NOAH

NOAH 

“And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the Earth,

and it grieved Him at His heart.”

(Genesis 6:6)

Everytime I read the above verse, I get sad.  That God would look upon His creation and repent (regret and feel remorse) for making man.  God who wanted to create a being in His own image that would live in and enjoy His perfect creation; who would feel His love and affection continually; would have his every need met; and, with whom God would be able to commune with for all eternity … was now sorry he made man.  The time is during the days of Noah, God looked down from Heaven and saw how men ignored Him.  Everyday men, women and children would wake up and give no thought about their Heavenly Father.  They made their own plans, followed after their own ways, their own lusts, and soon they became ‘trapped in sin’ by their own follies.  Men became so sinful that God wanted to wipe them out.

We are all here today because of Noah.  Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generations.  Someone who walked with God.  He found chen (grace) in the eyes of the Lord and Noah followed God’s instructions precisely.  Noah saved humanity.  “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth has become full of robbery because of them, and behold I am destroying them from the Earth” (Genesis 6:13).  God didn’t ask Noah to go to the people and tell them to repent; neither did He give mankind the opportunity to cease from their sinfulness.  God had made up His mind, He was going to wipe them off the face of the earth! 

What did Noah think when the Ark came to rest on the top of Mount Ararat?  The flood waters subsided, and Noah emerged with his family and with the animals he had saved.  What did he see?  Utter devastation!  Noah could easily have fallen into despair, cursed his fate, and cursed God.  Finding yourself one of eight souls standing on ground that has just been wiped out by a flood is not necessarily a blessing.  Silent desolation.  Where to even begin?

“And Noah built an altar unto the Lord …” (Genesis 8:20). 

 “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour: and the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from His youth; neither will I smite every living thing, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21).  Noah’s expression of faith, trust and thanksgiving to God was a pleasing aroma to the Most High. Ray-ach ni-cho-ach!  Ray-ach (aroma) from the same word as ru-ach or spirit, and ni-cho-ach translated as pleasant is from the name Noach (or Noah) meaning rest, favor and grace.  God’s blessing and favor were on Noah and his family.  Noah’s offering inspired God to make a covenant with man agreeing to never again destroy the Earth by flood.  God set a bow (rainbow) in the Heavens as a sign of this covenant.

Today, all of us are being touched in some way by the pandemic.  If you have not gotten sick, or know someone who has passed, at the least you have found your lifestyle changed in some way.  There is a lesson to be learned when we read of what Noah did, first thing, as he exited the ark.  Noah built an altar to the Lord, a sacrifice was made, no doubt in thanksgiving for God’s safely bringing them through the disaster.  
Everyday we need to be conscious of Who it is that Keeps us.  The men and women living in Noah’s day gave no thought to who created them, they gave Him no acknowledgement for His blessings, they put themselves first and God second.  The days of Noah are being repeated around the World. 

 Jesus said that His Coming will coincide with what we see happening now (Matthew 24:37-39).As the Days grow darker, keep your focus on the One who Saves, serve Him in obedience (as Noah did), and be always thankful (sacrificially) for His keeping you and your family from judgment.

Selah.

HEAVEN

HEAVEN

And they shall see His Face” (Revelation 22:4)

It seems that we are surrounded by death these days.  I imagine by now nearly everyone getting this email knows someone who has died from Covid-19 or, knows someone who knows someone who has passed on because of this virus.  Perhaps you have a loved one, a relative, or a friend you lost recently due to another cause.  It just seems that lately, death is all around us.  If you are born-again or the person you knew who passed on was born-again, the paragraphs below should give you HOPE and a reason to REJOICE.  Because they speak of our real home where one day we all will be reunited in HEAVEN. 

In speaking about Heaven, Preacher Charles Spurgeon said: “The saints in heaven shall have more knowledge of Christ than the most advanced below.  As one has said, the babe in Christ admitted to heaven discovers more of Christ in a single hour than is known by all the divines of the assemblies of the church on earth.”

