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Friday, May 28, 2010

Hitting the Snooze Button

I believe the snooze button on an alarm clock is an insidious and nefarious invention. Although I can’t prove it, I have my suspicions that the person who invented the snooze button is somehow related to the individual who invented the rack or the intestinal crank in medieval times. First the alarm wakes you from a fitful and restful sleep, and then with one bleary eye we notice the snooze button. Everything inside is screaming for just a little more sleep, and so with one push of a button one obtains a five minute respite wherein they can attempt to rediscover that blissful state of unconsciousness. Just as you’re about to descend back into the arms of slumber however, the alarm goes off again.

I think the most sinister thing about the snooze button, is that you never really get back to sleep once you’ve pressed it, and just as you’re about to descent back into your dreams, it goes off again. And so, depending on how many times one chooses to press the snooze button, the individual finds themselves in a state of stupor, not really awake, but never really asleep, until finally, grudgingly, they get out of bed and go about their day.

So what prompted this rant on snooze buttons? Did I miss a flight or a meeting because I kept hitting it? No, there was no unfortunate event due to my use of a snooze button, but as I pondered the spiritual condition of much of today’s church, I realized we’ve been hitting the spiritual snooze button over and over again, even though the alarm has gone off, and we ought to have been awakened.

For years now the church has been doing corporately, and in a spiritual sense, what we often do individually in a physical sense. It has been unwilling to wake up, even though the alarm is blaring, and so rather than come to full awareness, rather than become fully awake, the church has sought out, and discovered various kinds of snooze buttons that they could press, deceiving itself into believing that there was still time to slumber, that it didn’t have to be awake quite yet.

Even though the alarm has been blaring for decades now, there have always been men who offered spiritual snooze buttons of sorts, and even if their reasoning in justifying a continued and prolonged slumber was often times tangential, poorly documented, and even unbiblical, the masses flocked, and clung to these men as though they were life preserves in a stormy sea.

The first spiritual snooze button the church pressed, as far I can remember in the not so distant past, was the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Well, it can’t be time yet, the temple isn’t rebuilt. We still have plenty of time to do as we will, to disregard God, and chase after earthly things because well, there’s still the matter of the temple, and that seems to be decades away.

The second spiritual snooze button the church pressed, was the resurgence of the Babylonian empire. For a season the church was all abuzz as to how Saddam Hussein was going to rebuild ancient Babylon, and it was going to become a center of commerce once more, growing to such unimagined heights that it would rival any superpower on the globe. Even Saddam swinging from the end of a rope didn’t seem to deter some people, and even though the only thing visible in Iraq, (what some interpret to be end time Babylon), are dust, and sand and the blood of brave American soldiers, they slumber comfortably because well, Babylon isn’t a superpower yet, nor is it a center of commerce, and so we’ve got plenty of time left.

The third spiritual snooze button that the church is currently pressing is the mystical year 2012. Even though there is no Biblical basis for this, and anything having to do with 2012 was extracted from a Mayan calendar, a people who cut the beating hearts out of the chests of men and women in order to appease their dead gods and false idols, the church is once again resting comfortably because well, we have at least two years left until we really have to get ready for anything.

We have dismissed the warnings of God to be instant in season and out of season, we have disregard the words of Jesus who said He would return as a thief in the night, and continue to press the spiritual snooze button because to be blunt, we just don’t want to wake up. If the seasons which are upon us find us slumbering, if they find us unprepared, if they find us in that state between wakefulness and sleep, it is not God’s fault. God has been sounding the alarm; it is we who have chosen to press the snooze button over and over again.

There is nothing the devil loves more than a sleeping Christian. There is no easier prey for the enemy to overtake than those who of their own will have chosen to slumber just a little while longer. Knowing this, the enemy will continue to serve up spiritual snooze buttons for as long as we will press them, because he does not fear infants, he fears spiritual warriors who are seasoned and hardened by spiritual warfare, and who know how to stand their ground.

We must wake up. We must stop looking for excuses to continue our slumber, and simply wake up. We must be about our Father’s business, and work while it is still day because the night will soon be upon us and no man can work when night falls.

Our choice today, will eventually lead us to one of two camps. Either we will be among those who are ready and prepared for the groom’s return, with oil in their vessels and in their lamps, or we will be among those who half awake, are frantically trying to get some oil so they too could meet the groom.

No, God’s hand is not short, it has never been, and it will never be short. We just thought it too much of a bother to reach out and take that which He was offering, we thought it more advantageous to press the snooze button, ignore God, and just keep on sleeping.

God help us! God wake us!

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Way, The Truth, The Life

‘I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I never read in either of them: ‘Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden.’
Augustine

‘Had Christ the death of death to death, not given death by dying, the gates of life had never been to mortals open lying.’
Author Unknown

‘If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.’
Fyodor M. Dostoevsky

When God introduced Himself in the Old Testament He did it with few words shrouded in mystery. “I am that I am” was God’s answer to Moses’ query, and it was enough for Moses to fall on his face and acknowledge the fact that He stood before a sovereign and omnipotent God.

In the New Testament however, we see a once mysterious definition take on more clarity as well as more complexity. As Jesus spoke to His disciples, He revealed Himself to them by saying, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’

It is important for us to know the fullness of Christ, and what it means for us that He is the way, the truth, and the life, because in knowing the truth of who Jesus is assures the sufficiency of our salvation in Him. When we realize what it means that Jesus is the way, when we acknowledge that He is the truth, and believe that He is the life, our faith in Him is unshakable, our path is made straight and easily discernable, and our hope rests in the life that He promised us.

John 14:1-6, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in god, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am you may be also, and where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

We begin with Jesus the Way, which to most should be self explanatory. Jesus did not say He was one of many ways, and He did not say He was one of many paths. When He spoke these words He made sure to stress the singularity of the way, and the fact that no one could come to the Father except through Him.

Knowing that Jesus is the way denotes certain truths, which we must take to heart and take strength from. By telling us that He is the way, Jesus is not only showing us the singularity of the way, but also the simplicity, the certainty, and the sufficiency of it. If we can come to the Father through Him, then He is sufficient. If we can come to the Father through no other but through Him, then He is singular. If He promised that He will come again and receive us to Himself, then it is a certainty, and if what we must do is repent and believe in Him, then there is simplicity in the way as well.

No matter how men might try to twist it, the truth is that there are only two paths in this life. These two paths lead toward two different destinations that are as far removed and different from each other as the earth is from the stars.

Jeremiah 21:8, “Behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death.”

One way leads to life and an eternity in the home that Jesus went to prepare for us. The other way leads to death, and an eternity in the lake of fire, absent from the presence of God, where there will be wailing, gnashing of teeth, and where the worm never sleeps.

‘Brother Mike, that sounds kind of harsh, can’t you word it differently? Can’t you pull your punches just a little?’

To be honest, no I cannot. It is because we have lost sight of the reality of hell that so many feel as though they have free reign to do as their desires dictate without any sort of blowback or consequence. Even though some preachers are still teaching the reality of heaven, there is only a handful that still insists upon the reality of hell nowadays. No, it is not politically correct, yes, it might hurt somebody’s feelings, but if it causes one person to wake up from their slumber, to see the true reality of where sin ultimately leads to, then I can live with hurt feelings and angry letters.

It may justify a sinner when he hears that everyone goes to heaven eventually, and that hell does not exist, it may even embolden him to continue in his disobedience and rebellion, but if we believe this, then we are calling Jesus a liar. Yes, if we believe that everyone eventually gets a pass anyway and ends up in heaven, or that God does not punish sin, or that He is not a righteous God any longer, than we are calling Jesus a liar, and disregarding the entirety of Scripture.

