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    A Little on the Gifts of the Spirit 1

    Thursday, March 26, 2015, 7:19 PM [General]

    The gifts of the Spirit (the Holy Spirit that Christians are baptized by) can cover many long, long posts, but I will only try to briefly touch on a few ideas in the next couple or so posts.  The first gifts a Christian receives from that Spirit is the baptism and the seal (John 1: 33; 1st Corinthians 12: 13; 2nd Corinthians 1: 22; Ephesians 1: 13; Ephesians 4: 30).  This seal that is placed on us marks us to all the angels (good angels and fallen angels) so that we are known as God’s children.  When God told Cain that he would not be murdered He put a sign on him.  This sign was God’s seal that protected Cain from revenge killing.  When God took Ezekiel from Babylon to Jerusalem, He sent angels to destroy the people, however, He first sent one to put a mark on those not to be destroyed.  This served as a seal of protection for those marked.  When God’s seal is on His children, they are marked.  No one can remove that mark, just as no one will be able to remove the mark of the Beast at the end times.  Christians may fall into bad ways that would not please the Lord, but this seal is a sign of their eternal security.  As in 1st Corinthians chapter 5, a person may sin to the point that God turns his earthly, physical body over to Satan, that this earthly, fleshly shell may be destroyed, but our life being may be saved from that destruction the body may go through.  This seal that God places on His children by the Holy Spirit is a spiritual seal that can never be broken, because even though man may be unfaithful, God is always faithful.  This seal is a mark of our eternal security (also termed as ‘once saved, always saved’).

    1st Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

    I also want to mention a few things about the gifts of healing, tongues, and prophecy, but will strive to be comprehensive but concise.  The gift of healing is a gift from God given through His Spirit, Who Is One with the Father and Son.  It is a gift, and to whom much is given, much is expected.  It is a sin to sell a gift that is given by God.  God expects His children to care for one another, and a shepherd of the flock, whether called a pastor, elder, deacon, bishop, or whatever should be cared for by the flock, because he serves the flock in whatever capacity God has called him for.  God gives freely and expects His children to give freely, trusting God to provide what is needed.

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    Perspectives

    Thursday, March 26, 2015, 5:00 PM [General]

    Passages from the English Standard Version.  Bold, underlined, and upper case (all of which do not format into FaceBook) are added.

    John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?"  Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king.  For this purpose I was born and FOR THIS PURPOSE I HAVE COME INTO THE WORLD—TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE TRUTH.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

    38 Pilate said to him, "WHAT IS TRUTH?"  After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, "I find no guilt in him.

    Jesus told Pilate that He came to bear witness to the ‘truth’.  From the ‘human, this earthly world’ perspective, Pilate asked a very thought provoking question, “What is ‘truth’?”  Everything we see and hear and think is filtered through our own experiences and perspectives.  Often when we see evidence to the contrary of what we think we know, we have trouble assimilating it into a clear concept.  Only our Creator sees every perspective, every angle, and every motivating factor and truly understands TRUTH.  This is, I believe, at least part of Paul’s reasoning in 1st Corinthians 13: 9 & 12 where he says, “Now we know in part …”, and “… we see in a mirror dimly …”  (ESV- mirror dimly; KJV- glass darkly; CJB- obscurely in a mirror: Greek translation would allow either of these wordings)  So what do we know about TRUTH?  For Christians, Jesus is TRUTH, Jesus is the WORD, and God’s WORD is TRUTH.

    John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    We’ve come to rely on what is reported by news agencies as being true and factual.  Very often, the news that is reported is from perspectives that may not have complete facts.  For instance, when the German airliner flew into the side of the mountain in the Alps, soon after there was a report that it was intentional.  Then came a report that the co-pilot had locked the pilot out of the cockpit, and the co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane.  Then, because the cockpit normally locks itself, there was the possibility that while the pilot was out of the cockpit, the co-pilot could have had a medical emergency and was unconscious at the time of the crash, which would have ruled out suicide or terrorism.  Then they said the evidence indicated that the co-pilot was breathing normally and had no indication of a medical emergency, so the question came back whether it was suicide or terrorism.  Then later it was said that perhaps he had fainted, and could still be breathing normally, so he may not have been responsible.  Then they said the door locking mechanism could have been over-ridden unless disabled by the co-pilot and the path of the plane had to have been manually set to account for the crash, putting the cause back to the co-pilot.  Then someone suggested that someone may have drugged the co-pilot without him knowing.  Each time you hear a news report, you think you know something new, but what do you really know that is TRUTH if the story keeps changing?