Yeshua (Jesus) told us as recorded in John 14:1-3 that:  We were not to let our hearts be troubled, that because of our belief in God, and our belief in Him, that He was going to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house; and that He would personally come back and receive us into Himself, so that where He is we would be also.  What a precious promise for us and for those who have gone before in-Christ.  Jesus is going to personally see to it that we are going to be with Him in eternity!    

“In heaven shall be such great joys as no geometrician can measure; so many joys as no arithmetician can number; and so wonderful as no rhetorician can utter, had he the tongue of men and angels.  Here shall be joy within thee, joy without thee, joy above thee, joy beneath thee, and joy about thee.  Joy shall spread itself over all the members of your body and over all the faculties of your soul.  In Heaven, your knowledge shall be full, your love full, your visions of God full, your communion with God full, your fruition of God full, and your conformity to God full, and from thence will arise fullness of joy.” — Thomas Brooks

“What is heaven but an everlasting interchanging of lovesbetween the holy God and holy souls.”  — Matthew Henry 

“Come, O my soul, and meditate on the joys and glories of the Heavenly world!  Lift up your eyes unto the hills from where comes your help” (Psalm 121:1).  Those everlasting hills where the precious flock of Christ will eternally feed and where the great Shepherd of the sheep dwells.
Earth is but a shadow of what the saints will see in Heavenly glory.  Heaven is a state of rest.  “There the wicked cease from troubling and there the weary be at rest” (Job 3:17).

Heaven will be our abode of peace, with our Father (the God of Peace), Jesus our Redeemer (the Prince of Peace) and the Holy Spirit (whose fruit is Peace).  Heaven will be a state of perfected holiness.  No more will we cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me” (Romans 7:24).  No tears will wet your cheeks, no sorrow will rend your heart, there will never again be any painful separation from kindred souls.  “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). 

We will be in the company of:  God the FATHER, God the SON, and God the HOLY SPIRIT, the cherubim, seraphim, angels, archangels, principalities, thrones, dominions, and powers.  We will meet all the friends of Jesus throughout the ages.  Every being in blissful harmony and adoring praise.

“The True Christian is a citizen of the New Jerusalem.  He walks by faith in God.  His heart is separated from a vain and noisy world through which he is indeed hastening, but to which he does not belong.  He shuns the angry disputes of fiery politicians and the crowds of maddening multitudes.  He feels the force of the prophets’s exhortation:  “Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth” (Isaiah 45:9); and [he] seeks a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, well knowing that this is good and acceptable in the sight of God and his Savior the Lord Jesus.  Such is the True Christian.  Such is the heir of glory.  He is a son of peace and is hastening to the mansions of peace.  As his life is, so is his death.  “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37).” — Thomas Reade

Selah.       

GLUTTONY

GLUTTONY

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.  (For many walk,of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping,that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose endis their destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose gloryis in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”(Philippians 3:17-19)

This may seem to be an unusual message to send out right before the United States celebrates Thanksgiving.  But, for sure the title “Gluttony” grabbed your attention.  The Lord shared something with me a few months back, which I am going to share with you.  Because of the pandemic many of us found ourselves stocking up on extra food in order to avoid trips to the grocery store.  I know we did. 

Pre-pandemic.  Because Brother Paul and myself are on fixed incomes, we have always tried to be thrifty.  But now – during the pandemic – we find ourselves being even more thrifty.  I guess the phrase is “waste not, want not.”  This proverbial saying was first recorded in 1772 but it actually had an earlier version which stated, “willful waste makes woeful want” (1576).  I suppose our hyper-thriftism is really all about avoiding another trip to the  grocery store … after all Florida is ‘business as usual’ … you would never know there was a pandemic going on in the Sunshine state. 

The Lord impressed upon me that believers (myself included) in the United States have been guilty of gluttony.  The definition of gluttony means over-indulgence, which includes over-consumption of food and drink; but also means over-consumption of ‘wealth’ items, perhaps items regarded as status symbols.  

When we think of the sin of Sodom what first pops into our minds?  Sodomy, of course.  But did you know the sin(s) of Sodom also included the sin of gluttony?   “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49).  In fact, we see the sin of gluttony way back in the Garden of Eden.  “And when the women (Eve) saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desire to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat …” (Genesis 3:6)  Titus spoke of gluttons, “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies (idle gluttons)” (Titus 1:12).

