Tag Archives: Christian life

Looking For The Presence Of God

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Looking For The Presence Of God

Luke 2:41-46 NKJV
“His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it, but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

Under the law men were required to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. The people who lived outside of Jerusalem had to make the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Scriptures tell us that every year Joseph and Mary, along with Jesus, went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
After they finished what the law required, Joseph and Mary gathered their things and headed back home. When they had traveled for one day, they began to look for Jesus. They did not find Him with their relatives or acquaintances that were traveling the same way as them.
Is it possible that since Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem three times a year, year after year, that they had gotten into a routine? If you’ve been to many family gatherings, you will notice that the children always want to ride home with someone other than their parents. Maybe this was true of Jesus also. Maybe it was so routine that His parents assumed He was traveling back with His friends or cousins.
In the natural realm, they had allowed someone else to be responsible for Jesus so many times that when they did not see Him they assumed He was still with their group. They had allowed someone else to be responsible to carry the presence of the Lord. Instead of following along with the people making the journey back home, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem.
According to the Bible, years later, Jerusalem was the place where Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to fill the believers.

Acts 1: 4-5 NKJV
“And being assembled together with them, he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Jesus could have sent the believers anywhere to wait on the infilling of the Holy Spirit, but He chose Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a place of worship under the law. Many of the people that worshipped God in Jerusalem had a revelation of God, but not an intimate relationship with Him. When revelation and relationship (intimacy) come together mighty things happen.

Acts 2:1-4 NKJV
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

It was in Jerusalem that the early believers ministered unto the Lord for many days, and as a result God filled the room where they were with His presence. The people in the upper room were baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. They weren’t just speaking anything-they were praising and worshipping God. They were giving glory to God.

Acts 2:11 NKJV
“Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

The Holy Spirit will help us worship God in spirit and in truth, just like He helped the early believers. The presence of God brings power and results. After Peter was baptized with the Holy Spirit, he stood up and spoke to the crowd. Because of the anointing upon him and the words that he spoke, many believed.

Acts 2:41 NKJV
“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand
souls were added to them.”

After the people believed, the Bible tells us, that they fellowshipped in the breaking of bread and in prayers.

Acts 2:42 NKJV
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of
bread, and in prayers.”

This verse does not mean that they sat around eating all their meals together. The early church shared times of corporate worship and prayer as well as communion (breaking of bread). Communion is a very intimate time between you and God, even when taken together as a group.
The are times in our lives that we might be like Joseph and Mary. We happily travel along the
path we choose assuming that Jesus is with us. Once down the road we begin to “look” for the presence of Jesus, but He is no where to be found. Only then do we begin to seek His presence.

Luke 2:46 NKJV
“Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the
teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

When Joseph and Mary discovered that Jesus was not with them, they began to look for Him. They returned to Jerusalem, the last place that they had seen Him. Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the temple, a place of worship. When they became desperate for Him they found Him.

Matthew 7:7 NKJV
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

James 4:8 NKJV
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

All across the world, many people are traveling along assuming that the presence of the Lord is with them. They have a form of godliness, but no power.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

Matthew 23:25-28 NKJV
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but the inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Like the early church, we need to rediscover what worshipping God in Spirit and in truth is.

John 4:23-24 NKJV
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

God doesn’t just want you to know who He is, He wants an intimate relationship with you too. Many people know the name of God, but few know Him intimately.

Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

We need to allow our revelation and our relationship to come together- we need to “Return To Jerusalem”. Just like Joseph and Mary, when we become desperate for the presence of God we will find Him, in a place of worship.

