Monday, March 17, 2014

Trick of the Enemy!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

To address this fad of ‘church-hopping’.   Church-hopping - an insidious trick of the enemy – moving from one church to another or just giving up on God altogether because someone hurt or angered you without even acknowledging your covering is wrong! What happened to staying in your test and allowing God to bring you through it; allowing God to correct the wrong? Do you not recognize the work of the enemy? It is our tests that bring us closer to God; that builds our relationship in God. Jesus told Peter that Satan desired to sift him as wheat. 

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  
Luke 22:31

Think of Apostle Paul after his conversion. The church, such as it was at that time initially did not want to receive him and He had to be presented to the apostles 

And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.  (Acts 9:26-27).

But that did not deter Apostle Paul; he didn't pack it in and go his own way without the approval of the apostles. He knew he had been given an assignment through divine intervention and he was not to be stopped; especially because a few 'church people' had heard of him and were fearful of him. Paul was not always treated with respect within the churches that he founded and at one point had to write an epistle regarding certain judgments against him. He didn't stop his God-given purpose. And so we should not either. 

And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:  Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I Corinthians 4:12:13

I speak of my own church hurt and how I left God behind it. How I regret that decision! If only I had had the spiritual maturity that God has graced me with now. I let the devil use me for many years under the guise of church hurt! I am strong enough in God now to realize that I didn’t have enough of Jesus in me to sustain me and that was not anyone’s fault but mine. When my testing came, I didn't look to Jesus for answers or results but gave in to my self nature instead. I can remember my first thoughts being, 'who do they think they are' and 'I don't have to take this'. That was my flesh whispering to me and not at one time did I acknowledge God in my actions. Satan embraced me with open arms as I left the church physically and spiritually. When we stand before God, we will not be able to say, ‘Well God, I would have ____, but he or she did so and so.’ We alone are accountable for our actions.

Considering the haters that Jesus had, the beatings, the mocking, and finally the horrific death that He had to suffer, how dare I consider the ‘look’ someone gave me, someone talking negatively behind my back and sometimes to my face, sabotaging my work for God – there is absolutely no comparison! What I’ve come to understand is that the other person may be dead wrong in their actions toward me, but I am just as guilty when I allow my flesh to retaliate or when I give up and leave. 

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Hebrews 12:15) 

 How can God get the glory out of your situation when you don't allow Him the opportunity?
That’s the enemy's desire, but we don’t have to let him. He can only do what we allow him to do when we don’t acknowledge God in all of our ways. We should be strong enough in the Holy Spirit to say, ‘not so Satan, get behind me, I will not let you distract or detract me from the path I’m on’. What happened to praying about the situation; giving it to God and letting him handle it? After all, we get upset, angry and hurt on our jobs, but very few people quit over that. Will you take more from the world than you will for God. His word tells us:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14) 

That's inside the church and outside the church. We have to get it right with everyone and we have to allow the one who wronged us to get it right with us.

Some say it is worse because the hurt is coming from within the church where it is supposed to be full of love and everyone is perfect. Another trick of the enemy! Think of the church as a hospital where you come to be healed, strengthened and edified. Everyone who enters has a different diagnosis and prognosis.

Don’t give up on God and don’t give up on your church unless God is specifically leading you to another area in His kingdom and when He does that, go to your current pastor and get his blessing and endorsement before you leave. You will never build a strong foundation in God going from this church to that church every time things do not go as you want and every time someone says something that you do not like or agree with.

Look first for the change within. Remember:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Bible Study


Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Changed?

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away , the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
  John 16:7

What changed?  I ponder this question often as I think about the new concepts that man has brought into the body of Christ while at the same time removing the very precepts ordained by God and demonstrated in the very beginning in the garden of Eden.  It is those very precepts that Jesus ushered in through the demonstration of His life and teachings.

God put His plan of salvation into visible form through the birth, life, death and resurrection of  Jesus.  He had specific directives for Jesus (Isaiah 53).  Jesus was obedient to those directives and gathered 12 men; 11 of whom were willing, to continue His work after His assignment was completed.  He promised them the comforter, which we know to be the Holy Spirit, to enable them in the work that they were to do: 

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away : for if I go not away , the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart , I will send him unto you.
John 16:7

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  Acts 1:8

Having the comforter – God’s Holy Spirit – within is crucial in order to operate in God’s will.  So much so that Jesus told the disciples not to do anything until after they had received it:

And, behold , I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49)

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

The promise of the Holy Spirit was to enable the disciples with power to do the work of God.   What changed?  What makes one think that they can do the will of God without the Holy Spirit?

During Jesus ministry in the earth, He told the disciples:

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)

Upon the completion of His ministry, He returned in His glorified state to give final instructions to the disciples:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(Matthew 28:19-20)

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:26-27)

Throughout the book of Acts, we learn how the disciples were obedient and stayed in Jerusalem - 

And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. (Luke 24:52:53)

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.   (Acts 1:4)

- until they were endued with power from on high:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:1-4)

There are three places in the New Testament where we are told what happened when people were baptized in the Holy Spirit:

Ö        DAY OF PENTECOST:        Acts 2:2-4
            (The disciples in the upper room)
Ö       HOUSE OF CORNELIUS:   Acts 10:44-46 
           (the record of what happened when Peter preached the Gospel to a man named Cornelius and his family)
Ö       CONVERTS AT EPHESUS:  Acts 19:6 
          (describes what happened to the first group of converts at Ephesus)

Those who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit spoke with other tongues.  From these Biblical records we see that the physical sign of speaking in tongues through the power of the Holy Spirit confirms that a person has been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

There’s that question again!  What changed?  How is it that some feel that the initial speaking in tongues as evidence of the receipt of the Holy Spirit it is no longer applicable to the body of Christ?  Who said that that experience is no longer necessary for today’s time?  Nothing has changed according to God.  

