False Promises

These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
 
— Jude 1:16–18

A common characteristic of false teachers is the offer of false promises. You see them promising, for example, that God will prosper those who give $10 with a hundredfold blessing—multiplying that amount and returning it to them. This is a false message, however. We should never give to get.

If I were to give an amount of money to God’s work, thinking it would multiply a certain number of times and would ultimately return to me, that would be a wrong motive. God will not honor it. It is also a false promise.

All believers should give, on a regular basis, of the resources and income that God has given to them. On the other hand, we don’t give to get something. The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver (see 2 Corinthians 9:7). We give because we have received. We give because we recognize that all that we have comes from God. We give because we want to share in the eternal reward of what God is doing by investing in the work of His kingdom. We give because God has commanded us to do so.

Jude wrote his epistle to refute those who were teaching that the grace of God gives people a license to sin. And Paul wrote in Romans 3:8, “And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.”

In other words, there are those who say, “Go ahead and do wicked things, and God will bless you, because you are covered by grace.” Paul was saying that this is a perversion of the teaching of the grace of God.

GODS DELIVERY SERVICE

DEVOTIONS

by Charles R. Swindoll

1 Corinthians 2

I don’t know where you are today, but I have a sneaky suspicion that you, like me, might have a few intruders crowding into your life and could use some divine reinforcements. If so, don’t hesitate to call for help. Tell your Father that you are running out of hope and energy and ideas . . . that you need “not . . . words taught by human wisdom, but . . . those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. . . . For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:13, 16).

You may have cancer. So what can you do? You dial Heaven 911 and you tell God you have an emergency need: “I have cancer, Lord, and I need wisdom.” And at that very moment He will begin to make His deliveries.

Amazingly, you soon discover that your greatest enemy is not the disease but subtle, slippery feelings of despair, the thief of peace. And so you rely on God’s daily delivery service to get you through that one day. And then the next.

When Dan Richardson, an enthusiastic believer in Christ, lost his battle with cancer, the following piece was distributed at his memorial service.

Cancer is limited . . .

It cannot cripple love,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot shut out memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit,
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.

You cannot deny that you have the disease, but you can deny despair from taking control. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, call for God’s daily delivery of wisdom, strength, and grace.

Each morning, slam the door on despair. If you don’t, it will slip in and rob you.
And you’ll soon find a peace missing.

CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE – UNCHANGED?

CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE – UNCHANGED?

Called Out, Set Apart,

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

What’s the purpose of living a Christian lifestyle? Choosing to make Jesus Christ the Lord of our life changes our lifestyle dramatically. Friendships, activities, and even health issues receive careful evaluation. While we formulate reasons for the way we live our Christian lives, God’s purpose for our lives never changes.

Power of God?

One example of this disconnect is evident with the question of healing.

I’ve studied what the Bible says about healing for years and years, and two things remain clear to me.  One is that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Another is He said anyone with faith in Him would do the things He did (John 14:12). But the results we’re experiencing in much of the Western church today are far different from those attributed to Him in the Bible. A logical mind can only conclude that something has changed. Since it can’t be Him, that leaves only us.

I’ve concluded that many of us have formed our opinions about healing either from hearsay or personal observation rather than God’s Word, while the Bible tells us to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  To prove my point, count the number of times when you’ve personally witnessed someone being healed. Not heard about, but personally witnessed. If you’re like most people you won’t know of very many, maybe not any.

Maybe we don’t see people being healed because we no longer expect to.  Somewhere along the way there’s been a disconnect to the point where many believers are convinced that without giving us any warning God simply stopped healing people.  Some of those who promote this idea say it happened once the New Testament had been compiled. They base this on 1 Cor. 13:8-10 which says in part:

“…where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”

The Greek word for perfection in this passage also means complete, so they interpret what Paul wrote to mean that once the New Testament was complete, the gifts of the Spirit ceased.  The problem I have with this interpretation is that it never appeared anywhere in the church record until about 1900 AD when it was used as a rebuttal against the appearance of spiritual gifts in the Pentecostal movement. Many protestant denominations (those where spiritual gifts are not in evidence) hold this view today. It should not surprise us that supernatural healing does not occur in those denominations.

