Thursday, December 30, 2004

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.  Acts 2:2-6

The day of Pentecost, a day which is still celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter.  This was the day which the Apostles were told by Jesus would come when he told them to wait for the comforter that He would send to them.  This miraculous moment in Christian history is often taken completely out of text.  The Pentecostals refer to this as the reason they believe someone isn't truly filled with the Spirit until they speak in tongues.  As we will see by further investigation into the Bible, this argument does not hold up.

When the Spirit fell upon them it was for the purpose of getting across the message of Jesus Christ to a large crowd of people from many different countries that spoke many different languages.  Everyone heard the gospel in their own language so they could understand and as a result three thousand people were baptized.  If you have ever been privilege to witness a baptism it is a very emotional thing and I can't even imagine being a witness to three thousand being baptized.  That must have been an awesome day.

Another gift of the Spirit is however what is called the "Speaking of Tongues," where the Spirit speaks through you to the Father.  This is in the heavenly language, which is not understandable except by God or by one who is an "Interpreter of Tongues."  This language is often thought to be the language, which was spoken on the day of Pentecost.  Throughout the rest of the book of Acts we see others that are saved and when the Spirit comes upon them they begin speaking in tongues.  This premise has led many to believe that when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives it is marked by the speaking of diverse tongues.  Now we get to see where this is an inaccurate statement.

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit works all these individually as He wills.

I Corinthians 12:4-11

Apparently this was a problem in the early church just as it appears to be today.  There are many who will try to make you feel like you are not been blessed by the Spirit unless you speak in tongues.  As Paul clearly tells us here there are many gifts of the Spirit and no one person will possess them all.  Paul starts this message off with these words:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

Unfortunately when it comes to our faith ignorance is still running rampant.

Through studying and prayer we should be seeking to eliminate the ignorance in our lives and once this is accomplished we can seek to destroy the ignorance in the churches around us.

Our Lord and Savior tells us in The Book of Luke how we can receive the Holy Spirit by this simple parable:
"If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"            Luke 11:11-13

I don't think we can get any clearer on this than what the Master has said.  It is when we try to take simple Christian teachings and turn them into something deep or philosophical that we distort the true and simple meaning. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.            Galatians 5:22-26


Monday, December 27, 2004

I had something prepared for today but as I was reading "The Normal Christian Life," by Watchman Nee, I was so amazed by something that Watchman Nee said I had to make it todays post.  I have to admit, when I first began reading this book I almost put it down and never picked it up again.  Watchman Nee is very intellectual in his approach to his faith and it takes having to read a paragraph 2 or 3 times in some cases before I can totally grasp what he is trying to say.  I think that anyone would enjoy this book if they were to give it a read, just be prepared to put more thought into it than you would with any other book you might read on Christianity.

The following paragraph hit home on something that I have struggled with my entire Christian life.  It is self explanatory so I will not add my 2 cents.  I hope you enjoy it and it helps you as much as it has me.

God Bless,

At the beginning of our Christian life we are concerned with our doing, not with our being; we are distressed rather by what we have done than by what we are.  We think that if only we could rectify certain things we should be good Christians, and we set out therefore to change our actions.  But the result is not what we expected.  We discover to our dismay that it is something more than just a case of trouble on the outside - that there is in fact more serous trouble on the inside.  We try to please the lord but find something within that does not want to please him.  We try to be humble, but there is something in our very being that refuses to be humble.  We try to be loving, but inside we feel most unloving.  We smile and try to look very gracious, but inwardly we feel decidedly ungracious.  The more we try to rectify matters on the outside the more we realize how deep-seated is the trouble.  Then we come to the Lord and say, "Lord, I see it now!  Not only what I have done is wrong; I am wrong."

Monday, December 20, 2004

For we all stumble in many things.  If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.
Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.

Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.  See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.  The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

(James 3:2-6)

Imagine a world where people actually think about what they say before they say it.  If everyone would take the time before they spoke there would never be anything said out of anger, jealousy, spite, or any emotion. 

In this chapter James is trying to relate to us how dangerous the tongue can be, how detrimental it can be to you and to those around you.  We have all said things that we have regretted, in fact we have all said something that we still regret to this day.

By simply learning to control what we say instead of being overcome by emotion and blurting out the first thing that comes to mind we can save ourselves and others a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort.

The very nature of man is sin, sin dwells at our very souls.  It is the inheritance passed down to us from Adam and Eve.  Paul says in Romans:

For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
(Romans 7:18-20)

Paul is explaining that our human nature is sin.  When we are born again into a relationship with Jesus Christ we must condition ourselves to overcome our sinful nature.  Part of this is controlling the members of our body, the most disobedient of which is the tongue.  James goes on to say in chapter 3 that 'no man can tame the tongue,' and he is absolutely correct.  Taming the tongue would be taming our sinful nature and this is something we cannot do.  Like the old saying, "A leopard cant change its spots."  Neither can we change our human nature, but we can control it.  By doing something as simple as thinking before we speak we take away the power of sin over our tongue. 

