(Newest ones are last)
|Your Responsibility to Your Children|
|The Bible is Alive|
|Want to be Lifted Up?|
|You're in Charge|
|You Are the Work of God's Hand|
|God Will Teach You|
|What Do You Think?|
|God Deserves Respect|
|Hope for the Unsaved|
|What Causes Division?|
|It Isn't God Who Is Far Away|
|Our Covenants with God|
|The Missing Link|
|Destroy the Boxes of Understanding|
|Who Is Your Best Friend?|
|Are You Too Big for Your Britches?|
|How Important is Forgiveness?|
|Everything Is God's|
|He's Right Here!|
|Signs and Wonders|
|Money Makes the World Go Around|
|God's Word is Not Always Accepted|
|Rise to a Higher Level|
|Spirit vs. Word|
|Part 2: Bible Studies on Think on These Things|
Your decision to follow God directly affects your children. There are many ways that children learn from their parents. Some learning is the opposite as in, "My parents do that so I won't." Much learning is by watching and listening. I've seen parents shocked when they find out their child is swearing a blue streak at school. Then they realize the child learned by overhearing them swear at home.
If your child chooses not to believe in Jesus because of the choices you have made and ends up spending an eternity in hell, then you are responsible. The choices and decisions you make can be multi-generational and affect even your children's grandchildren.
She is relaxed and stress-free because she doesn't have to think about what to say. She doesn't have to choose her words carefully so as not to offend her guests. She doesn't have to wonder if the bathroom is staying clean for her guests. She doesn't have to be getting up and down for more warm water for tea. She is having all the fun of a real tea party without any of the work!
"O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou
made them all: the earth is full of thy riches."
|I have been becoming more and more aware of the things that God
has created just for us. There are so many many types of plants and animals.
Even the insects have a function and are fascinating.
Then there is the earth itself. Even the rocks have beauty in them! Some things we have to look at closely to see the beauty. God placed His fingerprints in everything He made.
He created the earth and everything in it for us. Not only is it functional, it is beautiful.
It is so easy to go through life taking everything around us for granted. I am making a point of spending the rest of my life looking for God's fingerprints everywhere I go.
These things are proof that God exists. Scientists still look for proof of some occurrence that formed the earth and are looking for the "missing link." I've found the missing link! It's God, Himself!
"By the which
will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all."
|I had a
shocking realization the other day. I've been ignoring Jesus. Hmmmm... this
is harder to explain than I thought it would be. What I've been doing is not
being continuously aware of why it is that I can go directly to God and
commune with Him. I guess I haven't actually been ignoring Him.
Jesus sacrificed His entire life in order to open the door that allows us to go directly to God. Jesus not only laid His life down, He allowed Himself to suffer in the worst way imaginable. He didn't suffer physically, He suffered mentally. He took all the sins of the world upon Himself. Just the thought of it made Him sweat blood.
I must not ever take for granted the special privilege I have to go directly to God.
This may sound silly in its simplicity, but it is real enough. It seems that it is possible to not give enough attention and praise to God as well as possible to not give enough attention and praise to Jesus. Sometimes one, sometimes another, and sometimes both! Then, does that mean it is possible to not give enough attention and praise to the Holy Spirit? I believe so. A good friend of mine was praising and thanking God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit spoke up and said, "What about me?"
As in all other areas, it is important that we keep an open mind toward God and be careful to listen to what He says about this.
"Thus saith the
LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come
concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."
Command God? Ask Him about things to come?
Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (Jn 14:12)
What???? PEOPLE, flesh and blood people, can do GREATER works than JESUS did?????
Jesus also said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matt 17:20)
What what what???? Moving VERY solid objects??? NOTHING shall be impossible???? NOTHING?????????
Why does the Bible say such ridiculously bizarre things? Unless, unless... do you think they might be true?
Why is is so hard to comprehend these scriptures and other scriptures similar to these? In order to believe them, in order to DO them we have to think outside the box. Which box? The box that has sides labeled:
GOD WON'T DO THIS!
GOD DOESN'T WANT TO DO THAT!
GOD WOULD NEVER DESIRE THIS!
GOD WILL ONLY GO THIS FAR!
The bottom of the box is labeled: GOD WILL ONLY DO THINGS I UNDERSTAND!
