Saturday, November 3, 2012

O LORD, open His eyes So He May See

Reference Text = Elisha 6:17 -  And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Remember this story in the bible? The story where Elisha was basically being ambushed by an army. His servant was extremely afraid because he thought it was the end for him and Elisha. However, Elisha prayed that God would open the servant's eyes so that he would know that there was more that were for them than those that were against them.

Although, their enemies were all the servant could see, the reality was that God had sent hills full of horse and chariots of fire; an army of God sent as protection, to come against Elisha's enemies.

The ability to recognize the things we have working in our favor (especially in the midst of bad situations) is something that can be so helpful to us. To be so consumed in fear and worry sometimes makes it EASY for us to overlook the opportunities, blessings and provision that has already been provided for us!

I recently heard a preacher preach from the story of Hagar. In this story, Abraham sends bondservant, Hagar and their young son away from their home and Hagar eventually runs out of water and thinks the son is going to die of dehydration! The bible says she put her son under a bush because she didn't want to witness his death. But then God came and made a promise to her then opened her eyes and she was able to see there was water near her all along!

The Bible says in Gen 21:15-19:
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. ...”
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
The bible doesn't say a well of water appeared or that an angel came and created a well of water for Hagar. It says God opened her eyes and she was able to see the well of water that was there all along! Previous to the encounter, she couldn't see the well because she was so sad and depressed by her current situation. But God opened her eyes, just as he opened Elisha's servant's eyes, so they could see that in the midst of their worrying their was provision for them all along!

An optimistic attitude is not a cliche thing created to make you lie to yourself or trick yourself into believing everything is ok when its really not. On the contrary it is a way for us to take the scales of fear and worry off our eyes enabling us to see that the One who is for us is greater than the problems that are against us. He has already provided springs of water and chariots of fire for us in order to deliver us from the traumatic situations we have been facing! Our worrying, sometimes stops us from seeing that.


 

A Letter from Blogger

Dear Readers,

I haven't been able to write to you all in some time. Nevertheless, thank-you to everyone who has been sharing and visiting links of previous Revelation Revolution blog posts.

Please pray for Revelation Revolution's continued success and capacity to share some of the beauty that is treasured in the Word of God with others.

With Love,
Revelation Revolution

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Word Became Flesh & Dwelt Among Us

Reference Text
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory 
-John 1:1 & 14

As seen in John 1, our reference text, the bible specifically says that the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. This chapter is clearly referring to Jesus Christ as the Word of God who became a man and dwelt among us mere human beings.

With our knowledge of the fact that Jesus Christ literally is the word of God, let's try something new. Every time you are reading the bible and you see "Jesus" being mentioned replace His name (or the pronoun equivalent) with the phrase "the Word" or "the Word of God"

For example: In John 15:7, Jesus says
If ye abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Since we know Jesus Christ is the Word of God (who became flesh), we can replace the pronoun "Me" in this scripture with the phrase "the Word":
If ye abide in the Word, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
_____________________________________ 
Likewise, we can apply the same strategy to our bible reading whenever we see the phrase "the Word" or "Word of God" in the bible. Simply replace the relative phrase with the name "Jesus Christ".

For example: Luke 4:4 says
It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but [also] by every word of God.
Since we know the "Word of God" is Jesus Christ, we can replace the phrase "every word of God" with the name "Jesus Christ":
It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but [also] by Jesus Christ.
_____________________________________ 
Interesting right? Here are some other examples:

John 14:6
****Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." 
****Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through the word of God."

Hebrews 4:12a
****For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword
****For Jesus Christ is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword

Ephesians 6:17
****Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
****Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is Jesus Christ.

Remember: "the Word was God... and the Word became flesh & dwelt among us" as Jesus Christ

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Freely Forgive

"...Freely you have received, Freely give" -Matthew 10:8

Many times, as Christians, we are hurt by associates, people in churches, or sometimes loved ones who we feel should have been more loving or less spiteful to us. Lack of forgiveness is very present among Christians because hurt hurts no matter how holy you are! It's never easy to let go of pain, especially when that pain is still hurting you. However, in life I've learned an easy step by step home remedy that serves as an instant cure to the pain of un-forgiveness and I would love to share it with you:

Think about every wrong thing you've ever done. Consider the sins you have committed, your inadequacies and the many times you have fallen short of the glory of God. The bible says even our righteous acts are seen as filthy rags to God. That's understandable because, if we're honest with ourselves we'd admit, there our times when even our good deeds are tainted with bits of ulterior motives, unwillingness or false humility.

