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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

While meditating on John 3:36 I thought about what “believe” really means, especially when in the first part of the verse it speaks of believing in Jesus and the second part speaks of obeying Him.     

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.  Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36 NLT)

All who “believe in” (trust in, rely upon, swear by) Jesus have eternal life.  However, those who do not obey (comply, submit, follow orders, heed) Jesus will never have eternal life, but remain under God’s judgment.  Today, we have such a lenient view of what “believe” means.  I believe the sky is blue, grass is green, Obama is President, I need to lose weight.  These beliefs do not necessarily cause me to jump into action.  When we speak of believing in Jesus, this is a much deeper commitment.  By believing in Him, I am saying I agree with His teachings AND will endeavor to the best of my abilities to follow them.

Christians who have said “the sinner’s prayer”, but continue to lie, cheat, engage in adultery and promiscuity, slander, gossip, and worry about everything need to really look at their heart and think about whether they really do believe in Jesus or are just trying to use Him as a “fire escape” from hell.  I, at one time, believed the “say the prayer and you’re good forever” mentality.  I came to know Jesus in a personal way in a church that taught that.  But as I’ve grown as a Christian, read my Bible, and listened to other teachers, I realize there is a lot more to it than just “the prayer”. 

Following Jesus is a whole way of thinking, a lifestyle of trusting God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth.  One sin God says he hates most is sowing discord among a family (Proverbs 6:16-19) which is usually done by gossip.  But in Christendom, this is a “small” sin compared to things like murder and stealing.  How many messages do we hear on gossiping?  Not many.  How about gluttony?  Whoa boy, even less here.  I’m not saying we have to be perfect, but we Christians have a real knack for deciding which sins are really bad (usually the ones we don’t commit or at least don’t commit often). 

As I have studied more of God’s Word including the Old Testament, I have found that almost all of what Jesus taught was from the Old Testament.  When Jesus talked about reading something in the Scriptures or the Prophets, He wasn’t referring to the New Testament.  It was what the Church calls the Old Testament!  None of the New Testament was written at this point.  Even when Paul speaks of the Scriptures, he is referring to the Old Testament.  We as the body of Christ, need to take a whole new look at what we have discounted as out-of-date and begin studying the bible that Jesus had – the Old Testament.

How about getting back to “believing” in Jesus by accepting His teachings, living by them, and stop justifying ourselves or our church as not as sinful as someone else.  When we stand before God, He’s not going to let us off the hook if we say, “Well, that’s what my preacher said.”  We are to study God’s word ourselves and know what it says.  If you can’t understand the version of the Bible you have now, get one you can.  If your church is a “KJV only” church and you can’t understand this version, how’s it going to help you?  Let’s get real, people.  God wants us to understand His word.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.  That’s one of His jobs (John 16:12-15).

I have certainly not “arrived” and never will until I die, but I do keep working toward the goal of fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.  I welcome you as a traveling companion along this journey with me.  God bless.

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I’ve been studying the book of John and had an interesting thought while meditating on the following verse: 

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”  John 6:11

Jesus was faced with the need to feed 5,000 men, as well as women and children.  During a discussion with His disciples about how to feed all these people, only Andrew actually brought something to Jesus that He could possibly use:  five small loaves of bread and two small fish.  Jesus took the bread and the fish, blessed them, then distributed them to the people.  After everyone had eaten, the disciples collected twelve baskets of leftovers.

What struck me was that Jesus didn’t wait to bless the food until He knew He had enough.  He blessed it before He gave it away.  God’s blessings on us multiply our resources and talents.  He can take a nobody by the world’s standards and do amazing things through them when they are offered to Him to use as He wills without any preconditions.

The loaves and fish did not say, “It’s impossible to feed 5,000 plus people with us.  We’re much too small.”  They made no objections and applied no rules or limits to their use.  We, on the other hand, try to talk Jesus out of using us to our fullest extend by placing limits on our capabilities.  We complain, “I’m too young, too old, not educated enough, too shy, too poor, don’t know enough Bible verses, can’t get my spouse’s approval, too busy, too sick, etc.”

