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Archive for March, 2017

Galatians 3:10-13: For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”.

LawisaCurse

Today many Christian people seem to live in two worlds. Not only the spiritual world and the earthly world, but the Old Covenant and New Covenant world. The problem with the Old and New Covenant combination is that we already know we cannot live a perfect life and keep every law God gave. We are told that trying to following the Law is living under a curse.

The Law was given to the Jews, yet we can see that is was used as a tutor and guide to show us that on our own we cannot measure up. We cannot live a life acceptable to God and the perfection He desires in our own strength. Righteousness does not come through the Law, and if it did then Christ died needlessly. Jesus came into this world born under the Law, and He lived and taught it for the first 33 years of His life. When He died the Old Covenant came to an end because Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Old Covenant. When He rose from the grave the New Covenant began, which is a covenant of grace.

By accepting the grace He provided we can live a life pleasing to God by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We now have fellowship with God through Christ and we are now counted as holy and righteous in His sight because of His work. The Law is no longer needed for those saved by grace. We are free because Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. We now live under the New Covenant, one that is a free gift provided to us by Christ. We now live by Christ’s commands to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love others as ourselves.

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Have you ever taken time to sit down and start talking about old memories with someone?

My wife and I spent the other evening doing just that. It is enjoyable sometimes to just talk and bring up old times from childhood. It is amazing the things that came to mind that we remembered from pre-kindergarten up through young adulthood and the present.

I can actually remember an event when a photographer came to our house and set up a big light and a chair in the corner of the room. I remember seeing it all from another angle in the room but was not sure why I remember it from that angle. Only after talking with my parents and telling them of the memory they told me that my dad was holding me while the photographer got the camera set up. They said there was a bright light against the wall focusing on the chair in the corner. It was a big surprise to me when they told me I was only six months old at the time yet I can vividly remember the scene in my head.

The brain we were blessed with sure is a remarkable member of the body. It is amazing the things you can remember. My wife and I talked about so many events over the evening from the earliest memories all the way up to the present.

We sat and talked for what seemed like twenty minutes but was actually over an hour. The time flew by and we both enjoyed talking and listening to each other discuss our childhood memories.

Communication

I truly think, for married couples especially, this is one way to grow closer together with those you love and trust. Opening yourself up more, sharing things you might not have shared with anyone before and having good honest communication helps build trust and respect for one another.

Some of the events were funny, others sad and some just down right embarrassing. My wife pointed out that all the events of the past make us who we are today. God takes the good, the bad and the ugly and uses it all to make us the person we are today. A person he can use to help others who may be going through similar events right now who need someone who can understand and provide encouragement.

Take some time and enjoy the memories of the past, realizing that the past is over and done but it made you what you are today. Then be ready to encourage someone who may be going through a tough time because of some of the choices they made and are feeling bad about. The bad choices can be used as stepping stones to much better things.

The funny thing was, after talking about all the memories of the past and remembering things from so long ago, when my wife asked me what I had for lunch at work a couple days ago….I could not remember. Can anyone relate?

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Growing up in the organized church, we were taught from a young age that the Holy Spirit came to reside within us once we accepted the grace of Christ.

Many times in the written word of God we are told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit lives within us and we have no need that any man teach us.

Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice, yet most of us were taught that the voice really means the words written in the bible.

We have heard it said that if it is not in the bible it is not of God. We are told God only speaks through the written word, yet there are so many interpretations, various doctrines and so many verses that were written to a specific person or group of persons. These writings were often for a specific time period that no longer relates directly to us except as an example to learn about the nature of God.

I feel so much has been lost over the many years from when the original writings were done. So many of the translations have changed the original meanings because of changes in times, word meanings and such. Without the Spirit bringing to life the words we read and through confirmation through his voice within, we are really left to our personal views and opinions of what others have told us the written word means.

The bible is not God and it is not a god. The bible was inspired by an infallible God yet written by very fallible men, men who were inspired yet wrote with their personal views and ways of writing. The bible is about people trying to find, follow and fellowship with God and clearly teaches us how to do that. The written word leads us to the Living Word, who is the Christ.

So many times it is mentioned that the Spirit now lives within us. Yet so often, even though we say it, we do not act like we really believe it. Time and time again the bible says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, the Spirit and the Kingdom are within you. And time and time again we seem to go right on thinking God is far away from us and all we can do is read from his word.

Sure, there are many people who say they speak from God and yet are nowhere close to being a godly example. It is easy to say God told me this or that, or say God told me to tell you something yet the person saying such things is only going on their personal feelings and interpretations. Anyone can say God told them this or that and expect us to do what they say, but we need to listen to the Spirit for ourselves and listen for the confirmation from within as to what is of God and what is not.