The top of the
box is labeled: IF I AM NOT COMFORTABLE WITH IT GOD WON'T DO IT!
call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but
I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I
have made known unto you."
a friend? The word friend comes from "to love." A friend loves you, supports
you, is interested in what you think and do, and so much more.
Let me tell you about my best friend. He is always there for me. He loves me more than I love myself. He goes where I go. He is there for me day in and day out.
My best friend knows I have a busy life. He wants to be included in my plans. His plans include me. He helps me prioritize my time, organize my life, remember things I've forgotten, and more. My best friend is God.
I am not a very good friend. I often take off and do things without Him. Well, He never leaves me but it seems like I am without Him since I am not purposely including Him. He still loves me and He forgives me when I realize what I have done.
God doesn't want us to be His servant, blindly and emotionlessly obeying Him. He wants us to obey Him out of love, out of friendship. The longer I am friends with someone the more I learn about them. That is His desire. He wants us to know more and more about Him. He wants us to get to know Him intimately because He is our best friend!!
The next verse says that we haven't chosen Him, He has chosen us. It is easy to choose someone for a friend that is powerful, knows everything, loves unconditionally, and can do anything. Choosing someone like that guarantees that we benefit from all that friend can do. Yet, to choose someone like me for a friend.... that I don't understand. There are a lot better, nicer, prettier, friendlier, more loving, more generous, etc. people in the world. Those are the things that people might consider when choosing a friend, but not God. God chooses us because He created us. He created us to be His friend!
He created everyone to be His friend, but how many people choose to make Him their friend? Have you chosen Him to be your best friend?
"Thus saith the
LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man
glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches."
doesn't matter what we think. It only matters what God thinks. Mankind, for
the most part, has gotten too big for his britches. How often do we exclude
God? I'd say 99.9999999999999999999% of the time!
Let's read on. Verse 24, "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." Look at what God enjoys... loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness! That's wonderful!!!
Let's read on. Verse 25, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised." WHAT? If He is big on loving kindness, what the heck is this talk about punishment???
Let's read on. Verse 26, "Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart." Are we included in this? Do we live in any of the utmost corners of the earth? Yes! Why are we to be punished? We are uncircumcised in the heart.
Let's find out what that means since circumcision wasn't designed for the heart but for another body part. (I'm not going into detail about the physical aspects of circumcision. You go look that up yourself.) To God, circumcision designates obedience and being set apart for Him. It is symbolic of cutting away things that He doesn't like. The "uncircumcised" people were those who weren't Jewish. Yet, God refers to the house of Israel (the Jews) as uncircumcised in their hearts. They turned away from Him. They chose to not obey Him and to not listen to Him.
How many people today choose to not obey and not listen to God? In verse 24 God wanted us to understand and know Him. He wants us to learn about Him and develop a personal relationship with Him. How can we do this? The Bible is full of information about God including things He has done, things He will do, things He thinks, and much much more. Prayer, conversation with God, is the extension of reading our Bibles. It takes what we learned in the Bible and makes it personal. God speaks to us and teaches us more and more and more.
There are an awful lot of people who think they know God and are obeying Him who would be surprised to hear that they are uncircumcised in their hearts. They are relying on their own wisdom and their own strengths instead of on God. I'm not just talking about Christians, I'm talking about churches as well. How many churches rely on their own wisdom? How are decisions made in churches? How are sermons picked in churches? How are teachers picked in churches? How are pastors picked in churches?
We must never rely on our own wisdom. Our wisdom will never allow us to see what the consequences of our actions will be. Only God knows what we need to be doing. Only God knows which decision is the right one. Let's not think too highly of ourselves. We are not as great as God and just can't make do without Him. Here are some scriptures to ponder:
Zeph 2:3 "Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger."
2Chron 31:21 "And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered."
Ps 14:2 "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God."
Eccl 8:17 "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it." (This was written by Solomon who was wiser than all men.)
"But if ye
forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
sounds a little harsh, doesn't it? This scripture follows right on the heels
of the Lord's Prayer where Jesus gave an example of how to pray.
I've talked to "knowledgeable" people (like pastors) who think this doesn't really mean what it says. Maybe God has some sub-rules that go along with this one that pertain to specifically what degree of forgiveness we need to have or the degree of how bad a trespass is for it to need forgiveness, but I doubt it. This is pretty specific.