Lord, please help me to offer myself to you without reservations — fully surrendered to Your use in any capacity.

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Those of us who have been on the Daniel Fast this year know that one thing is certain — you will lose weight!  This is a blessing for all of us who overindulged during the holidays, like a bear preparing for hibernation, knowing that the fast was coming.  But during the second week of the fast, the Lord placed a thought in my head about the fat we are losing during this time.

In the Old Testament, God gave directions to Moses concerning the sacrifices the people were to offer Him.  Special reference was made to the fat of the animals.  Leviticus 3:16  “The priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire, a pleasing aroma. All the fat is the LORD’s.”  In the New Testament, Paul spoke of Christians giving themselves as “living sacrifices”.  Romans 12:1  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

As we fast during this time, coming to God in humility and with a desire to know Him on a much deeper level, we are “living sacrifices”, offering the fat of our bodies as a pleasing aroma to Him.  We are showing our dedication, sacrificing our food, in order to have a greater awareness of Him, His purposes, and His desires for our lives and those we are praying for.

May we always be a “pleasing aroma” to our Lord and God.  Amen

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As I was waking up yesterday morning, I began thinking about Creation and the Holy Spirit started showing me how my “new birth” in Christ is in sync with it.  I’d like to share these thoughts with you.

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

When we are formed in the darkness of our mother’s womb, we are formed by God.  Isaiah 44:24  “This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.  He brings us forth from a shapeless form of egg and sperm and creates a new, totally unique individual, breathing life into us.

Genesis 1:3-5  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Having a body, but no spirit leaves us living in darkness.  So God placed a spirit, our “inner man” or “spirit man” within each of us.  This spirit gives us the ability to communicate with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  It is this “inner man” that is “born again” or becomes a “new creation” or “new man” in Christ          (2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!).  This inner man is our conscience that tells us right from wrong, light from dark.  Before becoming a new creation in Christ, this inner man does not have the full capacity to know the right way to go.  After becoming a new creation, we have full access to the Holy Spirit, who will lead us and teach us how to live pure and righteous lives.

Genesis 1:6-8 and God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”  So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.  God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.  And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.  God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Not only does man have a spirit and a body, but he also has a soul.  The soul in the determining factor in so many of our decisions.  It represents our will, mind and emotions.  I believe the “sky” represents the soul.  The “dry ground” is our physical body.  Jesus is represented by the water above the sky, the “living water” from heaven that our spirit man so desires to connect with (John 7:38 Whoever believes in me (Jesus), as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”) .  The seas represent our emotions.  The Bible speaks of this in James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Our spirit man or inner man knows that there is a higher power outside of ourselves that is to be worshiped as our Creator.  Look at people groups from all over the earth.  Even those who have never heard of the Christian God or Jesus worship a higher power or source of life.

It is the “sky” or our minds that bring man’s logic, will and emotions into the picture.  When we want to be our own god or ruler of our universe, we control the “land” or our bodies and do whatever we want.  It is only when the “light” from the “living water”, separate from our mind, renews our our inner man that we can truly communicate with God and understand our purpose in life, and receive full and complete love and abundant life  (John 10:10 … I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).  It is our choice whether we allow our inner man or our soul to control our body.  The body can do nothing by itself.

Genesis 1:11-13 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.  The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

When Jesus renews our spirit or inner man and we become a “new creation in Christ”, the Holy Spirit works within us.  We are to bear the “fruit of the Spirit”:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  We are to be seed spreaders.  The parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-9) speaks of  someone spreading seed on the path, the rocky places, the thorny ground and good soil.  As we live day by day, we are to be speaking to others about Christ.  Some will totally ignore us, some agree and try to follow Jesus until hard times come to them.  Others will be enthusiastic, but will get so caught up in their daily life that Jesus gets pushed out of the way.  But some will grab hold of the seed we have planted in their thoughts and will become seed spreaders themselves by coming to Christ.