I believe if God says the Spirit lives within us and we can hear his voice, then it is something not to be taken lightly. As followers of Christ we can rely on the Spirit within us to teach us and guide us into his truth. We have to be listening and open to God to know his voice, but we can hear it and know it is from our Father. To say that we can only hear from God through the written word is to miss a more intimate fellowship with our Father.

Is the bible to be ignored? Are we to stop reading the written word and only follow what we feel is the voice of the Spirit. No, both the written word and the Living Word that lives within us are important, The written word is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Yet without the Living Word bringing those words to life, it is just a book that is good for teaching and learning. We need to be listening for the quiet voice of the Spirit of Christ who actually lives within us for truth and guidance. Sometimes he will speak directly in our spirits, sometimes he will speak through his written word.

Also remember that God is alive and his Spirit is within us. Do not think that He can only speak through one particular means. Just do not jump at every voice you hear, make sure it is the voice of His Spirit. His sheep hear his voice, which to me says we can hear and know it is from our Father.

Obviously this is not to say that you should immediately react to any thought that pops into your head. Although the bible says we have the mind of Christ we also have the mind of Jim, or Sam or Jane. We are still human and need to be sure we are hearing from the Spirit of Christ and not our natural spirit.

We also know that the Spirit can speak to one person one way and another person in a different way. Just because the Spirit is speaking to me does not mean he is telling you the same thing. Just because I hear the Spirit say something to me does not mean it is something that has to be announced to everyone. It may be that he is speaking to me for something I need to do or learn and it is not meant for others to hear.

We are told the Spirit lives within us and that his sheep hear his voice, so we know we can hear and know the voice of God. So many of us have the thought that God is way up in heaven somewhere and all we can do is read his word or listen to pastors to know what he wants us to do. The truth is his word says that he lives within us through the Spirit and he speaks to us through the Spirit.

My friend Michael Clark wrote about this also and said in his article: “Jesus is the Word of God! He speaks to those who are His sheep. They know His voice and will not follow the voices of strangers (read John Ch. 10). Yet, so many Christians have said to me, “How can I know when Jesus is speaking to me?” To many of them the answer is, “Unplug! You are listening to and reading too many teachers. Break this habit of heaping to yourself teachers who tickle your ears. Get alone with God for a few months until you start hearing His whispered voice. Talk with Him and let Him be your friend above all friends.” (https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/words-words-words-or-will-we-be-one/)

Just as we think of the church as a building with an organized program, it is so much more than that. The Church is a community of people daily following the Spirit and living within the kingdom of God during our life now. We also think of the word of God as a book, yet the true and living Word of God is so much more than that.

Jesus is the Living Word of God and we can hear the voice of the Spirit which is within us. We can hear his voice through the written word also, but keep in mind that God speaks in more ways than one.

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Growing up in the church I learned quickly that the Bible was the word of God and that God spoke to us through his word. Everything had go along with the Bible or it was not of God.BibleatJohn1-1

I often wondered how a book written by many different people over many years, and in a time period so different from our own could be inerrant and the only way God communicated.

My personal belief is that the written word of God, which we call the Bible is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, as mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16.

Yet while reading some of the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:21 to 44, we listen to Jesus as he speaks to the crowds. Many times he says “you have heard it said” then mentions a verse from the written word. Each time he follows this with “but I say unto you” and follows with his words of advice. To me this says that Jesus, who is the living, inerrant Word of God has final authority over any written word which we call the bible. And remember Jesus spoke these words before the New Testament of our Bible was even written.

We read in John 1:1, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

JesusWordofGod2Again in John 1:14 we read ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’. The written words of the Bible did not become flesh and dwell among us, only Jesus fulfilled that verse.

And in Revelation 19:13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

For me, I believe the Bible is inspired by God, written by men and useful for leading us to the living, inerrant Word of God who is Jesus.

I am certainly not saying we should not read the Bible, but we should not elevate the Bible to a position of authority which matches that of Jesus. We are not to worship the Bible, nor are we to disregard the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. He will guide us into all truth.

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After over fifty years in the organized religious church system my wife and I decided we had enough. Let me make clear what I am talking about when I say church (lower c). I am talking about a building, a religious organization with a pastor and board of elders in charge, a place for people to gather who are somewhat like-minded in their doctrine and beliefs.

There are many reasons why people leave the church system. People are hurt, abused, burned out and frustrated with the whole system.

People get hurt by being misunderstood or treated wrong by another church member. Something was said or done that made someone mad and the hurt feelings got the better of them and they decided to leave. Maybe a church leader did or said something that was misunderstood and hurt the feelings of another.

SpiritualAbuse

Many abuses can happen within the religious organization. Leaders of the church can manipulate people and take advantage due to their position and how the congregation places their pastor on a pedestal. Other members can say or do something that hurts the feelings of others. We have all heard of various cases of abuse among church leaders and congregants over the years. Fortunately this does not happen everywhere, but it does happen more than we want to admit.

