Devotions and Lessons
Scripture of the Week:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Devotions and Lessons
Scripture of the Week:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
When Mankind changes God’s Law to suit the needs of a few, those are not people of God. Brothers and Sisters, we know that God sent us a specific Code of Laws, Ethics, and Morals so as to not defile the Spirit and make life easy to live as long as they are adhered to. Jesus did not abolish these Laws, but reemphasized them to be understood as a rule of living a right life. God’s Law is non-negotiable and set in stone.
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:1-20
Jesus clearly called out the Pharisees for changing God’s Law to fill their own pockets and bellies, wrong answer. We are to use what we have for God’s Glory which does not mean send it to the storehouse of the religious leaders or the government (unless it is Caesars). Caring for the Religious Leaders and other officials is part of what we should be doing, yes but that does not mean you will be held accountable to God if you do not give your 10% of earnings to a house of worship. You will be held accountable if you do not support your fellow man which does include giving a portion to the church but that is not all.
When we speak, we should not be speaking harsh or derogatory words about another in such a way that it is evil. God’s Word and words of correction (not judgement) should be the only things that are heard. Yes normal conversation is fine but words should be chosen as to not bring thoughts of evil into the mind which may cause those in the hearing to sin.
Let’s hear Isaiah again:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
I cannot emphasize this enough. Jesus was here in corrective cleansing mode for God’s chosen people and when the priests and religious leaders of the Sanhedrin heard Jesus they may have been convicted but did not seek correction. He came to save them and reignite their love for and desire to serve God. Unfortunately, Satan already had complete control of them and they served themselves instead of God. The Pharisees said Jesus was a blasphemer when it was they themselves who blasphemed God with their greed and foolish human desires. God used this to His advantage though to be Death’s own demise. The world has Jesus blood on their hands but only those in Christ are washed in it and become clean.
What about us in today’s world? Before anyone gets upset, the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights fall in line (for the most part) with the Laws of God. For us, when those laws are perverted to go against God’s Law, the country is in trouble. State Governments have changed and solidified laws and statutes to appease society on both sides. Look, even the ancient courts of Hammurabi spelled out these morality and ethics codes as did many other cultures. These laws and codes are for right clean living so that mankind could live together in peace while working in the manner for which we were created. You remember, caretakers of God’s creation.
Since the American Revolution, the devil’s foothold on our lives had slowly increased. The desire for money and material things has taken the place of God. Because of this, we have been set on the path of Rome where we have been given over to moral degradation to the point in which even the Supreme Court under the direction of President Obama, destroyed marriage and changed “civil rights” to include sexual preference. Sorry, there is only one type of “sexual preference” for mankind, that of Husband and Wife (Man and Woman). Christianity is under attack but there is hope.
The good thing is that now, even though the immoral society hates him, our current POTUS has been slowly correcting certain laws and other things that are destroying our lives. The man has even begun Bible studies in the White House. The Adversary is still trying to hang on but is losing its foothold so how do we defeat it. Continue to pray.
Pray not for Jesus to come quick but for the Holy Spirit to work in all lives. Change the hearts of man from worldly desires to the desire of the Spirit. Keep those in authority in our prayers that right decisions are made and that the hand stays clear of the self-destruct button (red phone in Oval Office). Take up our arms with our crosses in hand and be proud Children of God not hidden in our crates or behind the bush.
Do you ever wonder what your friends think of you? Do you worry about how you’re perceived by others when you are in public? Of course you do. We all do. Our society places a lot of emphasis on appearances, physical and behavior. It’s normal, expected, and the cause of a lot of anxiety, depression and other mental issues.
However, as Christians, we tend to place ourselves in boxes to keep the world from touching us. We also hide our humanity from those on the outside.
What box am I talking about? The one where you, as a Christian, cannot talk about enjoying the latest pop hit or action movie. The box that holds only happy little bluebirds and pure thoughts. This box doesn’t allow you to listen to music other than Gospel, Christian, and Hymns. Your movie selection is severely limited and secular activities are out of the question.
My 19 year old daughter loves K-Pop music. She loves to dance to it, learn what the lyrics mean and has taught herself to read and speak some Korean because of it. She is afraid to talk about it, though. She has stopped “liking” the latest articles on Facebook because she doesn’t want to be judged by others for her enjoyment of the genre. I have heard the music, read the translated lyrics and watched some videos with her. There are some that I have questioned the words to, but the music is upbeat and energizing. She also watches Korean dramas, but doesn’t talk about those either. The fear is real.
