Theowhat?

I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a mocha and a water, staring at this screen with my heart full about what I want to write today but I cannot come up with a good opening to capture your attention. I’ve been a Charismatic Christian all my life. I believe God still speaks today, in healing, prophecy, even unusual feelings such as goosebumps, falling down, etc.

With this wonderful introduction I am just going to state what’s been on my mind the last few days concerning my tribe in the body of Christ. I think many in the charismatic, prophetic, healing and such streams have become focused on experience to the point we have a lesser focus on Scripture and making sure our experiences are theologically sound.

I am all about experiences, I believe in experiencing God but I have watched some services lately that have had little Bible teaching in them. There has been round about talk from Scripture but no direct teaching. On the other side of this coin there is much Scriptural teaching on all that God will give you but little emphasis on magnifying God in our hearts, daily worship of Him, and the importance of delighting in God for God Himself.

Charismatics tend to dismiss theology, saying just focus on Jesus. But if your understanding of Jesus is simply based from experiences at events and not firmly based in Scripture, the “Jesus theology” you have may not be biblical.

The New Testament warns us about false teaching, false prophets, and other wrong interpretations of Scripture. While we like to focus on our experience and experience is good our first priority must be the Word of God, the Bible.

Theology is good! Let me say it again, theology is good. A right and thorough study of Scripture is important, it is the thing that will keep us from false experiences. The devil comes as an angel of light to be able to deceive. That deception will be easy if your relationship with the text of Scripture is shallow.

We know that Jesus is the Word made flesh, that should mean the written Bible is of utmost importance to us. If you see theology as dead and dry it isn’t. Men like Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards reached thousands in one service in the days before technology and social media. Those men walked in power that our generation hasn’t touched. Charles Finney who is known for theology and lectures would walk by people and they would cry out in repentance. When was the last time one of us had that happen?

Reading theology, old books, and even old sermons have the ability to draw us closer to God unlike the books of our day. With all due respect to our generations, books of old carry more of a weight and honor of God than the vast majority of our books. The books of old and book today written in that same manner go to the deep places of the Bible.

Encouragement is important but so is challenging ourselves and searching out the deep things of Scripture. It is just on my heart this week to encourage us all to go deeper in our relationship with God. Go deeper in knowing the person of Jesus. Get a book of sermons by Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards. Ask Holy Spirit to take you to deeper places in the Word. A experience of feelings is wonderful but nothing compares to the deep study of the Word of God. Scripture can touch the believer deeper than any feeling in a worship experience.

Understand, I’m not against experience, we just need to be based in the Word not experience. When we have a solid Biblical foundation, alarm bells will go off when we read a book that doesn’t line up with the Bible. Jesus is first experienced in the depth of His Word. Take time today to read Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible and it’s all about the Bible. The Word of God is eternal and will change our lives. A deep understanding and study of the Word (theology) will lead to a fuller, deeper and more stable experience.

Challenge yourself this year to read a deep book, don’t go fast with it, read it slowly, study it, read it with your Bible. Go deeper in God by going deeper in His Word.

Soon, I will be starting a series called Jesus Series 2018. In this series we will be looking at the theology in the life of Jesus. I believe it will give each of us a deeper love and understanding of our savior.

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Walking with Jesus

It’s a funny thing being a Christian. You get saved and you start this journey of living like Jesus. The Bible calls this being a disciple but it seems as time goes on we tend to forget Jesus. I know we would say that’s not true but if we’re honest at one time or another all of us would have to admit that we’ve fallen into the trap of just going through the motions. We do our checklist: go to church, pray, read the Bible and maybe a few other things.

Martin Luther once said “Everyday we need to be reminded of the gospel because everyday we forget it.”

Matthew 13:52 NLT “Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.“”

As Christians we can develop a mindset that the gospel is basic, it’s the beginning and once we grow a little that the birth, death and resurrection is just something we know. When it comes to our daily walk with Jesus, the life of Jesus and the major events of incarnation (the birth of Jesus), His death and resurrection need to continually be a source of meditation and comfort.

When we read the words, new gems of truth as well as old, there are multiple meanings we can see there. Old and New Testaments, Jewish roots and in Christ realities, reformed theology and charismatic renewal, and on and on this list could go.

As we walk with Jesus we need to pray that we don’t just see black and red words on white paper but that the words we read become alive to us.

John 1:1-5, 14 NLT “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

When we grab a hold of the truth in that passage our Bible reading will never be the same. Our relationship with Jesus will never be the same.

God is so vast, Jesus is so vast that no matter how many years you have read and studied the Bible there is always more to learn. When we are firmly planted in Truth – God’s Word – our growth will never get off the right path. There are new things to learn and those new things will always line up with Scripture.

An everyday relationship with Jesus will connect things that we have been taught don’t go together. I have really been seeing that the last few days in my own walk with Jesus. We have to be willing to get out of our natural minds and see the unity in the spirit.

We all find ourselves at times going through the motions. We find ourselves reading and not getting anything out of it. We find ourselves praying and feeling like our prayers are hitting the ceiling.

Take a moment today and pray the two passages of Scripture I mentioned. Pray that how your relationship with God started will be connected to your present and that joy would rise in your heart. Pray that it would no longer be words on paper but you would receive life when you read the Bible.

One of the keys to getting out of a spiritual slump is to not give up. Go revisit the gospels and Paul’s letters again. Pray that as you read it would be life and encouragement. Ask and receive understanding and strength.

An everyday relationship with Jesus will have ups and downs. The important thing is we don’t give up in down times and in good times we still move forward with tenacity.

Passover 2018: Tearing Down Walls

This year as I have been praying over my Passover post, one scripture has come over and over in my mind. Ephesians 2:14 NIV “For he himself is our peace, who has made two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

Passover is all about freedom from bondage and a shift in thinking. For the Hebrews to come out of bondage, it wasn’t enough to just physically leave Egypt, they had to mentally leave slavery.

The Church and our world today are both bound with wrong thinking and wrong perceptions. During this cycle of feasts in 2018; the Hebrew year 5778, a year of new beginnings, a year of war. This is also a seventy year, seventy meaning a choice between unity and disunity. Israel’s seventieth anniversary is this year! I want to focus on tearing down walls in the church world and in the world.

ONE NEW MAN

From the very beginning God intended for Jew and Gentile to be one. Even in the Old Testament (First Covenant) Gentiles connected with the Jewish people. Moses father-in-law was a Gentile who said, “I will follow you, but let me first go get my people and then come back to you.” It wasn’t until Acts ten that Gentiles first heard the gospel. From that time the enemy has pulled out all the stops to keep Jews and Gentiles separated. The truth is we as Christians have a Jewish Savior, a Jewish Bible, we have a Hebrew heritage. Wether you want to call it Hebrew heritage or Jewish roots, the New Testament (Renewed Covenant) is clear, Jesus never intended to start a second group divorced from the first.

