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Halloween Part #4 – The Necromancy Symbols

With the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s look at part 4 of our 5 part series on Halloween:

  1. A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)
  2. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats
  3. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  4. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  5. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.(Isa 8:19-20)

Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. (Lev 19:31)

And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (Lev 20:26-27)

Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing. Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul. And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David: Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day. Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines. Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night. And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me. Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way. But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed. And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof: And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.(1Sa 28:7-25)

THE STUDY:

The History of The Necromancy (to prophesy using the dead) Symbols:

Séances – Attempts to communicate with dead spirits have taken place throughout history.  From rites performed among many ancient religions, to the Biblical account of King Saul consulting the witch at Endor (see below), to the Fix sisters claims of speaking to the dead through the first modern-day use of séances in 1848; the desire to speak to those who have died has been an ongoing pursuit.

The modern Spiritist movement began in 1848 by the Fox sisters of New York.  The sisters began hearing strange noises at night.  It was believed by the sisters that these noises came from a spirit dwelling in the home.  In response to a series of questions posed by the sisters, the spirit began to answer them using a series of knocks.  Interest in this phenomenon grew as word of the event spread.

In 1888, one of the sisters confessed that the entire series of events was staged.  According to her, the sisters had used joint cracking and apples dangling from strings to create the illusion of the sprit’s responses.  Later, the sister recanted her confession, however, most researchers believe that the confession of fraud was truthful.

It was through this series of allegedly fraudulent events that the popular use of modern séances was begun.  http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Séance

Ouija Boards – The first use of Ouija boards was thought to be in China in the 1100 BC.  It is recorded in the Chinese history under the tern “Fuji” or “pointer writing”.  Portions of the Chinese text “the Daozang” is claimed to have been written entirely through the use of the Fuji.

Patents for the modern day lettered board were filed in 1891.  The first board with the name “Ouija” was produced in 1901.  One of the creators claimed the name “Ouija” is Egyptian for “good luck”.  However, the more widely accepted translation for “Ouija” is “Yes”.  This board reached its peak of popularity in the early to mid 1900’s.

In both the Quija board and Séances, we have the attempt to speak to the spirits of dead humans in view.  This easily fits into the Halloween tradition of attempting to commune with, honor and pacify the dead spirits that roam the earth.

Is it possible to communicate with the dead?  Is the Lord pleased with attempts to communicate with the dead?  Let’s see what the Bible says…

In our texts, we have different aspects of communicating with the dead described by two different terms:

“them that have familiar spirits” –  Hebrew phrase “one that speaks in a jar”  “one that mumbles”

“wizards (that peep, and that mutter)” – Hebrew  phrase “a knowing one” “one that conjures”

As followers of the Lord, we are to seek counsel, wisdom and knowledge from our God not the dead:

“should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony:”

“And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”

We must always judge messangers based upon the Word of God.  If a messenger proclaims anything that does not align itself with God’s Word, they are to be recognized as lost individuals and unreliable messengers of God:

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

Please notice, that the Lord clearly condemns attempts to communicate with the dead:

“Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them”

This is a grave sin punishable by death according to the Old Testament law:

“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.”

The account of King Saul going into the witch at Endor is a very important event that we need to address in our study of “necromancy” (to prophesy using the dead)

Please read our text … 1 Samuel 28:7-25.

The two questions that we must answer about this account are:

1.  Was the spirit seen by the witch actually the prophet Samuel, or was it a demon masquerading as the prophet?

2.  If it was Samuel, does that mean that the Lord used a forbidden act (necromancy) to deliver His message to King Saul?

To answer these questions we must remember some basic, Biblical principles…

  1. King Saul received God’s punishment (death) due to this horrible sin he had committed (1Ch 10:13-14)
  2. Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us that He spoke to mankind using necromancy.  In times past, He spoke through His prophets and, later, His Son.  His Word is the only reliable record of the messages spoken by His prophets and Christ. (Hebrews 1:1-3).
  3. Nowhere does the Bible say that the Lord used the spirit of a dead man to speak to anyone. Likewise, the Bible does not say that we can speak to those who have died.  Conversely, the Bible indicates it is an impossible. (Luke 16:24-27)
  4. Satan is a very powerful deceiver, who can deceive the minds of men. (2 Thess 2:9-10)
  5. Based on our previous study on death (Halloween Part 2) we said that there is no intermediate dwelling place for dead spirits. They immediately enter into the eternal state, from which they cannot depart (Lk 16:25).
  6. Saints are said to be at rest and in glory with the Lord after their death.  It is hard to believe that they can be yanked out of their state of peace, at the whim of a medium.  (2 Cor 5:, Rev 6:11)
  7. If we say that Samuel actually appeared to Saul and delivered God’s message; in essence, we are saying that God refused to speak to Saul when Saul approached Him.  But, when Saul used an illicit method of communication, the Lord conceded and sent His message to Saul. (1 Sam 28:5-6, 28:15-21)
  8. Satan and his demons can masquerade as messengers of God with the hopes of deceiving the listeners. (2 Cor 11:14-15)
  9. Keep in mind, that Saul had not received any new information from “spirit Samuel”.  This being had only repeated the very same message that Saul had received previously from God. Compare 1 Samuel 15: with the message “spirit Samuel” spoke to him.
  10. The witch claimed that she saw “gods” ascending out of the earth.  This Heb word can speak of angels, or mighty ones.  What she actually saw were demons (fallen angels) who have access to this earth.  They were seen coming up out of the earth, just as the second demonic beast of Revelation came out of the earth as well (Rev 13:11)
  11. What had taken place was, following his breach with the Lord, Saul entered a state of being open to Satanic intervention.  Much like a “reprobate” described in Rom 1:21-32.

To summarize, the story of Saul and the witch of Endor is a story of a man, who, after willfully sinning against the Lord, is separated from God due to his sin.  Once separated from God, He continues on his downward path, falling deeper into sin by seeking counsel from the dead through the use of a medium.  At this point, Satan intervenes, sending a demonic messenger to Saul, in the hopes of deceiving Him into thinking he is communicating with a messenger from God.

Satan’s purpose? To further deceive Saul and mislead him into a further corrupting of the nation of Israel.  This is much like the role that Satan and his demons play in our society today…”Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1Timothy 4:1)

Think of the great deception that has followed due to this sin on the part of Saul… Not only was the witch, and Saul, deceived into thinking this was Samuel, but many people throughout the following generations, have tried to use this account to validate and legitimize necromancy.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

Once again, as before, let me ask each of us the question I asked at the beginning of our series… have we taken the time to prayerfully consider 1 Thess 5:21-22…“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

It is obvious that by participating in the holiday of Halloween in no way makes a Christian guilty of consulting with spirits.  However, is participating in the Halloween festival “abstaining from all appearance of evil”?  This is what each of us should prayerfully consider.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

There has been a recent surge in interest concerning the afterlife.  The entertainment industry has been fueling this flame with a release of many movies and TV series that deal with the subject of consulting with spirits and other issues of the occult.   As we have seen in our study, to get a proper understanding of the afterlife, we should consult the Scriptures alone.

