Friday, April 20, 2018

Waiting on the Lord, or becoming stagnant?

I've noticed a trend when Christians are waiting on an answer from the Lord.  Christians (me included) always want an immediate answer from the Lord, whether yes or no, so we can move forward in whatever we think is the next step.  A lot of times, claiming to be waiting on the Lord isn't always resting in His sovereignty, but rather stalling ourselves from moving forward and, as a result, facilitating a season of stagnation.


1. Do what you want to.

One of the major inner conflicts Christians face when trying to discern God’s will is knowing the difference between God’s voice and their own desires.

Was that me or God?”

This is not only frustrating; it’s actually the wrong question. God sometimes leads us through our own desires and He’s the one who has placed those desires inside of us.  So if there is something you're interested in and want to do, go do it.

Make a decision, take a risk, chase a dream.....yes, I said it, chase a dream.  Keeping in mind, of course, God's sovereignty and God's commands. 

You don’t necessarily need God’s permission to go to a farewell party, where others would be drinking, for a good friend or go on a vacation trip that you've always wanted to go on; you already have it. He designed you and gave you the desires you have for a reason. Go explore them and find out what that reason is (Maybe it's just a time of enjoyment, maybe there's a bigger opportunity the Lord has planned), but grow in the Lord in that endeavor.....and seek opportunities to be a witness for Christ in where ever you go.


2. Do what you have to.

The question really shouldn’t be, “What do you want to do with your life?” It should be, “What do you have to do with your life?”  With the life God has given you.

At the same time, what are you so passionate about or have always wanted to do that you feel you need to do?  What has grabbed your heart and wont let go? Go do that.

You never know the opportunities God has for you, in whatever circumstances you choose to create.

3. Do what magnifies God.


To magnify is to make something look bigger. Another way to say it is, do what makes much of God. Or to say it Biblically, “Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God,” (I Cor. 10:31).

This can be just about anything.

You can magnify God as a plumber, an accountant or an actor on Broadway. You can magnify God by going to the local college, to Harvard, or even by not going at all. And you can magnify God, not by trying to find the most perfect, God-ordained spouse, but by being faithful to whoever you choose and are allowed to marry.

Magnifying God is only sourced from having a humble heart of worship, and you can do that with just about any life decision you make.


4. Do what’s in front of you.

This might be the most important one.

Many people believe they have a big calling, but they don’t want to do the hard work to get there and so, it's never pursued. Instead, they wait for God to drop a big opportunity into their laps, but following God's lead doesn’t mean you get to take a shortcut to where you think your calling might be.

You might want to be a CEO, or a successful artist, or a pastor. Those are all great desires, but none of those opportunities will just fall into your lap. They take time, experience and hard work, even if they are the Lord's will.

Our focus, though, should be doing the best at what's in front of us.  For the most part, that’s what you can have immediate say in and you won't become stagnant.

You can’t make someone hire you as a CEO, but you can work hard to earn a management position, and you can seek wisdom from other business owners you know. You can’t make someone pay you for your art, but you can start working on your art form or get to know others in that art form. You can’t make a church hire you as their pastor, but you can disciple the people around you and ask your pastor to mentor you.


Becoming stagnant is never a good idea for any Christian and following the Lord's will is always best, however it's not always easy to discern.  Thankfully, God leads his children in His plan for them, regardless of their choices. Yes, because of poor choices, God's plan for his children can be delayed, but with a studious heart to His word, constant prayer, and Biblically practical habits, that "dream" can turn into Godly opportunities for God's plan. Dreams may be out of reach, that’s why they’re called dreams, but the next step is not. It’s right in front of you.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and the Bible.

There’s no denying that Harry Potter has taken the world by storm and continues to.  It’s also quite clear that the Bible speaks out against sorcery and witchcraft. However, the vast majority of Bible believers have tried to find ways to defuse whatever the Bible says about sorcery by claiming that it has nothing to do with Harry Potter.

