Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is Tithing for Today?

Your local church and full-time ministers may need your financial support [1 Corinthians 9:14]. However, there is nothing in the New Testament that obligates Christians to give a tenth of their income, and there is nothing in the New Testament that entitles church leaders, or anyone else, to receive that tithe. Tithing, meaning giving 10%, is a concept taken from the Law of Moses. Christians are not under the Law [Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16].

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1 Corinthians 9:14
In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
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Romans 6:14
... you are not under Law, but under grace.

Galatians 2:16
... a man is not justified by observing the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the Law, because by observing the Law no one will be justified.
In the New Testament:

Christians are encouraged to be generous [1 Timothy 6:17-19]. Move
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1 Timothy 6:17-19
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Those who have more are encouraged to give more [2 Corinthians 8:7-15]. Move
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2 Corinthians 8:7-15
But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
There is a blessing for generosity [2 Corinthians 9:6-11]. Move
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2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
As with everything to do with the New Covenant, it is not a legal requirement, but a matter of the heart, of the Spirit – faith expressing itself through love [Galatians 5:6].


Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus ... the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Christians should pray for discernment in their giving and they should be wise enough to weigh up whether particular churches, ministries and ministers are worthy of financial support and accountable for what they receive.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Importance of Evangelism

The Importance of Evangelism
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:14-15

Notice below in Matthew 9:35-38 Jesus didn't reach sinners because he was merely obligated, He was FULL of compassion, because they were lost, without a shepherd(The Lord IS the shepherd-Psalm 23:1). There are those that preach the gospel without compassion or love and there are those who do it because they love the Lord and love to reach lost sinners! What does it sound like when you do ANYTHING(ie:share the gospel) if you have not love/charity?(read 1 Corinthians 13:1-5).

"But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. " Matthew 9:35-38

The Great Commission is so powerful, it does not only encompass preaching the gospel, but teaching "all things whatsoever I have commanded you" says the Lord. As new converts, we teach them discipleship, and how to grow in the Word(1 Peter 2:2 speaks of asking new converts to desire growth). The point is, we are not to just "dump" the newly converts, but to make disciples of them. In doing so, we equip them for evangelism too, and this adds a MULTIPLYING factor to the gospel.

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:18-20

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." Proverbs 11:30

Asking for wisdom lately? The most wonderful fruit that can happen is for a Christian to reach a soul for Christ("tree of life"). That is WISE! What does wisdom from above look like?(James 3:17). Understand when you witness to someone you will either plant a seed or water a previous seed. God gives the increase.

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour."
1 Corinthians 3:5-8

No Christian can claim "I won a person to Christ" because it is God that gives the increase. You were a tool used by God to reach the lost. In humbleness you placed your faith in God(see an example of a humble man before God vs the proud-Luke 18:9-14), in humbleness you give all the glory to God and thank Him for using you to reach someone! The Holy Spirit is what convicts them of their sins, righteousness, and judgment(John 16:8-9).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Did Jesus Ever get Depressed?