The Bible makes it plain that, through the intervention of Christ into our lives graciously granting to us forgiveness and peace, we can be prepared to enter the afterlife.

Do you know that you are prepared for the afterlife? The Lord gives us clear teaching on the way of salvation:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (Joh 14:6)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:10-12)

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1Pe 3:18)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:1-2)

Turn from your sins and come before the Lord, and trust only in Him for your salvation.

If you would like further information about salvation please refer to the page on my blog entitled “How to have a relationship with God”.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Halloween Part #3 – The Sorcery Symbols

SIH STSTA ICONWith the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s look at part  3 of our 5 part series on Halloween:

A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)

  1. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats
  2. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  3. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  4. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.(Deu 18:10-12)

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.(2Ch 33:1-6)

If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.(Deu 17:2-5)

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (Exo 22:18)

THE STUDY:

The History of Black Cats, Witches, Spiders, Werewolves and Full Moons:

Black Cats & Witches – In ancient times, people believed that souls of the dead appeared as black cats.  The black cat was commonly used as an idol to worship the wiccan goddess Diana (the goddess of heaven and nature) There were some that believed that witches could change into black cats or that perhaps, they were reincarnated witches from a past lifetime. Others thought that cats were the “evil assistants” of witches who aided the witches in the casting of spells and other enchantments.

Witches were thought to have traveled on broomsticks to gather twice a year to honor and worship Satan (April 30 and Oct 31).

These beliefs made the witch and the black cat prime candidates to be included in the Halloween celebration.

http://www.suite101.com/content/black-cats-and-halloween-a162217

http://www.theholidayspot.com/halloween/witches.htm

 Spiders – It was believed that spiders hid in witches’ robes, and whispered instructions in witches’ ear. Also cobwebs are associated with places not frequented by life.  Cobwebs are signs of death and desertion.   Also many people share in the fear of spiders.  This all combines to a possible explanation why spiders have become a part of the Halloween festival.http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EPG/is_1998_Nov_1/ai_53101480/

Werewolves & Full Moons  – Werewolves come out at night with the full moon.  Full moons are also related to witches, who are said to come out and play during full moons.  Many aspects of Satan worship takes place under the light of full moons.  The full moon was also an astronomical representation for Diana, the wiccan goddess.  Full Moons were also believed to enhance the power of spells and enchantments. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/411347/halloween_moon_omens_a_look_at_whats.html

In many variations of the Werewolf legend, human beings had a spell cast upon them which resulted in them becoming werewolves. Te spells either come from Satan, or witches, desiring to use them to attack or kill others.  Also, it was believed that making a pact with the devil would give a human the ability to “shape shift” allowing them to transform into a werewolf. http://www.trueghosttales.com/werewolves.php

In all of the above Halloween symbols, a common thread is that of spells, enchantments, and acts of magic.  Again, lets ask the question, what does the Bible say about these things?

In our texts, and throughout the Bible, sorcery, witchcraft, or an enchanter or charmer was described as an “abomination” (disgusting and abhorred, something that must be put off).  In other words, the Lord says it disgusts Him, He is abhorred by it and cannot stand to have it near Him.

“…, or that useth divination,… or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, … or a wizard,… For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” (Deu 18:10-12)

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen,… he built altars for all the host of heaven … used enchantments, and used witchcraft, …and dealt with… wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.” (2Ch 33:1-6)

This was such a horrible sin, in Old Testament times, it was punishable by death…

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exo 22:18)

Also in our texts, the worship of the sun, moon or stars was an abomination punishable by death…

“…And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; … that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”  (Deu 17:2-5)

These heinous crimes, are emphasized, when we think of how kind, gracious and loving our Lord is.  For the Lord, in the Old Testament, to demand capital punishment in response to these sins, speaks volumes about the wickedness and dangerous nature of these actions.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

Do we feel uncomfortable about participating in a holiday that is so closely joined with these atrocious sins?  Although we all understand that taking part in the Halloween festival is not literally committing these sins, does it matter that these sins are symbolized by the holiday?

“….for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2Co 6:14-18)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

There are many who have dabbled in the occult religions.  The Lord made it plain that these sins are grave, serious sins that will bring about eternal punishment.  However, the Lord also made it plain that these sins, if repented of, will be forgiven through the work of Christ on the cross.

For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. (Psa 25:11)

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  (Isa 1:18)

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1Ti 1:12-16)

 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:19-21)

For more information on the forgiveness of God for our sins please refer to my blog page “How To Have A Relationship With God…. Forgiveness… Salvation

Halloween Part #2 – The Death Symbols

SIH STSTA ICONWith the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s look at part 2 of our series on Halloween:

  1. A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)
  2. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein Vampires, and Bats
  3. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  4. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  5. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2Co 5:1-11)

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecc 12:7)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Php 1:20-24)

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luk 23:42-43)

THE STUDY:

The History of Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats:

Skeletons & Ghosts – Both were reminders of the death and the afterlife.  Keep in mind, the central theme of the Samhain eve festival was to honor and pacify the souls of the dead who walked upon the earth.  (Please refer to Halloween Part #1 – The Celebration)   The skeleton and the idea of ghosts were the ideal symbols for death.  The skeleton refers to a dead body; while a ghost refers to the spirit after its departure from the body at the time of death.

Jack O Lantern – Based on a legend about Jack, a lazy drunken farmer, who had trapped Satan with the use of a cross.  In exchange for his release Satan agrees to never take Jack’s soul.  At his death, Jack, who couldn’t enter heaven due to his sinfulness, nor could he enter hell due to his agreement with Satan, is trapped forever wandering the earth looking for a resting place.  He uses a hollowed out turnip with a burning coal in it to light his way.  This turnip that gave forth light was gradually changed to a pumpkin over time.

In some societies, the lighted pumpkin face was symbolic of the god of the darkness, Samhain, who would turn away other weaker evil spirits.  The people would place these pumpkins on display to ward off the evil spirits.

For more information about the history of Jack O Lanterns please refer to:  http://www.history.com/topics/jack-olantern-history

Frankenstein – The story of the Frankenstein monster was presented in a book by Mary Shelley, “The Modern Prometheus” or “Frankenstein”.  The tale of “Frankenstein,” revolves around Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s attempt to assemble a human body from parts derived from various dead bodies that were obtained from a graveyard.  Once assembled, Frankenstein then successfully brings the body to life. Over time, the monster demands to have a mate created by the Doctor.  After a failed attempt to create the mate, the monster rebels against the doctor. Dr. Frankenstein is forced to destroy his own creation.