Then there are believers who call themselves mid-Acts dispensationalists. They assert that healing and other spiritual gifts were signs to the Jews that Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit, and as soon as Israel was officially set aside and the gospel went to the Gentiles these signs ceased. They say the epistle of James, which contains the most direct promise of healing through prayer anywhere in the New testament (James 5:14-16), was not intended for us today but was written only to Jewish believers in the early days of the church.  Some of these folks hedge their bets by assuring us that God can heal people and sometimes does, so we can still pray for healing. But we shouldn’t be surprised it doesn’t happen. Our healing may not come until the resurrection. At least they leave the door open for God to heal someone if He decides to.

Sin In Our Camp…

Judas departure brings about Christ’s glorification (31-32)

  1. To be glorified in this context means to make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendor; a. to impart glory to something, render it excellent:
  2. It is only after the departure of Judas that the glorification happens.
  3. Perhaps we are not receiving the blessings we are due because we have negative influences around us we are not willing to remove.
  4. Christ’s glorification – brought glorification to the Father.
  5. When we are receiving God’s blessings – these blessing shall cause Christ to be praised, and will cause the Father to be praised. God will in turn glorify Himself and His Son through your blessing.
  6. Bottom line we need to prepare our life’s situation for blessing by removing – our rebellion – our doubt – and the negative factors that prevent our blessing.

Makes me think of the “Sin of Achan”

The first verse in the passage (Joshua 7:1) sums up the whole story. The rest of the passage contains the details of the situation. It is interesting that all of Israel is held accountable for one man’s sin. In modern society we often value individuality to the point that we do not feel responsible, in any way, for our fellow man. God looks at His people individually but also as a group. This becomes very clear in 1 Corinthians 12:12 and following in reference to the Church.

  • To remain connected to God through Jesus Christ (John 15:4–8). A life that’s cut off from God withers and dies — physically as well as spiritually. God desires to reproduce His Son’s life through our fruitfulness.
  • To remain faithful through persecution and to resist false doctrine (2 Timothy 3:12–17). The apostle Paul expected situations to become worse as worldly pressures increased. Our testimony and knowledge of the Scriptures arm us against any deceivers or deceptive ideals.
  • To present the Good News to a lost world (Mark 16:15-16; 1 Timothy 6:12) Like an athlete or soldier, we present our best efforts to further the faith. Our transformed lives compel us to share the Gospel’s impact not just for our “today,” but for our eternity.

Christian Lifestyle – Rules

Are there specific guidelines that constitute a Christian lifestyle? From theologian to theologian, any “lifestyle” list would differ. Drinking, movies, music, dancing, politics, fashion, education . . . to what degree do we shape our choices so we maintain a Christian lifestyle? “Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do…” (Romans 12:2). For one year A.J. Jacobs attempted to obey more than 700 rules and prohibitions found in the Bible. At the end of one year he confessed, “I started the year as an agnostic, and now I am a reverent agnostic.” A Christian lifestyle should never become a list of rules. We must take our attention off mandates and focus on the Man.

To paraphrase, “What did Jesus do?”

  • Communicated continually with God (Matthew 11:25-26; Mark 6:46; 14:32)
  • Acknowledged the significance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26)
  • Obeyed the will of His Heavenly Father (Luke 22:42; John 6:38-39)
  • Resisted temptation by steadfastness to the Word of God (Luke 4:1-13)
  • Reached out to those considered hopeless and sinners (Mark 2:15-16; Luke 19:5-9)
  • Served others, humbling Himself before His Heavenly Father (John 13:3-5, 12-15)
  • Persevered in faith and love (John 4:34, John 9:4; John 17:23)

Christian Lifestyle – Inside Out
What are the outward and inward evidence of a Christian lifestyle? You can present an outward appearance of holiness daily and still serve as a poor Christian witness (Matthew 23:27-28). To live as a Christian requires having the character of Christ. A transformation must occur, as a result of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (Galatians 5:24-25).

When we truly practice a Christian lifestyle, the inward evidence becomes obvious. God’s glory and power pours out upon all those around us. Our faith in the midst of turmoil flows from a heart given to a loving Father. Every breath carries words of compassion and affirmation to a hurting world. Those who live the Christian lifestyle live a confident life on the inside and outside.

