpetual leaning on God rather than our own wisdom, understanding, or abilities.
Too often, nations as well as individuals begin to take more of the credit for their success, as they grow more successful or powerful. The more things go our way, the more the enemy whispers in our ear, fueling our pride and our self reliance, deceiving us into believing that we are strong in and of ourselves, that we are powerful in and of ourselves, and that God had very little to do with our successes.
The tragic result of giving in to the enemy’s whispers, is that nations as well as individuals cease to be thankful to God, they cease to seek His face, they cease to rely on Him, and begin beating their chests, highlighting their own greatness and ingenuity.
David knew that without God, though he had an army at his disposal, he was still vulnerable, though he had great treasures at his fingertips he was one event away from becoming a beggar, roaming the streets, hoping for a crust of bread.
David is aware that apart from God even the most assured success can become an abject failure and that even the most meticulous of plans can crumble under the weight of their own perceived wisdom.
One other aspect of David’s wisdom that I gleaned from his words is that he was a teachable student of history. He looked back at the history of his people, and saw where they had strayed, he saw what their mistakes were, and he purposed in his heart not to follow in their footsteps.
Psalm 16:4, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after other gods; their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, nor take up their names on my lips.”
David was aware that every failure, every defeat, every judgment that fell upon the people of Israel was due to disobedience and hastening after other gods. He realized the danger of flirting with idols, of allowing one’s heart to be overcome by something other than the one true God, and so committed to keeping himself from offering blood offerings to these gods, or taking their name upon his lips.
David was satisfied with God, and in God. He had discovered the beauty of having a true and lasting bond, a true and lasting relationship with God, and assigned it the requisite value. David did not take his relationship with God for granted, he did not minimize its worth, but made it the centerpiece, the focal point, the priority in his life. For countless souls today, God is just one thing. Whether it’s their provider, their protector, or their keeper, God is not their all in all. For David, God was everything. God was his provider, his keeper, his counselor, his protector, his joy, his rest, his peace, his inheritance, and the object of his affection.
Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Wisdom dictates that we put the entirety of our trust in God, that every area of our life is subject to, and under God’s authority. We may, for a season be able to thrive on our own self reliance, we may for a season be able to succeed by our tenacity or force of will, but without God there to preserve us, without His outstretched arm keeping us, that which we labored for an entire lifetime, will vanish in an instant. Only God can keep us, only God can preserve us, only God can protect us, and only He can lead us to green pastures and pure streams of living waters. Be wise and trust in God, and by so doing you will know that He stands with you even in the midst of the storm.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Noble Character

Long ago, in the land of Jezreel, there lived a man of noble character. He was neither a king nor a prophet, he was not a man of great esteem in the eyes of his contemporaries, he was a man who faithfully tended the vineyard he received as an inheritance from his father. Naboth, also known as Naboth the Jezreelite, the man of which I speak was a man who knew the value of his inheritance, and was diligent in tending it the best way he knew how. Naboth planted, he pruned, and he watered, because it was his desire to honor his inheritance. Naboth lived an unassuming life, until one day, Ahab the king of Samaria, came to him and made him an offer many would not have refused.
Naboth’s vineyard had the misfortune of being situated next to Ahab’s palace, and one day Ahab woke up and realized he really would fancy a vegetable garden. Why he chose Naboth’s vineyard is unknown, for surely Naboth’s was not the only plot of land surrounding the palace, but Ahab’s heart was settled.
1 Kings 21:2, “So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, ‘give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money.”
On the surface this seemed like a fair and reasonable offer. Taking into account that it was the king himself making the offer, it was even generous and munificent. Naboth was even given a choice between a better vineyard, or its worth in money. Why toil in the sun? Why be at the mercy of the weather? Why concern oneself with whether or not it was going to rain? Why spend the days picking grapes, when he could have taken the vineyard’s worth in money, and lived happily ever after, and garnered the king’s favor by his acceptance of the deal? In short, because it was the inheritance of his fathers!
1 Kings 21:3, “And Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!”
The king of this world is always making such offers to the children of God who have received an inheritance of grace and truth. They are not unreasonable offers, in fact they seem outright charitable, because the devil doesn’t haggle when it comes to acquiring something that God values, and then systematically destroying it.
Ahab did not want to continue growing grapes, he wanted to pull out the entire vineyard, and plant a vegetable garden in its place. When the enemy makes you an offer on your inheritance, just remember he does not intend to keep it as it is but destroy it altogether and plant something less noble in its place.
Countless souls have been deceived by the cunning offer of the king of this world, and whether for a better vineyard, or for money, they sold their inheritance, somehow justifying it to themselves.
“Why are you preaching the truth? Why are you standing on the Word?”, the king of this world says, “I will give you a bigger ministry, a greater outreach, just tone it down a tad, let me replace the noble fruit, with ordinary vegetables, and you’ll see how much easier it will be for you. You won’t have to labor as much, you won’t have to be pruning and trimming all the time, you’ll get to enjoy life, and the trappings of this life. If you want out of the vineyard business altogether, then I’ll buy you off, just sell out!”
Chances are Naboth did not know he was a man of noble character, because one’s character is made manifest only upon testing. Noble character is a byproduct of faithfulness and obedience, of humility and dedication. Such character is daily nurtured and matured, although its possessor does not fully realize it. One walks in obedience, one walks in faithfulness not for the express result of having a noble character, but to be obedient to God. Obedience to God however, serves to grow godly character in us, and when the time of its testing comes it flows through us.
Nabath’s noble character led to a noble purpose, and a noble stand. He would not sell, nor barter away his vineyard, because it had been entrusted to him by his father, and as such he would be faithful in tending to it, and growing the best fruit he possibly could.
If only the character of some Christians today was as noble as that of Naboth. If only we as the children of God would realize the true worth of our inheritance in Him, and take a stand in saying that we will not trifle away that which is priceless, for something that is temporal and passing, that we will not sell out, that we will not give in, that whether it be a pauper or a king that pressures us into parting with that which God has entrusted us, we would not quibble, but flatly and convincingly say, ‘no, the Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!’
For most Christians today, it doesn’t take a king to cause them to relent, but any sort of opposition whatsoever. It doesn’t even have to be verbal, just a certain look from a neighbor, a friend, or a family member is enough for most people to sell their inheritance, to stop tending their Father’s vineyard, and relent.
Everybody wants to be loved, and nobody wants to be hated in today’s day and age, but there are certain things worth being hated for, there are certain things worth being despised for, and there are certain things worth being persecuted for. Our Father’s inheritance is one of those things worth suffering the rejection, hatred, and maliciousness of the world over.
Absence of noble character causes many to cut and run at the first sign of trouble, at the first sign of opposition, or the first sign of disagreement. In the face of opposition and persecution we discover our true character, and therein we find whether we will stand for the truth of God’s word, or compromise as so many others already have.
If you do have a noble character, be forewarned that the world, your friends, and even your family will not understand why you choose to reject what to them might seem like a great offer, why you choose to stand on principle, and why you honor the Father’s inheritance. The world cannot perceive that which it has never known, and as Ahab, will be both confused and offended that you chose not to compromise, but rather to stand for the truth. In its ignorance the world will persecute you, and begin to do everything in its power to separate you from your inheritance, because the ruler of this world knows how priceless it truly is, but stand firm, for what is yours is yours, and it cannot be taken away by any man. What we have in God, the inheritance that we have received, no man can take away from us.
The story of Naboth does not have a happy ending, he is not rewarded for his noble character, but rather falsely accused, dragged out of the city and stoned to death. That however is a teaching for another time. For now I ask that you ponder Naboth’s noble character, and search your heart to see if you possess the selfsame character that made this man exceptional even though everything else about him was ordinary.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Dangerous Mindset