People get burned out because they are so willing to work for the church and they are asked to do everything. Sometimes every night of the week they are busy with the work of the church, many times not getting to do anything they want to do and even at times neglecting their loved ones. Once they finally say no they are treated like someone fallen from grace.

Others get frustrated with the church politics, the cliques among members, the pastor’s sermon style, the worship music or some other specific reason they are no longer interested in attending a particular church. Most times they leave and go to another church thinking they will find what they are looking for at a different building yet under the same setup.

Sometimes we just get tired of the same thing week after week so we leave looking for a different church style, seeking a different preaching style and wanting to meet new people.

There are so many various reasons why we christians leave a particular church and move on. Yet for my wife and me none of the above reasons where why we left.

We were not hurt, abused or burned out. We were not mad or frustrated with any person or teaching. After church hopping for a while we found we were just as dissatisfied no matter where we attended.

For us we had a deep feeling of dissatisfaction with the basic concept of the modern-day church. We felt the organized system was not what God intended when He said He would build His Church. His Church (capital C) is not built with hands, brick, mortar, denominations or doctrines. His Church is made up of each of us who are followers of Christ. Each of us are kings and priests in the Kingdom of God and we each can have something to say and do that will be an encouragement to others.

Jesusandmanasone

To us Church is a community of believers living each day outside the walls of the religious systems and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Church is a community of people daily loving God and loving others as Jesus did while on earth. Jesus loved, cared for and respected people no matter what label they had attached to them.

The church organization is not a bad thing. Many people learn about God’s love there, many find fellowship and purpose there. It is a choice each of us has to make for ourselves.

For my wife and me, we had no more interest in attending a weekly meeting listening to one person do all the talking. We had no more interest in being stereotyped according to the doctrine of the church to which we belonged. We feel so much more freedom living for God each day outside the walls of religion, free to love people of all backgrounds and beliefs without being judged or condemned because we do so.

This is our decision. We do not say we are right and everyone else is wrong. It is a decision you have to make for yourself. The thing we all need to remember is whether we go to church or not, we as followers of Christ are all members of his Church. We need to stop condemning those who see things differently. Whether in church or out of church we are to love all people the way they are and even more so those who are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be known as followers of Christ by the love we have for one another.

If you go to church and are satisfied there, if you are learning about the love of our Father and serving others with your talents, do not seek to leave. If you are in church but are feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with the ways of the traditional church, leave and do not feel guilty about it. Either way let us not get into an ‘us versus them’ attitude because we see things differently.

We are each walking with God on the path He has for us. Not everyone will be on the same path. Keep seeking the guidance of the Spirit, love God and love others as you walk along your path each day.

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In our day and time do we still follow the Law of the Old Covenant? When does the Old Covenant end and the New Covenant begin?

We tend to forget that the Old Covenant does not end with Malachi and the New Covenant does not start with Matthew.

For the thirty-three years that Jesus walked the earth he was still under the Old Covenant, which required following all its rules and regulations.

itisfinished

The New Covenant began when Jesus was crucified. When he said ‘it is finished’ he was talking about the Law, the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection the New Covenant began and we are no longer required to live under the Law and the ways of the Old Covenant.

The old agreement was basically a tutor, a way God used to show humans that we were unable to live a perfect life on our own. It was a way to show us that we needed someone to do for us what we were unable to do. Once Jesus came and lived a perfect life on earth he was able to be the sacrifice that fulfilled the Law and save each of us from our sinful nature (Matthew 5:17).

Now that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, we are no longer required to try to live by the ten commandments and the rules and regulations of the Old Covenant (Galatians 5:1-6). So often we seem to forget that because of grace we now live by faith in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer just poor sinners saved by grace, although we were sinners and we are saved by grace. We are now the righteousness of God through Christ. God no longer calls us slaves but He calls us Sons (John 15:15). We are seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). This is not to say that we should go out and do whatever we want whether we think it is right or wrong (Galatians 5:13). We do have freedom in Christ to do what we choose, but we should follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We can go our own way and make choices apart from the Spirit, but there are consequences for our bad choices.

christisendoflaw

Today we choose to live a life pleasing to God because of love (Matthew 22:37-40). Godly love is the fulfillment of the Law (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:8 and 10, 1 John 3:23). We love God, we have been made righteous through Christ and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit who guides us, teaches us and gives us strength. We do what is pleasing to God because we choose to do so because we love Him, not out of obligation or because we are trying to fulfill a set of rules and Old Testament laws that we could not live up to anyway.

Rejoice in the fact that we no longer have to strive to fulfill the Law that no one could completely follow and obey. Be thankful for the grace provided through Christ and live each day showing the love of God to everyone along the way.

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