“This High Priest [Jesus Christ] of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

MY STRESS–GOD’S STRENGTH

MY STRESS–GOD’S STRENGTH

by Charles R. Swindoll

Psalm 46

Let me give you three very practical thoughts regarding this matter of God’s strength through stress, as found in Psalm 46.

First, His strength is immediately available. Our trials are not superficial or irrelevant. They are vehicles of grace that God uses to bring us growth. Superficial problems call for superficial solutions. But real life isn’t like that; its headaches and stresses go deeper, right down to the bone. They touch the nerve areas of our security. But God says He is a present help in trouble. He is immediately available. Do you realize that wherever you travel, whatever the time of day, you can call and He will answer? He’s a very present and immediate help.

The second thing I observe about God’s power in this psalm is that it is overpowering! It’s a tent that can stretch over any stress—in fact it’s tailor-made for stress.

Third, His power is not dependent on our help. You’re weak, remember? Have you felt that weakness lately? Maybe it’s time to say, “Lord, I love You. Through Your strength I will not be moved. I will stop running, stop striving. I will not fear. I will hold on to You. I will count on You to build that tent around me and protect me from the blast.

God says, “Cease striving, and know that I am God.”

Malachi was a contemporary of Nehemiah, Ezra, and Ester

Malachi was a contemporary of Nehemiah, Ezra, and Ester

Malachi was a contemporary of Nehemiah, Ezra, and Ester. Much of the background for Malachi is found in these other books, and in fact, our commentaries cross reference several verses.

Daniel’s prophesy of the 70 weeks from the command to restore Jerusalem till Messiah is grounded in these events.

Nehemiah is the story of the man Nehemiah who in captivity became the cup bearer for Artexerxes 1, king of Persia. As cup bearer, he had favor with the king. Nehemiah gets permission to lead a group back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. It is completed in 52 days with the workers holding a sword in one hand and building with the other!

Nehemiah, as Governor of area and Ezra as Priest, restore the Temple, Priest, Levites, sacrifices, etc.

Later Nehemiah goes back to Jerusalem to check on things… It is bad!  This is where Malechi comes in.

Nehemiah has to deal with corrupt Priest who have stolen the Tithes and not shared them with the Levites. Neh 13:10. The Levites who have been cheated out of their share of the Tithes have had to go home to survive.

The people, priest and Levites too, have married foreign wives, they are buying and selling on the Sabbath, as well as working just like any other day.

Nehemiah appoints one honest Priest, one Levite, one secular ruler, and a laymen to guard and administrate the Tithes in the storehouse. Neh 13:13.

Malachi is written to the Priest and Levites who have become corrupt. Neh 13:29.   Chapter 1 focuses on how the priest defiled the alter with defiled food, sick and lame animals, etc.  chapter 2 continues with “and now O priest…

If you read Malachi along with Ezra and Nehemiah, you have to really stretch to assign Malachi 3 to the nation of Israel and prophetic Church. The blessings and curses are directed to the preachers who steal the Tithe once given (and then on to the nation in general).  For it is true the nation was not filling God’s storehouses as earlier commanded, but it is also true that the corrupt priest had transformed the storehouses into apartments. There weren’t physically any storehouses to be filled!

In Malachi 1:6-8, it is shown that God were speaking to the leaders (the Levites and Priests of Israel) who were defrauding and robbing God of the tithes and offerings not the people who brought the tithes to them (the people continued to give and tithe to them even while these corrupt Levites and priests stole from God – and the widows, the poor and strangers in the land). These priests were not giving God His due honor before the people by taking care of those widows and orphans in need nor were they sacrificing the best of the grain and livestock to God rather they were keeping the best for themselves to sell and increase their own wealth from the things tithed and offered by those who were required to tithe. Just think of the glory our God in heaven would receive if these so-called “tithes and offerings” ministers actually followed these old Covenant instructions by helping the poor and needy with your “tithes and offerings” money instead of helping themselves. Today, we as Christians are called upon in the New Testament (or Covenant) which requires much more in giving and helping those in need than the Old Testament. For, we as Christians shall be judged by our treatment of those in need and those well to due Christians will be judged by what they did with their money (Matthew 19:16-24; Luke 12:33; Luke 19:1-10 and Matthew 25 – more on this later).