In Chapter 18 of Matthew, Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Jesus replied, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." Right after that Jesus told a parable about forgiveness ending in, "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
It seems pretty clear that we must identify unforgiveness in ourselves and get those things forgiven. Keep in mind that God doesn't give us things to do that we are unable to do. He provides the tools that are necessary, but we often have to allow Him to show us how to use those tools.
I've been deeply wounded by people over the years. Some of those wounds were deliberate and the people who delivered those wounds are still totally unrepentant about them. How am I expected to forgive them? After all, in Luke 17:3 it says, "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him." It makes more sense if I apply this scripture to the ones in Matthew and Mark. To forgive someone who repents is much easier.
In order to forgive people that were unrepentant I had to make a decision that I needed to forgive them. Then I had to go to God and ask Him to help me. Once I let go of the thoughts of those people not deserving my forgiveness God was able to work what I felt was a miracle in me and I was able to forgive them. It really wasn't a miracle, it was God helping me to overcome the fleshly thought of all crimes deserve some sort of punishment. In other words, the people who hurt me still needed to be punished for what they did. I had to release those thoughts to God. After all, if they did deserve to be punished, who better to administer that punishment than God?
It was important that I let go of the hurts and the pain. The first step was deciding that I must do it. The second step was allowing God to have it. Then I had to walk away once it was done and not look back. I couldn't go back and pick up what I had put down or I would be back in the same boat of unforgiveness.
Actually, forgiving people is a constant thing. What about the people in the grocery store who aren't concerned that they are blocking your way? What about the people on the road who cut you off? What about the people who fill up your mailbox with spam? What about your spouse who is inconsiderate? What about your neighbor who lets their cat pee on your doors and windows? What about the teacher who is unfair to your child? The list goes on and on.
Don't sweep this admonition under the rug. Face it squarely and understand how important it must be to forgive people if God says He won't forgive us if we don't forgive them!
"The earth is
the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell
fullness of the earth would be everything in it. Man didn't import any
products from anywhere outside of the earth (for this study we won't mention
meteorites and such.) There is nothing here that isn't a result of God
creating man and the earth.
So, we own nothing that wasn't given to us by God. We should be thanking and praising Him for everything... every day!
Look at how so many people take pride in something they accomplish... something they accomplish using the talents and materials God has provided. Look at how many people are selfish with their material things and money... the material things and money that God provided through the talents and materials that He gave them.
The world, overall, contains self-centered people who are marking out their territory, their place in the world, thinking they deserve it because they earned it.
We owe all that we are, all that we have, and all that we are able to do to God. He has formed and chosen each of us individually and lovingly. We should never take anything for granted. Every breath we take is a gift from God. In reality, we own nothing. We can lay claim to nothing.
Let's examine everything in that light. Let's just spend a few days looking around and pondering this fact. If we didn't have a good grasp on it before then we should notice a change in our attitude and in our gratefulness to God.
"And I will pray
the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with
you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive,
because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he
dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
said,] "...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
"...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb
morning during my devotional time I had the scripture, "And then if any man
shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not,"
(Mark 13:21) pop into my head and it wouldn't leave.
I had been thinking about how some churches and conferences are experiencing the "move of the Spirit" and interesting manifestations from heaven. I've listened to tapes of conferences where the audience reacts to "fireballs" or lights zooming around the room. I've heard of church services where you can physically feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Have you heard of Toronto? Brownsville?
God used the scripture from Mark to point something out to me. He let me know that we don't have to go anywhere special for those things. The Holy Spirit is not only in one place and not present in another. The Holy Spirit is in us, doesn't leave us, and goes everywhere with us! Plus, God doesn't pick and choose where He is and isn't. It isn't necessary for us to get in our cars and drive to wherever God is "appearing." He isn't like a person who can only be in one place at a time.
Why, then, are most church services devoid of any feeling of God's presence? IT IS OUR OWN FAULT! If we were headed to a place like Toronto, what would we be expecting? When we go to our own church, what are we expecting? If you get enough people expecting nothing, then nothing you will probably get!
If the leader of a church doesn't seek God's agenda then perhaps God isn't invited to attend that church. If people go to church out of some sort of sense of obligation then they probably aren't interested in anything out of the ordinary, or out of this world happening. Most people want to control their surroundings and don't want God to do anything that is out of their control. They might even be scared of what God might do.
