Seven Spirits of God

June 14, 2019

In no less than four places in the Book of Revelation there is a specific reference to the Seven Spirits of God.  Many interpretations have been put forth on the meaning of these references.  These references could simply mean the ‘perfection’ of God.  They have also been tied to the seven-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I guess because I’m not a theologian, and basically unschooled I could put forth my own interpretation, too.

With start with Paul the Apostle.  In the majority of Paul’s letters he begins with a greeting that includes blessings on the reader:

  • grace
  • mercy
  • peace

So, let’s start with those, as those things can only come to us through the Spirit of God.  That leaves us four more.  Well, Jesus gives reference to the promised Holy Spirit being a Comforter, and Teacher, so that gives us a total of five.  We need two more.  Well, there can be no doubt that Love has to be included, as God is Love.  Now, what do we do with the last one?

This one has caused me a great deal of thought and meditation.  Then it occurs to me that in addition to the promise of the Spirit by Christ to His disciples that He (Holy Spirit) would comfort and teach them, He also said He (Holy Spirit) would bring to their remembrance all things Jesus said and taught.  So, there we have it.  The seven-fold Spirit:

  1. grace
  2. mercy
  3. peace
  4. comforter
  5. teacher
  6. love
  7. remembrance or knowledge

I know – these are not the honored definitions, but they are my definitions, unlearned as they may be.

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Easy Answers

June 10, 2019

I try to keep these blog postings short, somewhere between 1,000-2,000 words.  Of course, this oversimplifies things, makes it appear there are easy answers to every problem.  I would never pretend there are easy answers to many of life’s situation.  In fact, if anything, there is a continual searching for answers to some of the things that happen around us, and to us.

Although purists would argue with me, there are simply many things that boggle our minds, and cause us to scratch our heads.  We know God is in control of everything, and that He is our source of knowledge, wisdom, comfort, healing, and salvation.  But, even this does not bring an answer to everything that comes our way.

But, on the other hand, maybe life is simple.  At least the important things.  We may not always have the answers to our finances, our family situations, our health, and a myriad of other things.  Maybe we are not supposed to have answers for those things.  Maybe the answers we need to have are much simpler than that.  Kindness, love, caring, sharing, helping the disadvantaged, encouraging the downtrodden, giving hope to the hopeless.  Those are some simple things, that are not terribly complicated.

All of that is fine, you say, but where is the payback?  How do I get rewarded?  What is in it for me?  I’m the one who needs help.  I’m the one who is in need of a friend.  I’m the one in financial distress.  I’m the one with the health issues.

Well, there’s an easy answer to that one, too.  God is your rewarder.  He will be the one who will repay.  He is the one keeping score.  He will reward you in this life, and in the life to come.

How big is the reward?  Well, it all depends on when you want it.  If you want your reward now, then it may be small.  If you are willing to wait until you are before Him the reward will be great.

Can you keep a secret?

Let me put it another way.  Those things you do that gain a reward here on earth already have been paid.  Those things you do for God that no one knows about, those will be rewarded in heaven.  Now, which ones do you think will be larger and more fulfilling?

Jesus put it this way, in Mathew 6:1-6

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Keeping It Simple

June 7, 2019

In our modern world things have gotten complicated.  Some advances in technology have tried to make life simpler, but in many ways they simply add to the overall complexity of living.

For example, our laws (federal, state, county, city) have continued to expand and consume thousands of pages, most of them beyond a normal person’s ability to comprehend or understand.

However, most, if not all, of our laws have as their foundation the original ten commandments handed to Moses on Mt Sinai.  Out of ten simple laws we have created a rats nest of thousands upon thousands of laws.  Why?

Well, because as human beings we understand that ten simple laws cannot cover all the complexities that life has to offer, so we must create additional ones.  This is only natural.