Galatians 3:9 NASB “So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”

Romans 11:13-24 NIV “13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”

There is much talk about end times and rapture and how almost all signs are fulfilled. Forget natural signs. Scripture is clear that Jesus is coming back for a bride without spot or wrinkle. The Christian Church even among people in the same denomination are so divided we are not close to the Lord’s return. Even with how far off we are with that, Jesus is not stopping in Jerusalem to get the Jews and then stopping at denominational headquarters to get the Christians. He is coming back for one new man. We Christians are called to provoke the Jews to jealousy. That isn’t going to happen because we have big bank accounts, that is going to happen because our relationship with Jesus produces revelation of the relevance of the first covenant and obedience to the Word of God including participating in the joyous feasts each year, resting at Shabbat each week, doing acts of kindness and sharing the Jewishness of Jesus, Yeshua, the Messiah with His chosen people. To the Jew first then the Greek.

There is more that can be said on this subject but for all that see my Hebrew Heritage Series along with the Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles teaching series.

The last several years have seen a surge in a love for Israel among the Church and I praise God for that! Along with that though, we must begin reading the Bible with Hebrew eyes and a Hebrew understanding. We must love and share the good news with our Jewish brothers and sisters and become one new man.

If this portion of the post has stirred something in you, I want to encourage you to read the other series I have mentioned and to sow a Passover offering to bless the Jewish people. There are a number of great Christian ministries that are blessing the Jewish people and sharing the Messiah with them. If you do not know of one, I encourage you to give to Larry Huch Ministries. They support a hospital, have an olive grove, help Holocaust survivors and more. If you would like to learn more about the Jewish roots of your faith, also check out the recommended reading page.

TEARING DOWN RACISM

America almost seems more divided than ever when it comes to racial issues. Wether it is gun control, cops and communities, all out Twitter wars, our country needs a healing and the root of racism needs to be plucked up. We all know this is true, yet many in the Church, myself included have been drug by the political spirit into nasty divisiveness. What is more, most churches in this nation are still divided by color. It is time for us to overthrow divisive politics in our own individual thinking. Yes, we all have positions and thoughts and that is fine but the Church isn’t helping heal a broken world right now.

My prayer during this Passover season is that we in the body of Christ would have eyes to see. That we would come out of bondage to political ideology and reach out to those we disagree and hear their stories and learn how to pray with and for one another. It sounds cheesy but it’s true, there is only one race and that’s the human race. Examine your heart today has a political spirit taken root in your heart that has put you on sides concerning racial issues or issues made to be about race? Do you hear someone you disagree with and automatically boil with anger? Remove the roots of anger, bitterness, hatred and anything else that does not belong in your life. Take back control.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I try to keep these posts somewhat short and I’m already at length. Even though there is much more that can be said on these and other topics, I want to leave you with one thought. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb out of the hand of the enemy. That is Passover in a nutshell. Thanks to Dr. Robert he idler for that phrase.

Four years ago at this time, the Lord brought me back to the teaching on Jewish roots that I didn’t understand when I was twelve. It began changing my life four years ago and this year God accelerated that. If your heart has not come alive to that, that’s ok. I hope you will still be encouraged through the teachings on this site. If something has awakened in you, please don’t ignore it. Search things out, read books, listen to teachings and pray that Holy Spirit would give you direction.

Pray for your nation, wether you live in America or somewhere else. Pray that bondage of your fellow Christians would be broken and that the hearts of those who don’t know Jesus will be open to Him. Recommit yourself to the Lord on this Good Friday. Ask for a fresh revelation of the cross and resurrection. Set aside time to take communion today and reflect on our wonderful savior.

Growing on Your Path

It has been a couple of months since I have posted but that has not been due to a lack of things to talk about. Since beginning #Jesus2018 it has been an everyday thing to hear and receive and as a result grow and gain revelation for my path, especially in the last four or five weeks. This is not going to be a post on what I have been hearing but my thoughts and observations of how we typically hinder our own growth and how to move forward.

One of the things Holy Spirit has been using to teach me lately is how the Hebrews moved in the wilderness, they moved when the cloud or pillar moved – they remained mobile. We need to do the same thing in our relationship with the Lord. Another thing I have seen is following in new obedience and going on a new path. One time Moses was told to strike a rock, the next time he was told to speak to it. Moses chose not to speak but to strike the rock as before and because of that decision Moses did not enter the promise land (Deuteronomy 20:11-12). Moses tried to operate in this season with last seasons word. As Christians part of our growth is changing seasons. Many times when the Lord begins to do something new in our lives it is easier to run to something comfortable, to the last revelation we received.

This has been a hard thing in my own walk with Father. Last season is so comfortable, an initial revelation or understanding is comfortable but a deeper understanding is unknown and at times scary. This is what has been revealed and is still being revealed to me. A few weeks ago Holy Spirit showed me that I was in a stream I was comfortable with but it wasn’t my stream. A message from Benny Hinn that was on YouTube confirmed this. As the weeks progressed I was also shown that the different streams I have been a part of formed the river that flowed out of me. A few days ago as I was catching up on some shows I heard the Lord say, Casey, it’s not healing that you are called to but deliverance and healing will be part of that.

In these last weeks the Lord has been making it clear who I am! Not what is comfortable, not what is easy, but WHO I AM! And I believe that is a word for many in the body and that has been confirmed through words from Chuck Pierce and Lana Vawser. We are in a season of finding our identity.

I have seen my foundation as who I am but you build on a foundation. My passion has always been for a continual revival and I am gifted and trained in the ministry of deliverance. These things are streams in me that make up the river. This has been growth. I have always heard and talked about the stream and BAM! A few days ago Holy Spirit says, let the streams in you make your river.

I discovered that I was trying to fit a mold, multiple molds actually – We have to stop! Jesus made each of us different for a reason, He used no mold. Denominations, movements, associations, they are to be vehicles not molds. Each car manufacture makes many different models under the same name, this is how we need to view the body of Christ. So many times we are running a race against each other, all trying to one-up the other and appear more spiritual and have the latest revelation. We are running the same race, we are a team, not competitors.

I am going to start posting on a regular basis again but I know these first two months have been important for me to become who I am and many people I walk this journey with are saying the same thing for themselves. Many are facing battles, keep your eyes on Jesus! Allow not only a shift but a complete new beginning in this year of 8! Get away with the Lord and ask for your identity to be revealed. As we are in this season of Passover and resurrection draw nearer to Jesus and see Him, hear Him and know Him in a new way.

I am praying that each of us grow beyond anywhere we have ever been and more than we could dream. I pray that each of us be willing to throw off old seasons and old identities. The Lord would urge you now to let go of past hurt and rejection, throw off bitterness and embrace the new identity He has for you. We are close to the beginning of this years feast cycle, take advantage of this time, draw close, Hear Father’s heart for you and receive your new identity.