    All in all, when looking for answers in this world, never trust what you see or hear.  Things are seldom, or perhaps never what they appear to be.  Now we see through obscured lenses (or a hazy mirror or a darkened glass- pick your translation).  But when looking for ‘eternal TRUTH’, then look to Jesus and study God’s Word.

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    Treasure Where Your Heart Is

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 11:24 AM [General]

    Are you asking God to richly bless you?  The blessing of salvation is the greatest blessing of all.  Salvation is freely given to those with faith in the mercy and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Are you asking for blessings beyond that salvation?  The Bible teaches that God will bless you, but it also teaches that what blessings you receive are meant to be used for His glory, and to share His message with a lost and dying world.  Are you spreading His gospel to tell others of His saving mercy?  Paul lived a meager life with many hardships and suffering.  He still considered it God’s greatest blessing to spread the Gospel message of Jesus.  Are you asking the Lord to reward you?  What sort of rewards are you expecting?  You don’t work to earn salvation, but you work to serve the Lord and He will supply your needs.  What do you think are your NEEDS?  Looking at the early church and the lives of those who spread the gospel, we see that what people sometimes think they NEED is not necessarily what the Lord knows they need.

    Do you WANT a fine home, fine auto, fine clothes, and fine food?  Are those the ‘rewards’ you are looking for?  Well, if you are expecting that, are you working for that?  But Jesus said not to lay your treasures up in this world, but to lay them up for an eternal reward with Him.

    Matthew 6:19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    Is your heart where your treasure is?  Is that place where your treasure is with the Lord?

    Act 14:19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.  21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

    Paul was stoned for preaching Gospel, dragged out of the city, and thought to be dead.  He got up and went on his way teaching and preaching.  Notice that in his teachings he noted that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”.

    Matthew 7:12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    13 "Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

    Do you treat others as you would have them to treat you?  Or do you believe in getting all you can for yourself?  Have you found the narrow gate, or are you trying to follow that easy path?  Do you listen to false “prophets” who teach you that you can get all you want out of this life, while they are getting rich on the collections they gather?

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    Did You Accept Jesus Sacrifice?

    Monday, March 23, 2015, 7:15 PM [General]

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    Man's Heart

    Friday, March 20, 2015, 9:23 AM [General]

    There are many who think that you should search deep within yourself to find God.  Paul taught that within dwells no good thing, that is in our earthly being (Romans 7: 18).  When we get to know our Creator through the Lord Jesus Christ, then He will come and dwell within us.  So, within us, of our own selves, dwells no good thing, but if we have the Lord within, then we can draw on His guidance, comfort, and strength.  Indeed in the Old Testament and New is the teaching that there is no one of us who is righteous or truly good.  If no one of us is righteous or truly good, then why should we search deep within ourselves to find God?

    This teaching that to find God we must reach deep within ourselves is a vain doctrine taught by those who think that man has the capability to solve this world’s problems.  They are lovers of their own selves (as the New Testament puts it).  They think that they can find God within themselves and then draw on that ‘energy source’ or ‘universal vibration’ or whatever they want to call it to work to make the world a better place.  It is mankind that has ruined this world, and it is only our Creator that can save it.  The Scriptures teach that no good thing dwells in man’s heart (that is, at least until one allows Jesus into his heart).

    Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    Before the flood, God saw the wickedness of man’s heart and destroyed all but Noah’s family with the flood.

    Genesis 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.  Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

    After the flood God saw that man’s heart was still wicked, but presented the opportunity for man to see for himself that without our Creator, we are worth nothing, and can do nothing good.  Mankind consistently falls to destruction.

    Numbers 15:38 "Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.  39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.