Jesus thought differently.  He could have easily added a few thousand laws to the many already created by the Jews since Moses’ time.  But, He didn’t.  In fact, He felt the right thing to do was go the other way and reduce the ten commandments down to just two:

  • Love God
  • Love your neighbor

Do these and everything will be fine.  But, is it really that simple?  And, how do the 10 commandments line up with these 2 commandments?  Actually, very well.  A careful study will reveal that 5 commandments deal with ‘Love your neighbor’, and the remaining 5 deal with ‘Love God’.  Paul describes the laws that deal with your neighbor in Romans 13:9-10

 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Ok, understood, that covers the 5 commandments that deal with loving our neighbor, but where does ‘honor thy mother and father’ fit into the mix.  That seems to be a law that is neither God centered, or neighbor centered.  But, you miss the point.  It does belong with the other 4 laws that deal with Loving God.

Look at it this way – the first authority figures we associated with is our mother and father.  In some way, as a child they are ‘God’ to us.  As we grow and mature that respect gets transferred to God, as our Heavenly Father.

So, it really is that simple….  not thousands of rules or laws, not even ten, just two.  Can you live with that?

God of the Non-Dead

May 22, 2019

I suppose I should have titled this, “God of the Living”.  But, if I did that then who would read it?  Something to think about…

Well, since you’ve come this far, how about coming a little bit farther.

In Luke Chapter 20 Jesus is having a discourse with the various Jewish group leaders.  In one section he is confronted by the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection.  To their way of thinking when a person is dead, that’s all there is.  Versus 37 and 38 of that chapter, the words of our Lord, are very telling and instructive:

“But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

This declaration confirms Jesus statement in John 11:26:

And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Now, we know that people do die, including the ones Jesus was talking to.  So, it is clear He is talking about something else.  Let’s go back to Luke 20:38, and the portion, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

So, let me see if I can set the record straight.  To God ALL are alive, there is no death to the believer.  There is a physical death of the body, but the individual lives on.  He is not the God of the dead.

We also see this confirmed when Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration, and who should appear with Jesus, but Elijah and Moses, individuals who were long dead, some 1,000 years and more.  But, they were alive and talking with Jesus.  Not only that, but the three disciples knew immediately who they were, even though none of them had ever met Moses or Elijah.  How is this possible?

It is clear there is an ‘awareness’ in the spiritual realm that does not exist in the physical realm in which we live right now.  You won’t have to be introduced to these individuals, but you will know them immediately.

Years ago, Evangelist Bob Harrington was asked the question, “Bro Harrington, do you think we will know each other in heaven?”  To which he replied, “I’d like to think we will as much sense there, as we have here.”

In one way or another we are all faced with stark and harsh reality of death.  It could be a friend, a loved one, a spouse, a child, or grandchild.  It will never be easy to take or deal with, but we can be encouraged to know, “He is not the God of the dead.”

Don’t Be Trivial

May 19, 2019

As I write blog postings this thought is always upmost in my mind.  By ‘trivial’ I mean self-serving, spouting witticisms, exploring my own theories, expounding on things I really know nothing about, that sort of thing.  We already have enough of that coming from TV evangelists, authors, and even pulpits.

Being ‘trivial’ also means to me that what I write needs to be inspired, if it is to do any lasting good.  You don’t really need my thoughts, my ideas, my opinions.  It would be better if they were truly inspired, and had the approval of God, Himself.  Is that possible?  Yes, I think it is.

The great mystery is the vessels He chooses to use to accomplish His work.  The vessels He uses are flawed, full of human frailty, and human weakness.  They are far from perfect, at least speaking for myself.  They don’t know everything, even if some pretend that they do.  They make mistakes.

But, God does not discard these less than perfect instruments.  He can use them if they are willing.  My wife has two sayings she uses to describe me, both of them true:

  1. He’s a ‘deep’ thinker
  2. He’s a tortured soul

Of course, number #1 has a lot to do with #2.  ‘Deep thinkers’ do tend to suffer more than most.  They ponder the imponderables.  They think about their lives in the larger context of eternity, not just the now.  And, truthfully, some of this thinking is not healthy or recommended.  But, it also allows me to present a different perspective on things that might be of some help to someone.  Thinking ‘differently’ is really something needed in our modern world, where conformity is rewarded and original thinking is mostly punished.