You’ll notice that there were various kinds of plants and trees, each producing seed according to their kind.  We don’t all have to worship God in the same way.  If God didn’t like diversity, He wouldn’t have created such a beautiful, diverse world.  He loves all types of worship music, teaching and preaching, sitting quietly, and dancing and shouting.  He likes the King James version, New International, and on and on.  If you remember, the Bible was not written in the King James version.  It was written in Hebrew and Greek if I recall correctly.  The Holy Spirit is not limited to one type of writing.  He can speak truth to you through a child’s simple statement.  Different people are drawn to God in different ways.  We must not be so dogmatic as to think that our way is the only way to either worship the Lord or to serve Him.

Genesis 1:14-16 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.

God told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”).  Just as the stars give light in the night to show the way, so we as Christians are to be lights in this world.  We are to show others the way to Jesus, to a fulfilling and purpose-filled life.  We are to be different from the darkness around us.  Those in darkness, who cannot seem to find the good in the world, who have an emptiness in their hearts, can be drawn to the light we possess.  If we will only let the light of Jesus shine in our lives, those who are hurting and see no hope will be drawn to Jesus like a moth is drawn to the light.

We are to be signs to mark seasons and days and years.  As Christians, we should know our Bible enough to be aware of what is happening in the world today and how that corresponds to what the Bible says is coming.  As we read the Word and compare it to today’s circumstances, we can show others the way and point them toward the truth so they will not live in fear, but place their hope and trust in the Lord.

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The Sabbath was a day of rest instituted by God to continually remind His people about Him.  By taking a whole day to totally stop what you’re usually doing and focus on God is much more impactful than just taking an hour out to go to church on Sunday.  God wanted them to always be mindful of who He was and what He had done for them.  He gave them six day of the week to do their own thing, but the Sabbath was His.  A constant reminder of His provision and protection.

As the Israelites became consumed with other things on the Sabbath, they eventually began ignoring God.  Oh, they still “practiced” the Sabbath rituals, but their hearts were far from the activities.  They had a “form” of religion, but denied its power (2 Timothy 3:5).    This caused them to drift into idol worship and away from the true God of the universe. 

We today as gentile believers have done our own “drifting”.   We may go to church on Sunday, but it may be more for “form” than for “substance”.  Our afternoons and evenings are planned with activities that rarely give a thought to God and His wonderful provisions for us.  As the Israelites became unbelieving and ungrateful, so has today’s Church.  We acknowledge the “form”, but “deny the power” of God in our lives or in the world today.  Ours is so often a mere formality with no true heart belief.  No wonder we have lost the awe of God in our lives.

God wants to be remembered.  He wants us to remember that He is the one who gave us life, the ability to work and provide for our families.  He gives us wisdom, health, healing, and protection.  Most importantly, He wants to be remembered for giving us eternal life through belief in His son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus said “My Father is always working and so am I” (John 5:17).  It seems the only day God took off was the seventh day of creation.  Looks like He’s been busy ever since.  Perhaps now would be a good time to step back and pick a day to honor Him each week for what He has done and is continuing to do for us.  May God grant us the ability to return to the meaning of the Sabbath.

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When you take communion at church or at your home, for that matter, what does it mean to you?  Most of the sermons I’ve heard represent it as a time when you are to review your life, repent of any sins that are still lingering between you and God, and remember the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross for all of us.  All of these things are well and good, but I believe there is so much more involved here that we are overlooking.

In Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22, Jesus gives His disciples the cup of wine, speaking either of His blood representing a New Covenant or being poured out to forgive our sins.  He also breaks the bread to be eaten and states it is His body being broken for us.  While handing out the bread and wine, He instructs them to remember Him whenever they do this. 

Paul goes into greater detail in I Corinthians 11:17-34 as to the meaning of this remembrance.  In verse 26, he explains that by doing this, we are continually recalling what the Lord has done for us until He comes again.  Verses 27 – 31 hold a wonderful key for believers to be excited about, or fearful, depending upon how you look at it. 

In verses 27 – 28, Paul speaks of sinning against the body and blood of Jesus if we take it unworthily and that we should examine ourselves first.  Most sermons refer to this portion of instruction as seeing if you have any unconfessed sin and repenting of such if found.  However, I believe that this is not the total picture of what’s supposed to be happening here.  Of course, we always have a break in our relationship with Jesus when we have sin in our lives that we have not repented of, so that does need to be taken care of. 

