Wisdom

Human wisdom is limited and finite. Only God in His infinite wisdom, through the Holy Spirit, can teach, encourage, forgive, and heal by divinely inspired words. Bible teachers rely on God’s spiritual guidance as a foundation, so His supernatural touch may go forth, penetrating the heart, planting seeds of hope and peace.

1 Corinthians 1:18-19  “I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God. For God says, “I will destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be, and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them.” The Living Bible (TLB)

1 Corinthians 2:1-5  “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” New Living Translation (NLT)

Christians have been given an amazing gift; the gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Not only that but with the gift, 

God filled us with His Holy Spirit; a supernatural link to God Himself. With that connection comes supernatural wisdom and discernment not available to the world.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16  “But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can’t take it in. But the spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who can’t understand him at all. How could he? For certainly he has never been one to know the Lord’s thoughts, or to discuss them with him, or to move the hands of God by prayer. But, strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ.” The Living Bible (TLB)

Human wisdom seems brilliant to our human understanding but in comparison to God, it is primitive and limited. Human wisdom took a bite of the forbidden fruit; human wisdom passed laws in America to stifle worship of God; human wisdom established false religions that deny the one true God, and human wisdom said the earth was formed, with all its complexities, from a collision of errant planets billions of years ago.

Proverbs 3:7-8  “Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong. If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.” Good News Bible (GNB)

1 Corinthians 3:19  “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As it says in the book of Job, God uses man’s own brilliance to trap him; he stumbles over his own “wisdom” and falls.”  Living Bible (TLB)

Like A Child

“Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them…”  Luke 18:16

A man was walking with his six-year-old son one Fall morning when the boy stopped, bent over and picked up a beautiful, multicolored leaf. He was fascinated as he turned it in his hand, smelled it and touched it all over. After a minute or so, his Dad was ready to continue on, keeping in mind the coffee and hot chocolate waiting at home. He gently tugged his son’s hand. But then he realized how special this moment was. His little son was reminding him of how beautiful and wonderful this simple fallen leaf was. Without intending it, his child was taking him back in time, when he was a child, running through the leaves of fall, jumping into the piles raked up in neighborhood yards, and the wonderful smells as people set the piles of leaves alight. 

He knelt down and scooped up his own leaf then, turning it in his hand, feeling the texture and marveling in the colors. Then he talked to his boy about why the leaves fall, how the tree sap recedes in the winter and just how much he loves him. If the father had not become as a child in that moment, he would have missed the beauty of God’s creation and, more importantly, missed those precious moments with his son. Jesus wants us to live as children with the same innocence and excitement over a fallen leaf.

Matthew 19:13-15 “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.”

Our Lord took care to align our faith with that of a child, yet Paul takes people to task for not growing beyond being children; for refusing to give up drinking the milk of the word and learning to ingest more spiritual substance. He expected the new converts to have moved on from the basics and tackled greater issues of growth in their faith. 

1 Corinthians 3:1-2  “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready.”

Do these verses conflict with those in Matthew? At first it seems so but taking time to see the difference, you see Christ is encouraging all who come to Him to be childlike and open to receiving their newfound faith and in 1 Corinthians Paul is warning us to grow in the faith and not remain as infants, just as in life, we become mature and able to discern between good and evil. The next verses in 1 Corinthians help clarify any confusion:

1 Corinthians 14:20-22  “Brothers and sisters, don’t be like children in the way you think. Well, be babies when it comes to evil, but be adults in your thinking.” 

Ephesians 5:1-2  “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”

When it comes to our faith, Jesus clearly explains that we need to be childlike, willing to believe and follow Him to eternal life and paradise. He shows by example that young children willingly believe for they see the beauty and pureness of faith in Christ. They are not held back by adult insecurities or other hurts and wounds. Instead they joyfully come to Jesus, knowing He can be trusted and, more importantly, they recognize His pure love for them. So, He says to us, “become like children and inherit the Kingdom of God.”

And when they come, we must be ready to give an answer for our faith in the same manner as Paul describes: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5  “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

As for the Bible contradicting itself— that will never happen! When I began my lifelong journey into Christianity, my dear father-in-law told me, “There will be times when it seems the Bible contradicts itself. When that happens, do as James 1:5 instructs us: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.”