The basic idea of this book was derived from a dream of Mrs. Shelley in 1815. In this dream, Mary saw her dead daughter suspended over a fire, warmed, and then brought back to life.

It is plain to see how easily the Frankenstein monster fits into the Halloween scheme.  Once again, we have the story of one who was once dead, possessing life and walking upon the earth.

http://www.thingsinthebasement.com/index.php/site/comments/the_history_of_the_frankenstein_monster/

http://www.phobos-deimos.com/History/Frankenstein/Frankenstein%20History.htm

Bats & Vampires – According to legend the Vampires, also know as “the living dead”, came out at night to feed upon the blood of their victims.  They soon became associated with bats due to the vampire bat of South America that came out at night, drank blood of animals to survive.

Most historians believe that both of these then became associated with Halloween due to their nighttime activity and their association with evil and death.

Vampires were ideal characters for Halloween due to their status as the living dead.

Bats, became associated with Halloween from their activity in ancient times. The druids would build fires to offer sacrifices and worship their false gods.  These fires would attract insects, who in turn would attract bats who feed off of them.  With the bats flying and congregating over the fires, they soon became associated with the spirits of the dead who were seeking a resting place.

http://www.hauntedbay.com/history/bat.shtml

All four of these groups of Halloween symbols share a common thread… death and restless spirits wandering on the earth.

What does the Bible say about the spirits of dead men walking the earth?

In our texts, the Bible makes it plain, that once a spirit departs from it’s earthly house (human body), the spirit goes into it’s eternal state:

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:”

“To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Note: this was spoken by Christ to the thief on the cross moments before His death.

This is one of the greatest of all Christian desires… that once we are done being used of God on earth, He will take us to our eternal home….

“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:”

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope,”

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ;”

For those who are not saved, physical death and the accompanying entrance into the afterlife is a dreaded event.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;”

There is not a shred of Scripture that indicates that once a spirit leaves a body the spirit continues on in the earth, not entering it’s eternal state.  This teaching is made to order for Satan to mislead the lost into thinking that there is a way to escape eternal punishment for sins.   And yet, the Bible is clear…. All lost mankind will be punished eternally for the sins they have committed.

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” (Col 3:24-25)

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”(Rev 20:12-15)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

Can we honestly say that we “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22) when we participate in the Halloween festival?  Please prayerfully, consider this question.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Remember, the Bible is plain…. After death we all must face a final judgment, answering for what we have done in our lives.  There is no escaping this.  If you realize you have committed sin and desire for to live your life for Him, then turn to Him realizing you can do nothing to save yourself.

The Lord gives us clear teaching on the way of salvation:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (Joh 14:6)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:10-12)

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1Pe 3:18)

 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:1-2)

Turn from your sins and come before the Lord, and trust only in Him for your salvation.

If you would like further information about salvation please refer to the page on my blog entitled “How to have a relationship with God”.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Halloween Part #1 – The Celebration

With the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s begin our 5 part series on Halloween:

A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)

  1. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats
  2. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  3. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  4. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.(Eph 5:8-13)

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.(Rom 13:12-14)

THE STUDY:

A Brief History of Halloween:

The Celtic New Years Day, November 1st was set apart for the observance of the feast of Samhain. This day was set apart to worship Samhain the “lord of the dead” or “the lord of darkness”.

The evening before this celebration, the last day of the Celtic calendar (October 31st ) was set aside as a holiday to honor and pacify the dead.  The pagans believed that, on October 31st, dead souls and demons walked the streets at night on their way to the place of the dead.   During the celebration, costumes and masks were worn in the hopes of keeping away the evil spirits. They would leave gifts of food for these beings to insure peace with them for the coming year (modern-day “trick or treat”).

Bonfires also held a major role in the observance, with the burning of animal remains resulting in purification of sin and the preparation of entrance into a new year.

The Catholic church tried to “Christianize” this holiday by changing it name to “Hallows Eve” (the evening before All Saints Day a day set aside for the honoring of the Catholic saints.)

For further information about the history of Halloween please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween  and http://www.holidayinsights.com/halloween/samhain.htm

Many beliefs surrounding the Halloween celebration run contrary to Scripture…

  1. The worship of “the lord of darkness”
  2. the belief that the spirits of the dead roam the earth
  3. the presentation of offerings to the dead
  4. the purification of sin through animal sacrifices

All of these, plus many others, clearly go against the principles of Scripture.

If there was one word that best describes the Halloween celebration it is the word “darkness”.   Everything about the holiday centers on the occult, the dark forces of this world, and the darkness of spiritual blindness being clearly on display.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

Not only should we be aware of the history of Halloween, but also the principles laid out in the Scriptures that should apply to each of our lives.

In our two texts, in both cases, the basic principle is that a Christian is to be separated from the works of the darkness of this world…

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

let us therefore cast off the works of darkness”

Also, remember that we are to be completed separated from these works….

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light”

“For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”

“let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

Why are we to make certain we are not taking part in the works of darkness?…

Our testimony is at stake…

“now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

“(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”

The time is short before His coming…. We must reach the lost with our testimony…

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand:”

The level of our participation in the Halloween observances is between each Christian and his Lord.  We need to prayerfully consider the history of Halloween as well as the principles of the Word of God.  May the Lord lead and guide each of us as we continue our study of Halloween.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

What is necessary for your life, is to turn from your sin to Christ (repentance) and place your faith in Him as the only way of salvation.  You can do nothing to save yourself but the Lord Jesus Christ, came to the earth and died on the cross for the sins of His people.  He took upon Himself the punishment for sin, so those who look to Him will not be punished.

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.(Gal 1:3-5)

For more information on salvation. please feel free to click on the blog page entitled “How To Have A Relationship With God…. Forgiveness… Salvation” for much more information.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Who’s On First, Who’s In Space … or What did you say? (Part #2)

SIH STSTA ICONIn our previous study, we examined the Lord’s teachings on The Proper Preparation for Prayer. (Matt 6:5-8)  We will not begin looking at The Makeup of Our Prayers. (Matt 6:9-13)

THE SCRIPTURE:

And when thou prayest, … For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Mat 6:5-13)

THE STUDY:

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Please note the Lord never said to recite this prayer.  He makes this plain earlier in the context of this prayer. (Matt 6:7-8 – Please see Part #1 for a further explanation).

If we study the phrase “after this manner” we find that the Greek word for this phrase means “in this way” or “following this pattern”.  It does not mean to “use these words” or “repeat after me”.   He is giving us a “pattern” for us to follow as we pray.

As we pray we should express… 

#1 – Our Reverence Of Him

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

We need to recognize His greatness and express that greatness and what it means to us.  In this example Christ is centering on the Father’s greatness by expressing the need for His name to be treated as higher than all other names. “… Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. “  (Neh 9:5)

#2 – Our Desire For His Will To Be Done Above All Else

 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

These two phrases are simply repeating the same point twice:

“Thy kingdom come” – let your kingly rule take perfect control of all things.

