Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Fourfold Witness

In John 5:31-39 we have what is commonly called Jesus' fourfold witness:
1. v33 John the Baptist
2. v36 The works that Jesus did
3. v37 The Father Himself
4. v39 The scriptures

I believe we need these same four witnesses today:
1. The anointed testimony and anointed teaching of others
2. Signs, wonders, and other compassionate works
3. The internal witness of the Holy Spirit, including dreams and visions
4. The scriptures

Do you believe we need 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or some combination thereof?
Or do you believe we need 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, as I do?

Larry Carroll

12/14/13 - OK, thinking about this further, I will backpedal a bit and say that "1 and 2 and 3 and 4" as stated above, and in that order, is ideal, in my opinion.  However, I realize the Lord God can do whatever He wants and break any pattern I might set up for Him.  So, as an example of doing it differently, I recall hearing about the Lord God (the Lord Jesus) appear to people in dreams as a first witness.  And I rejoice to hear such things!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Psalm 116:11 - All Men Are Liars

Recently I was reading through Psalm 116 and I came to verse 11 which says, "all men are liars." That jumped out at me, remembering what I had seen the night before while watching a nationally televised political debate.

(Hey!  That indictment about all men includes you, Larry.)

Yes, it does.  But there is hope.  See below.

I also recall Pilate's very telling question which was, "What is truth?" The context seems to indicate he was in a very cynical mood at the time.  I suspect he had heard enough lies in his time to know from experience that truth had no value to the average speaker.

Jesus had previously addressed that question with the statement to Thomas, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

So truth is a person.

Putting it all together, I see that truthfulness will elude us unless the Spirit of the Lord God reigns in us. Yes, really!

(What does that mean?)

OK, this is what I want you to remember.  It means I need to be aware of His presence continually, lest I slip up during those times when I've drifted away, and think I need to be my own savior by telling a "white" lie.
  And I've experienced this both ways.

Larry Carroll

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lost And Found

Luke 15 is called the Lost and Found chapter by some, which I believe is apt.  Let me focus on the first of three parables, about the one sheep that left the flock and wandered away.

We read:
3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

At first, this sheep was not caught, but merely distracted by good looking stuff (probably food) somewhere "out of bounds", so to speak.  Life was still "good".  It wasn't until quite a bit later that it found itself lost, or worse, caught somehow.

And for people it's the same pattern.  Just because life is good, or OK, or not bad, doesn't mean I'm fine, no worries.  If I'm out of the presence of the Shepherd, and can't hear His voice calling to me, I'm in danger.

I'm in trouble before I know I'm in trouble.

So I need to do everything I can to stay connected with Father God.

But how?  How to pursue the Lord if my heart is lusting after other things? (aka idols)  I can't.  It's impossible on my own.  Alas, then I will end up in a thicket or a pit or the mouth of a predator.  Alas!

For many, the point of desperation comes when our idols fail us.  Too bad we can't see it before then.

But Jesus is a savior here, too!  He can and He will save.  But the first step is for me to realize I'm in trouble, lost, or caught by my own unhealthy appetites and desires.  When this realization comes, call out to Jesus to save.

It's better to call out to the Lord to change our hearts now, before circumstances make it all too evident that we need a savior, because we already need a savior if we're out of the presence of the Shepherd, and can't hear His voice calling to us.


Larry Carroll

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

To Know the Voice of the Lord That Well

God's written word is good and that includes His Law. It sets up good and just principles for living.
Psalm 19:7 says: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul...
And in Romans 7:12 it says:
Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

Also, in Luke 10:25-28 it says:
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”  27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”  28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

Therefore, we should study and meditate on the scriptures, that is, the Bible, as it says in Second Timothy 2:15:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)

However, this is only a framework for life, not an end in itself.  Why do I say that?  Well, in the same way that one can read "How To" guidebooks, one can read, live, and benefit from the principles in the scripture without ever knowing the author, and that is a tragic loss.

For example, if a person takes to heart what is written in Luke 6:38:
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.
That person will benefit by the material blessings that come his or her way.