One of the most loving things God can do for us as individuals is show us and remind us that we are not irreplaceable. I realize this might sound odd to some, but it is one of the truest evidences of love, when God chooses to keep us humble, show us our impotence and frequently so.
I have preached many a sermon on the prophet Elijah. His courage, and boldness in the face of overwhelming odds, his experiences with God, and his obedience, makes him and his life a treasure trove of practical teaching for believers at all levels of spiritual maturity. Yes, Elijah was a rare man, but he was a man.
One of the greatest attributes of the Bible, and consequently one of the most overlooked attributes of the Bible, is that it reveals the humanity of those whom God called into ministry and used in powerful ways. The Bible is not one of those books where all the lead characters are flawless, ever valiant, perfect and brave in every way, but it is an honest portrayal of these men and women who lived so long ago, yet had many of the same shortcomings and trials as we do in our present day. There is no spin, no one tried to cover up the fact that Peter denied Jesus three times, no one attempted to whitewash the fact that David sinned, or that Thomas doubted the reality of Jesus until he was allowed to feel the wounds in Christ’s hands and side.
When we read the Word, we do not read of perfect men, we do not read of superhuman men, we read of men very much like ourselves whose faith and obedience carried them far beyond their abilities.
There is no denying that Elijah was a man and a prophet of God, there is no denying that God did great and mighty works through him, yet even Elijah was flawed.
After having seen the fire of God descend upon the alter, after having slain the prophets of Baal, after having prophesied the coming rain, and outrunning Ahab’s chariot on foot, Elijah finds himself fleeing from before Jezebel.
Apparently Jezebel was not a very forgiving woman, and even to this day her name lives in infamy. Upon hearing that all the prophets of Baal had been executed by the hand of Elijah, Jezebel sent a message to him, informing him in so many words that he too would be dead by that time the next day.
Now here was Elijah, the great and mighty man of God fleeing from before the presence of Jezebel. The Word tells us that first he ran to Beersheba, and after leaving his servant there, went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree.
It is here that Elijah does something that I’ve always found very odd, even baffling. As he sat under that broom tree, Elijah prayed that he might die saying, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’
This prayer is troubling for one reason in particular. If Elijah really wanted to die, why did he flee? If Elijah really wanted to die, why didn’t he just sit at home and wait for Jezebel to come and do as she had threatened?
Because I believe Elijah thought in his heart that he was irreplaceable. He fled because he thought to himself, ‘if Jezebel kills me, who will stand for the truth; If Jezebel kills me, who will confront the prophets of Baal?’
Why would I come to this conclusion? Because of a very telling encounter that Elijah had with God some time after his time under the broom tree. Between Elijah asking God to take his life, and the conversation I refer to, there is a window of about forty days and forty nights. During this time, Elijah’s strength was sustained by one meal that the angel of the Lord had brought him, and this too is a fascinating and practical teaching, but for another time.
For forty days Elijah journeyed until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night, and behold the word of the Lord came to him, and said, “What are you doing here Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:10, “So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
So here he was, the man of God, bemoaning his fate, and having self-pity. He also accentuates the fact that he is the only one that is left of those who were zealous for the Lord God, as the other prophets were killed with the sword.
“If I don’t fight, if I don’t rebuke, if I don’t warn, then who will? I’m the only one left, all the others have been felled by the sword, I’m irreplaceable, and that is why I had to run from Jezebel, because if she killed me, there would be no one left.”
Here is where God open’s Elijah’s eyes, here is where I believe that for the first time he realizes he is not the last man standing, nor is he irreplaceable.
1 Kings 18:18, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
One might think that this is directed at pastors, evangelists, or ministry leaders exclusively, but the truth is that anyone can fall into this dangerous mindset of thinking themselves irreplaceable.
“No one can lead worship the way I do, no one can vacuum the church the way I do, no one can keep the books the way I do, what would this fellowship be without me?”
Some have even allowed themselves to be so blinded by their own self-importance that they think because they’re so necessary to the work of God, even if they sin God will overlook it because they’re irreplaceable. If history has taught us anything, it’s that no one is irreplaceable. Servants come, and return to the earth from which they came, but the work of God goes on. Just when we think we’re the only ones left, just when we think there is no one else who will stand, God opens our eyes to the reality that there are seven thousand others who have not defiled themselves.
If God has called you to serve in any capacity, serve faithfully, serve honorably, serve with dedication, serve with passion, but always remember that it is God working through you, and as such you must guard your heart from sin, and keep yourself in His will.
God is not impressed by the size of our church, or the size of our ministry, He is not impressed with how well we speak or how well we write. God simply expects to be obeyed! When He said be holy for I am holy, he meant it, and He will use someone with less natural talent and ability to do His work and bring glory to His name who is walking in holiness, than someone who is gifted in the eyes of the world but has chosen the way of compromise.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Portrait of Humility

There are many things that spring to mind when one considers John the Baptist. He was the uncompromising forerunner of Jesus, the man who didn’t mince words, the man who chose to clothe himself in a camel’s hair, and had a unique diet that consisted of locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist, called as such, not because he belonged to the Baptist denomination, but rather because he baptized people, was unconventional to say the least. Here was a man who did not go into the cities to preach, he did not seek out a following, but rather as counterintuitive as it might seem to many today, went into the wilderness of Judea and began to preach.
He did not have a vast repertoire of sermons, but his message consisted of nine powerful and relevant words, that have kept their potency and authority to this day: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’
I have heard many sermons on John the Baptist’s boldness over the years, as well as his uncompromising message, but few if any concentrated on what I believe to be one of his greatest attributes, which was his humility.
Perhaps it’s due to the fact that his personality overshadowed this virtue, or his clashes with the Pharisees and Sadducees kept us from digging deeper into the man’s character, but it is one attribute of his life that we can learn from, and even learn to emulate in our own lives.
Consider that John the Baptist had what many would consider today a very large ministry. The news of him traveled throughout the land, and people would come to the wilderness of Judea just to hear him and be baptized by him. His message was heeded by the poor and rich alike, so much so that even the Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by him. Although he had some choice words for them, rebuking them without holding anything back, it is John the Baptist’s humility I want to focus on for this particular teaching.
Matthew 3:5-6, “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.”
By any estimation, John’s was the biggest ministry around at the time, both in Jerusalem and Judea. In fact some even thought that he was the Messiah the prophets of old had prophesied of. We realize just how special and rare a person John the Baptist was, when we see that he let none of the accolades go to his head. Sure people came from afar just to hear him speak, sure people came to be baptized by him, but he always maintained that sense of perspective, wherein he knew that it was not him, but God working through him.
John the Baptist lived with the expectation of seeing one greater than himself, and he knew himself well enough to play down any of his own works. This is a lesson that many preaches and evangelists have failed to learn, and as such appropriate the glory and praise due God for themselves.
Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
To see the full measure of John the Baptist’s humility, we need look no further than the contrast between him and his followers. After Jesus had come to be baptized by John, after the Spirit of God was seen descending upon Him like a dove, and the voice from heaven was heard saying, ‘this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’, the followers of John came to him greatly distressed.
Rather than see Jesus for who He was, they saw him as a threat to the ministry of John the Baptist. These men came to tell John that in fact Jesus had started baptizing and that men were coming to Him. Now the answer that John the Baptist offered these men reveals his heart of humility in a greater way than anything else he could have done.
John 3:27-28, “John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’”
What do you have that God has not given you? What talents do you posses that were not a gift from God?
Rather than giving in to the rhetoric of his followers, and thinking to himself, ‘hey, maybe Jesus is trying to upstage me, maybe He is trying to take my followers’, John the Baptist simply pointed out the fact that it was not his ministry to begin with. If he was called it was by God, if he was empowered, it was by God, if he was effective it was by God, and if God chose that it was time for him to step aside, if it was time for him to decrease that Christ might increase, he would obey just as he had up to that point.
Humility births in us the knowledge that our labors are not our own, our victories our not our own, our accomplishments are not our own, but everything that is given to us in order to further the kingdom of God and bring glory to His name, comes directly from heaven, from the hand of God.
A humble heart defers to Jesus, a humble heart obeys Jesus, and a humble heart follows Jesus. It is not concerned with its own merits, it is not concerned with its own popularity, the desire of the humble heart is singular; to serve God, and obey when He commands.
When we possess the humility of John the Baptist, no matter the great calling that God places on our lives, no matter the number of people reached through our ministry, we will always know that nothing is of ourselves, for a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.
Walking in this sort of humility ensures the presence of God in us, and the works of God through us. We go where He sends us, we speak what He tells us, and we rest in the knowledge that it is He who will stir the hearts of men, it is He who will compel men to fall to their knees at the foot of the cross and repent of their sins, accepting Christ as Lord and Savior.
John the Baptist lived with the expectation of one mightier than he, who would come and forever change the world, offering mankind the opportunity to be reconciled unto God. Today we live with the expectation of His second coming, the Christ, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. Our duty as His ambassadors are not to draw men unto ourselves, but point men to Him, that He might draw them unto Himself, and that they might be transformed and renewed in mind and heart.
John the Baptist will be remembered for many things, but one thing he should be remembered for is his unceasing humility. May God grant us the grace and wisdom to pursue such humility!