The way of life is straight, narrow, and well defined within the pages of Scripture. The way of life is tethered in Christ, it is Christ, and there can be no deviation from this absolute truth.

The way of death is wide, with no boundaries or restrictions, it is winding, never leading directly to Christ and it is also short. Why would I say the way of death is short? The way of death is short because the pleasures of sin are fleeting and momentary, and they pass in an instant. Although the way of death is short the repercussions and consequences of sin have eternal ramifications.

When discussing Christ the truth there is one thing we must always be aware of; in a world of deceit, the battle for truth is an existential one. We don’t just choose to stand for the truth when it suits us, we don’t just choose to battle deceit when we have nothing else to do, we battle for truth because our existence depends on it. We have seen time and time again that when the children of God do not defend the truth, when the children of God are too indifferent or apathetic to stand for Christ, the enemy gains ground, sweeps through the ranks of groggy believers unencumbered, and the house of God suffers yet another setback.

Pilate stood before the embodiment of truth and asked Him what truth was. That’s pretty much where the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate ended, because if Pilate was unable to see the Truth standing before him, then there was no point in further discourse.

In the gospel according to John, we see a portrait of Jesus defined unlike anywhere else in scripture. It is both succinct and beautiful, to the point and conclusive.

John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”


John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

Mocked, despised, and even hated as the Truth might be today, He is still the truth. God never said there wouldn’t be opposition, God never said that the world would embrace us and love us if we followed after Him, what He did say was that if the world hated Him, surely they will hate His followers. The truth is being trampled underfoot by men claiming to be bondservants of Christ, and followers of God. In order to appease a dying, corrupt, and sinful world, fools with titles have taken it upon themselves to disprove the sovereignty, deity, and nature of Christ, because then they would be seen as forward thinking, and tolerant. It makes me cringe outwardly, and weep inwardly when I see men who posses doctorates in theology, who lead some of the biggest congregations in the nation, and are some of the best known so-called religious thinkers of our time treat Jesus like a piƱata, there to be swung at with brutal force in the hope that something cracks. They do this to the glee and amusement of the wicked, because if they can disprove the Christ, if they can discredit the way, the truth and the life, well, then there’s no point to faith in Him, there’s no point to submission and obedience to His commands, and the world is free to do as it wills.

We come to Jesus the life, and herein we discover a profound and often overlooked truth. If Jesus is the life, than anyone not in Jesus is dead! Simple, to the point, black and white, no further debate required.

If Jesus is the life, than anyone not rooted in Him, anyone not obedient to Him, anyone not possessing His nature is dead. Absent of Christ we are ambulatory corpses. Please don’t misunderstand, this is not some sort of fatalism borrowed from the Babylonians, it is the present reality of all who reject Christ as the life. We are here but for a breath, dependent on food, water, air, and the sun God allows to shine upon our faces, then we return to the dust from which we came.

Jesus defined Himself as being the way, the truth and the life. If we have Jesus, we possess the truth, we are on the right path, and on our way toward eternal life.

 
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's Wrong?

I wrote the following as a lead in to a teaching we'll be filming next week, but after reading it again, I thought I should post it as a stand alone blog entry.

Psalm 90:16, “Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children.”

We live in an age when even those within the house of God seem to have great difficulty in acknowledging the miracle working power of the God they serve. Believers of every denomination have taken it upon themselves to twist and interpret the Bible in such a way that they no longer believe in a God of miracles, a God who still speaks to His children, a God who is intimately involved in their lives, a God who is there when we are hurting, a God who is gracious when we repent, and a God who is active in the world.

We read the book of Acts, we read the exploits of the Apostles by the power of the Holy Spirit, we read the promises of Jesus telling us that greater things will we do in His name, then yawning, we shake our heads and say, ‘nope, not anymore! It was a misprint, God did not mean that, Jesus worded it differently in the original Hebrew, nope, God doesn’t do that anymore.’

We have not, because we ask not, and we ask not because nefarious agents of the enemy have talked us into believing that even if we ask we will never receive because God has boarded up the heavens, and He no longer does anything more than watch us run to and fro like purposeless insects.

We no longer pray to see the power of God in our churches, we no longer yearn to feel the flow of the Holy Spirit in our congregations, we no longer desire to see God’s work appear to His servants, instead we have become an inert mass of apathetic souls, looking to God as our ATM, desiring nothing more of Him than to give us a new house, or that boat we’ve had our eye on for so long.

We neglect to seek the greater things of God, because we are consumed with the lesser things of the world. We neglect to seek the Kingdom of God, because we are too busy with trying to build our own kingdoms here on earth. We deceive sincere Christians that God no longer does these things, because we ourselves are too lazy, too caught up in the world, too focused on other things to press in and seek the face of God, to be on our faces before Him and ask until we receive.

It’s amazing to me that some people still wonder why there is such a dramatic decline in church attendance, why so many people are walking away from their houses of worship, and why countless souls have resigned themselves to the status quo.

Souls are leaving the churches, because there is no power in the churches! People are walking away from their houses of worship because they can get better entertainment for far less than ten percent of their income elsewhere!

Sincere Christians, honest Christians, don’t go to church to be entertained, they don’t go to church to have their sins glossed over and their lifestyle justified, they go to church to be challenged, they go to church to hear the Word of God preached with authority, they go to church to see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in power and practice.

In our never ending quest to be relevant, to attract the world with watered down messages of self empowerment, we neglected to notice that we have become the world we were trying to bring to Jesus in the first place.

Rather than Lord and King, Jesus has become a great teacher of morality for many professing believers. He has been relegated to the ranks of perhaps a prophet, who did good works, and taught good things, but it would be too controversial to call Him the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the only way to God, and the only path to salvation. That’s just divisive, we’re all embracing, we can’t tell people there’s only one way to heaven, what will they think of us. And so, with each passing year, with each graduating class of seminarians the gospel gets just a little more irrelevant, just a little more watered down, just a little less authoritative.

Now Jesus is one of many paths leading to the same destination, and this coming from the lips and pens of those who profess to be preachers and evangelists, men who claim that they are in communion and fellowship with God.

What have we become, and why have we become it?

We have become whitewashed tombs, we have become clanging cymbals, we have become powerless, impotent regurgitators of self help pabulum, which does nothing to help the spiritual man, hoping all the while that no one notices we never mention Jesus, the cross, salvation or repentance.

Why have we become this? Why is the church in such a spiritually crippled state? Because we stopped asking, we stopped crying out; we stopped pleading with God to let His works appear to His servants, and His glory to their children. We let sin fester; we let the disease spread because dealing with it is too time consuming and might cut into our time on the golf links, and no one ever made the payments on their palatial estate by confronting sin. Big givers get a pass, because they’re the big givers, and it’s as though we have been transported back to the middle ages when you could buy any indulgence if the price was right.

We have lowered the standard, we have redefined God, we have made repentance taboo within God’s own house, and continually deceive ourselves into believing that there is nothing more.

“We have attained all the spiritual things that are afforded us! Yep, might as well get comfortable and take a nap. It’s only downhill from here.”

This is the mindset of those who refuse to try God and see if He will not answer, who refuse to knock for fear that God will actually open, because they don’t know what they would do if they were proven wrong after so many years.