In Galatians 5:20, sorcery is listed as part of the “deeds of the flesh” along with things like idolatry, drunkenness, and fornication. “Sorcerers” are named in a similar list in Revelation 21:8. In Acts 19:19, those that practice magic brought their books and burned them when they turned to the Lord. In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 18:10-14 WARNS the nation of Israel about the things they will face in their new land – like idolatry, child sacrifices, and witchcraft. 2 Chronicles 33:6 says that King Manasseh “practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger”.  Clearly, in both the Old and New Testaments God was and still is against sorcery, witchcraft, and divination

So, how does that NOT apply to Harry Potter? The first claim is that the words mean something different than the kind of magic practiced in Harry Potter. Let’s look at the words. The Greek word (roughly transliterated) is pharmakeia. Yes, that’s where our word “pharmacy” comes from. Typically that leads people to say that this word is talking about drug abuse, thus it does not apply to HP.  While I can see why they make that claim, those that translated practically every English version of the Bible seem to think that it had to do with more than drug abuse.   Bauer's lexicon, a definitive lexicon on New Testament Greek, defines it as “sorcery, magic” and “magic arts” (Bauer 1049). Clearly it implies more than just simple drug use. However, even if it did, would Harry Potter’s use of potions pass this test?

What about “witchcraft”? This one is a little tougher since it isn’t used in the New Testament. The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon defines it as one who practices “soothsaying or spiritism or magic or augury” (Strong #6049). So, witchcraft is a much broader term than sorcery. It includes magic, but it basically is about fortune telling and divining the future. These (sorcery and witchcraft) terms have everything to do with the kind of magic practiced in Harry Potter.

The next claim is that Harry Potter is just fiction and this kind of magic isn’t real, so there’s nothing wrong with HP. First, just because it is fictional doesn’t get us off the hook. Remember, sorcery was listed as a deed of the flesh along with idolatry and sexual immorality. I don’t know of any Christian that would make a case for watching movies where fornicators and homosexuals are the heroes. I have a hard time seeing how just saying “it’s fictional” makes it acceptable. Second, this magic may not exist as much today (although there are still practicing witches, warlocks, magicians, psychics, vampires and vampiresses, etc.), but it clearly isn’t a completely foreign idea. In Exodus 7, Pharaoh had sorcerers that would come out and try to match the miracles of God. This is why God felt it necessary to warn His people about these men in Deuteronomy 18. King Nebuchadnezzar also kept a staff of magicians, sorcerers, and conjurers in Daniel 2:2. While some may claim that people can’t work these acts today, it hasn’t stopped the wiccan “religion” from staying alive and well. It hasn’t disappeared completely, so saying that it is fiction or such a far-fetched idea that we need not worry about it, doesn’t work either.  Let's not forget that Ephesians chapter 6 warns that the Christian battles against SPIRITUAL wickedness.

Game of Thrones is another popular show among Christians.  Entertainment is not a neutral exercise. In every instance, it’s going to be a net positive or a net negative for the mental and spiritual welfare and inviting these messages, images, and ideas into the mind is detrimental. We are doing something that is active and purposeful, and it will either help or hurt in the end.

Music, movies, TV, games — we spend so much of our lives wrapped up in all this stuff because it affects us. There’s a reason why Americans still commit an inordinate amount of their income to cable bills, Netflix accounts, movie tickets, and video games. It’s important to us. Too important, clearly. But even in proper proportion, this is art, and art is a powerful thing. Art says something to us and about us. It drives us and transforms us. Art moves the heart and the mind in a particular direction. It can pull us closer to God or push us further away from our Creator, but whatever it does, it does something.

So anytime we sit in front of the tube, we should ask: Am I progressing or regressing? Is this drawing me to God or away from Him? What am I getting out of this?

The opposing argument, however, says that entertainment is never a moral concern. A thing is pleasurable because it is, and it is because it is. Why worry about it? Why analyze it? Just sit back and let it sweep you away into its world. Be so utterly passive and lethargic that you don’t even stop to think about what you’re thinking about. Become like a vacant shell, filled in and emptied again according to the whims of these glowing screens. If the entertainment industry says, “here, stuff this in your brain, it’ll feel good,” just do it and take whatever they give you. Take it and go with the flow.

Game of Thrones has certainly benefited from this careless attitude immensely, although sometimes they can take it too far, even by their audience’s permissive standards. Occasionally, the debauchery on the show runs a bit ahead of Hollywood’s campaign of desensitization, and viewers are confronted with material that they aren’t quite numb enough to accept (yet).

No, it wasn’t real, it was a fantasy, but that’s the point. A choice was made to include this material into an entertainment show about dragons and guys with swords. So what was the point? Why did it need to be shown? What purpose did it serve? What value did it have? And from the viewer’s perspective, is there ever a good reason to watch a rape happen, even if it’s just pretend?


Answers:

What was the point? Shock and spectacle.

Why did it need to be shown? It didn’t.

What purpose did it serve? Promotional tool.

What value did it have? None. Also, entertainment.