Why is this box that she has put herself in so bad? Well…If someone was to look at her Facebook page, you will see one thing. When you get to know her well, you’ll see something different. The box that she’s in is not her true self. The humanity of living in this world is not evident. To some, she is unapproachable.
When we lose our humanity, we can lose our purpose. We are called to “Go and make disciples of all nations”. (Matthew 28:19 NIV) This “Great Commission” should propel all of us to go into the world and preach the good news of Jesus Christ and the redemptive power of His saving grace. We cannot do that if we are not able to speak to others as people.
I can talk about God to my fellow church members all day, because we have our church in common. But if I felt led to speak about Jesus at a comic book convention, I would not be able to. I do not have anything in common with the attendees. But I know many Christians who love the comic book world, they can relate. I can associate with Star Wars, Harry Potter and Disney. My daughter would be able to share the gospel at a Korean performance or fan gathering of Whovians.
But who would know? If we are afraid to share the secular things that we enjoy, with whom can we share our salvation with? There is an old saying...”Preaching to the Choir”. What purpose does it serve to talk about God’s salvation in church or Bible study? Most of those in attendance have heard the stories time and again, but are searching for deeper knowledge. The ones that need to be reached are usually outside the church doors.
Making disciples is not an easy task. However, in order to reach the lost, we have to reach them where they are and allow God to work through us to show His light. We have to be transparent enough to show our humanity so those outside the box feel welcome. Better yet, tear the box down and shine Jesus’ light to everyone. Be a part of the world, not above it. Don’t sin while you’re out there, but don’t judge the sinners, either. God is the only judge. Be aware of the temptations, but don’t succumb.
The world needs God. He is not in a box, get out of yours.
My Child, Flee Evil
Continuing the Way of Life, the Teachings take the last chapter and go a little more detailed. These explain that the evil deeds result in matters of the heart.
My child, flee evil of all kinds, and everything like it. Don't be prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Don't be jealous or quarrelsome or hot-tempered, for all these things lead to murder. My child, don't be lustful, for lust leads to illicit sex. Don't be a filthy talker or allow your eyes a free reign, for these lead to adultery. My child, don't observe omens, since it leads to idolatry. Don't be an enchanter, or an astrologer, or a purifier, or be willing to see or hear about these things, for these all lead to idolatry. My child, don't be a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Don't love money or seek glory, for these things lead to thievery. My child, don't grumble, since it leads to blasphemy, and don't be self-willed or evil-minded, for all these things lead to blasphemy. On the contrary, be gentle, since the gentle will inherit the earth. Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good, and with trembling, treasure the words you have received. Don't exalt yourself or open your heart to overconfidence. Don't be on intimate terms with mighty people, but with just and lowly ones. Accept whatever happens to you as a blessing, knowing that nothing comes to pass apart from God.
Right out the gate the author discusses the death blow to the mental and emotional state of others when we give in to anger. Then the author speaks of the physical death. In the time this was written there were few ideas about mental control measures so they understood that these emotional responses could lead to ungodly, negative actions. Technology and mass media have made it easier for children and adults to be subjected to violence and sexual situations which makes individuals believe it is ok to view. This corrupts the mind into believing these are the new norms for society. Illicit sexual desires (anything besides husband and wife consensual sex), and the taking of another’s life are not acceptable behaviors. We are not animals and our behaviorisms can be controlled. All we have to do is not give in to them. Sex is reserved for marriage (man to woman nothing else),killing is only acceptable during war (and even then it is still painful to the mind). Matters that ruin the minds also ruin the heart. Be heart healthy and do not give in to temptation.
The next part about witchcraft, occultisms, and divination are the forms of idolatry that were prevalent in that time. We can include: celebrity worship, alcohol/drug dependency, anything that deals with seeking future events that gives glances that do not fall in line with Godly Teachings. There are things that we are just not supposed to do because they may be tricks of the Adversary.
The love of materialism, having selfish desires, and bearing false witness are worldly things that lead away from God. They are the thieves that steal our soul from the eternal glory and light of God. Anything that goes against God’s teachings is considered blasphemy. Claiming you are something you are not, belittling someone who has done nothing against you or others (bigotry), gossip, and other similar actions are things that lead away from God and destroy another’s heart as well as your own.
