Prophecy and The Church Today

Scripture Study, 1 Corinthians 14:1-40; Ephesians 4:11

PURSUE LOVE AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS, BUT ESPECIALLY PROPHECY

THE GIFT OF PROPHECY is the most predominant of the Spiritual gifts in that it’s a gift manifested most often.  In Acts 2, Peter says that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of speaking in tongues isn’t the result of too much wine, but is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Prophet Joel (Joel 2), a sign of the end times (Joel 2:17-18).  This is significant because, in the Old Testament, only the priests and prophets prophesied.  But not so in the New Testament.  Sons, daughters, women, men from all walks of life are prophesying and speaking in tongues.  (1 Corinthians 14:31)

In our scripture passage, we have the apostle Paul’s words on the subject, but caution must also be exercised.  Because the gift of prophecy is the one most used, it’s also the gift most misused. 

Paul does go on to say that believers should covet prophesy.  It ministers to the entire church.

So what is Prophecy?

Prophecy is divinely inspired utterance concerning past, present or future events in a known language to the church or to people, or even to places or things.  God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the mountains.

The gift of prophesy is exercised when God (not man) anoints a believer to be His vessel.  He speaks through your vocal cords but it comes from divine inspiration.  It’s not something that you can go to school or a church seminar to learn how to prophesy.  It’s a Spiritual Gift from the Holy Spirit.

Many confuse the gift of prophecy with the ministry office of prophet found in Ephesians 4:11.

The gift of prophecy doesn’t make you a prophet.

There are certain characteristics (Numbers, chapter 12) that will distinguish the ministry office of a prophet but that doesn’t characterize one who has the Spiritual gift of prophecy.

The purpose and usage of the Gift of Prophecy is a message to the church sent to edify (to build up); to exhort (a calling near); and to comfort (to bring consolation, especially during a time of trial or distress, to cheer up!).

Prophecy can also be instrumental in bringing an unbeliever to conviction.

 

1 Corinthians 14:24-25

“But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all,   [25] as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare.  So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”  (NIV)

Abuses of the Gift of Prophecy; What the Gift is Not!

The gift of prophecy isn’t to be used as a personal prophecy to others – NEVER!  Years ago, my wife and I were fellowshipping at a small church nearby.  A personal friend and pastor invited me to be his associate because of his busy schedule.  One evening we attended a pot-faith supper at a home with a prayer vigil afterward.  Before prayer began, pastor Anthony was called away on an emergency call. leaving me in a room of 15 people along with a self-confessed “prophet” who pulled up a chair in the center of the room.

And then the hair on my arm stood straight up!

Several people began to ask the “prophet” for personal prophecy.  Thoughts rang in my ear as the Holy Spirit was speaking to me to leave this gathering and leave my responsibility hanging on the doorknob as we left.  This wasn’t a prayer meeting, it was ‘fortune telling’!  This is the area where the gift is probably abused most often.  I don’t want to say that those who practice this are under the influence of a deceiving spirit.  It’s most likely just the flesh.

The gift of prophecy isn’t to give direction or settle arguments.

The gift of prophecy isn’t to teach or introduce doctrine to the church. 

The gift of prophecy isn’t to rebuke the body of Christ. 

It isn’t to bring correction.  The Word of God is supposed to do that.  When the Lord corrects or rebukes the body, generally it’s through the Word and through the pastor.  So don’t rebuke the body through prophecy unless you’re 100 percent certain it’s “thus says the Lord.”

The gift of prophecy isn’t to predict the future.

There can always be exceptions to what I’ve already mentioned.  God is ALWAYS in control in every situation and can use anyone in any way that He sees fit.

The Believer’s Attitude toward this gift is to “Covet (desire, be eager to have) the gift.”

Sincerely desire that God will use you.  This gift can be freely exercised by women as well as men:  “…and your sons and daughters shall prophesy…”  (Acts 2:17).

In my study this week I found something interesting that I had overlooked in the past.  That seems to happen quite often these days.  Maybe it’s because I’m older?  I digress.  When women do prophesy, they should do so with their heads covered. [Reference: 1 Corinthians 11]

Be anointed when you prophesy!

The anointing brings a compulsion to speak; an anointing of power within you.  You will know when you’re anointed and so will the gathered assembly.  Generally, you won’t know all that you’re going to say when you step out in prophecy.  It’s a step of faith!  Certainly you’ll have a few words and an idea and the general direction God is leading when you step out to prophesy, but it will be a step of faith!

Order In the House

I remember growing up,  my mom and dad repeating the phrase, “Mind your manners.” – Don’t start eating at the table until everyone is seated. – Asking to be excused from the table after a meal. – Calling adults by their last name and not their first. –  Not walking into a room and interrupting a conversation before waiting for an empty space. –  Walking on the outside of a walkway when with a young lady,  and opening doors letting women enter first, including car doors.  I still do this today!

“Remember your manners when you’re away from home,” my folks would repeat over and over again.  And good manners…Order in the house applies in the church today – or it should!

And we must not forget, there’s to be “order” in the house in the giving of prophecy.  God isn’t the author of confusion and the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet.  Therefore, there shouldn’t be interruptions during the teaching moments, etc.   A proper time for the manifestations of the gifts should be given in each service.

In any particular church meeting, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said” (1 Corinthians 14:29).

The most likely interpretation of the controversial passage is the silence of women in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35.  And yet, at the same time, Scripture reveals that women may prophesy (see Acts 2:17-18; 21:9; 1 Cor. 11:5) but not publically judge the prophetic words of men in the congregational setting.

Prophets were always to be in control of their speech (1 Cor. 14:32) as an expression of God’s desire for peace (1 Cor. 14:33).  And as important as this ministry is in the body of Christ, even those claiming to be prophets must be subject to the final authority of the spiritual leadership (deacons, elders, pastors).  (1 Cor. 14:36-38).

I believe that everything we need to know as Christians is found in the Bible.  It’s a sufficient source of revelation for each one of us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,

The Bible is the firm foundation that God has given to us all.  All other ground is sinking sand.  This is the source of truth on which we need in our lives.

Yet, we must be willing to listen if God chooses to speak to us in an “uncommon way” – in a way we don’t expect.  By that I mean if He chooses to speak to us outside of the normal channels of the Scripture, we need to be still and listen to what God says.  Just because there’s a lot of abuse by people who falsely claim they have received a message from God, doesn’t mean we need to slam the door shut on any possibility of God speaking to us in that way.  Oh, I suspect it might be wise to slightly shut the door, but we need to leave it ajar so that if God has something to say to us and to let it be known to others, we are able to hear Him.

And yes, it’s true, the Bible contains all we need as Christians.  But our gracious and generous God sometimes chooses to give us more than we think we need!  Sometimes He may choose to communicate with us in another way in order to provide special encouragement when we need direction trying to make a decision.  I’m seeking that encouragement and direction in a matter right now that I’ll share in a later blog.  I’m not going to pretend these uncommon messages from God always make us comfortable.  Many of us like the status quo.  If someone says he or she has a message from the Lord on a Sunday morning which requires us to do something new or different, we probably won’t want to hear it.  But if God is speaking to us, we’d better be willing to listen!

The GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT are never to be made the focus of congregational life.

Make Us Aware…

Worship and the Word are the focus, and the gifts flow under God’s direction, not men.  The great, final purpose of all spiritual gifts in the church, including PROPHECY, is the edifying of God’s people.

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here should be the focus of our minds and on our lips when we enter the House of God.

True Prophecy in the Church to remember – by Derek Prince

  1. All true prophecy agrees with the letter and the spirit of the Scriptures. (2 Tim. 3:16)
  2. All true prophecy centers in Jesus Christ and exalts Him. (John 16:13)
  3. True prophecy produces fruit in character and conduct that agrees with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23)
  4. True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit, gives freedom and not bondage. (Gal. 5:1)
  5. True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit gives life and not death. (2 Cor. 3:6)
  6. True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit agrees with the Holy Spirit within each believer who hears it. (1 John 2:27)

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CREDITS –

Music Video:  Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here – by Heavens Mutambira & Amplified Praise.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

True Prophecy by Derek Prince (pdf): Giving, Receiving and Testing a Prophetic Word.

Commentary:  What Does Scripture Teach About the Office of Prophet and Gift of Prophecy by Sam Sorm @ TGC; October 8, 2015.

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV); New Living Translation (NLT); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

“If the foundation be destroyed…”

Scripture:  Psalm 11:3; Isaiah 58:12

A Christian college professor asked his doctoral students to complete a theological survey of congregations – They learned that many churches, over 56%, don’t know their church’s basic theological positions.  They can neither summarize nor explain their church’s doctrine.  There are many reasons why, and that brings me to this week’s blog.  

Many people have asked me over the last few years, what “denomination” am I member of”.  They are somewhat taken back when I answer, “I’m a fundamentalist!  I don’t ‘belong’ to any “denomination”.

So what is a “fundamentalist”?

GOING BACK TO THE “BASICS” 

The Huffington Post revealed its ignorance in an article that attempted to portray the President’s nominee for Army Secretary as some sort of Christion fundamentalist weirdo:

“Trump’s Army Pick:  Looking at Victoria’s Secret Catalogs Can Turn

Men Into Saddam Hussein,” 

…read a headline that was published.

RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM –

Over the past several years I’ve heard and read about attacks on the fundamentals of the Christian faith:

It was suggested in a recent television program that Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, that Mary’s conception was the result of being raped by a Roman soldier.  Such attacks aren’t new:

John 6:42 (NIV)

The said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we knew?  How can He now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Years ago it was reported that a certain Anglican priest expressed his view that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, rather, he merely ‘swooned’ or passed out then regained consciousness a few days later.  After showing Himself to the apostles, he moved to Egypt and lived to a ripe old age.

Mark 15:44-45


Such attacks against the FUNDAMENTALS OF OUR FAITH must not be swept under the carpet.

Galatians 1:6 (NIV)

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in  the grace of Christ and is turning to a different gospel–“

“Those who take pride in their steadfastness shall fall the hardest”  (Quotes & Things, D. Collins ).

1 Corinthians 10:12 (AMP)

“Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he falls [into sin].

Manufacturers Know 3 Secrets of Increasing Sales:  Advertise, advertise, advertise.

A carefully crafted advertisement, frequently repeated during primetime viewing to increase sales.

Someone once laid down two guidelines for selling a LIE:

  • Keep repeating it to yourself until you believe it, then…
  • Tell it again and again to as many people as possible.

WE NEED TO BE SELECTIVE IN REGARDS TO THAT WHICH WE EXPOSE OURSELVES…

Or we’ll end up believing a LIE.

But more than that, we need to ‘repeat to ourselves’ over and over again the fundamental truths of the gospel so that we might remain fully convince and firmly established in the TRUTH.

Read carefully the instruction that God gave to the Israelites:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV)

[6]  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  [7]  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  [8]  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  [9]  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

[18]  Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.   [19] Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

NOTE too, what the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians:

[Also read 2 Peter 3:1-2, 17; Proverbs 3:3]

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL THAT NEED TO BE UNDERSTOOD:

Isaiah 58:12 (AMP)

[12] And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.

#1.  The Virgin Birth.

The record concerning Jesus’ birth:

What does the record say concerning the Birth of Jesus?

Luke 1:26-55

 

AND, in Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)

The facts presented by Luke and Matthew are clearly to the point.  Mary was a virgin.

In case there might be any doubt, what is meant by the word ‘virgin,’ (some say it just means ‘young woman’), it’s clear from the text that it means ‘one who hasn’t had sexual intercourse’.

Mary says, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34)

Matthew states that This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:  His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  (Matthew 1:18)

To deny the fact of the virgin birth is to deny that Jesus is the eternal Word of God who “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” as the Scriptures affirm.

AND…

AND…

“The first man [was] from out of earth, made of dust (earthly-minded); the second Man [is] the Lord from out of heaven”  (1 Corinthians 15:47 – Amplified version).

DENY that Jesus is God’s one and only Son as the Scriptures affirm:

[Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 4:9]

The Word of God says of those who DENY the fact of the Virgin Birth and that Jesus came in the flesh is plain:

  • They are not of God (1 John 4:2-3).
  • There are deceivers and an antichrist:  2 John 1:7 (NIV)

[7]  I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

THE DEATH ON THE CROSS

The record of Jesus’ death on the cross:

What does the Bible say concerning Jesus’ CRUCIFIXION?

Acts 2:23 (AMP)

“This Jesus, when delivered up according to the definite and fixed purpose and settled plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and put out of the way [killing Him] by the hands of lawless and wicked men.”

The evidence presented by the evangelists are quite clear:

  • JESUS “gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50)
  • When the soldiers came to Jesus, they “saw that He was dead already” (John 19:33)
  • John also notes the fact of the soldier who pierced Jesus’ side with a spear (John 19:34)

To deny that Jesus died on the cross is to deny that Jesus has died for all our sins.

[Also READ: 1 Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:6]

To DENY that we have been RECONCILED. JUSTIFIED, then we are still alienated; separated from God’s mercy and grace.

Romans 5:10 (NIV)

“For if,  while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

To DENY that Jesus tasted death for everyone, it means we must pay the price for our sins after all (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:9).

To DENY that the Devil has been rendered powerless!  (Hebrews 2:14)

THE RESURRECTION

The record stated of the resurrection:  (Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-31)

The RECORD clearly states that Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:5), and He appeared to His disciples (Matthew 28:8-9; John 20:14, 10).

The disciples saw and touched His wounds  (John 20:20, 26-28)

To DENY the RESURRECTION is to…

Regarding Jesus:

Say that His soul was left in Hades and that death has dominion over Him, and the pains of death haven’t been loosed.

Acts 2:31 (NIV)

“Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did His body see decay…”

Romans 6:9 (NIV)

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.”

Acts 2:24 (NIV)

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.”

DENY THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD:

Romans 1:4 (AMP)

“And [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated the Son of God in power [in a striking triumphant and miraculous manner] by His resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”

DEMY THAT JESUS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN and sat down at the right hand of the Father, and ruling from His throne:

Ephesians 1:20-21; Acts 2:30; Philippians 2:5-11

To say that Jesus will not return:

1 Thessalonians 1:10 (AMP)

And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah].”