I want you to really think about how powerful a tool the tongue is for sin.  Think about the things that you say today.  Every time you gossip about someone, curse or talk about something that you have no right talking about I want you to be aware of it.  Think of the old cliché, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all."  If you spend today concentrating on how many times you say something you shouldn't have said you will be amazed.  Probably half the conversations you have in a day could be eliminated and some days you might find that if you hadn't said something you shouldn't have said you probably wouldn't have talked all day.

Be careful of what you say, and be mindful of how it affects others.

God Bless.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of Peace.

No, this is not the lyrics to the popular sixties song, it is taken from the third chapter of Ecclesiates. It is important to remember when we are going through troubles in our lives that there is a time for everything and a purpose.

On a personal note I had to leave my home last sunday, I had to leave the woman that I love very much and the life that I have come to be very comfortable in. This chapter in Ecclesiastes came to mind and as I was flying across the Atlantic ocean late on sunday night. They have been a comfort to me and I pray that they will be a comfort to you in your times of need. I know from faith that nothing is coincidence, all things happen for a reason. Whether or not you choose to believe it there is a greater power working in our lives, that power is God. Although He allows us to make our own choices(freewill) He still places us where He needs us. I have been out here only 2 days but already I have found a good Bible study and I pray that I will be able to contribute to this group.

I ask for your prayers while I am gone and I would like to make this post open to comments for anyone to post a comment(anonymous or not) for any prayers that you may need in your life. On this same note I would ask that everyone pray for those who need prayer in any comments they may have left.

I apologize for being more personal on this post rather than evangelical but I felt the need to share with everyone what has been going on with me for the last couple of days and to ask for your prayers that I may have a safe journey and discover God's will for me while I am here.

God willing, barring any real emergencies or internet problems, I will post new updates every monday, wednesday and friday while I am away.

God Bless,

P.S.- Megan, I love you very much and will be home before you know it.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?"

Now my question is, "Have YOU considered Job?"
Undoubtedy you have heard sermons concerning Job and maybe even read the book of Job, but have you really stopped to consider Job?

Job suffered greatly at the hands of Satan with but one instruction from God, that Satan could not take his life. Job lost everything, his children, his flocks, his harvests, everything that he had spent his life building and everything that God had given him. His body was plagued by boils and open sores; his friends and even his own wife thought he was a fool for hanging onto the hope that God would save him. Job never lost his trust in God and never turned his back on Him.

Many Theologians and Biblical Scholars believe that God does in fact turn His back on us from time to time in order to strenghten us in our faith.

And we rejoice in the hope and the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
(Romans 5:2-5 NIV)

Consider for a moment a mother and her newborn baby. I have seen shows on television that show by a mother blowing in her babys face and then dunking him under water the baby can hold its breath and swim for a period of time. Of course the mother would not leave the child under for to long because eventually the baby would run out of air and drown, but she leaves the child down long enough that he may learn to swim. I like to attribute this to how God is with us sometimes. He lets us go on our own until he sees that we need picking up. It is during these times in our lives that Satan will attack us the most, trying to convince us that God has abandoned us, that we are not worthy of God so He has left us. Satan is right about one thing; we are NOT worthy of God, but God has justified us through faith in His son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. These times of suffering can be difficult for anyone, even your most steadfast Christian, but if we persevere we will be that much stronger for going through it. It is during these times we need to run to God with open arms and praise Him for all that He has given us and all that He does for us in our lives and if our faith comes through our sufferings, God will reward us just as He did Job.

And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)

Because Job never turned his back on God throughout all his sufferings and temptations, God gave back double to Job. Job's faithfulness brought him through his sufferings and he was greatly rewarded.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
(Hebrews 12:11) ( I encourage everyone to read Hebrews 12:1-13)

As Paul states in Hebrews, suffering is not something that anyone likes. At the time you feel as if you can never make it through and all hope seems lost, but we have one promise that we can take comfort in and that is; God will never put us in a situation that He knows we cannot bear. He is faithful to us to protect us and to watch over us just as a loving father should do. He will never let us be tempted beyond which we can handle and cause us undue suffering.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (I Cor 10:13)

Much of the New Testament is about suffering and temptation, and there is much more suffering and many more temptations to come in our walk with the Lord. Our growth as Christians depends heavily on how we deal with the trials and tribulations in our lives. Do we turn to God, or do we turn to our own understanding?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Paul states in these simple words in Thessalonians how to overcome all obstacles in our lives and with this I will end.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in EVERYTHING give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)