Jesus 2018

This has always been my favorite picture of Jesus

It may sound funny declaring 2018 the year of Jesus (and no, this has nothing to do with the rapture) because everything is about Jesus after all. That’s the thing, everything is so all about Jesus that it’s not. I have become so accustom to Jesus, He’s not Jesus anymore.

We’ve read (I’ve read) the stories so much, I’ve become so used to them that I catch myself many times skimming and not reading. Every year around October I pray and ask the Lord for a “theme” for the next year. He spoke quickly, 2018 is the year of Jesus, a year to get to know me, personally, who I am, what I’m like, the point behind my miracles, get to know my Jewishness, get to know me through other traditions. As funny as it sounded I knew 2018 was the year of Jesus for me.

I’m the type of person that I get tunnel vision easily, the Lord can speak and I focus on that one thing. When it comes to Jesus, I know that I am called to read, study, understand and teach from a Hebrew (Jewish) perspective but yet in 2018 I will be looking at Jesus from many angles including the catholic view of communion and prayer. This is something the Lord has been slowly moving me towards for a year, being able to see Jesus through many different perspectives. No Christian group has everything about Jesus down, we’ve missed the biggest part by divorcing Jesus from His Jewishness. Anyway, as I have prayed and talked with the Lord these last few months I have been asking for fresh insight, a reintroduction to Jesus if you will.

Ephesians is my favorite of Paul’s letters, yet in Revelation it is the Church at Ephesus that is told that it had left her first love. Paul hardly issues any corrections in Ephesians, they are a model church. Now I wouldn’t say I left my first love, it’s not something Holy Spirit has said I’ve done but I have let Jesus, I have let the stories become usual to me. My prayer during these last few months has been that 2018 will be a year that I fall back in love with Jesus, that the joy of my salvation will be restored.

As part of the year of Jesus, I will also be reading one biography a month of a minister that has had a great relationship with the Lord and an outstanding ministry. I will continually read Isaiah, Proverbs, the Gospels and the Books of Moses all year.

the Hebrew year 5778 is the year of the door, it is the year of new beginnings, wisdom (thus reading Proverbs continually) and financial prosperity. 2017 for me has been very much about preparation, going through the most rewarding, yet the most warring season I’ve been in. Jesus is the door of salvation, we now that, but He is so much more and 2018 is a year that I will be discovering Jesus all over again. If this interests you, join me on the path of rediscovering Jesus in 2018. I will be posting here throughout the year, but much will be posted on Instagram and Twitter as well, so if you don’t already follow me go ahead and join me on the journey there.

I am looking forward to an amazing year of knowing Jesus better.     

The Lost Key of Personal Growth

In today’s society of microwave mentality and (the new and improved) 280 characters or less Twitter world, many of us have lost the ability to read anything longer than one page long. As much as we have access to in this digital age, if we are honest with ourselves we would say most have become lazy, lies on all sides of media, group think, and lives of running around like a chicken with our heads cut off have robbed us of personal growth.

I am a firm believer in reading books. Even though e-books have become popular I still believe it is more beneficial to hold the book in your hand and have a pen in the other to make annotations. It is necessary in our day to encourage us to become readers again and specifically readers of three types of books; books that encourage us, books that cause us to think deeply and biographies.  

Many people are able to read for pure enjoyment or as an escape of reality, there is nothing wrong with that but along with that, if we want to grow personally, if we want to learn, if we want to become better people we will read good books, books that make us better people.

Most of my reading as you can imagine centers around books on the Bible and theology. While I believe it is important for all believers to read these type of things from time to time, if you are not a minister, things that make you think deeply may be a book written by someone who has a different political opinion that you, or a book on psychology. if you have an interest in science or another field of study read those kind of books to help stimulate your thinking.

Biographies are amazing, we can read the good and bad in peoples’ lives. Reading biographies of great leaders also fit within the bounds of encouraging reading. I have found biographies to be inspiring, challenging and some are even very entertaining. Start with a historical figure you admire, and then move on to a biography of someone in your field that has accomplished great things.

If you are not a reader start by reading a book a quarter and as you become accustomed to reading move that up to a book a month. Once you have done this for a while you will develop an appetite for reading. You may even find yourself reading multiple books at a time. Next year I will read one biography a month along with whatever other reading I find myself doing. As you get in the habit of reading, make a list of books you want to read and maybe even the order you would like to read them. it can also be beneficial to set aside an extended period of time just to read books on a certain subject.

Even when you read for information you can find it to be relaxing. Why don’t you make an early new year’s resolution, whatever fits you, to read, whether it be a book every two or three months, or a book a month. Do yourself a favor in 2018 become a better person, become a more knowledgeable person, become better informed on things that interest you by reading more books.

Developing Unwavering Faith

Do you ever find yourself wondering why something hasn’t happened yet? Do you struggle from time to time wondering if what you’ve been believing for is going to come to pass? We all have thoughts of doubt at times but it’s what we do with those doubts that matter. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 in the Amplified Classic Bible tells us how to manage our thought life. “For the weapons of a warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, 5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Our faith can’t afford negative thoughts running freely in our minds. Romans 4:19-21 NKJV “And not being weak in faith, he [Abraham] did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waiver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He promised He was also able to perform.” Abraham did not waiver because he strengthened himself by thanking God in advance. Hebrews 11:6 says that we must have faith and believe that God rewards those who seek Him. Faith first and foremost isn’t used to get us stuff but to help us seek Him. When our faith only becomes about the getting of stuff you better believe you will get discouraged. Our faith must primarily be based on and in our daily relationship with God just because of the fact He is God.

Hebrews 12:2 NIV “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” Proverbs 4:24-25 in the Message Paraphrase, “Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.”

When we keep our focus on Jesus and the Word of God and couple that with speaking things that are in line with God’s Word our faith will stay at an expectant level. A negative thought left unspoken dies. When we speak the thought of doubt is when the seed is planted and weakens our faith. To keep our faith strong our praise needs to be strong. Abraham thanked God before he ever saw the promise come to pass and we need to do the same.

It’s easy to allow negative thoughts to change our faith but when we have those thoughts we literally need to speak to them. Jesus spoke to the fig tree and it died. If we will speak to doubt and negativity it will die.

Faith is strengthened through time in the Word, praise, and helping other people. If you are believing for something, find someone believing for the same thing and sow into them. If you are believing for a family member to get saved, begin praying for a friends unsaved family member.

Faith only produces when it is firing on all cylinders. Get in the Word, start praising God, and sow into someone else and you will walk in an unwavering and immovable faith!    