With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

9 Years

Well, today I have officially been married for 9 years. Time flies. It's amazing how the years just roll by, and the only thing that draws our attention to the swift passage of time is the graying hair.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Those Who Weep and Those Who Mock

I do not have attention deficit, I have time deficit. Between filming the truth in a nutshell videos, the thirty minute tv program, writing and speaking, there aren't many hours left in a day. I haven't forgotten about the fruit of the Spirit, as soon as I get a moment's respite, I will finish up the teaching. I've never been a perfectioninst, but I do hold myself up to a certain standard, so I won't do a patchwork job just to say it was done. I hope you understand. Please keep me in your prayers, time is short and life is busy.

The history of Israel offers us countless lessons and teachable moments. In some cases it teaches us what we ought to do to be pleasing in the sight of God, but in most cases it teaches us what not to do.
If one does a thorough study of the people of Israel, we realize that for hundreds of years they cycled from being faithful to God, to God blessing them, to Israel rebelling against God and sinning, to God punishing them, to Israel repenting.
The problem with this cycle, is that each time Israel sinned, it became harder and harder for them to pull out of the tailspin as a nation.
When I was younger I used to love watching air shows on television. Some of you already know what I’m talking about, the teams like the Thunderbirds, and the Blue Angels who do some amazing air acrobatics that leave people in awe. One of the most dangerous things these pilots do is take their planes up, then stall out, letting it fall to the ground, only to pull up at the last possible second. It is a spectacular thing to watch, at least when it works properly. Throughout the years, there have been instances when whether due to human error, or mechanical malfunction, some were never able to recover, and crashed to the earth in a fireball of twisted metal.
Many people today, who see flirting with sin as an acceptable practice, are like these daredevil pilots, who get as close to the earth as they can, then right themselves, soaring back toward the clouds. The only problem is that some never get the chance to level their walk, to start climbing again, to repent and return to God, and crash back into the mire of sin from which they had been freed.
Israel had sinned again! They had gone into another tailspin, due to the duplicity of Balaam, a prophet divided in his heart between obeying the Lord and making a small fortune by giving into Balak’s demands to curse the people of God. Although Balaam did not disobey God outright by cursing God’s people, for God had told him to bless them, he did teach Balak what to do in order to arouse God’s anger against His own people.
Revelation 2:14, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.”
Although this scripture is in the context of the message to the church in Pergamos, it reveals what Balaam’s sin was, and why the name of this man has throughout history been associated with disobedience.
Balak at the time was the ruler of the Moabites, and he found himself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand he knew that he could not defeat Israel as long as their God was with them, he had already seen the deathblow the children of God had dealt to the Amorites. Realizing that they only way he had a hope of defeating Israel was to somehow remove the hedge of protection from around them, and to get their God to stop fighting on their behalf, he sought out Balaam in the hopes that Balaam would curse the people, but instead of cursing them, Balaam blessed them.
Although it is not specifically stated in the book of Numbers where this entire drama plays out, by the words that Jesus spoke in Revelation, it seems that as a parting gift to Balak for all the oxen and sheep he had given him, Balaam whispered something in Balak’s ear.
I do not know what was said, but as I imagine this encounter play out, I can see Balaam leaning over to Balak and simply whispering “if you can’t get God to abandon them, maybe you can get them to abandon God.”
And so, the Moabites started playing nice with the people of Israel, inviting them to the sacrifice of their gods, offering up their women, and instead of refusing their advances, the people of Israel ate and bowed down to the gods of the Moabites.
God did not abandon Israel; Israel forfeited the providence, protection and blessing of God, by bowing down to the gods of the Moabites, and committing harlotry with the women of Moab.
Contrary to what you may have heard, we serve a jealous God. We serve a God who demands, and rightly so, that we have no other gods before Him, we serve a God who demands, and rightly so that our hearts not be divided between Him and the world.
Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
The elders of Israel knew that they had sinned, Moses and the congregation of the children of Israel were gathered together weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, realizing that they had aroused the anger of the Lord against them. As this was going on, as the elders and the children of Israel wept at the door of the tabernacle, as they cried out to God for forgiveness, one of the children of Israel came and presented a Midianite woman to his brethren, in full view of those who were prostrate before the Lord.
This wasn’t just bad timing, this was outright mockery of the elders and the children of Israel, for as they wept, this man reveled in his sin and disobedience as though attempting to say, ‘see, I have transgressed and God has not struck me, I have sinned and God has not judged me.’
Among those who wept there was a man by the name of Phinehas who was the grandson of Aaron the priest. Phinehas saw the open mockery, rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand, followed the man of Israel into his tent, and thrust both the man and the woman through with the javelin.
Because of his actions, the plague was stopped among the people of Israel, but not before twenty-four thousand people perished in the plague.
There have always been, and there will always be consequences to sin. There have always been and there will always be mockers within the house of God, who look upon those who weep in repentance with disdain and open disgust. Sin kills, and disobedience is a sure road to sin.
It is a far better thing to be counted among those who weep, to be counted among those who are zealous for the things of God, than to be counted among those who mock.
Mockery against the children of God and those who strive for righteousness will only grow and intensify in our present age. You will be hated, you will be ridiculed, you will be labeled colorfully vile adjectives for your faithfulness, but through it all you must keep your eyes firmly affixed to Christ and the cross.
Because of his faithfulness, because he was zealous for his God, God gave Phinehas His covenant of peace, and a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, and not only to him but also his descendants.
Jude 1:17-21, “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
These mockers, these worldly persons who cause divisions that Jude is referring to are not in the world, but within the house of God. Not having the Spirit, they walk according to their ungodly lusts, abusing and trampling upon the grace and blood of Christ, attempting to pervert the way of truth.
If we love Jesus, then we will be faithful to Him. If we love Christ than we will build ourselves up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping ourselves in the love of God, and looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus unto eternal life.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Generational Divide