Selective Application

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Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job 38:4

 

Even though we are Believers and followers of Christ, we seem to have the gift of selective application as we read the Bible (forgetting it is the Word of God). This is a version of Christianity that allows us to pick and choose what we apply to our lives rather than attempting to immerse ourselves fully into His Word by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Selective interpretation allows the reader to decide which verses are applicable to their life and which are allegorical or historical or, perhaps, applicable to specific people of a different time and place. This heretical approach gives the reader the power to challenge God’s word, picking and choosing which verses are “for today.”

The most obvious danger in this approach to reading the Bible is the reader becomes equal to God, deciding that they have the authority to eliminate or water down the precious word of God. Left unchallenged, they freely re-translate the Bible into ideas that are more convenient or less challenging. Imagine thinking that we can decide which Bible verses are pertinent to our lives rather than asking God to give us wisdom and understanding as we read His Holy Word.

A classic example of this dangerous approach to the Bible is taught by a popular, well-known pastor who has decided that the Spiritual Gifts, as described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 are no longer applicable to Christians today. According to him, these miraculous gifts ended some time after the original apostles died. He says we no longer need such gifts because we have the Bible. If that is true, the Bible itself says all believers have gifts. In order to make such a decision, he has decided that 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 is no longer applicable. How can mere man make such a declaration?

2 Timothy 3:14-16  Yet you must go on steadily in all those things that you have learned and which you know are true. Remember from what sort of people your knowledge has come, and how from early childhood your mind has been familiar with the holy scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work. (J.B. Phillips)

The Bible is not a collection of stories, fables, myths, or merely human ideas about God. It is not just a human book. Through the Holy Spirit God revealed his person and plan to godly men who wrote down God’s message for his people. This process is known as inspiration. The writers wrote from their own personal, historical, and cultural contexts. But even though they used their own minds, talents, language, and style, they wrote what God wanted them to write. Scripture is completely trustworthy because God was in control of its writing, and its words are entirely authoritative for our faith and lives. (Life Application Bible Notes © Tyndale House)

2 Peter 1:19-21  So we have seen and proved that what the prophets said came true. You will do well to pay close attention to everything they have written, for, like lights shining into dark corners, their words help us to understand many things that otherwise would be dark and difficult. But when you consider the wonderful truth of the prophets’ words, then the light will dawn in your souls and Christ the Morning Star will shine in your hearts. For no prophecy recorded in Scripture was ever thought up by the prophet himself. It was the Holy Spirit within these godly men who gave them true messages from God.

Romans 15:2-4  Even if we believe that it makes no difference to the Lord whether we do these things, still we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves; for we must bear the “burden” of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others—of those who feel these things are wrong. Let’s please the other fellow, not ourselves, and do what is for his good and thus build him up in the Lord. Christ didn’t please himself. As the Psalmist said, “He came for the very purpose of suffering under the insults of those who were against the Lord.” These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us so that we will look forward expectantly to the time when God will conquer sin and death.

Job 38:4-11  “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined, and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who decreed the boundaries of the seas when they gushed from the depths? Who clothed them with clouds and thick darkness and barred them by limiting their shores, and said, ‘Thus far and no farther shall you come, and here shall your proud waves stop’?”  

If enough people agree on an idea it eventually becomes established as truth. Many of these so-called truths are actually myths, superstitions and outright lies. But, as we have all experienced in life, sayings learned from childhood establish themselves as fact in our minds.

Consider the Bible. Do you think of it as fact or fable? Is it absolute truth or partial truth with scatterings of myth for variety. Either you believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God or you do not. There is no middle ground; no neutral territory. By faith in God, the Bible becomes absolute truth leading us to forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.  

A Stumbling Block

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I grew up in a neighborhood with lots of diversity. My folks did not discriminate, so neither did my sister and I. People were people. Some were nice and some not-so-nice. One of the most interesting was Mr. Johnson. He was blind and he was older—like a Grandpa.

One of my friends…actually not a friend as I was to learn…who lived nearby, was a prankster. He never tired of pulling pranks on everyone and we were getting frustrated with him. Finally, he did something to Mr. Johnson that excluded him from my circle of friends.

Mr. Johnson lived alone with his dog, Pete. He used a cane to get around his yard and all over town. He had a garden out back and tended it often. He raised lots of vegetables that he shared with everyone. If you wanted to pick some veggies on your own, you just rang a bell Mr. Johnson had attached to his gate. That way he knew someone was in the yard and he would come out to visit and chat.

