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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Day 1 Praying for Revival

Day 1 Praying for Revival

The Prayer that God Heard

            A generation had passed since the promise of God came to King David that his son Solomon would build God’s Temple. With years of anticipation the people of God’s choosing, Israel, were gathered at the city of God’s choosing, Jerusalem, with the king of God’s choosing, Solomon, to celebrate the completion of the place of God’s choosing, the Temple. A place God said in II Chronicles 7:16, “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”

Great sacrifices were given during this dedication that lasted twenty-four days with 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep offered up to God. God showed up and consumed the first of the offerings in one of the most spectacular demonstrations of God’s glory seen in the entirety of God’s Word. Although God accepted this phenomenal offering, the offering is not what captured God’s heart. God honored the prayer that was offered up as a sacrifice on that day. At the conclusion of the prayer, God’s Shekinah Glory, the manifest presence of God, filled the Temple.

God told Solomon after the completion of the dedication, “I have heard your prayer.” (II Chronicles 7:12). In this chapter we will examine this prayer and ask ourselves: “What’s so special about this prayer?” Many people have told me through the years, “I don’t know how to pray”. Even the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, in Luke 11:1.  For this reason we search the scriptures to discover prayers that were offered up to God, particularly the prayers that God honors. That being said, these prayers offered up to God are not magic formulas or things we simply quote to conjure up the presence of God. They are tools to teach us what touches the heart of God so we too can pray with confidence that God hears our prayer.

God honors the attitude of prayer more than the words or actions themselves. God began to explain to Solomon that if Israel wanted to see the continual anointing of His hand upon them, they must do things His way. God told them to pay attention to the signs of His presence; and when they saw the evidence of His blessings and provisions being removed, He gave not only the greatest formula for revival but also the only formula for revival. God told Solomon in II Chronicles 7:14, that if “My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Solomon’s prayer that day resulted in one of the most magnificent manifestations of God found in all the Word of God and set in motion the hand of God’s blessing falling on the nation of Israel for years to come as they sought the face of God. As we examine Solomon’s prayer, the prayer that God heard, we realize that everything God said He required for His hand of blessing to be upon His people in II Chronicles 7:14 is found within Solomon’s prayer. I believe that not only was God giving a formula for revival, but He was also giving His approval of Solomon’s prayer. As we look at the prayer that God heard, we will see II Chronicles 7:14 demonstrated in Solomon not only through his words but also through his actions and attitude.

Day 1 Prayer Guide

  • Ask God to reveal any sins or mindsets that would prevent Him from hearing your prayers.
  • Repent of any such hindrances and ask for God’s forgiveness.
  • Ask God to remove any doubts and keep you focused on Him.
  • Seek the Holy Spirit to consume you during this time to lead you. Be obedient to Him.
  • Spend some time praising God for the fact that He is able. Quote some scriptures or some of His characteristics to Him in praise.
  • Pray that the people of God will repent of sins and mindsets that dishonor and hinder Him.
  • Pray for the people of God that they would see the need for revival and begin to seek God for it.
  • Pray that the people of God would have a desire and stand in anticipation for God to pour out the fires of revival upon churches and send a great awakening in our land.
  • Pray that God’s people will seek the heart of God and desire His will and not their own.
  • Pray that God’s people will align themselves with Him that He will hear their prayers.
  • Ask God to align His people and prepare them for a mighty revival and a great awakening.
  • Ask God to rise up leaders like Solomon that will lead the people for God’s glory.
  • Pray specifically for revival in your church. Pray for your pastor and church leaders.
  • Pray for a great awakening in your community. Name off streets and neighborhoods.
  • Make a list of individuals who are not saved and begin petitioning God for their salvation.
  • Pray for repentance of sin and a great awakening in our nation.
  • Thank God for hearing you and thank Him in advance for answering these petitions.
 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Reclaiming the Land Through 40 Days of Prayer

Reclaiming the Land Through 40 Days of Prayer

I am leading my church through a 40 day time of prayer and fasting which starts tomorrow, 2/18/15. It’s purpose is to seek the face of God for revival in the church and a great awakening in our land. Throughout the 40 days they will receive a daily bible study along with a prayer guide. I will begin posting the bible studies and prayer guide tomorrow and would love for others to join us. This is the introduction.

