Scripture For the Visionary

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Scripture written for the Visionaries 
 
I love it when God sends His Spirit to speak to us and embellish on what we “think” we know. Today is one of those days for meregarding Habakkuk 2.
I have used- Habakkuk 2:2
And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”
so many times in life. For one of the most pointed meanings of this verse is in regards to journaling and the importance of it.   In it we read the necessity of writing our visions (dreams) down so angels are given permission to respond in action to what has been written.
Many of us are also familar with the next verse and have used it a lot in our lives regarding timing.  
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but in the end, it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
This verse gives us the promise of what we have asked for will come, but in God’s perfect timing, not ours.
But then taking a different look at this passage, Habakkuk 2:1-4 as a whole; 
 
Habakkuk 2:1-4 New International Version;
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—
Habakkuk was on watch waiting to see what God would say to him. Then the Lord replied, that it is important to record the visions Habakkuk sees. It’s not enough to just see the visions, but they need to be written down as well. Once it is written down then God’s messengers are sent to respond to the visions. However, the vision and the activation of the Angels will not necessarily take place immediately.   Instead for Habakkuk his visions were of future end times. Even so God reassures him in his answer, he should continue to hold fast to his faith, and believe in the visions he has been given.  The visions will in fact come to pass and Habakkuk will not be made a fool.  The remaining question is, how does that apply to us?
 
The correlation is very important to visionary and dreamer. First what is this scripture speaking of? He is talking about VISIONS! Habakkuk was not the only biblical person who had visions, but here God is clearly giving instruction that all visions should be recorded in writing. This give Angels permission to act upon what has been received and recorded in connection with God’s will. For the gifting of the visionary it also gives promise that what has been seen will come to pass.  However the timing is always God’s not mans. It instructs the visionary to not worry about the vision for God will not allow his faithful to be made a fool.
 
Just a few more thoughts on this: We all have received spiritual gifts, those who dream and see pictures in their minds are visionaries.  Scripture tells us of actual events so that we may learn from them and apply whats right to our own lives and experiences. It is the hope we all are or become writers. Writers of the visions we receive no matter how we get them, i.e. dreams, pictures in our minds, etc. We are all called to be writers that subsequently activates the Angels with what we have been given. Once we do that we should not dwell on the when and hows of the visions, but to have faith and let God take care of it. I hope this helps someone today. I thought I completely understood this passage, but today the Holy Spirit has increased my understanding, proving once again that scripture truly is living, and never boring.

Divided or United

Image result for scripture divide or unitedMy thought today is on the church literally. The multitude of different religions and churches across the world, according to research there are about 4,200 different denominations world wide. Approximately 313 reside within the United States. The Washington Post in 2014 stated “Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about 2 percent as Mormon.” Thats a lot of division in the faith that is supposed to be unified according to the Bible.
 
The religion divide is serious and contrary to the Bible. We definitely need many foundational churches to serve the multitude of people. But to align with Scripture, they should be unified in how they worship and their belief in scriptures.  Rather than accepting my word for it or rebuking it; take a moment and read the following which is straight from Gods word.  Think about the multitude of denominations separating God’s people in one way or another.  In addition to the division of denominations there is also a problem in many sectors of permitting non-truths because the popular vote disagrees with the fact specific things are prohibited in the Bible.  We cannot pick and choose what we want to believe.  In the case of God’s word, it is an all or nothing fact.
 
1 Corinthians 10-17
10 “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my friends, to agree in what you say, so that there will be no divisions among you. Be completely united, with only one thought and one purpose. 11 For some people from Chloe’s family have told me quite plainly, my friends, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Christ has been divided[a] into groups! Was it Paul who died on the cross for you? Were you baptized as Paul’s disciples?
14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15 No one can say, then, that you were baptized as my disciples.(16 Oh yes, I also baptized Stephanas and his family; but I can’t remember whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ’s death on the cross is not robbed of its power.”
 
So why do we have so many denominations? It is true many do believe the fundamentals of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But from there they differ greatly; including many rules and policies as biblical teaching, but in fact have nothing to do with the Bible, contrarily are mans preferences. We must remember that written rule in the bible states no one is to add or remove anything from God’s word. Duet. 4:2,/12:32 and Rev.22:18
Deuteronomy 12:32 (NASB)
“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.”
 
For more scripture on the divisions of man and the church I encourage you to open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 3, the entire chapter. Am I saying that we should not have denominations? No, God is saying it clearly in His word. We can have as many ministries and churches that it takes to spread the Gospel and serve one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. But they should be of one accord, one foundation, with no divisions that separate the people. I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have heard the various denominations state their church is the only real faith. These statements alone are contrary to God’s word “let no division be among you”.

A Study of Acts

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Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus arose, and Jesus ascended into heaven.  The book of Acts tells us what happened next.  The book begins with the ascension of Christ, then the fire of the Holy Spirit and it details how the apostles preached the gospel to the world.  Acts was written by Luke who was a disciple that travelled with Paul on his missionary journeys.  Some people say the book of Acts is primarily a written account of the Acts of Apostles; however others feel that it is featured on the Holy Spirit.  While these two thoughts are the most prevalent, the book of Acts is also often referred as three different descriptive titles:  Acts of the Apostles, Acts of the Risen Christ and Acts of the Holy Spirit.  So the big question is; why is the same book referred to in three different ways and which reference best describes Acts?  What is the supporting data that causes these three separate descriptions to be a source of debate and discussion?