As you may imagine, Mr. Johnson had established walking paths around his yard to get around to everything. Often he would putter around without using his cane to detect any stumbling blocks. This is where Freddy the prankster came in.  

Freddy decided it would be funny to ring the bell after he had set up obstacles in Mr. Johnson’s pathway. So he did. After he placed a few blocks in the paths, he rang the bell and hid off to the side. Mr. Johnson came out smiling, bidding a welcome to whoever may need some vegetables. He hadn’t gone very far before his foot hit a wooden block in the middle of the path. Down he went, cracking his wrist bone and bumping his head on a border stone.

Fortunately, Mr. Johnson’s next-door-neighbor came to get some cucumbers right after this happened. She was a nurse and was able to tend to his bruises and swollen forehead. It turned out that his cracked wrist just needed a tight wrap for a week, along with some pain medicine. This prank did not change Mr. Johnson’s attitude or generosity. Friends removed Freddy’s obstacles and everything went back to normal in Mr. Johnson’s backyard.

Freddy was never seen in the neighborhood again. By Fall, he and his family had moved to another school district.

I wonder if I am ever a stumbling block to others by my actions, attitudes or conversation? Without considering the impact of what I am doing or saying, do I cause others to stumble or fall? What about those times when I just have to have my way; who stumbled on my selfishness? Someone surely. Thank you Lord for your forgiveness.

In 2 Corinthians chapter six, the Apostle Paul declares in great detail what he and Timothy have endured so as not to cause others to stumble: “We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love— Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:5-6, 10)

Once we taste the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, we are transformed. We have the power, wisdom and discernment impossible before our salvation. The Holy Spirit is always at work within us, communicating God’s plans each day. Are we diligently on the broad path to materialistic success and selfishness or on the narrow path, willing to suffer whatever pleases God to refine us into the Christlike person He is creating? If I love the Lord how can I be a stumbling block to others?

1 Corinthians 8:9  But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.

2 Corinthians 6.3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us.

Romans 14:13  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

 

Foolish Talk

 

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“Coarse and foolish talking are not suitable” Ephesians 5:4

Greg came home early to pack for his favorite twice-yearly Men’s Fellowship gathering at Camp Angelus above the Southern California Valley. Away from the wilting heat, smog and everyday life, nearly 500 Christian men gathered to sing, pray, learn, share and be changed by a desire to serve God with all their hearts.

By dinner, most of the men had checked in, found their room assignments and changed into comfortable clothes. They headed for the dining room to find a dazzling spread of snacks to satisfy their light hunger and prepare them for the evening’s speaker, Dan Wilson.

Dan was a young pastor of an impressive church with more than 3,500 in attendance. He was fast becoming well-known among pastors and book readers. His first book, Jesus Broke the Rules was selling quickly, even though some thought the cover art of a muscular Christ, punching gigantic pillars into rubble seemed rather worldly and crude as though Jesus used his powerful physique to accomplish his examples.

Obviously, the men at this conference weren’t bothered by the muscular Jesus on Dan’s book. Within seconds, the wood-paneled conference room was filled with men laughing uproariously, tears running down their cheeks. Dan was charismatic and excelled with comedic illustrations. Just before he finished, Dan managed to slip in a prayer as he released  the men with a quick reminder to “get a copy of my book while they last.”

At one of the tables, four men were still smiling, except for Steve. “That guy was fantastic,” Bill said. “His stories about wives and husbands hit the nail right on the head. But I’m not sure my wife would appreciate the humor as much as we did. But that’s the difference between men and women, right?”

As the others were nodding  in agreement Steve said, “Are you sure we should have been laughing? At first I thought he was funny too but then I was convicted by the Holy Spirit and I think most of his stories were crude and foolish. I don’t think we would have been laughing so hard if Jesus had appeared.”

Silence at the table. Steve knew they were upset so he left the table, headed for a walk to clear up his mind and talk with the Lord. This was a first for him. Before tonight, he would have been laughing just as hard as everyone else. God was changing him and he wanted the change. Allowing himself to become crude and foolish for the sake of getting a laugh paled in comparison to walking closer with the Lord.

  • Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
  • Ephesians 5:4 “Dirty stories, foul talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, remind each other of God’s goodness, and be thankful.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:15-16 “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.”
  • 1 Timothy 6:20 “Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge.”
  • Colossians 3:8-9 “But now put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk. Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before.”
  • Colossians 4:6 “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”

Our words can harm, hurt, divide and create sinful images in the mind. But God’s word is always pure and precise. If we choose to use each other as examples or measuring sticks, then our words will ultimately do harm. But when we choose to follow the Holy Spirit’s Guidance our words will represent God, bringing healing and comfort to all who hear.

 

Your Will, Not Mine

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“I want your will, not mine” ~Matthew 26:39

 

Tony waited patiently until the final person left the bible study. He had a question for Alex, one that he’d been pondering for some months.

“Well, Tony, what’s on your mind tonight. You seem unhappy or perhaps disappointed.”

“You hit the nail on the head, Alex. I am disappointed and, I guess, unhappy,” he said, feeling a little foolish now, like a child approaching the teacher. “Why won’t God bless me? I tithe regularly. I even give extra when I see a need. I never miss church service or your bible study. Any time pastor mentions helpers are needed somewhere, if it meets with my work schedule, I volunteer. I pray, repent, forgive others. I am lined right up with all the things that should make me happy but God will not bless me!”

Pouring them both another cup of coffee, Alex said, “I think you need to define bless before I can help.”

“Alright, I mean better living conditions, more money, a better car, more friends, recognition from people for my efforts; heck, I’ve missed being promoted two times in the past year and my car is always breaking down.”

“I see. You believe God sent Jesus to the earth to experience humiliation, scorning, a horrific beating, and death so we could have more stuff?”

Tony was stunned to hear his obviously petty, selfish feelings exposed in this way. He wanted the earth to open and swallow him. Am I really this petty, he wondered.

“Breathe, Tony. It’s ok, we all have those feelings some of the time. The key to shaking them off is to dive into God’s Word and to ask God to give you understanding. For example look at Matthew 26:36-39 where Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He knows exactly what is about to happen on the following day— he will be killed! He says, “My soul is crushed with horror and sadness to the point of death. . .” Then he prays, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

“So what do you think, Tony, was Jesus entitled to God’s blessings?”

“Of course. More than anyone who ever lived.”

“Yes. I agree. But then why was he treated so wickedly. Killed like an ordinary criminal, hanging on a cross? He is the Messiah after all.”

Tony couldn’t stop his tears. In a moment he composed himself and said, “In a way, I feel what Peter must have felt when the rooster crowed that morning. I feel petty and selfish.”

“I’ve never considered that analogy, Tony but I think you may be right. And you are feeling those things because that is how you’re behaving. Now, before you beat yourself with that self-pity club, you must understand we all struggle with this. Anytime we look at our lives and compare them to those who have more we’re using the world’s standards, not God’s. God is interested in healing our hearts, not our cars! Quite the contrary, actually. We must be like Jesus, totally surrendered and ready for suffering to continue and death to come if that is God’s will.

“Would you consider the Apostle Paul a man who followed God, Tony?”

“Of course, Alex.”

“And yet, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, he begged God to take away his thorn in the flesh but God said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ So, according to your list of things, can you say Paul was not blessed by God?”

“I’m stunned. I’ve never seen this so clearly, Alex. I am so wrong.”

“Let’s continue in 2 Corinthians, ‘So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“Before we end this eye-opening moment, Tony, I want to look at one more Scripture: Philippians 3:10, ‘All I want is to know Christ and feel the power of His resurrection; to share in His sufferings and become like Him. (TEV)

“What do you think may happen in our lives if we pray this Scripture daily? How might we be changed over and over again, refined into the men of God Jesus died for? Tony, thank you for your courage to share with me tonight. I feel as though God has looked into my eyes and said, “Alex, are you willing to give all, to suffer for my name if I deem it necessary?”

Tony and Alex knelt together and prayed “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Demons

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit- 1 John 4:1

This is a true story taken from “I Talked With Spirits” by Victor Ernest who grew up in a home that conducted seances and believed in spiritualism. Later, Vic became a Baptist minister who understood the absolute truth of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

        “I began to read Genesis. The story of creation was familiar to me, but before long I got bogged down in the genealogies of generations. Thinking that the Bible was like any other book, I decided to turn to the end to see how it all turned out.

