Sunday, December 14, 2008
A time to prepare for the second coming of Christ, by dwelling on the events that surrounded His first coming. According to scripture, God is continually coming to His people, to refresh them by His presence. As part of his second recorded sermon, Peter exhorts the people "Now repent of your sins and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and He will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For He must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through His holy prophets." (Acts 3:19-21) Because of the teaching in church circles about an "any moment" return of Jesus, to rapture the church to heaven before the "great tribulation", that's the first thing they think of when God manifests His presence. According to Peter, His presence is meant to refresh us, for what is to come in the days ahead of us. Jesus must remain in heaven "until" the "restoration of all things" that the Lord promised through the prophets. Only the Father knows when the church has cleansed itself from "everything that can defile our body and spirit" (2 Cor 7:1). Jesus is coming back to earth for a bride who has made herself ready for her groom, Jesus Christ! The church is portrayed as the "new Jerusalem" in the book of Revelation (Rev 21:2, 9-10), which is the way God sees His redeemed people!
So this time of Advent every year, is a time for us to "cleanse" ourselves of anything that could defile us, and cause a separation between us and our Savior.
As we wait upon God, He will show us what things we need to repent of, and ask forgiveness for. This is what will bring the presence of God to our lives, and the time of refreshment that Peter spoke about! Once we get beyond the idea of an any moment rapture, and realize what God is up to, our lives will never be the same. Everyone who has studied church history will realize the church has never been ready to be raptured. Actually the church today has been so influenced by the world system, that it's difficult to tell the difference between church members and non-Christians, in their behavior and life style! What will it take to bring the church to the place of sanctification, and holiness before God? Perhaps only a time of intense persecution will do the job. Many parts of the world are already going through this type of persecution, and history proves that the church grows in number, and in quality, in these times! We in North America, know very little about real persecution, except what we read about he church in other lands. Let's use this Advent Season to prepare ourselves for the future!
Monday, November 24, 2008
expression appears in several of Paul's letters. For example in (2
Cor 7:5-7), we see Paul in a very discouraged state. Actually
this great apostle states in verse 5 "When we arrived in
Macedonia there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every
direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside".
Just imagine, this is Paul the apostle confessing to having fear! But
notice how he starts the next verse "But God, who encourages
those who are discouraged,-----". (NLT) Yes even great men like Paul
can become discouraged by times, "but God" always comes to
the rescue! In this case it was by the arrival of Titus with good
news about the church in Corinth.
example of Paul using this expression is in (Eph 2:4), after
stating the sad condition of every one of us in verses 1-3, that we
were all born in sin, he begins verse 4 "But God is so rich in
mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because
of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Jesus from the dead. (It
is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)" (NLT). In my
opinion, this second chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesian church,
gives us a very clear picture of both the universal need of salvation, as well
as how to receive it!
in these two uses of this expression "But God" by Paul, we
can see clearly that they apply to us all, at some time or other.
Certainly we were all born as sinners, and I expect that we have all
been discouraged a few times. We should be greatly encouraged to know
from God's Word that He is concerned about every one of us humans.
This supernatural [Agape] love of God is so far above and beyond any
sort of natural love that we can muster up, that we find it hard to
understand. In (John 3:16) where we read that God loved us "so
much that He gave His one and only Son", John used this Greek
word [Agape] to describe this supernatural love. Whether we can
really understand it or not, we can all take advantage of God's offer
of His supernatural [Agape] love. First we need to receive it, and
then we need to extend it to all those we come in contact with!
Monday, November 17, 2008
all know the difference between a thermometer, which "records"
the temperature of the atmosphere around it, and a thermostat that
"controls" the temperature of the atmosphere around it,
instead of just adjusting to the existing temperature and simply
recording it. As followers of Jesus we can either act as one or the
other in the atmosphere in which we live! As followers of Jesus we
all live in a spiritual atmosphere that is completely surrounded by
the ungodly atmosphere of the world that is under the control of our
enemy Satan. Jesus said we are to be "in" the world, but
not "of" the world. He also said "You are the light of
the world--like a city on a hilltop that can't be hidden." (Matt
5:14) What do you think He meant by that statement?
believe Jesus meant that as His followers, we are to affect the world
around us by reflecting His light! (John 1:1-5) In this way our
lives should act as a thermostat that controls the spiritual
temperature of the atmosphere in the world we are called to live in!
How well do we function in that role? Sad to say, we often become
nothing more than a thermostat which simply records the existing
spiritual temperature of the world around us. "Do not be deceived evil
company corrupts good habits." (1 Cor 15:33) So we need
to be careful what type of people we hang out with. Are we affecting
them as a thermostat would, or are we just becoming a thermometer,
and simply registering the spiritual temperature of that particular
Paul has some good advice for us in (Eph 5:6-14)! Then
he goes on in verses 15-21 to explain how we can receive the power to
live this sort of life. The key is his statement in verse 18 "Don't
be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be
filled with the Holy Spirit". The proper meaning in the Greek
for this expression is "be continually in the process of being
filled with the Holy Spirit"! Living a "Spirit filled life"
is not a once upon a time event, it requires a daily filling. Some
one once asked Dwight L Moody why he was always talking about the need
of being filled with the Spirit, his reply was "because I leak"!
If we expect our lives to function in this world as thermostats, we
must realize our need of keeping ourselves full of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told His disciples just before going to the cross, that He
would send the Holy Spirit to take His place on earth, when He went
back to heaven. You can read about this promise in the gospel of
John, chapters 14, 15, and 16. Then in (Acts 1:8, 2:1-4) we
see the fulfillment of this promise. Then in (Acts 2:38-39)
Peter tells us that this gift of the Holy Spirit is for us Gentiles,
as well as for the Jews he was speaking to that day. So let's
determine to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and become spiritual thermostats, and not just thermometers!
Monday, November 10, 2008
YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE?
of us have questions that seldom even get asked---let alone answered!
BIG questions like
was our universe, which includes our planet earth, formed?
did we humans come from?
do we go when we die?
is the purpose of my life?
there a life beyond what we experience here on this planet?
and many more questions often come to our minds, and we don't know
where to look for the answers. You might try to "Google"
for them on your computer, or read the many books available in the
library, but can any of them really give correct answers to my
questions? The answer is yes there is one true source of information
that holds the answers to these and many more possible questions!
book is the Bible, which is the "Manufacturer's Manuel",
that our loving "Creator God" has provided for the use of
human beings like us. It is available from any book store, and comes
in various translations, in most of the main languages spoken on our
planet. It was first written partly in Hebrew, and partly in Greek,
so any version you choose to read in your language has to be a
translation from the original documents. We suggest that you choose a
reliable modern translation such as the NLT (New Living Translation)
which uses words that are easily understood.