What can we do? We can start at square one. What is square one? WE ARE! I must begin with me. I must be continuously expecting God to do things where I am. I must be open minded to Him. I must be ready and willing to do and say whatever He wants. Unfortunately, we may be surrounded by non-God-seekers.
It may be that God holds back because people don't want Him. Unfortunately, we may never experience the exciting things that He is willing to do in a church because of the minds of the leaders of that church and the members of the congregation. (Hmmph... members of a church.... church membership.... membership classes.... official members.... where in the Bible do we see anything resembling that? Sorry, that's another study, another time.)
However, let us begin today in our quest to see miraculous happenings in our churches. Let's not fit in with the comfortable crowd... let's not be man pleasers... let's LET GO and LET GOD! Perhaps our example of being open to God will be contagious. You think?
Oh, by the way, I almost used "And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not" as the main scripture, but if you read before and after it you will see that it is in the context of the end times with the abomination of desolation, wrath of God, etc. I've always tried never to take a scripture out of context to try to make a point. However, God is the one that brought that scripture to my attention and applied it to our situation now. So, if God wants to use a scripture out of context, who am I to argue???
I wasn't going to use it as the main one, however, to keep anyone from getting agitated about the context.
"And I will
shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and
fire, and vapour of smoke."
Well, do you think that seeing Mars shining so big in the night sky is a
wonder in the heaven above? Scientists would say, "No," because they
say it is just physics.... the planets' orbits were "scheduled" to come
close every 60,000 years. It is just happenstance.
sense. However, WHO hung the planets in their orbits and caused the
orbits to be such that this would happen in the year 2003?
Over and over I hear "logical" explanations for things that happen. There are the "laws of nature" and the "laws of physics" that apply to things. I ask a another question, "Who created those particular 'laws' to do what they do?" Scientists are always looking for logical explanations for phenomena. They usually come up with some "logical" reason.
If we are closed-minded about things then how is God going to work through us? How is He going to use us? There is often a need for "signs and wonders." Jesus said in John 4:48, "Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." Today it is no different. There are people that need to see miraculous things to cause them to believe in God.
If I firmly believe that every time I let go of something that it will drop directly to the ground because of the "law of gravity" how can God use me to move a rock from one location to another without touching it? God created the earth. He gave us the "laws of nature" so there wouldn't be pandemonium and uncertainty.
This all goes a lot deeper than what I've given you so far. You have to take the general concept of what I've presented and come to grips with it yourself. We need to be open-minded to God and what He wants to do. We have to discard the things we have learned and re-learn them. The things that we have accepted as "always this way" and "it will never...." we need to allow to become "always this way unless God wants it differently."
We need to view the things of the earth differently. Mountains are NOT immoveable! God wants to use us to bring people to Him. God wants to use us to prove His existence. God wants to use us to usher in the things He has planned for the people of earth. Are you part of the "signs and wonders" team? What is your assignment? What portion of the Body of Christ are you? Not everything is as it seems.
"No man can serve two
masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he
will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and
motivates people to do what they do? What is important?
Here's a quiz:
How many times do we make compromises in what we know to be the right thing to do because of money?
I had a couple of things happen this week that made this topic jump into my head. The first was when, as I mentioned in the welcome message, the lawyer representing the people that are suing us is only doing it for the money. It really isn't anything personal, like he said.
He has seen all the evidence that shows my son wasn't doing anything wrong, yet he continues to pursue the lawsuits. He is still hoping that a jury will feel sorry for the widow and award her some money. He knows he is hurting our family and trying to get money that isn't deserved.
Then, I did something myself last night. My husband and I were discussing the bond measures on the ballet before we went to vote. Two were related to balancing the California state budget and trying to keep it balanced. I didn't feel that creating more debt in the form of bonds was a good idea to help get the state out of debt.
My husband was going to vote for it because there was a chance that the schools wouldn't receive much money if the bonds didn't pass because of the money crisis in the state. He is a teacher. His comment was that he wanted a raise. So, just to support my husband, I voted for it when my heart said to vote against it.
Today I regret my decision. Even if I had voted against they would have passed as they had a wide margin in favor of them. However, since my husband was concerned about the money I got concerned about the money. At the time I did it I was thinking I was supporting my husband. Now, looking back, I don't think I should have done it.
