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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

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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As we look to the future of health care in the United States, we need to consider our past history.  We “baby boomers” have worked hard and now want “our due”.  Our parents have or are still benefiting from Social Security and Medicare.  Now it’s our turn.  But how have we “managed” the health care of our families during our lives?

We have managed to eliminate large costs in some families by aborting our children due to inconvenience or “not having enough money” to provide for their well-being.  Approximately 49,000,000 children have been aborted since 1973 according to the National Right to Life organization.  This action saved us untold billions over the past 36 years.  Unfortunately, every action has a reaction.  I do not think the magnitude of the consequences of this action ever crossed our minds.

Now, we face the near future of either Social Security and Medicare going bankrupt in the next few years, millions with no health insurance at all, or going to a universal health care plan for our country.  President Obama is stressing the need for universal health care.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has plans to push through a health care proposal that would require only 20 hours of debate and a simple 50-vote majority to pass.  The catch is (1) it is astronomically expensive and (2) it will limit the access to health care that we presently have.  There is no way around this dilemma.   We cannot continue to receive the health care coverage we have become accustomed to when this cost is transferred to our government.

So, I come back to my post’s title.  We did not have the money to care for the 49 million children when they most needed our love and support.  Now, we who are aging and becoming more dependent find ourselves in a similar position.  Where will the money come from to take care of us? 

God does not overlook our sin just because it was inconvenient to do what was right.  In Psalm 106Proverbs 6, and Jeremiah 7, He says what He thinks about those who shed innocent blood.  Hosea 8:7 states, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind”. Our selfishness in denying our children their lives means they are not here to support our economy, Social Security, Medicare, etc.  We will “reap” a much greater monetary disaster in our future due to this. 

Our country will “pay” for our children who are no longer with us one way or the other, and we “boomers” will receive the care we deserve, whether we like it or not.

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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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Jesus asked a paralyzed man a curious question.  “Would you like to get well?” (John 5:6)  Sounds like a pretty crazy question, actually a stupid question.  Of course, idiot, who wouldn’t want to be healthy. 

Now let’s bring it into today, to your life now where it counts.  You have a lot of emotional baggage.  Hurts and pain from the past of words spoken to you, actions taken against you, bad decisions you’ve made.  All these things gnawing at you day by awfully long day.  You’ve heard there is someone who can help you, but you really don’t know much about him.  Some people think he’s great, some think he’s a charlatan.  None the less, he offers you hope. 

But there’s an even bigger problem than trusting him.  Can you handle the change?  You’ve had these feelings for so long.  You’ve managed to deal with them and hide them somewhat effectively.  Well, except for the sudden outbursts of anger that appear from nowhere against your family and friends.  Your inability to really get close to people has actually protected you, hasn’t it?  And who wants to appear weak, especially in front of their Christian friends who tell you “just put it all behind you” like Paul did and “run the race” (Philippians 3:13-14).  What Paul put behind him was his accomplishments, not his emotional pain (Philippians 3:4-7).  Paul let go of his achievements, but he gave his pain to Jesus. 

When we give our pain to Jesus, its not necessarily a painless process.  Often we’ve hidden it down deep within and must dig it back up to be able to present it to Him.  A lot of people don’t want to go through this process.  They would rather suffer with the “known” instead of risk facing the “unknown”.  Like the demonized man of Gerasenes, who lived in the caves, roaming around cutting himself (Luke 8:26-36) , somehow we believe Jesus will torment us and not deliver us.  Like, we’re not in torment already?  Jesus came to set us free.  Free to love.  Free to have joy and peace.  Free from guilt and shame.  He offers all of this to anyone who is willing.  Are you willing to give your pain and hurt to Jesus?  Would you like to get well?

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I love reading my New Living Translation of the Bible, but it has a unique little quirk to it.  It shows some verses found in a few translations as footnotes.  Such is the case with John 5:3-5:

3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches.[a] 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years.

Footnotes:

  1. John 5:3 Some manuscripts add an expanded conclusion to verse 3 and all of verse 4: waiting for a certain movement of the water, 4for an angel of the Lord came from time to time and stirred up the water. And the first person to step in after the water was stirred was healed of whatever disease he had.

Perhaps verse 4 was added later to the manuscripts to explain why all these people were at the pool of Bethesda.

Have you ever wanted people to read the footnotes of your life instead of what they just see?  The whys and wherefores of the decisions you’ve made.  “Why in the world would she feel that way about what was said?”  “How could she have done that?”  If only they could read the footnotes.  Then they would see the things that had happened to you in the past to cause you to think and receive input from others the way you do.  I understand why the man was at the pool now.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t make much sense to hang out with a lot of other sick people.  Why not just stay home?  Well, there was no hope at home.  Nothing there could make him well.  At least, at the pool he had a chance. 

How close to the water had he gotten in these 38 years?  Right next to the water, but never close enough to be healed.  How many people are in churches today, sitting right next to someone who was healed of this or that disease or illness, yet they are still suffering after all these years.  And what is their suffering?  Paralyzed by fear, loss of all hope, tormenting illness or pain, unrelenting grief over guilt or loss of a loved one, remorse or regret.  They come week after week, yet no relief is found.  Still there is that small glimmer of hope.  Hope that someday, somehow, relief and deliverance will come. 

One day Jesus did come for this man.  And instead of the man seeking out Jesus, Jesus sought out him.  Jesus seeks us out to save and deliver us from ourselves.  As the man looked to himself and the others around him to get him into the water, he found that man’s help is sporadic and erratic at best.  It got him to the water, but not in the water.  But now the water has come to him.  Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus comes to us?  We don’t have to go searching for Him in our own strength or rely on the spiritual strength of others.  Yes, the Living Water is standing by.  Jump in, the water’s great.

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