In a nutshell, this is what is wrong with much of the church today, and my prayer is that the trying times that are soon to descend upon this nation will serve to wake some of them up, and bring them to their knees at the foot of the cross.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Death By Hubris

At the height of its power the Roman Empire spanned over 2.2 million square miles of land. Its influence and control encircled the Mediterranean, covered all of Western Europe, and even half of Britain. At its peak, the Roman Empire was second only to the Persian Empire during the reign of Darius the great. Some would say that an applicable truism concerning the Roman Empire is that anything that reaches such heights, only has a further distance to fall.

There are many opinions as to why the Roman Empire fell, some believing it was due to over expansion, others to monetary troubles, others still to military problems, decadence, and there is even a number who believe the reason for Rome’s fall was Christianity.

Personally, I believe the fall of Rome as well as every empire that has come and gone serving as a cautionary tale for those willing to heed it, was hubris. Simply defined, hubris is arrogance, an overbearing pride or presumption that distorts men’s perception of reality. Some have even called hubris the pride that blinds, and I believe it is an apt definition.

Most often hubris is tethered in past glories or past conquests, and is unfounded in its arrogance or presumption. It refuses to see its present reality because it recalls a better time, the golden years when milk and honey flowed like rivers, when enemies bowed in trembling fear, and when the mere threat of a threat of force would make one’s enemies cower and bend to your will.

As with every empire in decline, those days were long past for Rome, and although it still attempted to impose itself, it still demanded respect, it still presumed that its enemies feared its might, they began to notice an ever growing boldness from the ranks of those who once feared them, and the once cowering eyes of those who would not dare look upon a Roman now stared back with a mixture of disdain, hatred and expectation of vengeance.

Until the day that Rome fell, there were still those who believed it would never fall. Hubris blinded them to their vulnerabilities, it blinded them to their weaknesses, it made them think themselves great in their own eyes, and despise anyone who would dare sound the alarm, and point out the obvious.

The reason I decided to venture into the land of hubris today is because it would seem that as a nation we have an aversion toward learning from others’ mistakes. Like stubborn children we want to repeat the experiences of those that came before us because we are unwilling to receive council or take advice.

As it was in the days of Rome, when the glory and the pomp were but a fleeting memory, today hubris is compelling us to beat our chests and tell anyone within earshot that we will weather this storm like we weathered the storms of the past because that’s what we’re made of, we’re built tough and we don’t back away from a challenge. Having studied the history of this nation, I can say without equivocation that we were built tough, and yes there was a time when we didn’t back away from a challenge. Sadly, that generation is all but gone, and no matter how we would like to make ourselves believe it, we are not that generation.

I believe the greatness of the generation that weathered two world wars and a great depression in this nation was rooted in the fact that they knew right from wrong, evil from just, darkness from light, and they would not compromise these things. Yes, there was a time in this nation when simplicity was looked upon as a virtue worthy of emulating rather than despising, when good conduct and moral character was demanded not only of church going folk, but every one of its citizens.

Only hubris can make us believe we have the integrity, backbone and courage of that generation, blinding us to the reality of what we have become as a nation and a generation. We are Rome, not at its peak but during its decent, wherein everything is relative, if it feels good do it, the more of everything the better, God is an absentee landlord, and we forge our own destinies.

‘Providence? What providence? That’s just something old fogies believed. We are smarter and more advanced than they were, we have twitter and face book now. Just look at all the archaic stuff they believed in like hard work, integrity, God, helping your neighbor. What sort of existence would that be?’

And so, we make science our god, because science requires no submission or obedience, and is morally neutral. We talk ourselves into believing we are happy as we pop fistfuls of Prozac and Zoloft into our tear streaked faces. We hoard and amass useless things that we can’t afford only to have them taken away by the repo man. We grow apathetic and indifferent toward anyone other than ourselves, and we underestimate the tenacity, determination, and hatred of our many enemies. Hubris has done this, and hubris will be our undoing.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When Trials Abound

Hebrews 11:24-27, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”

There are times in everyone’s life where the stresses and disappointments of everyday life reach their climax, where things have built up for so long, that it finally overflows. Young and old, male and female, all go through these seasons where emotions just bottleneck, and build up. Each disappointment serves to add just a little more pressure, each hardship just a little more steam until finally it all boils over.

A recent study done on divorced couples, shows that an overwhelming percentage divorces do not occur because of just one big thing, but a building up of allot of small things. It is the human condition, and with the fluctuations in the global economy, and uncertainty concerning tomorrow, men and women of all backgrounds seem to be reaching that breaking point more than ever before.

There is one silver lining in this otherwise dark cloud, and that silver lining is that we are not of the world. Yes, we as children of God might be in the world, but we are not of it. We tend to so readily forget the promise of Jesus that He would give us peace, but not as the world does. We tend so readily to overlook the source of joy, the source of comfort, the source of healing, and the source of peace, because we are trying to do it on our own, to employ earthly means, and follow steps by which we will attain our happiness.

Often times, the world looks to us, and at us to see how we handle these stresses, to see how we handle these hardships and trials that come upon us. The world wants to see if we react differently, if we follow through on our assertions that in Jesus we find our peace and our joy. So what can we learn from the life of Moses that will show us what we must do when we just can’t go on anymore?

For the first forty years of his life Moses wanted to be somebody. Moses wanted to be someone important, someone people would look up to, and someone with authority. Moses desired to know all the wisdom of Egypt and the Bible tells us that he succeeded in attaining this knowledge. We must also keep in mind that there were not a people more advanced, more educated, and more civilized than the Egyptians during that time in history. Recent archeological discoveries even point to the fact that the Egyptians were practicing what amounts to modern medicine, performing surgeries and understanding human anatomy at a very advanced level. Never mind the fact that recently they discovered something very similar to light bulbs, and that the pyramids even to this day stand as a marvel of ancient craftsmanship. So when it says that Moses acquired all the wisdom of Egypt, it is not something to be readily dismissed.

It’s amazing to me that although thousands of years separate us from the time of Moses, man hasn’t changed much. We like to think of ourselves as progressive, as smarter than those that came before us, but the underlying nature of what makes us has remained the same throughout the history of man.

If the first forty years of the life of Moses is similar to the lives of many today, having achieved a certain level of education, soon to be promoted as ruler of the people of Egypt, the next forty years are very strange indeed. At the height of his learning, at the height of his success, Moses leaves it all behind and for forty years becomes a shepherd, tending sheep that weren’t even his.

So basically it took Moses forty years to become something, and it took him another forty years to become nothing. Before God could use him, Moses had to see himself as a mere vessel. He had to be molded and chiseled for forty years before God found him ready for service. So to summarize the life of this man who lived for one hundred and twenty years, forty years were spent learning to be someone, forty years were spent learning to be no one, and forty more years were spent in the service of God.

It is through the life of this great man of the Bible that we are taught what to do when we reach our wit’s end, when we can’t go on another step, when the proverbial straw breaks the proverbial camel’s back.

What do we do in those moments when we just want to throw our hands up in the air, and go find a quiet place somewhere far away to just be alone, by ourselves?

The first thing we must do is rediscover our identity. Remember who we are, remember who our Father is, and remember His promises to us. Now by your identity, I don’t mean your driver’s license number, or your social security number, but who you are. The knowledge of self is the knowledge of one’s true identity.

The Word of God tells us that He knows those who are His. The Word tells us that He knows His children by name. If you are a child of God, do you identify yourself as such? Do you acknowledge the beauty and majesty that is being reconciled unto Him, of being called His beloved?

Some people can lose their identity even while sitting in church. As Jesus wrote to one of the seven churches in Revelation, ‘you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’

Know thyself! Know that you are a child of the almighty God who spoke the universe into being.