Reformed and Always Reforming

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of what’s known as the Protestant reformation. I thought about doing a series of posts on the history and the theology that developed from the reformation but I will leave that to Ligonier and Desiring God. Instead I want to focus on why the reformation still matters, my connection with the theology, how certain things from its beginning need to be corrected and how we can walk in the spirit of the reformation today.

WHY THE REFORMATION STILL MATTERS:

Martin Luther and his 95 Theses are known as the catalyst of the reformation. The interesting thing is Luther wasn’t looking to start a new church, just reform the Catholic Church. When that didn’t go as Luther planned things progressed from there. Luther ignited a Biblical resurgence that was later carried by John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and my personal favorite, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and many others. I know many probably don’t read thick theological books or listen to theologically oriented sermons but we cannot have the practical without doctrine being established first and that is why the reformation still matters. Even if your church is Arminian/Wesleyan you still owe gratitude to Luther because without him, we would all still be in a system which base is not the Word of God but man-made extras. Yes, we have gotten off in areas as well, which we will address latter. There is no denying that through that point in history and the resurgence of the new Calvinism we began seeing in the early 2000’s hasn’t helped realign the Church doctrinally. I know the Church of today is all about practicality but if you don’t know and understand doctrine you will not know how to practically apply the Bible. You may not dive deep into the thick books but there are easy reads out there to help any level of study.

MY INTRODUCTION TO AND JOURNEY IN REFORMED THEOLOGY

My journey in reformed theology also known as Calvinism began in 2008. It actually began a little before that but I didn’t know it at the time. I had been listening to a radio broadcast from Pastor Steve Solomon since probably around the age of twelve. When I started driving I would go to his service on Saturday night then my church on Sunday mornings. in 2008 he started a series called Romans 8 in 2008. By late February of that year Riverwalk Fellowship became my home church. As Pastor Steve taught through Romans eight he mentioned two books; God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper and The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. I got both books from the church bookstore and that was the beginning of my discovery of Calvinism. This lead to reading more books by John Piper and Charles Spurgeon and listening to Mark Driscoll and Dr. James White. I began following The Gospel Coalition and its writers. Pastor Steve gave me Charles Hodge’s three volume Systematic Theology and for the three years I was at Riverwalk I dove head first into Calvinism. I left Riverwalk to move to Houston which lead me down a path of joining the Nazarene Church and studying Wesleyanism for three years. You may be wondering how I could go from a solid three years of Calvinism to the opposite view, my answer, the sovereign plan of God to expose me to both understandings. It is interesting that one of John Wesley’s closest ministry friends was a Calvinist. Jacob Arminius said Calvin had written the best Bible commentary. We can allow ourselves to become so easily divided. John Wesley said if it wasn’t for the belief in predestination he would be a Calvinist. There are parts of both theologies I agree with but when it comes to Christian beliefs I am Calvinist in theology and Word of Faith in practical application. These two things seem opposed to many but I have come to understand that the truth of God’s word is not relegated to one group. We all understand in part and we need each other. I got away from theology for more practical application in the last few years but recently the Lord called me back to refresh myself in my theological foundations so I am revisiting those first books recommended by Pastor Steve.

CORRECTING SOME ERRORS:

Martin Luther and some other reformers should be honored for how they helped move the Church forward but we should not celebrate them because they have also hurt the Church as much as helped it. Later in life Martin Luther became vehemently anti-Semitic which is a problem. We have a Bible because of the Jews, our savior is Jewish and while we are not called to be Jewish, Paul wrote in Romans nine through eleven that we should not forget we have been grafted in to a Jewish root and the root supports the branches. If you have read this blog for a period of time you know that I embrace a Hebrew understanding of the Bible and I love Israel. All of us can make mistakes in our beliefs, hating the Jewish people was one of Martin Luther’s and it spread throughout Church history but in our day we are seeing a number of believers begin to love Israel and the Jewish people again and for that I say praise God.

Many of  the early reformers were not known for embracing the move of the Spirit but what has been termed the “new Calvinism” has. Pastors and teachers such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms and Mark Driscoll have been able to open up many in Reformed churches to the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that as time goes on many who hold to Calvinist theology will also see the truth in Word of Faith teachings as well.

WALKING IN THE REFORMATION TODAY:

While the reformation did give rise to a specific theology it must be that and more to us today. The reformation happened because things in that day needed to come back into focus, just as things in our day and in the past have needed to become re-centered on Biblical Truth. We have a tendency in the Church world to disregard the last move with each new move, that’s why a reformation becomes necessary. As we continue to get new light on the teaching of Scripture let us remember we cannot build anew if we get rid of the foundation.            

Brought out and taken in

Do you remember the old song, He brought us out to take us in….though there be giants in the land I will not be afraid, so let us go at once to our inheritance? This is what I think of when the feast of Tabernacles comes up. Tabernacles is a celebration commissioned by God so that Israel would remember their time in the wilderness.

The Children of Israel were not supposed to spend forty years in the wilderness, it was supposed to be a short trip through the wilderness to the promised land. How many times do we all do this, stop longer than we should or not heed instructions? But that is not what Tabernacles is about. Tabernacles is about God’s grace, God’s Provision and God’s nearness. Many of us start our walks as Jesus followers excited and then slow down due to distractions. God led the Hebrews the long way so they would not be tempted to turn around and go back. Why? Because the short route included a couple battles along the way, that alone is a message in itself.

The root word for wilderness and the Holy of Holies is the same word. It’s when we find ourselves in desert places that God is so close. We have misunderstood wilderness in our western culture. We look at wilderness as a bad thing, yet it was the wilderness where God spoke to Moses and let His goodness pass him. It was the wilderness where God’s presence first came to the Children of Israel, it is the wilderness where Jesus was filled with power, and it is the wilderness of life where many of us have found God and move forward.

Now grant it we should never live there but we should understand what the wilderness is, it is not a bad place but a meeting place with God for transitional time. Think about the instances mentioned, the wilderness catapulted those individuals into a completely different realm of life. Tabernacles is a celebration of God being with us.

Leviticus 23:33-44 gives us the outline of the celebration of Tabernacles and there are two things I want to look at. First, the giving aspect. Leviticus 23:37-38 NKJV “These are the feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day – 38 besides the Sabbaths of the LORD, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD.”

Now before we get into the giving aspect I want to share a quote from Tiz Huch, “God is not trying to get something from us, He is trying to get something to us”. The enemy has convinced so many believers that giving is a taboo subject and that all the Church is about is money. I’m going to have a moment of blunt honesty with us, we are willing to give money for game tickets, willing to give money to eat out, watch movies, and more why aren’t we willing to give to God, the one who has given us the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). We must break out of this anti-giving, anti-prosperous mindset the enemy has over much of the Church. We are blessed to be a blessing and if we only have enough for what we need we cannot be a blessing to others.