You don't think of Jesus as having a bad day, do you? Nevertheless, I want to look in this study at what was quite probably one of the worst days of Jesus' life, and how he handled the challenge he was faced with.
Matthew 26:36-39
(36) Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
(37) And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
(38) Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
(39) And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].
Have you ever been so depressed that you wanted to die? That's how Jesus felt on this day. There is no record elsewhere in the gospels where he felt so bad that he told any of his disciples about it, but that's what he did here. And, he didn't bare his heart before all of his disciples; he went off with only Peter, James and John into the Garden of Gethsemane, where he sometimes went to pray, and let them know how he was feeling. He didn't try to put on a good, "spiritual looking" front for them. He was honest with them about how bad he was feeling.
Now here's something to think about: If Jesus was so depressed, what was he doing wrong that caused it? Was he focusing his mind on the wrong things? Was he failing to look at things from God's perspective? Was he failing to exercise proper control over his mind?
We know even as we ask this question that Jesus was doing nothing wrong. There was no sin or guilt in his life to pull him down. There was no shortcoming or failure in his walk with God that could have caused this. He was as fully committed to God as always, and as disciplined in his walk with God as he had ever been. And he was still so depressed that he wanted to die.
This lets us know that depression is not always the result of something you or I have done wrong. Depression can occur even when we are doing things right. If Jesus could get depressed in spite of his perfect walk with God, perhaps we should not be so quick to condemn ourselves or others when depression occurs.
Now being depressed is one thing; handling it the right way is another.
How did Jesus handle his depression? Did he seek for comfort at the bottom of a bottle? Did he look for recreational herbs to numb his mind? Did he gorge himself with food, or seek to forget his troubles in the arms of a woman? Did he seek out entertainments? Did he cut himself off from those around him? Did he curl up by himself somewhere and sleep for hours on end, unable to do anything?
How did Jesus handle his depression? He prayed. And he did something else that you never see him doing throughout the gospels: he asked three of his disciples to pray with him.
Can you imagine being Peter, James or John and having this weight dropped on you? It's hard enough that Jesus is depressed; it's another thing entirely to be asked to pray with him about his problem. The disciples had prayed for other people; they were not strangers to prayer. But praying for Jesus in a crisis situation was something entirely new -- and, no doubt, frightening -- to them.
What would you do in that situation? Wouldn't you be on your best prayer behavior? This would be the most important prayer you've ever prayed. The farthest thing from your mind would be taking a nap. Yet, when Jesus returned to them after going off a little way to pray, he found them all asleep.
Why was Jesus depressed? Verse 39 gives us a clue. Jesus knew what it was that God wanted him to do, but he didn't want to do it. There was a conflict here between the will of God and the will of Jesus. But rather than running off and doing his own will, Jesus went right to God in prayer.
What was the conflict? We don't have to guess about this. The Scriptures tell us.
Hebrews 5:7
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
To put it quite simply, Jesus did not want to die. The "cup" that he asked God to let pass from him was his death.
God's plan for the redemption of mankind was for Jesus, the one sinless man, to die in the place of sinful man, and for God to raise him from the dead. Now let's be frank for a moment and forget that we're talking about Jesus Christ. What kind of plan does this sound like to you? If God's plan was for you to die and for him to raise you from the dead, how excited would you be about the idea? Would you follow right along, no questions asked, because of your trust in God? Or would you have some serious questions about whether it was really God who was talking to you, or whether you had understood Him correctly?
Doesn't this sound suspiciously like the “Heaven's Gate” incident, where a group of misguided religious men and women gave up their lives in the hope that they would be resurrected on a spaceship somewhere? We think of people who act like that as crazy, and if they say that God told them to do it, we consider it a confirmation of our suspicions!
