I was having my devotions this morning and afterwords, the Holy Spirit quietly spoke into my inner ear, “When you pray this morning Mel, pray from the ’12 Powerful Prayers for 2012′ card you received from church this past week.”
I was in somewhat of a quandary at Holy Spirit’s prompting, for which one of the prayers did He want me to focus on? I immediately was directed to #11: “Pray for Our Nation and Our World to Find Hope in Troubled Times.”
Because of my personality, I am most likely to flare up over headlines in the news that butt heads with Christian principles and the Word of God; the Bible.
Here are a few examples from manythat are in the news headlines today:
Washington State Senate approves same-sex marriage bill (Seattle Times).
Komen Foundation reverses decision on funding Planned Parenthood (Google News).
When I take notice of these types of headlines, if I could, I would start pulling hair out of my head in frustration and anger. But since that is physically impossible, I just shake my head and point my finger at the politicians and people who are in authority and with high responsibility in this nation of America.
I asked myself, ‘My heavenly Father’s heart must be aching over His people’s decisions to overturn His Word and be in rebellion. How does He want me to react and pray over this Nation?” Is there a right reaction on my part Lord in all of this?
And His answer to my questions came from His Word this way:
“FIRST OF all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men. For kings and all who are in authority or high responsibility, that [outwardly] we may pass a quiet and undisturbed life [and inwardly] a peaceable one in all godliness and reverence and seriousness in every way. For such [praying] is good and right, and [it is] pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior, Who wishes all men to be saved and [increasingly] to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] Truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 AMP).
WOW, have I and perhaps you, been reacting and praying about what is going on in the world today wrongly? Have our prayers been acceptable to God and Savior on the things going on around us? Has my temper-tantrums been all wrong?
Notice in the first verse, it mentions 4 types of prayer: petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings. Now I don’t want to take the time this morning in discussing the different forms or types of PRAYER. But I do want to point out the urging from the apostle Paul in offering these prayers, is on behalf of ALL men; that is believers, those who have a relationship in Christ Jesus and non-believers who do not. You might be thinking right now, “Are you kidding me? Pray for the men in the Seattle Times photo?” Always remember the love of the sinner and NOT the sin. I have to remind myself of that every time I watch the news on television. Then why do you watch the news. How else can we specifically know how to pray for our leaders?
So the next time you and I see or hear of a report that strikes a match in our hearts; to anger, to disgust, to yelling out loud and stomping our spiritual feet, “That no good, blanket y blank, blank politician”, STOP and think about what is said in 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
“AS HE passed along, He noticed a man blind from his birth. His disciples asked Him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, It was not that this man or his parents sinned, but he was born blind in order that the workings of God should be manifested (displayed and illustrated) in him” (John 9:1-3 AMP).
“When He had said this, He spat on the ground and made clay (mud) with His saliva, and He spread it [as ointment] on the man’s eyes. And He said Go, wash in the Pool Of Siloam–which means Sent. So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9:6-7 AMP).
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
It might not be blindness that comes your way but it certainly can be other disorders: Cancer, heart disease, diabetes (I know that personally!), deafness, etc. When this happens to us or to family and friends, we want to know the reason, as was the case of Jesus’ disciples in John 9:1-3. They wanted to know who to blame for the “blind man’s” suffering. The disciples couldn’t go back to the blind man’s parents to expose a sin; tell them “if only” his mother had eaten the right foods, taken the right pre-natal vitamins, handled stress better, exercised more or less. Her son would have been born with all five senses.
There is a true explanation, a more simple one right in front of us! We don’t have to go through with all sorts of reasoning; the “what if’s”, the “ifonly’s” to find the reason of the man’s blindness.
There are two issues here in this passage of physical infirmities:
#1. Jesus was dispelling the Jewish belief that all deformities and disabilitiesare a result of sin by an individual or his or her parents(Exodus 20:5;34:7).In a general sense, these things came into the world as a consequence of sin, BUT…not a direct punishment for individual sin.
#2. Jesus never said God created man to be blind, so Jesus could cure him. Only that this man’s condition of blindness allowed the work of God displayed in his life. It’s the application of Genesis 50:20: ‘What the enemy intended for harm, God intended for good.’
After reading The Book of Job, in chapter 1, we can see that Job lost his wealth, his family and everything that he had. And yet the Word tell us that Job had sinnednot nor did he blameGodfoolishly (Job 1:22).
A Story of Two Blind Men:
I read a story yesterday about two blind men who were both healed by Jesus. They happened to meet one day, each man being excited to meet someone else who had been healed. I enjoy conversing about Diabetes; the ups and downs of the disease. The discussion can be encouraging to someone who has been recently diagnosed. I have dealt with the disease for 54 years.
The two men talked about the wonder of sight; the color of flowers, the glory of sunrise, the faces of children and grandchildren. They conversed about the power that came in seeing Jesus’ face. They enjoyed laughing, telling stories of their blind experiences and generally having a great time together. When one of them said, “And do you remember when Jesus tookspit, made mud and put it into your eye?” [John 9:6-11]
The other guy looked somewhat stunned, and answered, “Why no, he just said, ‘Receive your sight,’and I could see.” [Mark 10:46-52]
The first man said, “Wait a minute. You mean he didn’t use any mud?”
“Well, did he at least have you wash in the Pool of Siloam?”
“No, of course not. Who ever heard anything as ridiculous as mud in your eye, washed off in the pool?”
“Well,” said the first man, “if he didn’tput mud in your eyes and have you wash in the Pool of Siloam, you are still blind! Blind, do you hear me? Because that’s the way Jesus healed me, that’s the way he does it!”
