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Is "Serving" God a Bad Thing?

Over the past several years of writing this Blog one of the things that I've tried to accomplish is to get people using their minds, to think about spiritual things.  So many Christians live in the lack-luster world of Status Quo, going down life's spiritual journey riding on the back of what they have been taught, no mater if it's right or wrong.  Over the years I've also had to note how many of today's Believers do not have the right perspective of their relationship with God. 

The other day a Sister in the Lord told me of how years ago she was visiting in a church and began to minister/pray for a young lady who desired the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The pastor of the church, observing what was going on, stopped the ministry stating, "This girl is not good enough to receive the Holy Spirit!"  Wow!  The horror stories I hear amaze me!  No one could ever know how much damage was done to that young lady that day!  I can't even begin to imagine of what her relationship with God is like today!

The fact remains that many, many Christians have a very unhealthy understanding of their relationship with God!  Lately I've been pointing out some fallacies that people are living in and actually teaching when it comes to these relationships.  So many have been taught that one has to "DO SOMETHING" in order to "find God."  So many are striving just to enter the presence of God.  As I've stated in past posts, God (Christ) lives within us, so how can we get more of His presence than that!  Christianity is not us performing for God, rather is is simply our faith in His performance for us....Christ coming for us, dying for us and being eternally alive for us!

So when I speak about "serving God." What am I talking about?  I suppose this would depend on what a person's definition of "to serve" would be.  If that definition would entail us waiting on God's table or being God's slave, then I would think that "serving God" is not a good thing!   See we would again have to be in the "performance mode" to accomplish that service.

Here's some interesting scripture for you to chew on....Galatians 4: 26 (NLT), "For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."  See we are not God's slaves, we are His children!  I mentioned last night in my teaching from this passage that, "I am not God's slave, I'm His son!

I trust that you see what I mean by that last statement!  I trust that  you too have the right relationship with Him, by faith in Christ, all that Christ has already done for us!  Listen Friend, you don't have to do a thing to be God's son!  It was already done for you 2000 years ago, now all you have to do is to believe it!

In closing...Is serving God a bad thing?  It depends!  It depends on your perception of that service and your understanding and revelation of your relationship with Abba!  This walk with the Lord is a simple thing.  As my friend Mark Drake says in his book, "God's Brilliant Plan," we are to find the "Easy and light life Jesus promised!"

Grace and Peace!


Are You A Jewish Wannabe?

It usually happens when I'm attending a conference or some place like that, where I'm wearing a name tag and I'm in the midst of a lot of strangers.  The conversation might go like this, "Silverman....Isn't that Jewish?"  Then if my name tag indicates that I'm in ministry it really gets exciting, "Wow!  You are a pastor and you are Jewish!  Wow!!"  Then they might say, "Wow!" again and inform me how blessed I am to be a "Jewish Pastor!" It is usually about at this point, when I can get a word in, that I burst their bubble by making a statement like, "Yes, I have a Jewish background, but I'm no better, no  more spiritual than you are!"  After this type of a statement I usually note a sigh, or even a frown, come over their face. 

I remain amazed by the numbers of Christians who think that being Jewish is more favorable than being just a good Christian.  It's like if we are going to really be spiritual we have to add the Jewish flavor to it!  Man...I'm against this!

Of course there are some today who are taking things way to far in this entire scenario.  I've been in meetings where famous, noted, conference speaker type, leaders have actually stated, (An actual quote here) "God has told me that we Christians have to begin to keep the Feasts in order to please the Lord!"  Wow!  Now that is just plain bad theology!  It is NOT Biblical, not even one little bit!  It flies in the face of all that Paul taught.  I'm doing a Wednesday night series teaching from the Book of Galatians.  I feel that this, much neglected Book, needs to be taught really hard by today's Teachers and Pastors!  However, it is so evident from Galatians that Christ has done away with the Law.  In regards to the Feasts, etc., one might do well with taking a long hard look at Col. 2: 16-17.

I fear that today's Church is way too legalistic!  I feel that there is way too much emphasis on Believers being told to do what Christ has already done for them!  God is calling His Children to freedom.  He's made that way plain by all of the works of the Cross.  We are to live by Grace in the fullness of the New Covenant.  To go back into the Old Covenant in any way is to walk away from the provisions of God through the works of Christ.  Look at Galatians 4: 4 (NLT), "For if you are trying to make yourself right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace!"  Ouch! Being cut off from God's grace means that we no longer have Christ's power working within us making us holy!  We are on our own, doomed to failure and condemnation!  Then if we sin, we are deemed guilty, no longer having the tremendous advantage of God living within us!  Not a good place to be!