In recent days some truly disturbing information has been floating across my desk. With each article, with each news clipping my heart grows just a little heavier. The one common thread in all the writings is the state of what will be the future generation of America. If this nation is still here thirty years from now, it will be a very different nation indeed.
The departure from any semblance of morality, the departure from the pursuit of godliness is astounding to behold. We have been so consumed with leaving a material nest egg for our children, that we have neglected the spiritual aspect of their existence thereby leaving them spiritually bankrupt. The outcry in America today should not be ‘save our planet’ but rather ‘save our children’, because evil is never static, and with frightening speed it is going from bad to worse.
In order to see just how much damage the enemy can inflict in one generation, we must go back in time and look at the history of Israel. Barring a few minor setbacks, Joshua’s generation was a generation of excellence. It was a season in Israel’s history when the people served God, and when God prospered them, protected them and defended them. The people remembered what God had done for them, and they lived in obedience to His laws.
Judges 2:7, “So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.”
It is a great testimony indeed, that not only Joshua, or his household served the Lord, but the people served the Lord as well. But soon, Joshua was gathered to his fathers, and all of his generation gathered to their fathers as well. The old generation was returning back into the dust from which it came, having fought the good fight of faith, and walked in the will of the Lord.
Then something truly tragic happened. Within the span of one generation, the children of Israel went from serving the Lord, to doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
Judges 2:10-13, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.”
This is a tragic portrait that repeats itself far too frequently. Although Joshua’s generation was faithful to God, although they knew the work which He had done for Israel, they made one fatal mistake. Joshua’s generation neglected to pass on the baton of righteousness to the next generation. Why didn’t the new generation know the Lord or the work which He had done for Israel? Because it had not been ingrained in them from early youth; no one had taught them the ways of God.
I do not know what distracted Joshua’s generation so. I do not know what kept them from teaching their children the ways of God, and what God had done for their people. Maybe they just took for granted the fact that they were the people of God, and assumed that their children would simply discover God on their own. Maybe they were too busy building houses and barns, and settling into the land that God had given them. Whatever the reason, the consequences of their actions were far reaching, and tragic to behold.
If only they could have seen what would become of their children and grandchildren, if only they could have known that the absence of diligent instruction in the ways of the Lord, would lead their offspring to serving other gods and bowing to them, perhaps they would have taken more time to teach, to mold, and to instruct.
Today’s generation is eerily similar to the generation of Joshua. We were taught the ways of the Lord, we saw His great and mighty works, yet we are woefully neglectful of passing on the love for Jesus to the next generation. We’ve adopted this laisser-faire attitude and this posture of indifference, wherein we look at what is becoming of the next generation, wherein we see the corruption and the vileness of sin surrounding them on all sides, and the best we can do, is shrug our shoulders and say, ‘children will be children.’
We must own up to our responsibility, and acknowledge that in large part, we are responsible and accountable for the spiritual condition of the generation of the future.
‘I’m kind of with you, but our children aren’t worshipping idols or anything.’
Anything that replaces God as preeminent in the heart of man is an idol, and anything that takes up our time and energy more than the pursuit of God is idolatry. Just because there aren’t statues of strange mythical beings, or altars upon which men sacrifice animals anymore, it does not mean that idolatry isn’t alive and well in our modern culture. Our children are just as surrounded by the gods of the people who are all around us as Israel was, and due to our inconsistency and our lack of devotion, due to our being distracted by other things, and not taking a stand for Christ, they are being enticed into bowing to idols just as readily as the children of Israel.
Wake up you are losing your children! Wake up your children are being taken captive by sin and perversity!
I realize it is much easier trying to be your child’s friend than his parent, but somebody has to be the parent. Somebody has to set a standard. Somebody has to define right from wrong, righteousness from sin, acceptable and unacceptable practices. It’s not the teacher’s job, it’s not the guidance counselor’s job, it is your job, and your sovereign duty before an almighty God to raise your children in the righteousness and fear of the Lord. It is with love that I urge you, be the example you desire your children to follow!
What is the spiritual inheritance you are leaving your children? What will the church of America look like in twenty years? These are questions with which we must all be confronted, because raising a child in the ways of God does come about accidentally, but due to a planned and intentional investment in their spiritual future.
I write these lines not as a parent, but as one who was the recipient of being brought up in the ways of the Lord. I can say, with all requisite honesty, that there can be no substitute for Jesus in a young life, and any education or privilege built upon another foundation will crumble into nothingness. Give your children the foundation that will be stable, steadfast and constant throughout their lives, which will be a shelter in the storms of this world, and a source of strength in their time of adversity. Give them Christ first and foremost.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Marks of Jesus

I've gotten sidetracked, but in a good way. I've been working on a study for some time now, entitled 'Spared, Sheltered or Sifted' dealing with the Biblical view of the believer and the end times, and the clear differentiation between judgment, wrath and persecution. As such, I haven't had any time to continue the study of the fruit of the Spirit. This is only temporary, and as soon as I finish this present study, I will return ot the study of the fruit of the Spirit. I just want to get all this down before I lose it. I hope you understand. God bless.

At the end of his stirring letter to the churches of Galatia, wherein he rebuked them for turning away from the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, Paul writes something truly remarkable.
Galatians 6:17, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul had just successfully concluded defending his position as to why he no longer taught circumcision, rebuking those who tried to compel the Galatians to do it by saying that they did so only that they might not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ, when he essentially says, I need no outwardly showing in the flesh, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
There has been much speculation over the centuries as to what the marks of the Lord Jesus were that he carried in his body, and today we will be discussing this topic at length.
What were the marks to which Paul was referring?
Some have said that surely the marks of which Paul spoke, were the scars and bruises left over from being in chains, from having his feet placed in stocks, from being whipped, beaten, stoned, and overall brutalized for the sake of Christ.
Paul was a man accustomed to both pain and suffering. If most preachers today would present their accomplishments in ministry, boasting of the ministries they had started, and the people they had led to Christ, Paul lists his sufferings as his badge of honor.
2 Corinthians 11;24-28, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
So were these the marks of Jesus that Paul was referring to? Was he saying that he was tired of all the disputes concerning circumcision because the wounds in his body were more of a testament to his being a new creature than any outward showing in the flesh?
First we must consider that Paul did not say he bore the marks of his suffering in his body, but rather the marks of the Lord Jesus. In order to understand what marks Paul was referring to, we must go back to Christ, and discover what the marks of Jesus were. Yes, all roads lead back to Jesus, and rightly so!
From the manger to the cross, one of the greatest marks of Jesus was self denial. He could have been born in a palace, but He chose a manger. He could have been rich, but He chose to be poor.
He could have ruled, but He chose to serve. He could have taken, but He chose to give. He could have cursed, but He chose to bless. He could have saved Himself, but He chose to save mankind. He could have lived, but He chose to die in your stead and mine, that we might have life.
As He hung upon the cross, they mocked Him, not knowing that with one word He could call legions of angels to come to His aid. They crucified the Son of God, and He went as a lamb to the slaughter.
Mark 15:31-32, “Likewise the chief priests also, together with the scribes, mocked and said among themselves, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.”
We see this particular mark of Jesus, the mark of self-denial, evident in Paul as with great pathos he says that what came upon him daily was his deep concern for the churches. All the things that he continually suffered seemed to have paled in comparison to his concern for the people of God and the brethren. When was the last time you heard self-denial Christianity preached in a modern day church?
There are four other marks of Jesus that Paul bore in his body that we as children of God and followers of Christ must bear in our bodies as well.
Hebrews 7:26, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens.”
Within this one verse, we see the four marks of Christ our High Priest. Our duty is to bear these marks ourselves, our duty is to be holy, to be harmless, to be undefiled, and to be separate from sinners.
Seeing the life and writings of Paul some might think him to be super human, a man who ascended beyond the abilities of all others, but the simple truth is that Paul was a man, a mere mortal just as any of us, yet he was able to carry these marks of the Lord Jesus in His body.
We are all marked! Every man and woman walking this earth bears a mark in their body that reveals their character and nature. We are either bear in our bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus, or the marks of this world.
Before Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, God marked him, toward his shame rather than toward his honor. The marks we carry in our body, testify of who we serve.
Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?”
We are either marked of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness, but make no mistake; we all bear marks in our bodies.
If we bear the marks of Christ, we will reign with Him in glory. If we bear the marks of sin, we will be cast out from before the sight of God. Realizing this, the following are crucial questions:
Which marks do you bear in your body? Is self denial evident in your life and character? Is holiness present in your nature? Are you harmless in your conduct? Is the disdain for sin and the desire to be undefiled and separate from sinners an ever present reality in your life?
These are questions only you can answer, and I pray you do so honestly and sincerely before an omniscient God. He knows the marks we bear in our bodies, He knows our walk, He knows our thoughts, and He knows our intentions.
We live in an age where it is popular to project an image, to make others think we are something more, or something greater than what we know ourselves to be. I pray we denounce such practices, I pray the pharisaical spirit that is sweeping through the churches would not get a foothold in our lives. If you can’t be yourself among the brethren, then maybe something has to change. If you have to project an image, whether piety, righteousness, servitude, outward devotion, the performing of a certain ceremony, or a myriad of other things that elevate us in the eyes of our brothers and sisters, and perform them for that purpose, then maybe it’s time to search our hearts and repent.
God knows us to the inner depths of our being, and the marks we bear in our bodies cannot be hid from his eyes. May we be found bearing the marks of the Lord Jesus.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goodness

