The Results of Poor Teaching and Bad Leadership

THE SOURCE OF WISDOM BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING:

HOSEA 4:1-6 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

[1]  HEAR THE word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy (a pleading contention) with the inhabitants of the land”

“You Children of Israel” and the Children of Today–the Connection.

“BECAUSE…there is no faithfulness, love, pity and mercy, or knowledge of God [from personal experience with Him] in the land.”

Many reading my blogs over the past years, have grown accustomed to my writing style; its emphasis on God’s Word.  You might even think you know me from social networking or we’ve met in person.  But do you really know me, my character?  Do you know my tastes in music, foods, personal interests?  In most cases, the answer would probably be “NO” because…without an INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP, “from personal experience”, there isn’t a connection.

Priests, Clergy and Church Leadership–

Hosea was called to PROPHESY to the nation of Israel because of the quality of life was lacking.  The sins of the nation came from the absence of it…the people had been destroyed because they rejected what they were hearing.

The people of God today are no different.  Look at the church today and you have the lack of knowledge of God causing wavering spirituality…inconsistency of the walk and the talk of believers…ineffectiveness in prayer…even social righteousness, the way we act toward others, those outside our “group.”

LIVING with the KNOWLEDGE of God–Intimacy in Relationship.

One difference between the priests of Israel and the pagan priests of the day, was that the roles of Israel’s priests wasn’t just to offer sacrifices.  They were also to instruct the people with the ways of God.

The priests weren’t the guardians of hidden knowledge, revealed only to the “select”.  No, for God’s people, the LAW was given to make wise the simple.

Before I came to Christ in 1972, I thought I was wise in the ways of the Lord.  After all, I had been taught the FACTS, then later found I had some information [right and wrong], but in reality…I was the ‘simple one.’  I knew the “shalt not’s” of the Law, and the “conscience” that goes along with it.  My mother would often remind me, “Mel, when your dad and I aren’t around, to tell you what’s right and wrong, you always will have your conscience!” That logic to a child sounded like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah…’conscience’.”  But I would shake my head “yes”, pretending that I understood the parental wisdom.

God has revealed Himself to the world through His Word and through His Law in the Old Testament; which was meant to be taught to children from the earliest age.

The REASON the Nation Had Gone Astray–

There was NO KNOWLEDGE of God in the land; the priests had failed in leadership of the people; the priests and the prophets [in current vernacular…the clergy, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons] had FAILED to properly teach the Word of God!

When the people brought their sacrifices and offerings, the priests decided that they would use the surplus for their own means–even selling it for a profit.  They began to encourage sin, camouflaging it in any way they could, and the people followed their leaders/teachers examples.  And the “slippery slope” continued.

So, what happened?

Verse 5:  “And you shall stumble in the daytime, and the [false] prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother  [the priestly nation].”

What happened was, they were going to STUMBLE!  Jesus describes the Pharisees as “blind guides” [they made it up as they went].  You know the phrase, “We’ll fake it until we make it!” approach to leadership.  After all, “We are in charge!”

Here in Hosea 4:5, it says the people are “stumble in the daytime.”  Now I can understand “stumbling” in the dark, but in the “daytime”?  So God is going to take away their ability to see the way clearly by taking away their mother: the nation that gave them birth.

Finally, He’s’ going to REJECT them and their children of being His priests.  Why?  Because the more they’re increased… the more they sinned.   All because they’ve exchanged the TRUE WORSHIP of God to get fat; they’ve turned the glory of God into shame.

The Ordinary, Church-going People…

God’s point made, through the mouth of Hosea was to illustrate the ordinary, church attending people are suffering and will in fact…suffer more.  And, so too the priests, the designated spiritual leaders of the day would share in that suffering.  They may see themselves as the spiritual pillars of the community, but when they’re found guilty of leading God’s people astray, their godly privileges are revoked.  In the end, the ones who are responsible, the teachers of the people, are the ones who’ll be held to account.

God Accused the Religious Leaders.

Making an accusation of the uninformed, seemingly ordinary people in the world is often deemed OK.  BUT, God accused the religious leaders from keeping the people from knowing Him:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you  [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge.  I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children”  (Hosea 4:6 AMP).

The LEADERS, the designated teachers of the land had a God-given responsibility to TEACH THE WORD OF GOD; but they became leaders in wrong doing.  The congregation may have said to one another,  “It must be OK what we’re doing if the clergy do it.”