Jesus trusted God, and he had always done what God told him to do; but this went far beyond anything God had ever asked of him before. Jesus was just as determined as he ever was to obey God at all costs, but here he did something he had never done before: he asked God to change His will. He asked this not once, but three times. And he didn't ask calmly, dispassionately. He went before his Father with "strong crying and tears."
What was he praying so hard for? What was he agonizing about in the garden? He wanted God to save him from death. He wanted to obey God, but he didn't want to die. Jesus made it clear in his prayer that if there was no change in God's plan for him, he would carry out God's will; but he also prayed that if it were possible, "this cup" would pass from him.
Jesus was heard by God when he prayed, but he didn't get the answer that he prayed for. God did not change His will. Instead, Jesus "was heard in that he feared." What does this mean? Jesus' prayer was answered by his being given what he needed to carry out God's will willingly. The "fear" referred to here is obedience.
Hebrews 5:8-9
(8) Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
(9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Philippians 2:8
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Once Jesus rose up from this intense time of prayer, there is no further hint of depression on his part. There is no sign of hesitation or unwillingness to carry out the assignment God had given him. Why is this? What had changed? What enabled Jesus to face the cruel, agonizing and shameful death of the cross without looking back?
Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
There's the answer. Jesus was able to endure the cross because of "the joy that was set before him." God's solution to Jesus' depression was to give him joy.
What was it that Jesus was joyful about? There was nothing in his immediate situation that called for joy; he still faced the suffering and humiliation of the cross. The answer is right here in the same verse: God had him look beyond the cross, not just to his resurrection, but to what he would be doing after his resurrection. Where is Jesus now? He is seated at God's right hand. That's what God set before him, and that was the source of the joy that kept him going unhesitatingly to the Cross.
The right hand of God is a position of authority and power. According to Psalm 16, it is also a place of joy.
Psalm 16:8-11
(8) I have set the Lord always before me: because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
(9) Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
(10) For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
(11) Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fullness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.
Psalm 45:6-7
(6) Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom [is] a right sceptre.
(7) Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
God enabled Jesus to overcome his depression by focusing his attention on something that he could not have yet, but which was guaranteed to him in the future. In other words, God gave him something to hope for.
There are two vantage points available to the Christian that enable him or her to set in proper perspective the things that are happening in life. The first is to look at things from our legal position, where we are seated with Christ at God's right hand.
Ephesians 2:4-7
(4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
(5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
(6) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
(7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
God has raised us up together with Christ and made us sit together in the heavens in Christ Jesus. When you're sitting in the heavens in Christ, everything on earth looks small. No matter how immense or unsolvable our situation may seem from the vantage point of the earth, they all seem small and manageable from the vantage point of the heavens. Our Heavenly Father is more than able to deal with anything we are confronted with in life.
The second vantage point that sets things in proper perspective for us is looking at things from the vantage point of Christ's return. Looking at our lives and our situations from the viewpoint of Christ's return reminds us that all we see around us is temporary, while what God has given us and done for us in Christ is forever.
Have you ever, while reading a tense part in a suspense novel, looked ahead to the end of the book to make sure a favorite character was still around? If he is, your anxiety about what he's going through in the middle of the book is considerably lessened, because you know it's only temporary. At the end of the book he or she will be alive and well.
Well, we've read the end of the book -- God's book -- and guess what? If you've confessed Christ as your Lord, you're still alive and doing well at the end of the book! Knowing this gives you strength for dealing with whatever difficulties you are faced with now, because you are assured that they are temporary, and you will still be here when they are gone.

Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, M.Min

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why Did David Fall?

David loved God probably more than any human that ever lived did, and he fell prey to sexual temptation. We often try and pick apart the scenario that led up to the fall of David. Yes there were many factors. 1. David should have been on the battlefield. 2. David was away from the Ark of the Covenant, which was the very presence of God. 3. David was alone, a lack of accountability since the priest and the prophets were also on the field of battle. 4. The reason we all overlook and we don’t want to deal with…BATHSHEBA WAS BEAUTIFUL!



I am sure David had seen other women that looked beautiful, but the devil made sure that David would see one that would cause his libido to go into overload. All men have specifics when it comes to a woman. Some men like skinny women, some men like athletic women and some men (ahem) like voluptuous women. The devil knows your fleshly desires because the weapons of HIS warfare all deal with our FLESH (I Cor. 10:13). If you like a thick, light-skinned girl, with gray eyes and pretty legs then guess what, The devil will send her your way! If dark-skinned girls with wide hips, and large breast are your thing well the devil knows that too.



Chaplain Mark H. Stevens

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blog Talk Radio

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/chaplainstevens/2012/01/13/church-growth-a-biblical-perspective

Friday, May 27, 2011

You are loved by God the Father

You are loved by God, not because of what you've done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He longed to have a relationship with you even before you became His child!
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
This one may be hard to get your mind around, but it is true. God loves us with the same love that He had towards Jesus Himself! Look at this passage in scripture:
John 17:23, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
Jesus said that the greatest love a man can show for his friends, is when he lays down his life for them. Jesus laid down His life for us - that is how valuable and dear we are to Him!
John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
As a matter of fact, if we don't realize the love of God, we cannot be filled with the fullness of God. We will lack His fullness in our lives until we come to know of His deep love for us:
Ephesians 3:17-19, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."
You were purchased at a steep price
The wages of your sin is death (see Romans 6:23), but Jesus paid that price for you. God's Word tells us that we were purchased by the precious Blood of the Lamb:
1 Corinthians 6:20, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Revelations 5:9, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed (meaning purchased) us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;"
Why did Jesus purchase us with His own Blood? Because of His deep love for us, and He deeply desires to have a loving relationship with you and I.
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

