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If your belief system never contradicts your logic, beware.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
More thoughts on separation of church and state:
Çovid has brought up some issues which are still being debated in court. When it was still unknown how deadly covid was going to be, I don't think it was unreasonable to prohibit churches from holding services of large numbers of people, as long as it also applied and equally enforced to nonreligious gatherings. Large churches should have backup plans such as breaking into home groups. Same with facemasks. A facemask hasn't prevented me from practicing my faith. My concern is this: people thinking it's wrong to tell people they will go to hell without Jesus and yet it's OK to tell people they are wrong if they are a Republican or Democrat. If you don't believe in hell then just blow it off. But, of course, there is a difference. One is spiritual and the other is not. Bottom line: hone your spiritual discernment, make sure your spiritual armor is secure and that your sword of the Spirit is handy. You're going to need them.
I get the feeling that there are those who think all paths lead to God and that those who do bad will have to go to classes and learn good behavior before being let into Heaven. But they certainly would not have to go to Hell, though why such a benevolent God would allow the suffering the victims endure is a mystery. The Bible says it’s not lack of correct teaching that is man’s problem, it is his will. Man’s stubborn, prideful will that does not want to bend his knee and acknowledge the God who created him. No amount of teaching can overcome that, and God will not re-write it. God has no choice but to banish such from His presence forever.
If you are a Christian who desires a deeper walk with God, I suggest you get a Greek Interlinear Bible and do some word searches. Greek is a richer language than English. For example, Ephesians 6:17:
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”
This Greek word for sword is not the military sword but rather a large knife like a machete that fishermen used to cut up their fish. It’s the same word used where the Bible refers to the ability of the Word of God to divide the spirit and soul, and when Jesus told His disciples to get a sword. He was telling His disciples they would need to wield the truth of God’s Word, not get a literal sword.
This is one example of how one can get a deeper understanding through the Greek. God rewards those who seek.
You can tell where a person is with God by how they talk. During an interview, a songwriter/singer who has had a lot of success as a Christian artist was asked what were her desires for her kids. Since her children were still quite young, I think the question caught her by surprise because she paused, then blurted out "I just want them to be saved." This is how a true Christian talks.
You stop worrying about the future when you realize God will tell you what to do whenever something challenging happens. Our job for the present is to learn to hear His voice.
I get the feeling non Christians try to numb their apprehension over dying by some vague idea they have about reincarnation. Reincarnation makes no sense because one doesn't have any memories of past lives. Assuming reincarnation were true and you came back with no memories of your past lives, that's the end of you as a unique person. Through Jesus the Bible says we are born again. The big difference here is that you will still be you in Heaven. As for "circle of life," nature debunks that. A tree doesn't die in winter. Nothing in nature comes back after being truly dead. Only Jesus was raised back to life by an omnipotent God. If you believe in circle of life you better believe in an omnipotent God because nature says otherwise.
You're against the death penalty but in favor of abortion. Just remember someday you will have to explain that before God.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
This verse from Ephesians epitomizes as much as any what Christianity is all about. Through Jesus we are brought near. Near to what? Near to God.
You may have had an earthly father who you know was doing his best but you didn't feel close to him. He may not have known how to be that kind of father. Unfortunately that can make it harder for us to see that God is not distant. When you realize God is near and wants you to be with Him, it turns Him from an aloof God to a loving Father. You are aware of His presence. You know your relationship is real. This is the essence of Christianity.
If you haven't felt God that way, you can. You must.
"Is anything too hard for the Lord? “At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”
Obviously nothing is too hard for God. Sarah did have a son. When you let your mind focus on hard things, they can consume you with worry and anxiety. When you focus on the God for whom there is nothing too hard, you have peace. But remember, God's ways are not our ways. Abraham tried man's ways through Hagar. God supernaturally used barren Sarah. God will handle your hard things His way. You just have to focus on the God for whom nothing is impossible.
Everyone is spending time and effort trying to resolve unresolved issues in their life, getting stronger through what they endure, finding who they really are, etc., etc., etc.
News flash: none of that will work. Even issues you think are resolved may well have deeper roots. Following Jesus is all that matters.
But I see Christians give token agreement and say things like "I'm just going to be me." Yet I don't see them putting Jesus first in all they do. Jesus talks about lukewarm Christians in Revelation where He says "I will spew them out of My mouth."
