Misconceptions of Christmas
Every Christmas time around the world, people celebrate the Holidays for various reasons. Some people celebrate the Holiday, and yet they don't even want to hear about Jesus birth; while others are passionately convinced Christmas is all about Christ. Some of you may find this post a little shocking, but hear me out.
We all agree that commercialism has totally taken over “Christmas” as we once knew it. However, as much as Christians try to keep Jesus’ birth in Christmas, I have seen so many get absorbed into that same materialistic season and often times it leads them to “holiday” burnout and even into a carnal state of mind. I have been through many Christmas celebrations within the church where the seasons actually squelched the Spirit of God. Is that pleasing to God? Should a Christmas celebration cause God to not even move in our midst?
Let’s look at some truth here… The holiday we know today as “Christmas” was actually created by Catholics way back in early 300’s AD. Christmas was not even a part of the Apostolic Church. Did you know that Jesus was not even born on December 25th, but most likely in later summer to early fall during harvest season? Israel had snow in their day and there were sheep in the fields; so December 25th is wrong.
So, why do people who have apostolic truth get so absorbed into “the spirit of Christmas” and claim it is from God? By the very nature of “the spirit of Christmas” and what I have seen it do to so many people, I can tell you that God is not obligated to honor any of our Christmas celebrations.
So, should we celebrate Christmas? According to Romans 14, we have to make that conscious decision on our own. It isn’t sin to celebrate Christmas, as long as it doesn’t change us into carnal people or we get too absorbed into the holiday. I for one do not get into the celebration like most. I will gather with church and family to exchange gifts or to play musical instruments in a Christmas concert, but I don’t hold Christmas as a religious thing that God must honor. Do I believe in the birth of Christ! Absolutely… but I have Jesus in my heart all the time, and do not need a “Christmas” story to remind me why He came!
If I had my choice, I would rather skip the Christmas season to have a true anointed move of God with anointed preaching. I would rather keep my spirit and mind on God’s will through the season. As the apostle Paul stated…. Not all things are expedient for me, I will not be brought into bondage of anything.
Political Principalities Of The Air
With every election, what you really hear is differing views about world affairs, national issues, financial solutions and even a few "moral" issues. But, for the most part, it is always viewpoints from liberal or conservation parties.
What we don't really concentrate on, is the spiritual hierarchy and principalities of the powers that be. Those that know scripture will understand what I mean. However, for those who don't know, there are far more important things taking place in the spirit realm between liberal (Democrat) thinkers and conservative (Republican) thinkers.
Now, if you think in terms of what both parties stand for in a spiritual sense, you can tell which has more morals then the other. Conservatives often embrace godliness and strong morals that are biblically based. Then there are liberal thinkers who are more geared to humanism and less moral scruples. They tend to stand for issues that are mirrored after a liberal society that rejects God’s moral law.
So, basically, Politics are far more important concerning the moral direction our country than we think. We are not just choosing a Politcian, but an agent of the spiritual force that will rule for 4-8 year term. We often think of this in the terms of good versus evil. So, when you go to vote, be aware... that your vote effects the moral and spiritual direction of our country. Make your choice, the right choice!
Multi-Cultural Churches On The Rise In U.S.
Recently, in our local church we held a multi-cultural service that was geared towards some of our ethnic citizens. We had preaching with two interpreters (Spanish and French) and special music sung by Mexicans, Nigerians, Africans, Japanese and some others. In our particular church, more and more of these people have been coming to feel the presence of God.
What is so fascinating about all this is that we have mainly been a church made up of white Americans for over forty years. As we look over other U.S. Apostolic Churches that teach the Acts 2:38 message of salvation, we are seeing more and more of our churches with the same influx of citizens from other countries. It is kind of like the mission field is coming to us.
It is not for us to question as to why this is happening, but the U.S. needs a revival desperately and we can see God doing a great work in our churches. I for one am so happy about this for many reasons. God is no respecter of persons whether they are brown, black or white.
Scripture teaches us that in the latter times, God is going to have a harvest that is greater than the early reign of Pentecost. It is appearing, that since great harvesting of souls is taking place on the mission fields right now; we are starting to get a glimpse of the great work God is building in America. Can you image a world harvest where every continent of the world has multi-cultural revival!! It's MIND-BLOWING!
The Breast Feeding Debate
Some of you may not be aware of a trend that is creeping into the church; and that is the acceptance of publicly breast feeding without covering up. Although this is a controversial topic, I am not hesitant to express what principles of morality, modesty and sacredness applies. You will not find any scriptures against the actual act of breast feeding. God made women to breast feed... that is totally natural and acceptable to God.