Verses 29 – 31 tells us that if we have the Lord’s Supper without honoring His body, we are eating and drinking judgment upon ourselves.  This is the reason many are weak, sick and have died.  But, if we examine ourselves, we will not be judged by God in this way.

So what does all this mean today, now, in 2009?  How are we not honoring the body of Christ?  Jesus did a whole lot more for us than just pour out His blood for our sins.  Isaiah 53:4-5 explains ALL that He did for us.  “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” 

Jesus has taken our sorrows.  We do not need to carry them any longer ourselves.  We can give Him our broken hearts and He will heal them for us.  He will take our guilt of past mistakes, heal our emotional woundings of the past and give us peace in our minds and lives.  He has taken the punishment for our sins and offers us a new and vibrant life through Him.  He will heal our bodies.  So many of the diseases we face today are because of the emotional conflicts and woundings we carry in our spirits (anger, bitterness, rage, shame, guilt, unworthiness, regret, unforgiveness, etc.).  Jesus came and died to bring us into freedom; into a new way of living and thinking.  Many medical studies have been done reporting that unforgiveness plays a big part in the cause of arthritis and other diseases (Baseline of Health Foundation article), (Washington Adventist Hospital article May 2008)(WebMD article) , (Health Spas Guide – South Africa article), (Health Unlimited Ministries article).

When we do not believe in Jesus for ALL He has done for us, we do not honor Him and we bring God’s judgment upon ourselves.  This judgment is not necessarily punishment for our actions, but inaction because of our unbelief.  If we do not believe Jesus can heal us emotionally and/or physically, we forfeit this wonderful blessing and are left to our own devices to deal with this pain. 

The next time you take communion, please think about everything Jesus has done for you.  He is still alive and well, fully powerful and faithful to meet your needs right where you are.  Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).  He is our hope, our peace, our deliverer, our healer.  God bless you.

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Recently, while meditating on God, I saw an unusual picture.  Those of you who are from the South (U.S.) will understand what I’m talking about here.  I saw a round pan of cornbread.  Next to it was another pan of cornbread, but this was a cast iron pan with 5 or 6 individual molds in the shape of little ears of corn.  These make the cornbread look neat when cooked.

I was wondering what this meant. Usually, I don’t associate Jesus with cornbread.  But as I asked the Lord what this was, He told me that people look at Him in different ways.  Some people see Jesus as a pan of cornbread.  Everyone taking nourishment from the same type of person.  Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life”.  These people understand that there is only one Jesus, and all may partake of Him, but He is still the same for everyone.

Other people, however, have made their own “Jesus”, shaping Him into the mold they have formed.  Just like in the corn cob pan where you can sprinkle nuts in one slot, peppers in another, maybe a little honey in the next one, these people have made Jesus just the way they want Him to be.  He’s serious about this sin, but not really that concerned about that one.  He is just love, so He won’t really punish anyone who disobeys Him – love wouldn’t do that.  I can pray for anything in Jesus’ name and He will give it to me, that’s what the Word says. 

Yes, that is what the Bible says, but we must put it in the context that it was said.  In John 14:11-14, Jesus says that anyone who has faith in Him will do the things He has been doing and even greater things.  If we ask anything in His name, He will do it to bring glory to the Father.  This certainly puts a different spin on the “ask and I’ll do it” theory, especially if we are asking for purely selfish reasons. 

Jesus is Jesus.  He is Himself.  He does not fit neatly into our own little mold of what we want Him to be.  He is so much more.  More than we can comprehend really.  We so foolishly think we can manipulate Him to do what we want.  How very, very foolish we are.  When our wills are in tune with His, when our wants are the same as His wants, when our goals are His goals, then we “ask and receive”.

Do you sometimes wonder why your prayers aren’t answered?  I know I have.  The question then is:  Which Jesus have you been feeding upon?  Your own or the true Bread of Life who offers Himself to everyone.

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