We are justified and declared innocent
If you have repented of your sins and accepted the gift of God, referring to the forgiveness of sins through the precious shed Blood of Christ, then God's Word tells us that we are justified:
Galatians 2:16, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
The word justified in the above passage is derived from the Greek word dikaioo, which means, "to render (that is, show or regard as) just or innocent: - free, justify (-ier), be righteous." If a person is justified, it means they are made innocent or made just as if they have never sinned!
We are entitled to a clean conscience
Since our sins have been put away and removed from us, and we are justified, that is, made right with God, you and I are entitled to a clean and un-defiled conscience!
Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
My friend, if you are still beating yourself up over your past failures which have been nailed to the cross, you are denying the work that Christ has done for you! A clean conscience before the Lord agrees with what Christ has done in removing their sin and declaring them as justified or innocent before the Lord.
Your sins are no longer a part of you
The truth is that your sins have not simply been covered, but actually removed from your account. This was not possible in the Old Testament, but through the precious Blood of Christ, the removal of sins is a reality.
John 1:29, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
Matthew 26:28, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

Strongholds


The power of your thoughts - Where many strongholds begin
The enemy loves to put thoughts into the believer's mind. Those thoughts (if meditated on), produce strongholds, which produces feelings, which lands you into bondage... all because you listened to the devil more then your heavenly Father! I am going to use a common stronghold here in this teaching as an example... an incorrect perception of who you are in Christ. There are many other strongholds out there, but this teaching will give you a general idea of how many strongholds are formed.
How it works
Two voices are speaking: Satan likes to come along and tell you, "Look at that sin you did 5 years ago! That was so bad! You are such a failure!" But Jesus, through God's Word, tries to tell you that if you turn to Him, you will be forgiven (1 John 1:9), and your past will be forgotten: Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
You are faced with a choice: You can either listen to Satan's lie that you are a failure, or you can listen to God's Word that tells you that your past has been washed away and you are a new creature in Christ! 2 Cor 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Whichever voice you listen to will crowd the other one out: If you have two dogs that fight all the time, and you can only afford to feed one of them, how do you know which one will win? The one you feed! The same is true in the spiritual realm. The more you listen to Satan's lies and deception, the more he will build strongholds in your mind, and the more strongholds that go up, the harder it will be to hear God's voice. The other side of the coin is true too... the more you feast yourself on the truth in God's Word, the more it tears down strongholds and makes it harder for the enemy's voice to penetrate your system.
If you listen to Satan's lies that you are a failure, he will continue to feed you that lie, and it will grow into a stronghold (a lie that is believed, or an incorrect thinking pattern). Your feelings are quite often a direct result of your thoughts. If you think you are a failure, you will feel like one.
If you listen to your heaven Father, who is speaking truth to you through His Word, you will begin to tear down the strongholds in your life. When you meditate on the truth in God's Word, it will become part of you, and before long, you will be feeling different, simply because you are exchanging lies of the devil for the truth in God's Word. When you believe that your sins are forgiven, you can then allow your conscience to be cleansed from dead works by the blood of Jesus: Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
A practical example
Let me show you how many believers end up feeling like losers... guilt-ridden by their pasts. It all starts with a simple voice of condemnation from the enemy. Satan, through his network of evil spirits (that's how the devil speaks to people, since Satan can't be everywhere at once), injects thoughts into their mind that remind them of their past and their failures. They begin to listen to his voice and agree with it. They did sin, and they failed. But instead of looking at the solution, which is repentance and the blood of Jesus (which washes away sin), they continue to listen to the enemy who keeps reminding them of their past. As they continue to do this, stronghold(s) are formed. A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern based on lies and formed in deception. Once a stronghold is in place, the person naturally thinks of their past instead of focusing on the fact that their past has been forgiven and wiped away. They believe they are a failure instead of believing the truth in God's Word, which tells them that they have been forgiven, washed clean, and even God Himself has chosen to forget their dirty past! So instead of feeling like a child of God who was washed clean in the blood of Jesus, they feel unworthy, guilty and consider them self a loser. What a shame for a child of God to feel that way!
Your thoughts can affect how you feel
When you believe something, it will affect your feelings. When you believe you are a failure, you will feel like one. When you believe you are a forgiven saint, you will feel like one.
The difference between a guilt-ridden Christian and a light-hearted and joyful Christian is often one simple thing... what they are thinking about. Guess who's thinking about the sin, the guilt and the past? Now guess who's thinking about how they have been washed clean and they are a new person in Christ Jesus?
Whatever you keep your mind on (think about often) will affect your whole being. Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
An exception to the rule: Evil spirits are known to directly affect our emotions, feelings, etc. King Saul was tormented with fear and depression directly. However, evil spirits often use our thoughts to access our feelings, and this is done through the creation of strongholds. This is what we are addressing in this teaching... how the enemy uses our thoughts to build strongholds, and how strongholds affect our feelings.
In a nutshell
Thoughts from the enemy (if listened to) turn into strongholds (lies believed or incorrect thinking patterns) which affect how you feel (you feelings often stem from your beliefs) and can cause you to remain in bondage to plain simple ignorance. Jesus made it clear that it's possible for a believer to remain in bondage to sin even after they've been set free, all due to ignorance of the truth in God's Word (John 8:31-36).
If you think you're a failure, you'll feel like a failure. If you think you're a new creation (washed clean from your past), you'll feel clean and new... alive in Christ!
This is one elementary subject that most Christians still don't fully understand, and it is a powerful key to spiritual breakthrough for countless believers around the globe today! Don't believe you're just an old forgiven sinner just because some pastor tells you so. Look these things up in the Word of God for yourself and know the truth. For Jesus said clearly that if we continue in His Word, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free!
John 8:32, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
The opposite of truth is deception or false beliefs... and will cause you to live in bondage unnecessarily. This subject is no exception. If you see yourself as a failure, you will not be able to boldly exercise your authority in Christ because you will feel unworthy (even after the Blood of Christ has made you worthy). If you claim to be unworthy after the Blood of Christ has made you worthy, then you are denying the work of Christ in your life!
I want you to say to yourself, "I am worthy, because JESUS' blood has made me worthy!"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Power of Your Thoughts


