Saturday, April 21, 2018

Godly Jealousy

Recently I listened to a popular TV preacher who compared godly jealousy to human self-orientated jealously.  As I went to check scriptures about his statements about godly jealousy, his comments really healed my heart.
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Exodus 34:14
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy:  2 Corinthians 11:2a
 I can honestly say I have experienced the godly jealousy in regards to my family and people I love. When someone or some false ideology starts hanging around, alarms go off in my head. Handling it the right way keeps the godly emotion in the 'godly' category. There is nothing wrong with sharing the truth in love.

Godly jealousy should be construed as love and not considered a product of a negative heart.  It is not the same as human jealousy that arises out of self-interest that produces negative emotions like envy (I haven't found any references to God being an envious God), ungodly anger (to see what is said about godly anger look in the Bible-Ephesians 4:26) and pride (there may be a godly pride-Galatians 6:4) to name a few.

Jealousy can be a positive feeling about what is the best benefit of living according God's wisdom. We, as believers, are going to feel that same godly jealousy in response to things that misdirect people.  It is not something to be ashamed of.  Our culture, our ceremonies, celebrations, holidays and entertainment are loaded with subtle and not so subtle pagan substitutions for truth. Lack of truth has its effects. Its substitute practices drag people away from the beautiful joyful reality of God's peace and his love.

We need to be mindful that the Bible says the evil in the world will wax worse and worse. Just turn on the news and negative emotion and clouds of deception are everywhere:
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation (deliverance) through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. II Timothy 3:13-17
True godly love furnishes us with the tools to handle life. Chaos and drama swirls around constantly and tries to cut these tools out of our lives.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God for the purpose that those who love God can be furnished with the right tools! 💗

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

First Fruits of the Spirit

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:20-23

Romans 8 is a great chapter as it magnifies the great significance of the the resurrection of Jesus Christ in our lives. It starts out comparing the walk after the flesh to the walk after the spirit. The word 'flesh' represents our human qualities; the walk after the spirit reflects the holy spirit as it works in our lives. When Jesus said he had come that people might have life more than abundant (John 10:10). the spiritual walk is what is at the root of this abundant life.

Many people do not understand the effect of holy spirit in our lives and probably wouldn't have any concept of what is meant by  'first fruits' of the spirit.  'First fruits' refers to the  the earnest (partial down payment) of the of our full inheritance from God:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:12-14
One thing implied in the word 'first fruits' is that there is more coming  Depending on the context of how it is used it can refer to people (Romans 11:16, I Corinthians 15:20,23, I Corinthians 16:15, James 1:8, Romans 14:4), and first fruits of the spirit in Romans 8:23 as the new initial qualities that come with the spirit that are the earnest until the full manifestation of the redemption. This word is used 8 times in the New Testament (new beginning)

'First fruits of Achaia' indicate that there would be more of Achaia that would believe. Christ as the 'first fruit' of them that slept (I Corinthians 15:20) indicating that more resurrections would follow.

As far as the the first fruits of the spirit and its benefits, we don't exactly have the whole enchilada now as we are not living in the evil-free world of eternity. We have the expectation of eternal life which is what hope is more accurately. Now what we have  is power in the nine manifestations of holy spirit (I Corinthians 12:7-11), righteousness, sonship, justification, fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) and we are set apart from this world in not allowing it to effect our lives. We still live in this world and that's why 'groaning' occurs. Things are not perfect now but we look to the expectation that someday it will be:
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. I Corinthians 13:9-10
In the meantime, we have the first fruits of the spirit that enable us with power, love and a sound mind! (II Timothy 1:7).

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday Truth

What we call Palm 'Sunday' today actually refers to a combination of things that occurred on three days in the Bible: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (9th, 10th and 11th of the month Nisan). These days involved 2 successive entries of Jesus into Jerusalem: The Entry of Judgement an The Entry of Blessing.

1st entry Friday the 9th of Nisan - Entry of Judgement
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an asses colt  (symbol of a judge) that was provided by the temple.
Verses covering this entry  Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19
The people were excited about the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead, so the gathered to see Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. They put palm leaves down on the road to represent joy and triumph.
Returns to Bethany.