Because breast feeding is natural and created by God, people assume that means God is okay with women breast feeding publicly while being exposed to passer-byes. Excuse me for being graphic, but God also created us to have sex, pee and to defecate. So, does that mean we can have sex in public with no cloths on?? Just because God made us to do certain body functions doesn't mean we can expose ourselves to the public.
As I address this subject, forget about what God made us to do and think about what God expects as far as modesty, being chaste and honoring God in holiness. When you can't find "thou shall not" scriptures on a subject, you then must lean on principles of scripture. Without getting into all kinds of text, think about modesty and holiness. A chaste women, with a pure motivation to please God is not going to expose herself for all the world to see. If it's wrong to expose herself when not breast feeding, then it is still wrong when she is breast feeding while exposing herself... it's not the baby needing nourishment that is the issue, it's modesty and a heart that wants to please God and honor God in holiness.
The Comforting Word From God
Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. (Psa 119:49-50)
It is a true fact; Living for God is not for the faint or weak in heart. You may have to stand all alone in things you believe. You may face dark trials that brings you to your knees. Sometimes, it just takes courage and grit to pray some things through.
However, we are not alone or without help! God knows we have to endure the things that the enemy tries to defeat us with. It is in special times of need that God will often speak a word or promise of encouragement. These words can sometimes come even when things are going good; it's almost like a word of prophecy for what lies ahead.
Then it comes... a STORM of major destruction (so the devil wants you to think). The wind blows and the sea rages... but, then in a quiet little corner, you remember that precious word from God. You hug your bible and with tears in your eyes, you look into heaven and thank God for the word he spoke. It gives you comfort in your time of affliction... it carries you through the raging wind. It is HIS WORD that brings hope! So, never forget that word that was given to you so long ago... you will need it someday!
Difference Between Holiness and Standards
A few years back, in most churches, there was some conflict over holiness, standards and legalism. I will not be getting into all the complexities of those debates. However, what I want to point out is that no matter what side of the fence you stand on the subject, the only thing that matters is that without holiness... no man shall see the Lord.
First, I want to briefly define what the 3 aspects I stated earlier really are.
1) Legalism: Is a system whereby man demands an adherence to a list of do's-don'ts to be saved... that isn't necessarily proven in scripture. The Scribes and Pharisees fall under this category. They demanded people to obey things not spoken by God.
2) Standards: Are a set of principles, do's-don'ts and convictions that are based on the Word of God. Even though standards can fall under the category of legalism; standards are actually God given convictions, based on scriptural principles that safe-guards one's salvation. It doesn’t get them saved, it keeps them from failing away.
3) Holiness: Means to be sanctified, set apart and to be holy. Holiness can only come from God and through the sanctification process. You can't keep standards or rules to become Holy. You must be holy first, then standards come into play.
To expound on what standards are, you have to understand that we don't keep standards to become holy, we become holy first, then God gives us convictions and principles to live by and to walk and behave as a holy person. The holy Ghost teaches us and cleanses us from worldliness, and then teaches us what to do and avoid to stay holy... that is what standards are.
Pray without ceasing. (1 Thes 5:17)
Over the years I have heard this verse preached many, many times. When spoken, it is often used in the context of "being in a constant mind-set of 'prayer' or communication with God; which I agree we should do. We need to be always talking and listening to Jesus at all times. However, in the context of this verse that is not what Paul is trying to convey.
We know Paul is not saying that you have to be on your knees 24 hours straight -- all the time. That is just not implied here. However, what Paul is really trying to convey is when a person gets into a spiritual prayer, especially travailing intercessory prayer, that we should not stop that prayer until God is done praying through us. Or don't stop that prayer until we "BREAKTHROUGH" the barrier we are trying to get through.
There is a big difference between "praying for" something and "breaking through" something. Spiritual praying is powerful and sometimes heavy on one’s spirit. But, when you are really needing a breakthrough, often we get right to the wall (obstacle) and sit against the wall and quit the prayer.
The Greek words “without ceasing” means; uninterruptedly. It means to pray UNTIL GOD GIVES YOU AN ANSWER… and don’t let anything stop or interrupt you from your purpose. Don’t be distracted, don’t quit right at the wall… use that spiritual prayer to BREAKTHROUGH the Wall!!!
The Gift of Pain?
Before a person comes to God, they often experience a lot pain and guilt from the effects of sin. Often times this will cause them to search for God. Then after coming to God they fall in love with Him and pledge their commitment to live for Him no matter what. After some joyous times with Him, God then begins to deal with that individual to cleanse them from things that needs to come out... this is how we become Holy.