Then the second man became angry. He shouted, “Mud, mud! Who ever heard of using mud?! That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard! You still have mud in your eyes. You’re the one who’s still blind!”
They got into a big argument and their relationship was destroyed right then and there. They immediately formed the first two denominations in history because of their disagreements; the Mudites and the Antimudites! So who’s blind now?
The Physical and the Spiritual BLINDNESS Connection
John’s Gospel story is long and detailed concerning the discussion of blindness: its causes, its cures and whose blindness remains.
Jesus and the disciples see the man blind from birth and the disciples want to know whose fault it is that he’s blind. Notice the question they asked, “Was it his fault or the fault of his parents? Thus the multi part story begins with Jesus telling His listeners, neither the man or his parents had caused his problem Meaning that their questioning was wrong!
What He could have told them was, “It’s nobody’s fault. God didn’t make this man blind as a punishment.This particular blind man came to us so you can be made to see. Now open your eyes and watch this!”
Adding Spit to Dirt and NOT Making a Mess!
When the blind man was able to see for the first time, his neighbors didn’t even recognize him. He looks like our neighbor alright, and yet…
“So they said to him, How were your eyes opened?” (John 9:8-10).
“He replied, The Man called Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes and said to me, Go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and I obtained my sight!”(verse 11).
In this act, Jesus runs afoul of the Pharisees (the religious leaders)… Big Time! John goes on to tell us that Jesus had performed the miracle on the Sabbath and on the Sabbath, one must not work at all; it was a day of rest.
Jesus mixing dirt with saliva, spreading the mixture on the man’s eyes, was WORK. Had Jesus just sat still, told the blind man his sight had been restored, there wouldn’t have been a real exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus. BUT, He did it so we get to the rest of John’s story.
The Pharisees find out what had happened and begin to question the man. They want the man to tell them that Jesus was a sinner, or got his power from someplace else other than God. BUT, the man answers,
“I do not know whether He is a sinner and wicked or not. BUT
one thing I do know, that whereas I was blind before, now I see.”
Then the Pharisees summon “the name of Moses”—the chief cornerstone of their faith–and they tell the man that they have no idea where Jesus comes from. What is the implication here? “BUT we’re pretty sure it’s not from Moses like us.” So who was blind?
Barbara Brown Taylor, a professor and writer explains that the Pharisees in this story were in their eternal hunt:
“Not ‘what if it is God and I believe that it is’ but, ‘What if it is God and I believe that it is not?’
That is the question the Pharisees forgot to ask. They were so sure of everything–that God
did not work on Sundays, that Moses was God’s only spokesman, that anyone born blind
had to be a sinner, and ditto for anyone who broke the Sabbath, that God did not work through
sinners, that god did not work on sinners, and that furthermore noone could teach them anything.”
(Barbara Brown Taylor, in Christian Century (March 6, 1996) p.260)
Aren’t you glad that the Pharisees are not around us today? Those people who were faced with miracles, signs and wonders (The WORD Detective blog; Miracles, Signs and Wonders Are Alive! January 23, 2012). They were face to face with the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, right in their midst. Yet, they couldn’t see who and what Jesus was. They who were clueless, bordered on hopelessness. Boy, I sure glad to know we don’t have spiritualblindness around us today. But then again…
Pharisaical Blind Spots
We all have our “Pharisaical blind spots, don’t we?” By looking into our hearts and souls we make an allowance of Jesus–the Light of life to shine on us and really examine our lives to look and see where we act pharisaically. You see, blindness affects us all. It’s OK. Go ahead and take a look at yourself. God already knows about our blind spots. He just waiting for our eyes to be opened and believe! It is by His grace that we can see!
A -maz-ing grace! How sweet the sound – That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see.
There are over 30,000 children born a year produced by sperm donors. There is a book that came out in 1980, which spoke of sperm donors who were Nobel Prize winners. It was later found, there wasn’t actually contributors to the sperm bank who were Nobel Prize winners…Not YET! However, the sperm banks who do claim to have superdonors; super athletes, very tall and handsome, college degrees and many more desirable traits have been difficult to verify. However, a woman can go to the internet, pay a fee, then present her desirable qualifications that will hopefully be reproduced with her impending pregnancy. The fee is determined by how much information is made available to the recipient and her specific wishes (ex.: hair color, intelligence, physical stature, looks, etc.).
It can be frightening to realize that today, genetic scientist are seriously working to create the master human race. This idea isn’t a new one. Adolph Hitler had his scientist working towards the same goal over 70 years ago. Even today’s proponents, who support abortions being employed in the world; to systematically eliminate the undesirables goes on in laboratories as I write this blog. This whole inception is recorded in the beginning of the human race in Genesis Chapter 6:
“WHEN MEN began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them. The sons of God saw the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose” (Genesis 6:1-2).
There is more disagreement in understanding this passage than almost anywhere in the Bible. Conservative scholars seem to have the most difficulties with the verses. I think the reason might be that they don’t take the Bible either literally or seriously. They are quick to call the given account a myth, in spite of Moses’ claim that it is a historicaldocument.
Great differences arise in the interpretation of an issue that does not fundamentally affect critical issues in Scripture; the ones that underlie eternal salvation. Who I most often disagree with in the meaning of this passage are my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I hope this particular blog-post causes you to meditate on and research the Scriptures I’ll give you; that you will be encouraged to learn even more. My whole purpose of this particular subject is to motivate you and for that matter, any blog-post of mine. So, let’s get started!
Who were the ‘sons of God’? Is this a mistranslation?
The interpretation of Genesis 6:1-8 hinges on the definition of three key terms:
1. ‘the sons of God’ (verse 2, 4).
2. ‘the daughters of men’ (verses 2, 4).