    When the Lord delivered His chosen people Israel from Egypt, He told them they were to have reminders (the tassels were just one form) to follow Him and not their own hearts.  The next verse from Jeremiah instructs us from the Lord that the heart is deceitful and sick (not properly functioning with the love and goodness God expects from us).  When people seek after their own heart, they are seeking their own vanity, because they are vain enough to think they can find their own answers within themselves.

     Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  10 "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."

     Jeremiah 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved.  How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you?

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    The Golden Rule

    Thursday, March 19, 2015, 8:52 PM [General]

    Luke 6: 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

    This rule given by Jesus has been repeated and rephrased many times by many people, even by many that don’t accept Jesus.  It has also been misquoted and misconstrued by many.  The quote below has made its rounds on the internet.  It is a good rule to live by but Jesus goes further.

    “Be a reflection of what you’d like to see in others.  If you want love, give love.  If you want honesty, give honesty.  If you want respect, give respect.”  Collective Evolution

    If you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, then you would ‘love’ others.  If you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, then you would give them ‘honesty’.  If you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, then you would give them ‘respect’.  So, all that internet quotation from Collective Evolution did was try to reword the Golden Rule, but make it longer, though it doesn’t mean as much, except unless you looked at the deeper meaning of love.  The second sentence in the above quote said to give ‘love’.  Now if you truly give ‘love’, then there was no need to add ‘give honesty’ or ‘respect’, because that would have been included in the love.  The ‘love’ in the above quote would include so much more than honesty and respect.

    One thing to take a closer look at.  The above quote says three times “If you want …”  This would indicate that one may expect to get in return what one gives.  It doesn’t work that way.  For one thing, “If you want …” is ‘me’ oriented and looks to self.  Jesus taught that we were to be humble, and look to the needs of others and trust Him to supply our own.  Also, Jesus taught that if we followed Him, and He is perfect love, that we could not expect this world to love us.  He told us that this world would be against us because this world was against Him.  If this world could react so harshly against perfect love, then how could we expect this world to treat us if we strived to live in perfect love?

    John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

    John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

    John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

    John 15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

    John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

    1st John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    1st John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

    1st John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

    1st John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

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    Well Spoken Of

    Thursday, March 19, 2015, 11:52 AM [General]

    Have you known or heard of someone who seemed to receive a lot of praise or really good reports about him?  It could be political, religious, or civil leaders, or even just ‘good deed doers’.  In any event, from the Christian perspective, this could (not necessarily, but very possibly) could be someone to be careful or very aware of.  Appearances aren’t always what they appear to be.  Satan is the ruler of this world, and can pose as an angel of light or even as a minister of mercy.  The Christian profile is to be one of being very humble (the worker who has only done what was expected of him) and not to ‘parade’ or ‘make a show’ of his goodness.  This is who Jesus was speaking of when He said, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, …” in the passage below.

    Luke 6:26 "Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.  27 "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.  30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.  31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.  32 "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.

    Again, here we are in Jesus teachings about loving your enemies.  Also, what is it if you love those who love you back, as even sinners do so.  Also in this post is the verse commonly called the ‘Golden Rule’, which because of the length of the post I will take up in my next post.  (This should help keep posts from becoming so long.)

    (Now Jesus gave His teachings many times to many people in many places.  To some it may appear that this is the same story from the Matthew passage, but one of them must be ‘misquoted’.  This is not necessarily the case.  It may well be the same message, but may have been given at a different time to different people.  Even if it is the exact same story as the Matthew passage, any slight variations in the wording may well indicate how honest the writers were.  They recorded to the best of their memories, but did not have a photographic memory with perfect recall.  Luke spoke to many people who knew Jesus personally before writing his account.  Some people may remember some points or teachings that another may not call to mind.  Some variations in wording would indicate that the Gospel writers didn’t simply plagiarize or ‘copy-cat’ one another.)

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    Love Your Enemy

    Thursday, March 19, 2015, 11:04 AM [General]

    In my last post were two verses that taught an eye for an eye from the Old Testament.  That is the law, but it went on that there was no law that said you couldn’t forgive one for putting out your eye.  Jesus says more on this below.