Notice in verse 6 of Malachi chapter one God says, “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for My Name”; there you have it, it was the priests not the people, who were not respecting God as a Father and Master (if they were sons or servants then they did not show it, making them neither as for as God was concern). God says these priests showed Him contempt instead of honor and “place defiled food on”(v. 7) His altar (this phrase give us more proof that God was talking to the Levitical priesthood because they were the only ones commanded by God to offer the sacrifices on the altar).

Now, when we move to Malachi chapter two we see God is still speaking to the priests and not the people as so many Christians have been led to believe by their leaders, these money lovers and self-proclaimed “tithes and offerings” collectors who have declared themselves to be God. For they say to those who they demand money from, that if you don’t give to them you are robbing God. Thereby, claiming if you want to give to God then you must give to them and no one else.

These ministers peddle the word of God for profit and financial gain – teaching for doctrine the traditions of men and doctrines of Satan concerning tithes and offerings; something God have not command them, and He have not given them this authority to demand money from you under the new Covenant. They are misusing the Holy Scripture to fill their pockets and “their churches” bank accounts. They are “living it up” on the word of God rather than being content, and helping those in need. These ministers are refusing to preach the word without cost. The Holy Spirit speaks of these ministers in2 Peter 3:16… where it is said, these ministers have used Malachi 3 as “untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scripture”. Yes, some twist the Scripture through ignorance and some through deceit and evil motives, and they all resist sound doctrine.

Now, let us re-read Malachi 3 again, where it speaks of these priests (today, they are commonly called ministers) robbing God – we will start in verse one, and I want you to pay particular attention to verses 3-5, and 9; where we see the phrases “sons of Levi”, “that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness”, “then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem”, “those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans”, and “even this whole nation”.

You know the more I study what God really says about “tithes and offerings”; the more I wish these gospel peddlers would rightly divide God’s word for a change and give God His honor and reverence among the people of this world. For many of our poor widows and fatherless children would be cared for with the tithe money they collect, and God would receive His honor and be reverend. Yet, these ministers uses your “tithes and offerings” for “their pet projects”. Oh yea, they will definitely declare to you the word of God when they stand to profit from it, but never are they truthful when it may take money out of their pockets and their “human organizations” aka “their churches”.

HEALING BY WHOSE POWER?

HEALING BY WHOSE POWER?

Let me preface this by saying I believe in healing, but I do not believe in “Healers”. The following is from a popular preacher regarding “HIS” healing ministry.

Quote #1

“It’s God’s will to heal every single person every single time.” Healing is a done deal. It’s part of the salvation package. Look at the meaning and use of the word “saved” (sozo) in the Bible and you will find that it covers forgiveness, healing, and deliverance. It means to be “made whole” in every aspect of life. In Psalms 103:3 and 1 Peter 2:24, the benefits of salvation are described as the forgiveness of sins and physical healing. You cannot separate one from the other. It is offensive to Jesus and His finished work to treat healing as merely a fringe benefit. There are at least 17 occasions in the Gospels, where Jesus healed everyone who came to Him sick. It was His habit to heal everyone!

The problem with the quote above is that none of those people are alive today. THEY ALL DIED LATER.

Now I am not saying God does not heal. I have seen and been part of a miraculous healing before. But I take exception to the idea that healing is an absolute right and a given if we have enough faith.

And I question the quote; “It was His habit to heal everyone”. Jesus did not automatically heal everyone in the room, town, or countryside just by being there. He did not walk into a village and everyone suddenly got up from their sick beds.

Those who have a “healing” ministry would do good to ask “What was the purpose of Miracles in Jesus’ ministry?” What was the purpose of healing? Especially if you consider that eventually everyone got sick or old and died.

Consider the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”. Although there is no Biblical proof what it was, many think it was cataracts or another sort of blindness. But by Paul’s own writings, he was never healed of it.

Quote #2

“I’ve failed. I don’t see healing come to pass. I’ve seen some people very close to me die, family and friends I’ve loved with all of my heart. I’ve had to accept partial responsibility. It’s a complex issue. I’m not saying that it was all my fault, all their fault, or anybody’s fault. We’re still learning… (On one occasion where a girl died) I believe I did fail… But am I condemned by that? No, I’m not condemned at all. I believe that God loves me.”

