Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Need to Hear the Truth

Condemn: 1. to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure. 2. to pronounce to be guilty.

We all know and many have memorized John 3:16 which says that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son into the world that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

That verse is the hope of salvation for people today. The Word of God teaches us that there is much more to salvation than "belief" in Jesus because we are told elsewhere that demons, too, believe in Jesus and shudder. James 2:19

John 3:17 tells us that God didn't send Jesus into the world to condemn the world but that the world, through him, might be saved. Jesus came to preach the good news that He had come, at the Father's urging. He was there, in their presence, Emmanuel, God With Us and that any who believed in their heart that he was God's only begotten son and confessed it with their mouth, would be saved from their sin. But, and this is a big but, as he told the woman at the well, he did not come to condemn her; (he was there to offer her his atonement for her sins) that she was to go and sin no more. He didn't condemn her, he forgave her, showed her mercy and when she looked at herself in the light of his glory and grace, she knew, too, that she needed to go and sin no more and follow Him.

This is where so many people are; even today. Living in sin; maybe not even knowing it is sin because somewhere along the way, long, long ago, we lost our way, we lost what it meant to tell the truth to ourselves and others what is right and what is wrong. We stopped using the word, "sin", and stopped looking at ourselves in the light of His glory and grace. And so began our deception of ourselves to the point that now we're not really even sure we are sinning.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped seeing excessive drinking, now known as alcoholism, as sin and started telling ourselves we were "sick"; we have a "disease".

Somewhere along the way, we stopped seeing gluttony as a sin, we started seeing it as needing to diet or overeating or food addiction, and again gave ourselves another sickness.

Somewhere we forgot that lying is a sin and started calling it the "little white lie" or "stretching the truth" or "not hurting someone's feelings".

Somewhere we forgot that having sex outside of marriage is called fornication. Now it's called "a trial"; most people would probably never get married today without at least "trying out" their partner to see if they "click" or "if it's any good".

Adultery? What is adultery? Divorce and the fact that it's so easy to get one and they are so easily accepted has caused us to stop looking at the fact that God intended us to have one mate for life.

I remember when I was growing up people only mentioned homosexuality behind closed doors or in whispers. Now it's the "alternative" life style and it's become "cool" and in words from my youth "in style" to be homosexual; no longer called queer or odd but "gay".

I would bet my last dollar that most people don't even know what the word "covet" means, let alone the fact that God called it a sin. We covet people's money, fame, cars, homes, clothing, children, spouses, yards, etc., on a personal level and oil, gold, silver, gas and other costly, highly essential materials, needed to operate in the world today, by countries far and wide.

The commandment to honor our father and mothers is a lost art. We are all struggling with the loss of control over our children as the government gives them more and more rights and gives parents less and less. It seems as though the parents' world revolves around their children instead of their children being a part of their world (and not necessarily in a good way). Many are want to have it all, a job everyone will covet, a spouse everyone will admire and a fine home, two, or more, high end automobiles, toys galore and what can we do with these children, who will watch them, train them, take care of them, why can't we have year round schools? Our children are suffering as a result of our need to show everyone how great and successful we are and our failure to tell them the truth. This failure to tell them the truth comes from our not knowing the truth and our not knowing the truth comes from a famine of hearing the word of God.

In the book of Amos, Chapter 8, verses 11 through 14, God spoke of a time when mankind would stumble around in darkness because of a lack of hearing his word, the truth, and that few would know the reason for their failure. Go HERE to read a study done by the Bereans on this famine and how God came to enact this curse.

Obviously, in 6,000 years of mankind's dominion over the earth, there has always been a very small number of people who have clung to the the rules and regulations set forth by God and a desire to know the truth. They're there in the Bible; the faithful ones. (The unfaithful ones, too.) But for us who live here at the end of this age, the lies are so deep, the disconnect so old that sometimes it's very hard to find the truth. I can even see why some people choose not to believe. For me, personally, life has no appeal or purpose if all I am here to do is take up space, have a really "successful" me-centered life and die and return to dust.

I have to believe that God created me for a purpose, that I am to lead a God-centered life, that I am here to do what He wants me to do. I know the real me - the selfish, dirty minded, mean spirited, self-centered, me-centric person - who could, would and has broken each and every law set forth by God in His commandments.

Thank God, He knew my frailty and my ability to fail, so that He provided a way for me to get back to Him and the truth, by accepting and loving His son, by inviting His Spirit to live within me, to lead me by living inside me; and giving me a hope for the future - a blessed hope that when my body dies, my spirit will live on, through ages to come, with Him, in a place that is far kinder, more lovely, beautiful, loving, and just, and without sin, sickness and death.

Are you, too, tired of lies, deception and a meaningless life, then turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face, and the things of life will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. You will find the truth waiting for you when you do.