Introduction

For the past several years, God has given me a burden to write this study. He has given me a burden for seeing revival in our land and in our time, which is the purpose of this study. Not a week of meetings that soon is forgotten or isolated movements that soon fade, but a mighty moving of God’s powerful hand that spreads throughout the land capturing the glory of His splendor. As I read through the Word of God and church history, I can come to no other conclusion than the fact that He is able, He is more than able. We will also see the clear biblical truths unfold that He is also willing.
Through my studies, I am fully convinced that God desires to move mightily upon the land. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” God wants His glory to be seen. So what is the problem you might ask? We are. We have become so obsessed with “us” that we have not allowed God to be seen through us. We glory in the works and wisdom of man rather than standing in awe of the greatness of God. God’s heart is that His glory is seen by the world through us. However, we must get “us” out of the way.
In this study we will take a close look at II Chronicles 7:14 along with its biblical context. God set apart King Solomon to be the man who would build His temple. God had provided Solomon with the wisdom and the wealth to build a phenomenal house in which the very presence of God would rest. In II Chronicles 6 the nation of Israel gathered together in the outer court of the temple for a dedication service. Solomon prayed asking for God’s hand of blessing and guidance to come upon them. In chapter seven we see the Shekinah Glory of God fall down on the temple and consume the offering.
When the glory of God fell, the priests were not even able to enter the temple. They could not fulfill their priestly duties-duties that God had called them to, equipped them for, and anointed them for. They could not do the very thing that God had called them to do because God showed up and said, “I will take it from here”.
That is true revival. That is what I am longing for and what I pray you are longing for as well: God’s showing up in such a way that man has to simply get out of the way; God’s moving in such a way that everyone, beyond a shadow of doubt, knows this is a movement of a mighty God; and God’s moving so mightily that no man can share in His glory because it is all directed to Him. I am seeking true revival where God moves in such a way that the fires of revival fall from heaven consuming us in His glory and purifying us in His presence. An undeniable Spirit-led awakening that transforms the spiritual landscape for His glory is what I am longing for.
Volumes of books could be written about the problems our churches are facing. Even the most spiritually blind can see them. However, that is not the purpose of this study. This study is about seeking the solution. God is our solution. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The facts are overwhelmingly clear that the church of today is in desperate need of revival. God came to Solomon by night after the temple was dedicated and gave to Solomon not just the greatest formula for revival but the only formula for revival. He said to Solomon in II Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Jesus said to the church in Matthew 16:19, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Jesus has given the power and authority to the church to unleash the endless riches of heaven upon this earth. However, we must do it God’s way. He has also given us the power to bind heaven upon this earth. We do that by operating in our own power and authority. We must understand that God doesn’t need us; He simply chooses to work through us. However, we desperately need Him. Jesus said in John 15:5, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Therefore, if nothing is being done, it is due to the fact that it is being done apart from Jesus.
The question for today is not what should be done if we see spiritual drought. We are seeing it! However, God has given us the answer. We must recognize who we are and whose we are. We must humble ourselves before a mighty God, call upon Him, seek His face, and turn from the things that bring dishonor to His Holy presence. Then, and only then, will we align ourselves to receive the abundant blessings that will flow through us and into this world where God then would receive all glory, honor, and praise. A few years back the contemporary Christian rock group Casting Crowns asked in song with this text of scripture in mind, “What if His people prayed?” WOW! Think of the results. What if His people prayed? What if His people who are called by His holy name humbled themselves before His majesty? What if His people who are called by His name turned from their wicked ways that dishonor Him and trusted in Him in holiness for His honor? What if His people who are called by His name were satisfied with nothing but His glorious presence and began to seek His face? What if?
We must also keep in mind that we did not get in this spiritual drought overnight. God can, if He so chooses send down revival fire upon this land at this very moment that would spread like wildfire near and far consuming all wickedness and purifying it for His purpose. However, we must understand that this is not just some seven-step plan that we do A, B, and C and 1, 2, and 3 then abracadabra alakazam; revival has come. God could put us through a testing period to examine whether we are just seeking the benefits of Him or if we are truly seeking Him. We must ask ourselves as well if we would faithfully serve Him even if we never saw a single result. Many have. God does not ask us for results. His simple request of us is obedience. The results are up to Him.
Jesus also warns us in Matthew 16:4, “an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” This study is not about being a sign seeker it is about being a God seeker. I have no doubt signs will follow but only if our hearts are seeking God and not simply seeking the manifestation of God. Remember that the righteous walk by faith and not by sight. We see in the book of Acts that God started with a small group of one hundred and twenty ordinary men that were in an upper room prayerfully waiting on His power. When the power of God fell, revival broke out and the gospel spread like wildfire. Within one hundred years, the gospel had spread across the whole world. God is able; however, we must wait on Him, believe on Him, seek Him, and pray. What if His people prayed?
Although the need for revival in our land is abundantly clear I also know that there are many Christians who are on fire for the Lord with a heart to see God sweep a mighty revival across the land. I am also fully aware that there are many churches that God is using in extraordinary ways to reach their communities and the world for Christ.
Again this study is not about finger pointing or fussing about our spiritual state. It is about seeing the church of the Lord Jesus Christ as a whole live up to its full potential in the power and authority that God has granted, so we will join forces and storm the gates of hell raising up the banner of victory that will give glory and honor to The Lord Jesus Christ. This cannot be accomplished through my agenda; nor can it be accomplished by your agenda or anyone else’s. This can only be accomplished through us coming into agreement, and getting on board with God’s agenda. We must surrender to His will, submit to His way, and trust in His power. Let’s answer the question: What if!

