I want to wish you a very happy new year for 2015. It’s been a pleasure serving you in 2014 and I look forward to a spiritually profitable new year with you. There’s lots in store as we continue to establish the Christian Culture Center as the go-to place for encouragement and resources to help you establish Christ in culture. Let’s keep God first this coming year and see what He will do for us and with us!
Home fellowships, the ‘church in the home’ is a big part of true Christian culture. There’s no doubt that the early Christian church met in homes. Let’s verify this with the Word of God.
Philemon is a letter written to someone hosting a church in their home.
Philemon 1,2 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer,
And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house.
The book of Acts exhibits the birth of the Christian church. Let’s see if home fellowships are in there.
Acts 2:26 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts
You may think they met in the temple and just ate in the homes, but that’s not the case. They went to the Jewish temple because the very first Christians were Jews and they wanted to win their Jewish family and friends over to Christianity. The home is where their ‘church’ met.
Romans is the first doctrinal epistle to the Christian church. It shows us there were many home churches in existence.
Romans 16:3-5 Greet Priscillac and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Here’s one in I Corinthians too!
I Corinthians 16:19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.
The letter to the Colossians was written long after Pentecost as well as Romans. It also refers to the church in the home.
Colossians 4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
Home churches were the common way to meet in the first century Christian church. This was prescribed by our Lord Jesus Christ, it wasn’t a temporary measure until they built new cathedrals and man-made temples. There are many good reasons why Jesus chose the home as the setting for the church.
Why the Church in the Home is Best
Some people think they met in homes in the first century because they weren’t organized enough to build church buildings yet. Some think they were too poor to do so. But there are no indications in the New Testament church epistles that God or Jesus want anything else but home churches. There is no command, or even a suggestion, to build church buildings to meet in. Why is that? I have a few reasons in mind.
1) The family lives in the home. That’s where Christ wants to live on a daily, moment-by moment basis.
2) People already have homes and don’t need to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars — sometimes even millions of dollars — to build a church building for people to meet in. That money can go to help the needs of the saints instead of paying off the church mortgage and running expenses.
3) Every Christian has a function in the body of Christ. In smaller gatherings, each person is more able to share whatever it is their function is. With larger groups, only a few people ever get to exercise their functions while the rest of the people sit, watch, listen and sing along. Home churches encourages people to grow into their functions instead of sitting there every week in a large congregation as a passive participant.
4) Those who are given the ‘gift’ ministries in the church by our Lord Jesus Christ are not to “lord it over” the people they minister to. Smaller groups mean less control from the top. God is about making Christians free, not enslaving them to leaders.
5) Homes are situated in communities. A home church can reach the people in its own community readily. The people don’t have to go far to meet since the home fellowship is right in their own community.
There are many more advantages to meeting in the home than in large congregations, but the large congregation also has its place. So the question arises, “If Jesus prefers home fellowships, what about corporate worship and large meetings? Where do they fit in?” That’s a good question, let’s think about it a bit.
A vibrant home fellowship will grow in numbers over the course of several months to a year. Since individual involvement is more pronounced, several people will rise up in that home fellowship, as they learn and apply the Scriptures in their own lives, to lead others. When the home church reaches a dozen or more people, those church will ‘split’ but in a positive way. The new leaders will start a new home fellowship and some of the members will help them with the work. Now there are two fellowships and the process continues in the same way cells in the human body split and multiply.
When you have two or more home fellowships, you can schedule occasional meetings, as needed, for everyone to get together. Then you can enjoy the benefits of a larger congregation without sacrificing the benefits of the home church. You can rent a meeting hall if you want or you can meet outside in a park or in someone’s yard or garden. You will spend much less if you have to rent a place occasionally rather than paying off a six of seven figure mortgage but in most cases, you don’t even have to rent. You can meet outside whenever you want.
Man’s Way is Not God’s Way
With so many examples of home churches in the New Testament and not one example or admonition to build a building to worship God and learn God’s Word in, God’s way is clear. The church lives in the home where people live. We Christians are the church of the living God with Christ as Head. We, the body of Christ, are an organism, not an organization. The home is where we live and that’s where God wants the church to live.