Let us look at the case for Acts of the Apostles first.  Biblically speaking there is little difference between the definition of disciple and apostle. However, it is important to understand what an Apostle is if we are going to determine what the book of Acts is primarily about.  A disciple is an individual who is a student of someone else.  The biblical sense adds further clarification by including; the individual is not just a student, but also an advocate of the teacher’s doctrines.  An apostle is a representative, ambassador or delegate of someone else, such as the teacher.  The one small distinction made in scriptures between the two is that not all disciples are called apostles, but all apostles are disciples. [Peach, D.]

Assuming for a moment that the book of Acts was written about what the apostles did; we need to know how many and who the apostles were in the Bible.  In total there were twelve apostles and many more disciples.  Here is a brief account of the twelve (Mark 3:16-19):

  1. Andrew – A disciple of John the Baptist, a fisherman and brother to Simon Peter
  2. Simon Peter – Known as a fiery preacher in Acts, a fisherman and brother to Andrew, a man of power
  3. James Zebedee – Referred to as “the Elder” , One of the ‘Sons of Thunder’, one of the 3 closest friends to Jesus
  4. John Zebedee- Called “The Beloved”, One of the ‘Sons of Thunder’, author of at least 5 books in the Bible, last apostle to die
  5. Bartholomew (Nathanael) – Missionary in Armenia and India, praised by Jesus as a “honest man – a true son of Israel” (John 1:47)”
  6. James (son of Alpheus) – Known as “the Younger”, lived in Galilee, brother to Apostle Jude
  7. Judas Iscariot – From Judea, Treasurer for Jesus and disciples, traitor, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver
  8. Jude (Thaddeus) – Brother of James, author of the book of Jude, known as “Judas not Iscariot”
  9. Matthew (Levi) – Often referred to as the “Tax Collector”, author of the first book of the New Testament self titled “Matthew”
  10. Philip – A fisherman, had a missionary heart, he preached boldly in Samaria, lead Ethiopian Eunuch to Christ
  11. Simon the Zealot – A Canaanite, was chosen by Simon Peter, from Capernaum, a debater, loyalist and organizer, devoted to Jewish laws [Truthbook]
  12. Thomas (Didymus the twin) – Known as “Doubting Thomas” because he was reluctant to believe in the risen Christ until he could put his hand in Jesus’ wounds.  Thomas wanted to go with Jesus and suffer the cross with Him (John 11:16).  A Missionary to India where he was referred to as Patron Saint of India.  [Wellman]

In addition to the twelve it needs to be mentioned that there were many other men and women who were diligent disciples of Jesus including Mark who was a follower of Peter, and Luke the disciple of Paul.  James and John Zebedee were called ‘The Sons of Thunder’ by Jesus as noted in Mark 3:17; with no definitive answer as to why they were given this nickname. However it is thought the Sons of Thunder may have simply been loud, boisterous and have some arrogant personality traits due to their fisherman trade.

Returning to the claim, the book of Acts is primarily a written account of the actions of the apostles; who and what actions by them are contained in the book? Twenty-six speeches fill almost half the book of Acts. [Morris: Pg 6]  Theses speeches were delivered by a variety of people, including a few apostles. The first half of the book puts a focus on Peter and includes five speeches spoken by him.  The first speech was just after the Pentecost as told in Acts 2:14-39.  He went on to speak of the Temple beggar in 3:11- 4:4, and then spoke again just after his first arrest in Acts 4:8-12.  His fourth speech was detailed in 5:29-32 which took place just after his second arrest and Peter’s fifth speech was given at the home of Cornelius in 10:34-43, (the first Gentile in scripture to be converted). Peter’s actions in the book of Acts appear to focus on the maturing of men into the servants of Christ; but what about the other 11?  What was their role in Acts?

The Apostle Paul is featured in the latter portion of Acts. In Acts 13:9, Saul of Tarsus for the first time is referred to as “Paul”.  Although Paul was considered to be an Apostle and is featured in Acts; he was not one of the original 12.  It was after Jesus’ crucifixion that Paul was recommended by the church (who met in Jerusalem) and determined to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot.  Paul met all the requirements set forth in Acts 1:17, 22, 25 and therefore was made a legitimate Apostle of Christ on his journey to Damascus, 3 years after the ascension.  So, even though he was not one of the original 12, he was indeed an Apostle, making his accounts in Acts valid to our determination of the actual theme of the book.

Like the Apostle Peter, the accounts of Saul being converted into Paul follow the same theme ‘Maturing of men into the servants of Christ’.  In Acts 9 we read a full account of how Saul went from wanting to persecute the followers of Christ, to receiving a heavenly message from the Lord and subsequently converting to Paul the Apostle.  In chapter 18 Paul stays in Corinth for about one year teaching The Word to the people.  It is here that the Jews plan an attack on him, to bring him to judgment.  The latter chapters of Acts have a great deal to say about the gentle ministry of Paul. These chapters make clear the report of the Apostle Paul in Acts is not about his persecutions or his standing/release before Caesar in Rome.  Instead, it is centered on the progressing move forward to present the people with the gospel.  It is the advanced focus of the gospel which ushers in the historical moment of the beginning of the ‘Times of the Gentiles’.  These later chapters account the rejection of Jesus and the Gospel by the Jewish people.  It is this rejection that opened the door for the gentiles to proclaim the Gospel and officially begin the ‘Times of the Gentiles’.   The explanation for the phrases; ‘Times of the Gentiles and the Fullness of the Gentiles’ are found briefly defined beginning in Luke 21:24;  “They will fall by the edge of the sword and led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” [ESL]  ‘Times of the Gentiles’ is reported to be a term of political nature in regards to the overlordship of Jerusalem.  ‘The Fullness of the Gentiles’ speaks of the present time in which Gentiles prevail in the church and exceed Israel in current spiritual blessing. [Biblehub: Luke 21:24]