A person does not have to check in with the Lord, or commune with the Lord, to live by some of the principles in the scripture.  And in the end might He say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."?  We don't want that!

But to know His voice and experience His presence is a whole new dimension to life.

OK, now usually our understanding of the Lord's instruction, His guidance, His peace, will totally line up with the written word.  And if something comes to us that doesn't, there should be a big warning sign flashing within us.

However, occasionally the presence of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, the spoken word of the Lord, overrides the common understanding of the principles of the Lord.  There are examples in the scripture in which people were told by the Lord to disobey the common understanding of the Law.  Here are three examples.

1. In Acts 10:9-16, Peter was in Joppa on a rooftop praying.  He fell into a trance and had a vision of unclean animals offered to him for food.  Then a voice came to him and said, "Rise Peter, kill and eat." But Peter objected.  (The warning sign was flashing.)  The voice spoke to him a second time saying, "What God has cleansed you must not call common [unclean]."

So someone will say, "Well, that was just a figurative way of speaking.  Peter never really had to eat unclean animals."  This is true.  But what Peter was told to do was just as offensive -  to enter the house of a Gentile, and associate/dine/fellowship with him.  He was scolded for this contact when he came back to Jerusalem.

If something like this happened to me, I think I might have said, "This can't be the Lord God.  It is not consistent with the scripture I know."

Nevertheless, and this is really, really important, Peter knew the voice of the Lord well enough such that, even though this message was so totally contrary to all that he ever heard before, He still knew it was the Lord God speaking to him.  (Acts 10:14, "Not so, Lord...")  (How did he know?  Time spent with the Lord.  And that's how we will know.  And here's some good news - the Lord God wants to spend time with each of us, too.)

2. Although this occurred before the Law was given, another example is the episode where Abraham was directed by the Lord God to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.  I probably would have said, "What?!  This can't be God!".   But it was, and Abraham knew it.

3. And Jesus Himself knew the voice of His Father well enough to know Father's will, which was to offer Himself as an offering for us!  Peter said, in essence, "This is a terrible idea!  This can't be what the Lord God wants."  And we likely would have said the same thing.

So the point of this posting is to encourage us to become so attuned to the voice of the Lord God and hear the Lord God with such certainty and clarity that we will "turn on a dime" if so directed by the Lord.

Someone will say, "This is dangerous.  God does not contradict His word or change His mind."  Yes, the Lord God does not contradict His word and it is especially dangerous to live outside a community of believers thinking that one can and will receive fresh revelation without submitting it to others.

However, we have some examples above where the Lord God contradicted the common understanding of the Law with His spoken word.  And just generally in life, we need fresh revelation from the Lord, else life gets stale.  Yes, this fresh revelation more often than not builds on what we already know rather than seemingly contradicts it.  But, is everything we "know" truly from the Lord?  Have any of us ever picked up the traditions of men and thought them to be the correct interpretation of God's word?  I dare say most of us have.

Therefore, until we get to the place where Peter was, to guard against deception, when and where possible, believers should be open to new revelation, BUT live in communities in which they can submit what they hear to mature believers. (Yes, we need more than just one.  We need a plurality of elders/leaders.)  Then these mature believers can go before the Lord to evaluate what was heard.  Hopefully the mature believers will hear the spoken word of the Lord regarding the issue at hand and be able either to agree or to disagree that what was submitted is from the Lord, or not.

Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus.  Open my ears, Lord, and help me to listen.  Enable me to press in.

Larry Carroll

Unless otherwise marked, all scripture quoted is from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

John 16:23,24
23 And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Are there requests which are just too trivial to ask?  When people pray, "Lord, where did I leave my glasses (or my keys)?", is this a waste of time?  No.  Father God is concerned about all of the details of our lives.  Luke 12:7 says "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Are there requests that shouldn't be asked?  Yes, if one is aware of a Biblical principle that addresses a request such as, "May I be unfaithful to my spouse?"  Don't!

How about if the answer seems obvious?  If there is no Biblical principle addressing an issue, then don't assume anything is obvious.  In Joshua chapter 9 the leaders of Israel did not ask the Lord about a matter which seemed obvious.  But they were deceived and suffered for it.