Jesus did not die because he was killed by the religious people who didn't believe He was the Messiah. He died because you killed Him! Those religious men did not have the power or the authority to beat, abuse, spit on, degrade and kill the King of kings. Jesus said it perfectly when He said "No one takes my life, I lay my life down". The fact is, the King of kings laid His life down because of your inability to be righteous!

Factually speaking, there were things that your unrighteousness made you entitled to. Sickness is a punishment of your unrighteousness. Poverty is a punishment of your sins. Lack of peace and all these negative things is what you deserved as a person who constantly fails and falls short of perfection. 

When God saw that you were failing Him and (being the just God that He is) knew that you deserved pain, lack of peace and death as your punishment, His heart could not allow for that to be your portion. The bible says that in sending Jesus to the earth, He was PEIRCED for the transgressions that were YOURS, He was CRUSHED for YOUR INIQUITIES; the punishment that brought YOU peace was upon HIM (meaning He took the punishment you deserved), and by His wounds you are healed.

When, I really became honest with myself and thought about how much of a failure I was... always making mistakes and never able to be perfect in pleasing God, even though I genuinely tried... and then when I learned the true extent to which God doesn't care how imperfect I am because the price for my unrighteousness was taken care of by Him, I couldn't understand why He thought I deserved that type of treatment. Nevertheless, I was grateful for His love because I knew had it not been for his undeserved mercifulness and unconditional faithfulness to me, I would have been dead and in an eternal punishment of torment a long time ago.

When you really understand that all that you have in life is undeserved; when you really come to learn that had it not been for the grace of God (which you and I don't even deserve to be entitled to) you would not even be alive, you would realize that your imperfect brothers and sisters are equally entitled to that unconditional love. Technically, none of us deserve it. You might not have committed the same wrong that person who hurt you committed, but in the eyes of God all sin is equally unrighteous. There is not one person who is more or less deserving of forgiveness because ALL OFFENSES ARE OFFENSIVE!

I've reached the point where (sometimes) when people hurt me, I see the glory of God in it. I examine a person's mistakes and it takes me back to the fact that if I forgive that person, I am giving them forgiveness they do NOT deserve. That mere thought reminds me that without Jesus, I am nothing but an imperfect, undeserving sinner on my way to punishment and death. I see myself in other people's short-comings and am reminded of the scripture verse quoted above: Freely I have received so freely I can give. Out of the abundance of forgiveness I've received from God I can freely give forgiveness to others. You will know when you are truly conscious of how much God's love for you is unconditional when you are able to freely give forgiveness to others the way He freely gave it to you so you can live and have the right to live happily.



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

All Things Work Together for Good

One of my favorite promises in the bible is Romans 8:28 where Paul says to the Romans:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
This is a line that is quoted in churches all the time, but I always think it's important to look at memory scriptures, like this one, in context with the chapter it is found in to find out its intended meaning. So let's do that with this verse.

In Romans 8, Paul is talking to the Romans about being led by the Spirit and not walking after the flesh. He is not talking to a group of people who he is trying to convince to stop walking after the flesh. He is talking to a group who already walk in the Spirit. We know this because of verses like verse 9 where he says to the people, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit". Or because of verses like verse 23 where he says to the people, "we... also have the first fruits of the Spirit".  In this chapter, Paul constantly is referring to the Romans as people who already have the Spirit of God. If you read the entire chapter (up until Romans 8:28, our reference text) you will see that even when Paul is talking about people who walk after the flesh, he refers to them in the third person; inferring that those types of people were not numbered among those he was speaking to.

Paul even goes on to say in verse 26-27

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now [God] who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because [the Spirit] makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Here, Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit's ability to pray the perfect will of God for the lives of those who walk in the Spirit (when they pray in the Spirit/speak in tongues). 

So it is clear that Paul is exclusively talking to a group of people who have received and ALSO are led by the Spirit of God.
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Then AFTER Paul points out the Holy Spirit's ability to pray the perfect will of God for our lives, He THEN says our reference text; verse 28:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
We can conclude in this context, (and through reading the whole chapter,) that Paul is referring to those who are led by the Holy Spirit as the ones who "love God and who are called according to His purpose".

