Are We Giving Birth To Life Or Death?
Last week we discussed the birth of Christ and the celebration that we have annually called Christmas. We talked about how and why it offends and specifically why the name of Christ offends in the first place. This week, we will dive into the process of birth and how children are not the only things that we can birth in our lives. The events of pregnancy and birth are perhaps some of the most exciting moments for a young mother. However, to maintain this state and rapid pace of growth from within, she must take extra care of her body and developing baby. This mother has to not only eat right, but also ensure that they receive good pre-natal care and maintain the least stressful environment as possible. During the pregnancy, the mother goes through a range of hormone induced emotions which are brought on by this life giving process of carrying a child. There are going to be food cravings, random moments of crying, shouting, and even some hostility towards dad. The closer to her due date this new mother gets, the larger her child becomes, and the more developed he/she becomes. Around the eighth month, the child now stands a great chance of surviving outside of the womb. Many of the physical features are now visible. Mom’s mobility is now very limited. Her belly now sticks out blocking her view of the double-sized swollen ankles and feet. This mother-to-be now aches in pain and her body is sending messages to her brain that new life is about to be birthed from within her.
The big day finally arrives after several false alarms and mom is rushed to the hospital. Everyone is both nervous and excited. The nurses come in the room to check mom’s dilation, the doctor is now informed and the hospital makes its preparations. Dad begins to call all the family and notify them of the soon coming birth if he hasn’t already out of excitement. Now all the family rushes to the hospital (usually more frantic than mom herself). Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t be more excited because now they get to spoil another child, who they can also send home to terrorize their mom and dad. Besides, they owe them a few headaches anyway! As mom begins to push, she experiences severe pain and her hips begin to literally break apart. She screams out in agony and even though it seems like eternity, in an instant you hear and see a crying baby appears. Even though mom has experienced all of those battles and obstacles, she is overwhelmed with feelings of joy, love, and admiration of this new little one in her arms. Everyone becomes even more excited and is buzzing around the hospital just hoping to get a glimpse. Is he/she more like mom or dad? What color is the hair and eyes? How long are the eyelashes? All of these things come to mind.
A new birth is certainly a thrilling time full of joy and hope for the future. Many billions of exciting births have taken place all around the world. Some have ended in unfortunate tragedies; while most have produced new citizens of society who have gone on to produce more children. A major birth that comes to mind, especially this time of year is the birth of Jesus Christ. Although His birth had unusual circumstances surrounding it, it must have surely been an exciting time for Mary. Isaac also comes to mind when you reflect on exciting births and Joseph may very well be another. However, children are not the only thing that we adults can give birth to. As our Scripture points out, we can also give birth to great sin, despair, and curses upon others and ourselves.
Psalm 7:14-16 (KJV)
14 Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.
16 His trouble shall return upon his own head,
And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.
James 1:13-15 (NKJV)
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Being pregnant with sin and evil desire is not what I would consider an exciting time. It is the type of pregnancy and birth that I want to avoid at all costs. I am sure that it is unintentional when we become subject to the sin that we give birth to, however it never fails that someone often falls as a victim to this commonality. Why, you might ask? The reason is obviously because our flesh is prone to sin (Matthew 26:41). But what does it mean in Psalm 7:14-16 as it says to be “wicked”? One source explains the “wicked” by saying, “the wicked are so hotly set upon the evil which they maliciously intend, that they would be immediately acting of it.” This type of individual has no care for what is right or wrong and no conviction for the injustices that they perpetuate upon others. But, how do we get there and how can we avoid such a title as being considered “wicked”?
If you are a born-again believer (confessed faith in Christ and believe) it is impossible for you to obtain this title. One would have to literally renounce their faith and have no conviction at all, which is nearly impossible. The reason it is impossible is because God has ensured that “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6), however we may forbid Him according to our own free will from interfering in our lives by conviction. Some may consider this to be the actual unforgivable sin mentioned in Mark 3:28, however I do disagree with that distinction. Regardless, God cannot violate His Word and law by going against the will of mankind. This should give us hope as believers that as long as we have even a “mustard seed of faith” in our hearts, we have a hope in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ! But does this prevent us from “conceiving the trouble” which we entertain and giving birth to the “falsehood” that we bare? Absolutely not!