Paul teaches that if we keep a little Law we have to keep the whole 9 yards! He also teaches that "in Christ" there is neither Jew nor Gentile...rather one New Man.  That New Man is filled with Christ, walking freely within the New Covenant, truly expanding the Kingdom of God!  You see the New Covenant message is really the Kingdom message, the real Kingdom message!

My Friend, you do not have to be a Jewish Wannabe in order to please God!  Read the entire Book of Galatians today, look at again tomorrow and maybe read it through every day for the next week or so.  Meditate on it, check it our fully, and compare your life to what you have read.  Compare your church to what you have read.  My suggestion would be, that if your church is teaching anything other than freedom in the New Covenant, run like the ship is about to sink!  You do not need that in your life!

Oh..here's one of my "laws:"  Larry's Law #1:  Whenever you try to follow God through the Law or any law you may come up with in order to think you are truly spiritual, there is only one thing that will come of it: CONDEMNATION!

Me thinkest that this is a good place to close, after all I've probably already stirred up a hornets nest!

Grace and Peace!


OK..I'm Really Swimming Upstream!

The name of my Blog is, "The River is Here!"  Of course this is speaking of the River of God that Ezekiel saw.  I see Ezekiel's River as progressive, always moving, having a current, going from one point to another.  The angel took Ezekiel out deeper and deeper, into progressive levels of revelation, until the River was so deep that all Ezekiel could do was to swim.  That's the point where faith takes over...leaving all the safety and security of shallow water behind!

I've found that for most of my Christian life God has had me swimming in water way over my head!  Ouch!  Yet, it's been in these places where my faith has been tested, tried and found true.

One would think that at my age, and with my many years of ministry experience that I would come to place of "settling down!"  And the Lord says to that concept..."No way!"  I think He enjoys keeping me out in the deep water, actually swimming against the currents of Religion!

OK.. here is what kicked off today's "rant!" 

Last night I read a Tweet that came from noted, popular, Bible teacher, Joyce Meyer.  It was a simple, short Tweet, yet it was so subtle and indicitive of the Religion that I'm find myself constantly swimming against.  Here's what Joyce Tweeted, "Working for God isn't spending time with God!"  Most likely many would say, "What's wrong with that?"  Probably I would have said that very thing a few years ago.  However, today, in my swimming up the River, I see a very sly, actually innocent, subtle statement that is saying, "To really please God I have to do something more!"

Have you discovered that it seems everyone is telling you to do something these days?  You have to pray more, read the Bible more, soak more, give more, go to meetings more, attend conferences more, spend more time with God more and the list goes on and on and on!  The net result of all of this action on our part is that we will finally come close to God!  We will finally be accepted by Him!  We will finally walk in the place of His blessings! Etc., Etc.!  However, this is the dictates of Religion, pure and simple!  Religion is telling you that you HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!  Again, the result of your ongoing efforts,  being that you find yourself in the Precence of God, or something like that!

Sister Joyce's Tweet is implying that just because one "works" for the Lord is not enough time spent with Him.  If I spend hours meditating, studying for a message, it is not good enough for God.  Instead I need to spend an hour per day, praying, or soaking, or meditating, or reading my Bible, or something like that.  And if I fail, I will certainly hear from the Condemnation Police, who will roll up in their relligious patrol car and inform me that I am not a good Christian, that I am failing God!

Let me close with some shocking words that some may consider arrogant on my part....I'M ALWAYS IN GOD'S PRESENCE!  I don't have to pray a lot, I don't have to meditate a lot, I don't have to take an hour or more daily or even read my Bible a lot to be in His presence!  After all, Christ lives within me according to Paul in Colousians 1: 27.  I cannot get any closeer to God than I already am!

It is like the guy yesterday in church stating, "Make sure you put your armor on every day!"  My response was, "Who takes it off?"  My armor is always on!  Get it?  Does this help you in some way?

Listen to me my Friend... Relgion is very strong, always wanting to pull you into to some type of "performance mode."  You have to recognize that all you have to do to please God is to BELIEVE....and He even gives you the faith to do that! 

I'm so thankful for Christ!  My words cannot express how I feel inside when I make a statement like that.  These are not just words, but the very substance of my heart!  Thank you Father!!!  Thank you for sending Jesus to us!  Thank you for your wonderful plan for our lives!  Thank you for your Grace, your Faith and for bringing us into the fulness of the New Covenant!  Thank you Jesus that you live within us!  Thank you Lord for making us Free!!!!  Thank you Lord for living as close to us as our next heart beat, and for never leaving us, never forsaking us, never removing your Spirit from us!

Glory!!!!! 

Now I pray that all who read this will see the revelation of who they really are in Christ!