Bible is divided into 2 parts, the Old Testament (OT) and the New
Testament (NT). The OT gives details about the original creation, and
the life of a special nation God choose to be an example of how the
other nations around them should live. He gave them specific laws to
follow, and a system of worship that would be acceptable to Him,
their Creator. However they failed to obey these laws and were
continually following the ways of the wicked nations around them, and
God had to punish them for their disobedience. God raised up prophets
from among them, who warned them of the consequences of their
disobedience, and also of the promise of a coming righteous King, who
would some day come to lead them in His ways.
NT is basically the story of this King, who is none other than God
Himself, who comes to earth as "Emmanuel" (God with us),
who is the earthly manifestation of the triune (three part) God
(Jehovah) that we refer to as the Trinity. His Name is Jesus, and the
first 4 books of the NT give us a description of His birth, life,
death, and resurrection, from 4 different writers Matthew, Mark, Luke
and John. Matthew and John were both followers of Jesus, and part of
the 12 men who became known as disciples and later as apostles of Jesus,
while Mark and Luke were both part of the "Apostolic Team"
led by Paul, who wrote many of the books of the NT.
most people who are new to the Bible, it can seem like a very hard
book to understand, and it is difficult, especially in some of the
older translations. But we suggest you first start with the NT book
of Luke, who was a well educated doctor who travelled with Paul, and
wrote both the gospel that bears his name, and Acts, which is the
history of how the church started and grew in the first century. Both
of these books were addressed to a Roman nobleman named Theophilus,
who was apparently a friend. These 2 books will give you a general
understanding of the message of the NT, and how this message spread
throughout the then known world. Then possibly you should read the
gospel account recorded by John, in which he stresses the divinity of
Jesus. Then the short first letter of John gives us some very clear
advice, as well as the book of James, Peter's 2 letters, and of
course the letters of Paul. All these books of the Bible are meant to
point us to Jesus who is the "Truth" (John 14:6), who
came to earth to be our Savior. Once we accept Him as our Savior, the
Holy Spirit then indwells us as our guide into all truth. (John
16:13) and then, and only then, the whole Bible starts to make
Monday, November 3, 2008
The Bible has a lot to tell us about "spiritual maturity", such as this exhortation from the book of Hebrews (Heb 5:11-6:3). We all start out on our spiritual journey at the same point, that is our birth in the spirit. (John 3:3-8). This can be compared to our natural physical birth from our mother's womb, or to the birth of an apple from the blossom early in the spring. In the case of a human baby, they are completely helpless at the start and need the loving care of their mother, and the acceptance and help of the rest of the family. Then as they progress on their physical journey, they are helped by school teachers, church leaders etc. as well as many various friends that make up their learning environment in an ever increasing world in which they have to learn to adapt. The little apple, on the other hand, only has to be exposed to the natural elements of sun and rain etc. while being nourished by the sap it receives from the apple tree it is attached to. (John 15:5). Over the summer months this little apple just naturally progresses through the various stages of maturity, from a little half grown green apple in June, to a beautiful tasty red apple in Sept! For the human baby the time to become mature is much longer of course. Consider the normal year in kindergarten, plus 12 years in school, plus several years in university, and even then most students are still a long way from being mature!
Our journey toward spiritual maturity is very similar to the above process of the apple becoming a tasty delicious fruit. It takes time, and exposure to various situations, some good, and some not so good, but all planned by our heavenly Father to bring us into maturity! The Apostle Peter gives us an excellent description of this process of spiritual growth in his second epistle. Why not take time right now to read it (2 Peter 1:3-11), and meditate on the steps he outlines. He starts with faith, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6), and then adds to faith various qualities such as moral excellence, knowledge, self control, etc. until we reach the point of "love for everyone". This of course is the Greek word [agape], which is the highest type of love, "God's love". This should be the goal for each of us to reach, as followers of Jesus! Right?
I recently read the following quote from ODB devotional on Oct 26, 2008 "The God of all grace works in all His children, humbling the proud and exalting the humble, to make them ripe and sweet. Our task is to take hold of God's grace to endure our afflictions with patience, without growing weary". Then the devotional included the following little poem,
"Our fruitfulness and growth in Christ won't happen instantly,
but meditating on God's Word will bring maturity."---Sper
"Salvation is the miracle of a moment; growth is the labor of a lifetime"
Monday, October 27, 2008
Bible, which is often called the Word of God, starts out in (Gen 1:1)
with "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth".
Then in the NT book of John we see that it starts out "In the
beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the
Word was God" (John 1:1). We as humans with our "finite"
minds, find it near impossible to understand this simple, but
profound statement. But the fact is there can be only one
"beginning", and there is only "one God". Our
problem with understanding the Bible, stems from the fact that our
English Bibles, no matter what version we use, are all translations
from the original languages God used to have it recorded. Our English
language lacks the ability to always express the complete meaning of
words used in either Hebrew or Greek, the languages used by the
writers of various books of the Bible. Often the translators used the
same English word to translate words that can have several different
meanings. This is the case in point with the word used by John in
chapter one, which of course he wrote in Greek. One meaning for the
word in Greek which our English translators always translated as
"word" is [logos], and another Greek word [rhema], with an
entirely different meaning, is always translated as "word".
Without a knowledge of the original languages, or the use of a good
study Bible, it's no wonder people get confused!
your information [logos] means "transmission of thought",
and [rhema] means "communication or utterance". In other
words [logos] is the message; and [rhema] is the communication of the
message! Logos is the Bible in its entirety; Rhema is a verse from
the Bible. Another way of expressing this truth might be, the Bible
is the written [logos]; while Jesus is the living [logos]. An
understanding of this difference is helpful when reading verses like
(Rom 10:17), of course the word in the Greek here is [rhema], and the
NLT does a much better job of translation than the KJV here, where it
says "So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the good
news about Christ". I find that very often people pick out a
particular verse from the Bible [logos], usually a good promise,
and claim it as their own, when it has never been made personal to them
as a [rhema]. This often results in disappointment, and sometimes
even a loss of faith. Yes, the promises in the [logos] are true, but
until the Lord makes them personal to us as a [rhema] we cannot claim
them! He often brings these to our minds in a time of intimate
worship, when God manifests His Divine presence to us. The main thing for us to remember is that Jesus is God, and God the Father has sent God the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to our understanding! Hallelujah!!