Paul is trying to inform the Romans that because they seek after and have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will always lead them to the right places at the right time, put the right people in their life, take the wrong people out, open the right doors, close the wrong ones etc. Since the Holy Spirit's role is to be our advisor and advocate to be led by the Holy Spirit means you are operating in the perfect will of God. So even when seemingly bad things are happening, a person led by the Holy Spirit can rest assured that even that bad thing will work together with God's plan for their good.

Paul wraps up this concept so perfectly by letting the people know that no matter what bad is going on around them, because they are in the will of God (by having the Holy Spirit) all things will work together in their favor. In verses 31-39 he says this:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ... 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? ... 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 37 ... we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These are the promises to those who love God and are called according to His purpose, to those who are no longer walking in the flesh, but are led by the infinite wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always lead you to where you need to be. So remember, seek first the kingdom of God (which is described in the bible as righteousness and peace of the Holy Spirit) and all your needs will be added to you! All things work together for your good when you are led by this Spirit.

Amen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Christian Meditation (Pt 1)


Meditation can be a taboo thing in Christianity for the fact that when we think of "meditation" we automatically think of nature soundtracks, positive affirmations, hypnosis, and other worldly things. Nevertheless, meditation is actually a concept the world has taken from the bible and made their own! Now we find that Christians rarely ever meditate because they don't want to be like the "world". However, it was a practice that started in the bible!

Sometimes in the Old Testament, when the word "meditate" appears, it was literally meant to mean, "tune out" or be unaware of your surroundings. In Isaiah 33:18, the scripture reads “Your heart will meditate on terror”. In the literal translation of this scripture the term “soliloquize” is used in place of the word “meditate”. Soliloquize means to utter in a soliloquy. By definition, a soliloquy is an utterance by a person who is talking to himself or herself and is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present.

We get the idea that to be disregardful of one's surroundings means a person is in an intense state of meditation or concentration. The way the word meditate (or soliloquize) was meant to be used here shows a deep level of being consumed by one's thoughts: to "meditate on terror".

In comparison to the way the term meditate was used in some other parts of the bible, to soliloquize means to be in a deeper state of concentration. For example, David says in Psalms 145:5, “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty”. Here David is implying he will think about or reflect on something. This use of the word shows less intensity than being consumed by thoughts of terror as seen in the above scripture, Isaiah 33:18.

Interestingly enough, the intense version of the word “meditate” is also seen in one of the most popular Old Testament scriptures where the word is used. Joshua 1:8 reads:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous”
In this scripture the word “meditate” was, once again, literally translated from Hebrew to the word “soliloquize”. Unlike common belief, this scripture does not simply mean to read the word or reflect on the word every day and night. It literally means to utter repetitively to oneself, with such a level of concentration that the person becomes disregardful or oblivious to his or her surroundings. This scripture was actually a suggestion for Joshua to engage in actual meditation in order for the book of the law to be a subconscious lifestyle for him. Doing this is what was suggested to Joshua as the way for him to make himself successful and prosperous.

Meditation has become a practice that is almost barely used in Christianity. In fact the world has taken meditation and trivialized it to become a worldly concept with an almost evil connotation. However, just because the world has trivialized meditation this does not mean it is something that should be removed from Christianity. (The world has also trivialized music, but as we know, music is something that was created in heaven!)

Nevertheless, believe it or not, meditation is actually used in Christian churches more than we realize. Every time a congregation is directed by a leader to repeat a certain phrase, especially when the people are asked to repeat the phrase over and over again, this is a form of meditation. When a preacher says the same phrase or idea to a congregation in more than one different ways, this is a form of getting the people to meditate on what they are being told. Meditation literally is the act of concentrating on and rehashing a concept or thought in order to reach a heightened level of awareness (almost at a subconscious level) so that the concept can automatically come back to your remembrance whenever necessary (in times when you're not "meditating"). 


Click Here to Read on to Part 2 of Christian Meditation
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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Benefit of Having God on Your Side

Studying the life of David, I became curious when I read that King Saul's ashes were buried under a Tamarisk Tree after He died. So, I did research to figure out what the significance of a tamarisk tree is when used in the bible and found it's a beautiful thing to those who are numbered among God's people.