Every time we entertain sin and give it a host in our lives, it will take root and begin to manifest itself through us. The Holy Spirit’s job is to lead, direct, guide, and pray for us; however we make this job difficult and at times irrelevant when our decisions disregard His work. God simply won’t force us to be obedient to Him. He will simply just wait for us to get our act together, much like a school teacher who has lost their patience with a rowdy class. He will begin to wait until we have had suffered enough from our own iniquities and come running back to Him for help. When we give into temptation, sin, and the wickedness of the world over and over again, we give it the attention that it desires. More specifically, we begin to consider and now lay down with the enemy. As we become attracted to the things of the world and ways of the enemy, he mesmerizes us with all the flashy lights that sin has to offer. But like anything dealing with the enemy, it is all “smoke and mirrors” as they say. Soon, after lying down with the enemy in his bed, we will have “conceived” these troubles and now “bring forth” the “falsehoods” that it manifests. In other words, our evil fruit will begin to bear itself through our life.
Sin begins with a thought or feeling as highlighted in James1:13-15, but then is soon entertained when it is not resisted. When the sinful thoughts are not resisted, we begin to conceive its evil, which then allows the sin to give birth to full blown acting upon the sin. This is the “death” that is”brought forth” in verse 15. This is the part that we as Christians need to avoid, that “conception” and “death.” We will always be tempted as we pointed out earlier that the flesh is weak. Being that Jesus was also tempted, do we not expect to be also tempted ourselves? With the temptations being inevitable, we should focus on how to avoid entertaining sin and therefore its following conception and birth. We do this by following God’s Word regarding the avoidance of the entrapment of sin. Scripture such as Luke 22:40; Romans 8:37; and Hebrews 4:15-16. We should also keep in mind the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which states that, “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” and also “escape.” So, let us avoid the type of birth that gives way to the evils of this world. Let us also avoid the types of labor pains that aren’t necessary in life and cause curses that can only be taken away by the Lord’s return. As we exit this Christmas season and enter into a new year, let this new season also bring with it a new mindset and spiritual renewal. Dive into the Word of God and allow Him to do His work in you, reminding you of who’s you are and who you are! You are the child of the King! Therefore, you will give birth only to the blessings and goodness that God has willed for you in this season. God Bless you all, and may you have a most wonderful New Year’s Eve!
Matthew 26:41 (NKJV)
41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Luke 22:40 (KJV)
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
Romans 8:37 (KJV)
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (KJV)
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
‘Tis The Season of Repentance or Offense
As we all gather for the Christmas holiday this season, many of us will reminisce of past times and magical moments of our childhoods. Many times it seems that Christmas will never be the same as it was when we were five and amazed by all the lights. They were much simpler times when everyone seemed to have more patience and wanted to stick around just a little while longer at holiday events. The food was better and all the loved ones we lost along the way were present with us in those good times. In fact, as we reflect it is easy to catch ourselves taking the here and now for granted. It’s easy for us to forget how blessed we are every day by the same baby who made this season possible a couple of thousand years ago. While we are reflecting, celebrating, and exchanging gifts this holiday season, let’s not forget our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must not let our hearts develop no room in the Inn for the savior of the world. Don’t put the Christ child out in a mental manger until the holidays are over, let’s remember His sacrifice and worship him now.
We all know one of the most favored Christmas songs heard this time of year called “Mary Did You Know?” It dives into all the unknowns that we wonder about how Mary must have felt and wondered about her new child who would soon be the Savior of the world. I find myself wondering a different set of questions also. Questions such as: Mary how bad was the world when you were pregnant? Did it seem that no man would repent in those days? Did you warn those who you met that they must soon repent for the King was soon to be present with them? Mary did you know that John the Baptist would soon preach repentance to the world and prophesy the ministry of Jesus? I wonder all of these things and many more as I read about the birth and prophesied Christ stories of Luke, Matthew, Isaiah, and others. Jesus was not only the birth that brought the most joy to the world, but also brought in the most controversial message in all of the history of the world.
The message of His gospel will either convict or divide us (Luke 12:51-52). For many years in the United States, corporations have been forced to remove nativity scenes, crosses, and even Christmas trees from their premises during the holidays. Recently, it has become a common place for many people to use the saying, “happy holidays” instead of the traditional “Merry Christmas” in fear of making an offense to someone of another faith. It leaves me to wonder, why is the name of Christ offensive and why must this holiday be offensive in general? There are many reasons that could be explained in an academic debate for days, but we can address the main reason here and now. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (KJV). Christ and the cross that represents his crucifixion offends those who are convicted by the Holy Spirit, but deny responsibility for their transgressions. The Word also tells us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (KJV). Of course, Christians will never fully escape persecution so long as the enemy roams this earth (2 Timothy 3:12), however we can break free from our bondage and the offense that the cross brings us by repenting of our sin.