Is there ever a good reason to watch a rape? 

Of course not.

The arguments in defense of christians watching these show can be summarized as follows: The shows reveals the complexity of human nature and illustrates the ugliness of sin, therefore viewers can learn from it.

Seemingly clever rationalizations, but flimsy. Flimsy particularly because this could apply to literally everything that’s ever been filmed. By this line of reasoning, Christians should watch the bloodiest and most graphic imagery just to fully understand the realities of our imperfect existence.

Of course, the only thing worse than the “it shows what sin looks like” excuse is the “Christians shouldn’t hide from the culture” bit. And they’re correct. We shouldn’t hide. But we shouldn’t go along with it or follow its dictates or conform to it, either. (Romans 12:1-2) In this culture, lots of sins are considered fun, harmless, and entertaining. Do I need to actually commit them all, or watch someone commit them while I sit on my couch and cheer along, in order to not be guilty of “hiding”?

I mean, does anyone believe that the producers of the show choose to pepper it with non-stop nudity and sex in order to sharpen our moral sensibilities or to teach us something? Does anyone buy that? Is HBO filling the airwaves with graphic sex in order to show that man is fallen? They are indeed demonstrating that fact by putting this on TV, but is that their intent?  Doubtful. Whatever their intent, should we participate in it? Should we indulge in it? Is it cool to sit down once a week to watch something that we know will involve graphic sex and stylized violence? If you wouldn’t want your spouse watching that garbage on the internet, is it alright as long as there’s a more intricate story and better acting surrounding it?

I’m not saying that Christians should only watch children’s cartoons. I’m not saying Christians should insulate themselves from the culture entirely, or relegate all of their viewing habits to Charlie Brown specials or veggietales. The Bible tells us to protect our purity of heart and mind, and if those exhortations don’t apply to shows like Game of Thrones and  Harry Potter when and where do they apply?  


A simple illustration.

Perhaps we should treat our brains and souls with the same respect we give a kitchen sponge. You wouldn’t put your sponge in the toilet and then use it to clean your dinner plate. Why, then, do we let our brains absorb hours of filth every day and then think we can turn around and use those same minds to be decent, virtuous and Godly people in real life?

A lot of Christians (me included) are willing to write off bad language, sex scenes, or practices contrary to the Bible that we're commanded to avoid, in movies and books because we like the story. Let us never become desensitized.  Daily, we have to go back to Philippians 4:8 and guard our ear gates and eyegates with the Word of God.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

More than a blog

Did you know I have another blog and a facebook page for my book?

Please feel free to check out my worship blog, and follow my book's facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/PleasingDeceiving/

www.biblicalworshipstudy.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

SINGLE PONDERINGS

Singleness can be a very lonely time.
Almost every Christian single knows all too well the overwhelming feeling of loneliness, sometimes to the point that going food shopping gets depressing.......SIMPLY and ONLY because you have no company, but whether it’s living with an unfulfilled desire, or just being alone a lot, like a lot, singleness can be the loneliest season, that seems to just drag on and on.

Being single in your 20’s is far different from your 30’s and beyond.

When we think of singles, we think of teens and college kids. But it’s far more than that. Churches all across the world are filled with singles who are divorced, widowed, or over the age of 29. “Being single in your 30’s is so different from your twenties, sometimes, I feel lost.” a friend once told me

I'm still in my 30s, but as the years go by, I can already see the feelings, attitudes, and perspectives toward singleness changing to that of a sort of terminally diseased person.  Obviously, this makes for super awkward encounters, or it makes singles choose to avoid those people.  At times, it's like other Christians seem ashamed to be seen having a conversation with a single person. 

Things to be mindful of

Watch your social media posts. Not every single social media update has to be about your spouse. Admittedly, this is obviously more to fault the singles over the married couples, but constant posts about your spouse or family, or anything related to that can create envy in singles and further push them away.  This is just something to be aware of.

Watch your words closely. "Stop saying, ‘just be content in Christ,' " is, unfortunately, very likely the first thought that enters the mind of a single person in conversation. When people rush into truthful statements, or rush to a specific point without first listening and understanding what a Christian single is saying, it makes singles feel like you don’t care.  I'm always reminded of this quote .

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” Stephen R. Covey.

Give the truth in love, however, jumping to these blunt, albeit very true statements can also be perceived as "This is what you need to know, but stop talking to me."

Don’t try to play “Match-Maker.” This is a BIG one. Introducing a godly guy to a godly gal is fine, but constantly trying to hook singles up in your church is exasperating.  I'm sure I'm not the only single that finds this exhaustingly annoying.