Although I’ve made postings on a variety of subjects and topics, I do have a general plan for its purpose and mission that runs throughout every posting I’ve ever made.  In summary, the mission of every posting is to convey these simple concepts:

  1. Life is not always as we would like it to be.  There are times when ‘smooth sailing’ seems to be far away.  But, you are not alone.
  2. We don’t need any more ‘sugar coated’ stories, as there already seems to be enough of those any which way you turn.
  3. God has a plan for us.  However, we may not always understand what that plan is, or where it is going.
  4. I do believe that there is also a ‘purpose’ to our life, but I also believe we may not always understand what that purpose is.  In fact, we may think we know God’s purpose and be wrong.
  5. Very little, if anything, happens by accident.  Even painful events in our life (and sometimes there are many) serve some purpose, but once again, we may not always understand that purpose.
  6. God understands a lot more of what we are dealing with – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, relationships, etc… than we give Him credit for.  And, He is there for us.  Yes, we may have to accept that on faith, which means we don’t see it, we don’t feel it, we can’t hold it in our hands.
  7. What we do and say probably has a more profound eternal impact then we can imagine.  Impact on us, and impact on others.
  8. People don’t like to be preached to.  No one wants to hear about how wrong some things are.  They already know that.  What they need to know is that there is a God who can listen and forgive, and allow us to start afresh.  We are not talking about second chances here, but third, fourth, fifth, etc.. chances.
  9. Love will ultimately conquer all things.  Love may appear to be weak, and may appear unable to overcome evil, but love will prevail.

 

I Want Everyone to Go

May 14, 2019

This posting is a bit different.  It’s emotional.  It’s spiritual.  It’s idealistic.

We are on a journey.  If you are reading this, you’re on a journey.  We may not always think about the future, or our ultimate destination.  We’ve got lives to live, problems to solve, bills to pay, chores to accomplish.  All of this is true.  But, we also have a destiny, a final destination.

There are as many ideas about where we will end up as their are people on the planet.  Some believe that what we have in this life is all there is, and when we die it is over.  Others believe that all people go to heaven.  Still others believe that if we do enough good works, we will go to heaven.

But, God has created a plan, and His plan includes you.  His plan is for you to spend eternity with Him in heaven.  He has already made the provisions for this to happen.  The ticket has been purchased, the price has been fully paid.  There is one catch – you have to redeem the ticket for yourself.  No one else can do this for you.  You cannot purchase this ticket, nor can you earn it.  It is the free gift of God.  This gift is wrapped up in His Son Jesus Christ.

So, how about the title of this posting?  Well, I don’t want just a few people to go.  I want everyone to go.  I want to take everyone with me, if that were possible.  But, I can’t make people go.  The choice is an individual one.  It is not complicated, and it doesn’t require reading a 45 page contract, with all the fine print.  It only requires you to accept Jesus as your Savior, to recognize His sacrifice as the forgiveness of your sins, and you are on your way.

Will everything be smooth sailing after you make your decision?  No, probably not.  But, the destination will be secure, unchangeable, unmovable, and magnificent.  In fact, according to Revelation it will be beautiful beyond human imagination.

No one can force you to make this choice.  I would like to say there are many ways to reach God and heaven, but the Bible makes it clear that God has only provided a Plan A.  No Plan B, Plan C, or alternates.  It is not a plan that was thought up by man, or by man’s imagination.  The plan was God’s alone.  It was not possible that man could redeem himself, so God sent His Son to redeem us, and pave the way for us to be in fellowship with Him.

If this sounds like a sermon, then you have missed the point.  The point is not to preach, but to persuade you to give God a chance.  After all, whether your journey has been easy or hard, we want it to end well, don’t we?

Which Doctor?

May 1, 2019

This is a purely hypothetical story, and bears no relation to any real situation.

You find yourself facing a medical procedure, and you have two doctors to choose from.  You decide to have a short discussion with each in the hopes of helping you make your decision.  For the sake of argument we simply call them Doctor Henry, and Doctor George.  Here are fragments from the conversation:

Me: Doc Henry tell me a bit about what you intend to do?