The book of Acts is rich with primary accounts of the Gospel regarding the Apostles Peter and Paul.  To say that Acts is about “The Acts of the Apostles” is a bit of a stretch.  As we see the first part of the book focuses on one of the 12.  The second part of Acts features a second Apostle of the 12.  The in-between barely mentions any of the other 10 Apostles.  Focusing on 2 out of 12 Apostles does not constitute the book being written about the work of the Apostles as a whole unit.  When 10 are basically absent in the written accounts, the very best we could attribute, would be the Acts of Peter and Paul.

Let us now consider the possibility of the book’s focus being on the ‘Acts of the Risen Jesus’.  One of the notable points which are present in Acts is that of Old Testament references.  Ezekiel 37 brings full circle the connection of the mention of dry bones and the risen Christ, which Luke chronicles in Acts 2:33.  Ezekiel foretells of the hope of the resurrection and the return of Israel from exile, united once again as a nation. Similar prophetic scriptures are also found in Isaiah 26 and Daniel 12.  In Acts 2, the foreshadowing writings in the Old Testament come to fruition as the predictions spring alive in the resurrected Christ.  The resurrected Christ pours out the Holy Spirit and grants forgiveness and repentance to Israel as explained in Acts 5.  The fulfillment of the Israelites returning to their nation gained probability on the day of Pentecost when the arrival of Jews from all over the world travelled to Jerusalem and suggested the unification of God’s people a possible reality.

The gift of the Holy Spirit also fulfills the Old Testament foretelling in Isaiah 32 and Joel 2.  Acts 2 chronicles the risen Lord pouring out the Spirit on his people.  This action revealed the outpouring of the Spirit as a consequence of Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation.  The fire falling upon the people in evidence of tongues fulfills another foreshadowing in Numbers 11.  The giving of the Holy Spirit to the various clans; Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles, solidifies the oneness of the people of God and their transformation as His people.  Jesus now the risen Lord and King, makes Old Testament prophecy (of the pending last days) stated in Isaiah 2 a reality.  Acts 4-5 portrays the end of the old temple leadership.  Therefore, Jesus becomes the new cornerstone of the temple.  The apostles are now the leaders and teachers of God’s people.  Acts 6-7 again is about Christ and permits Stephen to detail to the people, the temple has been renewed.  He also explains the ways of old have been replaced with the risen Christ.  God’s glory and presence are no longer hidden behind the veil but now found in Jesus himself.

Acts also teaches us about the Old Testament law and how the New Testament teachings of the apostles (directed by Jesus) became the authority for the people of God.  Jesus fulfilled the hope of the Jews.  In the scriptures it clearly states that we are no longer under the law of the old, but are required to obey the new as set forth by the teachings of Jesus himself to the Apostles.  Now this does not mean that the Old Testament is no longer valid, it means that Jesus qualified and better explained the old by confirming with the new.  We can find the explanations of this in Acts chapters 10-11 and 23-28.  We further read in chapter 15, not only are the gentiles no longer held under the Law of Moses, but the method of salvation is now completely and unequivocally by the Grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus (vs. 10).   Additionally, this chapter explains the Old Testament law is no longer required for salvation.  But, there are still a set of laws to be followed by Christians; such as the Ten Commandments.  The Jewish lineages are certainly welcome to continue conformity to the law for cultural reasons, but all believers are free from it.  Despite the freedom from the law for salvation, we are all totally bound by the instructions taught by The Christ.

From the beginning to the end of Acts, Jesus is actively fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.  One of these prophecies was introducing the Holy Spirit to the gathered people by defining and demonstrating the Spirit’s purpose.  Jesus instructed the Apostles in preparation for spreading the Gospel far and wide to the people.   It is quite plausible for the book of Acts to be titled the ‘Acts of the Risen Jesus’ for there is a great deal of evidence to support His mighty manifestation in action throughout the book’s chapters.

Before we can make an educated determination between the three titles, we must look closely at the final title, ‘Acts of the Holy Spirit’.  Are there more details on the Holy Spirit than that of the Acts of Jesus?  Right at the starting gate in chapter 1, the Holy Spirit is introduced and promised to the people by the risen Christ; “v 8- But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  From that point on the Holy Spirit is one of the main features of Acts.  Within it are a minimum of five cases/events which feature the bold manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  As previously mentioned, the first one was with the pronouncement of the Spirit coming upon the people and giving them power in a mighty rushing wind demonstration.

“In Acts 2, it records the earth changing events of the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes, fulfilling Christ’s promise to wait until the Holy Spirit arrives to empower and direct the witness.  The Spirit transforms a small group of fearful men into a thriving, worldwide Church that is ever moving forward and fulfilling the great commission of Matt: 28:.” [Morris: pg 12]

The second notable manifestation of the Holy Spirit is found in Acts 8.  It moves the reader forward past the Day of Pentecost and to the evidence depicting the Holy Spirit is within people and the manifesting gifts are clearly evident.  It was at this point that Simon witnessed others receiving the Holy Spirit upon them when the Apostles placed their hands upon people’s heads.  However Simon thought money could purchase this power he was witnessing, he was gravely was mistaken. Going deeper into chapter 8 we learn of the Apostles travelling to spread the news, and it was during this time they met up with the eunuch.  Philip was directed and obeyed the command to share the Good News of Jesus with the Ethiopian eunuch.  As the two men rode along together, they stopped along the road and the eunuch was baptized.  During the baptism, when both Philip and the eunuch came up from the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip up away into the heavens.