One of the great attributes of goodness is its divine power to overcome evil. Consider that the Word does not tell us we can overcome evil with a good sermon, it does not tell us we can overcome evil with a good song, but it does state unequivocally that we can overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This is one of those deceptively complex verses in God’s Word that is easy to read, but difficult for many implement practically in their lives. The desire to go on the offensive, to return evil for evil is engrained deep within the genetic makeup of man. We see it in children not yet old enough to speak, as they will attempt to strike back at whoever struck them. It is one of those instinctual reactions which we must subjugate, and have under submission.
When God asks something of a believer, it means that the believer is able to accomplish it; it is within the believer’s power to do it. God will only ask of those who have already received His grace in abundance, because first God gives, then He requires.
When we are commanded not to be overcome by evil, but rather to overcome evil with good, as children of God we have already been given the power by which to accomplish this task. We know evil exists, we know evil wars against righteousness, but we also know, by God’s Word how to overcome it. So often when we face a trial, when we face an attack of the enemy we grow discouraged, because we only see the problem before us, and not the solution that God has also provided. For every hurt there is a balm, for every hardship there is guidance, for every trial, there is a means by which we overcome. When we receive the whole counsel of God, when we stand on His Word, when we know what we have access to as His beloved, we walk in strength, and authority knowing that we can indeed overcome evil, because God said we could.
Much of our Christian walk is an inward issue of the heart. We do not physically pick up our crosses every day, except for that one man who walked all over the world carrying a huge wooden cross, but by denying ourselves, by picking up our crosses, by allowing righteousness to flow in us, it also flows out of us. That which is inside a man, will inevitably manifest outwardly. This is the beauty of goodness, that when it has a place in our hearts, it readily manifests in our actions and our conduct as well.
There is a story I once heard of a small business owner who had given his heart to Christ. He was still a babe in the Lord, still learning the way of the cross, and as he read his Bible he happened upon the verse that described the fruit of the Spirit. The man became sad in his heart because he knew he could not produce this fruit due to the fact that he hated the business owner across the street from him, who also happened to be his competition. There had been an ongoing animosity between these two men going back many years, and whenever one would have a chance to poach the other’s customer, he would do so gladly.
Going to his pastor, the man opened his Bible and pointed to the verse in Galatians and with sorrow in his eyes said, ‘I cannot fulfill this passage in the holy Book, I still harbor animosity toward my competitor, and he still harbors animosity toward me. How do I go about changing my heart on this matter?’
The man’s pastor thought for awhile, and said, ‘try doing good. If you have a customer who can’t find what he’s looking for in your store, send him to the store across the street.’
The man did as he was instructed, although it was no easy task for him. Days turned into weeks, and the shopkeeper across the street began to notice the pattern that was emerging. People would come out of his competitor’s store, cross the street, and walk into his own. As he began to ask the people walking into his store how they had heard about his business, to his great amazement he discovered it was his enemy that was now sending him customers.
The man’s heart was so moved by this gesture, that he in turn began sending customers across the street when he didn’t happen to have what they were looking for in his own store. In this way, the believer unfettered himself from the evil that had bound his heart for all those years. He had learned what it was to overcome evil with good.
Our Christian life is not measured by the knowledge we amass, but by the life we live, and the fruit that is evident in the smallest and most insignificant areas of our existence.
Goodness is neither an emotive weakness, nor is it the inability to say no to people. Goodness is the practical character of God that is daily growing in us. Goodness not only makes Jesus visible in us, but also accessible.
When Peter preached Christ to the house of Cornelius in the tenth chapter of Acts, he used the following description: ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth, with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.’ – Acts 10:38
‘There he goes talking about works again!’ No I am not talking about works; I am talking about having the nature of Christ. Goodness, like all the other ingredients that make up the fruit of the Spirit, are not works, but the byproduct of your fellowship and maturity in Christ.
Men today love to make blanket statements when they disagree with anything you’re saying. They take one verse and run with it, until they can run no more, dismissing the rest of Scripture as unnecessary for them in their present predicament. Yes, it is true, and Biblical, that by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves. Yes, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
However it is also Biblical that James 2:24 says that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
I’m not trying to get off topic, but I am trying to make a valid point. The Scripture is a symphony, yet many today choose to bang one key on the piano over and over again. Continuing in the vein of this analogy, God is the composer, Jesus is the conductor, and we are the orchestra. Our duty is to know the sheet music, and follow the conductor’s direction.
We cannot reject such attributes as kindness and goodness, gentleness and self-control, simply because we keep repeating the same mantra of ‘no works, no works’, over and over again. These attributes grow in us as a natural byproduct of our relationship with Christ, they reveal our heart and character, showing the world that we are not what we once were, that Jesus did indeed change us, and we have received a new mind and a new heart. Remember, the Bible is a symphony, not one solitary note.
So how do we develop and grow goodness in our hearts? One of the surest ways to develop goodness is to daily return to Calvary and gaze upon the One who was and is the pinnacle of goodness. When we sincerely ask Christ to fill our hearts with His presence, it is unavoidable that goodness will be one of the attributes with which we are filled.
In order for the fruit of the Spirit to continue maturing in us, we must also keep our hearts pure. The inward sins of the heart choke off the fruit of the Spirit, and as such we must continue to be watchful, looking into the mirror God’s word to see if any undesired seeds have been planted that will upon their maturing attempt to destroy the virtuous attributes growing in us.
Above all, we must continually remain aware of the fact that we are not the authors of goodness, but the receptacles for goodness. God pours goodness in us, and our duty as His ambassadors is to disseminate and disperse it.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea jr.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Unrestrained Liberty Part 2