Have you considered opening up your home for fellowships? There are many good books out on how to ‘do’ home fellowships but from my experience, all you need is the Lord Jesus Christ, a few Bibles and willing hearts. Just remember these words from Jesus himself…
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
I have had wonderful experiences starting and supporting home churches. Sometimes problems develop between individuals because of the close proximity of believers with diverse personalities and issues of their own, but those are opportunities to develop Christian community by exercising all those admonitions to forgive one another, to teach one another and to help each other along in our Christian journey. From my experience, people grow into their God-given functions much more quickly and more often where the church meets in the home in comparison with large congregational meetings.
Some churches combine the two; they have the large meetings in the church and they have home fellowships, usually during the week. My experience with those is that the importance of the large meeting is emphasized over that of the home church. From the Word of God I think the opposite should be true. The home church is the main meeting place and the larger congregational meeting is less important.
The most important thing to consider is this. It’s not the leaders of the church that hold it together and supply the needs of the saints. It’s the spirit of God in each one of us that is the supply. Leadership often supplants Christ and the spirit with their own agenda. This is to be avoided at all cost.
Let’s see what happens in a home fellowship where the Christians involved are walking by the spirit of God.
Ephesians 5:18-20 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you live in Southern Houston, Texas and want to be part of a home church, send me a message. I might be able to help.
It’s that time of year again — the time to review the past year and set new attainable but challenging goals for 2015 and beyond. Do you have a plan for what you want to achieve in life?
Goal setting is practiced by less than 1% of the population. If that’s a testimony of where most people are in terms of the desire to achieve anything in this life, mankind as a whole isn’t going anywhere desirable. Perhaps that is a bit pessimistic, but I learned a long time ago that if you don’t determine where you’re going, it will be determined for you.
So what exactly is the Christian’s opportunity in this life? Very clearly it is to rise up to answer God’s call. Our primary goal is to be who God has called us to be and to do what God wants us to do. Very simple but so misunderstood as to what God’s will is on an individual basis and how to achieve it. By the grace of God deposited in me, I believe I can help you figure this out for your individual life.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’re probably aware that I’ve done a good bit of Biblical research in my life. I spent about 10 years doing pretty much nothing except in-depth word studies in God’s Word. I’d take a word like apostle and search out every usage in God’s Word to see exactly how God used that word and what meant by it. I did this with dozens upon dozens of words. The build-up effect has been dramatic.
Soon I was reading verses containing many of the words I did in-depth research on. Not only did my understanding of what was written in those verses increase, but I gained a scope of God’s Word that is absolutely necessary to clearly understand God’s plan for the ages. I slowly gained a rather vast understanding on topics and subjects that were altogether unknown or that were clouded with questions before those studies began.
In addition to those intense years of word studies, for over 20 years I led home fellowships where I taught God’s Word and shepherded God’s people. The practical application of what I was learning intellectually helped cement those truths I was learning like nothing else ever could.
I tell you this not to brag and not to bring attention myself but to assure you that behind everything I publish there is a ton of dedicated research. I don’t take God’s Word lightly and I don’t believe everything everyone says that it says. I do my own due diligence to see whether those things are so or not.
Acts 17:11 These [in Berea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
You could call me a Berean, I suppose, and I hope you are of the same mind when it comes to learning God’s Word for yourself. Never rely on someone else’s interpretation of God’s Word; only use it as a starting point to do your own research to see ‘whether those things were so.’
One subject study I did that spanned a couple of years was on how to determine God’s will for your own life. The result was a book I published that’s available on Amazon or in PDF format here: http://christiangoalsetting.org. It’s called Christian Goal Setting and Achieving: Pressing Toward the Goal for the Prize. There’s an introduction video on the page linked above and I encourage you to watch it and see if this is something that can help you understand what it is God wants you to be and do.
The process of goal setting is often started and abandoned by well-intentioned people because they don’t know how to do it effectively. Many people I know gave up goal setting because they never achieved the goals they set when they tried it. They gave up goal setting as a viable life-planning tool because they didn’t get the results they wanted.
Now there are many reasons why people don’t achieve goals and this was part of the study I did. I found that one of the main reasons is that the goals they set are not ‘worthy’ goals. What I mean by that is that the goals are not meaningful enough to those who set them for those people to actively carry out what they need to do over a long enough time to actually achieve those goals.