Grace and Peace!




Grace Like Rain!

A few years ago Christian recording artist, Todd Agnew, released a new song, "Grace Like Rain." The Chorus of the song goes:


"Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me

Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me

Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away!"

 

If I were to try to describe what is going on in my life it would have to be, "Grace like rain falls down on me!"

People often think that living in Florida is really living in Paradise.  In some ways it is!  However, Florida is subject to very changeable, quirky weather patterns.  Certainly 80 degree, sunshine days in the middle of January are wonderful, but the side effects often take a toll.  Currently our area of Florida is in the midst of a very severe drought.  The lake we live on, actually a part of a 22 mile chain of lakes, is losing water daily.  Some old timers are telling me that the lake levels haven't been so low since the 1950's!  From my estimations, looking at people's docks, etc., I'd have to say that the water levels are over 6 feet lower than normal.  That is an indicator of a very serious problem as our State always has fresh water concerns!

Tuesday afternoon it rained very hard for about 45 minutes.  Last night around Midnight we caught another brief downpour.  This morning, looking out our windows, we noted that our lawn is actually turning green again!  Most likely it will take a tropical storm or two to fill Lake Tsala Apopka to its normal levels again.  However, we are entering into Florida's normal rainy season, where it rains some nearly every afternoon.

I never thought I'd be so happy seeing rain as I was Tuesday afternoon!  To me, it was like God's grace falling on a dry, thirsty land.  And isn't that how it is with God's real grace?  It falls on tired and thirsty souls, especially those who have been beat up by religion.  So many Christians seem to be charter members of the, "Try Harder Club!"

For months now, we at Vision of Hope Ministries in Hernando, Florida have been teaching on the God's grace and living within the fullness of the New Covenant.  It seems so many Christians do not really understand either grace or the New Covenant.  This past Sunday our Worship Leader, Kris, had to be out of town.  She was able to visit a large church Sunday morning.  She estimated that the attendance was a a couple of thousand people.  During worship they sang a song about trying to find Jesus.  Kris thought the song was rather strange, but stayed focused on worship.  Then the next song was on the same subject, trying to find Jesus!  She said that she felt like shouting out, "Hey!  I've already found Him!"  Kris is always trying to work with the songs we use in our worship times, trying to fit the words into the New Covenant, as so many of the lyrics of even today's popular songs, contain a few words, or a line of words, that are Old Covenant all  the way!  Do you remember Keith Green's, "Create in Me A Clean Heart?"  This is a great example of Old Covenant thinking!  If we were to sing that song in one of our worship services, the words would be changed to, "You HAVE CREATED in me a clean heart Oh Lord!"  See the difference?  If you understand what I just said, you get a little idea of what "Grace Like Rain" is all about!

Corinne and I are noting that we are understanding our Bibles in ways we've never known before!  The people of our church are finding how wonderful their relationships with God really are, and they don't have to do a thing to find them, other than believe!  We don't have to pray lots to find Him!  We don't have to try to live holy lives to find Him!  We don't have to perform in any way to find God!  No!  He has already found us!

I could go on for hours, however allow me to close this post with some Word!

Romans 5: 1-2 (NLT), "Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege (grace) where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory!" (Emphasis mine)

Yep, "Grace like rain falls down on me!"  I love it!  When people get near me, they get wet too!  Yeah!!!!!!

Grace and Peace!


 


Does the New Covenant Really Mean The New Covenant?

I recall a church from years back named, "New Covenant Fellowship."  To be honest, looking back, that church was anything but a true New Covenant church.  The name was correct but the actions of leadership were far from being NC!  Instead legalism ruled the house.

I'm sure that the founders of that church were doing their home work in establishing the name of their congregation.  However, not fully understanding the truth of the New Covenant they actually mis-named the group.

Some of my frustration lately has been in trying to talk New Covenant truths with people who think that they understand these truths.  The other day I was talking to a Brother about these things, but I had to give up because he thought that just because he'd been a Christian for many years, a pastor for most of them, that he understood fully the things that I was talking about.  Yet, it was very obvious that he didn't have the slightest idea about what living in the New Covenant (NC) is all about. 

For months now, all I preach/teach about is the New Covenant!  This message is truly endless!  There seems to be no end in sight for me, no lacking of preaching material, that's for sure!  I truly feel that this is the, "message of the Kingdom," for these days!

Take a look at the following verses and just meditate on them.  Allow the Spirit to make them real to you, not just knowledge real, rather, revelation real! I'll close this post with the following verses.  After all, it doesn't get any better than that!

Grace and Peace!

2 Corinthians 3:7-18

New Living Translation (NLT)

The Glory of the New Covenant

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.