Numbers 11:4-6, “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense cravings; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”
What many fail to understand concerning this particular time in human history is that Egypt was the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. Egypt’s slaves were not exclusively Jewish, but an amalgam, or a mixed multitude from all the nations they had conquered and overtaken.
When Pharaoh finally relented and released Israel from its captivity and bondage, there were some from other nations and peoples that saw their opportunity to flee the shackles of slavery. As the great exodus took place, there were some not of the people of Israel, who fled with them.
These selfsame individuals that the Bible classifies as them mixed multitudes that were among them, yielded to intense cravings, so much so that they conveniently forgot the shackles and the whips, the labors and the degradation, and only remembered the leeks, the onions the meat, and the cucumbers they had access to while under bondage.
As never having known the God of Israel, they did not understand the miracle that was taking place before their very eyes every morning, as God provided manna for their sustenance.
Rather than rebuking them and showing them how wondrous the manna that appeared for them before they awoke every morning truly was, the children of Israel also began to murmur, as they too gave in to their cravings. They became as nothing more than spoiled children, dissatisfied with what their Father gave them, rejecting their provision and lamenting their fate.
Today there are those within the house of God, that are not of God! Today, a mixed multitude has invaded what ought to be the fellowship of the brethren, and giving in to their intense cravings attempt to pervert the gospel, and minimize God’s providence toward His children. Such men are dissatisfied with God’s standard, such men are dissatisfied with God’s Word, and rather than being confronted and rebuked, those who ought to know better begin to act accordingly and murmur against God. Rather than seeing God in the beauty of His holiness, and acknowledging all the wondrous blessings He bestows upon His children every day, the mixed multitude has convinced God’s children that He is indeed a cruel taskmaster, and as though the kingdom of God were some great democracy, if enough believers disagree with Him, God will change His mind and bend the rules, lower the standard, and be more tolerant.
Call me old fashioned, call me a stickler for reason and common sense, but before one can call themselves a Christian, there are certain truths they must confess and adhere to. If you cannot unequivocally say that Jesus is Savior and Lord, if you cannot unequivocally say that He is the only way to the kingdom of God, the only truth that sets us free, and the only life that is eternal, then perhaps you shouldn’t call yourself a Christian.
It takes a spark to start a forest fire, and today this destructive fire is spreading throughout the houses of worship in America. Biblical relativism is spiritual death!
“We don’t like this manna, it’s too bland, there’s no kick. Remember the robust flavors of Egypt? Remember the melons, and the onions, and the garlic? If God really did love us, he’d make this supernatural provision taste better, maybe even throw in some meat. Remember the fish in Egypt? Those were the days!”
Remember also that you were slaves! Remember also that you were subject to the whims of those who kept you in shackles and made you labor until you passed out, and whipped you mercilessly to within an inch of your life!
Why is it that so many look back to their lives in the mire with such fondness? Why is it that they only remember a romanticized version of the bitter fruit that sin produced in their lives?
Today men are attempting to offer the ‘spiritual experience’ without all those pesky requirements like repentance and righteousness. As such they have erected idols, just as Israel erected the golden calf, and they have an experience. They dance around their idols, they bark, they cluck, they feel euphoric, but in the end it’s just a dead thing with no permanent or lasting effects. The only thing that an idol can offer is a passing feeling of elation and excitement that wanes and dissipates altogether with the passage of time. Even so, men still flock to idols, because idols permit them to manifest their lusts, desires and cravings, without being convicted of their wrongdoing.
One of the greatest fallacies being taught by the proponents of unrestrained liberty is that there are no consequences to rebellion, there are no consequences to sin, and there are no consequences to disobedience.
One thing we must keep in mind is that God had already established how He was going to provide for the children of Israel throughout their journey through the desert. When the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it as well, and the manna was to be their provision. This will become an important aspect of this teaching shortly.
After Israel’s incessant complaining, sparked by the mixed multitudes that were among them, and after Moses’ complaints about the people before God, God tells Moses to inform the people that they would have meat to eat for a whole month, until it comes out of their nostrils, and becomes loathsome to them, because they have despised the Lord who is among them.
Now Israel should have had a clue that this wasn’t going to end well by the words which God spoke through Moses, but all they heard is that they were going to be eating meat for a month. Nothing registered after that initial declaration, not even the harsh rebuke by God that they had despised the Lord.
We could go into Moses doubting God’s ability to provide meat for six hundred thousand people, even after seeing all that God had done, but it would make this teaching far too long. In the end, after God opened Moses’ eyes by saying, ‘has the Lord’s arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether My word will before you or not”, Moses went out and did as instructed, declaring to the people that they would have meat to eat for an entire month.
Numbers 11:31-32, “Now a wind went out from the Lord, and it brought quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp about a day’s journey on this side and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground. And the people stayed up all that day, all that night, and all the next day and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers); and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.”
Just to get an idea how much quail there really was, they extended for about twenty miles in every direction from where the Israelites camped, and were about three feet high. It takes a man much wiser than I to extrapolate and crunch the numbers, but needless to say, that was allot of quail.
Although there is no specific unit of measurement concerning the homer, the most widely accepted definition is the amount a donkey could carry. So the person who gathered the least quail among the people gathered enough for ten donkeys to carry. Taking a conservative estimate of one hundred pounds per donkey, the least among the people gathered roughly one thousand pounds of quail.
It is painfully obvious that even a large family couldn’t devour one thousand pounds of quail within a thirty day period, but such is human nature, that when that which it craves is placed before it, common sense takes a holiday.
At this point some of you may be wondering what the point of all this is, and why I would go into such a lengthy discussion about quail. The short answer is because of what happened next, and the spiritual implications and lessons we must glean from this chapter in Israel’s history.
Numbers 11:33-34, “But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.”
Translated from the Hebrew, Kibroth Hattaavah means the graves of lust, or the graves of the longing. Seeing as all those who yielded to craving were buried there, Moses picked an apt name. The first thing that struck me about this passage should be obvious to us all, and that is, not all of Israel yielded to their cravings. There were those among the people of Israel who were satisfied with the manna from heaven, who were satisfied with the sustenance their God provided, and so did not go about gathering quail. As such, there were those who survived, whom God did not strike with a plague.
The second thing that must be pointed out is that what the flesh desires, is contrary to the will of God, and if we give in to the desires and the cravings of the old nature, they will lead to our death.
Third, God will not force you into obedience. He has made it abundantly clear in His Word what is acceptable unto Him, and what is not, what is right in His sight and what is evil. He is faithful, and has therefore made provision for His children throughout their journey through the desert, and the wise among His children are satisfied with His provision, desiring no other.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
If God has led you out of Egypt by the power of His might, look back on it with the disgust that it should rightly provoke in your heart. Do not glamorize your time of ignorance, but rather remember that you were a slave, born into slavery, and destined to die a slave if not for the grace and mercy of God. You were bought with a price, and you belong to another now.
Do not lend your ear to the mixed multitudes in the camp who insist that unrestrained liberty is an acceptable practice in the eyes of God, for you know full well that you cannot serve two masters. Heaven and earth stand as witnesses against mankind, and testify that truly God is good; truly He has set before us life and death; truly He continues to nourish those who follow after Him, and blesses those who do not murmur, but are thankful for all that He does in them, through them and for them.
You were dead in your trespasses and Jesus gave you life! You were imprisoned by your sin, and Jesus set you free! Wonder of wonders, the Son of God came in the flesh and hung on a cross for a wretched soul such as yours and mine! Be satisfied in Him!
1 Corinthians 10:12-13, “Therefore let him who things he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
No man can flirt with sin indefinitely and not be adversely affected. No man can trust in his own strength, and not be proven impotent.
If we run the race keeping our eyes firmly affixed on the finish line, we will not run the risk of tripping over our own feet, or running into an obstacle. Always look at the path that is before you! Do not look to the left or the right of you, do not look behind you, always look ahead, for Jesus is there lighting the way.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man. Whatever it may be, know that others have gone through the same, if not worse, yet overcame.
“But brother you don’t know what I’ve been going through.”
What part of ‘common to man’ didn’t we understand? No man is unique when it comes to temptation, no man is tempted beyond what he is able to endure, and the Word tells us this. With every temptation, the way of escape has already been prepared, that we may be able to bear it. It is when we allow seeds of doubt concerning God’s standard, or His ability to make a way of escape, to worm their way into our hearts, that we become indifferent, or stop resisting the enemy altogether.
James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Unrestrained Liberty Part 1