Loosing the Knowledge.

If you’ve lost the KNOWLEDGE of the Word of God…if you’ve forgotten how God said He wants to be worshiped, what do you do?  Well, you do what all other religions do.  You come up with something that feels “spiritual”; you create a god or gods to worship.

A spiritual vacuum–

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, what happened in our Western culture?

People still had that God shaped hole inside of them, but rejected Christianity.

What did they do?

They came up with an alternative:  Rediscovered meditation; sought eastern groups; turned to new age religion, then bought crystals and Ouija boards. They explored Buddhism, Islam or Zoroastrianism that promised to give them the religious experience they were longing for to fill the void in their lives. But they never asked whether these were the way that God wants His people to approach Him, nor were they open to strong Bible teaching.

The False Hope of Ephraim and Judah–

The people thought they’d be all right keeping up all the outward appearances of worshiping God.  But they were mistaken.  This was a FALSE HOPE!

Look at the ironically prophetic words of the people’s call to one another to WORSHIP God once more:  HOSEA 6:1-3 Amplified Bible. 

“COME AND let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us; He has stricken so that He may bind us up.  [2] After two days He will revive us (quicken us, give us life): on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.  [3] Yes, let us know (recognize, be acquainted with, and understand) Him; let us be zealous to KNOW the Lord  [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him].  His going for is prepared and certain as the dawn, and He will come to us as the [heavy] rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth.”

If they’d only understood the TRUTH!

If they had understood the reality of what they foretold, of Jesus Christ who would die and in three days rise again!  BUT, they were far from understanding the things of God and these cheery thoughts were mere wind (Hosea 8:7).  It was a case of ‘too little to late’.

GOD gives His reply in verses 4-6:

(Hosea 6:6 ) “For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness,  not sacrifice,  and the KNOWLEDGE of and ACQUAINTANCE with God more than burnt offerings.” 

Being a Leader and Teacher and Leading People to God–

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”

Teaching knowledge of God from the Word
Teaching knowledge of God from the Word

When God’s people are destroyed and waste away, not because God has lost either His love or strength.  It’s because His people lack knowledge.

It isn’t that God says His people are completely ignorant.  They do have some knowledge but not enough.  They may have just enough to make them think they know it all.  I love that verse in Romans, where the apostle Paul warn us:

“…not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought  [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgement, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him”  (Romans 12:3 AMP).

It shouldn’t surprise us that there is a connection between KNOWING GOD and KNOWING HIS WORD! 

Some people think that Bible knowledge is boring and brainy; not necessary for the real walk with God.  But God and His Word are vitally connected!

Psalm 138: 2 says,  “You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!”

When God sought out a term to express His nature,  He calls Himself  “The Word” (John 1:1).

TEACHERS, CHURCH LEADERS, CLERGY…TAKE NOTE!

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP IS A HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY!

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Whether you TEACH a church school class, hold a church office, or lead a Bible study in your home…DON’T take your leadership responsibility lightly.

The Letter of James in your Bible makes it clear:

“…we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation]”  (James 3:1 AMP).

Today our problem is not lack of INFORMATION given…but lack of knowing Him as He revealed Himself to us through the Holy spirit.  Our knowledge…our relationship with God all begins with Jesus.  If we’re not conveying the Christ centered relationship to the church body, the results of poor teaching and bad leadership will fall on us and we will be destroyed in the ministry!

“For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling  God’s Word  [short-changing and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as  [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak  [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God”  (II Corinthians 2:17 AMP).

false-prophet-matthew-7-15
RESULTS Seen

Teaching and Leading with the WHOLE TRUTH:

Start speaking the WHOLE TRUTH and nothing else but the TRUTH of Jesus Christ; in the Word and POWER of His name.  No more LIES!

Paul tells Timothy,  “Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me, in [all] the faith and love which are [for us] in Christ Jesus.   Guard and keep [with the greatest care] the precious and excellently adapted [Truth] which has been entrusted [to you], by the [help of the] Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us”  (II Timothy 1:13-14 AMP).

 

THREE THINGS Zechariah says God Hates!

Finding the TRUTH
Finding the TRUTH

 

I’ve been collaborating with the Holy Spirit, finding key evidence in defining the REAL TRUTH for the world we live in today.  Not only did God show me “a truth”, but He showed me “THREE TRUTHS” in His Word while searching in the Old Testament.