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Review
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1. According to the second chapter of Luke, why were Jesus and His family in Jerusalem?
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2. How long (how many days) had Joseph and Mary traveled before they realized that Jesus was not with them?
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3. As a group name some reasons why Mary and Joseph might not have realized Jesus wasn’t with them.
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4. One definition of assume is to suppose something or to accept that something is true without checking or confirming it. Have you every assumed something only to later find out that you were wrong?
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5. What were the believers instructed to wait for?
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6. What did Jesus tell His followers that they would be baptized in?
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7. The people that worshiped in Jerusalem did not have what with God?
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8. When Jesus’ followers were gathered together they heard what?
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9. When the followers were filled with the Holy Spirit what happened?
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10. What were the people in the upper room doing when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit?
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11. One definition of minister is to give something to someone. How can you personally “minister” to God?
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12. The Holy Spirit filled Peter with boldness and as a result how many people were saved that day?
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13. What does communion mean to you?
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14. Jesus does not leave us, we leave Him. As a group, discuss and list some ways that we leave Jesus.
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15. Who is 2 Timothy 23:25-28 talking about?
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16. According to Matthew 7:13-14, how must we worship God?
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17. When we really become desperate for God, will we find Him?
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18. Has there ever been a time in your life that you were truly desperate for God and His presence?
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19. Write a prayer asking God to draw you closer to Him.
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Know Who Can Save You

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Know Who Can Save You

The prodigal son knew who could save him. He knew that his father was in a position to help him.

Luke 15:18-19 NKJV
“I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me one of your hired servants.’ ”

The woman with the alabaster box knew who could save her. She had heard Jesus speak before and she knew the message of salvation and hope that He brought. She knew His repetition and that He welcomed everyone into the kingdom of God. Who knows, maybe she had even heard about the woman ‘caught’ in adultery or the woman at the well.
Esther knew who could save her and her people. She knew that the king held the power to save them.

Esther 4:16 NKJV
“Go gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My
maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

We must know who can save us. Jesus is the only way we can be saved. It is only through His blood that our sins are washed away.

John 14:6 NKJV
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Romans 10:9 NKJV
“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Acts 16:31 NKJV
“So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Tu B’ Shvat – One Christian’s Perspective

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Tu B’ Shvat is the Jewish New Year for trees, for the purpose of calculating the age of the tree for tithing. It is usually in January or February. One custom associated with this celebration is to consume those fruits which grow in the land of Israel. Before any food is eaten a blessing is said.

When we look at a tree in the winter it looks like nothing is happening inside it, but that is far from the truth. Trees (as well as us) have suffered through cold, dark days and nights. The sap is beginning to rise deep in the heart of trees. New life is starting to emerge. Many things are going on where the eyes cannot see. What looks dead and frozen over will blossom out with buds before long. All looks bleak, cold and lifeless, but there is a promise of rejuvenation.

Tu B’ Shvat is the point at which the trees stop being nourished by the waters of the previous year, and begin to be nourished by the new years waters.

In our lives many things are going on that we can’t see with our natural eyes. At times there are situations in our lives that look dead or hopeless. However, when all looks bleak, cold and lifeless we must remember that there is a promise of rejuvenation. We serve a God of restoration. There is nothing that He cannot restore.

Like the trees on Tu B’ Shvat, last years water supply is not enough. We too need fresh rain (fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit / fresh moves of the Holy Spirit).

Tu B’ Shvat has more to do with the tree’s fruit rather than the tree itself. Just like a fruit tree our lives should produce.

Galatians 5:22,23 NIV
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”

As we look back over the past year, how was our fruit bearing? Did we bear fruit? There will be (or have been) times in our lives when everything looks bleak and there seems to be no sign of life (growth). During these times we must remember that many things are going on where the eyes can not see.

YOU MUST OVERCOME A DEFEATED SPIRIT, MINDSET AND ATTITUDE

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There are too many believers with a defeated sprit, mindset or attitude.

A defeated sprit, mindset or attitude can…
* hinder God’s blessing.
* lead to anxiety and insecurity.
* cause unbelief.

Defeated Spirit
Oppression is often the source of worry, stress, or anxiety. Demon oppression involves a demon attacking a person spiritually. Demons will try to cause a person to worry or fear. The Bible is very clear about where worry and fear come from – they do not come from God. A defeated spirit is often characterized by a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness.

2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”

Psalm 42:5 NKJV
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.”

Psalm 42:11 NKJV
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”

Psalm 43:4-5 NKJV
“Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”

Don’t allow Satan or the other fallen angels (demons) to gain access into your life through worry or fear.