This section is not without a hope of relief and salvation. The basic message in being right with God is being a humble servant towards others without thought of yourself. I have mentioned numerous times our lot in life as caretakers and this part is no different. We should accept the situation we find ourselves in and not wanting more or better for that is the situation in which God has placed us. When God is moving in our lives we should not question it, just move because God places us where we are needed as caretakers. Those that try to control their own destiny will eventually fall and fail. If not them personally in this life, then their future generations who seem to reap the benefits will eventually have to deal with the consequences. The eternal soul is what matters, not human fame and fortune.
Accept the hand that God dealt and if mankind gives you a rotten egg, take it to God so that you will understand how to deal with it. Stay from the trappings of man for they are not of God but the Adversary who does everything to go against God’s Plan.
Brothers and Sisters, walk through the days without a chip on your shoulder, God will knock it off. Rather, accept the way that you are and God will provide.
I pray that you receive God’s Love and Blessings as you walk humbly with Christ letting Him lift you and take care of you as you do His Will on earth.
The Humanity of Being A Christian
Repent, Repent, Repent. Without telling you the consequences, let’s talk about the advantages of what happens when you repent of your sins and put your hope in Christ. What happens when a person repents of their sins and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior? First thing is the heaviest weight is lifted off the shoulders of the penitent person. The process is completed with the outward sharing of the inward heart through Baptism where our old selves are put to death and we are reborn with Christ as a new being.
So what happens after? After your heart and mind have been transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit there is a change in how people see you. A deeper and fuller relationship builds as you are welcomed into the Body of Christ, pastoral follow up, discovery of Spiritual Gifts, New Christian and Discipleship Classes and requests to join certain ministry teams. And that is just the organized religion part.
Outside the church your actions and relationships will see a change as well. There are things you can no longer participate in and others that become mission fields. When you become a follower of Christ, people notice a change in behaviors. You will suffer persecution, ridicule, shaming, forced separation, and a sense of being unwanted in certain facets of your old life. Those feelings are ok because you are being changed spiritually and physically. It’s really ok, honest.
Now if the last paragraph scared you away from making the decision to follow something that cannot be physically seen, I am sorry for your loss. If you do not accept Jesus, then when your time is up you might just end up in a place where you will suffer because you did not allow yourself to suffer on earth. You can live a good healthy life on earth without the riches, materialisms, technology, and other, worldly things that make you temporarily happy. Accepting Jesus means not worrying about food, clothes, and other things of this world. God provides a way for you to eat, dress, and live.
One of the hardest things to do is unplug from the world. We are a society dependent on technology and Satan is at the forefront by using this technology to control us and change the very DNA Coding that separates Good from Evil, Forgiven from Unforgiven, those in Christ and those who just claim belief. This world is being inundated with violence, immorality, and so many end time scenarios on You Tube and Facebook, that people have become numb. The change is marked in us to show who are of the world, and who are of the Spirit.
Pastors that concentrate on the Tribulation, Second Coming, and the War for our Souls, usually put the Hope in Jesus as an afterthought. Hope in Jesus should be in the first things not the last things. Even though there are many things we must do and not do, Jesus made it abundantly clear who gets in and who doesn’t. Hoping in Jesus and knowing that He is carrying your burdens is one thing. Doing as you are told to do according to Scripture is something even more amazing. How do we help get people on the right track? Share what is good about being a Christian and the Hope that we are given through Christ.
We should not say that all we have to do is believe because that is definitely not the case. There is a difference in believing in and Being in Christ. The simplest way to state it is having an active faith means you are sharing your faith diligently, or inactive faith with the belief that Jesus has my life and “I’m good” not sharing with anyone. One person does not make a relationship.
This continues the way to life.
The second commandment of the teaching is this: Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys; do not have illicit sex; do not steal; do not practice magic; do not practice witchcraft; you shall not murder a child, whether it be born or unborn. Do not covet the things of your neighbor. Do not swear or bear false witness. Do not speak evil of others; do not bear grudges. You should not be double-minded or double-tongued, for a double-tongue is a deadly snare. Your speech should not be false nor empty, but fulfilled by action. Do not be covetous, or greedy, or hypocritical, or malicious, or arrogant. Do not have designs against your neighbor. Hate no one; correct some, pray for others, and some you should love more than your own life.