Now I did find over 43 things God hates in the Old Testament and New Testament (6 found in Proverbs 6:16].  But I decided to zero in on the three mentioned in Zechariah and the TRUTHS that become undeniable to us and the people around us in our lives.

Zechariah 8:16, 17 AMPLIFIED BIBLE

[16] “These are the things that you shall do:  speak every man the TRUTH with his neighbor; render the TRUTH and pronounce the judgment or verdict that makes for peace in [the courts at] your gates.

[17] And let none of you think or imagine or devise evil or injury in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, says the Lord.”

THREE UNDENIABLE TRUTHS:

THE UNDENIABLE TRUTH ABOUT MAN

1.  Man is a Sinner by Nature:

“Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all man,  [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power]  because all men sinned”  (Romans 5:12 AMP translation).

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me”  (Psalms 51:5 NIV translation).

Lost Sheep
Lost Sheep

“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”  (Isaiah 53:6 KJV).

THE UNDENIABLE TRUTH ABOUT SIN–

1.  Sin Is Appealing to ALL Men!

Ephesians 2:1-3 Amplified Bible:

[1]  “AND YOU,  [He made alive], when you were dead  (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins  [2] In which at one time you walked  [habitually].  You were following the course and fashion of this word  [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air.  [You were obedient to and under the control of]  the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving who go against the purposes of God].  [3] Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh  [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings].  We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.”

There is a lot to absorb in reading the three verses (especially in the Amplified Version).  So here’s a suggestion I found that really brings home to each one of us; what Paul was trying to convey to the church in Ephesus:

I simply take a pen and run a light line through the word “YOU”;  “And you…”, “You were…”, etc.  And, I write my name above the word “YOU”.  So then, it would now read…“AND MEL, He made alive, when Mel was dead…and so on.  I think you get the idea.  It makes the thoughts more personal.

2.  SIN Alienates Man from God.

Isaiah 59:2  (New Living Translation):

“It’s your SINS that have put you off from God,  Because of your SINS, HE HAS TURNED AWAY and will not listen anymore.”

3.  SIN Produces Spiritual Death.

MAN is body, soul, and spirit.  We all will die one day, and when death occurs, the body (the outside, physical tent we live in), will decay and turn to dust. But the soul and spirit…that’s a different story.  ETERNAL DEATH or ETERNAL LIFE.

Romans 6:23  (AMP):

“For the wages which SIN pays is death, BUT the [bountiful] FREE GIFT of God is eternal life through  (in union with)  Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“God’s Big Buts”–

Pastor Kyle Hopkins [Website:  www.nvagchurch.com] gave a message one Sunday morning titled:  “GOD’S Big ‘Buts’; and there is definitely a “BIG BUT” in the above verse in Romans.

The words “BUT GOD…” when reading the Scriptures these two words signal a change, a contrast, or a clarification is coming next.  What follows this significant transition is intended to challenge our faith and change our life.

THE UNDENIABLE TRUTH ABOUT GOD–

1.  GOD Will Eternally Condemn the Unrepentant Sinner.

Luke 13:3 (New American Standard Bible):

“I tell you, no, but unless you REPENT, you will all likewise perish.”

Saying your sorry, versus “repentance”–the differences.

Luke 13:5:

“…unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally”  (AMP).

THE PROMISE:

“You won’t be saved UNLESS…” is a strong statement by Jesus, the Savior of the world.  Saying “I’m sorry” is certainly a beginning when we slip and fall, but that isn’t what God wants to hear from us.

I remember my mother telling me when I was a child in rebellion:  “Just saying your ‘sorry’ about what you already knew was wrong doesn’t catch it UNLESS…you change direction!  It’s hard for me to FORGIVE if you are going to keep on doing it over and over again.”  Boy, was I repentant after those words.  I wanted my mother’s approval in everything I did.  Shouldn’t we have the same mindset as adults?

“Bring forth FRUIT that is consistent with repentance  [let your lives prove your change in heart”  (Matthew 3:8).

When we TRULY REPENT, the FRUIT of Repentance will be evident to others.

Evident FRUIT:

HUMILITY –  Claiming to others of your relationship with Jesus without the need to personally come to a moment of REPENTANCE, creates a feeling of PRIDE, rather than the HUMILITY characterized with our relationship with Christ.

Is your RELATIONSHIP with God characterized by HUMILITY, or are you lacking the FRUIT of REPENTANCE?