3. And the ‘Nephelium’ (verse 4).
There are also three major interpretations of these terms, beginning with that which in my mind, is the least likely. Then ending with the one I have found to be the most satisfactory.
View #1: Merging of the Ungodly Cainite with the Godly Sethites:
Those who hold this view is of a godly man, of the Sethite line and ‘the daughters of men’, daughters of the ungodly Cainite. Who also adhere that the Nephelium are ungodly and violent men, a product of this unholy union.
The major support for this view comes from the context of Genesis 4 and 5. Chapter four describes the ungodly generation of Cain and chapter five, the godly Sethite line.
In Israel, separation was a vital part of the religious responsibility for those who truly worshiped God. What took place in Genesis 6, is the breakdown on separation ideology. It threatened the godly seed whom the Messiah was to be born. This breakdown caused the flood which would follow. It would destroy the ungodly world and preserve righteous Noah and his family through the promise of Genesis 3:15 being fulfilled.
While this viewpoint is commendable; explaining the passage without creating any doctrinal, any theological problems. What it offers, in terms of orthodoxy but at the expense of accepted Biblical exegesis (“a critical explanation of any Biblical text”), clouds the interpretation.
First and foremost, this interpretation doesn’t provide definitions that arise from within the passage or even adapts to the text. Nowhere are the Sethites called ‘the sons of God.’ The contrast made between the godly line of Seth and the ungodly line of Cain may well be overemphasized. I’m not even sure the line of Seth, as a whole, were godly. While all the Cainite line appears godless, only a handful of the Sethites are godly.
Moses points out in chapter 5, God has preserved a righteous remnant and His promises to Adam and Eve will be accomplished. The distinct impression given is that few were godly in these days (Gen. 6:5-7, 12).
It seems only Noah and his family could be called righteous at the time of the flood. Would God have failed to deliver any who were righteous? Also the ‘daughters of men’ are hardly restrictive to the Cainites.
“When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them” (Genesis 6:1).
It becomes difficult to conclude that the ‘men‘ were not men in general or mankind. It would then carry over in reference to their ‘daughters‘, they equally are in general. So, to conclude that the ‘daughters of men’ in verse 2 is something different, to a more restrictive group, again ignores the context.
Therefore these reasons and others, I can conclude exegetically that this particular view is unacceptable. It might meet the test of orthodoxy but fails to submit to the laws of interpretation.
View #2 – “The Despot Interpretation”
What in the heck is “despot interpretation”? In my investigation this week, that was my first question too! So I pulled out my hand The Roget’sThesaurus in Dictionary Form and looked up the word DESPOT; (n.) autocrat, dictator, tyrant, oppressor(ruler, control).
I like the scholarly quote, “Let the Bible define its own terms.” If biblical definitions are not found when you are meditating on while studying Scripture, then look at the language and culture of the era.
Like the fallen angel view (view #3), it has its roots in antiquity. The ‘sons of God‘ in the despotview are referred to as ‘nobles, aristocrats andkings‘ of the era. This interpretation goes on to say that the despots lusted after power and wealth; desiring to become ‘men of name’, that is, ‘somebodies‘ (Gen. 11:4). Do you know of, or heard of, any despots today?
Their sin wasn’t ‘intermarriage between two groups–whether two worlds (angels and man); two religious communities (Sethite and Cainite); or two social classes (royal and common)’. The sin was POLYGAMY. The same sin as Lamech practiced.
In the transgression of polygamy, the ‘sons of God‘ frequently violated the sacred trust of their office. Guardians of the general ordinances of God on human conduct. In spite of these factors, the despot interpretation would never been considered the ‘problems’ which the ‘fallen angel view’ creates. This definition chooses to ignore the precise definition of the ‘sons of God’ given by the Scriptures.
Furthermore, the whole idea of power-hungry men, seeking to establish a dynasty by the acquisition of a harem (polygamy), seems forced in the passage. Also, the definition of the Nephelium as merely being violent, tyrannical men seems inadequate. Why would these men be singled out for special consideration merely like all other men of that day (6:11-12)?
While the despot view does less violence to the text than the Cainite/Sethite view, it seems to me and others inadequate.
View #3 – “The Fallen Angel Interpretation”
The Bible does define the term ‘the sons of God’ quite clearly for us to understand in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Psalm 89:6; Daniel 3:25. The Amplified Bible says in Job,
“Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God cane to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them” (Job 1:6).
Rejecting the fallen angelinterpretation is a violation of reason and Scriptural reference.
QUESTION: Are angels sexless?
Jesus in Matthew 22 answers the questioning of ‘some Sadducee s, who say there is no resurrection [of the dead]’ (verse 23):
“But Jesus replied to them, You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor God’s power. For in the resurrected state neither do [men] marry nor are [women] given in marriage, but they are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-30 AMP).
Jesus doesn’t say that angels are sexless; just no marriage in heaven; there isn’t female angels generating offspring with other angels. Angels were never told yo ‘be fruitful and multiply’ as man.
It is very clear in Genesis, and with other Scripture passages that angels canassume human-like form and their sex is masculine (Gen. 19:1, 5; Heb. 13:2). In the New Testament, I found two passages that refer to the incidents of Genesis 6 and adds support to the ‘angel’ viewpoint:
“For God did not [even] spare angels that sinned, but cast them into hell, delivering them to be kept there in pits of gloom till judgment and their doom” (2 Peter 2:4 AMP).
Don’t believe in a physical place called hell? This verse in 2 Peter gives a descriptive picture of such a place. Moving on:
“And the angels who did not keep (caree for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place—these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgement and doom of the great day” (Jude 6 AMP).