Notice the Commandments and the Morality Laws? They are there. This specifically speaks of adulterous and sexually immoral behaviors, pedophilia, homosexuality, abortion, thievery, abduction, astrology, sorcery, murder, lying, bitter, two-faced, back stabbing, and more. It looks to be a short-hand version of the Ten Commandments to the Gentiles who never heard them. This section also covers the Morality Laws, and the things God and Jesus flat out abhor. Some of these are common sense practices and are also found in Codes of Law from other nations so most of these are nothing new to the receivers of this teaching. The main difference is that these are from God and emphasized by Jesus as things not to do in order to live an eternal life in the light not in the darkness of death.
Looking into these teachings, they speak of behaviors that affect mankind both physically and spiritually. The teachings are telling us what we must not do in order to live a right life with ourselves, in the community, and out in the world. I will not go into detail on all these “do not’s” and “should not’s” (although I would love to) because, simply, these are the opposite of the good morals, ethics, values, and characteristics that Believers need to be abiding in.
These teachings are called archaic by today’s standards of society. I have heard people say that the world is so depraved we should be rid of laws altogether so people can do what they see as right in their own eyes. Yeah that would be great until they are wronged and start complaining to others and crying that it shouldn’t happen and the perpetrators should be punished. This causes witch hunts and accusation band wagons that destroy careers. Does that sound familiar in society’s current situation?
The Didache teachings have just as much relevance today as they did even before they were written. So what do we do with this? Before the 20th Century it was easier to abide by these teachings, today it is an even worse struggle but it must be done. We need to live with a good moral compass, giving yourself over to Christ and following His ways all the time (not just Sunday in church). Do not being judgmental of others and stop giving in or compromising to appeal to a sinner’s ways. Have a compassionate, loving heart towards others but know when it is time to exert the tough love that the Father and Jesus has shown us.
Remember brothers and sisters, God’s rules are not to be changed or broken to satisfy our own thinking on how we should live. They were, after all, “set in stone”.
People who care for their own well-being and not that of others who have abandoned God’s Law are not healthy to be around. They claim to care for others and may do things but only if they receive reward. If it doesn’t benefit them then they will not really be there in full participation and leave when it is no longer for them to be center of attention.
Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
The selfish actions of a wolf hurt the actions of truly caring Christians. When the caring see the show boaters and boasters put on their look at me see what I am doing, it is hurtful to everyone. This usually causes the truly caring Christian to step away from these situations because they do not want to be marred with the sinfulness of the wolf. This hurts the people that were being served as it leaves a bad taste. The right thing to do is to give the show boater a menial unnecessary task away from those being served and correct in private.
People like this are seen in everyday activities. The ones who believe it is “all about ME” need to be set straight before it is too late. For some, it is the way they were brought up and will be hard headed. The silver platter children will see their demise when the money runs out. Others who want to be like them are given into hate. Cain did not want the attention so he was marked. This mark became a curse that has people caring more for their own selves than the care of others even when they are in a position that requires them to do so.
. God seeks a relationship and when you do not “get along with others” the situation may become volatile. How do we avoid this, be an active participant with others and do not go it alone. Remember it is not about you alone but a relationship with all people. We are all one flesh though the color of the outer skin is different, we are all the same inside. We are originally designed as caretakers of creation. That is our lot in life. Do unto others as you would have done unto you is the New Covenant way of stating God’s intent for our livelihood. Be relational, not a loner. Love one another as HE loves us. Take Care dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Be Blessed.
GOD does NOT tolerate the foolish. The foolish are those who are morally deficient and are prone to do what is considered evil in the eyes of God. Now do not confuse this type of person with a simple/naive person (easily controlled/deceived). That is, a person who is need of moral guidance, and could be persuaded to do evil things. So how do we tell the difference?
CHARACTERISTICS OF A FOOL
1. No moral absolute
The definition of a moral absolute is: Having a moral absolute is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act. So the lack of means that they do not care to understand the difference between what is right or wrong. These individuals will act immorally and think they are doing things that are acceptable.
2. Total disregard to authority
A fool does not believe that anyone has authority over their actions and will what those with a moral compass consider as wrong. These individuals do not care nor recognize consequences for their actions.
3. Total disregard to others
These individuals do not care if their actions hurt or help others and only have concern for themselves
These individuals have and/or show a high or excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance. Basically those who feel they are superior to others whose opinions do not matter.