Verse thirty eight says besides Sabbaths, gifts, vows, and freewill offerings. Giving during the Feasts is what opens the windows of Heaven. Malachi three says we rob God in tithes and offerings. If we are not givers, why should we expect the blessing of God? God loves a cheerful and prompt to do giver. We sometimes hear, that’s Old Testament, tithing and giving isn’t mentioned in the New, we can just give whenever. Jesus and all the disciples were Jewish, there was no need to go over things that were already established and Malachi three and four were written to Gentiles, it is for us. Giving is what unlocks the door of blessing. These are not celebrations relegated to the Jews, they are God’s feasts and we are grafted in to the root and invited to join the celebration. Do as Malachi says, give and see that God will open the windows and rebuke the devour. And give with expectation to reap a harvest.

The second thing I want to draw our attention to is found in verse thirty nine, on the first and eighth day there shall be a sabbath rest. Hebrews four tells us that a rest remains for the children of God. It is good, it is biblical for us to have one day each week that is set aside for rest, especially with the kids of lives we live today. The rest of God, can be present everyday for those of us who will be willing to walk in that rest.

Tabernacles is a reminder every year that we have been delivered from the bondage of sin and have open and free access to a relationship with God. One last Scripture in closing, Deuteronomy 23:13-14 NKJV “and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.”

Bury your poop because God doesn’t want to step in it. Yep, that’s in the Bible. Sin is poop and God doesn’t want to see or smell it. That’s why Romans six through eight is all about how we are free from sin and how to continue to live free from it. It’s Tabernacles, check your toilets, make sure they’re flushed and spray some Febreze, God is coming to hang out.

Atonement

To atone means to cover and every year the people of Israel collectively repented and the High Priest would go in to the Holy of Holies to atone for Israel’s sins. Then one day after hundreds of yearly sacrifices Jesus came and was the final sacrifice and we now have free and open access to God. That is the short version of the story but let’s look at the details, where love Himself is found.

Too many times as Christians we make an unnecessary division of Old and New Testament. The God of the Old is the God of the New and the law of Old was the grace of its time. When you look at the regulations in context of that time period it was God’s way of giving and showing His love. He made a distinction between His people. We read over and over God made a distinction between the Hebrews and the Egyptians during the plagues. Until the ministry of Jesus was accomplished the law represented the way of grace, when the sacrifice was completed we were able to enter fully into that grace. We must make a distinction between Galatians and Hebrews. Galatians tells us as Christians we are Blessed through Abraham and the book of Hebrews written to the Jewish people tells them it is no longer about a system of sacrifices but trusting Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice.

This brings us to what we as Christians can gain from acknowledging the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:26-32 NKJV  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”

  To afflict your soul means to humble yourselves. Leading up to Atonement are the Ten Days of Awe where you seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, extend forgiveness towards other and do acts of charity. All of this prepares you for the ceremony of the Priest sending the scapegoat into the wilderness as a symbol of sin being far from God’s people.

We no longer need a scapegoat and we don’t need to sacrifice every year, Jesus is that final sacrifice. Jesus has provided us with the open access the people of Israel longed for in the Old Testament. Let us follow the words of Scripture and humble ourselves and prepare to enter Tabernacles with a pure heart and clean hands.

The last thing that is done on Atonement is you go through the Mikvah, you are baptized. Baptism is not a Christian thing, it is a Bible thing and every year on Atonement Jews enter the Mikvah to be immersed in water symbolizing newness, that the mistakes and sins of the previous year are gone and that they are offering themselves anew to God.

We can all get off track in our lives, we can miss the mark from time to time and that is why God set up His feast calendar. the Feasts are like a guardrail so to speak, to keep our relationship with God on track. So while you may not do a traditional fast or choose to be baptized, or other things associated with Yom Kippur, all of us can take time to humble ourselves before God, repent, spend time thinking on the goodness of God and renewing our dedication to God, His Word and His ways.

None of these feasts are about rules, they are about loving God and setting aside specific and special times to be with Him. This is why God classified the Sabbath as a Holy Day (holiday), so that one day each week would be specifically set aside for you and Him. To set aside the busyness of life and say God this day is for you. It refocuses us and calms us. Take advantage of the calendar God has set up, humble yourself, refocus yourself, and prepare your heart to enter in to Tabernacles, a time when His presence can be more real to us than any other.

Reflection, Repentance and Reconciliation

Between Rosh Hashanah (New Years) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) is a ten day period of time known as the Days of Awe. This is a time of introspection, repentance and reconciliation known as Teshuvah. We can repent any time we need to but the Days of Awe can still be good for believers to search our hearts and make sure our attitudes and actions are right.

In Deuteronomy 16:16 we are instructed to bring a special offering to God three times a year; at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Before Tabernacles it is customary to make sure you are walking rightly with God, part of this is making things right with those you have wronged in the previous year. As stated earlier, we can do this any time but God is specifically giving us an opportunity once a year to make sure we are right with those around us.

Matthew 5:23-24 MEV “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Scripture says god loves a joyful giver, we can’t be truly joyful if we are angry with someone. When we are right with others, we are also right with God. We are not saved by good deeds, we are saved by grace. Grace when it is truly received does lead to good deeds. We are not saved by works but blessings in both the Old and New Testaments have conditions on them.

The days of Awe are about honoring God by respecting our fellow man and making things right with people we have wronged and this is good for everyone. We’ve all probably made New Year’s resolutions in January, with the Hebrew calendar, the days of Awe is your resolutions; you right wrongs, you forgive and you do good to your fellow man. This prepares you for the day of Atonement that leads into the Feast of Tabernacles.  

Take some time during this period to search your own heart and actions; is there someone you need to forgive, someone you need to apologize to? Can you brighten someone’s day by giving them a compliment, give an offering to charity, volunteer at a community center. these are days to get our focus back. Jesus went about doing good it tells us in Acts 10:38. Use these days to be Jesus to someone and do good.

Joy: The Purpose of God’s Presence

What is the purpose of knowing God, the purpose of relationship with Jesus? in a word, Joy!

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NIV “Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival – you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Be joyful at your festival. For the LORD your God will bless you…and your joy will be complete.

Sometimes the man developed systems can suck the joy right out of serving Jesus and that’s unfortunate. E. W. Kenyon said just as Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the expositions of how to live the instruction of Genesis and Exodus, so too are Paul’s letters the explanation of how to live out Jesus teachings in the new creation.

Look at Galatians 5:22-23 NLT “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”

I’ve always found it interesting that it’s called the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruits, with an s. Think about this when we walk in love, we will be joyful, we will be at peace (things won’t bother us like they used to), we will have patience, be kind and good, be faithful to our friends and our calling, reply gently and exercise self-control. Am I the only one that looks at that and says, ‘Jesus I need help’. This is the purpose behind Rosh-Hashanah, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

Rosh-Hashanah, the celebration of a new year and victory. Jesus of course is our atonement, this is a good day for self reflection, repentance, and fresh commitment (this is why the Jewish people go through the Mikvah (baptism), a symbol for new life. Tabernacles is a remembrance of dwelling in tents and entering the promised land, which is why on Rosh-Hashanah people eat an apple with honey.