Here’s a simple example of a common goal many people set at the start of a new year.
Goal: I’m going on a diet to lose 20 pounds.
Is that a worthy goal? If you need to lose weight, then of course it is. This goal is fairly specific, is measurable and is probably attainable depending of course upon your physique, but the goal, as stated, doesn’t say why it’s being done.
The benefit of reaching that goal is undefined, hence, when the ‘rubber meets the road’ and the person who set the goal is staring into a plate of delectable chocolate cake, there’s a good chance that cake won’t last very long. Without buying into the benefit of a stated goal, the motivation to accomplish it is lacking. Any goal needs to be relevant in order for us to pursue it for any length of time. Adding the reason why you’re going after the goal is how you add relevance to it and make it a goal you truly want to achieve.
Another thing missing in our sample goal is a time limit. By what date are you going to lose those 20 pounds? Give it a date for completion. Give enough time for the goal to be attainable, but also make it short enough to keep your interest and to make it challenging. If you allocate a year to lose 20 pounds, I think you might lose interest and never achieve that goal. If you make the goal date too short, you won’t be able to accomplish it and you’ll give up on it out of frustration.
Let’s improve that goal to incorporate all the elements we discussed so that it is a worthy goal that you will take adequate, consistent action to attain it.
Revised Goal: I will diet and lose 20 pounds by February 2, 2015 so I can have a healthier heart and look my best.
This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited. For most of us who are 20 pounds overweight, this is a worthy goal that can be achieved within the allotted time and provides a significant enough benefit to pursue it to completion. It’s what’s called a “SMART” goal.
There’s much more to goal setting for Christians than what I’ve presented here. Christian goal setting and achieving starts and ends with God’s will. How well do you know and understand God’s will for the Christian church as a whole, of which you are a vital member? How well do you know God’s will common to every Christian? If you know these things, then you’ll be better equipped to determine God’s will for your own life.
My book, Christian Goal Setting and Achieving: Pressing Toward the Goal for the Prize will help you learn and understand these things so you can learn how to set worthy goals in your own life that God will bless. Check it out and see if it’s something you can use to set worthy goals for 2015 and beyond.
The most beneficial thing about the Christmas holiday season that I see is the giving it instills in people. It’s great to see people going out of their way to do things for other people and to help with financial and other material gifts. When this giving is from the heart, there is great blessing that follows to both parties — the giver and the receiver.
I’m not talking about those who give gifts out of necessity. “Auntie Betty is going to get me a present so I better get her one…” is not the attitude or the type of giving I’m talking about. I’m talking about giving from the heart with no thought of any return. This is genuine giving, the type of giving God can bless.
I see both types of giving at Christmas as I’m sure you do also. It’s great to see how much genuine giving is really going on during the holidays. This type of giving seems to be done more out in the community than under the tree. Is that your experience? This type of giving often happens spontaneously when someone sees someone with a need and is there to provide it. God loves that type of giving! If you were God, wouldn’t you?
How do you feel when you give something to someone? I know how I feel, and most of the people I talk to feel the same way. It actually feels good to give something to someone who needs or wants it. It’s a blessing to bless others. When you see their face light up and their burden lifted, even if for a brief time, it brings joy to yourself and the recipient that nothing else compares to. I feel exhilarated when I see the other party thankful.
I’m not talking about that horrible feeling when perhaps a spendthrift relative asking to “borrow” money for the 12 time that month… in such cases, it’s hard to lend them money let alone give from the heart because the person is only needy because they can’t discipline themselves to manage their money better. I’ve learned that not giving in these types of situations is better than giving. Each case is different though and may have other contingencies involved.
Giving from the heart is a selfless act that benefits a third party. When there is no thought for recompense (being paid back), the act of giving is “from the heart.” Giving with an ulterior motive is not giving at all but more of a form of investment hoping for a return. Let’s see which type of giving God blesses.
II Corinthians 9:6-11 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
As it is written:
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Giving genuinely from the heart is a talent that can be learned. Some people seem to be more natural at giving than others, but don’t be too quick to condemn those who don’t give so freely. Giving away what you’ve worked so hard to obtain is not an easy thing to do.
Many people suffer from what I call a “lack mentality.” They’ve had so many years of lack in their lives that when they finally get something, they horde it. They are afraid to give because they’ve had so little in their own lives that they feel they have to keep whatever they get for themselves.