Regarding Us.

Say that everything we believe and hope is in vain and meaningless:  “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”  (1 Corinthians 15:14).

We will not be resurrected:

Romans 8:11 (NIV)

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in  you.”

And, we are not SAVED and still in our sins:

  • 1 Peter 3:21.
  • Romans 10:9.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:17.
  • Romans 4:25.

We have no hope:

  • 1 Peter 1:3.
  • 1 Peter 1:21.

The fundamentals of our faith are under attack from the very beginning to the present day, and they will, without a doubt, continue relentlessly until the end of time.

Philippians 3:1

Three of the fundamental doctrines that constantly come under attack are…

  1. ‘the virgin birth’
  2. ‘the death of Jesus on the cross’
  3. And ‘the resurrection.’

To deny, modify these fundamental truths (the HEART of the Gospel) means denying the whole body of teaching surrounding the heart.

We need to constantly remind (READ) ourselves the FUNDAMENTALS of our Faith…the FOUNDATIONS of our Belief, and defend the faith delivered to the saints with the sword of the Spirit.

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CREDITS:

Christian fundamentalism AMERICAN PROTESTANT MOVEMENT written by J. Gordon Melton, Ernest R. Sandeen – Encyclopedia Britannica.

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), and other translations used in the photos and images.

A WATCHMAN’S PRAYERS

A Study On The Eight Prayer Watches In The Bible

James tells us in our bibles that the “prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16).   I don’t know about you, but if I have prayer concerns in my life, I’ll want to go directly to a “righteous man/woman” for my requests! 

As we pray, we stand to watch over our families, cities, and nations.  Just as men stood on the city walls in the Vigil to watch for approaching danger, God calls us to be modern-day WATCHMEN to warn those who are in danger (2 Kings 9:17-18).

We are to watch not only for the enemy’s activity but also for the manifestation of God’s plans in our lives–to know God’s will:  [Reference -https://theworddetective.blog/2019/04/23/where-theres-a0w…y-but-whose-will/]

Today more than ever, it’s important that we PRAY and SEEK the mind of the Lord:  “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mathew 6:10).  Major decisions we face require us to know God’s individual will for our lives.

The Bible speaks of “WATCHES”–specific times of the day or night.

For the purpose of understanding what “Watch” refers to in the Bible, let me give you one definition I discovered in my study:  ‘looking at someone or something for an amount of time and paying attention to it as well as being responsible for guarding or protecting someone.’  (2 Samuel 18:25; 2 Kings 9:18; Psalm 127:1; Isaiah 62:6).

Basically, there are 8 watches over a 24-hour period. 

Before I dived into this study in preparation, I thought there were only four WATCHES. What I discovered was the Romans changed the timing of the watches: First Watch began at 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM, and every four periods thereafter–but the Jewish custom was 8 Watches in a 24-hour period.  That’s because everyone has a prayer watch, even though they might not know it.  This is why you might find yourself repeatedly praying at specific times of the day or night.  If you have ever been awake in the middle of the night as I have, or wonder why you are being led to pray at specific times, it’s probably because God wants you to pray or intercede for someone.

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EVERY PRAYER WATCH HAS A PURPOSE!

FIRST WATCH – [The Evening Watch from 6 PM to 9 PM]

This watch is known as the Period of Passover or supper time.  It’s a time for reflection after a long day at work, or school, and the hustle and bustle of life in general.

Jesus used the Evening Watch to go aside and pray (Matthew 14:15-28).

The Second Watch [9 PM – 12 PM] – The period to pray for strength against all trials.

During this WATCH, intercessors are able to impact the spiritual realm before the ENEMY gets ready to ‘raise hell’!  Psalm 119:62 says, “At midnight I rise to give thanks for your righteous laws.”  

It was at midnight that God struck down the first-born of Egypt, resulting in His people being released from captivity and set free to worship Him.

It is the WATCH when God deals with the enemies and the ones trying to keep us from entering into His perfect plan for our lives.

In the natural, the time is characterized by deep darkness.

In the spiritual realm, the Second Watch is when wicked assignments and sabotage from the enemy is set in motion.  That’s why it’s important for intercessors at this particular time to watch and pray.  God’s protection over families, cities, and nations.

Psalm 68:1 – New International Version (NIV)

[1] May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.

This is also the time for divine judgments, deliverance, prayer for the economy, tearing down walls of darkness, and all wicked structures from our educational, religious and political systems.

How and What do I pray for?

During this Prayer Watch, pray aloud Psalm 59 and Psalm 68:1-4 – use this time to praise and worship and exalting God.  [READ aloud Psalm 148].

The THIRD WATCH–the Breaking of Day Watch [12:00 AM to 3:00 AM]

This is a period of much spiritual activity.  This WATCH HOUR will strengthen your faith!  It is the same time that Peter denied Christ three times (Matthew 26:34, 74; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:34; John 13:58).

This WATCH is the darkest and most demonic part of the night, especially at midnight.

Witches, warlocks, and Satanist have fun and start their chants during this part of the night.  Satan actively operates during this time because this is the time men and women are in a deep sleep and not as many people praying to oppose him (1 Kings 3:20). 

Seasoned prayer intercessors are needed during this WATCH. We must not be afraid of witchcraft during this WATCH, for the Lord has given us dominion and authority over, not some things, but ALL things!

This is the time for spiritual warfare.

This is the time to wake out of sleep and confront every storm of destruction and distraction that’s happening in your life, robbing you of God’s blessings and provisions.

Also, it’s the time to speak peace and calm over every situation of uproar and confusion around you.

It’s time to strengthen yourself spiritually and seek direction.

Be vigilant during this time and WATCH for God’s revelation, a breakthrough in His plans and purpose for your life and territory.

Time to pray for release from every prison.

The Apostle Paul and Silas were released from PRISON during this time period (Acts 16:25).

In addition, God released the people of Israel from Egypt at this time frame (Exodus 12:29, 31).

And according to Judges 16:3-4, Samson escaped from Gaza at midnight while pulling up the gates of the city and carrying them out with him.

A Time to make your pleas in prayer.

This is the period to PRAY for God’s provision to be released (Luke 11:5-13; Acts 16:3).

It’s also a time for miracles to take place and for applying the blood of Jesus.

DREAMS & VISIONS

Often, we are awakened during this time of night with dreams God has given us.  God uses DREAMS and VISIONS to bring instruction and counsel to us while we sleep.

He also reveals areas where we need to concentrate our prayers and intercessions (Job 33:15).

The devil can also attack you in DREAMS (nightmares), so always pray before you go to sleep, asking God to keep you from the enemy’s devices.

Prayer Proclamations for this WATCH:

  • Protect my mind while I sleep (Psalm 4:8).
  • “Father, You said in Your Word that whatever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven, so through the name of Jesus and the POWER of His blood, I bind and break all witchcraft, curses, spells, and powers of the DARKNESS working against me.  You order Your angels to protect me wherever I go.  They will hold me up in their hands…” (Psalm 91:11-12).