The church [body of Christ] was established in preparation for the return of Jesus [the rapture] and since the rapture has not yet occurred . . .

God's word does not change, the church (body of Christ) was formed as written in Acts. What makes it different today - what was relevant then is still relevant today.  How can we pick and choose which parts we will use, or accept or live by?  

Knowing that deception, is rampant today does not negate the truth of God's word.  Nor does it mean that because there are mimickers and false prophets and teachers that those that are in accordance to the word of God, live, practice, preach and teach God’s word are to sit down and shut up!  We still go forth in the name of Jesus; knowing full well that there will always be disbelievers and scoffers among us.  Don’t be silent, pray for them that God enlighten them.  Specifically in 2 Peter 2 and Jude we are warned of those that creep in unaware, the false teachers, the enemy disguised as an angel of light.  Jude gives us hope:  Now Unto Him Who Is Able . . .  'Him' is God!   We can't back down because of what 'man' says – it doesn’t matter how learned they are; if they negate the word of God, we can't believe or receive them.

Let's go back to the first example, the day of Pentecost point by point. 

Ö   The bible states explicitly that they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance 
Ö   They were secluded in an upper room and when this [speaking in other tongues] was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded , because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
Ö   The disciples were ordinary men, i.e., fishermen, a tax collector.  There was not a learned or a scholarly man among them.

The spirit gave them utterance, they were not speaking other languages of their own volition or for the benefit of those outside of the upper room.  The disciples were among their own [About 120 people] in an upper room.  They were already speaking in tongues when the others came to see what was going on so they were not doing it for the benefit of those outside of the room.  Since the disciples were 'common' men, where would they have learned to fluently speak the other languages they were speaking?

It helps to have a good understanding of 'Tongues':  

Tongues can also be a language not known to man. This is called an unknown tongue:

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. (I Corinthians 14:2)

How is it then that man is trying to decipher a tongue that God said in His word that no man understands?

The Holy Spirit was sent to us to enable us, to give us power against those things that we, on our own and left to our own mind and devices, cannot handle or accomplish:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings
 which cannot be uttered. [pronounced, articulated, expressed] (Romans 8:26)

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,  (Jude 1:20)

Once again, what has changed?  If Apostles Peter and Paul and all the other believers of biblical times needed the Holy Spirit interceding on their behalf through groanings that could not be uttered [understood], how is it that we don’t continue in today’s time to still need the Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf?  

It takes faith to believe the word of God; that faith is strengthened when we allow ourselves to experience the fullness of the word of God.  However, human wisdom is so tiny, so impotent, next to the seemingly absurdity of God’s word.  Human strength can't even begin to compete with God's "weakness."    Our intellect and our strength is like a lighted match held up against the mighty sun.  There is absolutely no comparison!  In issues like this, we should be like the father who wanted his son healed  (Mark 9:17-27).  He believed but He asked Jesus to help his unbelief.  

Lastly, the second reference to speaking in tongues is spoken of by Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12 and is known as the gift of tongues followed by the interpretation of tongues.  Unlike tongues as the evidence of the Holy Spirit, everyone does not have this gift.  It is one of the 9 spiritual gifts.  Please know that the gift of tongues and tongues as evidence of the Holy Spirit are two totally different things.

What Changed?  The gift of tongues are still relevant to today's body of believers.   Unlike the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) of which all are required, we can seek God for the spiritual gift or gifts that we desire.   

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.  1 Corinthians 12:31
It is surprising to see or hear about the confusion with tongues. I Corinthians 12 is speaking directly to the 9 spiritual gifts and not to the evidence of the gift of the Holy Spirit; 2 totally different things. However, in I Corinthians 14:14-40, Apostle Paul gives a very good explanation of the gift of tongues and your tongues received as evidence of the Holy Spirit. He makes it clear that everyone does not have the gift of tongues (although it appears that there were those in Corinth who were boasting on their tongues). Apostle Paul was not yet converted on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended and yet he attests to his tongues; another testament that tongues were not just limited to the day of Pentecost. What was relevant and prevalent in the body of Christ in the beginning of the 'church' age should still be relevant in the body of Christ today.

What Changed?  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ! ! !  Everything God says and does has a reason and a purpose.  His word does not lie and it will not return to him void; it is forever settled in heaven and it will accomplish that for which it was sent.  Since we are part of the body of Christ which began in the book of Acts, then we are to do, have and act just as those that turned the world upside down with and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

From another perspective when ask the question: What Changed? Man changed! Man has taken the word of God and molded it to fit his purpose, took those things that they liked and discarded what they didn't, added their own interpretation to fit their need and BOOM, you have a new hybrid body! The only question now is, though it is a body, is it the body of Christ?

(Biblical Studies)