Even though Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house, and everyone called him the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses never forgot who he was. As we read in Hebrews, when he became of age, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he knew who he was. Instead of being comfortable, instead of enjoying the passing pleasures of sin, and instead of being in a place of privilege, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God.

Moses never forgot that he was not Egyptian; he never forgot that He was a child of God; he never desired to be something other than what he was. Moses never forgot that God gave him an eternal name and that he had an eternal calling.

So many of us like to play the ‘if only’ game with ourselves. If only I was as handsome as that man, if only I was as beautiful as that woman, if only I had his money, if only I had his education, if only I had his charisma, if only we had their relationship. It seems everybody wants to be somebody else; everybody has adopted this mentality that the grass is greener on the neighbor’s lawn. Surely they don’t have any worries, surely they don’t have any problems; surely they don’t have any disappointments. Yet the people we aspire to be most often, the people we wish we were, seem to have the most miserable lives, the most horrible of addictions, and the most heartbreaking of divorces.

Moses didn’t want to be somebody else, he said ‘I don’t want your name, I know who I am, and I am different.’

Once we rediscover our identity in Jesus, we realize that what we once deemed as worthless is priceless in the eyes of God. Yes, you are priceless in the eyes of God. God sent His son to die, to expire upon a cross, for you, for me, for all of us. In God’s eyes you are priceless!

Do you realize that at this moment in time, billions of angels are warring against billions of demons, for your soul? A war is raging in the unseen realm for the soul of even the most irrelevant and unimportant of men. And such is the love of God for you that this war will rage until the return of Christ.

Know who you are in Jesus! Not because we are anything but because He is everything. You were bought with a price, and it was not with anything as trivial as silver or gold, but with the blood of the only begotten Son of God. You have been redeemed, you have been plucked out of the darkness and brought into the light, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and as such you can stand before your heavenly Father, and speak to Him and He will hear you!

Just pour out your heart, just be honest with Him. He is Abba He is Father, and when you feel like you can’t go on, He will carry you. There is strength in Him, there is power in Him, there is peace in Him; there is comfort in Him. Go to Him; know who you are in Him.

You are not insignificant. You are the one for which the heavens parted, and the Son came down to be born in a manger and hang on a cross. You are the one for which the greatest price ever to be paid as ransom, was paid. How can you say nobody loves you, when He has already proven just how much He does?

Moses knew who he was, he knew he was a child of God, and he would not demean himself, he would not be less than what he truly was by saying he was the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses knew he was not an orphan, and you my dear friend ought to know that you are not an orphan either. Our God reigns, He is King, and He is father.

The second thing we must do when we just can’t go on, is remember where we belong! We live in a divided world, everyone belonging to their little factions, everyone congregating in their own groups. Yes, the world is divided between rich and poor, between educated and uneducated, between people with a name, and nameless people; one can see the divisions wherever they choose to look, even between literate and illiterate.

Although in the eyes of the world there are countless fractions, divisions, and camps God only divides the world in two, God only sees one distinction by which He forms two camps: The saved and the unsaved.

He doesn’t see Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, He doesn’t see sick and healthy, rich or poor. God knows only two categories. Saved and unsaved.

There aren’t many paths; there are only two, the narrow path and the wide path. There aren’t many doors; there are only two, the door that leads to the kingdom of God, and the door that leads to eternal sorrow. There aren’t many foundations; there are only two foundations upon which we can build; the foundation built upon sand, and the foundation built upon the rock. Countless souls today are building their homes upon the sand, trusting in fleeting doctrines, and materialistic teaching, trusting in themselves, rather than the authority of God, countless souls build and build only to discover that it’s sinking, crumbling and falling to the ground.

A happiness built upon possessions will cease to be when the possessions cease to be. A happiness built upon the pleasures of the flesh, will cease to be when good health ceases to be. Nothing built upon the temporal can last in perpetuity.

We need to know who we belong to; we need to know where we belong. If you are a child of God, then you belong to Him, you belong on the narrow path, you must walk through the door named Jesus, and build your house upon the rock that is the Word of God.

When we know who we belong to, when we know where we belong we walk in authority, because we know who our Father is. When David confronted Goliath, he said to him “you come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

David knew who he belonged to, and where he belonged. This knowledge fueled his courage, and as he looked upon the giant of a man, arrayed in his armor, carrying all manner of weapons, he was fearless in the face of his enemy.

The third thing we must do when we just can’t go on, is understand that the entire purpose of our existence is knowing who to please. When we acknowledge that we exist to please God, we discover the joy of serving our Creator with love and zeal.

Consider the countless times Moses should have just thrown up his hands in frustration, if not for the knowledge that he belonged to God, and that God had a plan for him. For forty years he suffered in the depths of his heart because he could not be with his people, until finally one day he snapped, and killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. He fled, and became a shepherd for another forty years, tending to the flock of another, until God spoke to him through a burning bush and told him to go and bring Israel out of Egypt.

We all know of the plagues, and the constant hardship Moses endured while trying to get the Pharaoh to release the people of Israel from their bondage, until finally one day Pharaoh said, ‘go take your people and go.’

I imagine at this point Moses breathed a sigh of relief, thinking to himself that the road would get much easier from this point forward. At the age of eighty, as he was leading the people out of Egypt I doubt it crossed his mind that he would have to endure another forty years of the people murmuring every day, of the people doubting God, of building idols, of being hated by those who had forgotten the whips and the chains of their captivity, and now looked back on their time as slaves with fondness.

They even came to the point of wanting to kill Moses, crying out ‘where is God, we’re in the desert starving, and we miss the meat and bread of Egypt.’

They had seen God making a way for them, yet because of their murmuring rather than forty days, they wandered through the desert forty years. Through it all however, Moses kept his eyes firmly affixed on God. Moses didn’t try to please everybody, sure he heard their opinions, he heard their quarreling, but in the end his desire was to please God, and only God.

So often in this life we try to please everybody and end up making a mess of our lives. We get stressed out and resentful and run ourselves ragged because we’re just trying to please everyone all the time. We try to please our children, yet they are never pleased, we try to please our neighbors, yet they still won’t talk to us, we try to please our leaders, yet they still take advantage of us. We care too much about what they might think, how they will view us, what they will whisper about us when we’re not there. We’re so busy wondering what people think of us that we forget to ask what God thinks of us. Stop trying to please everybody, and just try to please God and you will know comfort and peace and joy. When we please God, we have achieved our highest purpose.

I can’t say that I know the key to success, as the world would view success, because my desire has always been to just walk humbly with my Lord, and work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I do however know the guaranteed path to failure, and that is trying to please everybody all the time.

Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Just meditate on this verse for awhile, let it make its way into your heart that you may understand the true depth of its profundity. When you seek to please the Lord, and only the Lord, He will make even your enemies be at peace with you. You will never be able to please people, but if you desire to please the Lord, He will change the hearts of men that they might be at peace with you. Just please God, keep your eyes on God, follow after God, and He will work all things out.

If my ways please the Lord, I don’t care who criticizes me; if my way please the Lord I don’t care what people think of me; all that matters is that I please my Lord and my God.

The last thing we must do whenever we feel overwhelmed by the trials and circumstances of this life, is focus on our destination. Yes we are on a journey, and focusing on our destination gives us strength to carry on, to press ever onward, and to see the end that is in sight.

I drive many miles in any given year, and each time I am returning from a speaking engagement somewhere in the country, I always check the miles to my destination. Every thirty minutes or so, I know that I will have close to forty miles less to travel, and that I am forty miles closer to home. With each passing day, we are one day closer to our destination, we are one day closer to our eternal home; we are one day closer to Jesus. Focus on your destination, and let God plan your route.