Healing because of something I do or say? This puts the power in me, not God. It obligates God to act or react to me, my faith, or my prayer. The idea that the responsibility for sickness or death is mine by obedience or lack thereof, is elevating the believer to the state of god-head.

Quote #3

Jesus said you need to exercise your God-given authority and speak to your mountain (Mk 11:23). In a manner of speaking, this is His law for dealing with mountains. You don’t have to understand how that works anymore than you need to understand how electricity works in order to benefit from it. Another law connects faith with action – you need to act on your faith. If you believe that you’re healed, but “continue to think sick, talk sick, and act sick,” then you won’t see the manifestation of your healing.

This is from the belief that the spoken word of the believer can create. As far as I can understand the Bible, only God has the power to create. There are nuggets of truth in this preacher’s teachings. I am not at all saying that everything he has said is totally wrong. I just believe that the scriptures are being twisted and “proof-texted” to fit his agenda and belief systems.

It is true that our attitudes do affect our health. Modern medicine, especially in the treatment of cancers deal with this. Most of us can think of the person we know who is the perpetual sick who seems to revel in their infirmities. And conversely we might know the person who is always upbeat and positive and does not let illness slow them down. But to make this a spiritual truth that leads to guaranteed healing?

Personally I like the verse in John 15:16 You should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16b

From the sermon several weeks ago in Church, we were taught to look at the phrase about fruit. What fruit? The list is in Galatians. “Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Joy

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Can you have joy in the chaos? Or does your moodiness hover over everyone like a cloud? Not that anyone should be joyful about the hard times, but rather your joy comes from #1) God is with you through it and #2) God uses every trial to help you become stronger in the faith.

Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-8).

Is your inner person wrecked with anxiety and worry when everything falls apart? Or can you rest in God’s peace? There is no peace for the wicked; however, for believers it is available every time you pray and leave your concerns with God.

Forbearance

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).

Can you be still and wait on God? Or are you tempted to always move ahead so you can stay in control? Forbearance is a fruit that will grow with your experience of being stretched in faith especially in times of trial.

Perhaps when our prayer life seems powerless, we need to inspect out fruit, and its quality. We might look at our sincerity of each fruit. God knows our hearts, and our motives. Perhaps the healing we so desperately want or need is to teach us and refine the fruits in our lives.

We have the promises from Jesus that whatsoever we ask, it will be given. I can quickly list 7 times Jesus told his disciples that the last night they were together before the crucifixion. But each time Jesus said it, there was a qualification.

John 14:13, 14:14, 15:7, 15:16, 16:23, 16:24, 16:26.

In my name, abide, bear fruit, doing greater works… these were the qualifiers for the promise. Exactly what do they mean? I understand them to mean that when the believer has shaped his/her life to be like Jesus, we will see power in our prayer life. It is the result of close fellowship and walking with the Master. Asking “in Jesus name” means in His attitude, His likeness, His mentality regarding the object of prayer. It is not a set of magic words to be tacked onto any prayer we might sputter. Is not a magician’s formula to move God into doing.

Abiding, bearing fruit, and doing the will of the Father, does not leave room for spurious prayers. When we are in close fellowship with Jesus, we will not pray for the lottery, winning the sports game, and other frivolous requests.

Health and healing? When we are abiding in that closeness, if the Spirit places the desire into our hearts, it will be done.

PASSING BY ON THE OTHER SIDE

PASSING BY ON THE OTHER SIDE

“In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ” (Luke 10:30-37, NIV)

When Jesus told this parable over two thousand years ago, he was addressing the question of a “lawyer” who was trying to take the easy way out by insinuating he did not know who his neighbor was. Jesus pointed out that whosoever was in need that he came across was indeed his neighbor, and that we should do whatever is in our power to aid that person.

Unfortunately nowadays, a lot of folks prefer to just “pass by” when someone needs help, leaving them to whatever plight that afflicts them.

I hear people who are hurting (they are members of a larger church in the city) and they are not even strangers as the man in the story of the Good Samaritan. Each week as they go to Church they rub shoulders with other Christians who are totally unaware of the pressing need of the hurting person. At least I would like to think they are unaware. If that is the reason, perhaps we need to open our eyes and care for our brothers and sisters!

How does a professing Christian “pass by on the other side” especially with fellow church members?

I think there is a darker reason why many of us pass by on the other side.