URGENCY –  When we come to a point of REPENTANCE, we must realize that our sins are not excusable.  There isn’t such a thing as a “little sin”; a “little white lie.”   If you’re thinking right now, “Everyone tells lies, everyday”; that in itself is a LIE that the great LIAR, the devil is given you!

True Repentance Leads to a Changed Life.

ADMITTANCE –  It is simple admitting that you messed up; tried to run things on your own and you FAILED!

GOD DESIRES THAT ALL SHOULD BE SAVED!

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV):

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but EVERYONE to come to repentance.”

The Message Bible says it this way:

“God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness.  He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the END because he doesn’t want anyone lost.  He is giving everyone space and time to change.”

Over my Christian life, I’ve prayed for SALVATION for friends and family, thinking:  “God, time is short.  When are they going to realize…?”  My expectation, my desires, become determined by my own ideas of tardiness on God’s part; not remembering GOD ISN’T LATE WITH HIS PROMISES!

A Simple Step to REPENTANCE
A Simple Step to REPENTANCE

GOD COMPLETELY FORGIVES THE REPENTANT SINNER!

“If we  [freely]  admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness]  and  [continuously]  cleanse us from all unrighteousness  [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]”  (1 John 1:9 AMP).

I love that old children’s Sunday Class song that was taught to me when I was young.  We ALL know the words I thing, but have we forgotten the GRACE that can flow through it to our lives as adults today?

JESUS love me!   this I know,  For the Bible tells me so…

Yes, Zechariah says to us, the three things that God hates;  BUT we need to know Jesus loves us!  For the Bible tells us so!

A Matter of Life and Death

Safe from the FIRE
Safe from the FIRE

Jude 1:22, 23:

(NIV Bible)  “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

Effective witnessing saves people from God’s judgement.  

What is meant by “witnessing” or “witness”?  According to The Free Online Dictionary, a WITNESS is “one who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced.  [b] One who furnishes evidence.”

We WITNESS as true believers to some through our compassion and kindness; to others we WITNESS as if we were snatching them from eternal fire.

My dad retired as a City of San Diego Fireman many years ago.  At the age of 98, he still enjoys reminiscing over his experiences of fighting fire for over 31 years on the job.  I can remember growing up, when dad would come home in the morning after being on duty for 24-hrs..  I could smell the smoke permeating from his hair and skin.  Even his uniform sometimes reeked from an early morning brush fire.  Dad wouldn’t have time to take a shower after the fire, so he would wait until after work and at home.  Mom made sure of that; there wouldn’t be the SMELL OF SMOKE in the house on this particular day!  I guess you would have to know my mom.

I like the way The Message Bible reads.

Jude 1:22, 23:

(The Message Bible)  “Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith.  Go after those who take the wrong way.  Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.”

To hate “even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” means that we are to hate the sin, but we must witness to and love the sinner.  Unbelievers, no matter how successful they seem by worldly standards, are lost and in need of SALVATION.  We should not take WITNESSING lightly–it is a matter of life and death.

In trying to find some common ground…

It is good to find some common ground with those who don’t see, or want to see their final destination in eternity.  However, in trying to find something in common, we must be careful not to fall into the quicksand of compromise.  When reaching out to others, we must be sure that our own footing is safe and secure.  Be careful not to become so much like non-Christians that no one can tell who you are or what you believe.  Influence them for Christ–don’t allow them to influence you to sin!

There Is A Simple Choice to Make–

“I call heaven and earth to WITNESS this day against you that I have set before you LIFE and DEATH, the blessings and the curses; therefore CHOOSE LIFE. that you and your descendants may live”  (Deuteronomy 30:19 AMP).

GOD wants all to make that “simple choice”; Life or Death?  He wants us to present His choice to unbelievers today in this world surrounded by the fires of life.  GOD, because of His love for all (sinners included), wants for them to choose life.  But He is a righteous God, full of justice, and the penalty of sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).  

Equipment for Witnessing:

Before a fireman can approach a pending devastating disaster, he must be equipped: knowledge, application, protective equipment (helmet, mask, fireproof clothing, etc.).  As Christ’s WITNESSES, we also need to be equipped.  EQUIPPED with the power of the Word of God.