Even in the midst of atonement and a time of reflection, we pass through the waters of baptism and enter into new life as we progress towards tabernacles and a celebration of harvest!

Let tabernacles be a time when the joy of your salvation is renewed. Receive fresh vision! Make a new dedication and go forward in the goodness of God!    

Jesus – Our Water & Our Light

The Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths) is the last feast of the festival year and the beginning of the Jewish new year. There are three holidays associated with this feast; Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). This feast, like Passover has feasts within feasts.

Before we get into different aspects of the feast, I want to jump right to Jesus. There are two main ceremonies during Tabernacles, the water ceremony and the light ceremony. Late Autumn is typically a season of drought in Israel, so each day the priests would ceremonially pour water on the altar. People would chant Isaiah 12:3, “Then you will joyfully draw water from the well of salvation.” It was on the last and greatest day of the feast, when the largest amounts of water was flowing behind Jesus we read these words in John 6:37-38 NASB “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes on Me as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water‘”.

Remember when Jesus said to the woman at the well, if you drink of me you will never thirst again? Jesus is saying on this last day of the feast, I am the answer to the prayer you pray at this time every year. I am the water you are praying for, I am the salvation the Bible speaks of. Water is sustainment, Jesus is our sustainment. At Passover we discovered that Jesus is our sacrifice, our doorway into the presence of God. At Tabernacles He is our continual refreshing, our strength, our joy.

The second major ceremony is the light ceremony that took place in the women’s court. The story from rabbis is that the oil for the lights were of such quantity that when the lamps were lit the entire city of Jerusalem was illuminated. It is with this backdrop Jesus speaks the words of John 8:12 NASB “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In one celebration we see Jesus as our salvation, our constant refreshing and the ever giving light of the path of our life and we haven’t even gotten to the glory part of this feast yet. Every Feast points to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus which allows for the fullness of its joyous celebration.

In the coming weeks we will look into the glory side of this feast. With this feast and every feast, with every aspect of our lives, we can celebrate because Jesus is the door to our Father who only desires good for us.

Psalm 91:14-16 MSG “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation.”    

Love: A breakdown of 1 John 4:9 – 5:21

Instead of writing a full blown post on God’s love and us loving others, I decided to let a particular passage, 1 John 4:9 – 5:21 (NIV) speak for itself, with a few thoughts from me.

 This is how God showed his love among us:

A –  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

[Because of salvation we have the ability to live as Jesus did through the power of the Holy Spirit. We may mess up from time to time but forgiveness is there and strength to keep going].

B – 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

C – 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

D – 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

E – 19 We love because he first loved us.

F –20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command:

G – Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

H – This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

I – In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

J – This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

K – For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

L – We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

M – 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

N – 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

O –12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

P –13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Q –14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

R –15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

S – 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

T – 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

U –19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

V – 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.

W -And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

X –21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

[anything we put before God is an idol. Whatever we put first, whatever we think most about, that is the god of our life. If we set aside devotional time or prayer time for something else, that thing is an idol].

Studying a book of the Bible

Using A Study Bible

The most broad, yet rewarding way to study the Bible for me is to study a book. if you are going to study a book I recommend using a Ryrie Study bible to assist you. The Ryrie Bible includes all necessary information for a book study including; Author, date, outline and timeline. each book is broken up into parts and sub-parts which makes book study easier. The Ryrie also contains comments on most verses in the Bible. With much of the work for a book study already done, you will have more time to devote to study itself.

What to Look for

When studying a book of the Bible it is important to make note of key words and themes throughout the book. Studying is not a quick thing, nor is it meant to be done in a day, take your time and absorb the message of the book.  

What to use

  • Study Bible
  • Notebook specifically for the purpose of your study
  • Concordance (to look up words and find definitions). the Strong’s Concordance has an edition for most Bible translations.

Tips for Study

Start with a small book first, they are easier to study and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time which can give you a sense of accomplishment before you begin with longer books. James and First Thessalonians are short books that do not have much deep theology so i would start here before attempting a study on the book of Ephesians.

Always pray before you get started and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the truth in the book you are studying and how to apply it to your life. The life Application Study Bible is also helpful in this area.

I do recommend both the Ryrie and Life Application Bibles because they have two different purposes and have proven immensely helpful in my own studies. I use my primary Bible and these two as a help when I need an outline or practical application of a verse or verses. You can never have too many tools when it comes to helping you study the Bible.

How to Study    

Read the book through once.

Identify main themes as you read through the second time (This will take several days for longer books). Underline or circle key words.

Pick a key verse in each chapter.

Summarize each chapter in your own words and write a paragraph on how it applies to your everyday life.

Write a positive confession based on the theme of the book.

Write out a prayer based from the theme of the book. (Some books have prayers in them you may want to adapt for your life.)

3 Keys to Building Faith

Have you ever had the thought ‘is my healing ever going to come?’ or ‘am I ever going to receive a breakthrough’? Sometimes we can find ourselves discouraged when what we are believing for doesn’t come in our timing. There is a truth for us concerning this in Mark 4:16-17 AMPC “And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; 17 And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.”

Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God.” When we hear the Word faith will come but that faith is not without opposition. Mark 16:17 says trouble arises on account of the Word. We have an enemy who is going to fight the process of building our faith every step of the way. This is why we must determine at the outset of whatever we are believing for that we will not be denied and we will not back off of our faith.

Something from our thoughts to our circumstances will always try to knock us off our faith, so how do we stay in faith? The following are three keys to building your faith and keeping it strong all the way through to manifestation.

Proverbs 4:20-27 KJV “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

Keep your eyes on the Word

The Message Bible says, “keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions”. When thoughts come that say you won’t get what you are believing for, that is a sideshow distraction, it is something to be ignored!

Matthew 6:22 KJV “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

When we are singularly focused on the Word, the Word will produce results. It goes back to what we read in Mark chapter four a moment ago, we can’t allow the Word to be stolen from us through wrong thoughts or hardships. The Bible says persecution comes because we decide to grab hold of the Word, to stay with that Word we must focus on it and keep our eyes off of anything contrary to it. We must take the full Word, we can’t wonder about God’s will. His Word is His will, when we allow doubt and unbelief in, the light in us actually becomes darkness. Stay singularly focused on the Word and it will begin to bring forth results.

Keep your ears on the Word

Proverbs 4:20 NLT “My Child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.”

Mark 4:23-24 AMPC “  If any man has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him perceive and comprehend. 24 And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.”