The Fourth WATCH (The Morning Watch from 3:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M.)

This WATCH is always important for it is the last WATCH of the night.

This WATCH is the time that satanic angels who went out to perform their activities are returning to home base.

This is the time of the morning that the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12 and 14).

It’s also the time of the morning when Jesus walked on water to help the disciples who were caught in a storm (Matthew 14:25-33).

This is the time of day where we should establish the direction for the day by speaking God’s Word for breaking everything that would attempt to hinder His WILL in your life (Psalm 19:2).

COMMAND AUTHORITY FOR YOUR MORNING!

Matthew says…

This is a DISCIPLINED Prayer WATCH for those who have the power and training to wake-up early to set the atmosphere for the upcoming day.

This is a time of opportunity to set things in place before the devil and his henchmen have a chance to ruin it!

Prayer decrees for this WATCH:

  • “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plan.”  (Proverbs 16:3). 
  • I enforce Your plans and purpose for my life over and against the plans and purposes of Satan.  And Satan, the Blood of Jesus is against you!  You have NO AUTHORITY over my life!  (Isaiah 54:17)
  • Father, You will defeat my enemies!  (Deuteronomy 28:7)

The Fifth WATCH (The Early Morning Watch from 6:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.)

I have chosen this time as my personal prayer watch.  Yes, and it has taken much discipline to offer my pleas and thankfulness to my God!

It is the time that God strengthens Christians (Acts 2:15; Psalm 2:7-9).

The spiritual significance of Sunrise is having Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, RISE over us (Malachi 4:2).  During this WATCH, pray for such issues as healing in your body, relationships, family, government, and the economy.

Time for the Holy Spirit to prepare us for service.

Acts 2:15 says, …it was the “third hour of the day” (or 9:00 A.M.) when the Holy Spirit descended in the Upper Room at Pentecost to equip the gathered 120 disciples for service.

Regular work schedules usually begin between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M.

As you step out in faith, ask the Holy Spirit to equip you for the day.  And yes, it’s okay to pray directly to the Holy Spirit!

Prayer Requests for this WATCH:

  • Lord, this day I entrust my work day to You and I know my plans will work out because I can do everything You ask me to with the help of Christ Jesus who gives me the strength and power to succeed (Philippians 4:13; Proverbs 16:3).
  • I plead the Blood of Jesus over myself.  I cover my body, mind, emotions, and spirit with the Blood of Jesus.
  • I curse at the root of every attack upon my health (physically and emotionally) through the Blood of Jesus.
  • I have been REDEEMED out of the hands f the devil!

The Sixth WATCH ( 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.)

Time to see God’s PROMISES fulfilled!

This is the time to watch for the Word of the Lord be fulfilled in your life.  It’s also the time to receive a supply of all resources needed for every project God has assigned you to fulfill (Exodus 12:35-36).  

This is the time of day that I prepare for my upcoming blog-study for the week.

PRAY for the provision to accomplish whatever God wants you to do.

Prayer Decrees for this WATCH:

  • I give myself completely to You, as a living sacrifice, who has been raised from the dead, and I offer myself as an instrument in Your hands for Your good purposes.
  • Because I reverence and honor Your Name, Your goodness shines on me like the sun with healing in its rays!

The Seventh WATCH (12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.)

Midday is an hour of REST or a time to seek diligently the LORD.  During this WATCH, Jesus was on the Cross atoning for our sins and the restoration of man’s relationship once more with God.

Additionally, Peter had a VISION of the clean and the unclean animals which God used to let Peter know that God’s plan was to include the Gentiles in His redemptive plan. (Acts 10:1 – 11:18)

Also, it was the prophet Daniel who always turned towards home to PRAY during this watch,  (Daniel 6:10-11)

Unfortunately, this is also the time for DESTRUCTION to run rampant in our nation!

It’s the time of the Secret Place of The Most High (Psalm 9:1-2).

Time of letting your light shine brighter (Proverbs 4:18)

[18] The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shinning ever brighter till the light of day. [NIV]

The midday is the beginning of the sixth hour (12:00 P.M.).  It is the time when the sun is at its fullest.

PRAY that your life and those around you will be bright.

This is also the time to PRAY to not be led into any temptation, trap or snare of the enemy.

The Eight WATCH (3:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.)

The Hour of Dying to Self and Rejoicing in the Power of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ died on the cross during this watch (3:00 P.M.).  He took on the sins of man to be reconciled to God by His BLOOD.  The Apostle Paul said “I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life O now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God,  Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” [AMP]

After His resurrection, Jesus gave us the POWER to live a life of VICTORY and the AUTHORITY to carry out God’s Will on earth (Matthew 28:18-20).

PRAYERS FOR THIS WATCH:

  • I give myself completely to You.  I am a tool in Your hands, to be used for Your good purposes.  Sin has no power over me because I’m no longer tied to the Law where sin enslaves me, but I’m free under Your favor and mercy (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:13-14).
  • You have begun a good work within me and You will continue to help me grow in Your grace until Your task within me is finally done and You call me home or when Jesus returns for His Church, His Bride.

In the Gospel of Mark, after The Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went out to the Mount of Olives –“…Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples,  Sit down here while I pray.”  (verse 32)

Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John...”Remain here and keep awake and be watching.”

But they couldn’t keep awake to watch while their Master prayed to the Father to take away His grief:  “And He came back and found them sleeping…Have you not the strength to keep awake and watch for one hour?”  Three times Jesus return to His followers to find them not watching and fast asleep.

So what is your WATCH?  

This past week in study, I found myself praying to my heavenly Father at each of the 8 WATCHES.  And yes, my prayer decrees were short, especially during the third and fourth watch.

I hope this study has encouraged you not only to continue in prayer but to offer a living sacrifice so that you prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

AMEN!!!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS and Sources:

Sources for this Study:  Studying the 8 Prayer Watches of the Bible – A Praying Life by Yvonne Perkins.

Understanding the Eight Prayer Watches – New Levels in God.

Phot/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as referenced in the images and text.

Dictionary:  Cambridge Dictionary

 

GOD’S WORD and The Shoe Box

A Crushed Shoe Box
The Shoe Box

This week I decided to sort through all my “stuff” in the walk-in closet, going through the clutter and no longer needed clothing for a fresh start in the new year.  It’s a rotten job, but someone’s gotta do it!

I grabbed what I thought was an empty SHOE BOX tucked behind some old sweatshirts hanging up that I’ll never wear again and when I removed the lid from the shoe box–SURPRISE!

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Inside was a wrinkled twenty-dollar bill staring at me.  “How did THAT get in there?” A better question might have been, “How did I forget that it was there, and was I getting forgetful in my old age?  A lost twenty-dollar bill?” And, was what I found in the shoe box even salvageable–would anyone still accept what I found in this condition?

A Lesson Learned!

The next day while reading God’s Word in my bible, I asked the Holy Spirit, “Might there be a hidden message for me in that forgotten shoe box?”  I often get ideas for Blogging For God with questions that arise in my daily walk with Jesus.  How about you?

HEAVENLY ANSWER:  If I tried to alter what I found in the shoe box, it may no longer be accepted and would be worthless.