2nd entry Saturday, 10th day of Nisan Entry of Blessing
Jesus was given one ass and one colt to use - In the Old Testament this was a sign of blessing
Prophecy of Zechariah 9:9
Jesus cursed the first fig tree. It was too early for the time of figs, but Jesus foretold  that it would never bear fruit.
Jesus went to the temple and cleaned out the money changers, taught the word and healed the blind and lame. Returns to Bethany
This was the traditional day of selecting the Passover lamb for the Passover.
Verses covering this entry: Matthew 21:1-17, Mark 11: 12-19, Luke 19: 45-46

Walking back into Jerusalem, from Bethany, they saw the previously passed fig tree dried up.
When they arrived in the city, they found another fig tree and as Jesus spoke about it, it immediately dried up. He taught believing for the second time.
Verses covered: Matthew 21:18-26:5, Mark 11:20-14:2, Luke 20:1- 22:2

There are many breath-taking details to think about in the records of the last week of Jesus Christ's life. Traditional teaching has clouded over that which is actually recorded in the Word of God. The brilliance of the treasures in these Gospel records is like the fresh air of spring when you dig in!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Faith Cometh By Hearing

Romans 10:17 is a very significant verse that we dare not limit or narrowly bind its implications.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
When I used to read this verse, an image of pews and podium popped up into my mind.  Teaching may be a part of this process of hearing, but the idea here is much bigger than that. Teachers do not all teach the same thing and that can be troublesome to the extent that people get discouraged trying to get to know God. I know from experience.

The key is in understanding the word 'hearing'. The fact that it is used twice in an almost melodious way is beautiful. The word 'hearing' is translated from the Greek word 'akoe'. In Hebrew it has the sense of hearing to hear. It implies attentive hearing to the word of God.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5
Asking for help from God brings great rewards. Instead of praying for specific needs, try praying to understand the truth about God and his son. Prayer involves listening.  It is two-way. You cannot trust anyone unless you first listen attentively.  Your brain must receive information and process it.  Faith is not mindless. True understanding can only come when we are actively engaged in learning what God is all about. Everything else will fall into place.

A good understanding about the gift of holy spirit is also important. The holy spirit is key in teaching us God's Word. Christ and the holy spirit are tied together. That is also how Christ is tied to us. He is the way to God.  God who is spirit (John 4:24) is over all.  God's spirit is with Christ and that spirit has been made available to us.  We are one with God as Christ is one with God.
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10
Several of the earlier Greek texts translate the 'word of God' in this verse as the 'word of Christ'. The context of this chapter in Romans and the book of Romans in general,  explains what God has done through his son Jesus Christ:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me John 17:21
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:18
We need to understand who Jesus Christ is if he is to be our Lord. The subject of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  He is foreshadowed in the Old Testament and his record as he walked this earth is in the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  His resurrection and what he is doing now and in the future is recorded in the rest of the Bible. This is the 'word of Christ'. How can you make Jesus Christ Lord if you don't get what he is all about.

When this all works together it is powerful but it takes trust on our part to benefit.  The more we learn about God and Jesus Christ accurately will build trust and we will see the results of that trust. Faith is not blind.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Power, Love and Sound Thinking

There is no power that is completely sure, reliable, and 100% efficient other than the power of God. The power that God gives is quite different from any other power on this earth.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I Timothy 1:7
God's power is accompanied by love and sound thinking. God spells out all three in his Word. The Word provides the basis for what is truth.  Truth brings us to power, love and sound thinking if we so choose.

Our world is filled with contradictions to the truth of God's Word. People adapt things that they like to believe, instead of seeing the heart of God and trusting in his infinite wisdom. Truth is what God is; love is what God is and the Word is God:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
Contradictions are everywhere. Contradictions are always interlaced with truth. Recently in the news there were some blatant examples of this in regards to life after death. Honestly I have no idea where purgatory, limbo and other unsubstantiated beliefs come from except out of the minds of men. The Word is pretty simple on this topic:
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent(go before) them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
According to the Word of God, 'Aunt Sally' who died  a while ago, is not sitting on a cloud awaiting others to join her. Aunt Sally is 'asleep' awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians explains what will happen to Aunt Sally when Christ returns someday in the clouds. He will give a shout (!) and there will be the trumpet of God and good old Aunt Sally will awake and be joined by all other Christians to be with the Lord forever. (I Corinthians 15 sheds more light on this) This is the genuine comfort of God in knowing the truth. It is power, love and sound thinking.