God helps people get over their lack mentality by promising to supply all their need. It’s because of Jesus’ sacrifice God is able to bless us, and he pours out His blessings to us abundantly. Giving is the trigger, so to speak, that gets the flow going. It’s a principle of life God provided called giving and receiving.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your lap. For with the same measure that you measure it shall be measured to you again.
There it is, plain and simple, but oh so powerful. Divinely powerful. Spiritually powerful. Give and you shall receive. What could be plainer than that? Believing and acting on this principal will help anyone get over ‘lack mentality’ to produce a giving heart.
But the key is giving not to receive but to bless others. Selfless giving opens the door to receiving. Check your own heart when you give to see why you’re giving. If there is any selfishness there, renounce it and give instead from the heart.
Develop the heart of giving all year long. Many of us seem to have that heart more around Christmas time when everyone else is buying presents, but how about developing that giving heart all year-round? Needs don’t just surface at Christmas; they are all around us all the time. If you find yourself more in the giving mood around Christmas, try carrying that attitude — that heart of giving — into the rest of the year. See what it does for others and for you in the coming year.
Merry Christmas again from The Christian Culture Center and me, Richard Allen Golko. May God bless you abundantly with His riches in Christ Jesus. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ already! Praise God!
Adam and Eve were sinless before they ate from the forbidden tree. In their sinless state, they were full of all the energy — the life energy — that God gave them. But did they glow in the dark? Did they radiate the glory of God through their sinless flesh?
This may seem like a silly question to you, but hang with me for a minute. Do you remember reading about the Shekinah Glory in the Old Testament? God made his presence known in dramatic ways, and showing His glory radiate was one of those ways.
What is the Shekinah Glory?
The word for Tabernacle, mishkan, is a derivative of the same root and is used in the sense of dwelling-place in the Bible, e.g. Psalm 132:5 (“Before I find a place for God, mishkanot (dwelling-places) for the Strong One of Israel.”)[not in citation given] and Numbers 24:5 (“Your dwelling places, Israel,” where the word for “your dwelling places”, transliterated, is mishkenotecha).[not in citation given] Accordingly, in classic Jewish thought, the Shekinah refers to a dwelling or settling in a special sense, a dwelling or settling of Divine Presence, to the effect that, while in proximity to the Shekinah, the connection to God is more readily perceivable (source: Wikipedia).
The Shekinah is associated with the transformational spirit of God regarded as the source of prophecy:
1 Samuel 10:5–6 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines; and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a band of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a timbrel, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they will be prophesying. And the spirit of the LORD will come mightily upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
The prophets made numerous references to visions of the presence of God, particularly in the context of the Tabernacle or Temple, with figures such as thrones or robes filling the Sanctuary, which have traditionally been attributed to the presence of the Shekinah. Isaiah wrote “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the Temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). Jeremiah implored “Do not dishonor the throne of your glory” (Jeremiah 14:21) and referred to “Thy throne of glory, on high from the beginning, Thy place of our sanctuary” (Jeremiah 17:12). The Book of Ezekiel speaks of “the glory of the God of Israel was there [in the Sanctuary], according to the vision that I saw in the plain.” (Ezekiel 8:4)
Now think about Moses when he went up the mountain to commune with God.
Exodus 24:15–17 And Moses went up into the mount, and the cloud covered the mount. And the glory of Jehovah abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the appearance of the glory of Jehovah was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
Moses received the 10 commandments while up in that mountain and I can only imagine what he must have felt to be in God’s presence. Look what happened when he came down from the mountain.
Exodus 34:38 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Being in the presence of God caused Moses’ face to shine so brightly the people couldn’t look at him until he put a veil upon his face. Now think about the veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the people. Only the high priest, once a year, could enter through that veil and offer sacrifice for the people. The lesson is that God is unapproachable by those who live in darkness. Mankind’s fall removed man from God’s presence and man cannot even look upon Him let alone come near to him because of His holiness and our unholiness.
Jesus Christ’s sacrifice changed all that. When he died the veil in the temple was torn from the bottom all the way through the top by the hand of God.
Matthew 27:50,51 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up his spirit. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were split;
Man could now enter through the veil into the very presence of God because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Man can once again enter God’s Glory.