(We will continue with the teaching on the fruit of the Spirit shortly, but as an intermission of sorts I decided to post this two part teaching. God bless.)
A dangerous wind is blowing through the churches of America, one that threatens to further destroy what little remains. This wind is both insidious and destructive, with far reaching and eternal consequences. It is not a new doctrine, it is not a new teaching, it is old, and notwithstanding a few minor alterations has been racking up a hefty body count since the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt.
It’s not that the enemy isn’t inventive, but why fiddle with what works? If it’s not broken, don’t attempt to fix it. Although the enemy is well aware of this old adage, it seems the modern day churches haven’t gotten the memo yet.
I am speaking of course, of the doctrine of unrestrained liberty, of experience absent of prudence, of the mentality that once we come to Jesus we can do what we want, when we want how we want, and He still has to save us. Be different? Act different? Speak different? Feel different? Why when we can have the best of both worlds?
The enemy is more than happy to do his part and fuel the fires of unrestrained liberty, by approaching those who still cling to righteousness, who still believe in the standard of God, and pointing to those who claim to be saved and sanctified yet adrift in the sea of this world by having given in to their cravings and saying, ‘see, if they can do it why can’t you?’
When the fox stands outside the chicken coop and proceeds to tell the chickens how sorry it is because they’re stuck in that enclosed space, behind a fence, how horrible their master is for fencing them in from the outside, it’s not because the fox feels empathy for the chickens, but because it knows that it can’t get to the chickens unless it can somehow get them beyond the protection of the fenced in area.
This is how the enemy approaches the children of God many times, pointing out the fact that they can’t enjoy the things the world enjoys, that they can’t participate in the revelry, and frivolity, but it’s not because he feels that we have been shortchanged. On the contrary, the reason the tempter tempts, is that the children of God might be beguiled to come out from under God’s protection and covering by willful sin, and as such be fair game.
When sin is present in the life of the believer, he no longer possesses the armor which repels and quenches the fiery darts of the wicked one. He is in essence defenseless, and becomes easy prey.
‘Why shouldn’t you enjoy the trappings of this life? Surely you’re strong enough to keep from forming an addiction, surely you’re strong enough to keep from getting hooked, and surely you’re strong enough to keep from falling! Remember now, you have liberty!’
This is perhaps the enemy’s vilest and most effective form of attack. He convinces us that we can flirt with sin, that we can flirt with the world, but that we won’t give in, and we won’t succumb. He lulls us into a false sense of self-reliance, wherein we lean on our strength, and consider ourselves invincible. Long forgotten is the admonition ‘let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall’, long forgotten is sovereign warning to flee even the appearance of evil. We gravitate toward the fire, telling ourselves we’re not really getting burned.
‘Sure other men, some who were superstars of Christendom succumbed, sure other men who were well versed in both theology and doctrine fell into sin, but I’m stronger than them, I’m smarter than them, and my will is more steadfast than theirs.’
As previously stated, this is not a new doctrine, this is not a new snare the enemy recently happened upon, it is one he has successfully refined over the centuries, and although it goes by different names, it remains equally dangerous for believers. At a certain point in his ministry Paul the Apostle had to confront it, and attempt to open the eyes of the Corinthian church to the reality that privileges do not guarantee success, nor does a good beginning ensure a good end.
Paul begins his teaching with a history lesson. When we fail to learn from the mistakes of those who came before us, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes, and worse.
1 Corinthians 10:1-6, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.”
There are many worthwhile lessons for the children of God within this six verse block. Paul is writing to the church of Corinth, a church plagued by sin and vice, a church that has been fractured by division, wherein some claimed to be of Paul, others of Apollos, others still of Cephas, and some of Christ. It was also a church that was chasing after the spectacular, more concerned about satisfying their curiosity, and feigning religiosity, than following after Christ.
The news had traveled of Corinth’s many flaws, and as Paul wrote his letter of rebuke and correction, he also focuses on the topic of unrestrained liberty.
The first thing that Paul did, for anyone attempting to rewrite history, was remind the church of Corinth of some key truths. Men have a tendency to forget, or at least minimize the uncomfortable episodes in their nation’s history, their family lineage, or their own personal lives. From the beginning, Paul wanted to make it crystal clear that he was not about to sugar coat the truth, no matter how much the church of Corinth would have liked for him to do just that.
Paul was a Jew; in fact a Jew who was taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, but his patriotism and lineage did not keep him from speaking the truth.
The first thing that Paul points out is that all of Israel saw the providence, power, and protection of God. They had traveled under the cloud that led them, they had walked through the sea that God parted for them, and they had all been baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
Now why would Paul begin his rebuke here? Because many within the church of Corinth had come to believe that the act of baptism in and of itself was some supernatural experience that ensured their salvation. What Paul was trying to teach them was that baptism, absent of repentance, absent of a new mind and a new heart, was nothing more than taking a dip in a river or a lake. When we are immersed in water baptism, we are immersed into Christ, and there we must remain! It is not the act of being immersed in water that is the beauty of baptism, it is being baptized in Christ, and putting on Christ every day of our journey here on earth.
Romans 6:3-4, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Paul was pointing to the history of Israel and saying to the church of Corinth, your forefathers were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, yet they all died in the desert, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Any symbol, ceremony, or religious formality that does not have a deep spiritual reality as its foundation, is worthless. Of what value is it to a man to dip himself in a body of water, only to continue being a slave to the sins and vices of this present world? The practice of religiosity absent the nature of Christ in us is as sinful as denying God outright.
Paul continues and reminds the church of Corinth that not only had they been baptized, but their ancestors had all eaten the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink.
The purpose of a spiritual life is not merely to eat the food and drink the drink of God’s Word, but to live in the holiness and righteousness that the truth produces in us. We are to be fruitful and live in the light; we are to be ready for every good work at any given time; we are to be obedient to the leading of the Spirit; we are to walk humbly with our Lord; we are to bring our lives in their entirety as a sacrifice on the altar of love and truth!
God does not desire for us to merely eat and drink of His Word, but also to produce fruit in accordance with that which we’ve consumed. God takes no pleasure in our reading His Word with regularity, in our singing in the church choir, in our attending service regularly, if after having done these things a new, holy, and fruitful life is not evident in us.
It is in the following sentence, after informing the church of Corinth that all of Israel had eaten and drank the same spiritual food and drink, that Paul makes an astounding declaration:
1 Corinthians 10:4, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”
It is no small thing to drink from the Rock! It is no small thing for the Rock to follow you that you might never thirst!
As the Rock followed Israel through the desert after their exodus from Egypt, so too does the Rock follow us today after our exodus from the bondage of sin. If you are thirsty, drink! If you are hungry eat! He is our provision, He is our nourishment!
So taking into account that Israel drank of the spiritual Rock that was Christ, why is it that they died in the desert? What was it that displeased God so?
Although they had partaken of Christ, they did not remain in Christ. A relationship is reciprocal. One cannot have a relationship with a fellow human being or Christ for that matter without implementing the concept of reciprocity. A relationship is a two way street!
John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
A singular experience, no matter how profound, is not enough. We must abide in Christ, that we might bear fruit just as the branch must abide in the vine in order to bear fruit.
Israel of old did not return the love that God had shown them, they did not abide in Him, they did not remain obedient, and so became rebellious and unthankful for all the things that He had done for them.
If ever there was a nation of privilege it is the nation of Israel. The Bible repeatedly tells us that they are God’s chosen people. Yet having been His people, having enjoyed all the privileges of being called the sons and daughters of God, they still strayed, rebelled and disobeyed, and as consequence to their actions suffered much hardship. No, privilege does not guarantee success.
“I was born in a Christian family, I was brought up in the church, I’ve even memorized some key verses, surely this entitles me to receive my inheritance, and be welcomed into heaven.”
No it does not! Nothing entitles us to anything, it is all grace, it is all love, and the only means by which we will traverse the desert of this world, and enter God’s eternal Canaan, is to abide in Him.
I think it is necessary for us to also study one of the root causes of Israel’s rebellion, because it will shed some light on why the modern day churches are in the spiritual condition they are in today. To Be Continued....