1.  MAN is a sinner by nature.  (Romans 5:12).

2.  MAN is a sinner by choice.  (Isaiah 53:6).

3.  Sin is appealing to ALL MEN.  (Ephesians 2:1-3).

4.  Sin alienates man from GOD.  (Isaiah 59:2).

5.  Sin produces spiritual death.  (Romans 6:23).

6.  GOD will eternally condemn the unrepentant sinner. (Luke 13:3).

7.  GOD desires that ALL SHOULD BE SAVED!  (2 Peter 3:9).

8.  GOD completely forgives the repentant sinner.  (1 John 1:9; Isaiah 43:3).

Receiving A New Heart and New Spirit to Reach Our Potential

Ezekiel 36:26-27 in the Amplified Bible:

[26] A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  [27] And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall heed My ordinances and do them.”

Ezekiel 36:26: A Heart of Stone Transferred to a Heart of Flesh
Ezekiel 36:26: A Heart of Stone Transferred to a Heart of Flesh

For the past month, I have been leading a small group at our home, calling the study Being Gifted for a Purpose.  I am using The 9 SPIRITUAL GIFTS listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 as an introduction to the study.

In using my Bible Concordance, listing specific verses concerning Spiritual Gifts, I found some interesting facts in the Old Testament which refer to Spiritual Gifting.  So much so, I decided to write down my thoughts in a Blog-post.

I also learned from God’s Word, I should have presented a portion of the facts found in the Old Testament before launching into the Spiritual Gifts Study mentioned in I Corinthians 12, and Romans 12.  Lesson learned.

Renewal Is Promised–

According to Ezekiel 36:26,27, the hardened heart of man is replaced with a soft heart [“a heart of flesh”], where RENEWAL is promised at this occurrence.  Now compare this with the New Testament verse of being “born again” (John 3:3)–meaning to be RESTORED to what we were created to be according to God’s plan.

What is God’s Plan After Receiving “A New Heart”?

Your specific calling is related to the Spirit’s work in several areas:

1.  CREATION.

2.  REGENERATION.

3.  EMPOWERING BELIEVERS FOR THE WORK IN THE CHURCH & THE WORLD.

The GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT Found in the Old Testament and the New Testament:

Three Basic Areas in The Old Testament:

1.  COSMIC – referring to the Spirit’s role in the CREATION.

2.  INDIVIDUAL – referring to the Spirit’s role in REGENERATION and the SANCTIFICATION (setting apart) of individuals.

3.  THEOCRATIC – referring to the Spirit’s role in EMPOWERING the children of Israel.

A.  HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK IN THE CREATION PROCESS:

In my detective work in Scripture this week, I found a number of biblical passages pertaining to the COSMIC area.

“By His breath the heavens are cleared…”  ~  Job 26:13.

“The Spirit of God has made me,  And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” ~ Job 33:4.

“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” ~ Psalms 104:30.

We can look at the GIFTS we’ve expressed throughout our lives; indicating where we are to SERVE in the church and in the world.  BUT, how does this whole process even begin?

B.  Individual: the Spirit’s work in us–

JESUS talks about this process, when He discusses the topic about being “BORN AGAIN” or “BORN FROM ABOVE”:

3 times in a conversation with Nicodemus in The Gospel of John 3:1-10:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”  (verse 3).

In Verse 10, JESUS asks Nicodemus,  “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet do not know or understand these things?”  

JESUS is making a clear point, that based on Nicodemus’ knowledge of the Old Testament, he should have a grasp about the Spirit’s RENEWAL or REBIRTH of individuals.  Ezekiel 36:26 speaks of this language.

Note the new heart and new spirit that is promised–the HARDENED heart is REPLACED with a soft heart.  RENEWAL is promised to take place.

Being “born again” means the beginning process–being RESTORED to what we were created to be according to God’s plan.  Again, this PROCESS includes our gifts.

C.  Theocratic: where the Spirit is, There is POWER–

In some ancient languages, the words for “spirit”, “breath”, and “wind” are identical.

The Old Testament uses two Hebrew words “breath” and “wind”–  

1.  Ruach, refers to heavy breathing, or breathing through the nose with violence.  Exodus 15:8 uses ruach to refer to a “blast” of the nostrils:

“With the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood fixed in a heap, the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea”  (Amplified Bible).

2.  Neshamah, refers to quiet breathing.

“when the breath (or Spirit) of the Lord” is used, Ruach Yahweh could mean Spirit of the Lord or Wind of the Lord.  In both cases, the idea is POWER.