The “Fallen angel” viewpoint:
According to this view, the ‘sons of God,’ Genesis6:2, 4 are fallenangels; taking the form of masculine-like creatures. The angels then married women of the human race (either Cainites or Sethites) with the resulting offspring called the Nephilim.
The Nephilim WERE GIANTS; physical superiority, establishing themselves on earth. The men were known for their physical strength and military might. Even in today’s culture, often physical attractiveness in finding mate gets our attention, and I’m sure the women in Genesis 6 were no different.
This race of half-human creatures were wiped out by the flood along with mankind in general who were sinners in their own right (verse 11, 12). Scholars who reject this view doacknowledge the precise term– ‘the sons of God’ being clearly defined in Scripture. The Bible verses I listed in Job, Psalms, Daniel, Matthew,2 Peter and Jude give indications that some angels who fell with Satan to earth were not content in ‘their properdwelling place.’ Therefore they began living amongst men (and women) taking human-like form.
God’s judgment was to place them in bonds (chains) that no longer promoted Satan’s purposes on Earth, as the unbound fallen angels who continued to do his bidding.
The result of the union:
The fallen unbound angels and womankind produced what is clearly defined as the Nephilim. Word studies produced several suggestions for the meaning of the term when I meditated on Numbers 13:33:
“There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
Therefore I now understand more clearly that the Nephilim were a race of super-humans; the product of the angelic invasion of Earth.
The Meaning of Genesis 6 for Christians Today:
While the New Testament has much more to say about the activities of Satan and his demons, few of us take our spiritual warfare very seriously. Often we try to live the spiritual life in the power of the flesh. We even urge people who are being attacked by the enemy to rededicate and redouble their lives and efforts. We fail to remind them that our only strength is supplied from God.
The Battle today—
When I began my investigation (studying the Word of God), there was a battle going on. Each day when I would close down the computer, I felt that I had been a battle. I know as a believer in Christ Jesus, there is a war going on but this was spiritual battle that was raging as I put down my thoughts. A battle between the sons of Satan and a son of God (in the New Testament sense: John 1:12; Romans 8:14,19).
This battle is still raging today in our churches; even more intense than the days of old. Satan’s doom is sealed and he knows it (Matthew 8:29). Therefore, let us put on the spiritual armor that God provides from His armory (the Bible); equipping us for the spiritual warfare which we are a part of (Ephesians 6:10-20).
First of all, I had no intention this morning of blogging about “contending“, but here I am. Actually, I have been investigating the truths; different viewpoints regarding ‘the sons of God and’ the daughters of men’ in Genesis 6. Then, while reading God’s Word on the subject, I was led by the Spirit to go to The Letter of Jude regarding “angels” in versesix. I have a trained habit of reading Scripture in context and since Jude is a short letter, I began reading the entire passage. And then I heard a ‘still small voice’; God’s Spirit speaking to my spirit.
“Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contendfor the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God]” (Jude 3 AMP).
The Investigation Begins
The word contend in this verse 3 is much different from contending in verse 9. The Greek word is epagonizomai for contend in verse 3. It means, “to contend about a thing as a combatant.” In verse 9 of Jude, the Greek word for contend or contending is diakrino; means “to separate oneself from.”
When ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’ are pressing in on our faith; our choices and decisions, how are we contending? Are we acting like combatants, or are we simply separating ourselves from the truth? And that is not wrong! But are we in the believing Church in readinesstoreceive and proclaimourfaith to the world around us by our choices? Our we as the church in Beroea?
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11 NIV).
Our Decisions and Choices We Make in a Lost World
When we make everyday choices; food that we eat, establishments we choose to drink Lattes in, aluminum foil that we use in our kitchens, search engines that we surf the web on…what are we in the faith making our decisions on? Are we indeed being combatants, separatingourselves based on how we feel about controversy? Or are we a church in readiness to receive and proclaim the truth as the Bereans did; searching and examining the Scriptures every day and listening for that still small voice in our inner ear? Our natural feelings about a topic should have little to do about the decisions and choice we make in society. If we put all of this into practice as the Berean church did, be prepared for the results.
“Many of them became believers, together with not a few
prominentGreeks [non-believers in Washington State and your community], as well as men.”
“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told them, “you will neverbelieve at all”(John 4:48).
“Signs” are never pointed to themselves or the human performer! Rather, they point to the Person; the Work of Christ.” Let me get you started with Bible verses that attest to that thinking: (Acts 2:4-12, 22, 43; 3:7-9; 11-12, 16; 4:30; 6:8; 14:3; 15:12; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:4-12; Hebrews 2:4; 6:1-2).
There is a debate amongst many schools of thought between Christians. Many say that miracles, signs and wonders have stopped. Others say they are functioning today but are rare. Others go overboard with manipulation, using electronic and magician tricks to seek and perform and captivate a crowd in “Jesus name.”
The Bible gives no indication that miracles, signs and wonders have stopped. They may be rare but they are here and working praise God!
“On A Foggy Morning”
Almost a year ago (Feb. 11, 2011) I published a post entitled, “Getting Results in Prayer- A Foggy Day”. It was a personal story of mine in Southern California 1979; about my experience on an early foggy morning.
I was a ‘long-distant’ commuter in those days. I traveled from Poway to San Bernardino daily–95 miles one way!I would leave the house no later than 6:15 AM and travel Interstate 15 all the way to my place of business.
One morning, it was unusually “foggy”. So much so, even with headlights on, I couldn’t see any further than 20 feet in front of me or behind me. And just ahead was the expected traffic light. I knew it was there but seldom was it ever Red–STOP.
As I pulled up and stopped, another vehicle pulled up beside me and came to a halt, both of us waiting patiently for the light to change green.