The third time the Holy Spirit was greatly manifested was shortly after Saul (Apostle Paul) became a believer, when he audibly heard the voice of Jesus.  Another disciple named Ananias in Damascus was sent by the Lord in answer to prayer from Saul to heal his blindness.  Ananias laid hands on Saul and he was immediately baptized in the Holy Spirit and his sight was restored.  After this event, Saul began preaching that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.  This story of the mighty manifestation of the Spirit is featured in Acts 9.  It was further noted in 1 Corinthians 14:18 that Paul spoke in tongues more than the other Apostles.  Paul became a living testament to the receiving the spiritual gift of tongues.  He most likely received the gift during the baptism of the Holy Spirit, even though Acts 9 does not specifically state it.

The fourth case of the Holy Spirit in Acts occurred in chapter 10 at the home of a Roman Officer named Cornelius in Caesarea.  Cornelius was a God fearing man along with his entire household.  Peter had been sent to the home of Cornelius at the direction of the Holy Spirit through a vision.  While visiting the home, Peter was teaching about Jesus and the resurrection, and the Holy Spirit fell upon everyone in the home who heard the message.  This was evidenced as they began speaking in tongues and praising God much to the amazement of Peter.

One of the last examples of the Spirit gift manifestation in Acts, was among a group of believers in Ephesus according to Acts 19.  When Paul saw the group of believers he asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed?  Their reply was “no”, so  Paul then asked which baptism had they experienced?  The believers replied, “ that of John”.  Paul said to them

(v 4) “John’s baptism was to demonstrate a desire to turn from sin and turn to God.  John himself told the people to believe in Jesus, the One John said would come later.”  (v 6) “Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them; they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.”

With only 5 bold manifestations of the Holy Spirit testified to in the Book of Acts, one would think this is barely enough evidence to suggest the book is mainly about the Acts of the Holy Spirit.  However there are other considerations to take into account. The New Testament mentions the Holy Spirit 264 times throughout.  Of the 264, Acts alone features 57 mentions of the Holy Spirit.  This fact breaks down to about 22% of Acts is about the Holy Spirit.  Because the Spirit is mentioned so many times in Acts, is why the book is often called the ‘Acts of the Holy Spirit’. When Luke wrote the book of Acts, he included a very strong emphasis on the Spirit working through and in the Apostles.  Acts predominantly features the Holy Spirit and the manifestations that followed from the out pouring on the day of Pentecost.  These events are very important because they were responsible for the birth of the Church as we know it today.  With all the focus on the Holy Spirit in Acts, it is reasonably referred to as the, “Acts of the Holy Spirit”.

There is rich content found within Luke’s pages in Acts.  The book chronicles historical information on all three of our subjects; the Apostles, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  This book is the bridge between the four gospels and the epistles.  The bridge logically links together the life of Jesus as described in the gospels and then the development of Christian theology and ethics as told in the epistles.  The gospel tells us of failed men who change with the discipling of Jesus Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  They become Apostles with changed hearts on fire for the love of Christ. The Christian Church’s birth is chronicled within its pages.

“From a theological standpoint, Acts was written to trace the development of the body of Christ over the one-generation transition from a primarily Jewish membership to a predominantly Gentile membership.  This apologetic work presents Christianity distinct from Judaism but also as its fulfillment”. [Morris: pg 11]

Morris’s writings produces five key points in reference to the overall purpose of Acts:  Registration – experiences of the people of God are recorded.  Continuation – Luke shows how Acts continues the story of Jesus as the ascended, exalted one.  Propagation – the words you speak results in the life you live.  Vindication – Acts was given to the Roman world to let the history and message of the church vindicate its claim to divine origin.  Edification – Acts was inspired and written to profit in teaching, to bring reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. [Pgs: 13-14]

Who we are, what we have and what we can do are all verified in the Book of Acts.  This book is not a complete record of everything that occurred in the Church after the Savior’s ascension.  However Luke does tells us much through engaging storytelling about the Apostle Paul, some about Peter and more brief stories of the other 10 Apostles.  Acts also emphasizes the Holy Spirit’s power for witnessing, service and changing men into Disciples of Christ.  Also the book is about Jesus, His outpouring of the Holy Spirit, His discipleship of the Apostles and how He began the spread of the Gospel.

I believe the title of Acts falls more on the emphasis of what Jesus was doing in and through the Apostles by the gift of the Holy Spirit to build, edify and expand the Word of the Lord throughout the lands.  Acts of the Risen Christ I believe is the foundation of Luke’s writings.

In conclusion, Jerusalem had just over one hundred believers after the ascension of Jesus.  However the church grew into the thousands on the Day of Pentecost, increasing even more as the good news was spread to Rome.  Acts features the last words of Jesus on earth, and His instruction to the disciples to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The waiting made possible the acts of the believers and the massive growth of the church.  Today we need to follow the example provided for us in Acts.  No matter how eager we are to serve God, no matter how determined or committed, we cannot achieve the fullest without waiting on the Holy Spirit, His power, His guidance and wisdom to help us reach out with our full potential to meet the needs of those around us and in the world today.  We must be full of the Holy Spirit before we can pour into others.  Ultimately the book of Acts is appropriately titled, because it is a culmination of all three acts…the Apostles, the Holy Spirit and ultimately the Risen Christ.  Acts is a historical account of the church as a result of these three working together.