Let’s put this together.
- God is so luminous that fallen man cannot look upon him.
- Moses glowed so brightly after being in the presence of God that people could not even look at him.
- God’s glory radiated with light when He showed Himself to Israel.
I believe, before the fall of man, that Adam and Eve also glowed with the glory of God through their mortal flesh, just like Moses. When they sinned, the glory was removed and, “they knew they were naked.” That radiant barrier probably provided heat as clothing does, and when it was removed they felt naked and went to cover themselves. They could obviously see they were physically naked before; nothing changed there. Perhaps they just became aware of it them, which is the common thought, but there is the possibility that God’s glory was removed and they shone no more. They could see they were naked, i.e. without the glory of God encompassing them.
Now before you walk away and think I’m crazy, what about Jesus Christ? He was transfigured on the mountain before his crucifixion to show him and his principal disciples the end result — Christ glorified.
Matthew 17:1-3 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
Now hang on just a minute here. Jesus’ face shone like the sun and his clothes turned white as light! That’s some powerful bleach! Doesn’t this sound a bit like the experience Moses had when the people couldn’t look at him after he came down from the mountain, radiating the glory of God?
Adam and Eve were sinless before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They walked with God daily. They were in His presence daily. I believe their faces must have also shone like the sun though they had no clothes to bleach white!
The lesson in all this is that God’s so pure, so holy that flesh cannot even look at Him or approach Him. It is only through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, once for all, that mankind has been invited back into the presence of the Almighty God, creator of the heavens and the earth.
When Jesus returns and Christians receive our glorified bodies, those bodies will be just like Jesus Christ’s is now.
Philippians 3:20,21 For our citizenship is in heaven; from which also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall change our humble body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
That, my friend, is the promise of all promises! Can you imagine being like Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration? Can you imagine glowing with the glory of God radiating from your face and your clothes? Can you imagine the level of energy you’ll have after you’ve been raised from the dead — or changed at his coming if you are still alive — and you’ve received your very own glorified body like Jesus Christ has now?
These are not pipe dreams people, they are the promises of God. He’s given us His Word so we can find these things out.
How would you like to radiate the glory of God in your life?
You may not physically glow, but that’s not out of the question. You definitely will glow throughout your being with God’s presence as you study His Word, believe it and act on it!
Come on in and enjoy the fellowship with God and our Lord Jesus Christ, with others in the body of Christ.
Wise men came from the East where the prophet Daniel had lived to find the newborn savior Jesus. They were taught what to watch for by Daniel some 600 years earlier. Unlike the spotty knowledge of the Jewish religious leaders at the time of Jesus’ birth, these wise men actually believed what Daniel had taught them. If the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees had taken heed to the Scriptures, they would have already known when and where the Christ would be born.
But those who thought they were wise missed the whole things.
Those who were wise did two things.
- They believe the Word of God revealed to them
- They acted on that belief and honored the King of Kings and Lord of Lords by delivering gifts to him in his infancy.
That is all God asks, isn’t it? Believe Him and act on what He says. The blessings then flow in super-abundance to those who do these things.
Wise Men Still Seek Jesus Christ
So how wise are you? Are you wise enough to take God at His Word? Consider these things.
The entire Old Testament from Genesis 3:15 through the end of Malachi have a single subject: the promised seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent that beguiled mankind.
The subject of the four gospels is the birth and on-earth ministry of Jesus Christ.
The subject of the book of Acts is the things Jesus continues to teach and do.
The subject of the church epistles from Romans through II Thessalonians is Jesus Christ, what he accomplished and the promise of his soon return for the Christian believers at the end of this age of grace.
The subject of the leadership epistles, I Timothy, Titus and Philemon is Jesus Christ and Christian leadership’s subjection to His authority along with how to work with Christians, the body of Christ.
The subject of the dispersion epistles, I Peter, II Peter, Hebrews, I, II, II John and Jude is of course Jesus Christ, his soon return, and encouragement to not pass up the present opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God on God’s terms, through His Christ.