Firstly, the tamarisk tree is only mentioned four times in the bible.
  1. Genesis 21:33 
  2. 1 Samuel 22:6 
  3. 1 Samuel 31:13 
  4. 1 Chronicles 10:12 
Now before I even mention the tamarisk tree's significance in the bible, let me explain the nature of the tamarisk. The tamarisk tree can  pretty much be described as a "selfish tree". With extremely deep roots, a tamarisk takes in about 1000 liters of water a day! This makes it hard to care for a tamarisk tree in the sense that it depletes the water supply for those in the region surrounding the tamarisk. Not only that, the leaves and branches of the tree cause for the ground surrounding it to be covered with a salty residue that disables other plants from growing around it! As if that weren't bad enough, this salt increases the risk of fire in the area where the tamarisk grows. However, the tamarisk not only survives such fires, but it also causes them to multiply being that hundreds of seeds PER TAMARISK TREE are now able to grow in a nitrogen/salt filled environment; suited for the growth of tamarisk trees. The only considerate thing that tamarisk's provide for non-tamarisk's is shade and nesting places for some species of birds.

So you see, when I say the tamarisk is a "selfish tree" what I'm saying is that it is hard for people or other plants to dwell in an area where tamarisk's are planted/growing. Yet, the same things that make it hard for others to dwell in that area are beneficial for the growth of tamarisks. This is interesting in the sense that the first reference of the tamarisk was in Genesis 21 when Abraham planted one. This comes after Abraham had lied to Abimelech and told him that his wife was his sister. The bible says Abimelech "took" Abraham's wife and God came to him in a dream and said "Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”

Abimelech had no idea that Sarah was Abraham's wife and it was because of Abraham's dishonesty that Abimelech had taken Sarah in the first place! Nevertheless, you see God selfishly preparing an environment for His own people to dwell seemingly having no real remorse for the lives of the people around them. 

God then says to Abimelech in the dream:
 “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.  Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
Fearing his life, Abimelech follows God's orders and goes down to meet Abraham. Now 2 things should be noted here:
  1. Abimelech was a king in that region; THE king of that region
  2. And Abraham had come into HIS TERRITORY; not the other way around
Nevertheless, when Abimelech went down to Abraham (following God's orders), Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech and then planted the tamarisk tree. This signifies that this region is now on God's side and Abimelech (and his people) are now, by association, a part of the favored clique that is God's people. This is similar to the way the tamarisk tree provides a safe dwelling environment only for other tamarisk's and some species of selected animals. It is way better to be on the side of the tamarisks than it is to be consumed by their very presence!

On the flip side, in the last three instances where the tamarisk tree is mentioned, this is when King Saul was trying to kill future King David. First Saul is sitting under a tamarisk right before murdering all of God's priests. Then, when Saul finally dies in war His ashes are buried under a tamarisk tree (the three scriptures where this takes place are the last three scriptures listed above). As we know, Saul wasn't exactly favored by God in either of these instances. This signifies the negative aspects of being around a tamarisk tree while not being one of the tamarisks. It is not beneficial.

Saul was trying to kill David the first time he is mentioned to be under a tamarisk. The mere mentioning of the tamarisk was a symbol of the fact that Saul was not going to prevail against God's favored servant. Since Saul was no longer numbered as one of God's people, being under a tamarisk only means that damage was inevitable for him. As suspected, Saul dies in war without ever harming David. Metaphorically, he is then burned and his ashes are buried under a tamarisk! Eerie...

So the mentioning of the tamarisk tree in the bible, shows God's loyalty and unmerited favor towards his people and those who his people are at peace with. Remember, the bible says that no weapon formed against you will ever prosper and every tongue that rises up against you will be condemned. You can rest assured that the battle is not yours; the battle is THE LORD'S and if the King of kings is on your side, victory is assured!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

E-Book: The Holy Spirit Series

It's finally here! The ARevelationRevolution Holy Spirit Blog Series has officially been turned into an E-Book! It's called The Holy Spirit Series and is available for you to download for free or read online for free. Please share this with others! Thank you for your continued support.
Open publication        

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Friday, July 13, 2012

What the Bible Says Your Purpose Is

You and I have never seen dinosaurs, right? Well, the reason why can possibly be explained by Genesis 1. The bible says in the beginning when the heavens and earth were created, the earth was without form, void and darkness was on the face of the deep. The word void here is not a noun and therefore cannot be defined by the noun's definition of the word; empty. It is an adjective. So we can apply the adj. definition of the word "void" to the way it was used in Genesis 1; useless, ineffectual or in vain. Meaning the earth had no purpose.