When we hear something the first time it is seed, every time after that it is being watered and when we’ve heard it enough to take root we will have results. We can’t just hear teaching on healing once, faith comes by hearing and hearing. We must continually hear the Word for our faith to be built. The Woman with the issue of blood heard the things Jesus had done. Not one thing but things, when we continually hear the Word faith comes alive.

The measure of thought and study you give to the truth you hear is what you receive from. If what you hear is contrary to the Word and faith that is what you will receive from. I can’t spend my nights in front of shows that don’t build me up and expect to be strong in faith. We must give our ears to hearing the Word and good and positive things that are in line with it to see our faith built up.

Speak the Word

Mark 11:23 KJV “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass shall have whatsoever he saith.”

Our words are so important and so powerful, they are a key component to our faith. This verse says we can’t doubt, we must believe. This goes back to ignoring those sideshow distractions. When we speak the Word faith is built, when we speak things contrary to faith doubt and unbelief are built.

2 Corinthians 4:13 KJV “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believe and therefore have I spoken; we also believe and therefore speak.”  We train ourselves in negativity by thinking it, hearing it and speaking it, we train ourselves in faith the same way.

Let today be a new day, let today be a decision day that from today forward you will keep your eyes on the Word, you will listen to the Word and you will speak the Word. When we give the Word first priority it will produce the promises of the Word in our lives. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged, when we mess up, we simply repent and get back to the Word and get in faith. Get in faith, let’s stay in faith and let’s watch faith produce in our lives.

Benefits of Bible Study

Many of us, no doubt as we sit and read our Bibles each day desire to find deeper meaning in what we read. I’m sure, like me, you have sat and wondered how exactly does this apply to my life? My desire is to answer that question as we discuss different methods of Bible study.

When it comes to our daily reading most of us will read a chapter or go through a plan on our Bible app and that’s great but when we take the time to study the Bible we see the depth of it and learn how it applies to our everyday life.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God’s kingdom first and everything we need will be added to us. The word seek in the Hebrew means to research and study. When we research and study the Scriptures we learn how to apply them and walk in the benefits and blessings promised in them.

God’s will for us is to be blessed in every area of our life; to have good friendships, a good family life and to be happy, healthy and whole. The Primary reason to study of course is to develop our relationship with God and become closer to Him but as we get close to God He wants to bless us. Remember Jesus saying, if you know how to give good gifts, doesn’t it stand to reason my Father gives great gifts, (my paraphrase). We will not walk in blessing if we don’t see it as God’s heart for us to be blessed. Studying the Bible brings not just spiritual blessing but mental, physical and financial blessing as well and those are just as much benefits as spiritual growth and God does not want us to shy away from that.

Studying the Bible brings success

Joshua 1:7-8 NLT “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”  

God intends for each of us to fulfill our God given purposes and each of us have a great purpose to fulfill. Everyone is important, everyone has a purpose and god’s plan is for everyone to succeed but a key to succeeding is spending time Studying the Bible.

Studying the Bible brings about a good life and health to our bodies

Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”

Proverbs 4:20-22 KJV “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them and health to all their flesh.”

The first promise of healing and health came when the Israelite’s left Egypt. God said, I am the Lord who heals you. In order to walk in the promise of health we need to know what the Word says. We know what the Word says by studying it. We often quote that the truth shall set you free but the verse actually says, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. To know truth means to own it and apply it. We can only own and apply what we know and that knowing comes through study.

A closing thought

Psalm 119:9-11 NIV “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hid your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

We learn the word, we gain victory through the word by studying it, the Amplified Bible says conforming our life to it. As much as I believe in reading, we can’t conform our life to something we have read but something we have studied and as earlier Scripture pointed out studying and meditating has to be a daily thing. In the beginning your daily study may only be fifteen minutes and that is great. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. As you look at different study methods start with an easy, short book, start with an interesting character or a favorite subject. It’s important to build up to the longer books and the deeper subjects.  

Check the recommended reading page for Bible study materials. If you don’t have a study Bible my first recommendation would be the Life Application Study Bible because of all the practical helps. As you look at the different study methods don’t rush through your book, chapter, or character study. Bible study is meant to go more in depth than your reading, allow it to go slow in the beginning and enjoy the learning process. The more efficient you become with different methods the quicker you will be able to spot the different key things in each.

I believe studying the Bible can be and is a very rewarding experience, you just have to find your niche and that’s what I want to help you do.

Walking in the Power of the Spirit

In this last post in our Pentecost series we will be talking about walking in the power of the Spirit. To talk about walking with the Spirit we need to first look at what Jesus said about the Spirit.

John 14:16 KJV “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever.

John 16:12-13 KJV “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he shall show you things to come.”

Understanding the Scriptures

When Jesus talked to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He never mentioned a supernatural prayer language, although that is important and is addressed in the New Testament, Jesus focused His attention on the Holy Spirit as our teacher.

It is little benefit to have a prayer language without understanding the Scripture. We wage our warfare, we pray, we receive, everything about our lives is based from our understanding of the Word of God. When we begin to read and study the most important thing we can do is invite our teacher the Holy Spirit to come instruct us.

1 John 2:20 and 27 HCSB “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.”

We can always count on the Holy Spirit to lead us on the right path, show us and correct error, and lead us away from false teachers. In order to walk in power and be witnesses we must first have a strong foundation in God’s Word and that is the first priority of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to teach us the truth of God’s Word.

Power to be a Witness   

Acts 1:8 KJV “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

If the disciples were known as the people who turned the world upside down, how much more could we with cars, planes, television, podcasts, social media and so many more avenues to quickly spread the gospel change our world for the better! Part of being baptized in the Spirit is being empowered, receiving a supernatural boldness to tell the story of Jesus and the goodness of God. Scripture says that it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance. When we allow ourselves to receive and walk in the boldness of the Holy Spirit we can see our world change for the better, one person at a time.

Praying in the Spirit

One thing that is commonly misunderstood is that the gift of tongues and praying in tongues is not the same thing. The gift of tongues is for the edification/encouragement of the body and requires an interpretation. Praying in tongues is personal and is between us and God.

When we pray in tongues the Spirit is praying through us. We have all been faced with or will be faced with a situation at some time that comes from nowhere and takes us completely by surprise to the point where we are at a loss for words when it comes to prayer. The Holy Spirit is there for us in those times. Romans 8:26-27 from the Wuest New Testament says, “And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know in an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings. Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.”   

Praying in the Spirit also builds up our faith. Jude verse twenty in the King James says, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,” We can build up our faith by praying in the Spirit! There are many types of prayer in Scripture but only one is connected to building your faith and that is praying in the Spirit.

We end where we began, the Word of God. Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God. If the Holy Spirits primary job is to teach us the Bible then it stands to reason that when we just begin to pray in the Spirit we are building ourselves up in the Word!