“Thy will be done… heaven” – His will is being done perfectly in heaven… we are to desire the same here on earth.

 This has two implications as we pray…

First, we are to desire His will to be done in any issues we bring to Him.

We should follow the perfect example of Christ, who prayed as He sought for the crucifixtion to be taken from Him… “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. “ (Mat 26:39)

Secondly, we should be willing to do whatever He may reveal to us as we seek His guidance for our lives.

Again, we are to follow Christ’s perfect example for us… “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (Joh 4:34)

 #3 – Our Physical Needs

Give us this day our daily bread.

We are to bring all of our physical needs before Him;  our financial, health, and vocational needs, to name a few.

 #4 – Our Spiritual Needs

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

We are to bring before Him our need of forgiveness and our need to treat others as the Lord would treat us.   Repentance for known private, and public, sin in our lives should be dealt with during our prayers. Also, the need for others should be addressed in our prayers.

 #5 – His Leadership For Our Life

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

Acknowledge His sovereignty over all events in our lives and the activities of Satan and demons.  Especially, seek to avoid situations of temptations, relying on His leadership to detour us.

 #6 – Verbally Praise and Glorify Him

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Our prayer is to be made with God’s glory in mind.  Everything that a Christian does is to be done in faith, for God’s glory.  (Roms 14:23, Roms 11:36)  This is the main difference between the sinful moral acts of a lost man and the God pleasing acts of His saints. (Isa 64:6, Eph 2:2)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Prayer is not as complicated as we want to make it… it is simply, honestly, recognizing His greatness and then, by grace, speaking to Him by opening up ourselves and seeking to hear and follow His instructions.

Prayer should be more like approaching a King who is our brother or father.  Approach Him with reverence as God and King, but knowing He is sympathetic towards our every fault and need.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. “ (1Pe 5:6-7)

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Who’s On First, Who’s In Space … or What did you say? (Part #1)

SIH STSTA ICONAbbott and Costello, the legendary comedy team of the 40s and 50s, was the most famous comedy team of their time, and perhaps, of all time.  Their performance of “Who’s On First?” has passed the test of time, still being enjoyed by all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfmvkO5x6Ng  “Who’s on First” is an example of a failure to communicate clearly to others .

SETI, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, originating in the early sixties, is man’s attempt to communicate with aliens from another planet.  After almost 50 years of trying, SETI has, to date, yielded no proof of alien communication with earth, nor the existence of alien life.  It seems to be a serious waste of much needed capital, which could be used to fund many other fields of scientific exploration.  http://www.seti.org

How about the day to day communication that should take place between husband and wife? Most polls indicate that a failure in communication is one of the top three reasons why marriages end in divorce.   Here, a lack of communication causes a rupturing of the family unit and the breaking of marital vows.  This is an extremely serious problem that leads to the ruination of lives.

But there is one other type of communication failure that brings about even worse results… a person’s inability to communicate with Christ.  In the case of the unsaved, his communication ruptured by his sinful condition. (Isa 59:2) The only remedy to restore that communication is God’s forgiveness. (1 John 1:6-10)

However, the Christian can also experience a loss of communion with the Lord.  Christ presents a lesson on communion’s hindrances and remedies for those who are saved and seeking a closer walk with Him….

THE SCRIPTURE:

And when thou prayest, … For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

(Mat 6:5-13)

THE STUDY:

In Part #1 of our study we will be looking at Our Preparation For Prayer. (Matt 6:5-8)

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.

Here we find our Lord presenting to us five different principles…

Principle #1 –  We should prepare our hearts to be sincere in our prayers. We need to be SINCERE.   

The Greek word for “hypocrite” is a word that means “to play a role” or “ to be an actor on a stage”. Our prayer life we are not just putting on an act or going through the motions; trying to impress Him or others?  True, Scriptural prayer is entering into sincere communion with our Lord.

Principle #2 – We should enter into our communication with Him as a secret act between Him and us alone.  We need to be SELFLESS

Our heart prepared to meet with Him and Him alone.  This is done by confession of sin and thinking upon His Word.  Also we should have His Word open in front of us as we pray, awaiting to hear from Him during our communion time.  We should be ready to read His Word during this time, knowing He reveals His will for us through His Word.

Principle #3 – We should prepare our heart making sure our motive for prayer is not personal gain but humbling wanting to seek His face and then submit to the His revealed will for our lives. We need to be   SUBMITTED

As His will is revealed to us, we must have a heart prepared to follow His leadership.  As His will is revealed we should place any hindrances aside (no matter what the cost) and immediately seek to align ourselves with His desires.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Principle #4 – We should be desiring to communicate with the Lord not impress Him.  We need to be SEARCHING

The Lord does not desire for us to be repeating any prayer verbatim, including His model prayer in the following verses.  He desires sincere communication that is simply being transparent and speaking the truth from the heart.  Which would mean more to our spouse… having a friend of ours write a poem  of love that we could read , or for us to simply open our heart and proclaim our love in our own words?

 Principle #5 – We should be dwelling on His greatness, His knowledge of all things and His ability to change any circumstance if it is His will to do so.  We need to be SEEING

 As we enter into prayer our hearts should be filled with a knowledge of His greatness.  In prayer, we are coming before the Sovereign Lord of all.  We should be in awe and appreciation for His wanting to meet with us.  We should be joyful knowing He is the One who can truly meet every need in our life.  Nothing is too hard for Him.

As we pray, our heart should be:

Sincere

Selfless

Submitted

Searching

Seeing

In Part #2 of our study we will be looking at The Makeup of our Prayers. (Matt 6:9-13)

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

In God We Trust

The motto “In God We Trust” first appeared on US coins during the Civil War era.   Since that time, with only a few exceptions, the motto has continuously appeared on US government coins.  For a full, in-depth account of the motto’s history please refer to the following:

http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/currency/in-god-we-trust.shtml

Without a doubt, this motto has stood as a public testimony of our nation’s belief in the existence of God.   This motto is a part of our legacy as a nation… throughout history, our nation has sought out  God during it’s most troubling hours.   Despite the current attempts to remove this motto from our coinage, our historical reliance on God can never be denied.

The Bible talks about a nation’s need to trust in The Lord.  But in a much more personal context, the Bible repeated declares the necessity for an individual to place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only One who can save us from our sins.

THE SCRIPTURE:

And if ye call on the Father, … Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1Pe 1:17-21)

THE STUDY:

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

All mankind will stand before God the Father and be judged for the works that they have done during their life on earth.   (James 5:9, 1 Pet 4:5)   Knowing this, we are to take our time on earth very seriously.  We are to always have a reverence for the Lord, and His desires for us, so that we will not be found wanting at our judgment. (2 Cor 7:1, Hebs 12:28)

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

“Redeemed” is translated from a Greek word meaning “to be released from bondage through a payment”.