1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Psalm 55:22 NKJV
“Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be
moved.”

God has told us in His Word, not to worry and that worrying does not help.

Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”

Oppression over a long period of time can lead to depression. Depression can come from several things: a physical reason/disorder, a demonic attack, or by opening the door to demonic influences through sin. Not all depression comes from a physical or mental disorder, and not all depression come from a demonic influence. However, it does not matter where it comes from because Jesus paid the price for freedom from all oppression and depression.

Hebrews 4:15-16 NKJV
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Instead of worrying about something, a believers needs to immediately give the problem or situation to the Lord. Not only can He work things out, He sympathizes with us. In Him we will always find the exact help we need, mixed with mercy and grace.

Defeated Attitude
A believers attitude has an effect on them, both physical, psychological and spiritually. We are instructed to have the same attitude as Christ.

Philippians 2:5
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

People with a defeated mindset or attitude…
* are unable, or unwilling, to forgive themselves.
* desire to blame others
* dwell on the past.
* engage in self-defeating talk
* fear failure.
* fear making mistakes.
* make negative assumptions – about themselves and/or others.
* make negative comparison with others.
* tend to have a victim mentality.

Your attitude will determine your victory, or lack of it. The twelve spies are a good example of this.

Numbers 13:1-3 NKJV
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” So Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel.”

Numbers 13: 27-33 NKJV
“Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Numbers 14:1-34 NKJV
“So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” And Moses said to the Lord: “Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your might You brought these people up from among them, and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are among these people; that You, Lord, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.’ And now, I pray, let the power of my Lord be great, just as You have spoken, saying, ‘The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.’ Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord– because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley; tomorrow turn and move out into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea.” And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.”

Moses choose twelve men and sent them to spy on the land of Canaan. The twelve men found that the land is rich and fertile, that giants lived in the land, and that the cities were large and fortified. Upon their return Caleb and Joshua had a good report concerning the land and a winning attitude, however the other ten gave a negative report and they had a defeated attitude. The people chose to go with the defeated attitude and it cost them the promised land. For forty years they wandered around in the desert. Like them, there are believers that seem to always be wandering around, never getting anywhere. God has many promises for them, but they are hindered because of their negative attitude.

Inability to overcome temptation and sin.
A believer should not be under the power of sin. God, through Jesus, has given us the victory over sin. Sin in the life of a believer dishonors the name of the Jesus, cause you to not experience true joy and power, and it destroying your testimony.

James 4:7 NKJV
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

It is possible to resist the devil or God would not have instructed us to. Resist means to withstand, strive against, or oppose in some manner. If a believer wants the devil to flee from them, they must first submit to God and they must resist the devil. Resisting the devil must be accompanied by submitting to God. The devil will not flee from a disobedient or unsubmissive believer – they will not see victory over temptation.

There will always be temptations that come our way. When they do come, don’t play with them. It is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to act upon that temptation.

Submit To God’s Authority
Submit means to place oneself under the authority of another. When we submit to God, we surrender our lives to His authority and control. All areas of our lives are to be submitted to God and placed under His authority. Sometimes believers do not walk in total victory is because they haven’t totally submitted to God and His authority. Instead of giving God every area of their lives they try to hold back a certain part of it to control themselves. With God it is all or nothing – He will not be a partial ruler or a co-ruler.

Commit To The Lord
When a believer truly commits to God they can live in victory. They can calmly and fearlessly confront, and overcome any situation that may arise. If you want to walk in victory commit yourself to God.

* Commit your sprit, mind and attitude to God
* Commit your past, your present, and your future.
* Give God control of your life and the lives of your family.
* Don’t hold anything back from God.
* Give God your sins and your failures.
* Give God your hopes, dreams and plans.

CONVICTION

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CONVICTION

Could it be that churches and believers have left the Holy Spirit out of their lives and churches by being more concerned in pleasing man than in pleasing God?
Within the churches have they been more interested in making friends (social clubs) than making disciples?
Have churches quenched and grieved the Spirit for so long that they don’t even realize it?