  • God’s WORD is worth much more than the twenty dollars.  Altering it can cost many people Heaven itself!
  • Unaltered, that WORD will accomplish what God wants.

BIBLE TEXT:  EZEKIEL 2:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT):

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[1]  “STAND UP, son of man,” said the voice.  “I want to speak with you.”

[2]  The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet.  I listened carefully to his words.  [3] “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me.  They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day.  [4] They are stubborn and hard-hearted people.  But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says!’  [5] And whether they listen or refuse to listen–for remember they are rebels–at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.

AS CHRISTIANS, you and I need to see ourselves as much a sinner as those outside the church environment to whom we can speak God’s WORD.  And when we do get the Holy Spirit opportunities to speak God’s Word, we need to fight against every ounce of self-righteousness in ourselves.  Maybe we haven’t committed exactly the same sins, but your sins and mine are just offensive against God as their sins, if not more so since we ought to know better.

HUMBLY see your SIN and then see JESUS, your Savior, who takes away your SIN.

Maybe the idea of the SHOE BOX might help you, as it did me, to be HUMBLE in speaking God’s Word.  The shoe box isn’t worth anything–it’s easily crushed.

What gives the shoe box value is what is inside.  Apart from God, we are but empty shoe boxes–worthless, and powerless.

BUT GOD has placed His WORD into your heart.  As you speak that Word, HUMBLY remember that your strength comes from the Lord, not from yourselves.

WE ARE JUST SHOEBOXES!  SPEAK His Word Faithfully, Knowing It Will NOT FAIL!

What God said proved to be TRUE.

The people would know that the prophet was speaking for God when the WORD came true.  That’s what God tells him,  “And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious people–they will know that a prophet has been among them (Ezekiel 2:5 NIV).

Many would REJECT Ezekiel’s message, but he wouldn’t change it to make it sound more acceptable to the people.

There’s a principle for churches today to glean from and the New Testament gives a great reminder and a WARNING:

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2 Timothy 4:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

[3]  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

[4]  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

How do we do that?

Through reading your Bible, coming to worship, joining a bible study group, and… keep on learning more and more what God’s Word has to say.

Don’t give in to pressure compromising God’s Word, because someone might not like it.

UNALTERED, that WORD will accomplish what God wants!

SPEAK HIS WORD FAITHFULLY!!!

Finally, SPEAK GOD’S WORD BOLDLY–

The LORD wants us to SPEAK His Word BOLDLY!

He makes it plain to Ezekiel that he will face opposition.  The LORD tells him,

(Ezekiel 2:4 AMP)

[4] And the children are impudent and hard of heart.

I send you to them and you shall say to them,

‘Thus says the Lord God.’

Knowing this ahead of time, it still didn’t stop Ezekiel.  He was to speak God’s WORD BOLDLY, regardless of the circumstances.

So, what gave Ezekiel the BOLDNESS to speak?

I have asked myself the same question after SHARING Christ with others: “Where did I get the “boldness” at that specific moment?  And I always receive the same answer from the Holy Spirit–

(Philippians 2:13 AMP)

[13] “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who

is all the while effectually at work in you [ener-

gizing and creating in you the power and desire],

both to will and to work for His good pleasure

and satisfaction and delight.”

As fellow Christians, we are bold to speak because we KNOW His Word won’t fail.

ISAIAH 55:11 says it best:  [11] “so is my WORD that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I declare and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

This should give us BOLDNESS even in the face of surrounding opposition and rejection.  There had been many times that opposition and rejection intimidated me when opportunities to share God’s Word arose.  My confidence began to dwindle, fear would begin to raise its ugly head…and then I would remember the words in Philippians,  “Not in your strength for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you…”

Each one of us, in our own private lives, has been CALLED OUT of the darkness of SIN to FAITH in Christ Jesus.  So, SPEAK HIS WORD!

With your TRUST in the Lord and the AUTHORITY, He has given each one of us as believers the CONFIDENCE to SPEAK HIS WORD!

Let me leave you with this message found in 2 Corinthians 5:20 in the New Living Testament (NLT):

[5]  So we are Christ’s AMBASSADORS; God is making his

appeal through us.  We SPEAK for Christ when we plead,

“Come back to God!”

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CREDITS –

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

JESUS, a.k.a. ….

in-Zechariah-Christ-is-revealed-as-the-stone-with-seven-eyes

William Lyons Phelps, an American author, critic and scholar writes,

“We are all so vain that we love to have our names remembered by those who have met us but once.  We exaggerate the talents and virtues of those who can do this and we are ready to repay their power with lifelong devotion.  The ability to associate in the mind names and faces is a tremendous asset to a politician and it will prolong the pastorate of any clergyman.” 

BIBLE NAMES are significant because they indicate personal characteristics of LIFE.  

The meaning of Zechariah’s name for instance is “the LORD has remembered.”

In past conversations with my wife over the years, we have mentioned, “Wouldn’t it have been great if we had named our three children AFTER their personalities had developed based on their CHARACTER rather than what sounded good at the time of birth?”

NAMES ARE IMPORTANT –

BUT none are more important than the names given to the Son of God.  That is why the prophet said,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace  (Isaiah 9:6 – NIV).

With the events leading up to, and including Resurrection Sunday (Easter), I wanted to look at some of the names and titles given to JESUS in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

He is our Day-Star (2 Peter 1:19 – NKJV):

[19] And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;

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The MORNING STAR, or DayStar in the Greek comes from phos and phero (“phosphorus”); Strong reference #5459, light-bringing.  

The meaning denotes the manifestation of Christ to the soul, imparting to the listener light and comfort when things look dark in life.

JESUS IS…“the Morning Star” (Revelation 2:28)–the “brilliant Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16);

“A star (Star) shall come forth out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17).  The wise men’s focus was from this verse in the Old Testament in searching for the Messiah–JESUS.

Jesus is characterized to the world as this “day-Star” or “morning star” that casts light to the darkened soul.  We were once in this DARKNESS OF SIN…BUT the morning-Star has dawned in our hearts as believers.

The Sun of Righteousness –

standing

Malachi 4:2 (AMP):

[2] But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy.

JESUS is called the Sun of Righteousness…

His LIGHT opens our eyes in a sometimes dim view in what is right.  And…His LIGHT brings healing into our lives spiritually and physically.

The LIGHT of the World –

[12] When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”  (John 8:12).

He is our Arbitrator (Job 9:33 NIV):

[33] If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both,

I love how the King James Version reads.  It uses the term “Daysman” and after doing a little investigation, I found“Daysman” especially appropriate in describing the mediation of Jesus. 

A “Daysman” was a mediator, or umpire, whose work was to settle disputes or grievances between two parties.  But more than that, the “Daysman” had exclusive authority in when and where the matter was to be handled.  This description reminded me of 2 Corinthians 6:2:

[2] For He says, “In the time of favor (of an assured welcome) I have listened to and heeded your call, and I have helped you on the day of deliverance (the day of salvation). Behold, now is truly the time for a gracious welcome and acceptance [of you from God]; behold, now is the day of salvation!”  (Amplified Bible).