Definitions:
Revival: Revival is a restoration to life. Only people who are saved and churches can experience revival. Revival is a restoration to a right relationship with God that releases the power and authority of God upon the church or saved individual. The lost cannot be revived since they are dead in their sins.
Great Awakening: An awakening is the moving of God upon the lost awakening them, or making them aware, of their sin and hostility towards God causing them to enter into repentance and salvation. A great awakening is God moving in such a way on the masses.
The People of God: In the prayer guides you will be asked to pray for the people of God. The people of God are Christians. While praying for the people of God keep in mind that you are in that number therefore, you will be praying for yourself as well.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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We Know That we Have Passed Out of Death Into Life

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” I John 3:14 NASB

As we have already seen love is one of the “by this we know” evidences of genuine salvation. Love is not the means of passing out of life into death but an evidence of going from life to death. The one who does not love abides in death. We clearly see in our world today those who claim to act on behalf of God but act out of hate rather than love. Their domain is death, which is seen clearly in their lack of love and heart of hate. The one who is truly living for God has passed out of death into life and as a result has love.

The bible speaks of three types of death, spiritual death, physical death, and the second death which is eternal death. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” and again in Colossians 2:13, “you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” Paul wasn’t talking to people who were physically dead, they were spiritually dead.

Sin separates us from God. God’s heart is to have a relationship with us. However, sin prevents us from having a relationship with Him. Separation from God is spiritual death. For this reason Jesus died for us so our sins can be forgiven and we would no longer be spiritual dead but alive in Christ and through Christ. Romans 6:23 not only tells us that the wages of sin is death but also says that the free gift of God is eternal life. Accepting the sacrificial atonement of Christ cleanses us from our sins and reconciles us into a right relationship with God.

The bible is clear-all have sinned. Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;” Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God;” I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us;” I John 1:10, If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (God) a liar and His word is not in us.”