Monday, October 20, 2008
FEASTS OF THE LORD (part 2)
part 1 we covered the first four spring feasts, Passover, Unleavened
Bread, and First Fruits, these 3 were all tied together closely, then
were followed 50 days later by Pentecost. As we noted Jesus fulfilled
these first three by His death, burial, and resurrection, and of
course Pentecost was fulfilled when the new group of followers of
Jesus were baptised in the Holy Spirit as recorded in (Acts 2:1-4)
this second part we will look at the three fall feasts 5/ Feast of
Trumpets (Rosh Hoshanna), 6/ Day of Atonement, 7/ Feast of
Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths. These all fall in
late Sept or early Oct according to our calendar. In part 1 we
mentioned that these feasts were given to God's chosen nation of
Israel, and they correspond exactly to the seven stages of spiritual
growth we go through on our way to spiritual maturity. The Christian
life is progressive. It starts with the forgiveness of our sin, by
accepting Jesus as our Savior, as we saw accomplished in our looking
at the real meaning of the four spring feasts. It progresses from
this "new birth", all the way to a "glorious
the OT the Feast of Trumpets were sounded to prepare His people for
what was going to happen in the days ahead. Trumpets were always used
to get their attention. In the NT times in which we live, the message
should be the same, prepare for the spiritual battles and conquests
that lie ahead of us as we prepare for the second coming of Jesus.
Because of certain teaching that Jesus could come at "any
moment" to "catch away" the church in a
"Pretribulation Rapture", the church, by and large, are not
preparing themselves for what is ahead of us. Every time the Holy
Spirit starts to move towards drawing His people into a closer
relationship with Jesus, all they can think of is that the rapture
must by near at hand. Some people even teach that this Feast of
Trumpets will be the rapture, instead of pressing on to a fuller life
of holiness and surrender. (1 Peter 1:13), (Phil 3:12-215), (Heb
comes the Day of Atonement, which was a picture of the purifying
process by which God is getting His Church ready to become the Bride
for His Son. This will require a certain amount of suffering. (1
Peter 4:12-17). This suffering for refinement is a preparation for
a great revelation of God's glory to us and in us! The Feast of
Tabernacles is the final and most joyous of all the seven Feasts,
when they celebrated the full harvest. Pentecost was a celebration of
the early harvest of grain like barley, but Tabernacles comes only
after all the crops were safely gathered into their barns. For
believing followers of Jesus in these last days we should look
forward to the fulfillment of these fall feasts with great
anticipation, knowing they are meant to prepare us for the glorious
appearing of our Lord in the clouds! (Acts 1:9-11)
is only a very brief description of these "Feasts of the Lord"
and an outline of how they were a picture of the process of our
growth to spiritual maturity. I trust it might create a hunger in all
of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, to press on to know Him
better, so we will be ready! (1 John 3:2)
new birth is only a beginning; Pentecost, or the baptism with the
Holy Spirit, is not the end as some people teach; but we need to
prepare for the glory that is soon to be revealed. As Paul exhorted
in (Rom 2:7) "He will give eternal life to those who keep
on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that
God offers" (NLT)
FEASTS OF THE LORD (part 1)
scriptures mention eight feasts, that were first given to the nation
of Israel, and are often referred to as the Jewish Feasts. They are
explained in the OT book of Leviticus (Lev 23:1-44), but are
called in verse 2 in the NLT "These are the Lord's appointed
festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy
assembly". Since they are the Lord's feasts, they should be
observed by followers of Jesus as well as Jewish people. The first
one mentioned is a weekly feast day called "the Lord's sabbath
day" which is still celebrated faithfully by Jewish communities
as "Shavuot", a 24 hour period every week when all normal
activity stops. The other seven yearly feast days are divided into
four that are observed in the spring season, and three in the fall.
The spring feasts were fulfilled perfectly by Jesus Christ by His
first coming to planet earth as "the Lamb of God that takes away the
sin of the world", and we can expect that He will see that the
fall feasts will be fulfilled perfectly,as well!
Spring Feasts---The first three, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and
The First Fruits, are all clustered together in the first month on
the Jewish calendar, which always falls in March or April on our
calendar, and then the fourth is Pentecost, which comes fifty days
later. These first three are often referred to as the Passover
season, and commemorate the first passover in Jewish history, which
is recorded in (Exodus 12:1-30). These special days were to be
a picture of the spiritual deliverance that God would provide for His
people through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the true
"Passover Lamb". Then fifty days later the Festival of
Harvest, when the first of the barley crop was ready to harvest, was
a picture of the first believers in Jesus being filled with the Holy
Spirit and sent forth into the world to harvest souls for the Kingdom
of God. So we see that these four spring feasts were already
fulfilled when Jesus came the first time, and are a picture for us of
the first stages of spiritual growth in the life of a "born
again" believer. These stages are 1/ Receiving our deliverance
from sin, by asking for, and receiving forgiveness through accepting the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross which
allows us to pass over from death to life (John 3:16-18, 36), 2/ Laying aside our old sinful nature inherited from Adam, and being
baptized in water (Rom 6:1-4), 3/ Receiving the new life of
the Spirit in our spirit (Eph 2:1-10), 4/ Receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the source of power to
live a victorious Christian life, (Acts 1:8). The fulfilling
of these four feasts are now a historical fact, and in part 2 we will
discuss the three fall feasts that are yet future.
Monday, October 13, 2008
DAY OF THE LORD
expression is used many times in the OT, and sometimes referred to in
the NT as the "Day of Christ", or the"Day of Jesus
Christ". In my opinion the writers are always speaking of the
same day, but from different perspectives. The OT references such as
(Zeph 1:12-18) compare quite favorably with the NT reference
(2 Peter 3:3-16). Notice they both speak of judgment by fire!
