Archive for the Michael Stone Category

Dear Christian: Faith and Focus

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Michael Stone with tags , , , , , , , on September 4, 2019 by paulthepoke

It is easy to become overwhelmed by SO many things in our lives. From personal situations to global unrest. From sickness to politics. From stress to natural disasters. Where do we have our eyes, our minds, and our hearts fixed? When we’re focused on Jesus, the bad stuff doesn’t affect us in the same way, because He, being with us ALWAYS, gives us that perfect peace, the peace that transcends all understanding, peace that only He can give. Where is our focus?

Think about the time that the disciples were with Jesus and he fed 5,000 men (women & children weren’t included in the count, but were definitely there, so the total of people fed that day could be 30,000 or more) with just five small loaves of bread and two fish from one kid’s lunch. The disciples were involved in that miracle because, after Jesus thanked the Father in Heaven for the food, He broke and divided it, and had the disciples hand it out. When all was said and done, and everyone was full (and probably burping), there were 12 baskets FULL of food left over, which Jesus had the disciples collect. That was one full basket of food for each disciple to carry back. They not only got to watch Jesus perform the miracle, they also were involved in doing it by handing the food out, then they got a bonus of each one of them carrying a large basket full of leftovers when all was said and done.

After everyone was done eating, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to spend some time alone with our Father in Heaven, and that they should go on ahead and cross the lake in their boat, and that He would meet them on the other side.

Now, at least half of His 12 disciples were fishermen, and they were ALL aware of the dangers of being in a boat on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias), especially during foul weather. As the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in their little boat, a storm arose – a nasty storm. As the storm got worse, and the wind and the waves were “contrary” to their safety, the disciples started to panic. They knew that at any moment their little boat could break up in the storm, and they’d all be dead. Suddenly Jesus appeared to them in the distance, walking on the water, on the stormy waves. They were all starting to freak out, thinking that He was a ghost or something. Imagine their panic! These dudes were just involved in a major miracle not eight hours earlier, and now their focus is completely in the opposite place, not on Who Jesus Is, but on their situation. He was right there, yet they were seeing Him as a menace, instead of their Salvation. They were deceived because they lost focus on Who Jesus Is, and their own authority in Him.

Well, in the middle of the disciples’ panic in that boat during the storm, Peter, in all of his zeal and passion, thought that he recognized this “scary ghost” walking on the water to be Jesus, so he called out to Him, “Master, if it’s You, tell me to come to You!” I’m pretty sure that, right about then, the disciples were probably saying, “Pete! Shut up! What’s WRONG with you?!!? You’re freakin’ talking to a ghost walking to us on the water! We’re all toast for sure, you idiot! Shut up!” Peter obviously was having none of their nonsense and called out to Jesus again, “Master, if that’s really You, command me to come to You!” Jesus obliged Peter and told him to come on out to Him – to walk on top of the stormy waves and come to Him.

Peter started to step over the edge of the boat to walk to Jesus. Right about then, I imagine, the that other 11 disciples were probably already discussing who gets Peter’s stuff when he drowns (IF they survived). Peter got out of the boat, his eyes fixed firmly on where Jesus was on the water. Peter walked on the water – on the stormy waves toward Jesus.

Now, realize this. Peter couldn’t possibly see Jesus the whole time that he was walking on the water. There were big waves between them. Jesus wasn’t floating in the air above the water. He was walking ON the water, and Peter was walking on that same water toward Jesus. Even though Peter couldn’t see Jesus all of the time while he was walking on the water, he had his eyes fixed on where Jesus was, so that, even when a wave would rise between them, he knew where Jesus was, kept his focus, and continued to walk toward Him.

Eventually, Peter got distracted by the wind and the waves. He lost focus. He looked at what was occasionally between him and Jesus, what he was already walking on top of. When this happened, Peter immediately panicked, and he started to sink. He cried out for help (probably something like, “Master, I’m SO screwed! HELP!!!“), and immediately Jesus was there and pulled him up. Notice how fast that happened – the Bible tells us that Peter only started to sink. Jesus was there in an instant, saved Peter, then put him in the boat and they went to shore.

See, it’s NOT that Jesus isn’t with us. He promised to be with us always – NOT just when we’re focused on Him, or even walking with Him, but always. No matter what, JESUS IS ALWAYS RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. He is not far, far away. He doesn’t need to be summoned from beyond. He’s right here! Right here with you!

It’s not like we have to look really hard to find Him. It’s that we need stop focusing on the problems and focus on the One and Only Solution. It’s not that hard to see someone who is standing with you, unless you’re looking in the other direction. That kind of fits in with the word, “repentance”, too. Repentance doesn’t mean to say, “I’m sorry.” to God. If it did, then hell is full of repentant people. They’re all sorry!