Holy Spirit gives GIFTS and He can and will…EMPOWER those GIFTS in our lives.

In The Book of Acts, we see an instance where the empowerment is given and the results:

“AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place.  When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  And they were ALL FILLED (DIFFUSED THROUGHOUT THEIR SOULS) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]”  (Acts 2:1-4 AMP).

OUR “GIFTS” ARE FROM THE SPIRIT:

Being EMPOWERED by the Spirit of God is to accomplish the PURPOSE for which they are given.

Empowerment of the Spirit On Display From the Old Testament–

Do the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit really matter in our everyday work, our ministry, our witness?

In the Old Testament, there are a number of gifts the Holy Spirit gives Israel which I found applicable to our life and work today.

Strength and Leadership–

The Holy Spirit EMPOWERED various people in different ways which establish and protected the kingdom of Israel.

GIDEON in Judges 6:34:

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon GIDEON…”

The words “came upon” literally mean “clothed”; the Spirit put on GIDEON as a cloak.

JEPHTHAH in Judges 11:29-33:

In a similar way, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon [or “fell on”] Jephthah,” when he was able to win the battle that was rapidly approaching.

SAMPSON:

When the Spirit of the Lord fell on Sampson, he became supernaturally strong.  Now he was strong to begin with, but Holy Spirit used this God-given ability to make him stronger.

“And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion as he would have torn a kid…”  (Judges 14:6).

Clothed With Power From On High.

“And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has PROMISED; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are CLOTHED WITH THE POWER FROM ON HIGH”  (Luke 24:49 AMP).  [I capitalized words for emphasis]

QUESTION:  Why did Jesus choose the word “clothed” ?

He lifted it from the pages of what we call as the Old Testament.

Thinking it all through, it’s plain to see. The Spirit is a spirit; He does not have a body.  Holy Spirit needs a human body to accomplish the works, the gifts listed in Scripture [both in the Old Testament and the New Testament] God wants done on Earth–To SPEAK THE WORDS God wants spoken.

God’s Spirit clothed Himself with Gideon, Jephthah, Samson and the RESULT?:

Gideon’s mind, voice, and hands became tools the Spirit used to accomplish God’s purposes.

REACHING OUR POTENTIAL:

What is POTENTIAL?  The Online Dictionary defines it as,  “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”

How does the Lord define POTENTIAL?  The Lord takes people who are already GIFTED by His Spirit, causing their gifts which are already present, to reach their full potential.

An Old Testament Example — Bezalel, A Gifted Artist and More! :

“And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, understanding

in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship

to make artistic design for work in gold, in silver, in bronze, and in cutting

of stones, and in carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”

Exodus 31:1-5

All of your GIFTS are affected by the Fall (SIN).  Holy Spirit can take our GIFTS and cause them to be renewed and energized:

1.  Be directed to His glory.

2.  Unfold and reach their potential.

The Work of Holy Spirit Gives Direction in Our Work and the World–whether in Creation or Regeneration.

The Spirit constantly EMPOWERS us to carry out the CALLINGS God places in our lives.  The examples that I gave in the Old Testament should bear witness for our work in  the Church and the World today.

1.  The Spirit gives us POWER!

Where we have GIFTS of the Holy Spirit given to each one of us as Christians, we have power.  Now we can fail to take ownership; bury them in the ground, fail to fully utilize them from either false-humility or lack of discernment of God’s potential in our lives.  In either case, using these GIFTS is our responsibility, yet in our failure to do so doesn’t deny their potential POWER in this temporary residence we call “the world.”

2.  We shouldn’t separate “natural” and “spiritual” gifts.

It’s wrong to depreciate or separate our natural (created) gifts and our “spiritual” gifts.  Both gifts are from the Holy Spirit.

Although God can give each one of us new capacities at anytime He so chooses, in most cases, He empowers or develops the POTENTIAL from our created gifts; for the use in the Church or the World.

3.  The Spirit helps us reach our true potential.

Both the Old Testament and New Testament, people need the Holy Spirit to overcome spiritual blindness and grab hold of spiritual realities.  People in both testaments needed to be born again, their hearts made anew.  This transformation kindled by the Holy Spirit enables us to develop and reach our potential.

4.  The Spirit can increase our gifts for specific tasks.

God gave people the artistic skill and even more skill through the Holy Spirit, so they could fulfill His plans; building the Tabernacle and fashioning its utensils.