In (Luke 17:26-30) Jesus makes reference to two OT events and
relates them to the events of His second coming. The first was to the
flood in Noah's day, which as we know was a judgment on the wicked
inhabitants of the world after Noah and his righteous family were
safe in the ark! This would seem to me to be a reference to a
"Prewrath Rapture" of the righteous followers of Jesus at
His glorious return to put an end to the "great tribulation"
of the Antichrist. (Matt 24:21-22). The second reference by
Jesus was to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire. Both
events are tied in to His return in glory, the first to rescue Noah
and his family from the judgment that destroyed the wicked world with
a flood; the second to rescue His "elect" from the
destruction by fire associated with the judgment of the "Day of
the Lord"! Two things will happen on the very same day, as I see
it. First will be the return of Jesus at His appearance in the clouds
when every eye will see Him (1 Thess 4:16-18). This is
certainly not a "secret thing", as some people teach, but
visible to all who are alive at that time. Then later that same day
Father God will release His angels to commence the judgments
connected with the "Day of the Lord". Read (Rev
8:2,6-13; 9:1-21; 11:15-19) for a sequence of events that will
take some time to complete, but all will commence with the breaking
of the 7th seal of the large scroll.
a more detailed account of the Day of the Lord here are a few more
scriptures to check out.
2:12, 17, 66:15-16; Joel 2:1-3; Zeph 3:8; Matt 3:12; 13:39-43; Luke
12:49; 1Thess 1:4-10)
outline of events associated with this expression "The Day of
the Lord" is the result of many years of studying end time
scenarios from the scriptures, as well as from different writers perspectives, but trying
scripture to scripture for the most accurate possible scenario from
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM LAKELAND FLORIDA?
Now that the so-called"Lakeland Outpouring" has come and gone with all it's unusual happenings in the last 5 months, has the church learned anything from it all? One thing we should have learned is how easy it is to be led into deception by listening to the media with their hyped up reporting of the so-called signs and wonders, and miracles of healing. The fact that the evening services were spread around the world by God Tube Video was certainly a key factor in the speed with which the "revival" became well known. Many believers who follow the Charismatic branch of the church, especially the so-called "apostolic/prophetic movement" would seem to be the ones most affected, and only time will tell how much they learned.
Many good well balanced articles have been published so far about this event by various writers, including a letter of apology by Dutch Sheets expressing to the church at large how he regretted what had happened. And even though he was not personally involved in the events that took place in Lakeland, he felt to repent on behalf of the Charismatic group of churches that he has been associated with for many years. This act on his part may prompt similar actions by those ministers who were directly involved in encouraging Todd Bentley in his unscriptural teaching. There again, only time will tell if this attitude of repentance comes forth publicly from them, or not.
Jesus warned us in (Matt 24:24-25) that these things would happen in these end times. Paul also spoke about this sort of thing in (2 Thess 2:9-12), where he warns about the "man of lawlessness", better known as the Antichrist, who will come on the scene some day. It would seem that Todd Bentley was playing the role of a type of the Antichrist in Lakeland when you consider his teaching that was contrary to scripture, and his embellishing of the accounts of healings and raising people from the dead, which were never confirmed. It is never easy to admit that we are wrong, and have been deceived. Actually the one who has been deceived is usually the last one to know that he has been deceived. But I believe there are many leaders who must do this in order to bring a sense of integrity back into the apostolic/prophetic movement. This might help to heal the division that has been caused by people supporting both sides of the controversy that has developed. Let us agree in prayer that this will happen, and we can get on with the true "Revival" that God wants to bring to our land! This true revival has been prophesied now for many years, and most likely Lakeland was an example of the enemy's counterfeit of the real thing, which God allowed to test our ability to discern the true from the false!
Monday, September 29, 2008
How many times have you heard yourself, or others, use this term when describing some event in your life? Especially if we are recalling an experience that left us with a unpleasant memory. We can always think of several "what if" scenarios, that could have changed the outcome. This is fairly common, even among Christians who have the Holy Spirit to guide them. If we really understood what Jesus said in chapters 14-17 of the gospel of John about the Holy Spirit, we should never have a reason to use this expression again!
Jesus clearly stated that when He returned to heaven, after completing the work of redemption of fallen man, He would send the Holy Spirit to take His place on planet earth. We know from reading the book of Acts that every thing that Jesus spoke about, as recorded in the gospels, came to pass exactly as He said. I would suggest that you read these chapters again carefully, and especially notice the verses that tell exactly what the Holy Spirit will do for us when He comes. For example (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:5-13, 17:11-15), all are meant to give us the assurance that our Father in heaven has made ample provision for us to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Our part is to read His Word, believe it, and obey it's commands. If we did this faithfully, we should never have a reason to say "what if"----! Thank God His Word still contains verses like (1 John 1:9) to cover us when we fall short and confess it as sin, then we can receive forgiveness and cleansing, and get on with our life!
Monday, September 22, 2008
SINNER OR SAINT?
Both of these terms are quite commonly used in church circles, but not fully understood by some people. Anyone who is familiar with the Bible probably knows that a "sinner" is anyone who has not accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. There are many scriptures like (John 3:3), or (2 Cor 5:17) that clearly tell us of the need to be "born again". This is because we all inherited a sinful rebellious nature from our parents, who in turn inherited it from their parents, all the way back to Adam. Paul the apostle, who wrote much of the NT, was given much revelation by God into this truth. In (Rom 5:12) we are told how this sin came into the world through Adam. Then in (Eph 2:1-10) he explains more fully the good news of the gospel, and what we must do to be saved from this sinful condition that we all find ourselves in. The good news is that by accepting what Jesus did for mankind on the cross where He paid the price for our redemption, we can become a member of God's spiritual family. Jesus said He was the only way to God the Father (John 14:6), and in spite of what certain religions teach, and even what some church traditions tell us, if we ever hope to go to heaven when we die, we must confess that we are a "sinner" in need of a "Savior". Many people who attend church regularly have never done this because they believe that by following some tradition they were taught, they are ready now for heaven when they die. These people are in for a rude awakening when they find themselves in hell some day! There is only one way into God's heaven and that is through the door that Jesus opened for us when He died for our sins on Calvary!
The confusion in people's minds about the term "saint" is directly due to a teaching in certain church circles, that saints are certain people who have been declared a saint because of some outstanding achievement in their life. We find many churches named after these people, and also towns or cities etc. This title is always bestowed on them often many years after they die. The truth from scripture is that every person who has become a member of God's family by receiving Jesus as their personal Savior is considered a "saint"! This is the term that Paul often used to refer to believers in the letters he wrote to the churches he founded. For example read (Rom 1:1-7),or many other places in the NT and you will find the followers of Jesus referred to as saints. In some of the newer translations you might find words like believers or God's holy people etc. instead of saints, but they are the same true believers in Jesus, and the main point is that they are "alive saints", and not dead for many years! In (Col 1:13) we read about how sinners become saints by being transferred from Satan's kingdom of darkness, into God's Kingdom of light, which happens the moment we receive Christ as Savior, and not some time after we die. This is only one of many ways the church has caused confusion in believer's minds because of their traditions that are not based on the Word of God!