One Final Thought

A Rabbi was studying one day and found a connection between the Torah, Prophets and the Writings and fire danced around him. When he was challenged he responded, “I was only linking up the words of the Torah with one another and then the words of the Prophets, and the Prophets with the writings. And the words rejoiced as when they were delivered at Sinai, and they were as sweet as their original utterance. Were they not originally given in fire, in accordance with the text, ‘And the mountain was burning with fire?'”.

Could it be that the cloven tongues as of fire on the day of Pentecost is not the representation of the Spirit but of the Word. The wind was the Spirit and the fire was the Word. Could it be that when we allow Holy Spirit to teach us the Word will burn in our hearts and change our lives?

When we are filled with the Spirit we open ourselves up to deeper revelation, bigger boldness, and a more intimate prayer life. A Spirit filled life is a full life. If you have never been baptized in the Spirit ask the father to send Him. If you haven’t been refilled in a while ask to be refilled, the disciples were filled in Acts chapter two and refilled in chapter four, when we use power we need to be refilled. The ministry the Holy Spirit wants to have in and through our lives is powerful but we have to be open, we have to walk the path, hear the instruction, we have to ask. I encourage each of us to engage in conversation with our teacher daily and allow the prayer language of the Spirit to flow freely through us.  

Preparing to Receive Power

In the last two posts we have looked at the beginning of Pentecost and receiving and walking in new revelation from the Word. Today we will look at preparing and receiving the power of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  

Acts 1:4-8 KJV “ And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

The disciples were told to wait until they receive power, the old-timers of Pentecost called this tarrying or praying through, we have lost that in today’s church. I’ve grown up Pentecostal/charismatic and I’ve heard stories about this but I don’t think I have actually ever seen it in a service. I have heard stories of great prayer meetings where people were overcome by travail (a deep prayer) and prayer meetings lasted for hours. I have heard and read many stories but I am not seeing this in our Pentecostal churches (and by the way, no, I don’t handle snakes).

The General Overseer of the Church of God, Dr. Tim Hill at the Ministerial Intern Commissioning Service last weekend said, “Pentecost – put up or shut up”. This may sound in your face but his point was right on. If we claim to have power, this deeper experience with Holy Spirit, we should have something to show for it.

I believe we have lost our passion and our patience.   

Our passion has been replaced with routine and rutted services. Our patience has been reduced to we want to be out by 1:00pm and wanting to see people hurry out of the altars and moving to the closing prayer. I’m not saying every service needs to be wild and crazy, there are times when God wants to come down in his peace and dwell with us as we sit quietly (with no tongues to try and break the uncomfortable silence). True Pentecost is both still and moving; loud and quiet, concert prayer and personal prayer.

When I look back at my Pentecostal heritage I see founders who loved and taught the Word of God, I see people passionate and long in prayer time, I see people who had a heart for worship and lived empowered by the Spirit. True Pentecost is all these things. When  we look at the Scriptures and our heritage we see both instantaneous receiving of power and those who had to seek for it more than one time. I don’t believe this is because God was holding back or because the persons didn’t have the faith. If we are truly hungry for the infilling of the Spirit, as the old-timers we will tarry, we will pray through.

Like the disciples who were filled in Acts chapter two, they were refilled two chapters later. Some of us who were filled ten or forty years ago need to receive a fresh baptism. Ask Holy Spirit to give you the hunger, the desire, the passion you once had. Let us not look to our heritage as the good ole days but let us see it as an example and say their ceiling is our floor, we will see more salvations, more baptisms, more infillings, more churches built, more missionaries sent. Pentecost is not a onetime historical event, it started with Moses, it culminated in the giving of the Spirit and now we have the privilege of celebrating both the Word and power of God.

This Pentecost, let each of us read and receive new revelation in the Word, receive the baptism or a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Spirit is given freely to those who ask. Ask to be given the power to witness ask for your personal prayer language that builds your faith according to Jude twenty.

We are under the open window of heaven right now, today can be your receiving day, all you have to do is believe and take it – open your mouth and let a new language come out. Take the step and witness to someone, you have received boldness to witness! The Bible says we receive when we pray, now it is up to us to act on what we believe.

Resources on the baptism and ministry of the Holy Spirit can be found on the bookshelf.

The Freshness of God’s Word

Centuries ago Moses was given the Torah on Mount Sinai and every year since then the Jewish people have celebrated. That same day after the ascension of Jesus and His instruction for the disciples to wait for power, the Holy Spirit came.  The celebration of Shavuot and Pentecost are one and the same. Shavuot is the second of three appointed times on God’s calendar. Each year at the appointed time we get to receive the freshness of that event.

Today’s post is about receiving the freshness of God’s Word in our lives. Each feast has a purpose of causing us to remember and bring us up higher. We are familiar with the giving of the commandments in Exodus 20 but it was more than just the Ten Commandments, it was the entire Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). When we think of Jesus, we often think of Him in “New Testament” terms. Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, He fulfilled the law and did not come to destroy it but to fulfill it and show us how to live it. From the very beginning God has always been about a heart of obedience. God told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 10:16 to circumcise their hearts. Jesus said if we love Him that we will walk in obedience to Him. The Holy Spirit was sent when Pentecost was fully come so that we would be able to live out the teachings of God’s Word and be empowered to witness.

The day begins at sundown according to God’s time. It is customary for Jewish people to stay up all night studying the Torah and the next morning go to the Synagogue for prayer (this is the day fully come). At Pentecost the disciples would have been up all night studying the Bible before going to the Synagogue for morning prayers. If we will receive the fullness of Pentecost, includes a fresh perspective and understanding of the Scripture. We have always hear it said and it’s true, we can never reach the end of studying and understanding God’s Word.

If you have ever found yourself at a loss when it comes to getting in the Word, Shavuot is a Moedim, an appointed time, for you to connect with God’s Word and through the Holy Spirit teaching you, to gain fresh revelation during this feast.

Next Tuesday (May 30) set aside a few hours of your night to read and study the Bible. You can study alone or with friends. It is customary to read the book of Ruth because it takes place during harvest time and she converted to God’s ways. It is also customary to read the accounts of creation, the exodus, giving of the Torah as well as the first and last chapter of each book. This is probably a different form of study than most of us are used to but do it in faith believing to receive revelation and new insight because that is what this holiday is all about. As part of the celebration it is also tradition to eat cheesecake as you study because the promise land flows with milk and honey.

Each feast is an open window for different things, Shavuot is our open window to receive a deeper understanding of God’s Word and financial breakthrough. Take the next few days and ask Holy Spirit to show you what to read, if you’re needing a specific need met, find verses on that issue and believe God during this open window to meet that need. As Deuteronomy 16:16 says, we are not to come before the Lord empty handed during this time but to give according to the blessing on our life. Give your firstfruit offering and believe God for your harvest.

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