Remember this, though, He is coming again and the next time, it will not be to offer atonement for our sin and salvation; it will be to judge and he will condemn those who did not seek him, hear his voice, accept the gift He offered and follow Him.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gifts of the Spirit - Updated

Do you wonder, like me, what your gift is? I hear so many say that they do speak in tongues; I never have. When I say that I never have spoken in tongues, Christians look at me with doubt; then I doubt and then I wonder, "Lord, why haven't I been given a gift".

For the past two days, the Spirit has lead me to this scripture:

1 Cor. 12:1-31

And now, dear brothers and sisters, I will write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of us, for I must correct your misunderstandings about them. You know that when you were still pagans you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know how to discern what is truly from God: No one speaking by the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one is able to say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

to continue reading this scripture, go here.

Paul then goes on to write the famous chapter of scripture which is known as the "love chapter", 1 Corinthians 13. As a former church organist, I can say without doubt that this scripture must be read at every wedding I have ever attended or played for. But do we really know what it says?

It comes immediately after the chapter about the gifts of the spirit and how as the body of Christ we are all connected and all have different purposes, uses and gifts. Yes, gifts. Paul says in 1 Cor. 12:29-31:

Is everyone an apostle? Of course not. Is everyone a prophet? No. Are all teachers? Does everyone have the power to do miracles? Does everyone have the gift of healing? Of course not. Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No! And in any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts. First, however, let me tell you about something else that is better than any of them!

Read The Love Chapter

All the other gifts will become useless, but the one who has the ability to love, the gift of being able to love others will never pass away. It is the greatest gift of all. Christians get all worked up about being able to prophesy or speak in tongues or work miracles and all these other important, glorious gifts which seem to bring credit to the one who has been given the gift, but just like all the other incredible parts of the gospel, it is the small, inconspicuous gift that is the most important. It is the gift of love, one that we can all practice and ask God to perfect in us that is the most vital gift of all. And yes, we can ALL practice it in the smallest, non-noticeable, non-attention-getting ways every day, every minute of our lives. As we practice love, by helping the underprivileged, reaching out to the lonely elderly woman or man down the street or in the nursing home, taking time to care about the child whose parents are never around or giving financially to an organization who helps the hungry, poor and suffering all around the world, we are doing it to Him. Yes, Him, our Father, our Creator, our Savior, Jesus Christ. His word says that when we do it for the "least of these", we do it to Him. I can't think of a better way to show our love for Him and for our brothers and sisters, can you?

Lord, it is my prayer today that you will perfect this gift in me. I have your spirit in me, so I know that I have the gift of love, for you ARE love. So, perfect it Father. Lead me to the ones you have chosen for me to show your love to. Open my eyes and ears and my spirit to the call of your voice. I ask it for the sake of the kingdom in Jesus' name. Amen.


I received the following comment from my friend "Wendyworn", author of the Wake Up People blog and I feel that I should share them here for edification and discussion. I need to point out that I usually read from the King James Bible but use the New Living Translation in this blog for ease of reading. The KJV verse 30 does not use verbage claiming that "no," we do not all receive the same statuses or gifts as the NLT does.

I have always thought, myself, that God in His wisdom gave gifts to people based on who they are as individuals, and that all the gifts are equal, none better or less than the other (because God is no respecter of persons) but Wendyworn sees it this way:

"Dear Kim

I think what you have written in your latest post is very very important. I am so glad that the Holy Spirit is leading you to read I Corinthians 12 - 14. You are so right about love being the key to all of it, the Holy Spirit and God's Word and this whole life. Love is THE most important part and I also believe the hardest to achieve. Which is why we are unable to do this on our own, but that the Lord works on us, to change us from being "us" to forming Christ in us, which is the image of God - which is love. Awesome.

I am however, concerned with the bible version that you were quoting, because I think that version twists the scripture just enough to change the meaning. Here is I Cor 12: 7-11 from the King James version, (I'm not saying that the King James version is the only correct version, but please read this next part because it does change the meaning)

"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

from here

There is the one gift of Holy Spirit - which we both know you already have. But that one spirit has nine manifestations listed. But verse seven clearly states that the manifestations of the spirit are given to EVERY MAN. Verse 11 seems confusing but it isn't if you understand it like this (my comments in parenthesis). "But all these (the manifestations) worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit (the Holy Spirit in you that you get when you are born again, that we both know you already have in you) dividing to every man severally as he (the man who has the spirit - meaning you and me) will."

God is not a respector of persons. He does not give some people tongues and not others. And also the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. God does not possess people. He has already given you the Holy Spirit. The other bible version makes it sound like the Holy Spirit for whatever reason has chosen not to give you the gift of tongues. That is SO FALSE. The adversary does not want you to manifest speaking in tongues because then you have one more weapon in your spritual arsenal against him. It is absolutely the Lord's Will that you manifest speaking in tongues. (I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, but I am trying to help you, please know - you can already manifest speaking in tongues - you just don't know it yet.)"