The cross and the name of Christ bring offense to the hearts and minds of man because of what it represents. Since because the holiness, righteousness, and presence of God brings conviction upon man, we are reminded of these offenses in the presence of His name and cross. Just the mere presence of either one of these two brings such power and conviction, that rather than just ignore it, those who won’t give in to it have to lash out in agony. The reason is that the Scripture tells us that we are either servants of evil or servants of God (Romans 6:15-18) and because those who are servants of sin are also servants of the enemy, they cannot bear with the meaning behind the name of Jesus Christ. The Word of God also tells us that we cannot serve two masters and must serve either God or the enemy (Matthew 6:24). The enemy knows because of the sacrifice of Christ, he has been defeated. He also knows that if you bear the name of Christ in your heart, that you have also chosen eternal life over defeat with the enemy in Hell. In knowing these things, we must be quickened to turn away from our wicked ways and repent (Acts 3:19). Even as born-again believers, we must remember when we encounter someone who is offended by the name of Christ not to take offense by their reaction, but to witness the love of Christ in return. We should give them the Gospel with love, and in God’s timing they may believe because of the seeds that we have sown into them. Of course not everyone will believe and many will be offended along the way, but we must be in constant prayer for these individuals keeping in mind that they are indeed “slaves to sin” and a dead system. Thank God that He has provided us with a way to life because He was the “life.” As you celebrate with family and friends this Christmas season, let us remember those who are less fortunate than us and on their way to suffering by remembering the reason for the season! God Bless and Merry Christmas from your family and friends here at SCM!
Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons
Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV)
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
John 1:29 (KJV)
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.
John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Luke 12:51-52 (KJV)
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Romans 6:15-18 (KJV)
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Acts 3:19 (KJV)
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
John 1:4-5 (KJV)
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Smart Sheep Among Wolves
With the advent of smart-phones, smart-cars, smart-homes, etc.; why do we have to be sheep waiting to be slaughtered? We need to be enabled by the Holy Spirit, to move upon the will of God and to walk in his ways! We must be sheep who outsmart the prey hiding in the thickets among us. Unlike cell phones, cars, and technology, Christians seem to decrease in knowledge over time rather than increase. We go from discerning in Spirit to concerning!
Acts 20:27-31 (KJV)
27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul was well aware that false teachers and instructors of evil would come after he was long gone to lead the sheep astray. Paul’s job was to warn and prepare them for such a day as that. Paul reminded the overseers of that church to feed them with the truth and Word of God, reminding them that Jesus paid for the church with His own blood. Paul also reminded them of the hard work that was brought forth to establish this ministry, not for his own credit, but because Jesus holds all of man as precious and being created in His own image.
Matthew 7:15 (KJV)
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Isn’t this Scripture so true? False profits have never been more plentiful and outspoken than they are today, even showing pride and confidence in the evil they do. They boast themselves as awesome and Godly ministries on Christian television networks, but all they truly care for is your financial support. Regardless of how you are doing, they seek the funds that you have to send in. Be careful because this kind of ministry is not of God and they will bleed you dry and devour you as a pack of wolves over a young calf. Another thing about wolves is that they don’t mind going after the sick or young. The same is true for us Christians; wolves seek the sick and young (the backslider and recent converts) in order that they might devour them.
Luke 10:3 (KJV)
3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
God isn’t sending us out to work for the boy scouts. As Christians, we are taking on a full scale spiritual war. We need to be willing to risk anything for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. Not just ourselves, but we place our families at risk as well. However, God will see and bless us for our sacrifices. Although our families are under attack, God will anoint and bless them beyond measure for generations to come. It is the next Scripture where we are to learn how to defeat this as it says….
Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
If we are wise, even though we are in the midst of wolves, they can be outsmarted. Every winter season in the great state of Alaska, we see wolves get outsmarted by the dozens. They are known as clever and the most capable of all wildlife of outsmarting man’s traps, however there are certain vulnerabilities that make wolves susceptible to defeat.