Intentionally pursue GENUINE friendships with singles. Married, it's ok to genuinely be friends with a single person.  They don't have leprosy and just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t hang out. Just don't ALWAYS talk about setting them up with so-and-so or even go through the names of all the single people you could introduce them to.

Ways churches can help

Provide Bible studies for singles.....of ALL ages.  A lot of "singles ministries" are nothing more than social clubs.  Perhaps that bible study could be a series of messages on all the single people in the Bible and applied to current day situations, encouragement for waiting on the Lord.....or being prepared to never be married. 

Maybe host an annual game night at church, encouraging singles to come out.  Churches can help by facilitating an atmosphere of genuine friendship building. That is, set things up to where married folks hang out with single folks more often.

Answer the questions singles are asking. However, when answering questions, don't look down at the person as if to say, "you should know this..why don't you know this?"  Or " I don't need to talk to you, I'm married, go look it up/study it yourself"  That tone just pushes them away.

FOSTER and ENCOURAGE the talent of talented single Christians. Many churches are “run” by married folks. We must adhere to the biblical guidelines of church leadership found in 1 Tim. 3 and other places, but let’s not forget about singles when it comes to small group leaders, giving announcements, and other such roles.

Ways anybody can encourage singles in their lives.

Encourage and remind them of the blessings of their time.  Many Christian singles feel lonely, but not all.  Yes, singleness can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be joyless. Whether it’s overseas missions, serving the church, or more time for evangelism, singleness offers a lot of advantages that married people don’t have and encourage the singles you know in this.

Some singles definitely have a deep and, at times, burning desire to be married one day and some will probably get married...and some may not. The big wedding day, honeymoon, and family that they envision for their life may come......or it may not. No one has any idea what’s going to happen to them tomorrow, let alone their future. Instead of placing hope in a spouse, place hope in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, and encourage living for the glory of Christ.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Biblical perspective

Does God detest the occult?

Ephesians 5:11-12 "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret."
Witchcraft and sorcery is specifically named by God in the old and new testaments. 
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer."

      Pay close attention to the next verse

"For ALL that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee."
These verses are under a different dispensation and so some say that God has changed, but let's look in the new testament.   The Holy Spirit groups witchcraft, idolatry, sorcery, etc. under sins that are a direct result of the sinful nature.

Galatians 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, WITCHCRAFT, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

I'm not sure that anything can be misinterpreted here.  Witchcraft, idolatry, sorcery, etc. are all works of the flesh.  Romans 8:8 is also very clear in stating "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."  This verse, itself, is convicting.  How often do Christians do things in the flesh?  Sometimes even witnessing to others can be done in the flesh.  It is so prevalent that we don't even think about it most times, yet this verse tells all believers that when something is done in the flesh, it's useless.  The Christian's goal, like the apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 3, ought to be to please God in every aspect of life.   

Here are some brief and initial thoughts from a few new believers.

-God is a God of life, but Halloween focuses on death. Should I participate in a holiday where people decorate their front yards with tombstones?

-The Scriptures tell us to put away deeds of darkness (Rom.13:12) and that light has nothing in common with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). Is celebrating a dark holiday something a child of the light should be doing?

-I had been delivered from fear and panic attacks and knew that fear comes from the enemy. Should I participate in a holiday that has fear as its very foundation?

-Witchcraft is clearly detestable to the Lord (Deut 18:10-13). Shouldn't something that glorifies witchcraft (just take a walk through the Halloween store) be detestable to me as well?"

-Halloween is a sacred, high holiday for wiccans (the official religion of witchcraft). Is this a holiday Christians should celebrate alongside wiccans?
-Is it cute when we dress our kids like the devil (or witches, ghouls, scary characters, etc.)? Isn't it, well, demonic?

-What if my child dresses in a wholesome fireman costume? Romans 16:19 says that we need to be wise to what is good and innocent of evil. If I let him participate in Halloween, even while dressed as a fireman, aren't I sending him a mixed message by allowing him to participate in a celebration of evil?

-The Lord said in 2 Cor. 6:17, "Come out from among them and be ye separate ... Touch no unclean thing ..." Doesn't God want His children to be set apart from the world and from sin and evil? Aren't we supposed to be a peculiar people?

-My extended family thinks it's ridiculous that we not allow our son to dress up for Halloween. Should their opinions matter to me more than God's? Shouldn't pleasing God be my utmost concern?