To further illustrate this let's look at the Hebrew Interlinear Bible. We know the old testament was originally written in Hebrew and was later translated into english. The literal translation of this line (from Hebrew to English) is as follows:
and·the·earth she-became chaos and·vacancy and·darkness over surfaces-of abyss  
Here, the verse says the earth became chaos. The earth was not made to have chaos. The literal Hebrew Bible says it became chaos. Now, how could there have been chaos on earth if nothing was on it? We know one thing: whatever was on the earth was not fulfilling the will and purpose of God because we saw Him give the earth a makeover so whatever He did purpose for the earth would come into fruition.
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Now, when God created man, He gave Him 4 assignments.

  • Be fruitful and multiply
  • Fill the Earth
  • Subdue the Earth
  • Have Dominion over Every Living Thing 

Actually, the literal translation of the verse where God commands Adam of these things (Genesis 1:28), says be fruitful and increase, fill and subdue the earth and sway the animals. Now we automatically assume that God was telling Adam to have lots of children, but actually the word "increase" is not limited to expanding in kin. God was telling man to operate in abundance. Not just in family, but in prosperity and success. God didn't just want Adam to exist. He wanted Him to to add to the earth. He was telling man to fill and subdue the earth. Subdue means to overcome and bring under control. God did not want for chaos to abound the way it was before He created Adam. 


Now God could have done this task Himself, but He created man in His own image and likeness with the ability to add to the earth and to overcome and take dominion over it. It is your and my assignment for the will and glory of God. Satan Himself is the prince of this world (John 13:40). Nevertheless, God has given you the assignment to use your God-given authority to subdue (overcome and bring under control) the work's of darkness and the things of this world. This is your purpose. You have an assignment. Don't just exist for existing's sake lest you become useless for the will of God. Walk in Your God-given purpose!




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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Is it a Sin for Christians to Drink Alcohol?

Is it a Sin for Christians to Drink Alcohol? This one is easy. My answer to that question, according to the bible, is a big "No". It is not a sin and here's why:

  • Jesus's first miracle was turning water into wine
  • Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to stop only drinking water and to drink some wine because of his stomach condition
  • In 1 Timothy 3 while Paul explains that a Bishop must be "not given to wine", he makes the distinction that a person in church with a lesser office (a deacon) must be "not given to much wine"
  • In Genesis 27:28 the blessing Isaac gives to his son Jacob is that God will give him the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth and plenty grain and wine
  • Wine is promised as a blessing/gift from God many, many times throughout the book of Deuteronomy
Throughout the Bible, the only time drinking is mentioned as a sin is when a person is being referred to as drunk with wine. But is the actual act of drinking (without getting drunk) a sin? According to the bible, no.



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Is it a Sin to get a Tattoo?

The only verse in the bible that actually makes mention of tattoos being a sin is Leviticus 19:28 where the word of God says:
You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.
Although many people use this as an argument against tattoos, I personally do not. That is because in the verses before and after this one there are some laws given which we break today all the time! For example verse 27 says:
You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.
Now we all know men, even preachers, who do this. Are they sinning every time they get a haircut? 

This chapter in Leviticus also says we are supposed to observe the Sabbath. Christians don't do that nowadays. Unless we agree that men shouldn't shave or that we must honor the Sabbath, etc. it is hypocritical to use Leviticus 19:28 as a means of telling people not to get tattoos.
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However, this is what I always tell people when they ask me if getting a tattoo is a sin (especially people who go to church). It is always going to be hard for tattoos to be accepted in church for cultural reasons. In time past, tattoos were most widely recognized as being associated with Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, culture (etc.). All of which had religious beliefs and ceremonial practices that were not Christian. 

Tattoos got introduced to Anglo-Saxon culture when American settlers came in contact with the culture of Native Americans. Once again, their religion was different from the Christian religion. So you can see how getting tattoos could easily have been something that passed down through Christian generations as an act of going against your own religion (and into someone else's). So even if you wanted a tattoo for innocent reasons, this is why people with traditional Christian values always saw it as being wrong.
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Here's the bible scripture(s) I always tell to people who want tattoos (or who want to engage in anything that they think is not that big of a deal while others think its a sin). Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
Here Paul is saying, it is not a sin to eat meat even though many people believe so due to the old laws given in the Old Testament. However, he says a Christian who is new to the faith might not understand how and why it is not a sin. Whereby, he will follow you in eating meat, but will have a guilty conscience about it, while your conscience is free. See, Paul explains in Romans 14:23 that whoever eats meat with a guilty conscience is actually sinning because they believe it is a sin yet choose to do it anyway. He says:
But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

So even if your conscience is free because you know eating meat or getting a tattoo or working on the Sabbath or not shaving are Old Testament laws for when people were under the law, a person who does not know that will follow you. However, because they are following you thinking they are doing something wrong, their own decision to do what they think is wrong is an act of "sin" according to the bible; even if it is not really wrong! The rebelliousness against their own guilty conscience is what is judged as wrong.