You will find out who you are the more you find out who God and Jesus are.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17
The Greek word for word in this verse is logos. Logos is the written word of God, the Bible. The Greek word for sanctify means to set apart. This verse says God sets us apart from the world through the truths found in the Bible. God reveals who He is through the Bible. And He matures us through the Bible. Both of these processes are revelatory, they get deeper the more we study the Bible. I'm concerned by the lack of intense Bible study among Christians today. It seems there are two images of God. The image that conforms to the whole Bible and the one that conforms to parts of the Bible. How do you know which you are? The God of parts of the Bible is easy to follow because you never have to stand apart. But neither will you be sanctified.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The cure for lack of empathy, which is a problem in American Christianity today, is to renew one's passion to be conformed to the image of Christ.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled."
Living life in the Spirit
Being born again through Jesus does more than establish where you will spend eternity. It also establishes how you are to live in this present life.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:1-2
Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the main street of the city. Revelation 22:1-2
Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: Streams of living water will flow from within him. John 7:38
God is always on the move. Note in the verses above about rushing wind, flowing river and springs of water. He leads us beside still waters, not stagnant waters. God never intended the Christian life to be how the world too often sees it. I was commenting to a friend why people seem more interested in bad behavior than good. "Boring" was his reply.
Living life without the Spirit is boring. Shame on. us. The Bible says it is the Spirit that brings life.
I will attempt in future posts to explain more of my personal experience of what it means to live a life in the Spirit.
The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
Living life in the Spirit
What is living life in the Spirit? Others may describe it differently, but for me it's being able to sense when the Holy Spirit is "on the move," so to speak. Remember, the Holy Spirit is a living entity, not an impersonal force. (Sorry, Star Wars fans.) And where the Spirit is, there is life and people being set free.
The Spirit can flow from music, a sermon, a teaching, a gift of the Spirit, a wonder of nature, an idea, a thought, a feeling, a knowing or really just about anything or anyone. A non Christian could say something but you know it was actually from the Spirit. It is God's seal of authenticity. The Spirit will flow through you if you are a fit vessel. God wants to use all of us this way.
I have found two characteristics of when you are letting the Spirit flow in some way.
1. You look back at what was accomplished and you know there was no way you did that by yourself.
2. It can happen in a very short time, though not always. Handel wrote The Messiah in a very short time and was heard mumbling "the voice of God" as he composed:
There is nothing more exciting or challenging than living life in the Spirit. The Bible lists what the Spirit does for us: teaches, convicts, guides and empowers. And you definitely feel closer to God and Jesus.
In my next post I'll cover what I think it takes to become a fit vessel.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2
Living life in the Spirit
How to be a fit vessel for the Holy Spirit:
Be open to the Holy Spirit. I grew up with very limited teaching on who the Holy Spirit was and how to let Him into my life.
Desire the Holy Spirit. Desire to have a relationship with Him. He is our Helper, as the Bible puts it.
Live a lifestyle pleasing to God. Fight against sinning, especially willful sinning. If you know it's wrong, stop doing it.
Find mentors. God isn't into lone eagles. This is a biggie. You may have to step outside your comfort zone.
Don't take credit, You're not in control.
Be open to correction. The Holy Spirit will convict you when necessary. Trust me on this one.
Man's pride must go. You have to be willing to appear a fool to some when stepping out in the Spirit, just as you have to appear a fool to some for confessing to be a Christian. This is probably the biggest hurdle to living life in the Spirit.
Don't expect a rose garden all the time. When you start stepping out in the Spirit, you become a serious threat to Satan. The Bible doesn't call it spiritual warfare for nothing. But it's worth it.
In my concluding post I will list all the things it has brought to my life.
Living life in the Spirit
Speaking from my own experience:
The Holy Spirit began drawing me by using my thinking there had to be more to God than I had experienced up to then. Around that time the Spirit was being poured out in greater measure across America. Through that and a knowledgeable wife, I told the Holy Spirit I wanted all He had. I really think now that what that did was give the Spirit the authority to start some things that would set me free from the things that had a hold on me. The Bible talks about strongholds the enemy uses against us. These often begin in childhood or traumatic events or bad decisions we have made. The Spirit works in our life to bring us to a place where we can see the truth, and the truth begins setting us free. It doesn't happen all at once. But it does require a starting point. That happened for me when I wanted more of God. The Holy Spirit came to guide us deeper into God.