For those who are saved, we need to remember that we have been removed from the bondage of our sin through a payment much more precious than gold or silver.

This payment was not received through the empty pursuits of our previous lifestyle.  It was received as we turned from our past lifestyle of sin to Christ and His work. (Acts 26:17-20, Acts 14:15, Hebs 9:14)

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

The precious payment made was that of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He was the sinless Son of God who came to the earth and died on the cross for the sins of His people.  (Matt 20:28, Eph 1:7, Col 1:13-22, Rev 7:14)

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Christ’s earthly ministry and death on the cross was a part of God the Father’s sovereign plan from before the creation of the world. (Rom 16:25-26, Eph 1:4-14, Eph 3:11, Titus 1:2-3 ).  The fall of man, and man’s need of a Savior, did not come as a surprise to the Lord.  This is another display of His greatness…He is truly an all-knowing God. (Isa 45:21, Isa 46:10, Acts 15:18)

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

“believe” is translated from a Greek word that means “to entrust” “to commit to”

If we commit our sin, our life, and our eternity to Him…we receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal security through Christ.

It is through the work of Christ that we can receive the ability to believe in God (John 6:26-29, Eph 2:4-9, Mat 16:17, John 6:65)   This same God is the One that brought Christ from the dead and glorified Him at the Father’s right hand in heaven. (1 Cor 15:15, Acts 4:10, Acts 2:32-33, Phil 2:5-12)

Why did Christ die for us and grant us faith so that we could be saved?  So we could live our lives trusting in God and having hope for our future knowing we are saved and headed for a wonderful eternity in heaven.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

We should never undervalue the great price that was paid for our salvation.  Although our salvation was free it was by no means cheap.  Out of appreciation for His great sacrifice and price paid, we should be willingly serving Him.  Knowing we are bought with a great price.

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.(1Co 6:20)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

By committing yourself to Him (your sin, your life, your future), you will be forgiven of your sins and assured of an eternity with Christ.   Without trusting in Christ, the Bible makes it plain that you must face the eternal judgment for the sins you have committed.  The worst aspect of this judgment is being separated from God for an eternity, while receiving your punishment in the Lake of Fire.

God is sending an invitation to you through His Word to turn to Him, entrusting your life to Him, before it is too late.

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mar 1:14-15)

——————————————————————————————————————–To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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The Thinker

SIH STSTA ICON“The Thinker” is the name of a very widely recognized statue created by Auguste Rodin.  The thinker represents “a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle.”  (Quote from http://www.statue.com/the-thinker-statue.html)

Did you know that the Word of God encourages each of us to be this type of “thinker”?  Let’s take a moment to see what the Lord has to say …

THE SCRIPTURE:

Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.  (Hag 1:5-7)

THE STUDY:

In our text, the main thrust of these verses centers around the phrase “consider your ways” –

The word “consider” is a translation of a three-word Hebrew phrase:

1.   the first word of the phrase means “to consider, to examine, to give attention”;

2.   the second word carries with it the idea of “the heart, the innermost parts”;

3.   the third Hebrew word in our phrase is defined as “according to, because of”

The Hebrew word for “ways” is simply referring to the paths we have chosen to follow in our life.

If we put all of our ideas together we get this idea: the Lord is telling us to “to closely examine our hearts to understand the motives that drive our life choices.”   How important it is for us to simply ask the question, “Why do we do what we do?”

The Lord was speaking to members of Israel whose lives were exhibiting a lack of satisfaction and contentment, and the resulting loss of divine blessings.  He is instructing them to take time to ask the questions… “What is in your hearts that causes you to be never satisfied nor content?” and “What is taking place within you that is causing a lack of blessings to come your way?”

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Both for those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior, and for those who have never come to repentance and faith in Him… the need to examine our life’s motives cannot be underestimated.

For the Christian….

By examining our motives for our life choices, we can more easily see when our love for our Lord is beginning to grow cold.  When we love Him as we should, His will and desires for us will take preeminence in our decision making.

We will ALWAYS put Him first, when we love Him as we should.  (Deut 6:5-9, Matt 22:37-38)  Do we find ourselves putting others ahead of the Lord in our life’s decisions?  Someplace along life’s path, sin has slipped into our life and our love for Him has grown cold… (Matt 24:12)  It is our responsibility to come before Him asking for forgiveness and allow Him to restore a right heart… (1 John 1:8-10)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

By examining the driving forces behind your decision making, you will quickly come to a realization that the fulfillment of the desires of your flesh and mind are the driving forces in your life choices.  The Lord explains your condition in this way:

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”(Eph 2:2-3)

If you see yourself in this condition what must be done?  The Lord clearly reveals the answer to this question in the following verses:

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”(Eph 2:4-9)

In these verses, the two main points that are presented are:

#1 – Christ must intervene in your life and grant you spiritual life.  This can only be done through an act of God.  No man can merit, nor gain, this gift of spiritual life through any works he may perform.

#2 – It is imperative that one who is dead in their sins come to Christ in submission to Him, humbly recognizing they can do nothing to gain their own salvation.  A part of this submissive spirit is the willingness to turn their past sins, to trust Him with their entire life, and accept Him as Lord of their life.

Christ’s promise to each one who sincerely seeks Him….

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.  (Joh 6:35-40)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Eureka!, An Ideal City… With A Catch

SIH STSTA ICONEureka is a TV show currently being shown on the SyFy channel.  It’s unique plot line has made it my favorite show currently being aired. http://www.syfy.com/eureka/index.php  I would recommend it for all ages, it is an entertaining, and educational, family oriented show.  The show is about a city that was created by the US government to house all of the greatest thinkers of the day.   You have rocket scientists, brain surgeons, quantum physicists, all the best minds inhabiting one city.  You would think if there was one city that had all its problems handled it would be this one.  Because it is filled with geniuses, they should be able to handle any problem that comes their way.  The interesting thing is this… they actually create their own problems.  Many times, an individual scientist goes “rogue” and botches up an experiment that causes problems for the entire city.

And there is a real life lesson that can be learned from all of this…If a group is not unified in their goal… they are not unified at all.  How true this is in real life… and how true is it amongst many Christian groups today….

There is a clamoring for “unity” claiming the Bible teaches all Christian denominations (Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Brethren, Presbyterian, etc.)  should be unified in spite of doctrinal differences… this is called the “Ecumenical Movement”.

There is another movement called the “Interfaith Movement” that teaches that there should be unity between the different faiths of the world (Christian, Islam, Buddhist, Jewish, etc) to cooperate in promotion of better relations between each group. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecumenism

I would like to examine the Scriptures to see if that is really what the Bible teaches…. Should all religions unify in promoting spirituality, or, should all Christians unify in worship and service in the midst of doctrinal disagreements?