Monday, September 15, 2008
COMPARING LIFE TO AN ELEVATOR
I recently read a little article about elevators that gave me the thought for what I will try to share. We often view our life as a linear progression of time, with one event following an other in an orderly fashion, like spring follows winter. Perhaps we should rather view our life more like an elevator, that takes us up to a new level of maturity each year. We all start at ground level where we start learning the basic lessons of life. Then every year thereafter, we learn new things and progress upward on our journey of life. At every level of life we meet new people, and experience new things that all add to our maturity level. What we learn at each level prepares us for the next, and so our life progresses always upward. Some of us now find ourselves getting on in years, and it is becoming more difficult to remember all that we have learned at the previous lower levels. So here the comparison of life to an elevator perhaps ceases to apply.
Of course there are certain experiences in our lives that greatly affect all later events, either for good or for evil. If these experiences are bad they can cause an emotional wound that will stay with us until we allow God to heal it at some later date. I have met people who have arrived at the 50th, or 60th level of their life, and still carry the effects of some tragic event they experienced on level 5 or 6. This is always unfortunate, and unnecessary, because God is willing and able to go back in time and correct the problem. Because He is not limited to time and space like we are, He is able to do that. So if you happen to be reading this, and you have been carrying something from years ago that you want to get rid of, we recommend you simply confess it to the Lord and ask Him to remove it.(1 John 1:9). Or perhaps you could share it with a trusted friend and together pray about it (Matt 18:19).
Sunday, September 7, 2008
That is a question that often comes to mind when I think seriously about my relationship with God. We all need forgiveness for our many sins, resulting from our rebellious sinful nature inherited from Adam. One of the results of carrying this sin, is the guilt we continually feel. This comes from our guilty conscience which is our God given gauge that is meant to cause us to repent and turn back to our Creator. But when we finally do this, and receive Jesus as our personal Savior from our sins, and are "born again" into the family of God, where do these sins go? They go somewhere, accompanied by the guilt they have caused our soul!
The scriptures were given to us by God to answers such questions. In the book of Psalms we read in (Psa 103:12) "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west". What a profound statement! We know that if we should start at any point on planet earth to travel west, we could continue to travel west forever and never reach a place called east. And the same thing could be said for travelling east from the same spot. Then in (Micah 7:18-20) God gives a promise to His chosen people Israel, that he will pardon their guilt, and "trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean". This is another tremendous promise, and although we may not be part of the nation of Israel, if we are born into God's family, then we are part of His "elect", some times referred to as His "forever family".
The above mentioned scriptures from the OT give us part of the answer to our question, but probably the best answer comes from the NT letter to the church at Colosse (Col 2:13-15) where we read in verse 14 "He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." On the cross when Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us, and died in our place, the sin debt against you and I was "paid in full"!! (2 Cor 5:21) Our sins, and the guilt associated with them were "absorbed", so to speak, into the very person of Christ! This is the core truth of the Gospel (good news)of the Kingdom of God, and is a truth that is worth spending time trying to wrap your mind around!
Monday, September 1, 2008
HOW TO FIND GOD
In (Isa 55:6) we read "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near", and in (Acts 17:27) "His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him---though He is not far from any one of us". He desires to make Himself known, but He still wants us to seek Him by faith. In (Heb 11:6) we read "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists, and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him". Many other scriptures could be quoted along this same line, stating clearly that our Creator God desires a relationship with us!
You see this is the basic difference between the Religions of the world, and Christianity. Religion is man's attempt to somehow find and please their concept of "god", by following certain rules or regulations, and hoping that their "god" will accept their efforts in trying to work their way up to him. True Christianity, on the other hand, is accepting the fact that God has already taken the initiative to establish a relationship with man, by sending His Son Jesus Christ to earth, to redeem us from our sins! So Christianity is not a "Religion", but a "Relationship" with our Father God, through His Son Jesus! This was accomplished by Jesus, who knew no sin, becoming sin for us and dying on the cross on Calvary to pay the price of our sin and separation from God. (2 Cor 5:17-21) This makes all the difference in the world between the two systems, a fact that many sincere people fail to understand. Our tradition of "doing church", especially in the western world, has certainly added to the problem. Many sincere Christians have failed to see this difference between religion and a true relationship with Jesus! Recently I read a little poem that states this clearly.
"Man gropes his way through life's dark maze;
To gods unknown he often prays,
Until one day he meets God's Son--
At last he's found the Living One!" ---D.DeHaan
If you have not yet met Jesus as your personal Savior, why not give Him a chance to prove Himself to you? I've never yet met a person who has been disappointed with Him!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I recently saw the above listing for an organization, and assumed it meant Love Incorporated, but I found out it meant "Love---In the Name of Christ", a very interesting name for a group of believers!
They had based their name on a verse of scripture in Paul's letter to the church in Colosse (Col 3:17)
In the NLT it reads "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father". These people were from various churches in their area who decided they wanted to help needy and hurting people in the name of Jesus. The Word of God is literally saturated with the word "love", and indeed it should be portrayed by everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus! Right? But sad to say even a brief survey of church history will reveal something very different! Over the years churches have fought with each other, divided into different groups, and even some religious wars were started by people bearing the name of Christ. Certainly not a very good track record for followers of Jesus the "Prince of peace"!
John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, was known as the "Apostle of love", because he wrote so much about the love of God. A good example of this is found in his first epistle (1 John 4:7-12). Just read these few verses and count how many times he uses some form of the word love! For example "God is love", and "if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us" etc. This passage, as well as many others, clearly show that love for God, and love for one another, should be the trademark of followers of Jesus! We need to ask ourselves often "how well does my life show forth the love of Christ?"
What are a few ways that we can show this love? Maybe within your own immediate family might be a good place to start, then your close neighbor could be next, then the cashier at the grocery store etc. Most people respond to real love shown to them, so it shouldn't be hard to get started. We don't need to be a Bible School graduate either, to qualify as someone who can spread the love of Christ around! Any follower of Jesus can be used. The Holy Spirit who indwells believers in Jesus, is just waiting for us to give Him an opportunity to express the love of Christ! Why not allow Him to work through you to show forth the love of Christ this week?