One possible reason is Cultural Christianity. I read a devotion written by an American lady in Hong Cong who was telling of her experience in a Bible Study when Cultural interpretations flavored the understanding of the Bible.

A quote from her devotion;   “In the discussion time, I said that different cultures emphasize the verses that best match their cultural values. As an example, I mentioned that, with regard to money, the Filipino Christians I worked with take seriously Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:42 to give to him who asks, because their culture places a high value on generosity. We Americans, however, are more likely to quote Paul that those who won’t work should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). I finished by saying that both verses need to be considered.

“The speaker was quick to inform me that Paul’s verse was the more important of the two and that anyone who took the other verse seriously was wrong. I doubt she realized how well she proved my point. Later, when we were nibbling snacks and chatting, a couple of the other Bible study women told me they agreed with me. Different cultures do emphasize the verses that best support their cultural values and tend to ignore the rest.”

Is that what God wants us to do with his Word? Is the Bible nothing more than a smorgasbord of verses where we pick what suits our cultural tastes and leave the others?

After reading that devotion, I started examining my beliefs in this matter.

It seems that the “Western” mentality does lean heavily towards the Thessalonians verse with a very unhealthy dose of judgementalism. I have heard many around me excuse themselves from helping a person because they smoked, or _(insert sin)_, or ? The rational being if they weren’t sinning….

Then there is the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity preachers whose philosophy has crept into our thinking, that says if you are not being Blessed, you need to get right with God. This gives the Traveler on the “Samaritan Road” the perfect excuse to pass on the other side.

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, but we can’t see the People around us who are wounded and hurting on the side of the road. Or we choose not to notice them!

Let’s find the Life Application

  1. Make a list of people whom you know that, for whatever reason, need help.
  2. Really get to know the people in Church. It seems to be the same in a Church of 15, 50, or 150. We really don’t know many (if any) very well. We spend very few minutes visiting with others in Church. After all, we have to go home and … We are totally unaware of those who are crying for help.
    1. You have to spend time talking. You have to ask questions.
    2. You have to listen with spiritual ears.
    3. You have to linger before and after services to have time. The Preacher frowns on chit-chat during the sermon!
  1. Decide if the Spiritual Applications apply to you. The story in Luke does not tell us the reasons that the Priest and Levite passed by. Do you think the reasons make a difference? What are your reasons for passing by? Why did Jesus tell this story? Why did God include it in the Bible?
  2. Talk to trusted Spiritual leadership and find help for the hurting. Do it yourself if possible, but otherwise, bring help to the side of the road.

In conclusion, (from the author of the devotion I referred to above),

I’ve learned that, if I’m to please God, I’d better stop worrying about claiming my rights and start fulfilling my responsibilities.

I’ve learned I don’t pray nearly enough for those around me.

I’ve learned I shouldn’t hold my earthly citizenship in such high regard that I forget where my more important citizenship lies.

I’ve learned I want my Christianity to be shaped by the Bible—all of it—not by my culture.

What about you?

As for me and my house, we will Serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

must I also keep all 613 laws

A friend told me that if I keep the Sabbath then I must also keep all 613 laws of the Old Testament. Is this true? I didn’t know there were that many.

The Talmud lists the number of laws at 613, although that total is disputed. The laws of the Old Testament were the constitution of Israel as a theocracy or nation under a religious government headed by Yahweh. We today are under a nonreligious Roman system and therefore many of the Old Testament governmental laws are impossible to keep today. Many laws are also to regulate a worship system centered in the Temple, which doesn’t exist today and therefore we are unable to perform them. But the majority of those “613” laws are moral/spiritual in nature and are incumbent on us, such as: not to bear a grudge (Lev. 19:18); not to wrong any one in speech (Lev. 25:17); not to curse a father or mother (Ex. 21:17); and to carry out whatever one has said one would do (Deut. 23:23). And of course there are the Ten Commandments. These kinds of ordinances apply to everyone’s personal behavior and are meant to mold us into the image of Jesus the Messiah (Deut. 28:9).