You get the idea.  The Lord has given us a blessed and holy moment in time here and now, while He brings judgment to the Earth, for us to truly straighten out our walk with Him.  We need to shed our worldly thinking and our worldly pattern of gluttonous behavior.  Our gluttony has become an idol and we have excused it, believing that our abundance equates with God’s favor and blessings. 

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provisionfor the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).

My prayer is that everyone reading this will do some serious soul searching in prayer with God through the power of His Mighty Holy Spirit asking if we have been guilty of gluttony.  Because of God’s unwillingness that any should perish, He has graciously stopped the world from functioning ‘business as usual’ to allow all of us to reevaluate what we are doing for the Kingdom and to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.  Our walk with the Lord needs to be ‘full of faith’ — that means having total dependance upon Him.  If we are gluttonous spending all our income on ourselves, how can the Lord show us how to walk in faith?  Follow me!  That was His command to His disciples.  “So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:11).

Selah.

OCCUPY TILL I COME

OCCUPY TILL I COME

“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receivefor himself a kingdom, and to return.  And He called His ten servants,and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them,’Occupy till I come.'”(Luke 19:13)

Perhaps now that the US election is behind us we can turn our focus again to our most holy duties.  The motto of the Salvation Army is BLOOD and FIRE.  ‘Blood’ for the death of Jesus which saved Christians from the sin.  ‘Fire’ for the power of the Holy Spirit which helps believers live holy lives.  It was the Salvation Army that set up their churches in the worst areas of a city in order to fulfill their mission (the great commission) of their savior, Jesus Christ, who told us: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). 

The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, began his ministerial career in England in 1852, after abandoning the concept of the traditional church pulpit in favor of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ directly to the people.  Walking the streets of London, he preached to the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.  Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunkards were among his first converts, and soon those converts were also preaching and singing in the streets as living testimonies to the power of God. 

HOMELESS MAN.jpeg

The uniform that some individuals within the Army wear is not intended to make them look any better than anyone else.  The Salvation Army believes that it identifies the wearer as a professing Christian.  The wearer is a ‘servant of all’.  It is a visible invitation to others that are seeking help in spiritual and social matters; but foremost, the uniform reminds the wearer of the importance of their calling.

We don’t wear uniforms, but, perhaps we should.  Some of us have forgotten the reason we were saved by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Sure, we were saved because God loves us and does not want us to perish.  But, as the scripture above tells us in Luke 19:13, your Heavenly King expects you to ‘occupy till He comes.’ασχολούμαι – occupy, concern oneself.  When was the last time you turned your attention to the work of the Lord?  My guess is that it has been awhile.  By the way, the work of the Lord does not consist of getting your favorite candidate elected.  Jesus had nothing to do with earthly governments … His concern, as it should be ours, is Heavenly authority, Heavenly government, Christ only ruling in our hearts. 

If any reader needs help in how to occupy, please call us (the Hope and Helps Office), we will joyfully join with you in prayer to see what the Lord has for you to do.  

Selah. 

THE CASE FOR LOVE

THE CASE FOR LOVE

“Love one another.”(John 15:12)

All men were made in the image and likeness of God no matter what their nationality (Genesis 1:26).  “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the Earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should SEEK THE LORD, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from everyone of us;  for in Him we live and move and have our being: as certain also of your poets have said, For we are also His offspring” (Acts 17:26).  We all bear imago Dei (Latin for the “image of God”).  For this reason, all human beings have worth, God placing his image bearers above everything else in creation.      

The nation of Israel was commanded to treat everyone equal.”Thou shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him …” (Exodus 22:21).  “These things also belong to the wise.  It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment” (Proverbs 24:23).  The New Testament also warns us against not treating people equally:  “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts” (James 2:4).  

Sadly, now we are a nation divided instead of a nation united.  Everyone wants their ‘rights’ (whatever they have determined these rights to be) upheld.  Our nation’s lofty ideals of freedom, human dignity, human rights and respect did not develop because man thought it was a good idea.  These ideals came forth because we are made in the image of God.  