Thank you, Wendyworn for these great and encouraging comments. I guess I interpreted verse 11 to say that all the manifestations of the gifts were distributed by the Spirit individually as "he will".

I would love to hear any reader's thoughts on this. What do you think?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Do You Know What You Believe?

The Lord is pressing upon me to examine what I believe; to write it out; study it and make sure I know what it consists of.

I spent the day today with two of my very closest friends, one of those friends' husband and another friend of my friend. Most of the day was spent in the car as we drove to visit a place where my friend and her husband had bought some building lots. For a good portion of the time, I distanced myself from the conversation and just listened to what was being said. Keep in mind as you read this that these people are good people, kind people, caring and loving friends that I have known a long time.

I heard a conversation about astrological signs and personality traits acquired by being born a particular sign; I heard a conversation about "energy"; one about past lives; another about a dream in which "color therapy" was used for healing purposes and a comment about how the earth "won't keep spinning that long....", and one single person besides me used the name of Jesus all day long.

When we returned, after dinner, I sat down to skim through the internet news. Boy, it was depressing. As I read the headlines on the Drudgereport, all I could think was, "If this isn't an indication that Jesus' return is imminent, then I don't know what is". I shared a couple of headlines with my friends which brought about a conversation with them about the "end of the world" and 2012.

I mumbled some stuff about believing every word in the Bible was inspired by God and that I felt we were watching many prophecies for the end times
being fulfilled right before our eyes.

Needless to say, my friends and I are not on the exact same page where faith and salvation are concerned, and when I got into bed, the holy spirit convicted me of inability to speak clearly, concisely and with conviction my beliefs about God and what is happening all around me. I spent at least two hours struggling in prayer with God about many things and I felt the Lord urging me to write it down. It's like He's telling me that the time for being blase' about my faith is done. It's time for me to be specific and have the ability to clearly tell others what I have based my beliefs on and my faith in.

So, at the Lord's prompting and for my own sanity, this is what I have come up with:

I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I believe that God created everything and everyone. I believe that God created mankind to fellowship with Him, love Him and to be His children. I believe that to disobey God is equal to sin and that to sin is equal to death. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, preserved and supernaturally protected and made understandable to man by God's holy spirit. I believe that the Hebrews/Jews were the people God chose to bless the world because of the faith of one of their ancestors, Abraham. I believe ALL the stories in the Bible; stories of faith, dishonor, shame, glory, victory, sin, overcoming, miraculous rescues, miraculous destructions, etc., ALL of them.

I believe that Jesus Christ IS God incarnate. I believe that He was born of a virgin by the power of the holy spirit, that He lived upon the earth as a flesh and blood human being for 33 years, was crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected and that He is now seated in the heavens on a throne at the right hand of God the Father. I believe He came to reconcile mankind to God by making atonement for our disobedience/sin and to free us from death. I believe He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE AND THE ONLY WAY TO GOD. I believe that when you believe in your heart, confess with your mouth, and repent of your sins, you are marked by Jesus as His and given His holy spirit to dwell within you. I believe it is His desire that we die daily to our wants and submit our lives to Him doing what He wants and directs us to do.

I believe that He is returning to overturn the governments of men and to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth for 1000 years. I believe the earth will be dissolved and there will be a new heaven and a new earth and God will reign in the midst of His people from the New Jerusalem. I believe we are on borrowed time before His return.

As I wrote this, I became aware of just how complex my beliefs are and how easy it would be to question them and that for me to write down all the things I believe about God would take a lot of time. I began questioning them myself. I came to the conclusion that that we must first be sure about the foundation of what we believe and then examine them in light of the Bible everyday and strengthen them by prayer and asking God to show us the truth so that we cannot be deceived. What will you do if you are questioned? Do you know what you believe? Will you be able to stand on the things you believe in? Are you so sure in what you believe that you would die for it?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tossed on the Waves

We have examined how God wants us to be rooted and grounded in Him so that no storm in life, no matter how strong and fierce, can separate us from Him. Not even if it is as strong and destructive as the earthquake and tsunami recently suffered by the Japanese people.

Similarly, the Lord, through his half-brother James tells us that when we ask God for something, we are to ask "in faith" with "nothing wavering". James 1:6.

Have you ever noticed that when you're walking along the beach and the surf comes in that even the smallest wave can knock you off balance? Sometimes even the shifting of the sand as the surf goes back out to sea causes me to stumble.

