Christmas In October, Really?

Scripture Study – NUMBERS 24:17

Okay, it may be a bit early for a blog-POST about A “STAR” at Christmas, especially since I’ve been reading and studying in the Book of Numbers in the OT of the Bible.  I don’t believe in ‘happenstance,’ so before venturing down a dead-end road I prayed and asked God for some answers to the timing of this POST.  Why had God’s Spirit given me this particular verse at this particular time?

Here is how He answered my questions:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV Bible)

[8] “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  [9] “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So after meditating on God’s answer from His Word, I began to consider our Saviors birth and the details knowing that Jesus’ birth is amazing at any time of the year and not just during the Christmas holidays.

CONSIDERING THE DETAILS OF JESUS’ BIRTH…

Would we have planned it that way?  None of us would choose to lay our newborn in a trough where animals had fed.  I wouldn’t have.

BUT THAT WAS GOD’S WAY FOR HIS SON!

Maybe we would have thought, “Yea!  Let’s send some angels!”

Would we have sent them to no-name shepherds, out in the country where no one else could see them?  I wouldn’t!

GOD’S WAY IS NOT OUR WAY!!

But God’s Way Does Not Fail!

That’s something for us to take heart to, especially when tragedies in the world recently make us want to cry out,  “Why God, why this way?  It’s too hard for me to understand!”  But His Way doesn’t fail!

With that thought in mind, look closely now at this PROPHESY from NUMBERS 24.  I think you’ve heard this Prophesy many times before and you know how it’s fulfilled in JESUS.

But after looking at the CONTEXT of the verse, God’s Way becomes all the more AMAZING!

His Way Amazes!

This PROPHECY didn’t come about in the usual way.  It wasn’t spoken directly by the LORD when He promised the Savior to Adam and Eve or to Abraham.  The words weren’t unspoken by a BELIEVING PROPHET of Israel–Isaiah or Micah.  It was spoken by someone whom we would call a Sorcerer.  His name was Balaam, son of Beor.

As the story begins, the LORD had brought ISRAEL out of Egypt about 40 years earlier.  And now was the time to enter the Promised Land.

On the east side of the Jordan River, Israel’s armies had defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.  So when the people of Moab saw this, they became terrified!  Can you imagine over 601,000 combat-ready troops approaching the city where you live?

Then king Balak, son of Zippor took action.  If the Amorites couldn’t stand against Israel, he figured he couldn’t either, so he tried another tactic.  He sent an envoy to Balaam, son of Beor in Pethor.  He wanted to employ Balaam to CURSE Israel.  If they were CURSED, perhaps the outcome of the battle would be to their favor.

That night the LORD told Balaam not to go and he sends the envoy back to king Balak the next day.  But Balak was persistent and sent more princes who were more distinguished and promised Balaam with even greater rewards.

That night the LORD allowed him to go, IF, and only IF, he did exactly what the LORD would tell him.  As Balaam sets out, he apparently had decided in his heart, not to do what the LORD would tell him.  You know, the old crossed fingers behind the back tradition.

The angel of the LORD stood in his way and would have killed him on the spot, except Balaam’s donkey saw the angel and went off the path around him.  Since Balaam couldn’t see the angel, he became angry with his donkey.  Finally, for the third time, there was no room for the donkey to go around and it sat down and Balaam beat the poor animal.

AND THEN THE DONKEY SPOKE:

“Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day?  Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”  (Numbers 22:29 NIV)

And the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, agreeing to speak ONLY what the LORD told him.

Now King Balak readied seven altars with sacrifices in preparation for Balaam to curse Israel.  But instead of a CURSE, Balaam spoke a BLESSING instead since those were the words of the LORD.

King Balak had Balaam try again at another place and again he blessed Israel.

They tried a third time and instead of resorting to SORCERY as he had on previous occasions, Balaam continued to BLESS Israel as the LORD had told him.  By now, King Balak was furious!  But before he left, Balaam spoke some more words with a BLESSING and PROPHECY, including the Text for this BLOG-POST in Numbers 24:17 (NIV) – 

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near.  A STAR will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.  He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.”

His Way Brings Hope!

People have looked to the STARS for hope throughout the ages past.  Ancient astrologers tried to predict the future from the Stars.  Modern science looks to the Stars to find new planets, a new hope when the earth is dried up.

Then we have celebrities, movie stars, and people look to them for hope and inspiration.  But how they disappoint!  All those different kinds of STARS are FALSE Hope.

