Monthly Archives: September 2012

I, II, III John

The three letters of John toward the end of the Bible are rich encouragement to the believer. The letters are about fellowship with the Father, Jesus Christ and each other. The Free On-Line Dictionary defines ‘fellowship’ as:

1. a. The condition of sharing similar interests, ideals, or experiences, as by reason of profession, religion, or nationality
b. The companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms.
2. A close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests.
3. Friendship; comradeship.

John’s letters are addressed to Christians, not pagans seeking salvation. He makes this quite clear in
I John 2:21:

21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

When reading all three letters, it is important to keep who this is addressed to in mind.We can be a son of God and be out of fellowship with Him. God wants to have a vital spiritual relationship with us. in 1:3-4 it says:

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

Our joy is to be full! It is one thing to say we are Christian, but it is quite another thing to experience the great pleasure that comes with having an active relationship with God. Throughout these letters, fellowship is the big topic.

In I John I and II, the word ‘abide’ is used over and over (actually 26 times). It is an interesting study and substantiates the point of John’s letters. ‘To abide’ in something means to continue in, to stay in or to remain at. Studying God’s word enables a person to reach for the ‘full joy’ of fellowship. It is a continuing process. We remain at it. An appleseed never produced an apple without first producing roots, stems and leaves. It takes time and staying at it. We produce fruit in just the same way. The fruit is a result of our continuing relationship with God.

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The Yoke’s On You

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Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

These words of Jesus Christ are beautiful!  Somehow I saw the ‘yoke’ thing as something hard. The ‘learn of me’ part really got me to really think through these verses.

A ‘yoke’ is a bar with two loops hanging down. It was used to bind two oxen together to plow a field. Often farmers would hook up a seasoned ox with a young ox to be trained. That’s where the ‘learn of me’ fits in. Jesus Christ said he was meek (not over-bearing) and lowly (humble). He’s a good kind of trainer and one that brings rest! It is a great picture to carry around in our minds as we go about our day!

The kind of religion the pharisees represented had a lot to do with emphasis on works and the law.  Galatians 5:1 mentions this yoke of bondage.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage

Jesus Christ narrowed the list to two things: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. In addition, we have the help of the gift of holy spirit. Our work is easy and light.

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I Corinthians 12, 13, 14 Gift of Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12 – Describes the operation of the gift of holy spirit

1 Corinthians 13 – L♥ve of G♥d that has been shed abroad in our ♥♥

1 Corinthians 14 –  Order and respect at gatherings of believing people

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Philippians 1:15-18 – Christ!

Paul had a great attitude, even when he was imprisoned in Rome. He wrote several important epistles from Rome. In Philippians 1, there is a great section that shows his heart.

Philippians 1:15-18  Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

When someone teaches the truth about Christ regardless of motive, Christ is preached. Two human elements are involved in instruction: the teacher and the student.  Because of the spiritual new nature that resides in a person who loves God, there should  be profit to both teacher and student.  However, if other motives dominate the teacher, the teacher will not himself profit like he should, but the student could still certainly profit if it is the word of God. Reversing the situation, the teacher could teach God’s word out of a pure heart and the student could have other motives. In this situation the teacher would profit and the student wouldn’t.  This is an important point because God works through and with whomever he can to communicate His Word.  There are many teachers and students and we all are both, but in either function we are responsible for our own actions and heart.

Paul was blessed when people talked about what Jesus Christ accomplished. Many people are impressed by famous degrees, great names and organizations. I have read tons of books on religion throughout my life, but it is the name of Jesus Christ that really brings my heart into communion with God. Paul’s life was changed when he met Jesus Christ, so has mine.

There is no one organization that has the corner on truth. There are some 38,000 Christian denominations reported today and they don’t all agree. What we do have is the ‘head’ Jesus Christ, the word of God and the gift of holy spirit. When one confesses Jesus as Lord, he becomes a part of the body of Christ and when the body is united with the head everyone involved profits! This is how the true church is supposed to work.

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September 11, 2012 · 7:12 am

Ephesians 6:13-15

Life is challenging, but God has provided the way for us to stand despite challenges. Ephesians 6 is full of great learning to be tapped. It is pretty obvious everything on earth is not all peachy. Ephesians 6:13-15 has some sound advice:

Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 

First, having one’s mind wrapped in truth brings great freedom. All contests start in the mind. When truth inhabits the mind, endless doubts and fears are settled. Indecision, worry, endless questions do not bring strength to our hearts, they undermine it. We get truth from God’s word and God’s word has all of life’s answers.

Second, having the protection of righteousness keeps the pipeline open for God’s perfect solution. Many Christians know a lot of truth but without righteousness, it is ineffectively applied. Righteous is given to us because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  We didn’t earn it, we just accept Jesus Christ as Lord and believe that he was raised up by God for our wholeness. It’s a tall order because man wants to fix himself and feels condemnation when he fails. We don’t have to feel condemned, that’s been done away with. We just need to believe what’s been provided and be thankful for the spirit of God that has been given to us. We have access to God!

If we have the truth and we boldly believe in God’s righteousness in our lives, we have preparedness that springs forth from true peace, the third endowment. Peace promotes clarity and timeliness. We are resilient to the bumps and unevenness on the path of life.

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Did God Really Say That?

Adam and Eve had it all: paradise and a wonderful relationship with a loving Father. So why did they mess up?  It all boiled down to a question: “Did God really say that?” The same thing is true today and that question has been the same stumbling block throughout the entire history of human existence.

If we look at history starting with the garden of Eden, this question has continued to rise front and center in all cultures and societies.  Cain’s offering to God from the fruit of the ground when God had said the ground was cursed is another example of someone questioning what God said.

Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

There are plenty of examples throughout the Bible and beyond all through history. That question surrounds us everyday on TV, in newspapers, in books, magazines and from other sources.

God gave us two ears and two eyes, two nostrils, two hands, but only one mouth.  Hearing, observation, and even the sense of smell and touch are abilities for receiving information. We also have been given spiritual abilities. God has given us every opportunity to know Him. Man’s problem is not his equipment. His problem comes with what he listens to. Eve listened to God’s opponent. Every human being has the right to listen to whomever he or she wants. Free-will choice is a gift of God.

Just type in the word ‘God’ on a Google search. The results would be very confusing with all the many different beliefs. Study the Crusades, religious wars, and councils (start with the Council of Jerusalem in the book of Acts and  read about some of many councils that came after the Bible was written) to see the ‘Did God really say?’ question pop up over and over. I really struggled with who to believe, what to believe or what was actually true. What I finally decided after just simply reading the Bible for myself, was that it is very simple to see God’s love and that God is bigger than that question. God provided us with so much in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have known and read many teachers of the gospel and have come to the conclusion that there isn’t any one person or organization that really has a monopoly on truth both doctrinally and practically. But God, who is spirit, does for us just as he did in Jesus Christ. This same spirit that was in Jesus Christ is in us and communicates to us. We can have the truth!

Look at the words Jesus Christ spoke in John 16:13-15:

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

When we read God’s word believing for understanding, the spirit of God can help us. I can learn from other people, but the assurance and confidence in the truth comes from a prayerful inner heart.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

When the “Did God really say?” question arises don’t give up on the Bible. Read it and refuse to be anxious. The answers will be coming.

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