Repentance means to turn and go in the opposite direction, to change one’s focus, to change one’s mind, to change one’s point of view, to do a 180° turn. When we repent, our focus changes, our hearts change, our minds change, and our entire lives change because we have then died with Jesus on the cross, and now He lives in us and through us by His Holy Spirit. (Romans chapter 8, Colossians chapter 3), and we abide (live) in Him (John chapters 14, 15, and 16). When that happens, nothing that is thrown at us from the enemy has any power over us because God in all of His fullness lives in us, and we have His authority to pronounce those things dead. Remember, it’s not us that live, but Jesus that lives in us! How cool is THAT?!?



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Dear Christian: Forgiveness

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Gospel, Michael Stone with tags , , on June 27, 2019 by paulthepoke

Dear Christian,
Has it ever occurred to you that your difficulty forgiving others is because you don’t really believe that you have been forgiven?

Forgiveness Is For You

God cannot lie. If you have truly accepted Jesus the Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, eternal life, total healing, total deliverance, and total forgiveness are already yours in Jesus’ name. Receive those gifts! Go ahead!

Forgive others just as Jesus has forgiven you.
“If you forgive others for their transgressions, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
Matthew 6:14-15

Your debt is already paid in full. Jesus paid that debt. The wages of sin is death, and He paid that price in your place.

BE FREE, IN JESUS’ NAME!

Singling Out Sin… Michael Stone

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Michael Stone with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2019 by paulthepoke

According to the Bible, the God-breathed Scriptures, practicing homosexuality is a sin. Let’s not stop there. Before we start judging others, let’s ask Holy Spirit to search our hearts. The list of sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God isn’t limited to homosexuality. Not even close. We are wrong to single out just one sin. Many of us are guilty of one or more of the following sins, and many have yet to repent (turn away) from their sin, justifying their behavior in one way or another. Before we start pointing out the specks in the eyes of others, we need to deal with the planks in our own eyes. We ALL need to repent, “since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [by perversion], nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers [whose words are used as weapons to abuse, insult, humiliate, intimidate, or slander], nor swindlers will inherit or have ANY share in the kingdom of God. And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Dear Christian: Starting Today – Starting With Me

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Michael Stone with tags , , , on May 1, 2019 by paulthepoke

Featuring Michael Stone

The words ring in my ears sometimes. “You need to write!” I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve heard that over the past twenty five years. I probably even heard it a lot before that, but those years are so much of a blur that I wouldn’t recall.

From time to time I’ve actually tried to write, then lost focus and just quit. I’ve done it on paper in a spiral notebook, on our laptop while on the road in Kenya, and again in Kansas City, and again in Charlotte, and again in Orlando. I even copy and pasted what I wrote while in Orlando on an online message board. Every single time that I’ve tried to start writing, I’ve also abruptly quit writing. Now I’m inspired to try it here on the God In A Nutshell Project. We’ll see if I can be disciplined enough to follow through this time and actually write whatever else Divine inspiration brings to mind.

We all desire to see positive change in the world. What do we do about it? The Holy Spirit tells me that it starts in my heart, in my mind, with me – with me allowing Him to mold me into who I was created to be. I will be changing the world – starting with me.

“If MY people who are called by MY NAME will humble themselves and pray, and seek MY Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 (my paraphrase)

Notice that Scripture states clearly that GOD is calling HIS people to turn from their wicked ways, to humble themselves, and to pray. In this context HE’s not speaking to the lost, but to those of us who call ourselves by HIS NAME. “Christian” means “like Christ”. I don’t know about you, but I’m nowhere near like JESUS the CHRIST. I mean, I’m a man, I have a heart, a spirit, flesh and bones, and a desire to serve HIM but, like most of us, I believe, we sever more than we serve. We’re so spiritually dyslexic that we see the letters, transpose them, and cause more division than unity. 

Our first and most important commandment isn’t to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News…”, as much as we’d like to think that it is. Our first objective, and the only commandment that JESUS the CHRIST gave was to love HIM with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength, then to love one another….AND to LOVE OURSELVES! 

We have this self-pleasing culture here in western civilization. I’ve even seen it in 3rd world countries, so it’s a human thing. We may see it as self-love, but it’s a poor substitute for love. It’s not love at all. It’s just selfishness. It’s pride. Pride in no way can be compared to love. The verse from 2 Chronicles that I mentioned earlier calls us to humble ourselves, not to be proud. When we are humble, we can actually receive all that the LORD has for us…INCLUDING HIS LOVE. The whole key to the world changing and turning right-side-up is for GOD’s people, people of THE WAY, “Christians”, to humble ourselves and fully receive HIS love. Only then will we truly love one another. The Bible even tells us that our love for one another is how the world will know us. Only then will we serve instead of sever.

I love how Donald Miller puts it in his book, “Blue Like Jazz”. “I AM THE PROBLEM!” We look at things in our republic, and in the world, that do not at all line up with TRUTH, and we attack those things in our self-righteous indignation. There’s no love in that. We have to deal with our own hearts first. We need to let the HOLY SPIRIT move in and clean house. We need to totally receive the LOVE that the LORD has for us. When we do that, HIS love will just naturally pour out of us, and things will change. It starts with me. The problem isn’t abortion. The problem isn’t the homosexual agenda. The problem isn’t anything but my heart. Attacking symptoms of the worldwide lack of love will not change anything. I need to start with my heart. We all do. Nothing miraculous comes from activism. Miracles come from love, and that’s an action worth taking. 