Doc Henry:  Well, to tell the truth, I have to admit I’m really concerned about my patients and the pain that any procedure might cause them.  It makes me a bit nervous to do any surgery, as I know the healing process could cause pain.

========================

Me: Doc George, tell me a bit about what you intend to do?

Doc George:  Well, we will get in there and take care of the problem as best as we can.  I’ve done this surgery hundreds of times, and the outcomes have been good, so I’m not worried.

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Doc Henry is obviously a compassionate doctor, and cares about his patients.  But, would you choose him to perform your procedure?  Or, would you choose the doctor that seems to be less compassionate, but more professional?

Why is this story important? [With all of my postings you should be asking yourself this question]

It’s important because we get so easily confused about what real compassion is.  We think ‘real’ compassion is the mushy, lovey, kind of thing, but we forget that sometimes the better choice is the one that is more down-to-earth and less touchy feely.  That real compassion is not always the easy choice or the one with less pain.  Sometimes the best choice is not always the obvious one, or the one of least resistance.  That sometimes compassion is really about being firm and decisive and not wishy washy.  Sometimes compassion, wrongly used, can cause us to endure more pain, than if we had made the tough decision to begin with.

Perhaps Proverbs 27:6 might fit in here somewhere:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

We see two contrasting things here.  What are the ‘wounds’ of a friend?  It is a friend that will tell you the truth, not to hurt you, but to help you.  What are the ‘kisses’ of an enemy?  They are the words of flattery, and praise, but are lies, that eventually cause hurt and destruction.

So, don’t be confused.  Learn to separate the good from the bad.  Do not accept all things by appearance or by its cover.  Do not discount those things that appear to be hurtful, but are actually good advice from a friend.  In brief, don’t be fooled, but be wise.

How Much Does it Matter?

April 28, 2019

Once in awhile we ask ourselves, “Does what I say and do really matter?”  This is actually a pretty complicated question.  We know, for example, much of life is routine – brushing our teeth, combing our hair, eating breakfast, talking to our family on the phone.  But, we also know there are significant events in our life – a new job, the loss of a family member or friend, a new addition to the family, etc…

So, to answer the question in the title requires that we sort out life’s activities and events and given them various degrees of importance.  But, there is a problem….

We are not very good at it.

This can best be illustrated by closely examining the earthly ministry of Jesus, and how the disciples reacted to what He said and did during that time.  To put it mildly, the disciples of Jesus were largely clueless as to what events were important and what events were simply routine.  They regularly misinterpreted the words and actions of Jesus.  The things they thought were important, were not really that important, and the things which they discounted as useless or unimportant, were actually very important.  How could they be so dumb?

But, hold it.  The disciples are simply mirrors of our own human existence and limitations.  They were no different than we are.  They were no smarter or dumber than we are.  They made no more mistakes than we do sometimes.

Truth is – we are not good judges of what is important and what is not important.  Oh yes, we can sometimes discern those big things pretty well – a wedding, a funeral, a meeting with a long-lost friend, family reunions, etc…  But, on many levels we are mostly clueless when it comes to determining what things in our life are important, and what are simply routine.

Can I prove this?  Well, I think I can.  When I recall the events of my life that were influenced by the words or actions of others, for the most part they were minor things at the time.  But, they meant something important to me.  So important that I have never forgot them, even after many years.  I’m certain that many of these events that are etched into my mind and memory, may not even be remembered by the other individuals, but they were important to me.  In other words, the things you say and do may seem to be routine to you, but are important to someone.  On the other hand, the important things you do or say, may be forgotten and relegated to the dustbin of history.

What does this mean?

I think it means we have to be careful in the things we say and do, not knowing if those things will turn out to be routine, or important.  And since we cannot always know which of these our words or actions will fall into, we must try and be on guard at all times.

It never hurts to:

  • Be kind
  • Encourage one another
  • Refrain from damaging or hurtful words
  • Be slow to anger

Not as if I’m any kind of expert in this effort.  I’m still stumbling along like the rest of you, but I’m trying….

Imperfect to Perfect

April 24, 2019

To anyone with half a brain it is clear we are far from perfect.  We make mistakes.  Sometimes we sin.  But, from the scriptures nothing imperfect will be allowed into heaven.  So, how is this going to work?  How can imperfect be made perfect?