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (Joh 4:23-24)

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  (Mat 15:7-9)

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.  (Eph 4:11-16)

THE STUDY:

There can be no doubt that one of the main goals of Christ’s work on the cross was to create a unified body of believers; note these quotations…

“he should gather together in one” – Joh 11:51-53;

“that they also may be one in us… that they may be one, even as we are one…” Joh 17:20-23;

“for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross… Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” Eph 2:11-22)

Yes, undoubtedly, the Lord desires for His followers to be unified.  The question isn’t “Should we all be unified?”  The real question is “Can we unify without holding to the same set of beliefs?”

Our set of scripture references addresses this question. Note that our Lord gives the parameters for true, Godly worship to take place….

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (Joh 4:23-24) 

Here, He clearly states that a sincere spirit must be present with the truth of His Word for true worship to take place.  This is a real troublesome passage for those who believe that all denominations or religions should overlook their differences for the sake of unity.  The Lord clearly states that “the truth” must be sincerely held to for true worship to take place.

Let me give you two examples of truth versus error:

1.  Is it true that the Bible states that salvation can be found in Christ alone? (Act 4:10-12)

If so, every religion that exists, apart from Christianity, is teaching error.  Under this truth/error test can all religions gather and share in worship?

2.  Is it true that the Bible teaches salvation is by grace and through faith and not by the works of man? (Eph 2:7-9)

Again, let me ask… if this is the case, what about all the Christian denominations that mix works with salvation?  Can we all unite in the name of Christ and worship together when there is such great error being taught?

People are dying and going to hell by believing there is salvation in another besides Christ, or because they are relying on their good works to save themselves.  How can we be united in the promotion of error?  Folks, this should not be.

These are just two examples of many different MAJOR doctrinal issues that I could be presenting to outline the stark differences between the different religions and the different denominations.  The issue is clear… when an important doctrine (one that salvation hinges) is disagreed upon, there can be no unity in worship.

What would happen if we tried to unite?  Our second passage refers to this by stating….

 “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. “ (Mat 15:7-9) 

 This Scripture speaks for itself.  This is the end of all who choose to unite without a sincere belief in Biblical truth.

So what is the remedy for this?  Everyone must accept the truth first, and then, unite for the cause of Christ.  How do we do this?  Here’s where our third Scripture reference comes in….

 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”  (Eph 4:11-16)

We are to learn from Godly men who are proclaiming the truths of His Word.  As we learn we will come together in doctrinal unity, unified around the Word and not around the teachings of man.  This is God’s way of unification.  This is the type of unity that pleases our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The next obvious question is this… How can we know who is a teacher of truth and not a teacher of error?

We are to live like the Bereans…

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. (Act 17:10-12)

By searching the Scriptures in our own personal studies, to affirm what is taught to us by men, the Holy Spirit will lead us to teachers of the truth… This is our responsibility.  To compare what our teachers are saying with what the Word says.  This is the only way we can discern truth from error.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Any true Christian, when confronted with the truth of His Word, would choose to worship in “spirit and truth” as compared to worshipping the Lord in vain… this is the simple choice that is at hand for us all.

Will we take a stand for the truth and unite with other Bible believing and proclaiming Christians for the cause of Christ… or will we unite with all “religious people” and get unity for unity’s sake??  I’m afraid today, for the sake of numbers of followers, many are compromising the truth for the sake of acceptance and promotion among other groups.  Shame on us.  May the Lord be merciful to us as sinners.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Go To The Light… and it ain’t the Ghost Whisperer Talkin!

SIH STSTA ICON

Anyone who has watched the TV show Ghost Whisperer, has heard the phrase “Go to the light” at least two to three times an episode.  (see more about this here… http://www.youtube.com/show?p=yaJn4TCMqCQ&s=5&clips=1)

Why does she tell them to “Go to the light”?  According to the show, it is because it is only “in the light” that those who have died can find final peace, forgiveness and the resulting rest in the afterlife.  In the series, however, it is never clearly explained what “the light” is.

Similarly, in the modern day “near death experience”, going to a light, or seeing a bright light during an out of body experience is commonplace.  These accounts do not include any explanation of this light with few, if any exceptions.

I’m not going to look at the Scriptural implications of the “going to the light” idea, or all the events that make up a “near death experience;” that is for another day and time.  But, I would like to look at the Bible’s teachings on a “light” that will give us forgiveness, peace, and rest; in this life and in the afterlife as well…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  (Joh 8:12)

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (Joh 9:5)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Mat 5:15-16)

THE STUDY:

John 8:12:

Christ describes Himself as “the Light of the World”.  He then goes on to explain why He possesses that title.  He says that “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  In other words, if we are a follower of Christ, we will not be spiritually blind any longer, but He will open our blinded eyes, allowing us to be understanding of His words and in receipt of spiritual life now and throughout eternity.

John 9:5:

Christ makes it plain that He will be the Light of the World as long as He is present in this world.  But what then?…..

Matthew 5:15-16:

In the context, Christ is speaking to those who have placed their trust in Him as Lord and Savior, and are now followers of Him.   He says that, in His absence from the earth, we are now the Light of the World, shining forth His Word as a candle shines forth its light.  How do we shine forth that light?  Through our words and our works we reflect the light of Christ to this world, which results in His Father being glorified.

The above picture was painted by my wonderful wife, Eva Barkman.  Her picture of a lighthouse can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who shines forth for all to see.  Her description reflects that thought….. “A lighthouse always reminds me of our great Lord, who is the light of the world to all who will see Him (the saved).  When things get dark and depressing, it’s a blessing to have the one true light of Jesus Christ to guide your way.”

(My thanks to Eva for allowing me to use her picture in this posting… Also the “Settled In Heaven” banner at the top of this page is a combination of her “Calvary” painting and her digital captioning.

If you would like a blessing… visit her website for more of her paintings and their Scriptural applications…. http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com/ )

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved, is your life reflecting Christ to the world?  Or, I could ask the same question in a different way…. When someone looks at our life, do they see Christ?  That’s what being a witness for Christ is all about.  By bearing the fruits of the Spirit (Gals 5:22-23, Eph 5:8), we are letting our light shine in the world.   This light then reveals Christ and glorifies the Father in the eyes of all those around us.

Stop and think about it…if we do not reflect the light of Christ into this world, who will?  Since Christ is now no longer physically in this world, it is an ABSOLUTE necessity that we reflect His light, and shine it forth in the midst of a sin darkened world. (Acts 13:47, 1 Ptr 2:9)

Do we have a loved one whose spiritual condition is a burden to us?  Have you been praying for an acquaintance to come to a saving relationship with Christ?  If you answered “yes” to either of these questions then my next question to you is this… Are you displaying Christ’s light to them through your words and actions?   You can do this by telling them what Christ has done for you; then, live a life before them that honors the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   There is no stronger witness than to have a Godly life supporting the Godly message we are delivering… this is our Lord’s way to be an effective witness for Him.