References:

Bible Gateway – Scriptures,  http://www.biblegateway.com, Internet

Bible, New Testament, NLT- Billy Graham Special Edition, Tyndale House Publishers 1996, Book

Biblehub Website, http://biblehub.com/luke/21-24.htm, Internet

New Testament Student Study Guide (2003) – https://www.lds.org/manual/new-testament-student-study-guide/the-acts-of-the-apostles?lang=eng, Internet

Exploring the Book of Acts – Morrison, Michael, https://www.gci.org/bible/actsintro, Internet

Morris, Bill (Ministries, Inc.), ACTS, TH-301 2006 Covenant Bible College & Seminary, Syllabus

Truthbook, Discover Jesus,  http://truthbook.com/jesus/twelve-apostles/simon-the-zealot,  Internet

What Christians Want to Know – Peach, David,  https://www.gci.org/bible/actsintro, Internet

What Christians Want to Know, Wellman, Jack,  http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/the-apostle-thomas-biography-doubting-life-and-death/, Internet

Five Cases of the Holy Spirit – Lee, Witness, http://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/THE-MANIFESTATION-OF-THE-SPIRIT-IN-THE-FIVE-CASES-IN-ACTS-1.HTML, Internet

 

 

Test All Things For Truth

Image result for 1 thessalonians 5:21
Acts 20:28-31 The Message (MSG)
28 “Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for.
29-31 “I know that as soon as I’m gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.
Correct and sound doctrine is crucial to salvation and growth in spiritual maturity. It comes as no surprise that God warns us many times in Scripture to be aware of false teaching. Christians need to be able to recognize false teachers/doctringe in order to know when they are being led down a path that God did not intend! Studying the Bible daily will help you determine whether someone is teaching false doctrine and how you should handle the deceptive teacher. Dont be fooled into thinking all Pastors and Teachers in the church teach only truth. Unfortunately there are a great deal of Leaders who do not. Also too many put their own interpretation on scriptures, which is a sin in itself. Many confuse denominational rules as being in the Bible when in fact they are not. Some of those rules come from twisted interpretation of scriptures. There are really only two absolutes to avoid accepting false teaching. One is to read the scriptures yourself and learn what God intended their meaning and purpose is. The second is to pray, ask the Father to sharpen your discernment when you hear something that doesnt sound exactly right. Check up on your Pastors by taking notes and going home and doing your own study on his teachings. At some point you will begin to recognize falsehoods quickly. Also by fact checking for yourself, it will give you confirmation your Pastor is truly a good truthfilled teacher or maybe you should move to another church.
It is good and biblical to test for truth of what you are recieving. Too many Christians do not properly test any type of communication they receive and as a result, they sometimes get duped by the enemy who is trying to masquerade as the Lord with the message he is giving. False teachers abound all around us. Test what you receive, carefully seek to prove and try information before accepting it.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NLT)
21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
1 John 4:1-4 (NLT) Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet[a] acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.  But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
I am in the middle of a little controversial research project for myself. And I will share with you this is the second time I have suspected false teachings in which I received at a young age from the church. The first time I asked God for confirmation of the truth. It wasnt long when I received it. I will again ask for confirmation of the truth from God. As truly He is the only one who can definitively clear up falsehoods and confirm truths. There is no harm, and I encourage you to do the same when seeking the truth. Pray, ask Him, He never fails to answer His people who ask with the right motives. Discovering truth is a right motive.
2Timothy 4:3-5 The Message (MSG)
3-5 You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.

Waiting is a Test of Faith

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What does God’s timing really look like? We know His word tells us He is always on time. We understand and know this is true; at least in our minds, but too often acceptance of this truth does not permeate deep in our hearts. When time seems to be running out or getting to the end of the timeline we have set, how do we handle it? For me I have squirmed in my seat thinking all sorts of senerios thinking time is up, overdue or in the final minutes for that thing to happen. I too often begin to worry or even think I missed God’s direction I was supposed to take. How do you react to your timeline when it is running out like an hourglass with only a few grains of sand left?
“Ecclesiates 8:6 For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.”
Tho our past is to be left behind us, the one thing it is good for, is reflection of our growth and maturity. For just a moment glance backwards at God’s timing in your life. Doing this always reveals just how perfect His timing truly is, yes even when we thought He was late or delayed. Getting beyond the timeline we self impose can be a test of our faith. Also recall the troubles you encountered when you got ahead of God and rushed things.
“Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
God always answers our prayers and always directs our paths to His plan for our lives. But in this generation of immediate self gratification it is all too easy to give in than to perservere and wait on God’s timing than our own. It is during the stretch of time that seems overdue to us, we need to hold onto His promise of being on time, and always answering our prayers the most. Its during this time we need to have the most faith in His promises. While we wait on God we must not lean on our own understanding but put our trust totally in Him. Good things do come to who patiently wait for the Lord in His timing.
“Habakkuk (Message Bible) 2:2-4
2 What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst. I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I’ll wait to see what God says, how he’ll answer my complaint.
3 And then God answered: Write this.  Write what you see.  Write it out in Big Block letters so that it can be read on the run.  This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming.  It aches for the coming-it can hardly wait!  And it doesn’t lie.  If it seems slow in coming, WAIT.  It’s on its way.  It will come right on time.
4 Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
through loyal and steady believing
is fully alive, really alive.”

Living With Hemochromatosis (5)

It has been such a long time since I have written about my medical journey, I thought it was about time.