But these words in Numbers 24:17 are spoken from such an unlikely source, these words were spoken almost three and a half millenniums ago, these words are THINGS spoken that don’t disappoint.

For God’s Ways Do Not Fail!

That STAR did come at the right time and was laid in a manger.

 

How many years had passed for God’s way to work out according to His schedule of GRACE, not our schedule of instant gratification.

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not now”

Numbers 24:17 (NIV).

Almost 1500 years after these words were spoken before THAT STAR came.

But He did come!  The LORD keeps His Word!  And that should bring us all HOPE.  Hope doesn’t disappoint or prove false.

For the LORD keeps His Promises.

In Moments of the Darkness of Sin…what does the Hope of the Star Bring?

How dark the night can be!  But even in pitch-blackness of night, doesn’t even compare to the DARKNESS of Sin… the shroud of DEATH.  And since everyone is born into this DARKNESS [Romans 3:23; 5:12; Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5], our natural self-thinks that it’s normal.

But God didn’t make us be creatures of the night; rather, He wants us to be His children of the Light.  Now, this goes against our inherited nature.  We don’t want to be seen by others as naked; our hearts laid bare, our secret sins exposed, our self-imagined goodness.  We cling to artificial lights to make us feel good by our own efforts, running from the TRUE LIGHT.

BUT DARKNESS AND SELF-IMAGINED LIGHT….end in Death and Hell.  NO HOPE, NO JOY.  Only the weeping and gritting (gnashing) of teeth [Matthew 13:42].

BUT LOOK!  A STAR HAS RISEN!

And this STAR shines into the DARKNESS…THE TRUE LIGHT!

This Star has worked a marvelous change in you and me–that worked a NEW BIRTH in us– A REBIRTH!  We who had been born children of darkness, we were reborn:

John 1:13 (The MESSAGE Bible)

“The Life-Light was the real thing.  Every person entering Life, he brings into Light.  He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice.  He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him.  But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.  These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.”

SO THIS STAR brings you and me HOPE!

He has shattered the DARKNESS OF SIN, bring the LIGHT of forgiveness.  Thar was God’s Way to save you and me, namely to send His Son into our DARKNESS, so that He took our guilt upon Himself and died in our place as the SACRIFICE for our sin, and so ransomed us with His blood.

How far above our ways!  God’s Way doesn’t fail!

His Way Prevails!

COMFORT comes with this Prophecy when it talks about the SCEPTOR.

God’s Way will not fail, for that STAR who shines into the darkness to SAVE US, is the SCEPTOR.  He, JESUS, is the KING who has redeemed us to be His people.

HE IS YOUR KING…for He ransomed YOU with His blood!

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He has conquered SIN, Satan, and Death for you, risen from the grave in Victory and Glory for you.

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He is the Almighty God and He reigns over all at the Father’s right hand.

I thought about that for a minute.  Think of it when said and done.  When a foreign King. a pagan Sorcerer plotted to undermine God’s plan for His people, the LORD used a dumb donkey to set things right.  GOD’S WAY DOESN’T FAIL!

He even used that pagan sorcerer to speak a wonderful promise of the Savior.  A PROMISE that stirs HOPE in our hearts still today…each and every day of the year.

So whatever you are facing right now, whatever the circumstance you find yourself in, look to the STAR in the manger. see His Scepter, follow Him in HOPE!

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding

keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Amen.

Philippians 4:7

 

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You might enjoy this Music Video at the end of this Blog-Post from YouTube:  A STAR IS BORN!  “Mary Did You Know?”

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CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advance search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), unless stated in the text.

The Importance of the “Muster Drill” in Life

5153669326_13321d38f2Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia tell us what a “muster drill” aboard ship is:  “A muster drill (also sometimes referred to as a lifeboat drill or a boat drill), is an exercise conducted by the crew of a ship prior to embarking on a voyage.  The purpose is to prepare passengers for a safe evacuation in the event of an emergency while on board the ship.  In this MUSTER DRILL, passengers are educated on the use of Life Vest and escape routes from the ship.”

My wife and I have been on two different ships for a vacations in the Caribbean, and yes, the muster drill was mandatory before leaving the dock.  All we wanted to do was to get underway, not stand on an outside deck railing, waiting for instructions, with a life-vest on.  I always felt like a kindergartner, standing in line, holding hands with other kindergartners , then going out for RECESS.  All I wanted to do was go out on the swing sets or Monkey Bars to play.  But somehow, we muddled through the well-meaning information on each trip  (some had to “muddle” more than others).