It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin. He desires to minister in our churches but we must allow Him to. We can grieve and quench the Holy Spirit by refusing to follow His leading – by disobeying Him. Another way to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit is by planning and scheduling Him completely out of the service. When people enter into our churches they need to have an encounter with God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, not an encounter with man.

There is something very wrong when backslidden and unsaved people feel very comfortable sitting in churches listening to sermons and not feeling the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. They come, they listen and they leave unchanged. Will God hold us accountable for this?

Ezekiel 3:18-21 NKJV
“When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”

If the church really believed that they are God’s watchman in this world would they do whatever it takes to welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit to dwell in their midst? It is the Holy Spirit that convicts a person of sin, wrong and bad habits. Without His presence in our midst we are hopelessly lost.

Everyone needs the Holy Spirit …
We need His convicting power and presence in our churches.
We need His convicting power and presence in our individual lives.
The backslidden and the prodigals need His convicting power.
Those that have never accepted salvation need His convicting power in their lives.

HURTS

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HURTS

Hurts within the church happen everyday. People hurt pastors…pastors hurt people…people hurt people…pastors hurt pastors….that’s just a fact of life. Hurts can lead to unforgiveness and unforgiveness effects everyone in a church – either directly or indirectly. Because of that we must guard against an unforgiving spirit. Unforgiveness HURTS you more than the other person – forgiveness HELPS you more than the other person.

Forgive means to:
* to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong)
* to stop blaming (someone)
* to stop feeling anger about (something)
* to forgive someone for (something wrong)
* to stop requiring payment of
* to give up resentment (a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury) of
* to give up claim to requital (something given in return, compensation, or retaliation)
* to cease to feel resentment against

Forgiveness is described as the act of forgiving someone or something and the attitude of someone who is willing to forgive other people. It can be defined as letting go of anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge. It is not a feeling, but a decision to let go of anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge. It is purposely deciding (a mental decision) not to hold others sins/wrongs against them. Forgiveness is extending loving mercy to those who have hurt us. God has instructed us to forgive throughout the Bible. A few examples are:

Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV
“ Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13 NKJV
“bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Some hindrances to forgiving are thinking that you have to forget in order to forgive, thinking that trust and forgiveness are the same thing, and thinking that forgiveness eliminates the consequences of what has been done.

Forgiving and Forgetting
When you forgive someone it doesn’t mean that you will forget. You don’t have to forget the hurt in order to forgive the person. There is a difference between a scar and a scab. When a wound is completely healed a scar is sometimes left behind. A scab on the other hand is a wound that is still in the healing process. When you have a scar many times you don’t even notice it, but from time to time you eye may catch a glimpse of it and remember the wound that was there. So it is with forgiving. You may never truly forget what happened, and from time to time those memories will try to creep in, but you can choose to forgive and move on with your life. FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE NOT A FEELING.

Trust and Forgiveness
Trust and forgiveness are not the same thing. When a person is hurt many times it will cause them to loose their trust in the person who hurt them. Trust is a fragile thing. Once trust has been broken, it takes time to be restored. Sometimes it takes many years to rebuild the trust between people and sometimes it never will be. For some people they will have to forgive and move on without attempting to restore trust. Just because you do not trust someone doesn’t mean that you can’t wish them blessings. Sometimes you must do this from a distance. You don’t have to trust everyone. NOT TRUSTING A PERSON IS NOT A SIN.

Forgiveness and Consequences
Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the consequences of what has been done. There will still be consequences even when forgiveness is given. However, we must leave the consequences up to God and not take matters into our own hands.

Luke 17:1 NKJV
“Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!”

Jesus Himself said that it was impossible for there to be no offenses. He did not say for us to get even with the offenders ourselves. He said woe to him through whom they (offenses) do come. The word woe in the Greek is ouai and is more than just an expression of a feeling – it is a judgment. It is not our place to try to get back at someone because of an offense. God will take care of it, that’s not our job. GOD IS THE JUDGE, NOT US.