Hemochromotosis – is a systemic Iron overload disease which affects many organs systems, including the joints, characterized by hemosiderin and calcium pyrophosphate deposition.

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Since being diagnosed I have learned so much.  But foremost it is important to know there is a great deal of misinformation, and uninformed medical professionals out there.  In my journey I have had to change many doctors and become as informed as possible to make sure I am getting the best medical care possible.  In the beginning I believed every word I was told by physicians, that is until I learned differently.

Once diagnosed you will need a well informed Hemotologist and Gastrologist.  If you live in an area where a Hepatologist is available add them to your physicians.  I’ve been told I needed a liver biopsy, and that I didnt.  Let me suggest to you to get one.  The reason is because the ultrasounds show changes, but cannot really tell you if the images are due to Hemochromatosis or another problem.  But a liver Biopsy does.

Be prepared.  If you get a liver biopsy, just know it is worth whatever you go through. My Mom had one and so did I.  With very different experiences and results.  My Mom healed quickly and reported no pain with the procedure.  The results were very surprising and a little hard to swallow.  She was found to have more than one liver disease, Hemochromatosis and Alpha-1 Antrypsin Protein Difficency (a topic for a later discussion).  The results provided a more specific treatment plan for her.  My biopsy was painful, the injections did not numb me sufficiently eventhough they kept giving me more.  The results like my mothers was surprising.  There was no evidence of Hemochromatosis damage or Alpha-1.  The liver damage was all NASH (non-alcholic Cirrohis) and fatty liver disease.

With the liver diagnosis done, my Hemotologist dismissed me as a patient.  The Hepatologist said I could heal my liver with a proper diet.  The Gastrologist continues to be concerned about the condition of my liver and the elevated lab results.  I also had just developed Type 2 Diabetes.  With this information in hand, it provided me hope to heal my liver with a better diet.  So it began.  I have been on a Keto for life plan since January.  With it let me say I am glad I chose to live Keto, but its not exactly a miracle cure. I have seen many changes in my body for the better.  Mostly regarding diabetes, which is now in the normal range without medication.  HOWEVER, dont be misguided by false hopes either.  While my liver labs have improved, they are far from being normal.  I can still feel in my abdomen on the outside my liver is still large and tender to the touch.  I also still suffer from temporary short term memory issues periodically.

I became confused with terminology from the various doctors, one said I have liver scarring, one said I have NASH cirrohisis, one said I have fatty liver.  Which one do I have?  Or do I have all of them?  Honestly I still am not sure of the right answer, but when I questioned the Gastrologist I was told they are all terminology used for liver damage, so technically speaking the terms are one and the same.  I am not convinced I believe that yet.  While on the topic of Gastrologist, let me say I am on my third one.  The first one told me monitoring the Ferritin levels is a waste of time and proves nothing about the Iron or liver levels.  So, I found another one.  The second one I really liked.  He did a scar tissue Ultra Sound and took my condition very seriously.  He also felt Ferritin levels were important for the Hemochromatosis patient.  However after being tested for Alpha-1 (Also Hereditary) and finding out I am positive for it as well, I felt the need to change Gastro Doctors to my Moms.  Alpha-1 is rare and they are in infant stages of research for treatments, with there only being one available.  Alpha-1 attacks the liver and the lungs.  My Moms Gastrologist is well trained with both HH and A-1.  Her doctor was the one that insisted the only way to truly get a complete picture of what is going on is through a liver bi-opsy.  He was right.  However I now wish He had performed my biopsy instead of the Big Medical Center Hepatologist that did mine at UVA, a good sized trip for me.  Mine couldnt get me numb, failed to test the liver for A-1 damage after repeated requests, and told me I could be completely healed with a good diet.

Being completely healed from either HH or A-1, is false hope and should never have been promised.  People with HH suffer from a number of other health issues that are caused by a prolonged misdiagnosis.  For instance, I not only have the liver issue, there is Hemochromatosis Arthrotropy (see link), and previous issues never connected to HH early on; such as Removal of Gallbladder, Infertility, vitamin D3 deficency, diabetes, and Female organ disfunctions, etc.  Then with A-1 there are pulmonary issues, which necessitates the need for another specialist.  The diet has helped that is for sure, but it is no miracle cure.  So if you are keeping track, I now need a Hemotologist (which I no longer have), Gastrologist (Who agreed to act as my Hemotologist also), Hepatologist, Rheumatologist and Pulmonolgist.  The two worse aspects of HH for me is the joint pain and constant fatigue, which has not improved with the keto diet.  I dont want to be negative nancy, I just want to let you know how important it is to not just take what a doctor tells you as infallible truth.  You need to do your research and be very diligent about your medical team as well as doing as much as you can to help yourself, such as a proper diet and being active as much as you can.  One last note about the Keto diet and it is a big deal, it has really helped keep my ferritin numbers down much more than before I went Keto.  If your interested in Keto, I recommend watching Dr. Berry videos on you tube.