The 13th Chapter of the Book of Corinthians has often been called the ‘love chapter’ as the Apostle Paul begins to lay out all the ‘giftings’ he has received as a child of the Living God.  The clincher is verses 4-7 “Charity (love) suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love does not vaunt itself, it is not puffed up, it does not behave unseemingly, love does not seek its own way, it is not easily provoked, love thinks not evil, love rejoices not in sin, but rejoices in Truth, love bears allthings, believes all things, hopes for all things, and endures all things.  Love never fails …” 

As children of the Living God, we are to be an example to the LOST of God’s love;showing those who do not know God the compassion of Christ.
Romans 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.”  This love of God given to us is to be shed abroad (the message of Jesus Christ bringing salvation and hope to the World).  How can that be accomplished when we insist on ‘our own way’ and not God’s way?  Love one another!  

We are to take a stand for righteousness when we are face-to-face with sin.  But we are not to ‘argue’ our point to the Lost.  They have no conception of sin.  We are not the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin.  To reach the lost … show them the love of Christ!

Selah.       

WATCHING

WATCHING

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same,with thanksgiving.”(Colossians 4:2)

Prayer is our time to commune with God.  The veil has been lifted and we have access to the Holy One of Israel, the God of all Creation, the Alpha and Omega, the Lord of Lords and King of all Kings.  Allelujah!  The Word of God tells us to be watchful in our prayers.  Our prayers are very special to God’s heart and should not be entered into lightly.  

As we enter into prayer we need to do so in a spirit of watchfulness.  Keeping spiritually alert and vigilant — our focus is Our Father in Heaven and nothing else.

Albert Barnes Commentary Notes on Colossians 4:2 state that we are to watch [in prayer] with anticipation and a thankful heart.  Watch for favorable opportunities to pray.  Watch that your mind is in the right frame before you pray.  And, watch that you do not neglect to pray.  Our prayers should never be uttered with any disrespect, instead we should have a solemn attitude filled with the highest respect for God, who is our Creator.    
As we begin to enter into prayer we should turn our heart from other things (other thoughts) and focus on placing ourselves before our God, entering into communion (sharing intimate thoughts and feelings) with Him.   
Theologian John Gill tells us that we should watch in prayer against:  sleepiness of body, coldness and indifference of mind, all careless airs and negligent manners.  We should have:  intenseness of mind, application of thought, fervency of devotion and great affection towards God.  Making sure:  your heart is lifted up and put into His hands, according to His will, praying in sincerity of faith and fear.  Any prayer that is not prayed with exactness of intention is no prayer at all.“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).We are always to be in prayer and supplication (asking God humbly and earnestly), watching (with purpose), persevering (despite difficulties and delays in God’s answer) for the saints (born-again brothers and sisters-in-Christ).  Without prayer and supplication to our Father in Heaven,  many saints are floundering, being pursued by the enemy who is wearing them down.  Because of the pandemic many believers are isolated and without fellowship.  We never know what trials our brothers and sisters are personally experiencing.  Therefore, praying in the Spirit will bring you revelation as to what specifically to pray for on their behalf.  If you need to – make a list of believing brothers and sisters and pray for them daily.    “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer” (1st Peter 4:7).

Be ye sober!  Strive to have sound judgment, self-control and a sober-mind!  Prayer is part of our Christian duty.  Matthew Henry refers to prayer as being part of the nature of a Christian’s work.  “Prayer is high work and hard work which requires that our endeavours be serious and earnest.  All duties and services performed for God should aim at the glory of God as our chief end.”

Lord, I pray that today we begin an earnest work for your glory.  That we would pray for the saints, watching, listening for the voice of your Holy Spirit to guide and direct our prayers.  That we would not neglect this most holy duty but put aside time every day (if necessary, several times a day) to petition your help and guidance for our brothers and sisters.  Father, let this be our ministry to you.  Praying for the saints!  

Selah.      

WHISPER DOWN THE LANE

WHISPER DOWN THE LANE

“A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealth the matter.” (Proverbs 11:13)


When you were a child did you ever play the game “Whisper Down the Lane?”  Six or more kids would sit on the floor in a line or circle.  The first child would start by whispering a message into the ear of the child sitting next to them.  The second child would whisper the message into the ear of the third child, and so on.  By the time the last child heard the message it was totally distorted sounding nothing like the original message.  Today that same game might be called “Chinese Whispers” or “Telephone.”