Israel wandered through the desert for forty years not because they got lost, but because they did not follow God’s plans. They rebelled against God’s route, they rebelled against the destination that God had planned for them, and so they wandered through the desert for so long that at one point they even considered making the desert their home.

Always remember that this earth is not our destination, it is the desert we must traverse in order to get to where we are going. We are journeying toward our Canaan, toward the place that Jesus went to prepare for us, and this knowledge should serve to encourage and embolden us even in our darkest hour.

Of all the peoples of Israel, three men did not forget that their journey had a specific destination in mind. Moses, Caleb, and Joshua always remembered that their journey would end, for forty years they knew that one day they would reach Canaan.

You were not called to perish in the desert of this world, but to reach your eternal home, your destination, where there is no tear, no death, no sadness, where Jesus is our light, and where we will be in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

Today I pray from the depths of my heart that we would know who we are, that we would know we are the children of the most high God, that we would seek to please Him and only Him, that we would have our destination firmly at the forefront of our minds, and that we would walk, that we would persevere, that we would press ever onward, remembering all the benefits, all the blessings, all the mercy and all the grace that God has so bestowed upon all of us. I pray also that we never forget He is with us, He guides us whether by a pillar of fire by night, or a cloud by day, God is always there urging us on, ready and able to help us when we need it. We serve a good God, a God who loves His children, and a God who desires nothing less than eternal life for all who believe in His Son Jesus.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Christ our Example

1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

More than ever before in the history of mankind there are people offering themselves up as examples worthy of following and emulating. From movie stars, to athletes, to singers, to clothing designers who promise you’ll feel better about yourself if you buy their clothes, to auto makers who promise you’ll turn heads if you drive their cars, there are countless people who are either directly or indirectly vying for the hearts of men. Throw all the famous and infamous religions and religious leaders into the mix and you have a countless supply of men holding themselves up as examples, encouraging people to follow in their footsteps.

Tragically, there are more people today, especially of the younger generation who want to be like the newest basketball or football star, who want to be famous like the newest singer, who want to amass wealth like the newest miser, than to be like Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, who came to this earth and poured himself out in love for all of mankind.

It is an undeniable fact that those we follow reveal the desires of our hearts, and the nature of our hearts. We cannot belong to Christ, and follow the world; we cannot belong to Christ and give our hearts over to foolish things or vain practices. When we follow Jesus, we are inevitable changed by Jesus from within, so much so that it is evidenced in our external countenance as well. Those you follow will leave a mark on your soul; those you follow will shape the way you view the world, the way you perceive God, the way you pursue either the narrow path or the wide path of faith, because to follow is to inevitably reach the same destination as the one you are following.

If we follow after Christ, then our destination is the kingdom of heaven, that place of which Christ spoke and assured that He would prepare for those who were faithful to Him. If however we follow after worldly things, if we surrender our hearts to gurus or programs, steps and fanciful plans, if Jesus is no longer part of the equation but has been replaced with manmade, man constructed, and man implemented plans, then our destination is no longer the same as Christ’s for we have veered off the path that He has set for us, wandering in the desert of this life, hoping to reach a good end.

It is a tragic thing to see men and women surrender their hearts to something other than Jesus. They are so committed to either a person or an idea, that when the person falls short of their expectation, when the idea does not deliver what was promised, they are utterly shipwrecked, absent of hope, seeing no light at the end of their darkness, no reason to press on and witness another sunrise.

Jesus did not encourage us to follow men; He did not encourage us to follow a denomination; He commanded us to follow after Him if we desired to be with Him in eternity. I come from a very traditional people, a people very set in their ways, a people who in large part have set Jesus aside, or completely replaced Him with ceremonies, traditions of men, and man centered practices. They have placed their denomination above Jesus, and so when the words of Christ contradict the practices of their denomination, they side with the denomination rather than Jesus. I realize that some of you are thinking to yourselves, ‘well, that may be your people, but it doesn’t happen here.’

Really? It doesn’t happen here? I can give you countless examples where denominations have broken with the Bible; I can site countless edicts that have been passed, and decisions that have been made in certain denominations contrary to the Word of God. Yes, unfortunately it happens here as well. It happens everywhere, throughout the world, in every place where people take their eyes off Jesus, and stop following after Him. When Jesus is not who we are following but rather another person, a certain doctrine, or a set of ceremonies, we replace the passion, hunger, devotion, commitment, and obedience to the word of God, with religiosity. I’ve seen people who no longer follow after Christ, become more religious than they were when they did follow after Christ, but religion does not save, Jesus does.

The enemy loves the idea of replacement theology, and replacement doctrine. ‘Anything but Jesus’ is his motto, and as long as we follow anything other than Christ, the enemy is content, for only in Christ, through Christ, and by Christ can the enemy be defeated, and only at the name of Jesus will the enemy flee.

We can have our name up on a plaque in our local church, we can be on the leadership council, we can sit in the front pew every service, but if the nature of Christ is not evident in us, if we are not daily transformed into an image of Christ, than we have missed the mark, and we are not following after Christ.

It is inevitable that men will see Jesus in you if He is there. It is inevitable that men will hear the words of Christ coming from your mouth, if He is there. Lazarus was not a theologian, he did not attend seminary, he was not well versed in oration, but his testimony was profound, impacting and life changing.

“I was dead, but now I live! Not of my own will, not of my own strength, but because Jesus called me forth!”

As is often the case, we get into the deeper things of the Bible, and get so caught up and consumed with them, like eschatology, or end times prophecy, that we miss out on the simple yet glorious truth that our entire life, our entire purpose, our entire quest is to daily be more like Jesus. We can know of future events, we can study prophecy, but if our lives are not right in the sight of God, if we do not possess the nature of Christ in our hearts, then all the knowledge that we amass will be in vain. Am I saying it’s wrong to study the deeper things of God’s word? Of course not, but never lose sight of Jesus; never replace Christ with something else. Remember always, that it is Christ in you, the hope of glory. There is no hope of glory in anything or anyone else, but Christ and Christ alone.

So what is it that we must follow? What did Jesus do that we must also do, that we might follow in His footsteps?

I realize this first observation might seem strange to some, but it is important from a practical standpoint. The first thing that we can learn from Jesus as our chief example is never to rush to a decision, or make hasty decisions. Consider that Jesus had a limited time of ministry on the earth. He began His ministry at the age of thirty and by the time He was thirty three and a half years old, He was being nailed to a cross for the sins of mankind. Three and a half years, that is all the time the ministry of Jesus lasted on the earth. He knew His time was short, yet he was never hasty, He was never rushed.

Luke 21:19, “In your patience possess your souls.” These were not the words of a mere man, but rather they were the words of Jesus Christ.

I realize this may sound counterintuitive taking into account the accelerated pace of human existence in our generation, but the wisdom of God transcends time, and it transcends culture, remaining vital and true from age to age. In your patience, possess your souls.

Jesus always took His time, He was patient. We want everything in an instant, yet God tells us to possess our souls in our patience. Hasty decisions are dangerous things, and they have lifelong ramifications.

We serve a God to whom a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day, yet somehow we do not learn from this undeniable truth. We pray a prayer then start tapping our wristwatches because in our estimation it seems that God isn’t quick enough in answering our prayers, that He is dragging His feet, or that He is taking too long. It is not God that needs an attitude adjustment, it is not God that needs to keep better track of time, it is we who must learn patience, who must learn to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and not be hasty in anything other than fleeing from evil.