Arthritis link:  https://radiopaedia.org/articles/haemochromatosis-skeletal-manifestations-3?lang=us

If you are interested in Keto, here is the link…(I have no affiliation or vested interest in Dr. Berry or Keto diet promotions)  Also if you see any Keto product promotion, remember it is never necessary to purchase any Keto products to be successful with the food plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating with Purpose

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I am thinking this morning about my decisions as a young 17 year old, nieve about so many things, yet making adult decisions that would last a lifetime. Todays devotion by Pastor Greg Laurie (Harvest.org) stirred my mind on these things. Of all my decisions, good or bad, the best one I ever made about marriage was to be sure those who I dated were christian. For me I never considered dating as something to do. Many kids today date because its what teens and young adults do to have fun. But from a very young age I always considered those whom I dated as a possible soulmate. I always felt dating was meant not just for fun but rather for finding the one you want to spend your life with. I took it seriously from the start.
I had my own set of rules my date must fulfill before I would continue a relationship with them. I must admit as a 56 year old, I have a few life regrets, but sticking to my rules as a teenager is not one of them. My rules, were based on biblical principals I had learned from one of my biggest influencers, Youth Pastor Gary Hayden at First Baptist Church. Also surrounding myself with friends that were also Christians.
What were my dating rules? 1. My date must believe in God and Jesus as His only son. My date must be willing to go to church and worship with me. No exceptions. Those who were unwilling never got subsequent dates with me.
2. (This is something I think has really been lost on too many young adults today) The seriousness of an intimate relationship with my date. In otherwords, I believed that sex was sacred, not only for myself but for my chosen mate as well. I never bought into the double standard its ok for guys, but ladies must wait for marriage. I have always felt it was a two way street. I had preset limits on myself of what I would and would not do. I believed then and now that if I am going to wait for my soulmate, then I wanted my intended to do the same. Why? I am not sure I really understood then the positive consequences of waiting for total intimacy; but later I understood it creates a bond that is almost unbreakable in the marriage relationship. I encourage everyone to wait for intimacy. Life is full of the unexpected, protect yourself from it. In otherwords you may be in a relationship where you believe your date is your life soulmate and give in. Dont! is my advice to you. You may find yourself in a situation where your heart gets broken, dont let it be a double loss, both heart and bodily self. Wait for that committment and ring; you wont regret it. If he wont wait, he does not have the respect for you that he should and your entitled too. Even if you have already gone down that lane, its not too late to change and going forward wait for your soulmate God has intended just for you.
3. I felt it was imperative to talk about the important life issues, before saying I do. Children, how many? Working mom or not? Finances. What each other expects, and the roles in each others lives you need for a healthy relationship. For instance I got married at 18. We knew we were young and the statistics were against us. So we decided a couple basic rules that we thought would help us not be a statistic. a. We would enjoy as much as we could being teens “together” before embarking on the family life. b. We would never go to parties without each other, it leaves the door open for trouble. Just a couple examples that worked for us. But looking back I dont think it was the self imposed rules that worked for us as much as it was taking the time to talk through all these things and knowing what each other expected from the other and respecting them for it.
So why do you date, is the question? Do have a rule set you follow? Rules that establish honor, boundries and contribute to relationship success instead of fostering unpercieved trouble from the start?
I wanted to share some key scriptures with you regarding the principals presented here. But instead I found this awesome Crosswalk article laying it all out scripturally. I hope you will take the time to read it. And if your older, great get a new perspective for your children, your grandchildren and those whom you share responsibility in shaping their lives for the future.

Who Are You Really?

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Who are you really? The evidence of who we are as an individual is in what we say and do. Who do you want to be? We have the power to be whomever we want too as an individual. We determine ourselves with every choice we make in our language, deeds, and actions.  We think we can hide behind a mask, but people see through it based on our actions.

None of us is perfect, however our goal as Christians is to be as “Christ like” as possible in ALL we SAY and DO. Philippians 2:”3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (NLT)

BUT, sometimes the message we send to others about ourselves can be diluted even confusing. We sometimes tarnish ourselves with confusing signals to others. For example lets take a simple look at the reality tv star Dog the Bounty Hunter and his family. They have dedicated their lives to bringing in people who have broken the law in varying degrees. They try to talk to them about doing better while in their custody. They put forth an attitude for justice and they openly pray to Jesus as they do all this. So it seems they are Christians at work and serving God.

Then the viewer is taken on a short journey as they watch them do thier work. As they pursue the lawless and speak to each other, they curse like drunken sailors. Some present their attire in a very provacative manner, and some of the behaviors are just not above reproach. So then the question becomes who are these people? Are they the Christians they present themselves to be, or are they the filthy mouthed degenerates they behave like? Which is it?

You see the person they want us to know is unclear and tarnished, even confusing. On one hand they are prayerful believers, on the other hand they are tantilizing actors pretending to be believers, with their actions speaking louder than their prayers. So who are you? How do your actions speak about who you are on the inside, deep in your soul.

I think of the scripture ~ Matthew 12:34 “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil?” For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Look at it this way; you trip over a piece of furniture and hurt your toe, an exclamation comes out of your mouth as you do it; what the exclamation is, literally tells you a lot about your heart. Is it profane or is just a descriptive ouch? Which person are you?

1 Kings 18:21 (GNT) “21 Elijah went up to the people and said, “How much longer will it take you to make up your minds? If the Lord is God, worship him; but if Baal is God, worship him!” But the people didn’t say a word.”

To be clear as they say so commonly today; just give yourself a check-up to see who you are presenting yourself to be. Take a look at your own Facebook page posts. Are your posts clean, presentable to God, encouraging, or are they filled with sex inuindos, language, debauchery, etc.? Who are you presenting to others? Is it the person you want to be, does it say much about your relationship with Christ? The answer is yours alone, but if its not representing you as the Christian you claim to be, there is work to be done in your soul. Who does Jesus say you (I) am? Is your self presentation clear or confusing?