This person feels deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated
6. Lack of self-control
This person acts on impulses and is prone to follow through with temptations all the time. Acts without fearing consequence. Conducting oneself in a manner that does not conform to what is considered right ethically and morally.
God’s response to these types of people is:
Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Then we have people in the last decade who have been deceived into believing right is wrong and wrong is right. Mostly regarding biological mistreatments of gender. Have you seen pictures of what this has created? Most are youth who follow mainstream society and the popular people and believe that their ways are correct while not seeing the double standards that are placed right in front of them and come out of their mouths. They believe they are making positive changes when they are really destroying the very fabric of their own lives and taking many good people with them.
We have witnessed recently folks with a very poor moral compass and those who are the “victims” speaking out. Yes those who believe they did was considered normal behavior in a certain industry are lacking a moral compass and are being punished. Yet some of the victims who spoke out and try to parade themselves around asking for pity are those who would return to being victims for popularity purposes (i.e. Hollywood “casting couches” submitting themselves to others lusts to get a job). They go back to it because that is the only thing they know.
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” (NKJV)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (ESV)
Don’t be fooled. “Bad company ruins good character.” (CJB)
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (NIV)
“Bad company ruins good manners.” (The Message)
1 Corinthians 15:33
Can it be said any clearer?
This is a world-wide epidemic.
There are Christians that live outside the principles found in Scripture. These individuals proclaim Christ but do not act the way they know they should. In fact they continue to live their lives the way they did before submitting to Christ.
For those who want to continue in live in foolishness and then face the consequences of the choice of living in foolishness, I like to give you this Word of Wisdom: Never Complain About What You Permit.
In other words, if you truly believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, follow His earthly teachings and God’s Laws and statutes. Here is a hint, Jesus did not abolish the laws but fulfilled them. The only things we are no longer bound to, are the sacrificial laws and the fact that we are not to carry out the punishments unless appointed by God.
It has gotten to the point where even large church organizations have fallen into the trap of the Devil and even though they are correct in bringing all sinners into the church, they are wrong when they say to the sexually immoral and confused, thieves, murderers, etc., we accept you and you can continue living this lifestyle. Jesus tells us to accept all people but He specifically says, to them “Go and sin no more.” If we accept their sinful ways without caring and helping them work through their sin, then we are just as guilty (yes Scripture tells us this).
There is a stark difference between Christ-based individuals and those who go to church act like a Christian then go home and continue their sinful lives. There is NO double standard.
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.
For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly. Proverbs 5:21-23
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6
Brothers and Sisters, we are living in a very rough age where we are considered to be wrong by many. Christians do have an edge and we do have representation that is actually doing good and a return to good morals is on the horizon. This does not mean we are winning the spiritual war but we are regaining the upper hand in the battle against Satan.
Do not let this slow victory relax but keep moving forward in correcting those who are against God. We know the final outcome and we know that there will be a time when it is the darkest. This is our tribulation, we will succeed.
The Didache is also known as the Teachings of the Apostles. Found in a monastery the 1800s, it has been dated by most scholars to the 1st Century. The text appears to take some of the many teachings of Jesus found in the four gospels and placed in a condensed form for clearer understanding. It may have been an instruction piece or an outline for the Apostles to follow while spreading the Word although if you lived it and the Holy Spirit dwells within, it is kind of hard to forget those things. Anyway For the next 16 weeks we will take a look at each chapter while continuing other studies.
To start us off, the first chapter says begins with a clear statement, a way leading to life, and a way leading to death. The writer concentrates on a way of life.
There are two ways, one of life and one of death! And there is a great difference between the two ways.
The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. The meaning of these sayings is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the heathens do the same? But you should love those who hate you, and then you shall have no enemies. Abstain from fleshly and bodily lusts: If someone strikes your right cheek, turn the other also, and be perfect. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. If someone takes your cloak, give also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, don't ask for it back. You really cannot. Give to everyone who asks you, and don't ask for it back. The Father wants his blessings shared. Happy is the giver who lives according to this rule, for that one is guiltless. But the receiver must beware; for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless, but if one receives not having need, he shall stand trial, answering why he received and for what use. If he is found guilty he shall not escape until he pays back the last penny. However, concerning this, there is a saying: "Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give them."