And then, it happened. I made a quick glance in the rear-view mirror while waiting and seeing nothing but two high-beamed headlights racing toward us both. The on coming car obviously couldn’t see our tail lights or the red traffic signalahead. I tightly closed my eyes, preparingfor impact and prayedout loud, “Jesus, keep us both safe!”And then the miracle, the sign and wonder happened! With approximately four feet between the two stopped cars, the oncoming vehicle drove between us and disappeared in the dense fog ahead, never slowing down. I looked wide-eyed at the car stopped next to me and he looked back with the same expression on his face.
The light turned green, but we both just sat there for a moment in amazement and maybe a little ‘shock’. How did it happen and why didn’t a horrific accident not take place? I believe to this day that it was a miracle and a sign. And the driver that was next to me? I don’t know but all I could say then and now, “Thank You Jesus for answered prayer and Your saving grace, the Miracle You performed today.”
Often, when we do see and experience miracles, signs and wonders, we become discerning, seeking scientific and psychological reasons–preventing us from jumping to conclusions to what ‘just happened.’ We don’t want to get ourselves into trouble or fall prey to shysters and manipulators.
We need to recognized and trust in the words of an old hymn:
The Wonder of It All
There’s the wonder of sunset at evening, The wonder as
sunrise I see; But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me.
O, the wonder of it all!
Written by–George Beverly Shea
Are Signs and Wonders–Miracles For Us Today?
YES! It is often debated to the normalcy aspect; whether or not it still continues today in the church. Some scholars propose that miracles are no longer a function of the church. We’re just a part of “redemptive history.”
There isn’t Scriptural support for that position! Miracles may be rare but to say they don’t exist today puts a limit on God’s sovereignty. God has no limits; hence, why “process theology” (God is evolving, such as evolution), or “dispensationalism” (God is limited to time periods in history and contracts). These theologies are not rooted in Scripture but only the minds of men.
Methods that are laid down for us ~
These methods are taught in the Book of Acts in your Bible. They are as much for today’s believers as they were for that day. I and others believe that God set down a pattern for us to follow this path. It is a dependence upon Hismeans and promotion of Hisends.
Miracles have differentaccents:
— a “sign” is a miracle.
— a “wonder” is a miracle.
— a “miracle” is a miracle.
The miracle has the accent upon the power of the act.
The signputs the accent; the pointing of the act; pointing to the word and His grace; pointing to His servants; pointing to Jesus! It is sort of affirmation of the person, the message and the means and methods.
Then the wonderhas to do with the effect of that the miracle on the observer. They get into the wonder of it all. Be careful, you might miss it; the sunrise, the sunset, the wonder that God loves me!
So you see, they are All Miracles!
The Methods In Scripture of Advertising the Miraculous
“He Who supplies you with His marvelous [Holy] Spirit and works powerfully and miraculously among you do so on [the grounds of your doing] what the Law demands, or because of your believing in and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the message that you heard” (Galatians 3:5 AMP).
Do you know what we need to do? We need to pray and say, “God, sharpen my spiritual ears.”
God, get the sin of the world out of my ears so that I might have a better spiritualhearing! Because if miracles take place by the hearing of faith, then give me the faith that hears.
I want to take you to some scriptures I found in investigation of the truth; to show you how much God put miracles, signs and wonders in the evangelism of the Bible.
“For [of course] I will not venture (presume) to speak thus of any work except what Christ has actually done through me [as an instrument of His hands] to win obedience from the Gentiles [non–believers], by word and deed”  “[Even as my preaching has been accompanied] with the power of signs and wonders, [and all of it] by the power of the Holy Spirit. [The result is] that starting from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum, I have fully preached the Gospel [faithfully executing, accomplishing, carrying out to the full the good news] of Christ (the Messiah) in its entirety” (Romans 15:18-19 AMP).
Paul constantly says, “my Gospel was not in word only,” and he tells us about this deed in verse 19. I decided to do some further research on the verses I quoted in the Letter of Paul to the Romans. I did so to see if I could find what the words contained in verses 18 and 19 are actually saying to me. My conclusion results: there is a partial gospel and there is a full gospel. If you want to preach the full gospel you can’t divorce it from miracles, signs and wonders: “I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.”
So, if you want to fullypreach it–it’s through miracles, signs and wondersby…the Power of the Holy Spirit! We want the power of God; we don’t want to separate the spirit and the word. We want God, through His Spirit, working with and in us.
Getting Our attention inActs 2:22
“You men…, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man accredited and pointed out and shown forth and commended and attested to you by God by the mighty works and [the power of performing] wonders and signs which God worked through Him [right] in your midst.”
“Jesus of Nazareth, a Man accredited (approved) by God in your midst.” You have heard of schools that were accredited and non-accredited. But Jesus was accredited withmiracles, signs and wonders in the middle of the people around Him; where He was preaching the Gospel. God put His stamp of approval on Jesus by the signs, wonders and miracles. Should we as believers in Jesus have the same opportunity today?
Jesus said, “Greater works shall you do because I go to my Father.” Now I’m not saying I have it all but I am certainly open to what God has for me. I admit the need, I admit that I need more, the anointing of the spirit; I need more of God working through me by His Spirit.
I believe that the church today needs to go back to the patterns of the church of Acts 2:22; not a churches denomination or doctrine or a Pastor who has dreamed up and developed a plan with their own traditions and misunderstandings of God’s Word.
The human body has an “outer ear” and an “inner ear”. What we hear in the pastor’s message in church, we initially hear with the outer ear; the logos word. What we need to hear more often is the rhema word; the words we hear with our inner ear, from the Spirit of the living God. If we do, we will see more miraculous, more manifested presence of God, more conviction of sin and more things that cause people to fear God in a good way.
Jesus Didn’t Go to the University of Jerusalem!