Since all have sinned, all stand in need of salvation through the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross. Apart from salvation they abide in death. Because of the sacrifice Jesus paid the bible says in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” As we see clearly that all have sinned we see just as clearly that the offer of salvation is for all. Romans 10:13 says, “For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

The sacrifice Jesus paid through the shedding of His blood made it possible for Christ to be our atoning sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption of sins.” I peter 3:18 says, “Christ also died for sins once for all,” and Romans 6:10 says, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all.” The moment we confess our sins and by faith accept Jesus work on the cross God saves us. As a sign and seal of our salvation God gives to us His Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 6:63 “the Spirit gives life.” When we are forgiven of our sin through the sacrifice of Christ we stand in right relationship with God. He then gives us His Spirit which gives us life. We then “have passed out of death into life.”

Romans 8:9-11 says of those who have passed out of death into life, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The assurance of scripture to those who are truly saved is that they have, past tense, and at the moment of salvation, passed out of death into life.

1jesus_on_cross

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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We Know we will be Like Christ

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” I John 3:2 NASB

Through the first coming of Christ many of the mysteries of God were revealed. They have been revealed to those who are now in the light. When the true light came, Jesus, His light drove away the shadows of the Old Testament unveiling Himself for all those who choose to walk in Him. Although He has revealed Himself, allowing us to become Children of God, there are still things we do not know. As Christians, we walk by faith and not by sight allowing the Word of God to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. By faith, we walk in the light knowing God will make straight our paths and lead us down the paths of righteousness.

Referring to the second coming of Christ, “when He appears,” John states, “It has not appeared as yet what we will be.” In the midst of Paul correcting the Church of Corinth over misuses of spiritual gifts he said in I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” In verse 9-10 he said, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

What is the “perfect” that is to come that will make us know just as we are fully known? Some would suggest that the “perfect” is the completion of the New Testament. I agree that through the Word of God we now know everything God wants us to know. But, I have one question. When is Jesus coming back? We don’t know do we. Obviously, we do not yet know just as we are full known. I believe the “perfect” can only be the person of Jesus Christ. When we stand face to face with Christ, we will know just as we are fully known.

John said, “when He appears, we will be like Him.” Wow, what an amazing promise. How is Jesus? He is perfect. He is perfect in every way and so shall we. He isn’t just perfect in spirit and character, He is also perfect in body. When He rose from the grave He rose with a resurrected and glorified body that would never know death, pain, sickness, nor decay. He is the first fruits of the resurrection and just as He is, so shall we be. Remember though, Jesus is Lord and is coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Then, will be submissive to His Lordship just as we are today. Nevertheless, we will be like Him. He is perfect, and because of Him, we will be spotless, unblemished, and perfect in every way with a resurrected and glorified body.

John has shared this promise to those who know that they know Jesus to remind them that eternal life is not something to be feared. In fact, we should long for it. Even so Lord come! Please share.

daisy_5641c

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The Assuring Promises to the One Who Knows

I John is all about assurance. We have looked at seven statements from John that assures the believer of what true Christianity looks like. In each of these statements John said, “by this we know.” By this we know that we truly walk in the light if the by this we know statements are evident in our lives. They are assuring evidences that we are in Christ and He is in us. Again, these are not the means to salvation, but the evidence of salvation.

As John’s heart was to assure the believer of their salvation that they may know they have eternal life, he was also assuring them of the promises and gifts we have as Children of God who walk in the light; those who know. All seven “by this we know” statements were to assure the hearer of their salvation. Seven other times in I John he simply declared “we know.” Each “we know” statement was to assure the hearer, who knows he has eternal life, of the rewards and promises we have because of our faith in Christ who is the atoning sacrifice of our sin and our advocate before the Father. Some of these promises are immediately received at the moment of salvation while others will be received in the future.