“Receive, receive, receive the love of JESUS. Wrap up in HIM. Wait on HIM. Become intimate with HIM. Get to know the true love of the FATHER. Let the HOLY SPIRIT speak to you. Be still and wait.” I just keep hearing those words in my spirit. I pray that I will finally be able to pick up that simple key of love. It’s not enough to know it in my head. I need to KNOW it in my heart…to intimately know the love of the FATHER. ABBA…Daddy GOD. I need to intimately know the fear of the LORD. YHVH is as terrible as He is loving. Like C.S. Lewis put it, He is dangerous, but He is good. In JESUS’ name, FATHER, please help me receive all that You are. I’m so empty and lost without the fullness of YOU!

You know, I could read an article by someone else, and totally want to write to that person and try to help them receive GOD’s love, the whole time not knowing it myself. That’s so sad. I honestly believe that, for the most part, the Church is in the same position. We all want to help, but we’re not fully equipped, because we rely on too many other things other than JESUS in our daily lives. Our jobs, our bank accounts, our cars, our pickup trucks, our hobbies, our “stuff”. All of that crap violates “have no other gods before ME” when we allow it to consume our time, our priorities, and our lives. Most of us would say we’d surely die for JESUS, but we fight kicking and screaming if we lose any of our “stuff”. How can we die for HIM when we are so selfish that we won’t even live for HIM unless we can have our “stuff”. What a total chaotic farce.

I want to lay it all down. Whatever HE wants to give back to me is fine, or if HE gives nothing back, I want that to be fine as well. HE knows what I need. I really only know what I want. I put GOD in a box way too much! HE’s not my little “jack-in-the-box” that I can crank up when I need HIM, then shove back down and close up when I want control. Why, oh why do IDO that??!!??

OK, this is the start of the journey. I need to be in the Light. We all do. We’ll see how this goes. I truly do purpose to intercede for the world… as well as for myself. JESUS is at the right hand of the FATHER always interceding for each of us. HE sets the example. I need to follow HIS example. I believe that we all do…starting today.

Dear Christian: Repentance

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Michael Stone with tags , , on April 8, 2019 by paulthepoke

Introducing Michael Stone

Jesus follower. Husband. Dad. Grandpa. Apple/Mac snob. High Tech Hillbilly. Creative Writer. Copy Editor. Wordsmith. Graphic Communications geek. Animal lover.

~

Dear Christian,
What does “repentance” mean? Do you know? Are you sure? Are you unsure? Does knowing what repentance is even matter?

I used to think that telling God that I was sorry for my sins was repenting. Is that what you believe? I was mistaken. Just saying, “I’m sorry for my sins” is meaningless. Even if you are truly sorry for your sins, just telling God that you’re sorry is pretty much meaningless. If just saying, “I’m sorry for my sins, God” were repentance, then hell is full of repentant people. They’re ALL sorry – now.

No, repentance isn’t just telling the LORD that we are sorry. Repentance is actually BEING sorry for our sins and sinful lifestyle, AND changing our minds and our hearts, following Jesus and His ways, with the help of His Holy Spirit. Repentance is a gift, not a chore. When we’re truly repentant, our nature will be to be like Jesus. We will hunger and thirst after righteousness. We won’t be able to get enough of communing with Him 24/7, even throughout our busiest of days. Repentance involves abiding in Jesus and He in us. Abiding in His word, and His word abiding in us. That’s good stuff, Maynard!

When we truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, He makes all things new. We become a new creation in Him. His Holy Spirit abides in us. His words abide in us, and we in Him. Being saved is a transaction. We give Jesus our lives, and, in return, He gives us new life – eternal life. Eternal life doesn’t begin after we die, or are taken up in the Rapture. Eternal life begins the very moment that we surrender our lives and wills to Jesus, making Him our Saviour, our Lord. When that happens, our thoughts change. Our behavior changes. Our way of living changes. We completely change direction. It’s a spiritual 180° turn, resulting in a 180° change in our thoughts and behavior. That 180° turn is what repentance is. A change of heart and mind, going in the opposite direction. When we truly give our lives to Jesus, repentance will come natural to us. We will no longer desire what displeases Him. Sure, the temptations will come, but He promised to always make a way of escape for us. When we treasure His word in our hearts, He gives us the strength to resist the devil and to not sin. Again, because of His Holy Spirit inside of us, it will just be our nature.

When Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”, it wasn’t an ultimatum from an angry LORD. What He was basically saying is, “If you love Me, keeping My commandments will be your very nature.” Kind of like saying, “If you inhale, you’ll exhale.” Walking in His ways will just come naturally for us when we truly love Him.

Now, back to the question at hand. Does knowing what repentance is even matter?

Absolutely.

PaulthePoke

Prophecy Watch & Bible Study

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