Many laws were given to Israel for their particular place and time and which have been usurped by the governments in power today. These include: to appoint judges and officers in every community of Israel (Deut. 16:18); not to execute one guilty of a capital offense before he has stood his trial (Num. 35:12); not to sell a field in the land of Israel in perpetuity (Lev. 25:23); never to settle in the land of Egypt (Deut. 17:16); not to allow a witch to live, Exodus 22:18. These kinds of laws are governmental or judicial and are out of the personal jurisdiction of today’s believer.

Then there are laws specific to men and women that are not intended for the other gender.

We find laws regarding the priesthood and temple worship, which are impossible to observe today or that were changed with Jesus’s sacrifice and role as our High Priest. Such laws include: not to tear the High Priest’s robe (Ex. 28:32); a person with a physical blemish shall not serve in the Sanctuary (Lev. 21:23); to carry out the ordinance of the red heifer so that its ashes will always be available (Num. 19:9); and all the laws regulating animal sacrifice.

Certain laws are for health and cleanliness, such as: the leper shall shave all his hair (Lev. 14:9); a woman’s running issue of blood defiles (Lev. 15:25-27); to have a place outside the camp for sanitary purposes (Deut. 23:13).

Other laws are for safety and are specific to a historical time, like to make a parapet (perimeter fence) on your roof because a person’s roof was a living space in Israel (Deut. 22:8);

A general guideline is, if the laws deal with our worship as defined in the New Testament, and if they are moral/spiritual laws of behavior and decency, they must be observed just as Jesus and His followers observed them in the New Covenant.

However the bottom line is that keeping the law does not equal Salvation. Salvation is by faith alone. But obedience to God necessitates a person follow the laws as best they can. The Grace that is taught is not a license to sin.

40 years in the Wilderness

40 years in the Wilderness

The Wilderness was a result of not believing in God, not following His instructions, and doing it your own way. The Wilderness was a judgment!


Today many of us are self-exiled into the “Wilderness” by our ignoring and refusing to submit to God.  God has, for every generation, raised up Elders, Prophets, and other leaders to proclaim THE WAY. 

Man on the other hand, has refused to listen, looked for other leadership, followed other signs and “Wonders” to justify going his own way. 

For years, I attended a Church that believed and functioned that God could and would bring us to 100% agreement and unity on Spiritual decisions.  Now we didn’t worry about carpet color and minor things like that, but whenever there was a decision to be made that would have Spiritual impact, we prayed and delayed.  Usually we delayed 2 or 3 weeks to allow the members to diligently pray over the matter.  Then when we reconvened and voted on the matter, there was always 100% agreement.  I can only think of one time we had to return to prayer….

Perhaps one of the greatest errors we have today is in not having the office of Elder. But with or without the actual title or office, many churches have a person who is wise in the faith and to whom you can turn for advise and wisdom. 

Today’s in America, we do not respect our Elders.  Not in the family! Nor in the Church.  We have raised a generation who believes they can do it all on their own, they don’t need advice or help from anyone, much less the elderly!

By ignoring this pool of knowledge and wisdom, we are sending ourselves into the Wilderness to wander until God judges, or we repent!

9/3/13

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Spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare

Summary Whether we realize it or not, we are in a spiritual battle. We can be assured, however, that Jesus Christ is victorious over demons and has all authority and power over them. Our best defense in this war is to remain close to Jesus and constantly use what He has given us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). The battle we fight is primarily for the truth we believe.

Spiritual warfare is a complex subject with many points of view. This short introduction may raise more questions than answers. That’s okay.

Read Ephesians 6:10-18 and ask the following questions:

1 What do you like about this passage?

2 What do you find uncomfortable or difficult to understand in this passage?

3 What appears to be the main idea emphasized in this passage? (Look for repeated

words or ideas.)

4 List each part of the armor of God and explain what it is.

Consider how the following passages increase our understanding of this topic:

A Read 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

1 How does Satan try to lead Christians astray?

B Read Ephesians 4:25-28

1 What can give the Devil a foothold in a believer’s life?

C Read Matthew 4:1-11

1 With what did Satan tempt Jesus?

2 How did Jesus counter Satan’s temptations?

3 What are the beliefs and values promoted in these passages?

4 What do they reveal about our human condition and God’s response?

5 How are these beliefs and values similar or different from those that have influenced you? (such as your family, culture, peers, church, etc.)

6 How might our faith increase and our lives change as we embrace what is true and important?

7 In light of what we’ve discussed, how can we pray for each other right now?