Monday, August 11, 2008
It seems to me that God has always been looking for people who are willing to become apprentices in His Kingdom! In the scriptures we can read about Joshua, who is a good example of what God is looking for in an apprentice. He was apprenticed to Moses, who was a chosen vessel to lead God's people out of bondage in Egypt. Under the watchful eye of Moses Joshua learned valuable lessons that would benefit him as he led the Israelites across the Jordan, into their promised land. Some employer has rightly said, a good apprentice is "someone who wants to learn"! We should keep this in mind as we consider all that is involved in becoming a productive citizen in the Kingdom of God! Joshua lived in the shadow of Moses for some 40 years, an extremely long time to be an apprentice! Of course there was much to learn in order to be prepared for the task of leading this nation of rebels! By watching Moses, he learned many things that couldn't be learned from a book. He gained experience as a "spy" (Num 13:16), as a "warrior" (Ex 17:10), as a "faithful servant" (Ex 24:12-13), he learned how to be "humble" in the face of unjust criticism (Num 12:3), and he even learned from the display of Moses' temper (Num 20:7-12). So when it came his turn to become leader after the death of Moses, Joshua was fully equipped to take on this responsibility. (Josh 1:1-7)
One important aspect of becoming a good apprentice in any trade is to be apprenticed to a good employer, who will make sure you are exposed to all sorts of situations from which to gain experience. Some employers only use their apprentices as cheap labour, for example using them as a delivery boy, instead of putting them with an experienced tradesman so they can learn their trade. When we sign up as an apprentice in the Kingdom of God, we can be sure we have a good employer who will expose us to everything we need to become useful and mature citizens in His Kingdom! This accounts for Him allowing us to undergo certain trials or tests that may not seem fair to us at the time, but rest assured He knows what He is doing! These are lessons that we must learn, and He knows we could not learn them any other way! There's an old saying that "experience is the best teacher", and the lessons we learn the hard way are the ones we remember. So the next time you feel like you are going through a hard time, just remember that your heavenly Father knows best, and will not allow it to last longer than necessary (1 Cor 10:13).
Monday, August 4, 2008
THE THREE C's
I recently read a little booklet, written back in 1987 by Bruce Wilkinson. He called it "The Three Chairs", and in it he explained how generations can slip from one chair to the next, in a downward slide! He called the first chair "commitment", the second chair "compromise", and the third chair "conflict". In this article I will try to summarize the truth he was teaching, about these three stages of decline in basic values. We see this decline today in families, in churches, and in our entire social structure!
1/ Commitment---This is a firm belief in something or someone that takes priority over anything else in your life. We can call it a "conviction" that we will hold to, no matter whether anyone else does or not. This calls for an "absolute" source of values to base our conviction on, and that source can only come from a proper understanding of the Word of God, the Holy Bible! Jesus said "I am the truth" (John 14:6), and He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit, who would lead us into all truth. (John 16:13-15). Yielding to the prompting of the Spirit then is the only way to hold to your convictions, or commitments! (Rom 8:14), and (Gal 5:16-18).
2/ Compromise---This is when we lose our conviction about a certain value we have held, and for some reason or other we change our mind, and embrace a new value system. This can be the result of many different influences in our life. It might be "peer pressure" from our family or friends, or just not being willing anymore to be the "odd man out", which comes from not being able to enter in to things other people do, because of our convictions. This could be "fear based", and God's Word clearly tells us we are not to fear! In (2 Tim 1:7) Paul states "For God has not given us the spirit of fear---". This tells us two things, 1/ fear is a spirit, and 2/ it's not from God. Therefore it must originate from our enemy's kingdom of darkness and is to be resisted! (James 4:7), and (1 Peter 1:14-16)
3/ Conflict---This is a natural consequence of compromising our conviction on something we have held for some time. Because we know we are going against a conviction given to us by God, this is bound to bring conflict in our spirit! When this happens the only way to get back to where we were with our relationship with the Lord is through "repentance"! (1 John 1:9)
Monday, July 28, 2008
We are all familiar with seeing this common instruction on a milk container, or a can of something or other that has a limited shelf life. The manufacturer recommends their product be used before a certain expiration date. But have you ever given much thought to the fact that we humans also have an "expiration date" that was apparently decided for us by our Creator? In (Heb 9:27) we read "And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment", and in (Psa 139:16) it is recorded "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed"! These verses, as well as many others, tell us that we too have a "limited shelf life", so to speak. Our shelf life is the amount of time that we are appointed to live in these temporary "earth suits" here on planet earth. The length of time varies for each individual, depending a lot of various factors, but we should not lose sight of the fact that we all have an expiration date!
The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can receive a life that is "eternal" and will last for ever and ever! Here is a great truth, "And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life: whoever does not have the Son does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). This is referring to the spiritual life we receive when we are "born again" (John 3:16), as opposed to the natural (shelf life) we receive in our mother's womb. We are unique creatures, because we are created in the "image of God" (Gen 1:27) having a spirit that will exist forever, either in heaven with Jesus, or in hell with the devil. According to God's Word there is only these two possible destinations. Jesus made a very clear statement recorded in (John 14:6) " I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me"! Some people are depending on various types of religious traditions to get them to heaven, but they will be sadly mistaken when they wake up some day in hell when their expiration date arrives!
Have you confirmed your reservation to spend eternity with Jesus? If not you still have time to do so if you are reading this article. Find a Bible and read (Eph 2:1-10), admit to God that you are a sinner, then repent of your past sinful life, and ask Jesus to receive you into the family of God. If you are sincere God will adopt you into His family, and you will be "born gain"! Then we can welcome you into the family of God, the "True Church" that Jesus is in the process of building!
Monday, July 21, 2008
FOUR LEVELS OF CHURCH STRUCTURE
1/ The house (cell level)
2/ The one pastor church (the traditional congregation)
3/ The citywide or regional dimension of church (city celebrations)
4/ The trans-regional networks of churches (denominations)
All the above are valid scriptural forms of "church life", and one form is not necessarily better than another. They are all meant to serve the body of Christ here on earth, as we relate to the Head, Jesus Christ, who is in heaven. Some people are called to place more emphasis on one form than another, depending on their God given talents. The important thing to remember is that there is only "one body" of Christ on planet earth! This is the "Church" that Jesus has been in the process of building now for some 2000 years. Most of us have had some limited experience with levels 1, 2 and 4 on the above listing, but how about number 3? If we agree that it is a valid form of church structure, why don't we see it in our cities and communities? I'm sure there may be functioning examples of this manifestation of church in some areas, but I have not seen any in my journey of over 40 years as a Christian. I have often wondered why, and have always been a firm believer in church unity over the years. I have always been part of a local church since being born into God's family in the mid 60's. I have served as deacon, board member, elder, and pastor, all in the Saint John area. I have seen many leaders come and go, churches thrive for a time and then either split or decline for some other reason.