As the “Daysman” who alone can reconcile God to man, His day is today!  No appointment necessary!  No waiting for a court docket to be set!

Our Advocate (1 John 2:1-2 AMP):

[1] But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father–[it is] Jesus Christ…  [2] And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

ADVOCATE – (Greek. parakletos, one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another in defending or comforting him.)

It is a name given by Jews three times to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7) where the Greek word is rendered “Comforter”).  It is applied to JESUS in 1 John 2:1, where the same Greek word is rendered “Advocate”.

Jesus not only stands in the gap for us as an arbitrator…He also is an advocate for us in speaking to the Father pleading our case.

Our Reconciliation (Colossians 1:21-22 NLT):

images[21] This includes you who are once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  [22] Yet now he has RECONCILED you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

BANK RECONCILIATION, most of us know: The analyses and adjustment of differences between the cash balance shown on a bank statement, and the account holder’s records.

My wife has been reconciling our bank statement now for over 50 years now.  When the account doesn’t balance, and that seldom occurs, it is usually because of a mathematical mistake on our part and not the banks.  But since we are both human, mistakes will happen, and it never seems to be a “deposit” error.  Go figure!

When it comes to reconciling our spiritual account with God however, the “bank” is never wrong!

God’s Reconciliation is a change from enmity to friendship.  It is mutual, i.e. , it is a change in relationship where both parties have been at enmity.

In verses 21-22, the word used there refers to a change in the character of the sinner who ceases to be an enemy to God and yields to Him with his fullest confidence, trust and love.

In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the apostle Paul appeals to the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God”.

Jesus stands in the gap as an ARBITRATOR…He is and ADVOCATE pleading our case…And He is our RECONCILIATION so we can be joined together in our relationship with God.

He is other things too!

Zechariah 6:12:  Judah’s BRANCH

“Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord’ (NIV).

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Jesus is the BRANCH of God and extends from the house of Judah and to all the peoples of the earth.

The BRANCH represents humility: “branching out from His place” – that the true Messiah will be a Jew reaching out to the peoples of the earth and not a foreigner reaching into assist the Jewish people.

The Gate–the DOOR (John 10:7-11):

The only way to enter the kingdom of God in the present or in eternity is through Door #! only–JESUS!

[9] “I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved”

Also, all true earthly SHEPHERDS (pastors, teachers, etc.) must enter through the Gate–anyone who teaches what is contrary to Jesus’ teaching is a “crook or robber, who climbed over the wall” (verse 10)–and not a shepherd.

False teachers can be identified by their way of entry into the flock.  Anyone, any “religion” who denies Jesus has not entered the kingdom of God:

  • false shepherd
  • false sheep

And the A.K.A. List goes on in the bible!

The Son of God, called IMMANUEL – God with us (Isaiah 7:14) –

“God with us,” what does that really mean to people today?

The Latin verb, INCARNATE means, “to make flesh.”

When we say that Jesus Christ is God, “incarnate,” we mean the Son of God took on a fleshly, bodily form (John 1:14).  However, when this happened in the womb of Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, He didn’t stop being deity.

Although Jesus is able to be both man and God at the same time, one of the great mysteries of Christianity, nevertheless a test of accepted orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7).

Jesus has TWO distinct natures…DIVINE and HUMAN (John 14:11).

When Jesus took on the form of a human, His nature did not change, but His position did!

Jesus in His original nature of God in spirit form, humbled Himself by laying aside His glory and privileges (Philippians 2:6-8).  

God can never stop being God (Hebrews 13:8).

If Jesus stopped being fully God for even a split second, ALL LIFE would cease (see Acts 17:28).

He’s Our REDEEMER (Ephesians 1:7-8) –

He’s Our SACRIFICIAL LAMB (John 1:29) –

He’s Our AUTHORITY over the Enemy (Luke 10:19; Acts 16:18) –

Luke 10:19 – AMP. bible:  Behold! I have given you AUTHORITY and POWER to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

The apostle Paul is confronted by a demonic spirit and in Acts 16:18 he demonstrates his given authority:  “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”  Notice that the word used is not “ask” but “command”.  That is the authority that Jesus’ name can bring.

If we are connected with Jesus…our relationship with Him gives us the AUTHORITY over Satan!

What I have presented in this study, is but a taste of the characteristics of JESUS as described in the Bible.  Writers, Poets, Artists, Songwriters, and all Believers who have experienced the love of God, have always tried to express who Jesus is…all the names, titles and expressions in the world still fall short in describing the matchless CHARACTER of the man called JESUS.

He possesses the name above all names–which all human words fall short to describe Him!

Philippians 2:9-11 (AMP):

[9] Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.  [10] That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  [11] And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

What an honor that we bear His name! – CHRISTIAN.

 

 


CREDITS;

got Questions?org  “What does incarnate mean?” gotquestions.org Home

Photo Credits:  Google Search IMAGES

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Inhale God’s Exhale

TEXT: John 20:21-22; Acts 2:1-4slide_12

After the RESURRECTION, John’s gospel account seemed to me at first glance, that the Spirit’s coming is connected with Jesus’ ascending to the Father.  

But then the next thought that came to my mind, how about when the Church was first initiated in Luke’s account, Acts chapter 2?

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Looking at John’s version of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the verses in Luke’s description in Acts 2, we see that John is emphasizing some different things, maybe wanting to improve on or support Luke’s idea.

So I want to explore some ideas in this blog, not from a doctrinal viewpoint but from a personal one concerning John’s version of our Christian experience of the Holy Spirit. 

The FIRST AND MAJOR DIFFERENCE I found between John and Luke’s story in Acts is one of timing.  In John, the giving of the Spirit occurs on the evening of Resurrection Day (EASTER).

By contrast, Luke records that the Holy Spirit came upon a group of gathered believers, “about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15), for the feast of Pentecost 50 days after Passover and the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

QUESTION:  So did the church begin in John 20:22 or at Pentecost in Acts 2:4?

It’s worth mentioning here, that the Church’s liturgical calendar has followed Luke’s version, which probably dominates our thinking and reflection of how the Spirit came on the church and what it means.

So how do we make sense of this different timing?

JESUS BREATHED (exhaled) the Holy Spirit into the disciples the evening of Resurrection Day, AND…also sent the Holy Spirit in a different way 50 days later.  

That solves all our problems! 

I have learned over the years in bible study, it is not a good idea to try to harmonise variations of different writers because it doesn’t do justice to their particular emphases.

Clearly John in this passage of Scripture is describing the event of the Holy Spirit coming into the disciples, just as Luke is doing in the Book of Acts.

An interesting note here concerning one word “in” or “into.”  Jesus appears in the locked room, declares His peace, commissions them and then BREATHES into them. declaring “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Many translations use “on” rather than “into”, but the same word used in Genesis 2:7 where God BREATHES into the clay-body of man He has formed to  create a living being – [ [i] In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures used in Jesus’ time].

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Genesis 2:7 {NIV):

“–the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

This verse found in Genesis is but one verse that gives the application of the beautiful picture of a person and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The emblem, under which God’s Spirit is represented to us is the BREATH and AIR, the atmosphere in which you and I live daily and the act by which we INHALE or EXHALE are the GIFTS and manifested POWER.