We have to be careful. Money is a strong factor in this day and age. Most of us don't grow our own food or make our own clothes. We have to have money to purchase those things. We get into a mindset that more money is better. Sometimes we even think that we will be happier if we had more money.
There are times when we have decisions to make regarding money. What would you do if you discovered that a store clerk gave you too much change? What would you do if a waiter forgot to include your dessert on your dinner total? What would you do if you found a gold necklace on the floor in a crowded room?
Compromise. It is easy to do and it is very very wrong.
We need to remember that God knows all our needs as well as all our wants. He is capable of taking care of our needs. He wants us to place more focus on Him than on money. He wants us to listen to that still, small voice that tells us what to do on everything.
"From that time many of his disciples went back, and
walked no more with him."
once in a while we need to remind ourselves of this scripture. There
will be times when people do not want to hear what God lays on our hearts to
share with them. We need to be aware that it is not our responsibility
to make sure that people understand what we are saying or accept what we are
saying. It is only our responsibility to say and do what God tells us
Some of Jesus' own disciples walked away from Him because they refused to accept what He was saying. God is in charge of the results after we do our part. There is even a possibility we can mess things up if we continue to pursue someone after we have delivered what God wanted us to deliver. It may be God has other people lined up to finish up with that person.
I have heard people tell me that they had people witness to them about Jesus in such a way that they didn't want to listen any more. A friend of mine had a pastor of a local church stand in her front yard and yell at her that she was going to hell. A beautician told me that she was getting closer to the Lord just because of listening to me witness about how God was blessing me. She thanked me for not trying to "sell" her on God. She had withdrawn from God because she felt people were trying to force Him on her.
It is important that we learn how to discern God's voice so we know what exactly to do and say. We won't be able to tell by people's reactions whether we succeeded in saying and doing the right things.
If you walk in God's will there is a good chance that you will become alienated from friends and/or family members. God will give you things to do and say that won't be accepted by some people. They may become uncomfortable around you and try to stay away from you. You may even find that you are no longer welcome in your own church.
Many churches and many people choose not to take something they disagree with or don't like to God and ask Him what He thinks about it. If God gives you something to share with someone and they get mad at you about it, then that probably means they didn't pray about it or ask God about it. Unfortunately, that may mean you lose a friend.
Remember, Jesus lost some disciples because they chose not to verify what He was saying. They had walked with Him and seen the miracles He performed. They weren't comfortable with what He was saying. Instead of staying and trying to see if those things were true, they walked away. There are a lot of people who don't like to face things that are hard for them to understand. It is easier to reject those things than to prove them.
There are also a lot of people who don't like to face things that they don't like. They may choose to think that it is you that is bringing it to them instead of God. If it is only you then they can reject it without feeling guilty. It's a lot easier to reject a person than it is to reject God.
We must keep in mind that if some people rejected what Jesus told them then we will probably also experience the same. We are in good company!!
"The hand of the LORD
was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down
in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass
by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley;
and, lo, they were very dry."
is what happens to us when we are separated from the Lord. He doesn't
separate Himself from us, we separate ourselves from Him. This also
applies to people who have never had a relationship with Him. We can
cause our children and our grandchildren to become as dry as old bones by
not teaching them about God and not exposing them to the Word. There
are many people in this world that have nothing to do with God. They
have a void that nothing else can fill. They are DRY!
Verses 5-8 say, "Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them."
This is what happens when people think they are good Christians. They know about God, they know about Jesus, and they know about the stories in the Bible. They probably go to church and they may even be active participants in their church. However, they are not spiritually in touch with God. They don't seek His will, they may not even read their Bibles. They are spiritually dead and don't even know it. The really sad thing is other people who are spiritually dead validate them. They all think everything is fine.
It isn't that God isn't available for them to develop a personal relationship, they just don't. Perhaps they don't know any better. Perhaps they are modeling their religious attitudes on how their parents were. Perhaps they felt a call from God and went into a church whose pastor is not spiritually alive. A lot of people model their own spiritual walk after their pastor or Sunday school teacher.
Have I depressed you yet? Here's the good part is in verses 13-14, "And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD."
