Passing the Test of Love for God

If given the choice between a sign or wonder coming to pass or obeying the Scripture, which way would you go?   

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 13:1-3

Brighten Your Corner

Are you a Christian?  Are you lonely? Do you feel forgotten?  Where do you find yourself?  Are you depressed?  Are you in a corner somewhere without a purpose?  Are you limited in what you can do physically?  Are you discouraged because you feel you cannot do things because of your limitations, whether it be physical, financial or otherwise? 

I believe God has a very important and specific ministry for you and it starts in the corner where you are.

The largest part of any task is preparation.  As a matter of fact, we can be so meticulous about preparing for a task, we often quit before we even get started because the preparation is too much.  The time it takes becomes our enemy.   We get bogged down in details and give up.  The result is unfinished business and discouragement which destroys motivation. It also opens one up to Satan’s accusations and feelings of  guilt.

Prayer is preparation.*   When we look at the needs around us that require prayer, we see a mountain that looks insurmountable.  When we look at people’s needs, we begin to realize that we could pray all day long.   As a result we don’t start or we start but become discouraged because we have demands on our time.

If you found yourself responding to the opening paragraph, if you were able to say that’s me; this is where you come in.  You can pray.  A couple of checks must be made before you start.  Are you plugged in?  Is the power on? 

There is a story about a train wreck at a washed out bridge.  The night watchman was questioned.  Did you warn the train?  Were you waving your lantern?  Yes, I was waving the lantern to warn the train he responded, but no one asked him if his lantern was lit.  

To pray effectively, one must be plugged in.  One must be trusting Jesus Christ as his/her only hope of salvation. 

Is the power on?  One must not have any unconfessed sin in his/her heart.  If there is unconfessed sin, the Lord will not hear us.  To pray effectively your lantern must be lit.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.  Psalm 66:18-20

The Lord has instructed us to pray in secret.  Public prayer* can affect our motives.  It can also draw the religious who have no relationship with God through Christ.  If God answers the public prayer* of the righteous, the religious who participated can take the credit and the glory.  Private prayer gives the glory to God when He answers.  Public prayer* can give Christian recognition to those who should not have it.  Prayer and/or prayer meetings at one’s local church should not be considered public prayer.**

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  Matthew 6:5&6

Praying in secret also assures us that God has answered our own prayer.  What a joy to know that He hears and answers “my” prayers!

If you found yourself responding positively to the opening paragraph, then the ministry for you is that of prayer.  Who should one pray for?  Anyone who has a need.  Everyone needs to be saved and God is not willing that any should perish. 

Make a list of those you know or those whose paths have crossed your path in the past.  Pray for your fellow Christians wherever they may be, pray for your family, for those in authority, for your town or neighborhood (God knows who lives in the house with green siding), for former fellow employees, for your former employers, for former classmates, for all the branches of your family tree, for your neighbors, for your enemies and for the peace of Israel.  If these needs are too much to pray for in a day, pray for different groups of individuals each day of the week.  

Pray that God would prepare them for salvation.  Pray for God’s will in their lives.

Oh, how our nation needs prayer.  The solution to our moral bankruptcy is not political.  The solution is for individuals to come to Christ one at a time.  If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new

If one person in every community in our nation would take on the burden of praying in secret, asking God to move in individual lives in his/her community and the surrounding areas, perhaps God will pour out His Spirit and change the moral fiber of our nation one soul at a time.  And when that last soul comes to Christ, the Lord will come for His own.  Even so Lord Jesus….come quickly!

…..Brighten the corner where you are…….with prayer!….

*Before the farmer sows seed, he prepares the soil.  The seed we have is the word of God.  It is all good seed.  Good ground produces fruit.  Good ground is ground prepared by God the Holy Spirit.  We participate in that ground preparation through prayer.

** In some circumstances a case may be made for public prayer.  These thoughts are my personal convictions.

Note: All Christians are to pray…..without ceasing.

Is Your Religion Outward or Inward?

There is a common misconception in the culture today that Jesus never spoke a harsh word to anyone.  For the record, the following is what He had to say to the religious leaders of His day.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law; judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chicks under her wings, and ye would not!

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Matthew 23:23-39

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  II Corinthians 5:17

Are you a new creature?

…..As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he….

The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church Today – Grieve Not The Holy Spirit – A Study in Ephesians Part VIII

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed* unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:30-32

The Holy Spirit is a person.  He is not a power or influence.  The reference above from Ephesians indicates that we can grieve Him.  A power or influence cannot be grieved.  Only a person can be grieved.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God.  

Listed below are a few verses among many that point out attributes, actions and personal pronouns used to describe the Holy Spirit’s actions and identity which indicate His personhood.  

This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.  I John 5:6

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:                  for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.                      I Corinthians 2:10

Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  Acts 8:29

But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Isaiah 63:10

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  Ephesians 3:5

For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.  Matthew 10:20

The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.        II Samuel 23:2

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  Revelation 2:29, 3:6, 13, & 22

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  John 14:17

While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.  Acts 10:19

And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:  Acts 11:12

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father Galatians 4:6

Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent meIsaiah 48:16

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  Romans 8:27

These verses clearly show us that the Holy Spirit is a person.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the three persons of the Godhead.  Their personages emphasize the fact that knowing God or being  a Christian is a relationship.  This relationship is made possible with God the Father through God the Son and by God the Holy Spirit. 

The Christian is indwelt by the person of the Holy Spirit.  To resist His working in our life to transform us into the image of Christ is to grieve Him or to make Him sorrowful.  We are to put away the things that grieve the Holy Spirit.  These things are listed in the opening verses above as: bitterness (bitter hatred), and wrath (an outburst of hot anger, passion), and anger (smoldering anger with the idea of revenge), and clamour (the tumult of controversy), and evil speaking (railing, reviling, blasphemy),…with all malice (badness in quality, opposite of excellence, vicious character). **

In contrast to the things that we are to put away, believers are to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving one to another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us.

……let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.…..

*For teaching on the sealing work of the Holy Spirit, see Part IIA of The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church Today – A Study in Ephesians on page 17 of this blog.

**Definitions are from Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – Copyright 1984, 1996, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN

Alcohol Warning

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.  Proverbs 23:29-35

 If you have to have a beer to relax, are you dependent on alcohol?  Alcohol is addictive.  It is a sin to be controlled by alcohol (Ephesians 5:18).  If you never take a drink, you will never have to be concerned about alcohol controlling you.