We can live for days without food, for a lifetime without sight or hearing, but we cannot live for an hour without breath–without breathing in and out.  We cannot see it, we can scarcely feel it, and yet all around us is an ocean of air without which we could not exist, and without which all of our senses we would be blind, deaf, and vain.

I believe John deliberately wants to make those connections, when a new creation comes to life in giving the Holy Spirit–something new is coming into existence and being released into the world.

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What we have to remember, in study of biblical writers, is that they are less concerned with historical facts and more with theological truths.  And it’s the theological truths we want to discern.  So let’s focus first on John’s account.

Notice that his version links the Holy Spirit far more closely with Jesus himself and His ministry.

After declaring PEACE to the fearful disciples, Jesus says,

“As the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.”  (verse 21)

 

The Holy Spirit is not a “force” or “a thing”– He is a PERSON!

Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the Bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I have come to realize that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience over the years is my understanding of the TRUTH.

When I was first converted, “born again,” in 1972, I was taught that I was FILLED at the moment of salvation and I assumed that this was true.  I didn’t realize that Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit and then promised that the Holy Spirit would baptize them.

The Bible states that we RECEIVE the SPIRIT at the moment we SURRENDER our hearts to Christ Jesus (1 John 3:9; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

God puts His Spirit within us and we are born as a child of God, BUT…the real POWER to come later at Pentecost is when the power of the Holy Spirit would change the fearful disciples into men that God would use to bring His message WITH…POWER and AUTHORITY! –  (Acts 1:8)

Jesus said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 1:5)

THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SALVATION CONNECTION –

I have been asked he question on different occasions, “Is every Christian, those who are “born again”, also baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is, is BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit automatically received with SALVATION?”

Baptism of the Holy Spirit Banner

John 20:22 (NIRV):

[22] He then breathed on them. He said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Here, Jesus breathes into the apostle’s nostrils and they RECEIVE (“inhale”) Holy Spirit, (that is, they are “born-again,” i.e. “saved”) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the believer.

However, the BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit is where the living Spirit of God comes on the believer, occurring on Pentecost 50 days later.

Luke 24:49 (AMP):

[49] And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has promised; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed (endued) with power from on high.

Acts 1:5 (NIV):

[5] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Again, the same PROMISE and we realize that THIS Baptism will come upon the believer.

Acts 2:3-4 (AMP):

[3] And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  [4] 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].

This is the point where the apostles received the BAPTISM IN the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit comes UPON the believer.

However, as we’ve seen, there existed a period of time where they RECEIVED the Holy Spirit and were BAPTIZED IN the Spirit.  My belief is these were separated acts, each having a different reason.

SALVATION comes by receiving the Holy Spirit, that is we are SAVED from the penalty of sin.  We become sons and daughters of the King; we RECEIVE the AUTHORITY to act (Luke 10:19 – Believer’s Authority) as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are

born again or converted or put into the body of Christ.”

He says, “Wait until you are clothed with power.”

He doesn’t say, “You shall receive membership in the body

of Christ when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

  • – John Piper –

Sadly, because many people don’t understand there is a difference between the two events (SALVATION & BAPTISM) and don’t, or won’t, seek the greater POWER of God transforming their lives and ministries.  I call it “ineffectiveness” in the Spirit.

Every person who truly REPENTS and invites Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior receives the Holy Spirit.  

1 John 3 calls this God’s SEED in which teaches us, this is when we are born of God, His Seed remains in us.

When the Holy Spirit fills someone, the BLESSING is not for them alone but to EQUIP & EMPOWER them to do God’s will.

The apostles were FILLED immediately and demonstrated that HOLY SPIRIT POWER to preach with boldness, stand before their enemies and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The focus is on God’s will and…HIS WILL ALWAYS produces Fruit.

If a person is NOT producing fruit, they are not FILLED!

The lack of POWER in the modern church as I see it, isn’t because GOD’S POWER is diminished but because we no longer SEEK God with all of our hearts.

To be FILLED by the Spirit, you must be hungry and thirsty for God.

Matthew 5:6 (NIV):

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

A TRUE BELIEVER, one who is born again, is serious and truly hungry and thirsty for God, and will never be satisfied until FILLED.

“SO, WHERE’S THE POWER?”

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.”

I used to just assume that Paul and Luke were talking about the same thing when they used the word “BAPTISM” and connected it to the Holy Spirit–in other words, the Baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 is the same as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Many scholars and bible teachers make this connection.

My view is not the only orthodox one, nor is it one you have to agree with.  But it is one I have increasingly come to believe is correct and is needed in the church.

Jesus said, “But you [the ‘inhalers’] shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My WITNESSES…”  (Acts 1:8 – AMP).

And the RESULTS of the Baptism of the Spirit?

[40] And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed and admonished with much more continuous speaking and warned them, saying,  Be SAVED from this crooked generation.  [41] Therefore those who accepted and welcome his message were baptized (in water), and there were added 3,000 souls.


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Commentaries:  John Piper: Topic, The Holy Spirit.  John Piper is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted–the NIRV: the New International Reader’s Version.

 

 

Spotting “Out-of-Bounds” Wolves Isn’t Easy

Scripture Reading in Acts 20:28-31 [Amplified Bible]

[28] Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd (tend and feed and guide) the church of the Lord or of God which He obtained for Himself [buying it and saving it for Himself] with His own blood.  

[29] I know that after I am gone, ferocious wolves will get in among you, not sparing the flock;  

WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES
WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES

[30] Even from among your own selves men will come to the front who, by saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party/side].  

[31] Therefore be always alert and on your guard, being mindful that for three years I never  stopped night or day seriously to admonish and advise and exhort you one by one with tears. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN YOU SAY “GOODBY”?

When an apostle says farewell and addresses leaders in the next spiritual generation for what he thinks as the last time, a  “farewell monologue” is in order.

As Paul reviews his past as a model for the Ephesian elders’ future work and charges them as Spiritual-appointed pastoral overseers, we can be quickly aware Luke intends his message to ALL church leaders in every spiritual generation (Acts 20:13-17).

Spiritual Watchfulness in the Church…it’s NOT a “one-man show”–

In a day when individualism, authoritarianism or simple economic necessity turns the pastoral responsibility so we may promote TEAMWORK in pastoring or shepherding of the local flock.

LEADERSHIP must be spiritual:  “the Holy spirit has appointed you [“overseers” – KJV] to take care of and watch over the whole flock (verse 28).

Paul’s WARNING to the ELDERS…even some wolves will show up from amongst the leadership (verse 30).

The Bible tells us our ENEMY isn’t so easy to spot.

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Where is the WOLF?

When we think of our enemy–we may tend to think, some guy standing around in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork.  But 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us “…for Satan himself MASQUERADES as an angel of light.”

*  He looks almost righteous.

*  He looks almost religious.

In other words, you’ll not always know he’s evil and how he looks.  Even FALSE TEACHERS don’t always show up with snake oil and a handlebar mustache.