Luke 6:37 NKJV
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

 

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Dear Father,
I choose this day to forgive everyone who has, or who I think has, wronged me or my family. I choose not to hold on to anger, hurt, resentment, or bitterness. I choose to walk in love and forgiveness. I pray blessings on each of these people. Help me by the power of the Holy Spirit to have a godly mindset.
In Jesus’ name, Amen

Feast of Tabernacles – One Christian’s Perspective

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Feast of Tabernacles – One Christian’s Perspective

The Feast of Tabernacles is a week long autumn harvest festival. It is also known as: The Feast of Ingathering, The Feast of Booths, Sukkoth, Succoth, or Sukkot (pronounced as “Sue-coat”). In Biblical times this feast was the final and most important holiday of the year. Some Bible scholars believe The Feast of Tabernacles points to the millennium reign of Jesus Christ

Leviticus 23:39-43 NKJV
“Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

SUKKOTH
The word Sukkoth means booths, and refers to the temporary dwelling that the Jewish people were commanded to live in during this holiday, just as the Jewish people did in the wilderness after they left Egypt. This holiday commemorates the desert wanderings of the Jewish people on their way to the Promised Land. The people were caused to wander about through disobedience, but God was still with them. God still protected them and provided for them. The people were commanded to build temporary dwellings (tabernacles or booths) each year to live in during Sukkot, so that they could remember God’s presence and His faithfulness as a provider and protector. Today many Jewish people still build a sukkot for the festival. Almost any building material will do for the sides as long as they are not of a permanent nature. The top is loosely covered with branches so that you can still see the stars through parts of it. They are decorated with fruit, tinsel, paper chains, streamers and pictures of Bible stories. Meals are eaten in the sukkot, accompanied by singing and rejoicing. Some families sleep in their sukkot. It is a place to discuss and meditate on God’s goodness. God has redeemed us from a life of bondage to sin and brought us into His freedom in the Kingdom of God.

When the Israelites were wanderers in the desert they all lived in tents. It did not matter if you were rich or poor. During sukkot all men are equal before God and one another. Each one sits in his flimsy sukkah and considers God, not his own status. The Feast of Tabernacles gives a person an opportunity to reflect on God’s great love and majesty, and how they treat others. We too are flimsy tabernacles that should reflect God’s majesty.

CITRON AND LULAV
Sukkot is a season of joy and rejoicing. The men carry a citron and a lulav to the synagogue to wave as they rejoice before the Lord. The lulav has three branches tied together ( a palm, a willow, and a myrtle branch), and the citron is a citrus fruit that smells like a lemon. The lulav and the citron point to how our life should be spiritually.

The people took great care in picking out the citron and the items for the lulav. They were careful with what they offered to God. We too should be careful with the quality of the fruit that we are offering to God.

Palm – We should not be like the palm. It can only bears fruit (deeds / works). It is not fragrant (spiritual blessings). These people live by the letter of the law but they have no love or compassion, for themselves or others.

Myrtle – We should not be like the myrtle. It is only fragrant, but does not bear fruit. These people are sweet people, but their lives do not produce any real lasting fruit.

Willow – We should not be like the willow. It does not produce fruit or fragrance. These people are blown around by every wind of doctrine and never really know where they are spiritually.

Citron – We should be like the citron. It produces fruit and fragrance. These are God’s steadfast believers who live a balanced life in wisdom before God and man.

THIS IS NOT OUR HOME
You can learn many lessons from the sukkah. Five important lessons are:

(1) We are strangers in this land.

1 Peter 2:11 NKJV
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul”

Inside of our houses it is easy to begin to feel permanent and self-sufficient and lose sight of our brief time on the earth. The sukkah also speaks of our frailty while we are here–we are but flesh. One day that will all change. Peter referred to our earthly bodies as tents. We live for only a short while and we must use every opportunity to encourage others toward Jesus Christ and toward His heavenly kingdom.