These seven assuring gifts and promises to the believer are:

  • We know we will be like Christ. I John 3:2
  • We know that we have passed out of death into life. I John 3:14
  • We know we are of the truth. I John 3:19-21
  • We know God hears us and will answer us. I John 5:14-15
  • We know we have overcome sin. I John 5:18
  • We know that we are of God. I John 5:19
  • We know that we have eternal life. I John 5:20

We now will change our focus from looking at the assurance of salvation to looking at the assuring promises of those who know they have salvation. If you know that you truly are a Christian these promises are for you.

weknow1

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Loves the Brethren

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.” I John 5:2

John made it abundantly clear that true Christians will love their brethren. He said in I John 3:14, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” He said again in I John 4:20, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” A third time in I John 5:1 he said, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”

Who is the brethren? It is the church. The church is the ecclesia which is a Greek word meaning assembly. It is the body of assembled believers that make up the church. It isn’t a building, an address, or a piece of property. It is the brethren, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. To say that we love the brethren is to say that we love the church, the assembly of brothers and sisters in Christ. To say that we do not love the church is to say that we don’t love the brethren.

One of the clear tests of whether or not one is a true Christian is whether or not he loves the brethren. When one is saved they are transformed from death to life, from flesh to spirit, from wrath to godliness. The one who is saved receives the Holy Spirit which then transforms them giving them the divine nature of God. God’s nature is one of love. I John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Does this mean we always have to like what our brothers and sisters do? Of course not. It does mean that we have to love them regardless of what they do. The love of God is able to love the most unlovable. All too often Christians and churches do things that aren’t Christ like. God still loves us; and we too need to love our brethren. They are our family in Christ. There are times my children do things that I am displeased with. I still love them. I displeased my parents on many occasions. They still loved me. Families love despite the failures and the church is our spiritual family. There are times churched people act mean and cruel. This don’t represent the nature of Christ but do we then stop loving them? Of course not. True love isn’t given to those who give love in return. That is fleshly and selfish. Jesus loved us even while on the cross. What worse can anyone do to us than what our sins did to Jesus?

Loving the brethren is directly connected to keeping God’s commandments.  John said in I John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” Remember, Jesus told us what His commands are in Matthew 22:36-38, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If we are truly saved we will love the Lord and love other people without this love being a burdensome tedious task. If it is burdensome it is not true love and the true nature of God is not at work in our lives. The test of love is not about love in and of itself. It is about whether or not the divine nature of God is at work in one’s life being manifest through the act of love. If we are walking in the light as God is in the light the love of God will be manifest within our lives as an evidence of our salvation. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).

Love-One-Another

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Walks in the Spirit

The True Christian Walks in the Spirit

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” I John 4:13 NASB

In this, “by this we know, statement John is teaching, if we are in Christ His Spirit is in us. In John 14:16 Jesus began teaching His disciples about the Holy Spirit. He said in John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” Jesus closed this verse with a very interesting statement. He said that the Spirit abides with you now but one day will be in you. Prior to Pentecost they disciples, as well as the folks in the Old Testament, knew the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus said a day is coming when the Holy Spirit will be in you.

When Jesus began to conclude His teachings on the Holy Spirit He said in John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Jesus was saying, if I do not ascend, the Holy Spirit would not descend. After Jesus death, burial, and resurrection He spent forty days with His disciples opening their eyes to the scriptures. When the time came for Him to ascend to be with the Father He took them up onto the Mt. of Olives and instructed them what they should do now. It is recorded in all four of the gospels and the beginning of the books of Acts that Jesus instructed His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel to all creation. However, Jesus knew that although they had spent three years with Him in ministry, and another forty days having their eyes opened to the scripture they were still incapable of fulfilling this task. They needed the Holy Spirit to empower them. Head knowledge of the things of God are useless on their own. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us to enact this knowledge and live it out. For this reason, Jesus instructed His disciples to go back into Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, the power from on high, which is the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49).

The disciples obediently went back to Jerusalem waiting and praying for ten days for the promise of the Father. Then in a miraculous display of power and glory, the Holy Spirit fell and rested upon each one on the day of Pentecost. Now that the Holy Spirit had come they were able to put the teachings of Jesus into action. Prior to the Holy Spirit’s coming they were incapable.

Today, when one receives salvation by placing their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ they immediately receive His Spirit. Romans 8:9 says, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” In other words, if you have the Son you have the Spirit and the Spirit has given you life. If you do not have the Son, you do not have the Spirit and therefore you do not have life. The very first act of the Spirit in a believer is to give them life-eternal life.