Scripture:  Habakkuk 3:17-19 (New International Version).

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE WAY:

In today’s world we see overwhelming number of people moving from one position to another at the drop of the hat.  When life’s circumstances get a little tough…the water gets “choppy” and we see the white caps from the gale force winds increasing around us; everybody wants to immediately ABANDON SHIP!  There are very few who will stay the course and get through the bad times.

More Bad News!

FEAR grips the hearts of the UNSAVED, the heathen, with the release of every bad news article; the Stock Market will crash because of one day of business.

The question is this: Will we, as God’s people, stand for Jesus when everything around us is failing?  When jobs fail, when the economy goes under, when sickness strikes, when shortages occur or when storms are on the horizon,  will we stand up and be counted as Faithful in Christ?

Habakkuk said,  “We’ve got troubles, but I think I’ll just thank God anyhow!”  It seems evident to me, the Prophet had been to the “Muster Drill” before.  He knew what to do in case of an emergency…when the alarm bell sounded aboard the ship and the Captain gave precise instructions in exactly what to do.

The Captains Instructions Given, but Not Heard and Understood!

And on that day, when evening had come, He [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.”  And leaving the multitude, they took Him along with them, just as He was in the boat; and other boats were with Him.  And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.  And He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him,  “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”  And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.”  And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.   And He said to them, “Why are you so timid?  How is it that you have no FAITH?”  (Mark 4:35-40 NAS).

The Captain had already conducted the “muster drill” when evening had come.  His  instructions to the crew and passengers before stepping one foot in the boat was,  “Let us go over to the other side”; the instructions were perfectly clear–WE ARE GOING TO THE OTHER SIDE…and yet, when trouble came their way in the middle of the journey, they forgot the Captain’s promise; and their lack of understanding, their FAITH, had abandoned them in the midst of the storm.

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee
Sunset on the Sea of Galilee

It seems amazing to me how life plays itself out; one moment everything seems to going so smoothly and then…

Rembrandt Painting
Rembrandt Painting

Habakkuk Knew that Difficulties Were On the Horizon–

The mention of the fig tree, the grapevine, the olive, the grain, and flocks covers the entire range of agricultural produce on which the nation depended on.  It is reasonable to assume the failure of the crops would be due to the Chaldean invasion.  Enemy troops not only lived OFF the land, but deliberately destroyed what was left behind.

In these last days, we know that times will become more difficult.  We’ve already seen many economic problems and shortages arise causing fear and panic in our society.

When the Scriptures say that in the last days, men’s hearts would be failing for fear, they mean what is said literally.  We are truly living in a perilous time this world has ever seen and yet…the worse has yet to come.

Are we going to praise Him when the times get tough for us?

Satan will bring circumstances that will sometimes overwhelm you:  [a] Financially – bill piling high [b] in your marriage [c] with your children [d] in the Church [e] in your witness for JESUS.

Will you praise Him when people turn against you?

Habakkuk knew that when God’s judgement fell on Judah, it would also include him.  He would not be spared because he was a prophet of God.  In fact, he could be treated worse than any other prisoner because of his trying to warn Judah of its coming doom.

It seems people you meet these days, just don’t believe that times could get any harder.

People seem to be sticking their heads in the sand and try to ignore the problems.  I want you to know that it can and will get worse!  We are living in a dangerous World–just let on Hurricane or Typhoon come, and see how fast the shelves empty.

THE “FAITH BOAT” IS READY TO SAIL:

"THE LOVE BOAT"
“THE LOVE BOAT”

I was a big fan of the American television series set on a cruise ship.  It aired from September 24, 1977, until May 24, 1986.  The one-hour sitcom was usually set aboard a Princess Cruises cruise liner nicknamed, The Love Boat.  Each episode contained several simultaneous story lines of the passengers on board; people’s romances, their failures, disappointments, etc., and were all played out by guest actors on The Love Boat.

Embarkation Instructions…

When the world turns on you, will you still praise Jesus?

When your friends won’t have anything to do with you, will you follow the crowd?

When your family won’t have anything to do with you because you are just “to religious”, will you quit and abandon ship?

When the community you live in turns against you, will you want to put one foot on the ship’s guard-rail and bow to political pressure?

Habakkuk Knew the Importance…

Habakkuk knew when it was all said and done, GOD was the only real salvation he had…his life-preserver was secure and tight.