        I got mired down again, this time in the symbolism of the Revelation. A little discouraged, I almost set my bible to one side. However, I was reluctant to let my investment lie idle (he had bought his first Bible), so I decided to explore the middle, shorter books of the New Testament.

        The First Epistle of John was the first book I read in its entirety. When I got to the fourth chapter I read with amazement: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits.”

        This was just what I wanted. This must mean there were good spirits and bad spirits. I read on: “. . .to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world.”

        I concluded from this that Jesus had come in the flesh to be a Savior, and that if I didn’t believe this, I was wrong. I decided at the next seance I attended, I would “test the spirits” although I didn’t know how to go about it.

        I was amazed when the control spirit at the very next meeting announced it would be a question-and-answer seance and even specified that the questions were to be of a spiritual nature. This had never happened in any seance I had attended. At such meetings a megaphone (called a trumpet) would float around the table, pausing at each person.

        I directed my first question to the control spirit. In fear and trembling, I asked if he believed that Jesus was the Son of God. I was so excited that it seemed as though someone else were asking the question.

        The control spirit answered smoothly, “Of course, my child, Jesus is the Son of God. Only believe as the Bible says.”

        I had never heard a spirit affirm this. In other seances I had often heard that Jesus was a great medium or a Judean reformer, and that now he was an advanced spirit in one of the higher planes.

        Before long the trumpet was back to me, and I had to ask a second question. Since we were each allowed only three questions, I was anxious to make mine count. This time I falteringly asked, “O thou great and infinite spirit, do you believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world?”

        Almost before my words were uttered, the answer came: “My child, why do you doubt? Why do you not believe? You have been this long with us; why do you continue to doubt?” Then the spirit began to quote Scripture about believing.

        I don’t remember what the verses were, but they sounded authentic to me; the spirit quoted Scripture readily even if not accurately.

        When the trumpet returned for my third and last question, I reviewed what the spirit had said. “O spirit, you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he is the Savior of the world–do you believe that Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for the remission of sin?”

        The medium, deep in a trance, was catapulted off his chair. He fell in the middle of the living room floor and lay groaning as if in deep pain. The turbulent sounds suggested spirits in a carnival of confusion.

        We all rushed forward to help him. The control spirit had prepared us with instructions about how to revive a person in such an emergency, and we massaged the pulse areas until he revived like a person who had fainted.

        I never went to another seance. I had tested the spirits and found they were not of God. What I had thought to be a great power of God, the Utopia of religious experience, had burst like a bubble. I realized that I had been in contact with the counterfeit of what God has to offer–and I wanted his reality. From that time I began to search God’s Word to find the truth.”

        I know this story to be true because I knew Vic Ernest as a pastor and friend. The reason he wrote this little book was to help Christians understand that seances are real and Satan uses them to confuse and misguide people seeking a spiritual experience. Remember to “test the spirits!”

1 Tim. 4:1  The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Ephesians 6:10-12  Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

When we take the step of faith to believe in Jesus as the Christ, He does not smile, pat us on the back like an amiable salesperson, open the door to life and say, “Good luck, I’ll see you on the other side!” Instead Jesus says, “I will not leave you alone (Jn 14:18)…I will send you the Advocate, the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify about me.” John 15:26

There are many demons but only one devil

A Renewed Mind

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“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”  Romans 12:2

Charles called the adult Sunday School class to order as he sipped his latte and sniffed the fresh donut in his hand: “Good morning everyone and to those who made it to the opening night play on Saturday…wasn’t that a hoot?”

        Many in the class applauded with enthusiasm, smiling and sharing brief words of encouragement. As they settled down Charles said, “Now I know there was some coarse language scattered here and there, but I think we are all adult enough to put those things out of our minds and just enjoy the brilliant performance. After all, it’s not every day that our city presents professional stage performers of this caliber. Am I right?” Again, lots of enthusiastic response.

        “And before I forget,” Charles continued, “mark Saturday the 25th on your calendars for the annual Rent-a-Slave auction. Last year was probably the best so far and we hope the women will loosen their purse strings this year because we have a few of those hunky firefighters who adorned the latest calendar pages up for bid!” At that the class broke into laughter and thigh slapping which, unfortunately knocked Stella’s soy latte to the newly installed beige carpet.