I know in today’s time we have all the “modern” ways of evangelizing the lost around us. All I can say is this…. Our Lord’s way of evangelizing is the ONLY way to be an effective witness for Him…. He made that way clear by telling us to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. To depart from this is to depart from the will and ways of our Father in heaven.

For those who have never been saved, “Go to the light”!   Not the way the ghost whisperer means it… but, in the way the Bible means it.  We are to experience His gracious intervention in our life, abhor our sin, fall at His feet and humbly seek the salvation only He can give.  (2 Cor 4:6, Eph 5:14)

(For much more information on this subject please read, with an opened Bible, the blog page entitled “salvation”.  On this page you will find various blog entries dealing totally with salvation.)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Are We Lost In Space? Or Maybe Lost On Earth?

SIH STSTA ICONWhen I was a kid, I used to LOVE watching the TV series “Lost In Space’, it is still one of my favorite TV shows of all time.  It’s all about the Robinson family of space explorers who are thrown off course and become lost in space (get it…. that’s where they get the name! yuk yuk)  Anyhow, the series is about this family traveling from one planet to the next always looking for a way back to earth.

YouTube has many clips of the show (here’s one example … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP-s3OqCGhA) Also, you can watch the entire series at http://www.fancast.com/tv/Lost-in-Space/)   I would heartily recommend this show for wholesome family viewing.

The thing about the Robinson family was that they knew where they wanted to go, but they didn’t know how to get there.  I am afraid that this is the situation that many of us are experiencing in our lives today.  We desire peace, lasting joy, a sense of belonging, a sense of accomplishment, assurance of our destiny in the after life… the list goes on and on.  We know what we want but, sadly, many of us don’t know how to attain it.  We turn to many different worldly sources of advice to give us guidance in fulfilling our desires, but to no avail.  Nothing this side of heaven gives us the peace, joy and satisfaction and assurance that we so greatly desire.

If it were not for God’s grace, none of us would have the know-how or the ability to attain any of these goals.   But, thanks to Him, the realization of our goals becomes possible through His Word and His divine intervention in our lives.

Let’s see what God’s Word says….

THE SCRIPTURE:

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1Co 1:27-31)

THE STUDY:

Lets quickly notice in our first set of verses:

1. The Lord makes it plain we should not be surprised at the world’s inability to give satisfaction and peace to man.  (vs 27-29)

2. The result of the world’s inability to satisfy is described in the phrase “That no flesh should glory in his presence”. (vs 29)  In other words, no earthly human being can stand up and say “I can give you true peace, joy and satisfaction, come follow me and I will fulfill all your desires.”  No human can supply to us our life’s needs.

3. The source of true peace and satisfaction and our eternal security is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.  If we have a personal relationship with Christ, His Spirit indwells us.  The Spirit, in turn gives us an understanding of His Word and supplies guidance to us as we live our day to day life on earth.  It is through Christ, and His Spirit, that we can find true spiritual satisfaction and security.  (vs. 30-31)

4.  The Godly basis of our life’s satisfaction and security is described by four terms:

A. wisdom –  Godly wisdom is the ability to take God’s Word and apply it to the decision we make in life.  This is the wisdom that enables us to make choices that honor God and lead a life that is honest,  and kind towards man.  Possessing this wisdom gives us confidence knowing that our life is pleasing to God and man.

B. righteousness –  Godly righteousness is being “lawful” in the eyes of God and also man.  To be righteous means to have peace within knowing our Lord has forgiven us of our sins and that we have  His innocence placed on our account.  Possessing His righteousness also means that we are now living lives that are just and fair to others around us.

C. sanctification – Godly sanctification results in us being “set-apart’ for God’s use.  It places us in His family of believers, and takes us out of the dominion of sin.  Sanctification also aids us as we submit to His will and resist temptation.

D. redemption – Godly redemption results in us being “purchased” through the death of Christ on the cross.  His redemption placed on our account tells us we are loved by God, the price for our sins has been paid, and we are eternally secure in Him.

By knowing the Lord has intervened in our lives in all 4 ways gives us the peace, joy and satisfaction we so greatly desire.

The above picture by Paul Cheng illustrates the stark difference between a life lived with Christ and a life lived without Him.

Paul’s description is a great summary of our need to be sure we have been saved…  “As you can see, only in the cross there is life but outside there is no life. It is symbolically a parallel universe where our spiritual destiny is determined by our choice to believe in Jesus or not today (John 3:16).”

(You can see more of Paul’s wonderful art at his website:  http://www.certaintyofdrawings.blogspot.com/  Take a look at Paul’s work… it will be a great blessing to you.  Also my thanks to Paul for allowing me to use his work on this blog posting.  It is greatly appreciated.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved, let’s be sure to praise and honor the One who has made our life complete.  It is only through Christ and His work that we can truly lead fulfilled, contented lives.

For those who are not saved, if you have begun to see the great void that exists in your life, look to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him to intervene, save you from your sins, and fulfill your desires for peace, love and security.  It is only then that you will be able to live your life to it’s fullest.

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If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Oh, How Good It Looks… Oh, How Bad It Is For You

SIH STSTA ICONOne of my weaknesses is my desire for a cheeseburger.  I love cheeseburgers…. Burger King Whoppers with cheese to be exact.  But actually, how can anyone find fault with me?  Just take a look at this Burger King Whopper commercial…. (be forewarned, I don’t know how anyone can resist this!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pltp_xNrego

After having a mild heart attack about 5 years ago, it is for my good that I don’t make a habit of eating these babies.  It seems as if ever since I was told to “lay off the Whoppers” that I have only wanted them more.  We have all experienced something like this… temptation is universal, everyone has experienced it at one time or another.

Sadly, this universal experience is one of the greatest hindrances we face to living a faithful, obedient Christian life.  Why does temptation make such an impact in a Christian’s life?  How can we overcome such a strong influence?  Let’s see what the Bible has to say about temptation…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1Jn 2:15-17)

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Gen 3:6)

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Mat 4:1-11)

THE STUDY:

1 John 2:15-17

Here, we find the three basic areas of attack that temptation takes… the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  These are the three types of sinful desires we all have within us.  These are the areas that temptation appeals to and to which we submit, producing sin in our lives. (James 1:13-15)

Genesis 3:6

Here, we read of the very first temptation of mankind.  Note the three areas attacked by Satan during his temptation of man:

the tree was good for food” (lust of the flesh);

it was pleasant to the eyes” (lust of the eyes);

a tree to be desired to make one wise” (the pride of life).

This is a consistent pattern throughout the Scriptures.  Every temptation that is enacted upon man is aimed at one (or more) of these three types of sinful desires we all possess.