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kindness

‘Neither genius, fame, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that.’
-Jean Baptiste Lacordaire
Fifth on the list of ingredients that make up the fruit of the Spirit, is kindness. Although kindness is synonymous with such words as generosity, sympathy, humanity, benevolence and tenderness, it also encapsulates one of God’s attributes. Yes, God is kind, and we see His kindness manifest both in nature, in His judgments, in His teachings, and in His relation with mankind.
Psalm 85:12-13, “Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.”
God’s heart is filled with kindness, and He gives what is good. However, God’s kindness is tempered by God’s sovereign righteousness, wherein He gives what is good to those who follow in His footsteps, who pursue Him, and desire to know Him more fully.
We cannot surrender our hearts to evil, and continue to live with the expectation of receiving what is good from God. We cannot reject righteousness, and sanctification, and then get angry when the land does not yield its increase. Whether man acknowledges it or not, everything in this universe is wholly dependent upon the kindness of God. As He spoke the universe into existence, He can just as easily speak it out of existence. His tenderness and sympathy however, keep Him from pouring out His wrath in the measure that mankind truly deserve.
Although God shows kindness, and kindness is also one of the components of the fruit of the Spirit, countless Christians today are lacking it. We show no sympathy, no tenderness, not even the humanity that is commonplace in the word when we proceed to savage and tear down each other, as though it were a national sport. I have no problem with standing firm against a false doctrine, I have no problem with defending truth and being bold in proclaiming Biblical teaching, I do it often and vociferously so. What I do have a problem with is the glee and abandon with which Christians eviscerate other Christians, because they disagree with them on a personal level.
Kindness has been stricken from the hearts of many believers, and replaced with the overwhelming need to build themselves up by tearing others down.
‘You pray standing up instead of on your knees? Well, then Ichabod, Ichabod, the glory has departed. You are hereby and forthwith banned from the halls of heaven!’
No one ever questions who appointed such people to be heaven’s gatekeepers, or if they are self appointed; no one points out the fact that it is unbecoming to use a hatchet when a scalpel will do; no one looks for evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in the hateful vitriol that passes for discernment, because let’s face it we all like carnage. That’s why people slow down when they see an accident.
If only God were as unkind in His judgment, as we are of our fellow brothers! I wonder how many would have the temerity to pray and ask God to judge them with the same kindness that they judged others?
Philippians 2:12-16, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
Rather than strive to imitate the Samaritan who saw the broken, bleeding, half dead man by the side of the road and had compassion on him, we emulate the priest, the Levite, and sometimes even the thieves who strike out and wound with indifference anyone who happens to land in our crosshairs. We go through every word, and every syllable the person has ever uttered hoping to find something, anything, that we can twist, or that we happen to disagree with, and then with blind fury and zealous determination we attack.
Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? Do all things without grumbling and arguing that we might become blameless and harmless children of God? Hold fast to the word of life? No time for such things, too busy kicking wounded half dead men about the head and shoulders as they lay in the dirt by the side of the road, all the while wearing our ‘what would Jesus do?’ bracelets.
What separates our reactions from the gleeful reactions of the world when one is felled by the enemy due to either absence of watchfulness, indifference, or sin? We ought not revel, but rather mourn. Another soldier has fallen, another bruise has been dealt to the body of Christ, and another victory checked off by the enemy. We must continually and ceaselessly search our hearts for those hidden sins that can pollute a man as readily as the sins of the flesh and remind ourselves that we are His children because of His abundant grace. Not because we were better, or came from a more proper lineage, but because God showed us grace, and it is in His grace that we walk every day toward eternity.
Luke 13:2-5, “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
It is time to once again embrace kindness; it is time to once again be image bearers of Jesus; it is time to be more concerned with healing the wounded, than exterminating them.
Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
There is a cost to possessing kindness that too few are willing to pay nowadays, and that is the sacrifice of our personal pretensions, our self-importance, and unjustified demands of distinction and merit. If there is any good in us it is Jesus; if there is anything remarkable in us, it is Christ. If we claim to be of Christ, may we also walk in the footsteps of Christ, trusting in Him, leaning on Him.
The Pharisees aren’t dead; they just redefined their job descriptions, sitting in judgment of everyone, everywhere, appropriating the authority and sovereignty of God unto themselves.
If you desire to possess the fruit of the spirit, if you desire to possess kindness, weep with those who weep, feel for those who are hurting, comfort those who are mourning, mend those who are broken, and defer all merit, all distinction, all glory all honor to Jesus Christ the Son of God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Longsuffering

Longsuffering is one of those attributes or virtues that is either looked down upon or discounted altogether by many people. However, it is the fourth ingredient in the fruit of the Spirit. God thinks enough of longsuffering to place it after love, peace and joy, and if God thought so highly of the virtue of longsuffering it would be wise of us to understand its full meaning, and realize its importance.
Longsuffering is defined as long and patient endurance of injury, trouble or provocation. Although it is not widely taught on today, longsuffering has a prominent place both in the old and new testament.
Some perceive longsuffering to be indifference, others perceive it to be weakness, while others perceive it to be fatalism, when in fact it is none of these things. Although it has been called by different names, such as discretion, being slow to anger, or possessing a patient spirit, when you boil them down to their essence, one discovers longsuffering as the root of all these things.
Proverbs 19:11, “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook a transgression.”
This is the foundation upon which longsuffering is built, and upon which it stands even in the face of storms. When the proverb speaks of overlooking a transgression, it does not mean to overlook sin, but rather a wrong that was committed against the individual. It is to your glory, if one has wronged you yet you overlook the wrong. This requires longsuffering as often the old nature is stirred up whenever we are wronged, or when we perceive that we have been wronged. Longsuffering, in the face of being transgressed against, is to a man’s glory.
The good judgment, or the maturity of a man, or as the proverb states it, the discretion of a man also makes him slow to anger. As we grow and mature in God, we grow in good judgment, and we consistently resist the desire to become reactionaries.
Too often even those we consider mature in the faith, react to a slight or an affront impulsively and hastily, forgetting the great lesson that the discretion of a man makes him slow to anger.
Longsuffering is also an integral building block of humility. It is in humility that we learn to submit to the authority of God, and learn to be dependent upon Him and His strength, rather than on ourselves and our aptitudes.
Ecclesiastes 7:8-9, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
One of the consistent marks of great men of God throughout the Bible is humility. Whatever capacity God used them in, however many miracles God did through them, they remained humble knowing the source of their power, knowing that absent of His leading they were as anchorless boats beaten about by the storms of life.
The world looks upon humility and despises it; they see it as a weakness rather than as strength; as a shortcoming rather than a virtue. The children of God however, find strength in humility, because the humble soul trusts God for its might.
Proverbs 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
There are many attributes to longsuffering that make it a necessity in the life of a believer, and it is an attribute that God shares as well. Yes, God is longsuffering, and due this virtue, due to this attribute, He terries in sending judgment waiting for the sinner to repent, and be reconciled unto Him. If not for God’s longsuffering, the world would have been destroyed long ago, but God’s wrath is tempered by His longsuffering.
Joel 2:13, “So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”
God’s graciousness, His mercy, and His great kindness, as well as His being slow to anger are all byproducts of His longsuffering. This however does not mean God does not get angry, but that He is slow to anger. Words ring hollow to God’s ears, and outward shows of repentance without true repentance of the heart are as a stench in the nostrils of God. When He sees true repentance in the hearts of His creation God relents from doing harm, when it is only formality however, when merely rend our garments but not our hearts, His righteousness demands that He judge justly.
Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.”
‘Well, it all sounds good, but up until now you’ve only quoted verses from the Old Testament.’
True, but this does not mean that there are no scriptures in the New Testament that encourage us to pursue longsuffering. I wanted to divide the need for long suffering between the Old and New Testament, to show the continuity of thought throughout the Bible concerning this ingredient in the fruit of the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:1-3, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
We live in an age when the idea of walking a walk worthy of the calling with which we were called seems archaic and antiquated. To many the only thing they must do in order to get saved, and so have access to abundant prosperity is raise their hand in a public setting, repeat a prayer, and live out the rest of their lives as they please. If we have been called out of the darkness into the light, if we have been called from death to live, then we must have a walk worthy of the calling with which we were called.
We love and embrace all the great privileges that God’s gracious calling bestows upon us, but we often shy away from the solemn responsibilities. One cannot have the privileges, without appropriating the responsibilities. When we are called of God, God’s calling establishes the criterion to which our conduct must conform.
When we have a walk worthy of the calling with which we were called, lowliness, gentleness, and longsuffering are a constant companion on the path toward eternity.
The Word is clear on the fact that we serve a God who changes not. We see the continuity of God’s nature and the attribute of His longsuffering into the New Testament as well. We must also endeavor to keep at the forefront of our minds, that if God’s longsuffering and love for mankind is constant and perpetual, so are His standard, His righteousness, and His justice.
2 Peter 3:14-15, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation – as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him has written you.”
Peter makes the extraordinary claim that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. This is the epitome of God’s expression of His restrained love, grace and mercy. He is longsuffering in regards to the world, that He may perfect those who are His. God’s longsuffering extends only to His children, because with the wicked He is angry every day and merely forebears with them until the day that His wrath is poured out.
If one of God’s attributes is longsuffering, and if one of the ingredients that make up the fruit of the Spirit is likewise longsuffering, ought we not also strive to possess a longsuffering spirit?
When we possess the virtue of longsuffering, we grow in the likeness of Jesus. We learn to bear the burdens of our brethren, we learn to forgive, and we learn to have a patient spirit. Longsuffering compels us to forgive the slights and the insults; it keeps us from simply reacting to an affront on our character; it strengthens us in the face of the scornful, and manifests the character of Jesus in us. May we be wise, and seek to be longsuffering in all things.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.