Jesus didn’t get his accreditation from school or membership in the local church. He didn’t say, “See the sheep skin I have on the wall.” He didn’t go up to someone being possessed by demons, “In the name of the Alma Mater of the University of Jerusalem, come out!” It didn’t work that way then and it doesn’t work that way today. God backed Him and He is still backing His adopted sons and daughters today.
The disciples and the town folk that day were amazed and even the spirits obeyed His voice. And so it was the miraculous signs that began to spread in the land and is also spread throughout the Bible to show the importance of miracles, signs and wonders. How we can ignore the evidences in God’s Word I don’t know.
The writer of The Letter to The Hebrews takes the thought even further:
“[Besides this evidence] it was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of [His] power and by imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit [to the believers–you and I] according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:4 AMP–my addition; you and I).
Scholars who ignore the power imparted to the church today by the gifts of the Holy Spirit are missing the importance of the rhemaword; the Holy Spirits whispering in the inner ear. They separate the logos from the rhema. It just doesn’t work in that way.
Are you still in doubt of your God-given authority?
“And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages” (Mark 16:17) [verse 20] “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied [it]. Amen(so be it).“
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a believer like is described here; that these signs might follow me as I go out!
Then inverse 19:
“So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and He sat down at the right hand of God.”
Come on Church…the people who heard Jesus when He raised His hands and blessed them is still confirming it today right where you are living; with Miracles, Signs and Wonders as we go out to preach the Gospel. That is Church Evangelism Father. He gave us the power as believers to perform miracles, signs and wonders through the gifting of the Holy Spirit.
Finished my reading in the Book of Isaiah this morning and ran across a verse that was prompted by the Spirit for me to investigate. These are the verses:
“THUS SAYS the Lord: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house would you build for Me? And what kind can be My resting place?For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being [by and for Me], says the Lord. But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands” (Isaiah 66:1-2 AMP).
When reading in God’s Word, I often underline, high-light and jot down my previous thoughts of past readings. I also write down supporting Scripture to reference my thoughts. The two above verses were no exception; and I immediately turned to the Psalms for which I had noted.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17 NIV).
David, the writer of this Psalm, uses the Hebrew word“shabor” for “broken spirit”. It means “to shiver, to break to pieces or to reduce.” A spirit that trembles in God’s presence, broken into multiple pieces, is classified as acceptablesacrifice in worshiping God. And if we as believers in Christ Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, will need to know and learn how to worship God “in spirit and truth”. Why do we need to worship Him in that way? Because His Word says so:
“A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is SEEKING just such people as these as His worshipers. God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24 AMP).
I intentionally capitalized “SEEKING” and “MUST” in John as Jesus was also giving emphasis to the woman at the well: ‘God is seekingreal (in spirit and in truth) worshipers. There isn’t any other way to do so; you mustworship Him in that way–in spirit and in truth.’ I know, you might be thinking to yourself right now, “How can I tell if I am worshiping in spirit and in truth. I want my worship to be acceptableto God?” It starts by internalizing God’s Word.
The Psalmist David’s thoughts
In Psalm51, David doesn’t indicate whether the spirit may have been broken by God, the worshiper or the harsh realities of life. He just indicates–no matter what has broken us, we can bring that brokenness to God in sweet surrender and an acceptedattitude of worship.
When David spoke of a “broken heart”, he uses a different Hebrewword: “dakah“; meaning “to crumble, to beat to pieces, to bruise, to crush.” It adds to the expression “a contrite heart.”
“Contrite” is a word used to describe the process of making talcum powder.
In days gone by, some brands of talcum powder came in containers, similar to the one in the picture, which were printed: “This is stone that has been contrite d.” It simply means, what was once part of a mountain has now been ground and pounded so fine, it will float on water.” My mom told me years ago that there was actually a brand name of powder call “Contrite” talcum powder.
Now the form becomes entirely different in this bible verse. Did the prophet have this in mind when he wrote, “Is not My word…like a hammer that breaks in pieces the rock?” (Jerm. 23:29).
Worship Requirements Are Still In Effect!
We have built such protective walls around our emotions and when I say “we“, that includes myself. We have difficulties of releasing openly tenderness, love and adoration. Men especially seem to have the biggest difficulty with this type of openness. We are more like the alabasterbox than the ointment that was poured out. Until something breaks that ‘rock-hard’ attitude, no love is poured out on Christ. I’ll talk about the ‘love attitude’ later.
Tears are not only an evidence of being broken and contrited, but also an expression of full emotion. Jesus tell us,
“…you shall love the Lord your God out of and with
your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life)
and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought
and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30 AMP).
Usually, with this much concentration; the alls‘ build a wave of emotion and release the tears. I don’t watch many beauty pageants on television anymore but when I did, I always noticed how tensions would build. When the climatic moment finally arrives and the winner is announced. The atmosphere becomes electrifying. Generally the winner burst into a flood of tears, along with my wife and those in the audience, releasing the pent-up emotions that have been building.
Should worship be any different for us? Tears are nothing to be ashamed men (“How about those Bears?”); even great athletes weep for joy after winning an event. But our society, secular and non-secular has installed a high barb-wire fence around our displays of emotions (especially men), our attitude of worship has been squelched by the world around us. Is there anything that can be done? A prayer before worship service might go like this: “Father, please have your Holy Spirit give me the right attitude this morning of a contrite spirit”.
Have you been at an airport and watched people’s reactions when they greet friends and loved ones arriving; meeting and embracing in joy? It is a good place to witness tearful emotions. Should we expect to burst out at times, crying in true worship, in spirit and truth as we come into the presence of the loving God? Do we truthfully go into Sunday morning services or other times of worship with EXPECTATION?