And finally, are there requests which are too big, too immense, too grand for us to ask?  For example, is it a waste of time to pray for our nation or even for world peace?  No.  First Timothy 2:1,2 says,
I urge, then, ... that prayers, ... be made for ... all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives ...

So should I pray about everything?  Well, yes.  But praying can be quick.  You don't have to explain anything to the Lord God, or convince Him of anything, or argue a case, or bow your head and close your eyes.  He's right here, He loves you, and He's been watching over you as a father or good shepherd.

So ask, and receive, and experience the joy of the Lord.

Larry Carroll

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Power To Forgive

The Power To Forgive
At my church we have been blessed to have the subject of forgiveness addressed from the pulpit for several weeks, starting with Mike Ferris’ presentation on January 8.  Mike addressed this from several angles and exposed the big lie of the enemy which is:

If you forgive, you are implying that this offense was really nothing much.  It’s OK.

And he went on to say, rightly so, that there are many abuses, offenses, and even crimes, especially crimes, that have happened, and they aren’t OK, and they never will be OK.  Nevertheless, we need to “let them go” for our own well being, for our own benefit.
Jesus went further when He said in Matthew 6:14,15
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We see here that we really must forgive – and we know this to be true from experience, too, since we’ve seen unforgiveness damage people, and bitterness destroy people.
But how?
When we experience an offense and then look within ourselves we find that the power to forgive is not in us. What to do? Are we trapped in unforgiveness with no hope?  It seems as if forgiveness is not humanly possible.  Is the Lord God asking too much of us?  Well, He’s asking too much of ordinary mortals, that is, people operating in their own strength.  Martin Luther wrote:
Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,”
(From the hymn:  “A Might Fortress”)
Alas…"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24.  Well we know who will: Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
How does this deliverance work?
There’s an old song I love:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
It’s true.
So the first step is to “turn your eyes (the eyes of your heart) upon Jesus”.  Then ask Him to save you from your prison of unforgiveness.  Ask Him to wash you clean.  Ask Him to enable you to repent, that is, acknowledge that you (we all) are needy people and that your pride, greed, fear, and unbelief must be renounced (crucified, if you will).  Jesus is a savior and a redeemer, not just from hell, but from all that binds and torments us.
But what will keep us free?
Will we just slip back into our old habits?  Oh, Jesus will save us yet again, but this is no way to live.  We desperately need to be operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. And to be operating in this power, we must be baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Mark 1:8 says that Jesus is the one that baptizes and fills with the Holy Spirit.  So, pray to the Lord and ask Him to baptize and fill you with the Holy Spirit.  He will do it.
Notice that the word baptize is used here, as it is with water baptism.  Is there any connection?  Well, water baptism signifies to all that we’re totally in, no turning back.  Same thing with being baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit.  He’s totally in us and we’re totally in Him.  This is not just a Sunday morning activity anymore, this is life itself.
Now forgiveness is not just a hurdle to get over occasionally so we can get on with life – it is a core element in life itself.  Does that sound depressing?  Well, then turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.  Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord God in the Philippian jail.  Why?  They were aware of God’s presence.  In the same way, you too can do things that are humanly impossible.
Larry Carroll

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ask, Seek, Knock
Matthew 7:7-11

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The promise in verse 8 is quite evident - everyone who asks receives.  "Why" is addressed below in verses 9 through 11.  "When" a promise will be fulfilled is not stated.  So, for example, Abraham had to wait 25 years to see God's promise to him fulfilled.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

So the question is, "How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?  The answer is "much, much more".  Why?  Because He is your Father, and He's an exceedingly good Father.

So ask, seek, knock, and receive - and experience the joy of the Lord.

Ah, but the tempter is still at work, as he was with Eve in Genesis 3, where he said, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?”

And today he will use circumstances to say the same thing, "Did God really mean what He said?"  Circumstances often say "No, He didn't mean it."  The Spirit of God inside you says "Yes, He really meant it."

Whose report will you believe?  Choose wisely, choose life.

Larry Carroll

All scripture quoted is from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.