I have often thought that a citywide, or regional Church Eldership. might have helped prevent some of the things that I have seen over the years that have wounded the body of Christ in some way. I realize that this would not be a simple thing like "electing" a group of leaders to fill this role. The ones that would be well known and popular enough to be chosen, would most likely not be the right ones for the position! This would have to be a "Kingdom appointment", and not a democratically decided thing, in my opinion. And therein lies the problem! How do we go about something like this, that we have no experience in doing? Part of the answer to this question I'm sure is to pray about it and expect the Holy Spirit to give some definite directions!
Does anyone have some other suggestions as to how this level of church structure might start to operate in our area? I would be interested in hearing from you.
Monday, July 14, 2008
RENEWAL--- are we ready or not?
God is a God of renewal! Look at the OT picture of Israel and note how many times we see Him coming to renew, or restore His Chosen People! Renewal and restoration are similar terms, with a slightly different meaning, in my opinion. I see "restoration" as restoring something back to its original condition. But "renewal" would seem to imply the thought of creating something new, as well as restoring what was originally there! That's why I think renewal is the more appropriate term to use for what needs to happen in the Body of Christ today. Not only do we need to be restored to the simplicity and power of the church in the book of Acts, but we must be open for the "greater works" mentioned by Jesus in (John 14:12) as a promise to His followers. What will it take on our part to bring renewal to our communities?
1/ In (Acts 2:1) we read "They were all with one accord in one place". This speaks to me of the need for complete "unity" among believers from all denominations in our communities. How willing are we to work toward this type of unity? Are we willing to pay the cost? It might mean laying aside some "pet doctrines" that we have carried ever since becoming a christian. It could mean accepting that certain brother or sister who worships in that "different" church on the other side of town. You know where they pray real loud, and do strange things! Or maybe the Lord would even ask you to draw out some money from that little "nest egg" you have been saving for a rainy day, and give it to some brother who is going through a financial hard time. These are only a few of the things God might ask you to do to prove how much you desire renewal in your life and in your church!
2/ In (Acts 4:31) we read "After the prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness". Are we willing to be filled with the Holy Spirit as Paul exhorts us in (Eph 5:18) "But be ever filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit" (Amp version), or are we still afraid of what might happen to us? Are we willing to obey this simple straight forward command in God's word? Or will we continue to believe our traditions, some of which teach us that this experience ended with the last of the original apostles in the first century? Are we honest enough to admit that we have held to our traditions more than to the word of God? Before we can declare the word of God with boldness in our city, it seems to me we must really believe the word and start to put its commands and principles into effect in our lives!
3/ In (Acts 6:7) we read "And the word of God increased , and the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly"! Is this your desire for our city? Imagine with me, if you will, what would happen if God should allow the number of believers in our city to be multiplied by a small factor like 3, or even 4, what would our present churches do with this increase? But notice God uses the term "greatly", which could mean 30 or 40 times as many as at present! How can we prepare for numbers like that? That same verse could hold the answer, "and the word of God increased". We need to see the word of God increasing in individual lives and in the entire city. There has to be some way to saturate our communities with God's word, like maybe with small local Bible studies! Are you part of one? Maybe God wants you to start one with 2 or 3 neighbors in your home. Your tradition might tell you that before you could do that you would need 2 or 3 years of Bible school training. But (Acts 1:8) and (1 John 2:20) tell us all we need is the Holy Spirit, in His fullness! And Jesus did declare in (John 16:13) "When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth". Will we believe the words of Jesus, or hold to our traditions?
4/ In (Acts 8:26-27) we read about Phillip, a newly appointed deacon in the church at Jerusalem, who heard a word from an angel of God, and obeyed immediately. The result was the salvation of an influential man of great authority from Ethiopia, who spread the message of the gospel to that nation. I believe that if we as followers of Jesus, will sincerely work toward, and start to practice these 4 things---1/ Unity, 2/ God's fullness, 3/ Increase in the word, and 4/ Obedience, then we will be prepared for renewal. And when God sees we are ready, He will send a gracious outpouring of His Spirit to renew His Body in our community!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
KITES AND STRINGS
I once read a poem about a little kite that dreamed about being set free from the string that held it to the ground. Part of the poem goes like this "Were I but free, I'd take a flight; and pierce the clouds beyond their sight. But ah! Like a poor pris'ner bound, my string confines me near the ground". The poor little kite didn't realize that the resistance from the string was the very thing that made flight possible! The poem goes on to tell about how one day the string broke, and instead of soaring above the clouds, the kite fell from the sky and crashed into the ocean!
This reminded me of some followers of Jesus who think that if they could just break free from what they consider to be "confining" circumstances in their life, they too like the little kite, would then be able to soar into the heavenlies. These strings in a believer's life might be, vows, promises, commitments, responsibilities etc. Although these things may seem to be restricting our spiritual progress, they are actually what helps us mature in our spiritual life! "Humility" could be one of these strings that are most important in our lives. Read (James 4:10) to see what he has to say about this very thing. In the NLT it reads "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor". Before cutting any strings in your life, be sure it's not one that the Lord is using to hold you up like the string on a kite! Pride is the opposite of humility, and often comes before a fall. The title of the poem was "The Kite, or Pride, Must Have a Fall"! Pride was actually the original sin that was introduced to our universe by Lucifer (Isa 14:12-14), who then used it to cause Adam and Eve to fall, and introduce sin into the human race, (Rom 5:12). Satan is still our avowed enemy and will use any trick he can to keep us from serving God. If he can't pull us back into some sin we have been delivered from, then he will try to make us feel more spiritual than we really are, which is "spiritual pride"! This is one the worst sins going, and unfortunately he is able to deceive many Christians into thinking they have been given some "new revelation", that even though it may not quite line up with scripture, it feels right. We need to beware of deception in these last days, (Matt 24:24) and not be misled in our thinking like the little kite was in our poem!
"Though I am His sheep, I'm still prone to stray.