God's Word is the true comfort of our lives:
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Friday, March 2, 2018

There's Love and Then There's Love

It is easy to say "I love you", but what does that mean? You could ask a variety of people and it might get a lot of different answers. There are all sorts of theories about love. Human love has a variety of colors and shades.

You could also ask God since he is the author of love.  God's love is talked about in detail in the Word of God. There is no mistaking the love of God when one experiences it first-hand. It is very different from the world's conception of love:
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3

Wow, there are some statements in the verses above that sound very loving! This whole section is talking about the love of God as it permeates people's hearts. The love of God has a recognizable set of tools:
4 Charity suffereth long (King Jimmy language meaning ''having a long fuse') and is kind (not a gossip, nor mean, snarky or a busybody); charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself (lifting oneself above others), is not puffed up,
Each of us have our own individual qualities, we are not to compare our lives with others. To do so  denies the very essence of what God is all about. When we size ourselves up by others, all hell abounds!
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly (stay in one's lane), seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil (does not lay guilt and shame at people's feet); 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity ('aha I gotcha', but rejoiceth in the truth (truth is an integral part of love); 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7
Everything else is false love. The worldly kind of love ultimately brings people down. It may carry expectations that might herald guilt and condemnation and the pointing of fingers down the road. God's love brings people up and empowers them.  It lifts us up and out of the mud and darkness. Worldly love has potholes and traps, that trip people up. God's love is freedom and peace. It never disappoints:
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
We are constantly growing in our lives and we mature as we take on values that are sure and unfailing. If we continue to look to God for our answers, he is ready, willing and able to provide them.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 
When you see it you will know it.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Exclusion and Significance

There are two ways that the world wears down people in relationships.  People can either feel excluded (feel like they don't belong) or if included, shamed and relegated to an insignificant position. God does neither. It is important to understand that when a person feels either way in their relationship with God, something is amiss.

Nobody gets missed by God in John 3:16:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Nobody is diminished in God's eyes either. We have release from condemnation and guilt :
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption (sonship), whereby we cry, Abba, Father.16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
'The Spirit' bears witness to our 'spirit'.  Those who have believe Jesus as Lord and all God provided through His son, receive the gift of holy spirit. We can no more be pushed around if we clearly understand what this means:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6
This where our significance really lies. It is our confidence. We no longer have to bow to the current tide of human error and culture as we look to God who so richly supplies.  We can be lifted in a good way to reflect the goodness of God and love others in the same manner. They may not recognize that kind of love right away because it runs counter to the world, but God's love produces results, it does not return void.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Freewill Choice Again

In I Samuel 8, God told Samuel to listen to the people that were asking for a king to to rule over them. They had specifically said, " Give us a king to judge us." (I Samuel 8:6). Samuel prayed to God and God said they were rejecting him and not Samuel. They didn't want God to reign over them. Additionally, God wanted Samuel to warn them what would happen if they had a king:
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” I Samuel 8:10-18
The Hebrews had decided that the 'king' system was what thy needed. They moved away from a theocracy (being governed by God)  and put their trust in the the way the nations around them functioned. That kind of power usually corrupts. Money power and prestige lures rulers away from what's best for the people. They start living for themselves. It was not so for Samuel. Samuel told them what would happen and they answered:
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
God had Samuel lay it out before them and gave them the opportunity to choose. The results were not God's fault, the blame squarely lay on the shoulders of the people.  God gave them freewill choice. There is no blaming God for any misfortune; nor was Samuel to blame. God loves his people and does not want them hurt and forgives them when they are sorry, but if people don't listen, there is nothing he can do.