The subject of the book of Revelation is — guess who? — Jesus Christ. In fact, the title of this book is The Revelation of Jesus Christ, not meaning revelation about him but his actually being revealed to the human race once again, this time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Now with all that subject matter about Jesus Christ in the Bible, have you any doubts what God’s intended purpose of writing all 66 books of the Bible was about? The Bible is none other than God’s testimony of the fall of creation and his magnificent plan to set all things straight. Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was and is God’s plan and purpose from before the overthrow of the earth (Ephesians 1:2).
If you are wise, you will seek Jesus too. His is the only name given whereby men must be saved.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved.
If this all seems a big strange to you; if it all seems a bit nonsensical, all I can tell you is you need to read and study the Bible. It tells us that faith is not something you come up with on your own. Faith is something you have to receive from God himself. How does he dispense this faith?
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
When someone tells me they have no faith, I know they have insufficient knowledge of the Bible. How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so! Faith comes directly from God’s Word and that requires you to learn it and understand it. No, not the whole thing — it’s too vast. But you have to start somewhere and God honors the little we do understand and believe.
For those of you who refuse this instruction and prefer to stay in your own man-made wisdom, here’s what God has to say to you.
I Corinthians 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
God is always working to bring people to the knowledge of the truth. One day He will accomplish it fully and completely.
II Timothy 2:4 [God] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
How Wise are You?
There are two kinds of ‘wisdom’ available to us. One is ‘worldly wisdom’ or philosophy. Philosophy forever seeks to explain the metaphysical but has no reference by which to discern truth from error. Philosophy is what I call ‘lazy science’ in that it’s a guess made by observing certain phenomenon. The difference between science and philosophy is that science always has a way to disprove a theory and if it can’t be disproved it is accepted as a viable theory. However in philosophy, it’s all a big guessing game.
You can rest on the guess or you can rest in God’s revealed Word. It’s your choice.
I Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness.
This is your opportunity to gain the wisdom God wants all mankind to have. It’s within your reach to seek Jesus Christ through the written Word of God and so find the wisdom that others have willfully refused. Now is the time my friend, now is the day of salvation.
Be wise with God’s wisdom and you will be just like those early wise men who did whatever they had to do to find the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They traveled long but did not grow weary. God sustained them and guided them with a special light. He will do the same for you. Get seeking!
How do you handle obstacles in your life? We all face them. Some are harder than others, some have a wider impact than others, but we all face them. It’s how we handle them that reveals our character.
I heard a teacher once say that it’s the rocks in the river that make the water sing. It’s the same in our lives. If there were no obstacles we’d get cozy in our own little worlds and we’d grow very little emotionally and spiritually. Introduce obstacles and that’s when the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Obstacles make you reach down inside and see what’s there.
You usually cannot stop obstacles from coming, but it’s how you react to them that reveals your character. By working on how you respond to things that happen around you and to you and those you love, you can make great progress in shaping your character the way God would have you to be.
The definition of character that we’re talking about here is, “The way someone thinks, feels, and behaves: someone’s personality.” You were born to be who you are, but you weren’t born perfect. In fact you were born as a fallen human being, spiritually dead and subject to the influences of this world. You were born less than the person you want to become. It’s ‘becoming’ who you really want to be that’s the hard part.
God can help! By turning to him, through Jesus Christ, before and when obstacles arise, you can use that obstacle to your advantage and hone your character to be more like Jesus Christ.
When Jesus and his disciples were caught in a boat in the middle of a big storm, Jesus was asleep. The disciples were filled with fear. That’s often how we respond to situations we can’t possibly handle on our own. We panic. We run for cover. We get mad and yell at the clouds and the lighting and we make our own thunder! There are all sorts of reactions that people have from crying to violent outburst. Different people react different ways. Let’s see how Jesus reacted when the disciples woke him up in the middle of that storm.
Matthew 4:35-41 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
At least they knew who to go to when the storm appeared! That’s the key to overcoming obstacles by the way — call on Jesus. Trust in the Lord. Confide in him and ask for help.
Different people react in different ways in the same situations. Why do we react differently? These different reactions arise from our belief system. Think about it. Why do you react the way you do when things happen? It’s because of what you believe, most likely based on previous experiences you had that were similar to the current one.
I’m not fond of the word obstacle. Obstacles are immovable. Opportunities are not. I like to call obstacles opportunities. I was taught this many years ago and I fully embrace the concept. If you turn every obstacle you face into an opportunity to trust the Lord and overcome, you will become more and more like Jesus Christ, day by day.