So Jesus in love sends afflictions my way:
The lessons that come in the school of deep pain,
Will teach me to follow my Lord once again!"---Bosch
Monday, June 30, 2008
In scripture the people of God are often referred to as sheep. You may, or may not know, that sheep are known as followers, not only of their shepherd, but of one another too. I recently read a story of a complete flock of sheep that followed each other one by one over a cliff to their doom! It seems incredible but true that this could happen, but such is the danger of blindly following the flock, or crowd without checking out carefully where they are headed! We see something like that happening in the recent so-called "healing revival" in Lakeland Florida, led by Todd Bentley. Thousands of charismatic Christians are following this man, who has some questionable doctrines and unscriptural beliefs, simply it would seem, because of their hunger for a move of God. The fact that they have seen miracles and other signs and wonders are no guarantee that this is a "real" move of God! Read the words of Jesus as recorded in (Matt 24:24-25), for a warning about such things happening.
Becoming a follower of Jesus today, in this age of deception that we are called to live in, is the only safe place to abide. And the closer we follow Him the better! Thank God He has given us His written Word, the Holy Scriptures, to guide us and warn us of the possible danger of being deceived. The warning from Paul in (2 Thess 2:9-10) is about a future appearance of "the man of lawlessness", otherwise known as the "Antichrist", who will deceive many people who do not believe in, and love the truth. Notice that he too will be able to do many "counterfeit signs and wonders" to deceive many believers. Remember Jesus declared "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). He is the "Living Word" of truth, who is being represented today by the person of the Holy Spirit, who indwells all true believers.He always lines up perfectly with the "Written Word", so we have at our disposal a means of checking out any supernatural event, to make sure it is real, and not counterfeit.
Based on what I have seen on video clips of Todd's ministry, and read from his teaching about angels and visits to the third heaven, and communicating with the dead, etc. I would have to consider him a "questionable", if not a false prophet. I realize that many sincere christian friends have been down to Lakeland, and I haven't, and their opinion on the ministry there is quite different from mine, but until I see more fruit from the ministry of Todd Bentley, and the evidence of changes in his life and hear him repent of the unscriptural beliefs he has been teaching, my opinion stands. Check it out for yourself!
Monday, June 23, 2008
THE TWO ADAMS
The scriptures clearly identify two separate persons named Adam. It simply calls them the "first Adam" and the "last Adam" (1 Cor 15:45)! I like the way the Holy Spirit can state a profound truth in very few words. This passage given to by Paul the apostle, is a perfect example of that. A companion passage penned by the same author is found in the fifth chapter of his letter to the Roman church. (Rom 5:12-17). Let us briefly compare these two Adams, using these scriptures as our starting point.
The "first Adam" ---We need to go back to (Gen 1:26) to read about God's intention to create this first Adam, and then go to (Gen 2:7) to find out how He did it. The result was Adam, the first member of the "human race" on planet earth. We can pick up from there and follow Paul's description of this first Adam as the "natural body", or we might say "earth suit", designed especially for life on planet earth! In (Psa 139:13-16) we read about how wonderfully we were fashioned in our mother's womb, before we ever saw the light of day. So much for the so-called "theory of evolution" that many people have been led to believe. Right? One of the many deceptions of Satan that have been presented to the world as if it were scientific truth, and by which they would try to explain our origin, and disprove the Bible. Paul says that "first comes the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later" (1 Cor 15:46). We know from reading (Rom 5:12) that sin and death came into the human race through this first Adam. Since he was the first human being, we might say he was the "fountain head" of the human race. Every river or stream has a source that is often referred to as being its fountain head, and helps to determine whether the water from that source is good or bad. We know that our first Adam polluted the human race with his original sin, which was disobedience to the direct command of God. This sinful nature of Adam has been passed down through every generation to us, so that we were all born as natural sinners. No matter how angelic and perfect that new born baby might seem to be, we know that before long his or her true sinful nature will come forth!
The "last Adam"---The NLT states in (1 Cor 15:45) "The scriptures tell us the first man, Adam, became a living person. But the last Adam--that is, Christ--is a life giving Spirit". Notice the difference between the first Adam who "became a living person", and the last Adam who "is a life giving Spirit"! Jesus Christ always existed as God (John 1:1-5)! This is the most important truth in the world, that Satan has tried so hard to keep us ignorant of, by inventing and promoting many false doctrines and cults. This is becoming more clear as we approach the "last days" spoken of in scripture. Every false religion or christian cult in the world fails to grasp this fact that Jesus is God, along with the Father, and the Holy Spirit. God is a "Trinity", one God who has chosen to show Himself to us humans in three different ways, so we might better understand Him! Not as three Gods, but one and only one "Supreme Being"! With our finite minds this truth is impossible to understand by human reasoning, so we need to exercise faith He makes available to us. ( Heb 11:6). Jesus always existed as God, not an angel, not a prophet or a good teacher, as some would try to tell us, but as God who allowed Himself to be "incarnated" as a human baby in Mary's womb, in order to become our "Emmanuel" (God with us). Try meditating on scriptures like (Phil 2:5-11), or (Col 1:11-20) and ask the Holy Spirit to bring illumination to you on this truth! God who loves us so much (John 3:16), wants to reveal Himself to us through His Word, by the power of His Holy Spirit! Why not take time right now to allow Him to do just that, if you haven't already?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Did you ever think what a perfect world this would be if everyone were just like you, and always did what you wanted done? That would require some major changes, right? And chances are these changes would need to start with you. Read (Luke 6:41-45) to see what Jesus had to say about this. Often we want to help the other person change, to improve our relationship, when all the while the "plank" is in our eye, and the "speck" is in theirs.
Basically we are all selfish creatures, and find it hard to put the needs or desires of another person before our own. We need to take an honest look at our own life, and see how Christlike we have become since coming into God's family. Paul tells us in (2 Cor 5:17) that when we receive Jesus as Savior " This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone: a new life has begun." This new life should become more and more Christlike as we mature in our walk with Him. Right?
This spiritual maturity doesn't come over night, it requires discipleship training very similar to training up a child to become a mature responsible adult. We don't go from Kindergarten to University without spending 12 years in primary, middle, and high school grades. And we only pass from one grade to the next if we pass our exams, right? Why should we think it is any different in the school of the Spirit? It would seem from what I have observed in some 40+ years as a believer in Jesus, that some people try to skip some grades. (Heb 5:11-14) covers this problem quite well, and tells why people are still immature, although they may have been Christians for many years. Peter also has a good word that applies to this problem in (2Peter 1:3-11). Here he gives a picture of how spiritual maturity comes about in our lives, to prepare us for our place in the "Kingdom of God".