The second thing we can learn from Jesus is that He always set aside time for rest. Yes, another practical thing that will go a long way in teaching us to have balanced lives. I realize how difficult it is to set time aside for rest. I am one of those people that loves what he does, and is wholly devoted to the work of God. I love to study the Word, I love to preach, I will do radio interviews, television interviews, I’ll teach Bible study classes for pastor friends, whatever it is that I can do to help the body of Christ, I do with joy. I started out in ministry at the age of 12 translating for my grandfather because he did not speak English. He preached in Romanian, and I translated in English. I share this to point out that it was very difficult for me to set aside time for rest. Whenever I tried to set aside a block of time to just go for a walk, or read a book, an idea would pop into my mind, something would draw me back to my notebooks, and sermon outlines, and I would give in.

That all changed the day that I went to the Word of God, and an interaction between Jesus and His disciples really opened my eyes and convicted me. As the apostles gathered to Jesus, and told him what they had been up to, and what they were teaching, Jesus said to them, in

Mark 6:31 “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

Throughout my years of ministry, I have seen many preachers, evangelists, and pastors burn out because they did not know how to come aside by themselves, to a deserted place and rest a while. No matter how strong and full of life we might think ourselves to be, we still need to rest once in awhile, we still need to be alone, and remove ourselves from the tumult of the world, just so we could recharge our batteries, just so we could be alone with God and fellowship with Him.

It was hard for me at first, to make time for rest, to make time for quiet time, but I began to see the benefits, to see how much more work I got done when I would take some time and just rest in between projects. Make time for your soul, whatever you might have to cut from the list, whatever you might have to remove from the roster, make time for your soul; find a place and rest awhile.

It is one of the paradoxes of our modern age, we live fuller lives, but less meaningful lives, we toil and labor holding down two jobs, to make a future for the children we never get to see, and are not there to watch grow up, only to realize that we should have invested more of ourselves into their lives, that they might grow up productive members of society, than simply invested in their college fund, that they squandered their first semester away.

The third thing that Jesus did was remain humble. Jesus never flexed His muscles; He never advertised about Himself, He was not a self-promoter. If we study the Word diligently, Jesus never did anything to prove Himself. He hung on a cross, as men mocked Him, as the scribes and the elders said, “If He is the King of Israel, Let Him now come down from the cross and we will believe Him.”

Do you really think the nails kept Jesus from coming down from the cross? Do you really believe that He who had the power to call down legions of angels didn’t have the power to remove himself from that piece of wood? Even in death, Jesus remained humble, and love kept Him nailed to the cross that your sins and mine might be washed by His blood, that your disease and mine might be healed by His stripes, that we might be reconciled unto God, that we might stand before His holy throne one day and hear ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’

If history teaches us anything dear friend, is that if we do not humble ourselves, if we ourselves do not remain humble, God will humble us. Humility is a beautiful attribute of God’s children, and when we have it, we will be following in the footsteps of Jesus.

So how can we keep humble? By remembering every day, and reminding ourselves constantly that everything we are, everything we have, every gift we possess, are not our own, do not come from us, but rather they are God’s, they come from Him, and they belong to Him.

It’s always interesting to me how some people take pictures with other people’s cars. They see a nice car parked on the side of the road, and are quick to lean on the hood and pretend it is theirs. This is how many Christians act today, if God has endowed them with a gift, or blessed them, they act as though it is theirs, when in fact it is God’s. By continually acknowledging that all we are, all we possess, and all we do either belongs to God, or is done for the glory of God, we will continue to live a life of humility before Him.

The fourth thing we see in the life of Jesus is that He never wasted His time answering His critics. I know, I know, it is human nature to defend ourselves, to defend our point of view, but if we are to follow in the footsteps of Christ, we must realize that attempting to answer our critics, is a foolish endeavor, that only serves to waste the precious time we’ve been given to do the work of God.

As Jesus stood before the governor, the chief priests and the elders began lobbing accusations against Him. It was their time, they had been looking forward to this for months on end, and they held nothing back. As they continued to accuse Him, Jesus remained silent until finally Pilate could take it no longer and asked, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against You?”

Matthew 27:14, “And He, answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.”

Why did the governor marvel greatly? Because even then, men were men, and they would all attempt to defend themselves, but here Jesus stood, and did not react to the accusations brought against Him.

Jesus reacted when He was hungry; He said ‘I hunger.’ Jesus reacted when He was thirsty, He said, ‘I thirst.’ Jesus reacted to religiosity and legalism, calling the Pharisees sons of vipers and whitewashed tombs. However, Jesus did not react to the accusations brought against Him. He did not waste His time with them.

Jesus knew something that we readily overlook, a verse found in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 23:9, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”

Those who criticize you do not want to hear your explanation. Their mind is made up, and even if you speak wisdom to them, they will despise the wisdom of your words. You’re already pressed for time, you don’t have enough time to spend with those who love you, why waste time with those who despise you?

The fifth thing we see in the life of Jesus worthy of emulating is that Jesus overcame His past. I say this, in the context of His childhood, His humanity, His hearing men speak ill of his mother, because let’s face it; no one believed He was born of a virgin as He was growing up. We all know what they whispered when Jesus happened to be walking by, or when He walked down the street holding His mother’s hand.

Here He was, the Son of God, who was born in a manger. So, having social standing went out the window as well as He was growing up. Now manger is a nice word for barn. How many people do you know born in a barn, surrounded by animals?

So with all this baggage, being born out of wedlock, in a barn, his adoptive father being a simple carpenter, at thirty three and one half years of age, Jesus gets up after eating, to wash His disciple’s feet, with the full knowledge that He had come from God, and that He would be returning to God.

Not everyone had the grace of being born in a Christian family; your past might be a very colorful one; men may whisper about you behind your back; but your past is something you must overcome. It is God that gives you your identity, not those around you. God says you are My son, you are My daughter, and knowing that you are the sons and daughters of God, you know what your final destination is.

I need to word this properly. I know this is for someone who is reading this. Reject the sins of your past, despise the sins of your past, but do not reject or despise yourself. When we repent, and call on the name of Jesus, when we humble ourselves and fall at the foot of the cross, we are new creatures, and the old creature is passed away.

There is forgiveness at the foot of the cross, there is redemption at the foot of the cross, there is grace at the foot of the cross, and there is mercy at the foot of the cross.

There is joy in following in the footsteps of Christ, there is a joy in knowing that He has walked where we walk, and He has overcome, He has seen what we see, yet He was perfect in all things. We serve a good God, we serve a loving God, we serve a merciful God, and if only we would surrender our hearts, if only we would commit our ways to the Lord, if only we would repent of those things which have separated us from His love for so long, we would know the fullness of His glory in our lives.

There are countless other examples that Jesus left for us His followers that we ought to follow, from His prayer life, to His deferring to the Father, and giving all glory to Him, but these are deeper lessons for another time, today I wanted to focus on some practical aspects of our lives, that will make this journey through the desert of our existence a bit more bearable.

We are not called to follow men, we are not called to follow denominations, we are not called to follow fads; we are called to follow Christ. If we are to follow in His footsteps remember, not to try and rush God, and not to rush yourself. Kingdoms are not built in a day, and an oak tree needs two hundred years to reach maturity. God knows best and in His time all things work out for the good of those who serve Him.

Remember also to find time for God, learn to rest, let your life speak for you, let your faith manifest itself through you. That which is in the heart of a man inevitably flows out of him, and if Jesus is in you, He will flow through you.

Don’t waste time answering your critics, they will always find another reason to despise you. Focus instead on Jesus, on your commitment to Him, and let the critics and criticisms fall by the wayside.