God is speaking to each of us, including those who are dry bones and those who have no breath in them. Each person can rise to a higher level in their spiritual walk with the Lord. They all feel the pull from God because He desires a close relationship with them. It is a choice each person has to make, to listen or to ignore it.
He is always calling us to a higher level, all of us. There will be a day when each of us may have to answer the question, "Why didn't you answer My call?" It may go even further than that. Will we be asked why we didn't do the things He wanted us to do instead of do the things we just decided to do ourselves for Him? How many things are we doing for Him that He didn't ask us to do? Is there breath, given by Him, in the things we are doing for Him?
Maybe it is time to evaluate everything we do and hold them all up to Him. After all, it will only be the things that He has chosen for us to do and say that will make any difference. Everything else will just blow away.
"Not that we are
sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our
sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new
testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth,
but the spirit giveth life."
heard the last part of this scripture quoted over and over, all by itself.
"The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." How about you?
This week we are going to examine the entire verse as a whole.
The first part is ego-bashing. We shouldn't think of ourselves as being anything special because we aren't. Maybe we have some talents that cause us to appear to be better than other people. Perhaps we are admired by other people. This is telling us that we are not special except in God.
God gave us our talents and skills. We didn't create them ourselves. We didn't even create our own bodies. God did. We have no control over our talents and skills, either. Think about your most special talent. You have it in your mind? What would it take to cause it to be gone? An automobile accident? Alzheimer's Disease?
Why do we focus on our talents? Have you ever bragged about yours? Have you ever taken pride in yours? Did you ever think about the fact that they are not YOURS but God's? It is the world that wants to promote individuality and to lift you up over other people based on your abilities. Then, if something should happen to our abilities then the world turns away from us and goes on to the next person.
Our sufficiency is of God. We need to learn to not seek the approval of mankind, but of God. God doesn't determine our value by our talents. He doesn't love us any more or any less because of what we can or can't do. It is He that we should strive to please. It is His will for our lives and His intentions for our talents that we should seek.
God gifted us with our talents for a reason. It wasn't to make us more special than anyone else. It was so we could use them for Him. The next part of our scripture says that God made us able ministers of the New Testament. It is the things that are taught there that God wants us to be learning and doing.
Yet, it is the spirit, not the words, that is important. If we allow the spirit of what God wants to lead us then we are turning off our intellect and reasoning and allowing God to direct us.
One of the results of following the letter of the law instead of the spirit is denominations. The reason there are different denominations is that the scriptures are interpreted in different ways. People get legalistic about what they THINK a scripture means. How many denominations would disappear if everyone turned to God and handed Him all their ideas about what He wanted them to believe and refused to have any doctrines or ideas until God actually showed them what to believe?
Take a look at how many different ways Jesus healed people. He healed blind people by touching the eyes, spitting on the eyes and touching them twice, and by not touching them at all. Sometimes He said their faith made them whole and some times he forgave their sins. Why? Why didn't He always just touch or always just speak?
God is personal and knows all the tiniest details about everything. He knows what words and what actions are needful in each and every instance. He doesn't always do things the same. He has different portions of understanding about things for each person because He meets us right where we are. We each, when we are allowing ourselves to be taught by spiritual understanding rather than logical, will have somewhat different views than others who are learning in the same way. Should we argue our point? Should we work at making everyone else understand the things of God exactly as we do? Not unless God directs us to do that.
So, what am I saying? I am saying that God doesn't expect us all to have the same opinions about doctrinal and spiritual things. Sometimes there are reasons for people to have different beliefs about some things. There are times when our walk with Him would be hindered if we were locked in to a different understanding.
Everyone who reads the Bible has noticed that there are areas that are not easily understood. There are scriptures that support different doctrines. Look at the beliefs of different denominations that are based on scripture. Have you ever examined the scriptures that have to do with losing salvation and the security of salvation? Why do opposing views have solid scripture to back their viewpoints? (I put together a bunch of scriptures about the security of salvation here if you want to study it. There I also examine why Biblical things may be understood differently by different people.)
Don't read your Bible as if it were just a book. Books are full of letters and of words. The Bible appears to be full of letters and words but there is more. God poured spirit into the Bible. There is something alive there. Don't read it with your intellect. Allow God to speak through the verses. Don't apply things you already know to what you are reading. Get fresh revelation straight from God!
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