However, during these times it becomes difficult and we begin questioning what God is doing in our lives. Sometimes we may even think about quitting. But, all things work for good to those who love and are called of God. Here is a basic example that kind of puts it in perspective...
The good thing about living in the "Spin Cycle" of life is that it pushes all the water (tears) and dirt (junk in our lives) out. Then we get to go into the dryer and endure the heat. Then we get pressed with an iron to get the wrinkles out. It's all part of God making us that beautiful spotless piece of garment with no wrinkles or blemishes!!
Why All The Fuss?
Recently in the news and on social media, we have seen a lot of fussing over the LGBTQ issue of transgender's going into the wrong restrooms and possibly molesting girls. While this is truly an issue, I am not surprised by the outcry... society cannot give-way to immoral behavior and it not affect other parts of society. But, that is the way the world (which is controlled by devils) operates; they have no fore-thought or common sense when it comes to moral issues. They think they are doing a good thing by allowing "everyone" to have rights, but fail to see the consequences of their decisions.
Anyone who knows anything about God's word or even has any moral fiber left in them, rightly knows that homosexuality, transgender switching and beastiality is an abominable sin in the sight of God. Although these sinful people have basic human rights as the rest of us, their sin shouldn't give them special rights above the rest of us. However, while the Christian world hurls their protest towards the issue... what is all the fuss about?
If you know anything about scripture, you know that fussing or protesting sinners doesn't work. You cannot reform a sinful world to obey God's law without them first finding God! We as Christians cannot seem to get this concept... we try to fix the abominable sins of society after the fact! We fuss to no avail because we as a church are lazy and not willing to do what scripture teaches us... and that is...
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Ch 7:14)
Until we change sinners hearts into godly hearts, we will never stop the unraveling of societies moral breakdown. It is really up to the church to find God and have a Holy Ghost harvest in this world. Fussing and protesting only takes away your time and energy, when it could be better spent on fasting, praying and humbling ourselves… we got it backwards!
What Attracts People to God
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:32)
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (Joh 13:34-35)
Often times the church puts forth great efforts to evangelize. We need to reach for lost and hurting people as often as we can; and even with our efforts, sometimes we don't get the response we look for. Even though there are many reasons as to why, let’s consider the most powerful force that attracts people; and that is LOVE!
Jesus gave us a key on how the world will know we are His disciples... and that is we love one another. What we need to understand is that the Lord is referring to godly, self-less motivated love... not just human love. A love that forgives, sacrifices and helps carry a burden for their brother and sister. When this kind of Love is felt and seen within the church, people will feel the powerful presence of the Lord in a way that emotions and music cannot convey.
The way to cultivate a Christ-like love is to give oneself to prayer, fasting and sacrifice by reaching out to help a brother and sister who is in need of some help. Scripture says we are not to love IN WORD, but we are to love IN DEED (1 John 3:18)... sincerely showing someone you care and forgive their trespasses will do far more than just preaching at people.
The Boiled Frog
Neither give place to the devil. (Eph 4:27)
The story is told of how a frog reacts to the water temp that it is placed in. If the water is hot, the frog will jump back out immediately. However, place the same frog in cool water and just warm it up slowly without the frog even knowing. Because the frog is unaware of the environment and the unseen danger that is coming, he will be slowly cooked without even detecting what has happened.
The cares of life, sin and the world can have the same slow, undetected danger of compromise. The enemy will take his time to slowly lull a person into a false security and not even know the enemy is slowly killing them spiritually.
The only way to combat the "spirit" of tolerance" the enemy tries to slowly put us asleep with, is consistently examine whether we are in the faith and have we changed our theological concepts and principles. Once we start giving place to false ideas, we become in danger of dying a slow death of compromise.
Jesus' Ministry Gives People A Future
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luk 4:18-19)
Often times wounds from the past such as; abuse, rape, condemenation, neglect, molestation or any thing that hurts the human heart has a way of keeping a person back from a hopeful future. Happiness and contentment are just a dream to most. People who find themselves with these wounds often cover them up with sinful vices that only temporaily sooths the pain.
Some often think that God is a religion of rules, however the greatest aspect of God and church life is the desire of Jesus towards people. Yes, God has commandments, but He has a big investment of Love to help people with inner wounds and personal captivity. The ministry of Jesus is still active today healling the inner pain of a broken heart, delivering those who are held captive by various things, healing of the blind (physically or spiritually) and giving liberty to those who are bruised from life's abuse.
When Jesus truly touches a life there is a change that takes place, a deliverance into a future of hope and joy. The things that held them captive now becomes a thing of the past. The loving ministry of Jesus is always stretching to hold and love a person. The only thing a hurting person has to do is just come to Him and give their life to Him... He does love you!