Obstacles are simply opportunities to become more like Jesus Christ.
Do you believe that? The next time an opportunity arises in your life, go straight to your father God through your Lord Jesus Christ and give it to Him. Seek His guidance. Do what you feel He is telling you to do. He may have you tunnel under it, or go around it, map a different way or barrel straight over it. He may have you wait. He sees what you don’t. Trust Him.
I’ll leave you with this powerful section of Scripture from Romans that talks about this very thing — honing your character to be more like Jesus Christ by embracing the opportunities that are presented you throughout your life.
Romans 5:1-4 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Next time an opportunity confronts you, embrace it, go to God and become more like Jesus Christ in the process.
I’m so overjoyed with the richness of God’s Word that I can’t contain myself. If you haven’t experienced such joy with God’s Word, it’s time to dig deeper into God’s tapestry of truth and discover things you haven’t discovered before.
Many people read the Bible like an ordinary book. This is no ordinary book, believe me! Over 10 years of dedicated word-studies and 20 more of detailed subject studies in God’s Word has only proved to me the Word of God is inexhaustible. That’s right, it’s inexhaustible. You will never stop gaining understanding as you study God’s Word. You’ll never be bored with studying it because it always brings new light.
How can that be? How can words on paper continue to bring new knowledge and understanding?
Because God’s Word is not an ordinary book. It’s not even 66 ordinary books. The Bible contains 66 books inspired from the mind and heart of God. It contains God’s revelation of Himself to mankind and it centers on one subject: Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. It is Jesus who fully reveals God to man because Jessusis the very image of God in a human being.
The reason why the Word is inexhaustible is because it is so layered. You’ll get surface information reading it as a book. But start digging and putting verses together of the same subject and a whole new world opens up to you. You start seeing how perfect the Word is, how it all fits together.
II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
Some people quit reading God’s Word because they think it’s too hard to understand. I can relate to that. When I started, I couldn’t find Proverbs from II Corinthians or tell you anything about them! Patience my friend! Patience and diligence is needed to study God’s Word. Keep in mind that it took thousands of years for God to prepare things and work all things together to accomplish His plan in heaven and on earth.
You probably won’t understand a considerable amount the first time you read the Bible through. First of all it’s a huge collection of books (66 to be exact). Secondly, it contains quite a few Hebrewisms (Hebrew-centric sayings) and, depending upon the version you are reading, perhaps some old-English words you’re not familiar with. You’ll have more questions after your first read than before it. But keep at it and the lights start going on all over the place.
Some people read a verse a day out of a Bible meditation or daily Bible reading publication. While it’s good to read even one verse of God’s Word every day, that won’t cut it if you want to learn God’s Word thoroughly. You need more than that. You need to study and not just read. I don’t want to get into all the technicalities about versions and translations in this article but at some point you’ll need to take a look at that too.
A Little Here, A Little There
Isaiah 28:10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
You wont’ get the full understanding of God’s Word all at once. It has to come together in your understanding and that takes three things.
1) Pray and ask God to reveal His Word to you. The spirit is involved in learning God’s Word because it’s a book that related spiritual truths.
2) Study don’t just read. You’ll need to know what the individual words in God’s Word mean and sometimes they simply are not translated accurately. We have concordances to help us out with this so don’t fear.
3) Think about what you read and re-read. Understanding comes when steams of information come together. You’ll need those streams (steps 1 and 2 above) and you’ll need some time to synthesize all the information you’re gathering.
This may seem like a lot of work simply to understand God’s Word better, but you’re not just getting to know God’s book! You’re getting to know the very God who authored it. Now isn’t that worth some work — even hard work? Isn’t that worth some dedication and commitment? Of course it is.
Let the Word of Christ Dwell in you Richly
God exhorts us in His Word to study it so we can understand it and let it dwell within us richly. Here’s just one verse of many on this subject:
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
God’s Word is a treasure-chest filled with love, compassion, peace, health, wealth, knowledge and wisdom. It contains everything we need for this life and tells us about the one to come. It alone is worth of our time in studying it and working it to gain the understanding God wants us to have.