The difference between life and death has to do with the way we live our days. Following the path of light written in the Word and you live, not doing so leads to death. So what are the basic tenants we are to follow? Love God the Father, Creator; Give the same love to others as you would have love for yourself; Treat others how you wish to be treated. We are told that loving our neighbor should include those who we dislike, in fact we should show them love them more, how else would we share God’s Love than to show our “enemies” that it is better to love than to hate. We are, after all, made of the same flesh and bone but with slight variations.
America was on the verge of equality until certain incidents occurred that caused racial tensions to rise way beyond what they should have. An act of justice that leads to a violent outbreak only to find out the accusations were fabricated and the city was in ruins over a big misunderstanding caused a movement that separated a nation. Rights were given to individuals under false pretenses and the persons took to destroying the rights of others to further the cause of destroying good moral values and the family. These things have led to people taking up causes that go against the values on which America was built on. Violence does beget violence but true love and understanding begets peace.
The next grouping is the physical side of living. Our bodies, though made of flesh, are special and uniquely made. They are not meant for others to view over the internet or be paraded on stages or screens. Sexualization of the human body leads to disobedience of the Commandments and total misuse can lead to physical and eternal death. The recent Golden Globes is a perfect example. "Let's wear black in protest", some said. Well, if you are going to wear black to protest, make sure it covers unlike some of the dresses that showed way too much skin (some had the open front V shape all the way down to the top of the waist and almost to the crotch. That isn't protest, that is advertisement.
hen someone strikes you or verbally abuses you stand up for yourself, do not let them see your actions as weakness but strength by standing firm. They will get their due. Do not give into your own anger and strike back but kill the individual with God’s love and forgiveness. When we are given a task don’t just do the mission and say it is complete, do more than required because God never stopped with us after creation. Material things should have no high place in the movement of our lives, if someone is in need and you have extra, give all you can, do not hoard things because you will only cause yourself calamity when many are in need and know that you have more than enough.
Once again we are speaking of violent behaviors
Giving of yourself and your material goods is one of the many other things God desires of us. However, remember this if you are on the receiving side, you best have actual need or when you are discovered you will face the consequences of your thievery. Those in need will have blessings bestowed but those who are greedy will live destitute and faithless in the long run. Be aware of where and to whom the material things and funds are given. We have seen this with the recent disasters as misfortunes where people are asking for donations so they can help and instead pocket it. The sympathies of people when a situation hits a family are one thing but to ask for funds when all things are already being provided for is theft.
Brothers and Sisters, this first part of the Didache tells us to be watchful and diligent in staying in the Word. The basics on the greatest commandment and living a Christ like life are only the beginning of these teachings. Keep with me as we continue to move forward and learn what could be the first missions directives and pamphlet on Christian living, The Teachings of the Apostles.
The Christian celebration of Three Kings Day has taken a back seat in some modern societies as just another day but is it? No it isn’t. Yes in real time it did not happen this close to the birth, but since we only have a year to celebrate 33 years in the human life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, everything is condensed to fit.
So why is this day so important to the Christian year? The day that the Magi saw Christ is the because it signifies the revelation (revealing) of God to mankind in human form. It is the first time the “Gentiles” celebrated Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Magi had an Epiphany, “a sudden realization about the nature or meaning of something” recognizing that this is no ordinary child as they experienced a joy and hope that was truly beyond their understanding. Remember, they went to a palace first, thinking that the star was leading them to a prince born in a palace but the star kept moving for them and they began to wonder if the child was of more significance than just another prince.
Now Epiphany means "manifestation", often of divine power but this time is actually given a more distinct term because Jesus is the manifestation of God, the term is “Theophany”. Now I know a lot of people do not want to get all philosophical and theological it terms and meanings and I kind of get scared of those myself sometimes (especially when I have an epiphany on what those words are defined as), so let’s talk in ways that all understand.
The Magi saw the child. The Holy Spirit awoke in them revealed who He was and who He would become. This was first of many true revealing of God in the flesh to a non-Hebrew. I would have loved to have been there to see the look on their faces when they came to understand that this humble child sleeping in a hay filled food trough would be the one who would rule over all the earth. Think about it. Can you even fathom the thinking of these men and their entourage when the Holy Spirit was awoken inside them and they worshiped Him.
Christ revealed, that is what this day is all about. Everybody in Jesus presence except the Pharisees, the Sadducees, those in power, and the people that were blinded by the Adversary would have a type of revealing about whom He is. Christ is revealed to us through those who speak of Him and when the Holy Spirit awakens in side of us. Do you remember when you woke up to His presence? Do you remember feeling the comfort and joy in understanding the truth about who He is? When is the last time you shared it to awaken the Spirit within someone else? Don’t you think it’s time to do that?