JESUS warned us in Matthew 7:15, they look like the flock and they have wool just like all the other sheep.  And here in Acts 20, Paul warns the church elders, some of those wolves would show up from amongst their leadership:  “Even from among your own selves men will come to the front”  (verse 30 a.).

OBSERVING THE TRUE NATURE OF WOLVES…

“WOLVES” tend to look like everyone else, feeling that they are in the right.   AND…they are willing to destroy anything in their way.  So let me backtrack a bit.

The WOLVES Jesus and Paul talk about look like us.  You can tell who the Jehovah Witnesses are: They’re the ones with the green bibles and the funny looking tracts.

You can recognize the Mormon missionaries:  They’re the ones riding their bikes, wearing white shirts and ties.

BUT these wolves look like us and that’s because they often ARE us.  They’re often “part of the family”; could be an Elder, a Preacher, a Teacher…it could be ME…it could be you.  AND that’s scary.

Often wolves don’t even realize they’re wolves; so convinced that they’re right…nothing else matters.  So we might actually end up being wolves without realizing it.  And THAT’S SCARY!

“Bah-a-a-”

WOLVES may look “cool” in a TV Documentary series, but I don’t want to be one.  JESUS didn’t call us to be wolves…He called us to be SHEEP. [Sheep and wolves by the way, are natural enemies].

BUT…if WOLVES can “get out-of-bounds” by arising from among our number, and IF those wolves could end up being you or me, how do we recognize when we’ve stopped being a SHEEP and become a WOLF???

“Out-of-Bounds”…

FIRST– I’d know I’d stepped over the line (“Out-of-Bounds”) when I find myself consumed with power and influence.

Paul tells us that these wolves will come forward “saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party]”  (verse 30 b.). 

These folks want the church run “their way” and the rest of the church be THEIR disciples, and IF they’re not… they’re either fools or heretics.  The one phrase often repeated is “This is MY church!”–it belongs to them and should be run THEIR way.

But there’s a big problem with that phrase.  The problem is…it isn’t THEIR church, not your church, it isn’t MY church.  IT IS CHRIST’S CHURCH!!!

Paul tells the Elders from Ephesus:  “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with His own blood” ~ verse 28 b.

But if WOLVES don’t think that way…if they can’t get their own way…they tend to forget whose church it is.

ILLUSTRATION:  Years ago in one particular church located in southern California, the Pentecostal movement began to take shape within the church body [early 70’s].

It started slowly at first, and then it began to take hold, led by their senior pastor.   Murmurers,  even malcontent also began to take hold in the membership.

One Sunday morning, the pastor decided to inform the body of the new direction and how he was led by the Holy Spirit to do so.  He also said that not all of the leadership approved, but the calling of God was so strong in his spirit, there would be a change in some doctrinal teaching.

In the following weeks of the announcement, over 50% of the church split–leaving and going to more “evangelical conservative” denominations.

The “nipping” and “biting” of WOLVES before the kill…

I’m not saying the reasons for their leaving were right or wrong.  What I am saying is what occurred in the interim.  The people who left tried to get the balance of the church to leave by writing letters of disapproval–notes were passed to the unknowing, all fairly nasty.  And although no one else left and the church grew in number…scars were formed in those who stayed, and those who left that were hard to heal.

Distortion of the Truth…

Paul also tells us the WOLVES “distort the truth” (verse 30).  

TRUTH is often one of the first victims of a lone wolf, or… a wolf pack.  Sometimes that DISTORTION comes in the form of FALSE DOCTRINE…and,  too often that same distortion comes in the form of character assassination.

So, WOLVES seek to have their own way…they often play fast and loose with the TRUTH…AND they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

Notice Paul’s words in Acts 20:29:  “…ferocious wolves will get in among you, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK.”

They don’t care who they hurt.  JESUS said  “…the WOLF attacks the flock and scatters it” ~ John 10:12.

* They send out nasty e-mails…

* They try to peel off church members to follow them as their disciples…

* They’ll find ways to attack the pastor’s character, elders, or anyone else who opposes them.

WHY?  Because the FLOCK isn’t as important to the WOLVES.  Getting their way is what’s important.  They don’t really care who they hurt as long as they accomplish their objective.  They’ll even tell you they LOVE Jesus!–but they don’t.  They don’t because they don’t care for His bride (the CHURCH).

In order to get their way, they drag the BRIDE of Christ thru the streets, shred her wedding gown and throw the pieces in the mud, stomping on it. All because–they’re right…that’s what matters!

The Concern with the “What IFS”…

“But…now wait a minute Mr. Word Detective.  What if the leadership of a church is heretical?  What if they’re teaching false doctrine?  Or, if they’re allowing immorality to run rampant in the local church?”

Dealing with it must be done in a biblical way, and HERESY and IMMORALITY can’t be ignored in the assembly.  BUT you want to be careful how you handle it–because you’re still dealing with the Bride of Christ.

FINDING A “MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART” IS A GOOD START:

That above phrase sounds familiar.  It’s finding someone in Scripture who handled something very similar in their midst.  A man who understood the mind of God.

THE MAN DAVID:

Did David ever have to deal with a leader who was immoral?  Dis David have to deal with a man who directly disobeyed God?  Did David ever have to deal with a man who was tormented by demons?  He certainly did…

A MAN NAMED KING SAUL sought to kill David in 1 Samuel 24:1-13:

NOTICE when you read the referenced verses, David confronted Saul in his WICKEDNESS:

Heresy or Immorality MUST BE CONFRONTED and must be called out for what it is.   BUT, if you are in the position of church leadership, use your position to deal with that SIN with responsibility–perhaps even removing such people from the fellowship.

Being Careful…CAREFUL IN responsibility.  

DAVID in the story refused to destroy SAUL…even when it was in his power to do so.  Even when what Saul was doing was clearly wrong and identified this kind of behavior with EVIL.  As the old saying goes,  “Out of the WICKED comes forth wickedness; but my hand shall not be against you”  (24:13).

DAVID withheld his hand because SAUL was the “Lord’s anointed.”

In the same way, every Christian is ANOINTED by God! (1 John 2:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 1:21).

When we become Christians, the Spirit of God came and resides inside our hearts–spirit, mind and soul.  His presence confirmed our RELATIONSHIP with God the Father.  So IF I hurt or damage another Christian in what I say or do, might I be GUILTY of wrongdoing?

But how could David do that?  How could Davis just stand back and let Saul get away?

Well, he could do that because he TRUSTED GOD (1 Samuel 24:13).  

When David said this, he was quoting Deuteronomy 32:35:  Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay (KJV). 

Using Our AUTHORITY…

When we have the AUTHORITY to discipline a wayward brother or sister in Christ, we should do so, but being careful how we deal with them and the circumstance… because we may find ourselves opposing God in getting His way.  We might even find ourselves becoming WOLVES in the process rather than who we are supposed to be…the  SHEEP.

GOSPEL OF JOHN 10
GOSPEL OF JOHN 10

 So, are there WOLVES in  your midst, or there but SHEEP?  Keep watch, for they’re sometimes hard to identify!

 

Photo Credit:  Photo Pin.