According To The Defenders of Wildlife Organization:
“Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 7 to 8 animals on average. Packs include the mother and father wolves (called the alphas), their pups and older offspring. The alpha female and male are typically the pack leaders that track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack's territory. Wolves develop strong social bonds within their packs. Wolves have a complex communication system ranging from barks and whines to growls and howls.”
The first thing we learn about them is that wolves rarely operate alone and if they do, they are more vulnerable anyway. If there is a pack, they are always led by an alpha! The alpha gives all orders for the submissive wolves. However, even the alpha leader of evil takes orders from the Alpha and Omega of heaven and earth!
We have to be smart and remember how wolves operate. We have to study their behavior and learn to expect them at all times. Wolves love to attack when least expected. They wait and watch until you show vulnerability. Recently, one showed up to an awesome and powerful service that we had one Sunday morning. I remember God moving in a mighty and powerful way, despite the presence of the wolf right there among us near the front of the church! After service, that wolf showed its teeth and exposed its real purpose for being where it was.
It wanted to influence the church and pastor with a false gospel and theology that could possibly mislead other believers into a false religion.
According to wolf pack behavioral experts:
“If a dominant wolf approaches a more submissive one, the latter may lower its ears, pull its tail between its legs or show its throat or groin to demonstrate subservience. When greeting a more dominant member, the lower-ranked wolf may lick the other's muzzle like a servant kissing a king's scepter.”
Little does the enemy tell you, but because of the cross He is defeated!
Whenever we call on the name of Jesus, all enemies have to respect the name and the authority that it is given to it. An enemy cannot reign free where it is restricted by the power of Jesus Christ!
Like a submissive pack member, when we call on the name of Christ and His Spirit resides in our hearts, the enemy must tuck his tail between his legs and abort his intentions to bring war against us. We must take this opportunity when he shows vulnerability to us that we seize him by the throat and finish the job we have started. However, we cannot do this without a proper relationship and knowledge of the power of Christ.
No, don’t fake authority on a wolf!
Acts 19:13-16 (KJV)
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
It is obvious that these clowns didn’t really know Jesus. They couldn’t call on Jesus because they did not have the authority of Jesus within them. They weren’t born-again!
Exodus 20:5-6 (KJV)
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
Deuteronomy 28:1-10 (KJV)
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
7 The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.
8 The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
9 The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.
10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.”
1 Chronicles 2:9-17 (KJV)
“9 The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him; Jerahmeel, and Ram, and Chelubai.
10 And Ram begat Amminadab; and Amminadab begat Nahshon, prince of the children of Judah;
11 And Nahshon begat Salma, and Salma begat Boaz,
12 And Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse,
13 And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third,
14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth,
15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh:
16 Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah; Abishai, and Joab, and Asahel, three.
17 And Abigail bare Amasa: and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmeelite.”
Woe is me, Woe is me! This is the cry that we hear coming from America today more than ever before. Despite the fact that we are a truly blessed nation, we are also a nation which has turned away from God. When a country or nation turns its back on God while receiving His blessings, there will be consequences for such actions. Our blessings correlate with our obedience. It was true for God’s people of the Old Testament, true for the New Testament and still true for today. God instructed Abraham to go and he went. He instructed him to have a child with his wife and he did (not without some hiccups I might add). Joseph was obedient to the laws and commands of God, which led to his rising within the ranks of Egypt to save all of Israel. Moses was told by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and he did. Jesus was asked to give himself upon the cross for all mankind and He did. These are just a few examples of countless stories of the relationship between obedience and blessings. However, what happens when there is disobedience? God’s Word tells us that He visits, “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” That’s a long time and type of visiting that I wouldn’t want to have.
For the last several generations the world, especially the U.S. has been extremely disobedient. Not just sin, but complete rebellion against God has been going on in this country for some time now. This will not result into anything less than the hand of God being removed from this country. The only thing keeping his hand from completely removing yet is the remnant that is still left in this country praying, giving, working, and supporting the building up of God’s Kingdom. We are now seeing the blessings come upon other nations that God is preparing in these last days. It seems the Western world as a whole is losing out big on what God used to do for them on a regular basis. God’s been good to us so now it is time that we return the favor. No longer are only the televisions full of lust, sexual immorality, drug use, drinking, violence, and godlessness; but also our lives are filled with these things as well. Families that were formally known for their walk with God are now known for their lawlessness. What kind of seeds can we sow when America is home to the largest number of criminals locked behind bars in the world? You may say that we also send out the highest number of missionaries as well, but what happens when those two numbers grow larger apart each year until the missionaries nearly disappear. What happens to the blessings when the only seeds that are sown are those of disobedience?