Get into the richness of God’s Word and let God direct your paths therein. This will help you put on the mind of Christ and you’ll see the world much differently — from God’s point of view.
I wish you a very merry Christmas this year and wanted to remind you of the reason for the season. Jesus is the reason for the season. He’s the reason the holiday is celebrated throughout the world, though many who celebrate Christmas do not believe in Jesus. It’s hard to understand but at least they are reminded of him this time of year and perhaps more seeds can be planted for God to cause to sprout.
What’s the reason for the season from your point of view? Is it to give or get Christmas gifts? That’s not a bad thing, we all love presents and man’s greatest joy is experienced in selfless giving. But that’s not the reason for the season.
Some say it’s a time for families to get together and visit. Being with family can be a great thing, and catching up can always be fun, but being with your family is not the reason for the season. Arguably you can do that any time you want, though more people have time off at holidays to get together. Still, that’s not the reason for the season.
The Original Reason for the Season
It’s not a good thing, but the original reason for the ‘Christmas’ season was born in idolatry. Originally, Christmas was the celebration of the winter solstice, when the shortest day of the year has come. The celebration included gift giving, singing and many of the traditions now practiced, even by Christians, during the Christmas season.
By the time of the Romans, the winter solstice was called the Saturnalia. Again it involved pagan worship and, again, gift giving and merriment.
Here’s a short history of Christmas from Wikipedia;
Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ‘s Mass“) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed generally on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night. Christmas is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
While the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown,and are not the focus of the Church’s Christmas celebration. His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East, although some churches celebrate on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which, in the Gregorian calendar, currently corresponds to January 7, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany. In the Council of Tours of 567, the Church “declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be one unified festal cycle“, thus giving significance to both December 25 and January 6. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, or with one or more ancient polytheistic festivals that occurred near southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice); a further solar connection has been suggested because of a biblical verse[a] identifying Jesus as the “Sun of righteousness”.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths,mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
To be completely honest with you, Christmas is technically a Christianized version of a pagan holiday celebrated from the time of Babylon or shortly after. Originally it was to celebrate the winter solstice and the birth of Tamuz by Sameramis. Tamus was said to be a reincarnation of Nimrod (remember the Tower of Babel?) To bring Greeks into Christianity, the early Catholic Church adopted the celebration and tried to Christianize it, but they left in all the pagan elements and just introduced the birth of Jesus into it.
Jesus was probably born in September, not December. In my heart-of-hearts, I know God is not honored by the celebration of Christmas any more than he is honored by the mixture of pagan practices mixed into Christianity. He absolutely abhorred that exact thing in the Old Testament. So what is a committed Christian who wants to please God to do?
For years I denounced Christmas for what it is and I even made it my own tradition to hang a small ‘Christmas’ tree upside down from my kitchen chandelier. It always raised eyebrows and I was able to communicate why it wasn’t pleasing to God. I don’t think what I did was wrong, but I’ve shifted from protest to making the best of a bad situation.
For the past decade, I’ve taken down the upside down Christmas tree and replaced it with compassion and the opportunity to speak about the birth of Jesus Christ as the true reason for the season. Who knows, I may put up the upside down Christmas tree again, but for now I just would like to give some sound advice.
Don’t Partake in the Paganism Mixed Into Christmas
There is much paganism in Christmas, but many don’t even realize it’s there. The Christmas tree is said to come from pagan origins, having meaning of perpetual life in the deadness of winter. Lighting candles, transposed to the modern day Christmas lights and lighting of candles in church, is also pagan in origin. Even the gift giving is of pagan origin. So what’s left if we remove all of those pagan things?
The message that Jesus Christ, the savior of the world was born is the true reason for the season for Christians. Yes, millions of people celebrate the holiday with no reference to Jesus at all. A couple of years ago a huge poster was put up in Times Square New York City that had a picture of Santa Clause on top and Jesus on the bottom. Over Jesus were the words, “Get rid of the fairy tale.” If people would rather believe in Santa Clause than Jesus, that’s their prerogative, but as one person who viewed the poster said, “I thought Santa Clause was the fairy tale!” let us take up the position of proclaiming truth about the birth of Jesus even if it wasn’t on “Christmas day.”
Here’s a video about the real reason for the season:
I hope you like it.
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. Jesus is the true reason for the season; you don’t need anything else.