Today we celebrate the enunciation to the world of Christ’s birth through the revealing to the Three Wise Men, Three Kings, Magi, whatever you call them. In Germany, watch out for children who go door to door looking for Him (it is a tradition over there). The community gets together and feasts on this day as He is found and revealed as Emmanuel, “God With Us”.
Is He with you? Would you like to have Him walk with you, talk with you? All you have to do is believe, have faith, and trust that He is the way to eternal life. Repent of your sins and recognize you cannot save yourself. Let Him into your heart and awaken the Spirit to guide you and help you through life.
God Loves you, we love you, there is a big family, the church, the Body of Christ that welcomes you.
I heard someone ask, “Why are they called fruits, they are not something we eat because there is no physical nourishment that comes from these?”. Well actually we do have physical reactions to the Spiritual Fruit but first let’s examine what is the fruit of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.. Galatians 5:22-23
The Spirit within is a healthy Spirit when these emotions and actions are produced by the Believer and shared with others. Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness all produce a physical response of happiness and gratitude. When we are happy, the body responds in kind and the health improves. It is a scientific fact that the human bodily functions are connected with emotion.
Why does it take a scientist or a doctor to tell us something is healthy when it is written in Scripture. The Old Testament, written by scribes who dictated what the Holy Spirit spoke to them, has numerous indicators of healthy living and how emotional responses heal or destroy the human body. The biggest destroyer of our health is sin. God’s defense mechanism came from the physical reaction of sacrifice which made individuals feel better after they had the feeling of regret, then prayed for healing to make themselves feel better. The joy of knowing that God would forgive produced happiness.
The ritual bathing which transformed into Baptism was also a means of good health. The ritual bath water was constantly flowing so there was no stagnation which would breed harmful bacteria. This washing was done for many reasons to include disease, viruses, and after the menstrual cycle. It kept the body healthy. Not one Levitical priest was allowed to enter the Tabernacle without the ritual washing. In fact, no one who was of ill health could bring a sacrifice without first outwardly cleansing the body.
David understood the need to be cleansed before entering the presence of God when he worshipped in prayerful song:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar. Psalm 51
The fruits of the Spirit are evident within David’s plea for God’s Mercy on his Soul. He understood it was not the physical sacrifices of burnt offerings but the internal peace from pouring out to God. So the Spiritual Fruit does nourish our souls and our bodies.
This year as we begin anew, let us be nourished with the fruit of the Spirit as we find our Spiritual Gifts in order to receive the blessings from our attitudes by which God is pleased in us and sends blessings. Have a safe and joyous New Year.
Welcome to 2018. It is interesting that the next day in the 12 Days of Christmas, Eight Maids A-Milking, points to the Beatitudes. These are the blessings that Jesus bestowed upon those who at the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are: The Poor in Spirit, Those who Mourn, The Meek, Those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, The Merciful, Those Pure in Heart, Peacemakers, Martyrs and others who are persecuted for Christ. But these are more than blessings these are attitudes a Christian must possess. They are linked directly with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. What a great way to start the year than to be reminded of a right Christian attitude which we should strive to have this year.
These blessings are meant for those who are in His presence and who will listen to His Word. The simplest explanation to the blessings is this: Being a Christian is very hard work and in most cases requires no physical work because being a Christian is striving to become a more Spiritual being. WE are humbled as we mourn our fallen souls. BE gentle and kind having self-control who strive for completion in righteousness. SHow mercy, compassion, love, and forgiveness to those who suffer or are in distress. STrive to be free of all selfish and self-serving desires. BE people of true peace even to the point of dying for the sake of our beliefs.
That was the Beatitudes in a nutshell but do you see how we need to be to receive the blessings on the Mount. To start we must rid ourselves of ourselves and humbly bow into Christ, giving up all things of the world that truly do not make us happy. To many that means giving up certain vices that are such a part of life that we would be lost completely without them if we did not know God. Then we must recognize that we cannot survive in this world on our own. We are prone to deeds that go against God’s design and plan for our lives.
That is why He sent us Jesus. For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. It is only through Jesus that we are saved from eternal darkness and can enter into the Kingdom of God.