The Holy Spirit has many functions. He testifies of Jesus, He convicts, He teaches, He leads, He comforts, He empowers, He equips, and He gives gifts to the believer to enhance the work of the kingdom. According to I Corinthians chapter two the Holy Spirit searches even the deep things of God and reveals those truths to those who are in Christ. Even the things that the, “eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9).

Those who do not truly abide in Christ do not have the Holy Spirit. Since they do not have the Holy Spirit they do not have life and are incapable of truly living for Jesus. They can try to live for Him but will utterly fail for they do not have the power. Not only will they be incapable of living for Jesus the things of God as a whole will not make any sense to them. II Corinthians 2:14, says of the one who is unsaved and therefore void of the Holy Spirit, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” Only those who are truly saved can understand, and therefore apply the truths of God to their lives through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Discerns Truth and Error

The True Christian Discerns Truth and Error

“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” I John 4:6 NASB

            John started the fourth chapter of I John with a warning. He said in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How are we to test the spirits? John stated “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us.” As established earlier, John was an apostle who taught with authority. We see in Acts 2:42 that the New Testament church among other things was devoted to the apostles teaching. What did they teach? Jesus spent forty days after His resurrection opening their eyes to the Scriptures. The Scriptures He opened their eyes to was the Old Testament, thus the taught the Old Testament. We also know that one of qualifications for a book to be included into the New Test was that it had to be written by an apostle or someone directly associated with an apostle. When John stated, “We are from God,” I believe he was talking about all of the apostles. I also firmly believe the teachings of the apostles that the New Testament church was devoted to was the whole of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.

Here John warned of the false prophets who have gone out into the world. We test those who claim that they are of God with the authority of God’s word. If they fail to line up with God’s word they are false prophets. Let’s be clear though. We can have doctrinal differences with other Christians who are truly Christians. We simply disagree on certain subjects. One can believe in a pre-tribulation rapture while the other believes in a mid or post-tribulation rapture and another doesn’t believe there will even. I am a very solid pre-tribulationist. I personally believe that the pre-tribulation rapture is abundantly clear in scripture. Does this mean that I should view anyone who believes otherwise as a false prophet? Of course not. Christians can and will disagree on a variety of issues. However, a false prophet is one who denies the fundamentals of the faith such as the person and the work of Christ, along with the means and method of salvation. John said in I John 4:2-3, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

In Revelation Jesus told John to write to the seven churches in Asia. The first of those churches was the church of Ephesus. (Revelation 2:1-7).  Jesus praised this church for putting to the test those who called themselves apostles and were not. By proving that they were not apostles and indeed false prophets they protected the integrity and true teaching of the church. We also find Paul in II Timothy 6:20 instructing Timothy to “guard what has been entrusted to you.”  What was Timothy entrusted to? What did he need to guard? The church. Timothy was the pastor of the church of Ephesus. Guarding and protecting the church from false teachers was planted in Ephesus DNA from its very beginning. For this reason, Jesus praised the church.

The Bible warns that in the last days false prophets will be in abundance. II Timothy 4:3 warns, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” I have no doubt that we are now living in that day.

While the world is easily led astray Jesus assured us that His sheep know His voice. (John 10:4). John has declared that the evidence of the one who know God is that he listens to them, thus listens to the true teachings of the Word of God. The one who doesn’t know God may hear the Word of God and know the Word of God but refuse to listen to the Word of God. For this reason he has not discerned what is good and evil. He thinks he knows best and is therefore in rebellion against God. But the one who knows God will test the spirits through the power of the Holy Spirit, of which we will discuss latter, and the truth of the Word of God. Since he listens to God, he will obey God accepting His truth and rejecting evil.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christians Identity is in Christ

The True Christians Identity is in Christ

“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” I John 3:24 NASB

John said in the verse just before this one, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” John said the commandment is to believe in Jesus and love one another. Jesus said the commandment was to love God with our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Is John contradicting Jesus? Of course not. In fact, John is affirming Jesus. Truth be told, we cannot love God or our neighbor apart from faith in Christ. Once we keep the commandment, believing in Jesus, we inter into a relationship with God and abide in Christ and are able to love God and one another.