Habakkuk knew that GOD would be his strength:

Vs 19…”and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet

and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

GOD WILL deliver us through every trial, every test, and every circumstance and He will lift us up above the rocky shores.

A Little Deer…

A HIND was a little deer able to climb even the steepest of cliffs, walk through the roughest places, and leap over deep chasms.  The HIND lived in the high mountains and cliffs and always stayed above all circumstances that involved people on the ground.

GOD has the POWER to lift you up, right where you are, today.  POWER to change your lemons into lemonade and make your tests and trials into greater victories.

A BAR OF STEEL:

A $5 bar of steel cut into ordinary horseshoes is worth $10.

A $5 bar of steel cut into needles is worth $350.

The same bar of steel cut into delicate springs for watches becomes worth $250,000.

So the next time you get discouraged at what God is putting you through…you’re about ready to abandon The FAITH Boat…think of that BAR OF STEEL.

The “Muster Drill” of Instructions Have Already Been Given!

Have you been in the valley long enough?  Are you ready for a change of scenery, perhaps even an Ocean Cruise?

We can dwell above our circumstances and live on a higher plane than the rest of the World.  We don’t need to be concerned with those things that threaten to destroy the World.  It begins with a spiritual REBIRTH; a “born-again” life experiences that will set you on course.

GOD is our refuge and strength; our High Tower; the Captain of our ship of FAITH.  He is our Deliverer and will get us safely to our final destination!  So, let’s get aboard the FAITH BOAT and experience the LOVE Cruise of a lifetime!

The Yacht REBORN or The FAITH BOAT
The Yacht REBORN or The FAITH BOAT


www.powerandmotoryacht.com/megayachts/broward-reborn/

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!

A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle – [Part Two]

Study Verses: 1 John 3:1-9

WHAT “LAWLESSNESS” ISN’T:

I left off in PART ONE– A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle– on Lawlessness; what it is and what it isn’t.  Lawlessness, pure and simply stated is… “open rebellion against God; having no regard of what GOD thinks or says”:

Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God ~ 1 John 3:4.

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commandments and His will).

If we’re really saved, we won’t do that–“practice sin”.  We may disobey GOD once in a while, but a true believer won’t practice sin.

“Steel Guitar Blues”

I can remember when I was about 12 years old, I begged my parents for an Electric Steel Guitar.  Not just a ‘plain old guitar’ but a “Steel Guitar”.  So, they decided to grant my request with the following conditions: “We will get you a “used” one first.  Then, after lessons and ‘practicing diligently’, maybe, just maybe we will get you a newer one with a guitar stand.”

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My First Guitar

My first guitar laid across my lap!  Bummer!!  What will my buddies think?  They won’t think I am playing the ‘genuine’ instrument–without a stand?

If you want to get really good at doing something, you need to practice.  I never liked to “practice”, so the lessons stopped and so did my guitar playing.

If you keep on practicing sin–lawlessness–you will become really good at it.  Do you have an instrument used for sin; laying there on your lap, or if you are really good at it…on a display-stand so everyone can see it?  Do we know someone who says they’re Christian, but keeps on practicing open sin?  John says they aren’t saved!  A true believer can’t do that.

Why not?

John’s 2-part Answer:  1st, we don’t have to sin.

You know that He [GOD] appeared in visible form and became Man to take away [upon Himself] sins, and in Him [JESUS] there is no sin.      (verse 5).

JESUS died on the cross to take away our sins.  And, because He had no sin, He could pay sin’s penalty.  Our sin is gone!

JESUS also took away the power of sin over us.  It may be alive in us, but we’re dead to its power over us:  “No one who abides (LIVES) in Him keeps on sinning.”  (verse 6 (a)).

We don’t have to practice sin anymore.  Why won’t a true believer keep on sinning?  Here comes a terrific Theological Answer to the question:  FIRST, John says… you don’t have to.

There’s a 2nd part of John’s answer–

“No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experiential acquaintance  with Him]”  (1 John 3:6 (b)).

A TEENAGER’S DILEMMA:

A group of teenagers were enjoying a party [we’ve probably all been there and could tell some stories!].  Someone in the crowd suggested they all go to a certain “restaurant” and have a really good time!

“I’d rather you took me home”, the girl said to her date.  “My parents don’t approve of that place.”

“Afraid your father will hurt you?”  One of the girls asked sarcastically.

“No, I’m not afraid my father will hurt me.  But I am afraid I might hurt him!”

She understood:  A true child of God knows Father God–

—  They see and know His love.