A Christian is who you are. Everything else is what you do.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
I have found that death is the one thing that non Christians cannot comfortably fit into their philosophy of life. We have no bad memories of what happened before we were born and no one has come back to say what happened to them after they died. So a person can philosophize whatever they want. But death is another matter. You can say it's just a passage or nothing to be feared. But that doesn't fly when you see or hear about someone dying a terrible death. Or a child kidnapped and murdered. Bravado about death is an unnatural state. Nature shows that. Everything fights to stay alive. There's nothing natural about death. It's inevitable but it's not natural. Ironically enough, the life Jesus offers sometimes is best illustrated through death.
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
Man doesn't evolve. He's just as sinful as ever. Neither does he reach higher levels of consciousness, reality, energy, freqency, whatever. The only thing man can do is be transformed through Jesus and then become a mature Christian through living the truths of the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
I recently bought a ball cap with a small cross embroidered on it. When I wear it, no one has said anything, but I definitely get some longer looks than normal. I’m sure it offends some. And herein is the false premise of cancel culture, that you should never offend anyone, which is impossible. And it is being used as a weapon against anyone who disagrees or has different beliefs. Especially against Christians. Or soon will be. You cannot be an effective witness for Jesus and not offend anyone. The Bible warns us:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.”
We are in a spiritual battle. I grew up singing a hymn that went “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross…” I want to stand up for Jesus now rather than have to stand before God someday and tell Him, “But I didn’t want to offend anyone.”
I was asked what a true Christian is. Obviously it is anyone who has been born again through belief in Jesus. But I believe if one is born again it should show up in how we live. Below is the answer I gave, some of which I have stated in previous posts.
A true Christian is God-centric vs ego-centric. Everything in their life centers about pointing to Jesus. They realize this present age is a sinking ship with Jesus the only lifeboat. They live their life knowing someday they will have to stand before God and give an account of their life. They try to have a Biblical foundation for everything they do. They learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit. By doing these things they can spiritually discern what is happening in the world around them. They can see how Satan makes bad look like good, and good look like bad. They know what people really need is Jesus, not social justice, though social justice has its place. The Spirit shows us how He wants us to address such issues. But only in the context of pointing people to Jesus, their real need.
Words of Jesus:
If you love me you'll do what I command.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…
Go means going. Abraham moved to a distant land. Paul went on missionary journeys.
If you say you love Jesus then go. I see a lot of Christians sitting around. Going doesn't mean running around like a chicken with its head cut off. (Does anyone say that anymore?) It means getting with the Holy Spirit and finding what going is for you. Abraham could hear God telling him to go. The Antioch church could hear the Spirit telling them to send out Paul.
Saying you love Jesus and just sitting on the sidelines contradict each other. You have to be ready and able to hear when the coach calls your name. You have to get in the game.
There is a possible misconception about "Peace on earth, good will toward men." The Greek actually translates as "Peace on earth, good will towards those with whom He is pleased." The angels were only then able to say this because until Jesus came God could be pleased with no one. This correct version also implies there will be no widespread peace on earth until Jesus returns because most of earth will not be pleasing to God and therefore no "peace on earth." Actually God Himself will prevent widespread peace on earth:
"Then the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men were building. And the LORD said, “If they have begun to do this as one people speaking the same language, then nothing they devise will be beyond them. Come, let Us go down and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
The great achievements of man that don't give credit to God can be greatly used by Satan to make men think they didn't need God. Who do they think gave them their ability?
People talk of universal peace, paradise, brotherhood of man, utopia, etc. as though it is a possibility. World peace without Jesus would be the biggest abomination in history. Ain't gonna happen. Don't strive for world peace. Strive to get the world saved through Jesus. And you personally will have God's peace and good will.
In line with my last post, there is a pivotal player in Revelation that will come against Israel in the days leading up to Armageddon, the final battle when Jesus will destroy Israel's enemies and this present age will be over. I heard a Bible teacher I trusted say that some think this player will be the European Union but he thought it would be the United Nations. The UN, whose avowed purpose is, guess what, one world government and world peace.
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