-If there is even a question in my heart and mind that it might be wrong, shouldn't that be my first clue? Why would I continue to do so with even a lingering thought that it is wrong?

-Does Halloween bring glory to God? No! It glorifies the devil!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Do humans have a soul? Why/why not.


(This was my reply to the above question posted on a Facebook page that I follow.  My response includes a few other pre-existing blog posts which were simply copied here.) 

YES, WE DO!

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth."

The first verse in the Bible tells us a great deal about God.  In the beginning, God.  Before we even get into all of His creation, we must first understand these first 4 word.  In the beginning God.....not buddha, raqa, muhammad, or any other religion.  In the beginning, God.  God created everything in heaven and earth.  All the galaxies that we can see and all the galaxies we can not see, were created by God.  Everything we see on earth and the things we don't see, but know without a doubt, are there.....the air we breathe, the wind that blows through trees and makes the waves....also everything in our make up.....our intricate brains, the paths our blood flows, the veins they travel, the white blood cells and red blood cells, the marrow in our bones, our nervous systems and the communication between our bodies and brains that tell us that we have a papercut.  Our emotions and all the intricacies of how we decide to be happy, sad, meloncolly, energetic, etc.  ALL of this, and a TON more, created by God.  God also created man, and breathed his soul.

Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

In creating us in His image, God created us to be intellectual, emotional, and to have a free will.  If you think about it, can science really explain where we get our emotions from? Our intellect?  Our drive to do what we want? There is a lot that science can explain, but only to a certain degree, after that.....the explanation stops. What about creation or the big bang theory?  The Bible says clearly that the heavens and earth were created.  Believing in creation or believing in the big bang theory take the same amount of faith.  No one, not me, not you, not our ancestors, were alive when the earth began.  There is far more evidence for creation, than for the big bang.  Even in humans there is far more evidence for creation.  Did you know that women have 1 less rib then men?  Coincidence? No, I don't believe so. The Bible says God formed woman from a man's rib!
And this isn't just another theory.  It's very real, and very possible, and very real and possible to know thi Almighty God, the creator of everything we see and dont see, including humans and their souls. Our souls are destined to Hell because those first humans God created, sinned.  There also, needed to be a penalty for sin, death.  Both, physical death, but also spiritual death or eternal separation from the Almighty Creator.  Our souls will either spend eternity in Hell or eternity with God.  The Bible tells us that the only way to know God, be saved and spend eternity with God is to believe in the finished work of Christ, God’s only begotten Son.  It is as simple as believing in a chair to hold you up when you sit down, or as simple as drinking a glass of water, or even walking through a doorway.  All the payment of your sin and the sin of the world is paid for by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is no more work that needs to be done, and there is no more work that can be done.  

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

         The ONLY requirement for salvation is to believe.  Jesus said that receiving him as savior is as simple as taking a drink of water or walking through a doorway.  In the Old Testament, God gave an illustration of salvation to us by way of a plague sent on the nation of Israel, in Numbers chapter 21:6-9.  The nation of Israel was questioning God’s deliverance upon them.  In verse 6, the Bible says that God sent poisonous serpents upon the land and caused them to be bitten and many Israelites died.  Many of the Israelites came to Moses, confessing their sins and wanted Moses to pray and ask God to be merciful upon them.  Moses was commanded of the Lord to make a statue of a serpent and put it on the end of a pole and lift it up for all to see.  The only requirement for the deliverance of the people from their sickness was to look upon the brass serpent.  The idea of the people looking up to the serpent didn’t mean that all the people had to do was to glance at this serpent, but this was a two-fold meaning and it also meant to believe what the Lord has said.  Jesus himself refers to this event in the Gospel of John 3:14-16.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In order for people to get better from this poisonous bite, one had to simply look and believe on what the Lord had said.  This was the only way of deliverance that the Lord provided and it was his plan to do so.  There was no other way that the people could get better.  In the same way, there is no other way that one can be saved and have eternal life, but to believe on the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross 

Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

2 Corinthians 6:2b “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

1. The Bible - The Word of God
It is so important for a young Christian to start right; therefore, the first lesson is designed to help establish your faith in the Bible, for it is the Word of God.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”- Romans 10:17
Keep in mind that the Bible is not a book of philosophy, though it is philosophical.  The Bible is not for a scientific treatise, however, there is no discrepancy between ascertained facts of science and the Bible. The Bible is not a book of history, but is found to be accurate when recording history. The Bible was given to man from God, revealing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God the Son, the only Savior. (John 14:6) He is the center and the circumference of life. (Col. 3:4) It is Christ from Genesis to Revelation. (John 5:39,46; Luke 24:44; Col.3:16; Rev. 1:1) The Bible is as high above all other thoughts and ways of any man as the heavens are above the earth. (Isaiah 55:8)
The Bible is the inspired Word of God (II Timothy 3:16, written by the Holy Spirit. (II Peter 1:21)
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” - II Timothy 3:16