—  They love God and in loving Him, they don’t want to sin against His love.

Now we have John’s 2-part reason why true believers can’t keep on sinning:

—  1st, they don’t have to.

—  2nd, true believers won’t want to.

When it comes down to practicing righteousness, God’s love HEALED their “Lackawanna”.

GRACE SOMETIMES CAN BE MISTAKEN – (verse 7 (a)):

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray”

Some in John’s community were arguing over what God’s GRACE meant–it didn’t matter that they kept on sinning.  John is warning us– That isn’t true!  Choosing to do what’s righteous matters!

HOW? – (verse 7 (b).):

“He who does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous”

Has there been a CHANGE in our lifestyle since we were SAVED?  Or, are we still practicing sin?

John is saying we were we were never SAVED if there is no change!  And even more, we’re supposed to be changing for the better– forever.  The apostle reminds us in the Book of Romans,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, be be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will”  (Romans 12:2 NIV).

That “renewing” Paul is talking about, isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event.  It is ongoing–everyday of your life happening.  I think that it is the second most important decision you will ever have to make in life; next to your decision of accepting JESUS as Lord and Savior.

We ought to be making PROGRESS…

WHY?  (verse 8):

“[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated divine law) from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done].”

SATAN (the devil) holds the lost in his power-grip.  A Christian is held by Christ’s POWER.  When a lost person is found–becomes a born-again Christian–Satan’s power is broken.  They don’t have to practice sin any more–and they don’t want to!

JESUS Sets Us Free!

JESUS promised,

[34] “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you,  Whoever commits and practices sin is the slave of sin.  [36] So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free”  (The Gospel of John 8:34, 36 AMP).

If JESUS sets us free from the slavery of practicing sin, we won’t practice sin anymore–no lessons, no instruments available for sinning when we don’t practice.

Just the opposite, we’ll be working hard at becoming more Christ-like.  We’ll love Him too much not to!

GOD PLANTS THE SEED OF JESUS:

“No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him  [His principle of life, the divine sperm (seed), remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born of God”  (verse 9).

In every christian, the SEED is planted.  It’s done at our REBIRTH.  His seed (His holy nature) can’t sin.  And, at our rebirth, we receive a new nature–Christ’s.

His nature can‘t sin because…He can’t.  Whenever we do sin, it’s our old nature sinning.  When we die, our old sinful nature (attached to our sinful physical body) will die too.  It was predestined long ago.

In Christ JESUS, it was put to death at Calvary.  But it’s taking a long time to die.  When JESUS takes us home, all that will be left is our new nature.  The lost (the unsaved) have only the old nature that has never been put to death.  So it still lives to rule and reign in their hearts.  It will have to be JUDGED–THEIR UNRIGHTEOUS SEED IS ALL THEY HAVE.

A Good Tree and its Fruit–

Our study has been focused on 1 John 3:1-9, but I couldn’t stop at verse 9, I had to include verse 10:

“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children…”

Can there be any doubt on how we live our lives becoming a SALVATION issue?  John isn’t saying it’s our deeds that save us.  BUT, he is saying clearly what JESUS said in Matthew 7:17 and Matthew 12:33:

“Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is… know and recognized and judged by its fruit”  (Matthew 12:33 AMP).

Every Good Tree Bears Good FruitA “good tree” (from the “good seed”) produces good fruit–and a bad tree–bad fruit.  The FRUIT always reveals what kind of tree it is.

When GOD plants His Divine “seed” in us, it produces a desire, even sometimes a passion to SERVE–Obey and Live for Christ.  If we don’t have this desire, we don’t have His “seed” in us.

WHEN JESUS SAVED US…

GOD planted a new seed in us–and it will bring forth fruit–our good works.  And as we mature in Christ, the fruit matures in its appearance; the more evidence there’ll be in our life that we’re SAVED!

According to John, like that expression I heard in the late 1970’s,  “If we were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?”

GOD GETS THE GLORY!

It comes down to the bottom line on the ‘fruit bearing’ in our lives.  Are we doing so because of the accolades we will receive from others to our self-glory…or the roses we receive laid at the feet of JESUS?

[39] “And some of the Pharisees from the throng said to Jesus,  Teacher, reprove Your disciples!  [40] He replied, I tell you that if these keep silent, the very stones will cry out”  (Luke 19:39-40).

“So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God”  (1 Corinthians 10:31).

1 John 3:1-9
1 John 3:1-9