GOD’S PROMISE:

Likewise, God can unfold, redirect, or develop our potential with the Spiritual Gifts He has given each one of us.  That’s His PROMISE to those who have received a New Heart and New Spirit.

This applies to people with a variety of skill sets, not just those with artistic gifts.  And by-the-way, it’s okay to pray that the Lord will unfold the partially developed GIFTS.

Holy Spirit Empowerment
Holy Spirit Empowerment

My Personal Story–

Several years back, I was asked by a pastor if I could come up with an idea for an Easter Play.  One that would include some of the people in church as cast members.

Over the years, I had acquired some acting experience; even came up with an idea for a church choir performing an Easter Musical .  But to write, cast, set-design, and produce an original Christian play…NO EXPERIENCE AT ALL!  NONE!!

With the days passing, with fervent prayer in my spirit asking God for direction, I still found myself at a dead-end.  And then one night, while sound asleep, I felt a touch on my right shoulder.  I turned to see if my wife was still asleep and not standing beside the bed trying to get my attention for some reason. But she was sound asleep.  As I rolled over on my side, I felt another touch, but this time it was more forceful.  Still unaware, I looked at the alarm clock on the bed stand noticing it was 3:30 AM.   The room was dark and still and at that moment, I heard a soft voice:  “Mel, get up! Grab your notepad, a pencil and your Bible and go out to the kitchen table.  I’ll tell you what to write and do.”  I’ve learned from previous experiences, when God’s Spirit speaks, you better listen and do!

Following the Instructions and Directions–

Starting at 4 AM and finishing at 6:30 AM (seemed like 10 minutes and not hours), the play was done: the staged set sketched out on paper, lighting diagram positioned,  and the title:  MERCY On Trial.  My only problem…I had no clue how to write a Script for actors to follow including stage directions.   But I did have HOPE in reaching what God had planned.  I love one definition of HOPE:  “A heartfelt expectation of something with an out-stretched neck.” By, was I ever stretching my neck out, HOPING God’s Spirit would develop my potential.

And then I remembered.  My daughter-in-law graduated from college with a minor degree in Performing Arts.  She could help.  Thank You Jesus!

Later that morning, I called her at work and presented my hopes and the time frame I was up against to have a finished product.  “Can you help out Loretta?”  

Loretta:  How much time will I have?

Dad:  Two weeks?  (holding my breath).

Loretta:  Dad, if you will call me late Saturday morning and present me with your ideas, I’ll see what I can do.  I’m going down to Phoenix on business next week and I’ll take my laptop computer.

Two weeks later, I had a finished Script and had her FAX the 3 Act Play to the church.  On a Monday night, the play was cast and rehearsals began.  God gifted my daughter-in-law’s talented abilities along with my natural desire, to present a Spirit-led prophetic, Resurrection Day drama.  Thank You Father for developing my potential and empowering the both of us for Your glory.

What is your POTENTIAL?  With a new heart and a new spirit, God promises to reveal His plans to you.  It’s up to you to have a willing heart that will be transformed!  He promises!

“I’m MAD as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take this anymore!”

Mad_as_HellThe infamous line in the movie Network is often used to describe our hectic lives.

How many of us have ever felt the pressures of life?  Let’s not fool ourselves.  We live in a fallen world surrounded by everyday troubles and stresses. 

*  Financial

*  Family

*  Ministry

*  A nation in conflict

“I’m at my wit’s end over all this!”

THE APOSTLE PAUL Addresses the Issue – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.  [8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  [9] persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  [10] We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  [11] For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  [12] So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

Looking at this Scripture, we can discover a few applications from it–

#1.  You and I are going to have problems.

Here we have Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament and having and facing problems in his life.

—  He was shipwrecked 3 times…

—  Beaten…

—  Put in prison multiple times…

  He had many ministry issues…

—  He had a “thorn in the flesh…

It doesn’t matter who you are, how spiritually mature or immature, you are going to experience problems and pressures in your life.  Just because you come to JESUS, it doesn’t mean that the world and your enemy are going to cut you any slack.  In fact, it will probably intensify!  And, you might even say to yourself at times…“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” 

Overcoming the Types of Problems and Stresses in Life–Soda Pop Cans and “Jars of Clay”

Paul not only describes the types of problems and stresses we all face, but how to overcome them at the same time.