So Paul puts it best in Romans 14:19-22 when he says this:

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Food for thought :-)





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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Now, I don't want to be misleading. Although the nine gifts of the Spirit are how God Himself bares witness of Himself, we can tell that the Holy Spirit is present in people through a far simpler way. One can be deceived by a person who is pretending to speak in tongues, a false prophet or a person who is lying about experiencing a miracle of healing. Jesus warns of this in Matthew 7:15-20 and implies there is a far simpler way to tell when the Holy Spirit is present in a person. He says:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Here Jesus says a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit... Therefore by their fruit you will know them. A person who is saved and truly has the Holy Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit. Their character is molded and shaped by the Holy Spirit who is living inside of them.

What are the fruits of the Spirt? Galatians 5:22-23 states:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 
When, you see people who "bear these fruits", even if they are not delivering the bound, healing the sick, speaking in tongues and prophesying you can theorize that the Holy Spirit is present in that person.

Likewise, how do you know that the Holy Spirit is in you? You bear the fruit of the Spirit. Love, peace, joy begin to manifest themselves in and through you. You don't have to try to have peace. Peace abides on its own. You do not have to try to have self-control. Self-control manifests itself when necessary. Some of you might be able to witness to the fact  that when you spend time in the presence of God or when you read the Bible (which is described as the sword of the Spirit) these gifts abide in you almost effortlessly. Yet when you are away from the Word of God or you don't spend time with God or you're not engaging in the actions categorize people as "saved", it is much harder for gentleness and patience or joy and peace to effortlessly abide through you. (But, if you are not baring the fruits of the Holy Spirit that does not mean you are not saved anymore. As described in the blog post about Stirring Up the Spirit, it just means the Holy Spirit is lying dormant inside of you.)

The Holy Spirit in the Upper Room

I hope through breaking down the 9 gifts of the Spirit or the nine ways the spirit manifest Himself you are able to understand that these gifts are how God proves to people that He is present. Otherwise we are only believing blindly that God exists and that we are saved. However, when these gifts manifest, we are now believing in something tangible. Remember Hebrews 2:4 states God bears witness of himself both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are how God bears witness of Himself.

Understanding this concept can give us a better understanding of why the 120 people in the upper room  spoke in tongues in Acts Chapter 2. God was revealing Himself to the people for the first time through the Holy Spirit and wanted it to be clear to them that the Holy Spirit was now present. Remember we said in the previous blog post about the gift of tongues that tongues is arguably the hardest gift of the Holy Spirit for Christians (especially Christians struggling in faith) to dispute within themselves. This is why Jude says in Jude 1:20 that we build up our most holy faith when we pray in tongues.

Acts 2 Explained:
In Acts Chapter 1 verses 4 through 8 Jesus tells those who followed Him not to leave Jerusalem until after the Holy Spirit came upon them. He then tells them after the Holy Spirit does come upon them they will receive power and that they will be able to bear witness of Him not only in Jerusalem, but in Judea, Samaria and all the earth. With the knowledge we have of the gifts of the Spirit, that their role is to bear witness of God (because it is how God manifests Himself through people), we understand that the Holy Spirit was not just going to come upon them without manifesting one of the nine gifts.

If the Holy Spirit came without manifesting Himself how would the disciples have really known that He was there. It's not like nowadays where we have a New Testament that tells us the Holy Spirit comes upon every one who follows Jesus Christ. This was the first time the Holy Spirit came after the departure of Jesus so the gift of tongues was manifested as a means of the Holy Spirit bearing witness of Himself so the people would know He was now inside of them.