“Let Us Worship in Humility”
When God was speaking through the prophet Isaiah, He declared:
“For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly (the humble) And revivetheheart of the contrite” (Isaiah57:15NAS).
I hear of many churches in the land praying for revival in their communities. Before this can happen, our own hearts must be revived first.
God declares that He not only dwells with the angels in heaven but He also dwells with the contrite and humble in spirit. Brokenness and humility form a dwelling place of the Almighty God. God’s presence is a necessary prerequisite to worship and revival too.
The necessary sacrifices of Worship
“A contrite heart/spirit is a heart that isn’t ‘full of itself’; is able to admit mistakes; admit to not being perfect and is open to receive from someone.”
A hard or proudheart says, “I am fully capable of deciding everything myself and don’t need anyone to tell me anything. I am complete in myself and nobody can tell me anything because I KNOW IT ALREADY!”
You’ve probably heard this definitionof insanity:
“To keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.”
A contriteheart recognizes it has a need, open to change of thinking and is willing to break out of insanity. Continuing to walk a path of “I’ll fake till I make it” worshiping in church. It will always lead to the same dead-end. If this is you, STOP!
If we approach God in the pride of our being, our accomplishments in our churches, our position in the church; we are pushing away from and not Romancing the Divine (from Romancing the Divine by Don Nori).
But if we approach God in a contrite and humble spirit, He draws us into Himself; none can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35, 39). Worshiping without these qualities is like lovewithout commitment. The worship is shallow, emotional and fleeting.
I remember when I was a ‘babe in Christ’ in Southern California and attended my first Men’s Retreat at Forrest Home. When I was on top of the mountain I was feeling worshipful. When I came down from the mountain top… what happened a week later? I had lost my commitmentof praise and worship!
The LOVE Attitude in ‘Talcum Powder’ Worship
“And standing behind Him (Jesus) at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with [her] tears; and she wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet [affectionately] and anointed them with the ointment (perfume).”  “Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw it, he said to himself, If this Man were a prophet, He would surely know who and what sort of woman this is touching Him–for she is a notorious sinner (a social outcast, devoted to sin)”  (Luke 7:38-39 AMP).
With what is cost these days for a woman to get her hair done in a salon, to wipe someones feet with her own hair, in front of a religious leader or anyone else, most people would say your “nuts”. But the woman didn’t give it a thought to what the Pharisee would say. What she did wasn’t to impress but it constituted and act of heartfelt worship; her hair was a symbol of her glory and she was simply giving it as a sacrifice to Jesus in worship (1 Cor. 11:15); in contriteness, humility and demonstratedLOVE.
The attitudeofLOVE is exemplified in this story for our learning– The Acceptable ‘Talcum Powder’ Kind of Worship. Jesus’ acceptance of this woman wasn’t merely that she felt love of Him or even felt love for Him. It was acceptance of her expression; what she felt in her heart, her soul and all her mind (intellect) ~ Matthew 22:37. An acceptable‘Talcum Powder‘ kind of worship! She poured love out in unashamed, nonsexual manner. She evidenced that love in kissing Christ’s feet. Unloving worship is worse than an uncaring stepmother. If our worship on Sunday morning is going to be acceptable to God in heaven, then we are going to have to change our attitudes here on earth. Fellowship among believers is beneficial and uplifting before worshiping in the sanctuary, but preparation for worship is what’s needed. A change in thinking.
“But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord. At an acceptable and opportune time, O God, in the multitude of Your mercy and the abundance of Your loving-kindness hear me, and in truth and faithfulness of Your salvation answer me” (Psalm 69:13).
In CrefloDollar‘s 8 Steps to Your Destination series, he says that “your words should be determined by God’s Word; right words determine right thinking and wrong words determine wrong thinking.”
This past Sunday, our Pastor mentioned that Adam “worked in the garden” long before sin entered into Eden. I began turning pages in TheBookofGenesis, trying to find where God’s Word says or even implies man was working before he ‘ate the forbidden fruit.’ I had the understanding that Man didn’t have to really ‘work’; after he disobeyed God. Where did I get such a notion? Was I the only one who ms-understood? It was all because, I had the wrong understanding; my words instead of God’s words had determined my thinking and I was headed in the wrong direction.
My favorite thing to do in the Northwest is enjoy my dahlia garden in late summer and early fall. The planning, the ordering new tubers, adding compost and fertilizer to the soil, planting and waiting for the dahlias to bloom into magnificence. I love all of it! However, what I thought “work” meant came from a different source than from Scripture. Gardening duties versus a ‘job’–sitting at a desk, answering the telephone, managing people was work and running my fingers through the dirt in the planting beds was not. It was likely the fact that I was being paid for my job and not for putting out snail bait as dahlias began poking their heads through the soil. Having fun in the garden seemed counter-intuitive to being at the workplace.
A Cultural dilemma
The word work can be defined by paid employment. The matter of ’employment’ can certainly define who we are in the eyes of our culture. If we have that definition in our thinking, we need to understand what work means biblically, then possibly change our thinking.
Today’s thinking doesn’t line up or connect well with ancient world’s ideas concerning work. The Biblical writer’s world was home and employment, relationships and activities as not separate entities but had real everyday connection. So in order to read scripture correctly, we need to develop a broader definition of work.
Here are but two examples that I found of people trying to accomplish this concept:
“Human activity designed to accomplish something that is needed as distinct from activity that is satisfying in itself.” By Paul Marshall–
“The expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God.” By John Stott–
I never thought raising dahlias was actually WORK. It is satisfying, there is theexpenditureofenergy both manual and mental but I never considered it work. I had wrong thinkingand understanding.