    Matthew 5:38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'  39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil.  But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

    43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

    46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Whereas the Old Testament taught an eye for an eye, it also taught that you should assist your enemy at a time when your enemy needed your help (Exodus 23: 4 below is only one of several examples of this).  It needs to be noted that there is in Biblical thought a difference between an enemy that existed simply due to hard feelings between people and an enemy that was seeking to, for instance, go to war with you or who was under God’s wrath because of wickedness.

    Many people can talk about good they have done for others, but how much of this good was done for family, loved ones, or friends.  As Jesus pointed out, how is that anything to boast about?  Even wicked people do good for those they love.

    Exodus 23:4 "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.  5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

    God’s law of love and forgiveness not only applies to you, but to your enemies as well.  God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior.

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    Eye for Eye?

    Thursday, March 19, 2015, 10:22 AM [General]

    Jesus said that nothing from the God’s law to mankind was to be lost.  The law is from our Creator.  The law is good, and true.  (Passages from the English Revised Version)

    Exodus 21:23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

    Leviticus 24:19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.

    Yahweh created us, and gave us all we could ever need, but He called for obedience in a certain matter for our own good.  Mankind disobeyed Yahweh, and continues to do so.  The penalty for this is that we are destined to eternal separation from God in a place where only His disobedient angels were supposed to be.  There are only two places- home with God, or eternity with God’s enemies.

    Is it not right that if I put out your eye, then you should have the right to put out mine?  This for that, right.  If I put out your eye (intentionally), then it would be seem right and just that you could put out mine.  That is the law, and the law is right (righteous) and true.  But God prefers the higher law of love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Though it may seem right that you could put out my eye for putting out yours, there is no law that says that you could not have mercy and forgive me.  If I did it intentionally, then there would be no reason to suppose that I deserved your mercy or forgiveness, but that would be your decision whether to show mercy and forgive me.

    One thing to note is that the law which you choose is to be the law you will be judged by.  If you choose the law that says an eye for an eye, then you will be judged by that law.  Since no one perfectly keeps God’s law, then if you seek an eye for an eye, your judgment will be eternal separation from God.  But if you choose to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, then God’s law of love planted in your heart will teach you to forgive others for their sins, and you will be judged by that law that says, “You are forgiven.”  (I hope I said that in words that make sense- I know what I’m trying to say, but may not always know the best way to say it.  I strive to depend on the Lord to give me the right words, and pray that the reader understands.)

    Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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    False Christs and False Prophets

    Monday, March 16, 2015, 12:03 PM [General]

    Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.  25 See, I have told you beforehand.  (ESV)

    You may see many claiming to be prophets of God and performing miracles of healing and perhaps other signs and wonders.  Remember, Satan can disguise himself.  Jesus warned that there would be “false prophets” who would lead astray, “if possible,” even the elect.  Now the elect are those chosen ones.  The chosen ones are the ones who have believed in their hearts that Jesus died to bring forgiveness for their sins and that He rose from the dead to prepare them a home in Heaven, as the Scriptures teach.  Fully believing in Him means believing in all His teachings, and believing in those teachings we learn the necessity of striving to live the life that He would have us to live.  But the powers of Satan are strong enough to cause even the elect to be sidetracked, but they will not lose their salvation.  As Jesus said above, Satan would (through these false prophets) seek to lead astray “IF POSSIBLE”.  You see, those who are saved by God’s grace are sealed by the Holy Spirit as the Scriptures teach.  The Holy Spirit was sent from Jesus to guide the elect and seal them as God’s children.  Satan has no power to break the seal of the Holy Spirit.  The spirit of man is easily swayed, but the seal of the Holy Spirit is unbreakable.  Satan knows that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will vanquish him in the end, and Satan is afraid of the Father, afraid of the Son, and afraid of the Holy Spirit.  He is afraid of Christians who rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Still, Christians are not perfect, and in faltering may sway, but that does not mean they lose their salvation.  One has to be very careful of searching the Scriptures to be sure that they are not led astray by false prophets.

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