James 1:7....For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

Our faith must be rooted and grounded in Him in order to receive any answer to prayer that we may lift up to Him. But the amazing thing is this: It is only takes a little, bitty, teeny tiny bit of faith the size of a mustard seed for us to be rooted and grounded in Him and move mountains! Luke 17:6

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

My prayer to the Lord today is: I have this little bitty, teeny, tiny mustard-seed-size faith, Lord, that you WILL complete the work YOU began in me. If you don't Lord, I have nothing and have no idea why I was even put here. I trust you to finish what I can't do on my own. I have no faithfulness in me unless you put it there. I have no strength unless you supply it to me. I have no wisdom unless you furnish it. I have nothing unless you fill me with your love for you and my fellow man. Nothing.

I surrender. Take my life and let it be, consecrated unto you, Lord. I don't know how I can bring you glory, but I pray that you would let me do so. Thank you. Thank you, God Almighty, for considering me; for thinking I was worthy of your thoughts and care and the great act of love and mercy you performed for me.

We are a faithless generation, Lord. Forgive us and have mercy on us.
There is little wonder that Jesus questioned whether He would find faith on earth when He returns. I would like for my mustard seed to have taken root and grown when He returns. I want Jesus to find faith here when He comes back.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rooted and Grounded

God has begun speaking to His creation in the weather lately. Around here, you cannot go anywhere without your attention being drawn by the sight of so many large trees and/or limbs which are down due to the two ice storms we have suffered through in the past month.

The ice on the trees and shrubbery was beautiful to behold, glistening and shimmering, especially when the sun came out; there's no doubt about that. But once the ice got about 1/2 inch thick, it became so heavy that it pulled the tree right out of the ground or broke the limb off completely from the tree. There are, of course, plenty of trees still standing tall and firm in the ground so it's obvious that some trees and limbs are more strongly rooted and grounded and, therefore, unable to be separated from its host.

God wants us to be rooted and grounded in Him so that we flourish and grow in our faith and our love for Him and grow in our desire for His purposes to be accomplished in the world.

What does it take to have a strong root? Being the novice gardener, I have seen some of my garden plants thrive while others are lackluster and unproductive.

You need good soil to plant the seed in. The soil has to be prepared. It's obvious when you're talking about dirt, that you need to make sure the dirt is organic and well fertilized, so how do you apply that to a person's heart?

The heart of a proud, self-confident, self-assured, self-reliant person has not been prepared to receive the message of humility, faith in God, and submission to higher authority. So, it seems that our hearts are best prepared to receive the gospel of God when we are experiencing hard times; when we have no hope in ourselves. Is it possible that those times when we can barely lift our heads are the times that God is preparing the soil of our hearts for Him. The Bible says that He is the lifter of our heads: Psalm 3:3

But thou, O LORD, [art] a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

We also need an accurate understanding of who God is. Psalm 97:2 says that the foundation of His throne is justice and righteousness. We need our eyes opened to God's right-ness; how everything about God is good and true and holy and pure and how He is 100% fair in everything He does and in His judgment about what His creation is doing. Once we understand His holiness and goodness, have been brought down from our high and mighty perch and realize how little we can do in and of ourselves, the seed begins metamorphosis.

Your seed then needs to receive plenty of light or sunshine. From the perspective of growth in your faith, I believe this means you must plant yourself in places where God's light can shine on you. For example, plant yourself in the Word of God, morning, noon and night; go to church, fellowship with other believers, seek His presence in prayer at all times.

The soil needs to be fertilized regularly for optimal growing conditions. Fertilizer is basically food for dirt. Jesus, on many occasions referred to himself as the bread of life. Jesus Christ, who in 1 John is literally referred to as the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, is to be the food of your life. Fill yourself with God's Word, take in as much as you can. Chew on it; listen to good Bible teaching, memorize scripture, talk about the verses that really speak to your heart with other christians; listen to worship music and, of course, pray for growth in faith, hope and love.

Finally, the soil needs plenty of life giving water. Jesus IS the living water and He said that those who drink from His well will never thirst again.

If God has lit a fire in you to know Him, and you have heard the call and want to grow in a relationship with God, then you must follow the call; ask God to reveal Himself to you in a new and greater way today; spend lots of time in prayer and in God's Word, seeking always to be in God's presence, literally living on Him by eating (his food)the Word and drinking His life giving water (the holy spirit) and living in the light of the sun (son).

It is then and only then that your roots will become strong and you will become firmly attached to Him.

He wants us to be strong in Him so that we will never come crashing to the ground. He will never let go of us but we can let go of Him if our roots are not deep enough or if our hold on Him is weak. We are admonished to "hold fast" our profession of faith nine times in the Bible (KJV), including: in Hebrews 10:23, Job 27:6, 1 Thes 5:21, and 2 Tim 1:3. If you have accepted the life-giving message of Christ, hold fast, be rooted and grounded in Him, make your growing conditions perfect for your relationship to grow and bloom and enjoy the sweet scent of the flower of perfection in Christ.

God bless you with His wisdom, peace and love today and may you grow strong in His perfect will for your life.