This does not mean that once we have Jesus in our lives we are good and don’t need to do anything else. We cannot continue living as we were in the world. In other words we cannot continue to live in the sinfulness of our past but only in the spirit of the present life in Christ. Giving up our worldly nature is the most difficult thing especially in this day and age of mass media and communication. People share their sinfulness for all to see, boasting in it and in some cases actually making and serving the idol of money while taking many down with them.
This year let’s not be enticed into temptation but strive to seek Jesus every minute of every day. Be slow to anger and frustration by turning the other cheek where in our weakness we will have the strength of Jesus turning away from sin.
Be blessed this year. Share Christ in all things and do not let those who hate, deter your Love for Jesus. You will be rewarded in heaven, no longer needing physical nourishment nor seeking spiritual nourishment for it will be given freely.
Love to all in this New Year, New Start, Renewed Life in the Spirit, and God Bless You
According to the Catholic Church for whose youth the song was written these are the seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
Every person has a unique ability about them. Some have a mish mosh of trades they can do but have one special thing that they use extremely well. You know the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”, well the Holy Spirit has given each of us a gift that we use in everything we do. It is that one unique part of us that most people hardly ever recognize that is within us. Peter exclaims this in his first letter:
10 As each one has received some spiritual gift, he should use it to serve others, like good managers of God’s many-sided grace — 11 if someone speaks, let him speak God’s words; if someone serves, let him do so out of strength that God supplies; so that in everything God may be glorified through Yeshua the Messiah — to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11
Some folks find their gifts and abuse them by using them for their own gain. In the long run they find that they lack a certain joy and happiness because they misused what was divinely given and their soul actually suffers. Somehow God still uses them but makes them realize their faults when others are given joy as they suffer. I know it sounds mean but it is God’s way of talking karma.
But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust; 7 if it is serving, use it to serve; if you are a teacher, use your gift in teaching; 8 if you are a counselor, use your gift to comfort and exhort; if you are someone who gives, do it simply and generously; if you are in a position of leadership, lead with diligence and zeal; if you are one who does acts of mercy, do them cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
Paul tells us of the Spiritual Gifts and using them for God’s Glory. Do not prophesy falsely for you will lose others trust; Serve others without need for recognition; Teach right and proper, morally, ethically, and spiritually correct; Counsel others comforting their soul and leading them on a right path; Givers give without recognition and not because they have to or coerced into giving, but because they want to; Lead not with an iron fist or falsehoods but so that others will follow for the right reasons and not your own gain; Those who are compassionate be so without a contrite heart showing and sharing God’s Grace to all mankind.
To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of these gifts: Wisdom; knowledge; faith; healing; working of miracles; prophecy; judge between spirits; speak in different kinds of tongues; and interpret tongues. Each one is given by the spirit to share God’s Word in unique ways.
To one, through the Spirit, is given a word of wisdom; to another, a word of knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; 9 to another, faith, by the same Spirit; and to another, gifts of healing, by the one Spirit; 10 to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the ability to judge between spirits; to another, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues; and to yet another, the ability to interpret tongues. 11 One and the same Spirit is at work in all these things, distributing to each person as he chooses. I Corinthians 12:8-11
The Holy Spirit chooses each individual gift by deciding when and who they go to. Some gifts are permanently sealed on us while others are temporary. Now as a note and not to offend but correct a misinterpretation that has become doctrine in some denominations, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues and interpret them is the ability to speak and understand other earthly languages to spread the Gospel throughout the world preparing Christians for missional work.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are ingrained in us so that we can do God’s work and complete the Great Commission to the world while keeping separate from being of the world. These gifts help us clear our minds to do what God desires of us and helps rid us of earthly desires and prepares us for His Kingdom. We still need to live in the world but that is only temporary. We must Live in the Spirit, Recognize, and Share our gifts of the Spirit with others to accomplish our task on this earth. Be gracious to others as God has shown His Grace to you. Love as God Loves and give of yourself. Strive to be better Christians this coming year so that we can show the Kingdom of God on this earth.
The messages on the blogs written on this page are within biblical adherence. Though the Scriptures listed in the blogs are directly from the Bible and other related religious writings the explanations and interpretations are in line with Biblical thinking as it relates to today’s world. The use of historical facts are to assist in the validity of the writings. The main writer of this blog site is an Ordained minister in one denomination though the views are related to all denominations so if something is said that does not fall in line with your denominational background, pray for personal discernment and understanding.