However, in Acts 2, speaking in tongues didn't only allow the Holy Spirit to bear witness of His presence to the 120 that were there in the upper room. As prophesied by Jesus, it bore witness of God to those in Jerusalem as well! The scripture states that the people in the region (Jerusalem) were shocked because some of the men and women who were speaking in tongues were supernaturally speaking in foreign languages that the unbelievers could understand. knowing that it takes months, sometimes years to learn a language and the followers of Jesus were speaking another language instantly by the Holy Spirit, it made them believe that God was present. Human beings, on their own, could not do such a thing.

Is the Gift of Tongues the Only Gift the Spirit Uses To Manifest Himself When People Are Saved?
The gifts of tongues isn't the only gift that manifests when people receive Jesus and consequently receive the Holy Spirit. For example in Acts 19, there were a group of twelve people who were saved who had never even heard of the Holy Spirit (now we know this still happens in our time!) and Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit began to manifest Himself and bear witness of His presence through two of the gifts of the Spirit. Acts 19:6 says:  And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Here, we see the gift of prophesy as well as the gift of tongues operating in order for the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence to those twelve people who did not even know He existed much less that he was dwelling inside of them. (Refer back to the "Stirring up the Spirit" blog post to understand that the Holy Spirit can be present in people without being manifested.)

Another instance where a gift of the Spirit, besides tongues, is manifested in people who are saved is in Mark 2 when a paralytic goes to Jesus for healing. Jesus says to him "your sins are forgiven" meaning the man received Jesus and became a "Christian". Then the gift of healing manifests in the man's life and Jesus tells Him to pick up His bed and walk. Here the gift of the Spirit, healing manifested as a means of God bearing witness of Himself. Jesus even explains, anyone who can believe that God is able to manifest Himself and heal is also able to believe that God can manifest Himself and save.

It does not always happen that the Holy Spirit manifests one of His gifts through a person who is saved. Like the group of twelve in Acts 19, the manifestation of a gift can come afterwards. Or like the man in Mark 2, it can come instantly. However, the fact that it can come at any time shows that the Holy Spirit is always there on the inside as Jesus promised in John 14.


Gifts of the Spirit Explained: Prophecy & Tongues


Prophesy
Prophesy is the first of the three Spoken Gifts of the Spirit. The literal definition of prophesy is to foretell by divine inspiration. 2 Peter 1:21 says “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”. This is seen many times throughout the bible. As we looked at earlier in the book of Ezekiel. When men prophesy, the words they speak about the future are given to them directly by God.
Different kinds of tongues
Tongues is the second of the three Spoken Gifts of the Spirit. Mark 16:17-18 says “these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues”. The gift of tongues was first seen in the bible in Acts chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit came swiftly into the room where one- hundred disciples were gathered. Acts 2:4 says “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (this passage will further be explained in the next Holy Spirit Blog Post).
Although most of the times, the words being uttered through the gift of tongues cannot be understood by men, we can be assured that what is being said is of the Holy Spirit. Therefore whatever is being spoken is sure to be within the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 describes tongues as the Holy Spirit making intercession for us through “groans” that we ourselves cannot utter:
26- Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27- Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God
One of the benefits of the gift of tongues is that although we may not know how to design our own prayers to always be for what the Father planned specifically for our individual lives, the Holy Spirit uses tongues to intercede for us according to the will of God in that way.
Another benefit of tongues is that it builds our faith. It is arguably the hardest of all the gifts for a person to dispute within themselves. If a person who just starting out in faith receives a word of prophesy, a word of knowledge or wisdom, the interpretation of tongues, discernment or faith from the Holy Spirit it can be very hard for them to differentiate whether it is the Holy Spirit or their own imagination that generated the thoughts, ideas and words. Sometimes, even when the Holy Spirit performs a healing or a miracle, the human mind thinks so logically that we can tend to sometimes question the science behind what was done to determine whether it was truly the Holy Spirit or just a rare coincidence. However, when a person receives the gift of tongues it is extremely evident to them that the Holy Spirit is present. To be extremely descriptive here, the person literally is able to feel their tongue and mouth moving; knowing that they themselves are not moving it! For this reason, there are a lot of people who still don’t ever believe a person is filled with the Holy Spirit unless the person speaks or has once spoken in tongues! It is extremely hard to dispute that gift, especially from the perspective of the person who receives it. So much so, Jude 1:20 says that when we pray in the Holy Spirit we build up our most holy faith. (According to the book of Corinthians, praying in the spirit means speaking in tongues. See in context 1 Corinthians 14:15-16)