In the fifteenth chapter of John Jesus described Himself as the grapevine and us as the branches. He said in the fourth verse, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” Jesus said the word abide ten times in this section of scripture emphasizing the importance of this truth. By abiding in Christ we can bear fruit but when we don’t abide in Christ we can do nothing. Abiding in Christ is the evidence that you are in Him and He in you. John said, “We know by this that He abides in us.” By what? By the fact that we have kept His commandment and believed in Him.

To abide in Christ means our identity is found in Christ. If our identity is found in Christ the fruit we bear will represent Him and not ourselves. He is after all the vine and we are only the branches. The vine can survive apart from the branches but the branches will die apart from the vine. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Paul stated that he has died to himself and come alive to Jesus. He said the life He now lives is a life of faith in Jesus Christ thus his identity is no longer found in himself, it is found in the person of Jesus. He found the source of life, the vine, and allowed God, by faith, to graft him into the vine where the true source of life is found. In order to do this he had to lose his identity and receive a new identity in Christ. Now, the life he lives abides in Christ.

Jesus said to Nicodemus in the third chapter of John that unless one is born again he cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God. To be born again means that we must die to ourselves and come alive to Christ. Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” First of all Jesus said you must. In other words, this is no-optional. He said you must first deny yourself. We must stop living for us. Secondly, He told us to pick up our cross and follow Him. The cross is an instrument of death signifying we must die to self, deny self, and follow Him. This is true faith in Christ.

The one who abides in Christ has his identity in Christ. He doesn’t live for self, promote self, or glorify self. He has died to self. He lives for, promotes, and glorifies Jesus Christ. By this he has kept the commandment of God to love God with all His heart, soul, and mind through his faith in the person of Jesus Christ. By this we know, if we abide in Christ.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian is Anointed in Truth

The True Christian is Anointed in Truth

 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” I John 2:18 NASB

Although the same term “we know” is used in this verse it is used a little differently than the other “by this we know” statements. All of the other “by this we know” statements directly link us to God. This one does not. In the context of this verse, John is linking those who have been faithful to God despite the attack and lies from the antichrist contrasting them with those who have believed the antichrists lies and have fallen away.

Who is this antichrist? Most often we think of the antichrist as the man of lawlessness that will rise up at the end of days just prior to the return of Christ. No doubt, he will be the antichrist. However, John said there are many antichrists. John defined the antichrist in I John 2:22 saying, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” A well known example is Oprah Winfrey, who adamantly denies Jesus is the only way to God while promoting her brand of “spirituality,” which is a doctrine of demons. This is the spirit of the antichrist. The one who denies the true nature of Jesus, is of the antichrist. I John 2:23 says, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Oprah’s own testimony is that she was raised in church her whole life. One day, as an adult, she heard a pastor make a statement that God is a jealous God, which He is. She didn’t like this statement, and walked away from the Christian church. Upon hearing this, Satan, the master deceiver, whispered in her ear, “don’t believe that, you don’t need God, you can be your own God.” That’s basically what he told Eve. Just like thousands of others who have walked away from the truth, Oprah liked what she heard from Satan more than what she heard from God, turned her back on God, and followed Satan. I John 2:19 says “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” According to this verse, not only are these unsaved, they never were.

Of the true Christian John writes, “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” (I John 2:20-21). The true Christian will not be deceived by the lies from Satan leading them to fall away from the truth. They know the truth, therefore they know a lie when they hear one. They know the truth because they abide in the in truth, which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. (I John 2:24). Since they abide in Christ, they have an anointing that will keep them in truth, keeping them faithful to God. Just as salvation is by faith and not of works, so is the sustaining of our salvation. It is an act of God’s anointing and grace.

Oprah is just one example of many who have fallen away from the truth. Do these who have fallen away have an opportunity to be saved? Absolutely! Clearly, God desires all to be saved. They must realize the error of their way and turn to the truth-Jesus. Jesus said of Himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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