When my mother was in her late eighties, she received from my sister an ipad.  I think it was an ipad.  Nevertheless, the device gave her access to the internet.  Someone then set her up on Facebook.  My mom, an accomplished typist, immediately began responding to family photos and messages that were posted.  My niece had a birthday party and her scrumptious chocolate Birthday Cake was uploaded.  My out-spoken Irish mother posted a comment: “Becky, you are too fat and should not be eating cake.”  Well, you can imagine the commotion that caused … 

In 1990 the World-wide web became a reality.  When the Church realized the temptations  that could arise from access to not only good but evil – RED FLAGS – were raised.   It was pointed out, and rightfully so, that the Devil is the power of the air.  “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).  Keep that in mind as you continue to read … the Devil is the power of the air !!! 

There is a small city in Macedonia called Vales that is getting rich from supplying the internet with material designed to create sensationalism.  Think of it as STAR MAGAZINE which at one time had a reputation for truly outlandish news articles on everything from alien abductions,  bigfoot sightings, babies born with seven heads (you get the idea).  Some tech-wise teens (hear this) teens found out they could make money by posting pro-Trump ‘stories’ during the last election that would get picked up by various newswires around the world.  But, it did not end there, enter the Dark Web.  Never having been or wanting to be on the DARK SIDE … fortunately, I have no idea on how to access this danger zone.  Filled with smut, the Dark Web birthed QAnon the originators of which are now filling their greedy pockets as they tell tall tales filled with sensationalist gossip. 

Today there are dark forces at work.  The lengths that non-believers (children of the Devil) will go ‘whispering down the lane’ to line their greedy pockets having no moral or ethical sense of responsibility for the lives that they are destroying with their lies has reached epic proportions and twisted perhaps even destroyed the righteousness given to us by God (Romans 3:22).  1st John 3:10 tells us – “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not do righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.”  

We have seen judgment upon judgment, rumor upon rumor, factless claims, lies, half-truths, distortions, and condemnations against people who are made in the image and likeness of God posted all over Facebook and on Twitter.  What is wrong with this picture?  It is not our place as believers to fight the battle that God has put into play here … OUR JOB IS TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THE LOST.   If you have been guilty of ‘whispering down the lane’ — please repent, ask God to forgive you and stop it!!!

Selah.

REDEEM THE TIME

REDEEM THE TIME

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
(Ephesians 5:16)


Years ago, Brother Paul was watching an afterschool basketball game at Sunrise Christian Academy on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas.  The players were little kids.  The spectators cheered and shouted as the little ones attempted to master the game.  All of a sudden, the gym went quiet as one little boy held the ball and seemed to waver ‘for several minutes’ as to what to do next.  Then a very loud voice broke the silence, “DO SOMETHING!” shouted the Coach.

“As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another,as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1st Peter 4:10) KJV. The NIV puts it this way, Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”  Whether spiritual or temporal, all gifts, everything we have is from God and is to be used to ‘serve’ Him and our fellow believers.  As we redeem the time, by using the gifts God has given us, we will be laying up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19).  This ‘laying up’ of treasures in Heaven is part of the process of establishing a good foundation against the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life” (1st Timothy 6:19).


Are we redeeming the time, doing the work of the Lord, or, are we squandering, mis-spending our time with vanities (worthless things)?  God has given each of us positions within His Kingdom (some refer to it as a calling).  He calls then He equips so that you will be successful in the position.  He equips us with every good thing so that we may accomplish His will (Hebrews 13:21); He gives us instructions within His Word so that we will be competent, equipped for every good work (2nd Timothy 3:16-17), He has called us to His own glory and excellence (2nd Peter 1:3), He has given us gifts to profit everyone (1st Corinthians 12), He equips the called (see Exodus 4:10-11 on Moses), and then He chooses the foolish to confound the wise (1st Corinthians 1:27). 