The power of your thoughts - Where many strongholds begin
The enemy loves to put thoughts into the believer's mind. Those thoughts (if meditated on), produce strongholds, which produces feelings, which lands you into bondage... all because you listened to the devil more then your heavenly Father! I am going to use a common stronghold here in this teaching as an example... an incorrect perception of who you are in Christ. There are many other strongholds out there, but this teaching will give you a general idea of how many strongholds are formed.
How it works
Two voices are speaking: Satan likes to come along and tell you, "Look at that sin you did 5 years ago! That was so bad! You are such a failure!" But Jesus, through God's Word, tries to tell you that if you turn to Him, you will be forgiven (1 John 1:9), and your past will be forgotten: Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
You are faced with a choice: You can either listen to Satan's lie that you are a failure, or you can listen to God's Word that tells you that your past has been washed away and you are a new creature in Christ! 2 Cor 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Whichever voice you listen to will crowd the other one out: If you have two dogs that fight all the time, and you can only afford to feed one of them, how do you know which one will win? The one you feed! The same is true in the spiritual realm. The more you listen to Satan's lies and deception, the more he will build strongholds in your mind, and the more strongholds that go up, the harder it will be to hear God's voice. The other side of the coin is true too... the more you feast yourself on the truth in God's Word, the more it tears down strongholds and makes it harder for the enemy's voice to penetrate your system.
If you listen to Satan's lies that you are a failure, he will continue to feed you that lie, and it will grow into a stronghold (a lie that is believed, or an incorrect thinking pattern). Your feelings are quite often a direct result of your thoughts. If you think you are a failure, you will feel like one.
If you listen to your heaven Father, who is speaking truth to you through His Word, you will begin to tear down the strongholds in your life. When you meditate on the truth in God's Word, it will become part of you, and before long, you will be feeling different, simply because you are exchanging lies of the devil for the truth in God's Word. When you believe that your sins are forgiven, you can then allow your conscience to be cleansed from dead works by the blood of Jesus: Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
A practical example
Let me show you how many believers end up feeling like losers... guilt-ridden by their pasts. It all starts with a simple voice of condemnation from the enemy. Satan, through his network of evil spirits (that's how the devil speaks to people, since Satan can't be everywhere at once), injects thoughts into their mind that remind them of their past and their failures. They begin to listen to his voice and agree with it. They did sin, and they failed. But instead of looking at the solution, which is repentance and the blood of Jesus (which washes away sin), they continue to listen to the enemy who keeps reminding them of their past. As they continue to do this, stronghold(s) are formed. A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern based on lies and formed in deception. Once a stronghold is in place, the person naturally thinks of their past instead of focusing on the fact that their past has been forgiven and wiped away. They believe they are a failure instead of believing the truth in God's Word, which tells them that they have been forgiven, washed clean, and even God Himself has chosen to forget their dirty past! So instead of feeling like a child of God who was washed clean in the blood of Jesus, they feel unworthy, guilty and consider them self a loser. What a shame for a child of God to feel that way!
Your thoughts can affect how you feel
When you believe something, it will affect your feelings. When you believe you are a failure, you will feel like one. When you believe you are a forgiven saint, you will feel like one.
The difference between a guilt-ridden Christian and a light-hearted and joyful Christian is often one simple thing... what they are thinking about. Guess who's thinking about the sin, the guilt and the past? Now guess who's thinking about how they have been washed clean and they are a new person in Christ Jesus?
Whatever you keep your mind on (think about often) will affect your whole being. Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
An exception to the rule: Evil spirits are known to directly affect our emotions, feelings, etc. King Saul was tormented with fear and depression directly. However, evil spirits often use our thoughts to access our feelings, and this is done through the creation of strongholds. This is what we are addressing in this teaching... how the enemy uses our thoughts to build strongholds, and how strongholds affect our feelings.
In a nutshell
Thoughts from the enemy (if listened to) turn into strongholds (lies believed or incorrect thinking patterns) which affect how you feel (you feelings often stem from your beliefs) and can cause you to remain in bondage to plain simple ignorance. Jesus made it clear that it's possible for a believer to remain in bondage to sin even after they've been set free, all due to ignorance of the truth in God's Word (John 8:31-36).
If you think you're a failure, you'll feel like a failure. If you think you're a new creation (washed clean from your past), you'll feel clean and new... alive in Christ!
This is one elementary subject that most Christians still don't fully understand, and it is a powerful key to spiritual breakthrough for countless believers around the globe today! Don't believe you're just an old forgiven sinner just because some pastor tells you so. Look these things up in the Word of God for yourself and know the truth. For Jesus said clearly that if we continue in His Word, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free!
John 8:32, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
The opposite of truth is deception or false beliefs... and will cause you to live in bondage unnecessarily. This subject is no exception. If you see yourself as a failure, you will not be able to boldly exercise your authority in Christ because you will feel unworthy (even after the Blood of Christ has made you worthy). If you claim to be unworthy after the Blood of Christ has made you worthy, then you are denying the work of Christ in your life!
I want you to say to yourself, "I am worthy, because JESUS' blood has made me worthy!"
You are loved by God the Father
You are loved by God, not because of what you've done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He longed to have a relationship with you even before you became His child!
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
This one may be hard to get your mind around, but it is true. God loves us with the same love that He had towards Jesus Himself! Look at this passage in scripture:
John 17:23, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
Jesus said that the greatest love a man can show for his friends, is when he lays down his life for them. Jesus laid down His life for us - that is how valuable and dear we are to Him!
John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
As a matter of fact, if we don't realize the love of God, we cannot be filled with the fullness of God. We will lack His fullness in our lives until we come to know of His deep love for us:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tips on Staying Free of Pornography