1 Chronicles 2:9-17 shows us that Boaz (the kinsmen redeemer of Ruth) was a grandfather to King David. Israel in those days held sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons in high regard. This had to do with the seed passing through the covenant, contrary to what many believe that Judaism taught to disregard or disrespect women. Nothing against the women here, but the blessing was from male to male. Women had important roles in Israel as well and still do today, however this text is referring to passed down blessings and inheritance. The point is that David was blessed. Whether his father Jesse had built his own fortune or not isn’t relevant. However, even if he did not, Boaz’s wealth and assets should have been enough to go all the way down to David and be a blessing to him as well. Most of the sheep that David helped raise in the field as a shepherd was most likely the descendants of the same sheep that Boaz raised on his estate.
When dealing with estates and investments in America, some families who have built a concentration of wealth often leave those assets in an estate that a dependent or inheritance receives. Some estates may be worth millions, a few hundred thousand, or maybe even just a few hundred bucks. Regardless of how much it is, the important thing is that after debts are cleared, that money should be reinvested. However, in America, it is nearly impossible to live off the income that 200,000 or less would create in an investment account for anyone who is too young to retire. It may last five years, maybe even ten, but eventually that person will run out of income when relying on an investment account balance that low. Change that balance to a million-dollar investment and things begin to change quite a bit. You can live a decent lifestyle every year without seeing the balance go down much at all due to interest. However, truth be told, most of us will never see that type of money. Our parents and grandparents may be fortunate enough to leave us a life insurance policy and maybe even a paid off home, but being a millionaire of inherited money is quite rare. This is why us adults go out and either further our education to prepare or go straight into a career out of school. We have to make a living for ourselves because we can’t live off inherited money. We have to create for our own well-being. However, most of Americans today are living off of the spiritual blessings of Grandparents and parents, or maybe even no blessings at all.
Some of us are still in the field of Boaz, gleaning off of grandma and grandpa’s blessings, but God wants us to live in abundance. God wants us to live in obedience, so we can thrive on our own blessings. Why not invest and let the interest do the rest? Stop gleaning and start leaning on God. We start this by repenting, by being obedient, trusting in the Lord, and doing His Kingdom work. Don’t depend on mom’s or grandma’s prayers to get you through your day. Doesn’t matter how much mom or grandma prayed, it won’t get you saved. We have to work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling” by turning from our sin and proclaiming Christ as Lord! You are the only one responsible for your salvation and your spiritual well-being. While blessings may come to those of us who have had forefathers who believed in the power of prayer and faith, many of those accounts are drying up. What happens when the balance goes to zero? What happens when the prayers stop flowing because you cease to have a relationship with God? The blessings stop, the saving grace stops, and the hand of God is taken off of us who refuse Him. Don’t leave yourself in a spiritually “broken” place today, turn to Christ and let him bless you with eternal life and continued blessings today!
The Necessity, Identification, and Development of the Spiritual Gifts
2 Peter 1:3-11 (KJV)
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Matthew 28:16-20 (KJV)
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 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.
Last week we discussed assignments. We dove into the Word and what it says about finding them in the will of God for our lives and acting upon them. These assignments, however requires some gifts of the Spirit. Many may ask, are the gifts of the Spirit as manifested in the book of Acts still relevant for today’s church? The answer is, “absolutely!” Today as much as any other, the Spirit of God is using the gifts given by God to manifest His glory and power upon man. But are they necessary? “Absolutely!” As long as we are commanded by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), the gifts will be with us as the Spirit of God is with us. Just as Jesus used basically every spiritual gift given in the Scriptures, we are to use the gifts that we have been given. If He is our model and we are His followers (Christ-ians: meaning Christ-followers) we should also model his actions in using our gifts of the Spirit. But what are these gifts and how do we know we possess them? Around this time last year, we posted an article on this topic by Dr. Jim Feeney called The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Are for Today! In that Bible study it describes why these gifts are necessary and even gives a few examples. Identifying your gifts may not be as hard as you may think, however it does require us to be in tune with the will of God. The spiritual gifts help us identify our role in the team and find an area where we can maximize our strengths to the team’s advantage. It may also help to identify some areas of need for the ministry team that may be benefitted from our gifts and skills.