  
Do not neglect the time given to you.  Few of us think of the passing of time as any great matter; but actually time is very important to God, and how we spend it perhaps determines our eternity.  We think about time all the time.  What is our time worth?  Lost opportunities could be considered a loss of time.


The word ‘time’ in the greek has two meanings.  One chronos refers to chronological or sequential time; the other, kairos refers to a right, critical or opportune moment (a call to action)!  Our scripture above, in Ephesians, is speaking about a kairos moment.  Now is the time to take action while there is still time!  DO SOMETHING!  

At the conclusion of our time (on Earth) our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will call us to give an account, perhaps saying, “Well now, here is the end of your time; what have you accomplished for my Glory?”  Time is short.  We need to redeem the time.  Make decisions that will impact eternity.  Carefully walk in your position (calling) using God’s wisdom.  Use every opportunity to carry out your mission.  Distractions, persecution will come, but as we follow Jesus’ example, we will not let any of these things keep us from God’s will for our lives.   Amen and Amen!

Selah.

DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS

DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom,to another the word of knowledge, to another faith, to another the gifts of healingby the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles,to another prophecy,to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues;to another interpretation of tongues.”
(1st Corinthians 12:7-10)


Perhaps one of the more important gifts of the Holy Spirit needed by the Body of Christ today is discernment of spirits.  Without the ability to discern spirits we may find ourselves in a battle where we depend on our ‘flesh’ instead of ‘the Spirit of God’ within us.  If you are battling in the flesh you will lose.  

Everyday we are constantly bombarded with demonic spirits — they are everywhere.  Remember those who are not born-again may have demonic spirits either within them or influencing their every word and/or action(s).  
We are advised in scripture to live according to God in the spirit, to be sober (minded) and watchful with prayer.  In order to survive in these dark days we need God to give us the gift of discernment.  Yeshua in John 2:24-25 “… did not commit Himself unto them (those who believed only because of the miracles he did) because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man for He knew what was in man.”  Yeshua was always ‘aware’ in His spirit (Mark 2:8) and so should we also be ‘aware’ in our spirits with our dealings with all men.

“And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit[discerned] that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them,Why reason ye these things in  your hearts?”

We should not be so eager to believe that everything put forth (what we see and hear) is Truth.  Have you ever gotten an ‘uncomfortable’ feeling about a Christian preacher, teacher or musician?  Perhaps, you felt ‘uncomfortable’ around certain individuals.  Everything seems to be okay but your spirit (infused with the Holy Spirit) is warning you everything is not what it seems.  Everything hidden in darkness comes to the light eventually; and it could be that what you perceived in your spirit was willful sin in that individual.  The more authority you give to your own feelings and your own history of experiences with mankind — the further you will stray from being able to discern spirits.  WE MUST RELY ON THE HOLY SPIRIT!  That ‘still small voice’ living within us (1st Kings 19:11-13) that will prompt us when things are not right.

Psalm 119:66 is a prayer:  “Teach me good judgment and knowledge.” “Discernment is the ability to make discriminating judgments, to distinguish between, and recognize moral implications of, different situations and courses of action.  It includes the ability to ‘weigh up’ and assess the moral and spiritual status of individuals, groups and even movements.  Jesus urged us to be discerning and discriminating, lest we cast our pearls before pigs (Matthew 7:6).”   (From A Definition of Discernment by Ligonier Ministries.) 

THE IMPACT OF DISCERNMENT 

The ability to discern spirits protects us and keeps us from being deceived.  Discernment can also, with God’s grace, be an instrument of healing.  For example, discernment coupled with a Word of Knowledge.  Growth in discernment can free you from spiritual bondage.  Paramount to all biblical discernment is a love of and study of God’s Word.  Discernment will build up the Body of Christ when used correctly.

How do you get discernment?  First, you must be born-again.  Second, it is through the power or anointing of the Holy Spirit (i.e, baptism of the Spirit) that this ability is given to a believer.  Third, it is a special grace given as needed only by God’s sovereign will.  Fourth, usually an individual with discernment has a thorough understanding of God’s Word.  Fifth, and last, we know the true condition of our own hearts and through this humbleness of spirit God will use a man or woman giving them the gift of discernment of spirits. Discernment of spirits is a God-given resource that we need everyday.  Not that we want to ‘call out’ the demons or confront them (unless that is your ministry), but, remember we wrestle not with flesh and blood, so knowing what ‘spirit’ you are dealing with when in a confrontation or a ‘battle’ — either spiritual or manifesting in the physical world is very helpful.  You then have wisdom in knowing how to pray for that individual and you have understanding in where the attack(s) is originating from.