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” - II Peter 1:21
In Daniel 9:2 is one of my favorite passages referring to the authorship of the scriptures.
“…I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” - Daniel 9:2
The Bible says that Daniel read the book of Jeremiah to understand his own dream.  This, also, is proof that the Holy Spirit wrote the scriptures.  Daniel was given a dream, recorded his dream with great detail, yet had to search the scriptures for more understanding.  This also is a great transition into the next point.
The Bible is a difficult book (I Corinthians 2:14-16)
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” - I Corinthians 2:14-16

            It is impossible for the natural man to know and to understand the things written in this tremendous book.  It is impossible because the Holy Spirit does not dwell within the natural man and therefore can not minister.  In fact, the Bible sounds foolish to him and this is mentioned again in 1 Corinthian 1:18.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

            Unbelievers might not realize this truth, but it is proved over and over again when a believer shares the truth of God’s Word.  The unbelievers response, in one way or another, will be that the believer has been brainwashed into this foolish and ridiculous fantasy, made up years and years ago.   In this same verse, Paul writes that the preaching of the cross is the POWER of God to them that are saved.  This is a huge encouragement to any believer.  It is only by God’s mighty power to change the heart and thinking of a person.

The Bible or Word of God divides “soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
This verse states clearly that the Word of God discerns the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and thoughts and intents of our hearts.  In this blog, I will only be addressing the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
In comparison to Jeremiah 17:9 and multiple verses in Proverbs, the Bible states in a lot of places that we, in and of ourselves, can not direct our own ways or thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8 states “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”  The divinely inspired verse in Hebrews reminds believers that there is a way to direct our hearts and thoughts, His Word.  We are God’s creation and so it is only logical to conclude that we can not think or direct our own ways and scripture reminds us of this over and over.
It is human nature to entertain a worldly, lustful, and insidious thought life.  The good news is God made us a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) at the moment of salvation.  Therefore, we have all the ability we need to have a wonderful thought life.  In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  It is also logical to conclude that Paul wrote this verse because it is very unlikely otherwise to have a pure, true, etc. thought life. Other verses that address the thought life are found in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Both of these verses contain great, Biblical advice regarding our thought life.   In Romans, we are commanded to renew our minds.  The act of renewing our mind is exercised simply by reading God’s Word.  In Ephesians chapter 6, God tells us that the whole spiritual warfare is in our minds and that we need “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14) and arm ourselves with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)
On the opposite side of the spectrum and because God knows the human nature and knows that if left to ourselves, believers will entertain that worldly, lustful, and insidious thought life, found in 2 Cor. 10:5.  “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”   This verse highly recommends that believers control their thought life by casting down every thought that is against the knowledge of Christ.  Paul’s goal in life was that he would know Christ.  A great way to get to know God and His Word is imply to think about the things that you read in His Word, or the Spiritual conversation you had with a friend at church.  The verses in scripture are ever insightful and will never be exhausted, in our life time.  It truly is a blessing to ponder the things of God!

Friday, September 23, 2016

DOES GOD HEAR ALL HIS CHILDREN'S PRAYERS?

             According to this verse, sin separates the believer from fellowship with God.  This is also why 1 John 1:9 is such a vital and daily practice.  There are no degrees to sin, according to the Bible, but perhaps there is a habitual problem of using the Lord's name in vain, maybe a lifestyle living in the sin of homosexuality, or even constant worrying (worry is a sin - Phil. 4:6), all sin needs to be confessed, but more importantly, all sin separate believers from fellowship with God.

Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."

             Not just fellowship, but also prayer.  When we pray with unconfessed sin in our hearts and lives, the Lord does not hear them.  There are a lot of times that people tell me that they are praying for this or that and yet, I know, they have unconfessed sin in their lives.  Most often, this seems to be prevalent in those who are decidedly living in a lifestyle opposed to Biblical values.  All Christians sin, but the Holy Spirit convicts.  Living in a blatant and rebellious lifestyle is shaking your fist to God, yet Christians everywhere are living in unconfessed sin.
 
     1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."