Avoid stores that sell porn, especially those that display it behind the cash register so you can see it as you check out
Don't surf the internet alone
Avoid sexually explicit movies (usually R rated and some PG rated)
Avoid looking at people in a sexual manner. If you can't look at a person without having sexual thoughts, then don't look at all!
If married, avoid being separated from your spouse, especially in the evening
Avoid being alone
Pre-plan alternate, non-pornographic activities you will do when you feel the urge to view porn. Examples:
Ask God for help in prayer
Pray for others struggling with porn addiction
Call a friend
Exercise
Recite Bible verses audibly
Sing praise songs to God
Install internet filters on your computer and give a friend the password; use a text only browser (like Lynx) if search engine pictures are tempting you
When tempted, remind yourself the truth about the lies behind the temptations
Take actions to clean out your home from any physical or spiritual stumbling blocks related to porn

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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Theologians that Love to Write!

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Was Paul's Thorn in The Flesh?


Paul’s explanation of what his splinter in the flesh really was is quite clear:

"Wherefore also, lest I should be lifted up by the transcendence of the revelations, there was given me a splinter in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, that he may be buffeting me, lest I may be lifted up"

"For this I entreat the Lord thrice, that it should withdraw from me. And He protested to me, ‘Sufficient for you is My grace, for My power in Infirmity is being perfected" (II Cor. 12:7-9).

Notice, "...there was given me a splinter in the flesh, a messenger of Satan..." The "splinter" is the "messenger." It is exactly the same as "...there is one God, the Father..." The "Father" IS the "one God." The splinter IS the messenger. But wait; there’s more.

So the "messenger" is the "splinter." What was the messenger to do to Paul? Answer: "...that he may be buffeting me..." (Ver. 8).

"Buffeting" comes from the Greek word kol aph iz’o = CHASTEN-FROM. It means: "to rap with the fist" (Strong’s Greek Dictionary p. 43. Webster’s, buffet, (bufit) n. a blow. "A blow." Now where have we seen that before?

II Cor. 11:23--"...in blows inordinately..."

Again, Webster’s New World Dictionary, blow n. 1 a hard hit, as with the fist 2 a sudden attack 3 a sudden calamity; shock.

Webster’s Twenteth-Century Dictionary gives us an even broader definition: buffeting, n. 1. A striking with the hands. 2. A succession of blows; strife; opposition; adversity.

So now we have a good idea of the meaning of this word "buffet"--A hard hit (especially to the face), sudden attack, sudden calamity, shock, succession of blows, strife, opposition, and adversity. Why would Paul call all this pain and calamity "a splinter"? A splinter seems rather mild compared to the miseries that define buffet. That’s because Paul is not speaking of intensity when he speaks of a "splinter," but rather the incessantness of a splinter. The pain and aggravation is constant. It never goes away. It plagues one with every move, until the splinter is removed.

The idiomatic expression "a splinter in my flesh" is still in popular usage. We alter it slightly to "a thorn in my flesh" or "a thorn in my side." We say things like: "Jack as been a thorn in my side ever since he came to work here."

The pain that Paul suffered from his hundreds of trials was obviously very intense. However, an analogy of a "splinter in the flesh" is not a description of intensity, but rather of its uninterrupted, nonstop, persistence. Paul suffered by buffeting for fourteen years prior to his writing II Corinthians, and probably another eleven years after writing II Corinthians, seeing that God never did remove it from him ("Sufficient for you is My grace...").

Imagine twenty-five years of such suffering by being buffeted by a messenger of Satan. Why so much? Why so severe? Why so long?

Remember, Paul’s revelations were transcendent. It is, therefore, necessary that his humiliation must be in accord with his exaltation. Is there a negative word that answers, in kind, to the word "transcendence"? Yes. It’s the word "inordinately"!

Let’s first look at the positive: Webster’s, transcend, 1. To go beyond the limits of; exceed 2. To surpass; excel. This is the positive side of [h]uperbole.

Now the negative: I like Webster’s New World Student’s Dictionary: inordinate, adj. too many or too much; excessive.

How revealing these words are. Paul’s privilege in revelations was so high (maybe almost too high) that God had to answer this exaltation with the opposite of "transcendence." Something that will humble him. Something "excessive." Something that is almost "too much." Inordinately!

God’s answer and remedy to "transcendence" is "inordinately."

Here’s proof: The word "transcendence" and the word "inordinately" are both translated from the same Greek word, "[h]uper bal’lo"!

Paul’s splinter was a messenger of Satan. His purpose was to buffet Paul. Buffeting was the category that Paul said happened to him inordinately, which answers in kind to Paul’s transcendence in revelations. So Paul lived for twenty-five years, being "hit hard," "suddenly," constantly and incessantly (like an aggravating "splinter in the flesh").

We have to understand that Paul could not live normally, by just expecting a setback or trial from time to time as circumstances would allow. No. Paul traveled in foreign lands for years, fully conscious of the fact that this appointed messenger of Satan was always there, like a sniper in the dark, ready to suddenly pounce on Paul with blows of every description and severity of pain and agony. And how often did these things happen to Paul? Almost too often, and too much--INORDINATELY!