The clues to this transformation is given to us in Revelation 7:9-14.

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There is a lot of material here, and I won’t hope to cover it here.  But focus on the last sentence “these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

There are a couple of key points here.  Why would one ‘wash’ their robes if they were already clean?  That’s right, they were not clean they were dirty.  Dirty with sin, with imperfections, with failures, with mistakes.  But, they will be washed and made white, which symbolizes purity, holiness, and righteousness.  How will this occur?  Can they be washed in water?  No.  They must be washed in the blood of the Lamb.  For it is the only cleanser powerful enough to remove the stain of sin.

The transformation is made complete by washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb.  Our imperfections, sin, mistakes, and short-comings are washed out, and all that is left is white.

There is one more point here.  Note, it says they washed their robes.  It is a personal thing, and something that each individual must do for themselves.  The blood is available, but it must be applied to the robe by the individual themselves.  This can only be done through repentance.

 

The Perfect Life

April 15, 2019

So, you are in perfect health.  You have no family or friends that need your constant care or attention.  You may not be rich, but you have everything life can offer, and are doing fine.

But, what about the rest?  While people do not have the same problems, and everyone’s life is different, there are generally challenges that everyone must face, and sometimes endure.  Sometimes they endure it for a season, and in others they endure for a lifetime.

Is this unfair?  Well, only God can answer that question.  Is it unequal?  Often, yes, it is.  Do the people that suffer deserve it?  Often, not.

Then, how do we make sense of it?  What makes the unendurable endurable?

For one – the idea of a ‘perfect life’ is a myth.  Money can’t buy it.  Position and fame can’t make it happen.  Perfect health is good, but it is not the only thing we have to deal with.

There is an answer.  It’s not an answer that eliminates problems or situations or distresses.  But, it is an answer that makes those things endurable and worthwhile.  The answer – a life dedicated to living for Christ and God the Father.  A life yielded to His master plan.  A life dedicated to fulfilling His perfect plan for us.

But, let’s not be fooled.  A life lived under God’s master plan may not be a bed of roses and luxury.  In fact, there may be many unpleasant and unwanted events.  This has been true from the beginning, and is true today.

Take the problem of pain.  Pain may come in many forms:

  1. Physical pain in the body
  2. Mental pain
  3. Emotional pain

Those are personal pains.  But, there are also pains we endure on the behalf of others.  Caregivers, and those who feel the pain of those they love are also sources of pain.  In fact, it is sometimes the case we would rather feel the pain ourselves than see our family or friends go through their own pain.

In general, there is little to be gained from these pain experiences.  But, there is an exception – when we are yielded to God’s master plan, then every experience of life becomes part of the plan, whether that experience is good or bad.  Of course, it is easy to see how good experiences help us, but a bit more challenging to understand how bad experiences are beneficial to us.  In fact, some experiences we may not fully understand in our lifetime here on this earth.

So, as far as this earthly existence is concerned, what is the ‘perfect life’?  It is a life yielded to Christ and Father God, and lived within His master plan for our life.  That, my friend, is as good as it gets.  In this plan it would be rare you would get everything you want or desire.  It would be rare you experience no pain, weariness, or fear.  It would be rare you experience no loss, grief, or sorrow.  But, it would still be the best possible plan for your life.

In this plan you cannot always do the things you want to do.  You cannot always take the simple and easy path.  You cannot side-step or ignore those things that are unpleasant.

But, where is the payoff?

There will be payoff in this life, and in the life to come.  You will receive benefits here, and more benefits later.  In many cases, you will be gathering ‘treasure’ that will only be revealed when you get to heaven.

Let us remember a few basic things:

  1. God will not do those things you are capable of doing for yourself
  2. You cannot do the things that only God, Himself, is capable of doing
  3. You and God are working together, to fulfill the plan for your life
  4. You need God’s guidance and help everyday of your life, not just when crisis comes
  5. We should position ourselves to be obedient to His guidance and instruction, and correction when it comes our way