And last but not least, overcome your past. Remember, in Jesus you are not merely a patched up old vessel, but a new vessel that the potter has fashioned to His liking.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Learning from the Little Things

(For those who have as yet not seen it, the new, and in my opinion improved Hand of Help website is up and running. We've added pictures of our benevolence work in Romania, and some new teaching videos as well. I would love some feedback, so if you have the time, please visit and let me know what you think. God bless.) http://www.handofhelp.com/

Proverbs 30:24-28, “There are four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer; the rock badgers are a feeble folk, yet they make their homes in the crags; The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks; the spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in the king’s palaces.”


There are certain scripture passages in God’s holy word that we tend to overlook. We read about ants, and rock badges, and locusts, and spiders, and wonder to ourselves, what does this have to do with righteousness, what does this have to do with scriptural living? How can the life of an ant or a locust or a spider be applied to my circumstances, to my struggles, and to my trials?

I am one of those preachers that believes the entire Bible, from cover to cover, is divinely inspired by the omnipotent God we serve. If we are diligent in our study, if we read the word of God with the desire to understand His will, even what may seem as the most trivial of verses, will take on new meaning, a new life, and will teach us something relevant and necessary for our spiritual growth, and well being.

The first book I ever read was the Bible. After learning the alphabet, and how the letters came together to make words, any free time I had was dedicated to reading this wondrous and magnificent book. I would come home from school, sit on my bed, and just read the Bible for hours on end.

Something you might not know about me is that I grew up in a communist country where it was illegal to possess a Bible. My grandfather was a preacher, and a Bible smuggler, so there was always a Bible in the house, but even as a young child I was taught the importance of keeping this fact a secret from the teachers at school, as well as my fellow students.

As a child, reading the Word, I struggled with the questions of why God would have to use ravens to bring Elijah bread and meat in the morning and in the evening, why He couldn’t just make it appear before him, like the manna appeared on the ground for the people of Israel. When I got to the passage about Balaam and God using a donkey to rebuke him, I had a whole new set of questions, and when God used a rooster to humble Peter the questions just kept growing in number. Ever since, I’ve wondered why God uses the insignificant things to humble the hearts of men, why He uses things that we are often dismissive of to open our eyes to certain truths. Late into my teen years I came to the conclusion that God can use anything, even something as insignificant as an ant, or a locust as a teachable moment in order to open our eyes to the spiritual aspects of our existence.

So why are these four things which are little on the earth so important to God that He would include them in His word? What is their significance? Well, by these four things, we learn four principles for spiritual growth, progress and maturity.

The first little thing that is mentioned is the ant. And so, the question that begs to be asked is what if anything can we learn from the ant? As it turns out, we can learn allot from the ant. From the ant we learn the principle of spiritual provision. The ant is wise in that it has foresight, and so prepares its food in the summer. Absent spiritual provision, we cannot hope to grow and make progress spiritually.

It is said that in this world, only the strong survive. This is true in the animal world, as well as among mankind. The strong survive, yet there is an exception, and that exception is the ant. The ant is not strong, but it is exceedingly wise. The ant does not survive because of its strength, but because of its strategy. It knows it cannot defend itself, it knows it cannot wage a war, yet is wise in what it can do, and what it can do is prepare its food in the summer, make provision for itself.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun.”

Yes, for everything there is a season, and there is also a season in which we ought to prepare. When I speak of preparation, I am referring to spiritual preparation, which is exceedingly more important than physical preparation. So many today squander the time they’ve been given, they squander the opportunity to prepare, to sanctify themselves, to store up spiritual wisdom, because in their minds there will always be a tomorrow. The only problem with this sort of mentality is that tomorrow might not be as hospitable as today, tomorrow you might not have the energy that you did today. Tomorrow is never a good answer for growing in God, tomorrow is never a good answer for learning the wisdom and the power of the Word, because tomorrow becomes today, and we put it off once again, living for tomorrow when we should be living for today.

Do not squander grace; do not squander the opportunity to know Jesus more fully, more deeply, more intimately. All of us have opportunities to prepare spiritually; all of us are given a season in which we can make spiritual provision, and as the wisdom of the ant dictates, we must endeavor to do what we can today, rather than tomorrow.

There is a parable that Jesus spoke while He walked the earth concerning ten virgins. He called five of them wise and five of them foolish. If we study the Word diligently we see that there was only one thing that set them apart, one thing that made all the difference, one thing that separated wisdom from folly. The only thing that separated the wise virgins from the foolish virgins was the fact that the wise virgins made provision. Just think about this for a second! All ten fell asleep, all ten slumbered as the bridegroom was delayed but five of them had made provision, the wise ones had taken oil in their vessels with their lamps. As the cry was heard, that the bridegroom was coming, and they were to go out and meet him, all ten arose and trimmed their lamps, but the five foolish virgins realized they had not made provision, they had no extra oil, and asked the wise ones to give them some of theirs. The answer of the wise virgins was stern and straightforward; “no, we will not give you any of our oil lest there should not be enough for us and for you.”

Whose fault was it that the foolish virgins had not made provision when they had the opportunity to do so? Whose fault was it that they squandered their time doing other things?

I realize personal accountability is frowned upon in our day and age, but there are certain choices we make for which we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Redeem the time that you have, make spiritual provision for the seasons of spiritual lack, and you will be exceedingly wise.

When we make spiritual provision, we have enough to give to others as well, as we journey down this road called life. If there is nothing in my heart concerning the truth of God’s Word, if there is no love for Jesus there, if I do not seek after the wisdom that only He can give, how can I be a faithful ambassador and share Jesus with others? Make provision, and in due season you will see the wisdom of it.

Hide the Word of God in your heart, meditate on it, and make spiritual provision, because you do not know what tomorrow brings. It could well be a time of spiritual lack. As mentioned, I was born in a nation where there was open persecution against Christians, and many of them were thrown in prison for years on end. I have talked to many of the brothers who spent years in prison, who did not have access to the Bible, who could not read the Scriptures, and when I would ask them how they got through, how they coped, they would simply smile and say, ‘I hid the Word of God in my heart, I would go back to that well of wisdom and encouragement, and recite the verses that I memorized while I still had my freedom.’

The Word kept them, the Word encouraged them, the Word strengthened them, and this was possible only because they had made spiritual provision before the season of persecution started. They were diligent in the things of God, and their diligence and preparation carried them through some very dark days.

So what can we learn from the rock badger? Well, from the rock badger we learn the principle of a durable foundation. Rock badgers are rare little animals that reside in parts of Southern Africa. They are curious little creatures that are primarily herbivores, or vegetarians, yet they make their home in crags and crevices of rocky outcrops and cliffs. Even though they have to venture out, far from their home to find food, since there isn’t much vegetation growing on rocks, they make their homes in the cliffs and crevices in order to ensure their safety. Every day the rock badger commutes in order to find food, yet the foundation of its habitation is so important that it intuitively makes the sacrifice.

So what is our foundation? What is that durable foundation that will ensure permanence; that will guarantee our shelter from the storms of this life? Our spiritual foundation must be none other than Jesus Christ. If our philosophy or our doctrine is built upon anything other than Jesus, it will surely crumble into nothingness.

1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

The Word of God is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. For if we hear and do His word, then we are as a wise man who built his home upon the rock. When Jesus is our spiritual foundation, and the Word of God our spiritual home, then we can rest assured in the knowledge that come what may we will always have a save harbor, a place of refuge, a place of healing, a place of joy, and a place of peace. He is the source of everything the heart yearns for, and by His word we obtain a multitude of grace and blessings.