Ask the Lord to give you, through the power of His Holy Spirit, the gift of discernment.

Selah.    

LADY LIBERTY

LADY LIBERTY

“Thou shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him:

for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”(Exodus 22:21)

As I started pondering what the Lord would have me to say in this message, an eagle circled high overhead in the blue skies above our home.  The sun’s rays helped me identify him as I saw his white head and tail.  The eagle was selected as the National Bird of the USA  because of its fierce beauty, and strength; but it also represents the freedoms we have as a nation.  

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Another symbol of our nation is Lady Liberty (or the Statue of Liberty) in New York Harbor.  The bronze plaque at its base has a poem entitled “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, a daughter of Jewish immigrants.  Here is a portion of that poem:  Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command …with silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, thewretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

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Perhaps it was Emma Lazarus’ studies in the Old Testament that enlightened her to write these words, but, for sure, her words echo our Heavenly Father’s commands which call for just treatment of strangers (immigrants and aliens).   

“Thou shalt not vex a stranger, nor oppress him …” (Exodus 2:21)
The Law found in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (including the Ten Commandments) can be broken down into three categories:  Ceremonial, Civil and Moral. 

CEREMONIAL – We now know that many of the ceremonial laws (including the keeping of the Feasts) pointed to the Son of God and His future redemption (salvation) for all born-again believers.  The ceremonial laws called for the blood of animals to be sacrificed for yourself, others or for the entire nation of Israel.  God set up ceremonial laws as a way to approach Him for forgiveness of sins, worship, and to humbly submit to God’s Sovereignty over one’s life.  

CIVIL – These are laws that God gave man to guide his conduct.  The jewish people demonstrated these civil laws by example.  Without these civil laws as set forth in the Bible, which oversee private relations between citizens living together within a community, there would have been no guidelines on proper / righteous behavior.  We see these civil laws being enforced within the courts of our own nation.   

MORAL – Moral laws are direct commands from God (such as the Ten Commandments).  These moral laws reveal to us the nature and will of God (His Righteousness).  Today these laws still apply and are to be followed without exception by Christians.  Jesus, during his time on Earth, obeyed the moral laws of God the Father completely.


“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.  But the stranger that dwells with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself … I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

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Jesus made it clear in Matthew 5:17-20 that He did not come to abolish the Law.  “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  This statement from our Lord Jesus Christ is telling us that we are under obligation to keep parts of the Law.  Certainly not the ceremonial laws (as the sacrificing of bulls, lambs, goats and doves was done away with through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God), but we are to obey God’s civil and moral laws.

Which brings me to my point.  We have heard many believers speak in an unseemly manner regarding people of different races other than their own.  Some people within our nation have also developed what might be called an ‘alien phobia.’  Whether legal, illegal, or just visiting, the God of Heaven and Earth commanded in the Old Testament, seconded by His Son in the New, that we should care for the aliens (strangers) in our land.  (Matthew 25:44-45, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 13:16, James 2:14-17, Phillipians 2:4, 1st Peter 4:10, Philippians 4:19)  

“And the Levite, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest” (Deuteronomy 14:29).

The love of God in our hearts shed abroad, not hatred and variance, can bring about change in those who are Lost.  There is no excuse to say that things are different now.  The Word tells us that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  The same issues we face today were around during the time of Jesus.  

Brothers and Sisters — We have been called, chosen!  We are to be a peculiar people, separated from the world (and its ungodly wisdom), ambassadors representing the Kingdom of God.    Jesus-followers!  Many of us have fallen into Satan’s trap of thinking we are better than others.  We are not.  Jesus died on the Cross for all mankind, His blood was shed for everyone!

“For God so loved the world,that He gave His only begotten Son,that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”(John 3:16) 

Selah.