        Then one of the new class members stood and spoke, “Can I ask a question?”

        “Of course,” Charles said, wiping tears of laughter “go ahead Rick.”

        “I’d like to read a verse from James 4:4…” Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”

        Silence swept over the class!

        “Maybe we have allowed ourselves to slowly walk away from the Lord, to make friends with the world. Here is another verse from 1st John 2:15-17…Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father.  Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father.  The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever.”

        Some in the class hung their heads, wondering what path they had taken and why they’d become so callous toward God’s righteousness. But others sat rigid, stiff-necked, fighting against those feelings, waiting for Rick to stop talking.

        “And in the Gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 18 and 19…If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you.” Rick sat down and prayed, wondering what would happen and if he would be welcomed back to this class.

        Then Simon stood and said, “I’d like to read from Romans 12:1-2…So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”

        By now, tears were streaming down faces, heads were bowed and repentance was in the air. Charles left his place at the podium, sat his coffee and donut aside and knelt in prayer, seeking God’s forgiveness. The class went from jovial, worldly approval to Godly redemption, calling upon the Lord, laying aside worldly cares and pleasures.

        After several minutes, Charles stood, Bible in hand and read from Romans 13:12-14, “The night is nearly over, day is almost here. Let us stop doing the things that belong to the dark, and let us take up weapons for fighting in the light. Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day—no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires.”

        “Class, I have guided you down a sinful, self-gratifying road and wish to repent,” Charles said. “We can no longer allow ourselves to walk in the flesh as we have been doing. We are grieving almighty God. Read with me in Ephesians 4:22-24…So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new,  and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”

        “Thank you, Rick for exposing our sinful behavior. As for me, I am kneeling to pray, asking God to forgive me. I don’t know how long I will be here praying, just leave when you must.” At first the class was stunned by Charles’ show of repentance. And then, many of the class followed suit, kneeling in prayer. The Holy Spirit swept through that class, bringing true repentance.

 

6 Days!

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“In the beginning God created—” Genesis 1:1

 

“Did God create everything in six literal days?” This question has been asked millions of times since God spoke all creation into existence thousands of years ago. As a non-Bible reading person, the question seems logical. After all, the idea of the universe, man, animals, plants, earth, sky and water spoken into being over six days does seem incredible, even unbelievable. But is it impossible for God? According to the Bible, these are the things God created in six days:

Day 1 — light and time (Gen 1:3-5);

Day 2 — the sky and “separated” waters (Gen 1:6-8);

Day 3 — dry ground, bodies of water, and plants (Gen 1:9-13);

Day 4 — the sun, moon, stars, and planets (Gen 1:14-19);

Day 5 — fish and birds (Gen 1:20-23);

Day 6 — land animals and humans (Gen 1:24-30; 2:7,15-25).

On the seventh day God rested from his work (Genesis 2:2-3).  

God also reveals that the days of creation were six normal, 24-hour days.  As God said for each day, “And there was evening, and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), and as Moses stated, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11).

As the writer to the Hebrews says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3).  Therefore, in the beginning God created the world and everything we see in the universe out of what you couldn’t see, out of nothing.

It is our nature to understand how things are done, created, built, manufactured. We’re naturally curious, seeking a reasonable answer. But God is beyond our understanding isn’t He? Otherwise He wouldn’t be God and could be understood by all humans. However, He is God the creator. He is Jesus the Savior. He is the Holy Spirit, our guide and counselor.

When we ask God why, He may answer, “Because I love you and have a plan for you.” Jeremiah 29:11. God could have created everything in one second but He didn’t. Likewise, He doesn’t need hundreds of millions of years either.

If we decide the creation account in Genesis, chapter one does not mean literal days, we are saying the Bible is in error. If that is the case, how can any of the Bible be accurate? We have opened the door to our own interpretation for all of it. What about John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” We may decide the actual meaning does not apply to people today. This was written for those alive at that time. The Bible is God’s written word for all people of the earth, regardless of location, age or culture.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

 

 

 

He Who Serves God From Love

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He who serves God from love. . .walks in the path of wisdom, not because of any worldly advantage, nor to protect himself from evil, not to inherit good thereafter, he does the right because it is right, though in the end the blessing will not fail him.”

                                                                                                 Moses Maimonides 1135-1204