2 Peter 1:12-14 NKJV
“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me”

(2) This world is not our permanent home – it is only temporary.
As people in a land temporary, we must not hold on to things too tightly. Things control and manipulate us. Things can become our gods ( idols) when we begin to hold on to them too tightly. When things become your god, you turn away from the only true and living God.

Our life here is short, but our hope is not in this world. God has provided a better place for the believers.

John 14:2-3 NKJV
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”

(3) God provides for our needs.
God gave the Feast of Tabernacle as a reminder to the people of who He is. We need to seek God’s kingdom, not earthly comfort. As we seek first the kingdom of God, our material needs are provided for by the Lord.

Luke 12:31 NKJV
“But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you”

(4) We must be able to move when God moves.
We should not get so involved with things of the world that it prevents us from moving when God tells us to. The tabernacle (sukkah) is a flimsy structure and can be taken down and put up in a very short period of time. It is sensitive to the wind, just as we are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

(5) We must not close God out.
The sukkah is open to the heavens–it cannot be closed off. We too are to be open to God. We should never close God out of our lives.

Amos 9:11 NKJV
“On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down. And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins; and rebuild it as in the days of old”

The Tabernacle of David was a flimsy tent where glorious worship and fellowship with God took place. It may have been fragile and unsightly, but it enabled the Israelites to look out the door and see the glory of the Lord hovering over them. Throughout Christian history, many great revivals were held in tents and brush arbors closely resembling the sukkah (tabernacle).

When the sukkah is first put up it is fresh and green. As the days of the Feast of Tabernacles progresses, the leaves begin to dry. Soon they are falling as the wind blows.

Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away”

LIVING SACRIFICE
During this feast the people were to bring a sacrifice each day. Preparing the sacrifices was costly and time-consuming. It required much commitment to God. It required faith and obedience. Without faith and obedience the work of Jesus Christ on the cross is of no avail. It is not enough to know the facts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We must have a personal relationship with Him.

James 2:17 NKJV
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead”

We must personally act upon it by faith, then we will have the promised salvation. We have to receive it and live it.

Romans 12:1 NKJV
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”

Each of us has much that we can give to the Lord:
1. We can give our lives to Him in service.
2. We can use what God gives us (income, food, clothing, shelter) for use in His service.
3. We can use our talents for God’s service.
4. We can share the message of God’s love and salvation with others.
5. We can allow the fruit of the Spirit to overflow on others.

Sukkot is a time to consider that we are God’s creation. We are to gather up our personal, spiritual fruits of faith and celebrate by giving ourselves in God’s service. The message of Sukkot is total commitment to the Lord and His service.

THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST
At the end of the Great Tribulation Jesus will return to earth (Second Coming Of Christ). Jesus’ feet will stand on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. He will defeat the antichrist and throw Satan into a bottomless pit for 1000 years. Jesus will reign over the earth for 1000 years (millennial reign).

Zechariah 14:4
“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two…”

When the millennial reign is over, Satan will again be loosed on earth for a short period of time. He will gather an army to fight against Jesus. Jesus will defeat Satan and his army. The earth will be destroyed by fire and sinners will be judged (The Great White Throne Judgment). Those who died as sinners will be resurrected (removed from Hell / Hades), to stand before God to be judged for what they did (or did not do) while they were here on earth. Every person whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is described several times in the Bible. It is an eternal fire. It is a fire that never goes out. It is black and dark . There will be constant torment with no end – it will NEVER stop.

Revelation 20:11-15 NKJV
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

After the final judgment, God promised a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus will give His millennial kingdom to God the Father, the Supreme Ruler. All Christians will live with God forever in a beautiful new universe. God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, sickness or pain. The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, will come down from heaven and will shine with the glory of the Lord. The city will be made of gold and will be decorated with precious jewels.

Down the middle of the city will flow the river of life, and on each side of the river will grow trees of life. The throne of God will be in the city, and people will worship God forever and ever. Heaven will be far better than we can imagine. As we draw close to God here on earth, we can experience the same wonderful presence of God that we will experience when we stand before His throne.

1 Corinthians 15:25 NKJV
“Then the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”

Revelation 21:1-2 NKJV
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”