The Nature of God – God is a Worker
A starting point for understanding the biblical view of work is found in Genesis 1. The week of creation was a week of work! An interesting exercise that I did this morning was to read the first few chapters of Genesis and underline (or high-light) the verbs that describe the activities engaged by God or others (action words).
Genesis 1:1 “IN THE BEGINNING God (prepared, formed, fashioned, and) and created the heavens and the earth” [AMPLIFIED Bible]
“God separated the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:4).
“And God made” (Gen. 1:7).
“And God made the two great lights–the greater light (the sun) to rule the day and the lesser light (the moon) to rule the night. He also made the stars” (Gen. 1:16).
“And God set them (stars) in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth” (Gen. 1:17)
“God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 AMP).
I think you get the idea, that at the very beginning of the Bible, we are faced with the inescapable conclusion; God Himself is aworker!It is part of His character and nature.
Creation–Born to Work in Partnership with God
God’s creative work tells us much about who He is and what He is like. It is not a complete picture by any means but it gives us a glimpse of His character. Particularly, His creation of humankind. Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make humankind in our image according to our likeness…”
The implications are not just that we have been made to resemble and reflect who God is, but if that is the case, then work is a part of God’s nature; the work is intended to be a part of us as well.
My wife will sometimes remind me , “Mel, you are acting just like your father when you say and do things that he has done.” That statement can have positive and negative meanings. But the point is, our workethics should be like our heavenly Father. When was the last time someone who knows about you personally said, “….you are acting just like your heavenly Father.”
We are workers because we are made in the image of God who works. We have an impartedneed to be engaged in creative and purposeful activities. It is fundamental to the essence of who we are or should be.
Being ‘under employed’ means that we become deprived; we are robbed of something essential for our well-being. No one knows that feeling better than myself. I was employed in the construction industry in different positions for 35 years. Because construction employment has its highs and lows, management and office personnel is often terminated; let go; fired in the first wave. When that happened, I felt deprived and not just of a paycheck but of my well-being; I had been attacked, robbed of work and self-worth. Not only that, but the work God intended to be done by us is in partnership with Him; to help bring about His purposes. For having been ‘made in His image’, we are His representatives here on earth; we are the ‘body of Christ’ and a physical body has feet and hands to work!
The mandate God gives Adam and Eve is to share in His work (Genesis 1:26-30). God also tells man, “And the Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it [to work in the garden]” (Gen. 2:15).
God is prepared to entrust the garden to humans. It should become clear to us that God’s intention is for us to become His Co-Workers!
In Labor Together – “Incarnation is Fuzzy”
“LABORING TOGETHER [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them–do not receive it to no purpose]” (2 Corinthians 6:1 AMP).
Creation and incarnation are ‘go together’ themes in Scripture. They serve as starting points for understanding our work as a vocation in our lives. The Apostle Paul says that God created the world through Jesus Christ (Col. 1:6). John repeats this same affirmation with the Word of God in the beginning verses of John 1. They connect the incarnation with thecreationwork of Genesis1.
Now it gets a little “fuzzy“ at this point. Incarnation involved divinity and choosing to engage with the world’s imperfections, confusion and compromise. Christians who desire to become “Christ-like” in the world find the same “fuzziness” becoming the agent for God in the midst of less than perfect workplaces. If Jesus is drawn to the places where sin is the most present, as believers, we then are to live and work in the “fuzzy” areas. Such as, in law, medicine, business, the entertainment industry, politics and other areas of cultural influence where sin is entrenched. Remember, you are not alone in this work. You are laboring together with God; you are God’s co-workers. Knowing who your helper is will give you the confidence needed. Where there are possibilities of redemption for God’s purposes; transformation of these pockets in the Kingdom of God on earth.
As I once heard on the television show “Dirty Jobs”,“You don’t clean up a cesspool by standing outside of it.” Having the Holy Spirit living inside of us as Christians, may require that we “get dirty”. Becoming ministers in that work of reconciliation, Christians will have to live and work in discernment. Even in a “fuzzy” environment; to preserve the opportunity to speak or act when it really counts. We can engage those places without fear (2 Timothy 1:7), knowing God wants to redeem those areas in our workplaces for His created purpose. Paul says in the Letter to the Colossians:
“Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah)” (Colossians 3:23-24 AMP).
Could put the inheritance, your real reward in a gardenwheelbarrow? I don’t believe that there is a “wheelbarrow” big enough!
Finding Jesus at Work
Jesus transforms our occupations into vocations linking God’s purposes with our daily work. Whatever our task might be, God is present in our work to give us purpose.
The message of Scripture is, God wants all of us to become “incarnational” agents. What do I mean by “incarnational” agents?
“And the Word (Christ Jesus) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us…” (John 1:14).
“And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwellsinyou, [then] He who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore yo life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit who dwellsinyou“ (Romans 8:11 AMP).
Then as believers, we are “incarnational” agentsin His church (Ephesians 5:23, 30). God wants all of us in His church to be His co-workers; who can change the world through continuing and managing His work of creation; in places of influence sometimes. Even some of us in jobs that seem routine, menial as netting and throwing fish.
WORK is where the disciples first met Jesus and Jesus makes His first post-resurrection appearance where people are at work fishing. Jesus instructs the disciples to lower their nets into the water in His presence. When they do so, the nets are filled to the overflowing. Upon seeing the miracle, John shouts out, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7). The disciples return to the shore, feasting on their catch-of-the-day and find Jesus already on the beach cooking for them. Although all the fish in the sea are His, He asks for some of the fish they had caught. Why? Because God always works with our work to create and renew.
Whatever your circumstance at work may be, know this: We are the redeemed, we are God’s Co-Workers– “That us!”
“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself approved (tested by trial), a WORKMAN who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).