Remember being a fence rider is very dangerous, with one side leaning toward Godliness, and one towards worldliness; sooner or later you will fall off that fence. When that time comes which side you land on is based on your true relationship with God. Proverbs 10:11 “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”

Love & Forgiveness

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As we approach the rememberance day of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, let us concentrate on the unfathomable LOVE Jesus had for all people. Love which included even those who hated him, and permitted a cruel death of himself to set us free. The amount of love it took for Him to suffer through flogging, humiliation, nails driven through his hands and feet, and death by hanging on a cross for all to witness, is beyond the human comprehension. Think about Mary also, witnessing her son be beaten beyond recognition and dying like that. How would you react to your child being killed in such a manner, would you forgive? The agony and pain she must have endured, especially knowing who her son truly was, the anger Jesus could have felt, yet it was love He choose even in the moment of final pain. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34

The Bible explains Jesus is our Bridegroom and the church is His bride. As we think about it, one must understand what love is according to Him because essentially Jesus is marrying the saints of the church, (us). Reading a group of related scriptures can open our eyes and reveal Gods truth to our hearts and minds. So I have put together a group of scriptures that hopefully will unveil the truth of what Love really means. It has been said that love is an intangible thing. However, love is very tangible in our actions, words, and how we live on a daily basis.

Psalm 143:8: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Proverbs 3:3-4: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

1 John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 16:14: “Do everything in love.”

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

“Love does not keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn’t bring up past failures. None of us are perfect. In marriage and our close relationships, we do not always do the best or right thing. We sometimes do and say hurtful things to one another. Once done, we cannot erase the past. However we can confess and admit our wrongs. We can ask for forgiveness and behave differently in the future. Once we have confessed our failure and asked forgiveness, we can do no more to mitigate the hurt it has caused another. When we have been wronged by another and asked to forgive them, we have two choices Justice or forgivensss. If we choose justice and seek revenge, we make ourselves the judge and the other person the felon. This choice will destroy the relationship and make an intimate relationship impossible. On the flipside, if we choose to forgive (as we have been forgiven by The Christ) the relationship will be restored and a intimate closeness can evolve.

It is amazing how many people mess up their lives with living and dwelling in yesterday. Too many insist on bringing into today the failures and hurts of yesterday. By reliving yesterday over and over again, today is polluted and ruins a perfectly wonderful day denying a fresh new start each morning. Statements like “I can’t believe you did that, I don’t think I will ever be able to forget it, You can’t possibly know how much you hurt me, I don’t know how you can sit there so smugly after you treated me that way, You should be on your knees begging me to forgive you, I don’t know if I can ever forgive you, destroy us from the inside out. These thoughts and words are not of love and forgiveness, but indicate bitterness, resentment and justice. The best action we can take with the failures of our past and the hurts we have endured is to let them be history. Yes it happened, yes it hurt, and may even still linger. We cannot erase the events of yesterday, But we can accept it as history and choose to live life today free from the failures and hurts of the past, to move forward instead of letting our yesterdays holds us hostage in each new day. Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a committment to let go of our yesterdays hurts and failures. It is an expression of love choosing to forgive and build up instead of tearing down a relationship with unforgiveness.” [1Chapman, pg 47-48]

Let us love one another as God has loved us. God has already demonstrated His love and forgiveness for us by permitting His only Child to be murdered for our sins in a most horrible display of injustice. Going a step further He forgave the persecuters in a demonstration of real love. Can you imagine as a parent witnessing your child going through what Jesus did? And then forgiving them for it? Even in His last breaths Jesus asked for forgiveness for those who partook in his crucifixion. Luke 23:34 (NIV) 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do…”

There is a demonstration of love and forgiveness from God the Father and Jesus the Son in the crucifixion. Jesus asking God in the Garden of Gethsame to take the cup from Him if possible and God reassuring Jesus He must go forward, and Jesus askling God to forgive His persecutors.

The last thought I want to mention about love is when we chose unforgiveness instead of love we are on very dangerous ground ourselves with God. Forgiveness by Love is so important to Him, He made it clear to His church, in Matthew 6:15 (NIV)15 “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

1-Chapman, Gary, The Five Love Languages, Book

Moments of Renewal

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Each day the reports of daily events in the media gets more disheartening. As we go through our day, we are sounding blocks for our friends, family and co-workers. Their stories are often full of sorrow and troubles. Between the media and people we care about issues’, we can become sad and downhearted ourselves. But God doesn’t want that for us. God does expect us to do all we can for each other, but not to take on the sorrow of others. Be empathetic yes, be supportive yes, but then to give it all over to Him.
 
To do this we need to include short little spiritual breaks during our days schedule. These can be just deep breaths right where we are; allowing the Holy Spirit to come in and renew us. It also could be a 15 minute break or lunch hour spent in meditation with God, turning over the things we need to thoughout the day. Take time in quiet reflection to think about the truth that is above and beyond the current situations and circumstances. Think about God’s presence, power, and activity in our lives and those we know.
 
These spiritual renewal moments will help us be in touch with the His truths for everyone and boost our personal faith, strength and wisdom. They help us stay on track with God’s divine plan for life. It helps us to allow the life of God resonate from us more and more each day as we honor Him and let it be expressed through our actions. Every moment of our lives has meaning and purpose. Life is a wonderful and precious gift. What and how we choose to work out His love with our lives matters. Live it fully and freely, staying in close touch with the Trinity all day and night, making every moment and breath we take momentous and filled with God’s love and will.
 
John 1:4 “In Him was life, and life was the light of all people”
 
1 Thessalonians 1:8 “In every place your faith in God has become known”