When we have no spiritual foundation, we are easily swayed, easily beaten about by the storms of life. When our spiritual home is not firmly planted upon the rock that is Jesus, we readily succumb to sadness, hopelessness, and desperation, because the circumstances of this present life dictate our level of joy and peace.

In Jesus and by God’s Word we have victory over the enemy, and we overcome the trials and hardships that come upon us like the waves breaking upon the shore.

The durable foundation of God’s holy word also sanctifies us. We can show up to church every service, we can fast, we can adhere to ceremonies and traditions, but the only means by which we are sanctified that the Bible specifies, is by having the Word of God in us.

John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

These words were spoken by Jesus in the context of a prayer He prayed to the Father concerning His disciples, and those who would follow after Him. We are sanctified by the Word of God, because His word is truth. When we have the Word of God living in us, we have a sure and stable foundation, wherein we will not be deceived or led astray. We know the truth, the truth has made us free, and we praise God for it!

There are two equally dangerous extremes that have been sweeping the churches of today, because we did not heed the example of the rock badger, and did not build our home upon the rock of God’s word. The first extreme is the Word without the Holy Spirit, which only leads to the love of many growing cold, and the second extreme is the Holy Spirit without the Word, which leads to all forms of deception, manifestation and uncertainty concerning truth.

The Word of God in us, prohibits us from going to either extreme, and keeps us on the straight and narrow path of faith in Jesus.

Next we come to the locusts, which as the Word tells us have no king, yet they all advance in ranks. What could be relevant or important about this?

The principle we learn from the locust, is the principle of solidarity, or unity. No one is apprehensive concerning one locust. One locust is insignificant and easily dismissed, but a swarm of locusts is a reason for dread and fear. Locusts were the eighth plague that was released upon the land of Egypt during the time of Israel’s slavery, and as they fell upon the land they devoured everything in their path.

The locust’s destructive powers notwithstanding, the primary lesson that we must glean from them is their innate ability to be as one, to advance in ranks even though they have no leader.

We as children of God have a king, we have a leader, yet we have not learned from the locusts, so even with Jesus before us, the churches today are fractured and divided. There is strength in numbers, there is strength when the children of God get together and pray and seek the face of God.

In his letter of rebuke to the church of Corinth, Paul asks a question that should be posed in many churches and congregations today.

1 Corinthians 3:3, “For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”

We see all the things that Paul mentions readily played out in many churches today. From envy because the church across the street somehow managed to erect a bigger building, to strife because we allow the opinions of men rather than the Word of God to guide our steps, to divisions because we just can’t agree on certain ideas and so must go start our own little clan, all these things are evident in the churches. As such, Paul would ask us today, if these things are among you, are you not carnal and behaving like men?

When there is solidarity among believers, when we are united in purpose and vision, the enemy will always be defeated, and he will be forced to flee. When we are as one, the enemy cannot cause division, when we are as one, the enemy cannot sow discord, when we are as one, looking to the author and finisher of our faith, we are strong, and we overcome all the fiery arrows that the enemy might fling at us. No one tells the locusts they must advance in ranks, no one guides them toward this end, but they know instinctively that by themselves, as lone locusts they are powerless. It is in their solidarity and unity that they discover their strength.

The last principle for spiritual growth, the final lesson we learn comes from the spider, which skillfully grasps with its hands, and is in kings’ palaces. From the spider we learn an equally important lesson, as we have already learned from the other three things which are little on the earth.

From the spider we learn the principle of persevering in our testimony and our confession. If you’re like me, then you have a natural aversion to spiders. I do not like spiders! It doesn’t matter how well insulated your home, how many screens you have on the windows, how careful you are about not leaving the door open when you come home, it seems a spider always gets in somehow.

It is inconvenient and outright frustrating to come home, and unwind after a long day at work, and look up in a corner, and see a spider merrily spinning its web as though it has no care in the world. The spider it seems never gives up; if you manage to destroy one of its webs but it survives, it just proceeds to spin another web, undeterred by the fact that his labors have come to ruination.

Because it is so perseverant the spider even makes its way into kings’ palaces, where it goes about its business undeterred. Spiders don’t make noise, they don’t call attention to themselves, they have a job to do, and they do it consistently and faithfully.

We can learn allot from the way in which a spider goes about its existence, and we can apply some of these lessons to our daily lives as well. We know that our pursuit of Jesus and the wisdom that comes from the Word of God is a lifelong one. As the spider, we must be undeterred in our pursuit, continually and consistently seeking that face of God, continually and consistently living lives of prayer and supplication, continually and consistently reading the Word. Yes the enemy will come in and try to destroy that for which we labored, but our purpose must remain unchanged. We pursue Jesus at all cost, we love Jesus at all cost, and any stumbling blocks in our path only serve to embolden us to press on, ever toward the prize.

One is as likely to find a spider in the most rundown shack, as they are to find them in the most opulent of palaces. There is no place that the spider will not go; there is no residence that the spider will not enter. The spider is not impressed by opulence and he is not deterred by poverty.

Many of us look at our lives, our background, our education, and allow these things to deter us from persevering in our testimony and our confession of faith. We start thinking to ourselves that we are not intelligent enough, eloquent enough, or brave enough to talk to people about Jesus, to tell them of the love and grace that Jesus freely offers, and so consider certain people off limits, or unapproachable. Be like the spider, be unimpressed with opulence; be undeterred by poverty; because the rich and the poor alike need Jesus, and you might just be the vessel He uses to bring a soul into the Kingdom.

Jesus commanded us to go into the entire world, and make disciples of all men! He didn’t say to go to the middle class, He didn’t say to go to those who are in poverty, He didn’t specify that we were to preach only to the rich, but to all men everywhere. Just like the spider, we must be consistent in our sharing of Jesus, and if at first we don’t succeed, we try and try again. If the spider can’t get in through the window, he’ll try getting in through the door, if the door is not feasible, he will search until he finds a crack in the wall, and still, somehow, get in and begin doing what he does.

So many of us are deterred by rejection; we try telling one person about Jesus one time, and if they don’t receive it, well we just give up. There is too much at stake for us to just give up. For the sake of men’s eternal souls we must persevere in our testimony, we must continue to speak of Jesus, even at the risk of being rejected.

One thing we have to realize is that people are people. It doesn’t matter what level of fame they’ve achieved, it doesn’t matter what social status they’ve climbed to, in the end they have hurts, and disappointments, joy and sadness, times of hopelessness and desperation like everyone else. And like everyone else, they need Jesus. Knowing that we have the remedy for heartache, for sadness, for hopelessness, may we be like the spider and be tireless in offering this precious remedy of Jesus and the cross to all we come in contact with. Be fearless like the spider, and by your fearlessness and your willingness to be mocked and ridiculed, you might just save a life.

It’s easy to preach Jesus when we’re among other Christians, when we’re in church or in a fellowship of believers, but Jesus must also be preached to those who do not know Him, who do not as yet know the power of His grace and love.

And so, from the ant we learn to make spiritual provision. To gather the Word and the fellowship we have with the brethren in our hearts for the times of spiritual famine. From the rock badger, we learned to build our foundation on the rock, where our faith can never be shaken, where the storms of this life will not succeed in overcoming us. From the locusts we learned that we are small, but when we are united, and there is solidarity among us, we are strong indeed. And from the spider we learned that we must be everywhere. Whether our place of work, whether our school, or our home, we must be about our Father’s business, call people to enter into the love of God, and persevere in our testimony. Yes, the wise man can learn something from all of God’s creation, even those things which are little on the earth.

With love in Christ,
 
Michael Boldea Jr.