A.  I’m PRESSED but not CRUSHED!

Paul is telling us we are “hard pressed on every side.”  This is the PRESSURE OF THE WORLD.  But, I am NOT crushed – Why?

An Illustration:

Unopened Can
Unopened Can

TWO ALUMINUM POP CANS – One can is unopened and full of soda pop.  The other can is opened and empty.

If I take the FIRST CAN and squeeze with all my might, I can’t crush it.  Now, I know that with enough pressure the can will rupture, so bear with me in this.

CRUSHED CAN
CRUSHED CAN

If I take the EMPTY CAN and apply only a small amount of pressure, it will collapse.  I wasn’t able to crush the first can because it isn’t open to the world.  SECONDLY, there is something inside.

“He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

ONE CAN collapsed easily–

1.)  Was open to the world.

2.)  There was nothing on the inside.

How then can we be PRESSED but not CRUSHED?

We make a decision not to open up to the world; to allow Christ Jesus to be our strength.

B.  I’M CONFUSED, BUT NOT FREAKING OUT!  (verse 8)

The word “PERPLEXED” in the Greek language literally translates  “to have no way out; to be at a mental loss.”

Have you ever been confused?  Not knowing where to turn or what to do?  Yes, we have all dealt with circumstances in life where we thought there was no way out.

So how is it that we can be “at a mental loss” and not FREAK OUT saying, “I’m not going to take this anymore!”?

Same reason as before:  IT IS CHRIST WITHIN ME!

Jesus is ALL-KNOWING!

He is OMNISCIENT!

He knows what tomorrow holds!

He is in control.

The reason I’m not freaking out is because I know God is going to work it all out for my good.

“And we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who LOVE GOD and are called according to His purpose of them”  (Romans 8:28 NLT–capitalized for emphasis).

God might be working you right now, but He’s working you for your own good.  TRUST in His promises.

C.  I’m Bloody, Not Broken.

If you get smacked in the nose, it hurts!  Your eyes well up with TEARS dealing with real pain.

I remember playing baseball in High School one year, and while in the batter’s box waiting for the pitch, I was struck between the eyes with a fastball.  It broke the safety-glasses I was wearing in half.  No blood, but suffered two black eyes and plenty of tears from the pain.

In LIFE, we all deal with hurts, wounds and yes, even black eyes.  It may come from our PAST or PRESENT situations.

How then, can we deal with our HURTS and still PRESS forward?

Allow Christ to manifest Himself in your life through the Word of God.

Build up RELATIONSHIPS of other brothers and sisters in Christ which helps us through our tough times.  Sometimes we just need someone with skin on them to comfort us in a time of need (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

D.  I’m Knocked Down, Not Knocked Out!

Yes, sometimes we do get knocked down; hit in the gut by betrayal, death of a loved one, loss of finances…the wind is knock completely out of us as we lie gasping for breath and afraid to get back up on our feet.

FEAR of being hit again can keep you down.

DOUBT can keep you down.

The only person keeping you on the mat…IS YOU!

Why cant the DEVIL keep me down?  Because Christ is in me.  The devil and every demon in hell couldn’t keep Him down!

“Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over ALL the power that the enemy [possesses]; and NOTHING shall in any way harm you”  (Luke 10:19 AMP).

HOW CAN I ‘KEEP ON, KEEPING ON’, WITHOUT GETTING MAD AT MY REOCCURRING CIRCUMSTANCES?

It’s coming to the REALIZATION…it’s not about you.

It’s a CHRIST thing.

To be a Christian you need to let JESUS, not you, control your life.

You have to SUBMIT to Him fully–not half way; not kinda, sorta, BUT fully!   This allows Him to flow through you.  Remember, you’re going to have problems.  There’s no escaping it.

I have been BLESSED to be a part of 5 Billy Graham Crusades over my Christian life.  I will always remember George Beverly Shea; Canadian born, American gospel singer and hymn composer, who died this past April 2013 at the age of 104.  One song in particular he composed and used to sing at the Crusades fits in nicely I think with 2 Corinthians 4:7-12:  I’d Rather Have Jesus than…

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;

He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;

He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;

I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

WITHOUT HIM, I CAN BE…

–  Crushed

–  Freak Out

–  Be broken

–  Be knocked out

JESUS tells us this:

“And Jesus said,  [You say to Me],  If You can do anything?  [Why,] ALL things can be (are possible) to him who believes!”  (Mark 9:23 AMP).