The many gifts of the Spirit manifested through the people of God can be found mostly in the New Testament due to the fact that the Holy Spirit rarely dwelt in me prior to this gift of Christ at the upper room experience of Acts 2. The Holy Spirit would sometimes come on men, but this would often be announced as, “the Spirit came upon him” or “the Spirit of the Lord was there”. Believers did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit until after the Upper Room experience. After the arrival of the Spirit in Acts 2, believers began to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at conversion. This is not to be confused with the Pentecostal term “baptism in the Spirit.” This is another type of baptism usually happening after the initial conversion and could be better described as the indwelling and manifestation of the Spirit presence in a believer’s life. Like every part of God, the Spirit is a gentleman and will not manifest His glory on those who wish not to receive it or who do not believe in these abilities however. There are many who deny that the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues exist today, therefore do not experience these gifts. However, this does not mean that they do not exists, they just do not exist for that believer due to their unbelief. We must be careful how we react to the Holy Spirit and be careful not to mock God in this sense. This goes for both those who are unbelieving of His gifts and those who exaggerate the effects of the gifts. There are those in the Pentecostal community who bring shame and dishonor on the gifts of the Spirit by exaggerating and dramatizing the effects of the gifts.
Romans 12:6-8 describes various gifts such as prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 gives us gifts such as healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. 1 Peter 4:11 tells us of those who “speak and render service” in the light that they are gifts and abilities from God. Most of us have more than one gift, while others have nearly all of them. There are rare occasions when believers seem to possess only one, but usually they are gifted in that area so highly, it would be unnecessary to have any additional gifts. There are quite a few professional worship artists who fit this category and it is why they are compensated for such a rare ability to sing nearly any note. No one gift should be held in higher regard than the rest. The individual who is gifted in service and finds joy in serving God cleaning restrooms of their small church should not be made to feel less gifted or blessed than the teachers and preachers. Through my time in ministry, I have seen where just about every gift has been responsible for helping to bring in someone who was lost or sow the seed that leads to such a decision. We are all sowers, therefore we should always stand ready in season and out (2 Timothy 4:2)!
The best way to identify these gifts we possess is to serve in any capacity of ministry that we are given opportunity. There are a couple of gifts that we will know we have from a very early age. Singers know as early as they begin to sing and hold a microphone that they are called to do so. Preachers often find themselves seeking the microphone or public speaking in front of audiences as well. Called pastors find themselves possessing a great variety of skills such as discernment, preaching, teaching, showing, love, and serving. As you grow in the Lord and develop wisdom from His Word, your gifts will begin to manifest themselves. Your passions will become centered around your gifting. Those who find themselves interested in learning the guitar or keyboard may be blessed with the gift of music. Followers who find themselves diving into the Word of God and dissecting it like a frog in biology class are most likely good teachers. Those who find themselves highly motivated by motivating and lifting up others in the Lord are exhorters and may find themselves blessed by the ministry of revival evangelism or preaching. Never assume that you are unimportant to the Kingdom, every gift and every believer has a role in God’s Kingdom.
What we have to remember regarding the possession of these gifts is that they were bestowed upon us for a reason. God has a plan and a purpose for us to use them, therefore we must be obedient in that sense. We should expect to be used by God to highlight what He has done for us on Calvary. When we properly identify and use our gifts, we are representing God through the abilities He has given us. God is the Creator and Possessor of all gifts, therefore each gift we have been blessed with represents a small portion of God’s love. Maybe through your ability to communicate, the Gospel can be highlighted through your testimony showing how awesome a communicator that God is. Maybe you have a knack for awesome service. This testifies to the gift of Jesus Christ, the ultimate Servant and Giver of Life! Whatever your gifts, skills, and abilities; they are in our possession to be used by God as His vessel in service. When we hold them back, do not use them, or practice poor stewardship with them; it is seen as disobedience towards the will of God. We should also pass on the knowledge and identification of these gifts through discipleship and multiplication (Matthew 28:19).
To learn more about assignments and temporary places that God often puts us, visit our article:
Learn Your Assignment, Study Your Assignment, and Do Your Assignment