Matt 4:1-11

In this account, we have the temptation of Christ brought into view. Notice that, again, temptation’s attack is in a three-fold direction:

command that these stones be made bread” – Christ’s hunger after His fasting (this would have appealed to His desires of the flesh)

If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:… lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” – By doing this, Christ would be proving to everyone His divine origin (this would have appealed to His desire to exalt Himself or His pride of life)

The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, …if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – This was appealing to the sight of all the kingdoms of the world.  (By doing this the temptation involved the desires of His eyes)

In each case, a similar area of Christ’s life was being attacked (just like in the other two examples we looked at.)  However, in the case of Christ, we have a perfectly sinless response to these temptations.  Why?  Christ’s did not have a sinful nature that fallen mankind possesses.  This is one reason why Christ was perfectly able to resist these temptations.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

For our benefit, Christ clearly displayed the method in which to overcome any temptation that we may face.  Please notice, in each of the three attacks by Satan, the Lord used the Word of God to gain the victory over Satan.   “It is written”, “it is written”, “it is written”; was Christ’s constant refrain.

In each case Satan lied (John 8:44), in each case Christ refuted the lie by going to the source of all truth, God’s Word.

Satan can use our friends, our family, even our experiences to lie to us.  The only sure source of truth we can rely on is the Word of God.  If anything in our life leads us contrary to Scripture, we must put it aside, and follow the Scripture exclusively.

The example of Christ, once again, speaks to us concerning the importance of Bible study and memorization for the Christian.  It is truly the only offensive weapon we have to deflect Satan’s attacks against us. (Eph 6:14-17)

Another lesson from Christ’s example is the need to take special care when we see a weakness in any of these three areas in our life.  We should be constantly striving for control of our pride, control of our eyes and control of our fleshly desires.  When these begin to dominate us, we are headed for defeat.

For those who have never submitted to the Lord…

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jas 1:13-15)

Without the forgiveness of Christ, spiritual, eternal death is the end result of temptations workings in mankind.  The only remedy for this is to look to Christ, the life-giver, who gave Himself on the cross so that we might share eternal life with Him. (2 Tim 1:8-10)

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If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

There’s A Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On!

SIH STSTA ICON

Author’s Note:

Over the Labor Day weekend, Christchurch New Zealand suffered a 7.1 earthquake. By God’s grace there were no fatalities and only a few minor injuries. (Please be in prayer for the people of Christchurch concerning the expected aftershocks.)  It light of this event, I thought it was the right time to post this to my blog. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/04/new-zealand-earthquake-curfew

Jerry Lee Lewis had it right, even though he didn’t know it when he sang” “there is a whole lotta shakin goin on” (his 1957 hit song – You can see him performing the song at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yRdDnrB5kM)

Back then he had no idea his song would apply to the age we are living in.  In today’s time, there is increasing number of earthquakes rocking the globe.  In the above chart, you can easily see that there has been a definite increase in reported earthquake activity over the past 18 years. (Above is a chart that clearly shows the increase in the number of earthquakes taking place over the past 18 years….  You can see the raw data that this chart was derived from at the USGS.gov website.  Please use the following links to see the data:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/year/info_1990s.php

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/year/eqstats.php

Please note the data they have for 2009 and 2010 is incomplete and not included on the chart)

Some scientists look at the data and have come to the conclusion that climate change is the culprit in this issue.  They claim that, until climate change (they used to call it global warming until our environment started to cool) is in check, we can expect the number of earthquakes to continue to increase.  I do not doubt the earthquake rate is increasing…. But I question the cause in their “theory”.

Then there are other scientists, on the other side of the issue, that say that there really is no increase in earthquake activity but simply an increase in the number of seismographs worldwide.  Their reasoning is that what is happening is that there are simply more earthquakes being reported due to the increase in number of measuring devices.  In actuality, they say, the number of earthquakes has not increased.  I believe, they are denying the obvious.

So what is going on with all these earthquakes?  Does the Bible even mention them or explain what is going on?  Let’s see what we can find in our study today….

THE SCRIPTURE:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Rom 8:18-25)

THE STUDY:

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, not only was mankind affected; but, so too, all of earthly creation.  This is the meaning of the phrases “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly” and “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” found in our Rom 8: text.

This principle is a pretty easy one for us to grasp.  When man committed sin in the garden, not only did it affect mankind, but it also affected nature.  Where once you had peace between all animals, you now have animals feeding on one another.  Where once you had animals that were in perfect submission to man, you now have animals that are wild, not easily tamed and dangerous to mankind.  Where there used to be no weeds or thistles to harm our crops, you now have them spring up all over the place making an added burden upon man to keep them under control.   The cataclysmic change in weather following the flood of Noah’s day is directly attributed to the sinfulness of mankind.  (Gen 6:5-8)  In these, and in many other ways, nature has changed due to sin.

As we continue on in our text, we find that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”  (To “groan” has the idea of the noise founded in grief due to great loss.  The earth, just as mankind, lost much due to the fall. To “travail” means birth pains.  It implies increasing frequency and intensity as time progresses.)

To rephrase our verse… now that creation has fallen with man, creation is slowly decaying and wasting away waiting to be purified for the 2nd coming of Christ (Rev 19:11-Rev 20:5) and then reborn as the new heavens and earth for eternity (2 Pet 3:10-13, Rev 20:12-Rev 21:5)

One result of the earth’s decaying and wasting away are the increasing earthquakes we are experiencing in today’s time. The Lord speaks of earthquakes in connection with the signs of the last days several times in Scripture (Rev 11:13, 11:19, 16:18, Zech 14:5, Matt 24:7 etc.)

As these earthquakes take place, they are a solemn reminder of sin’s affects on the earth and the coming end of the world, as promised in the Scriptures.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved the earthquakes should awaken within us the urgency of spreading the good news of Christ to a lost world.  The earthquakes are one proof that mankind truly is fallen and in need of salvation, but it also causes us to reflect on the end of this sinful world and the restoration that the Lord has so graciously promised.

When I think of these things, Romans 13:11-14 comes to mind:

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

For those who have never experienced the saving grace of God in your life.  Allow these earthquakes, and their significance, to motivate you to seek the Lord before it is too late.  There is no question of mankind’s need of salvation… the Bible is so very clear about this (Rom 3:9,19,23, 5:12, 11:32, Gals 3:22 Etc.)   But also, the earthquakes remind us that time is short… we should not delay coming to Christ in submission, placing our spiritual life in His hands, by faith.   The Word makes this urgency clear…

“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Co 6:2)

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer 8:20)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Christians Labor Day

SIH STSTA ICONThe US holiday we commonly call “Labor Day” was “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”   (The History of Labor Day”, US Gvt DOL website – http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm)  In times past, Labor Day was commonly referred to as the “working man’s holiday”.  Specifically set aside in appreciation for the hard work of the American citizen (especially members of the Labor Unions).

Speaking for myself, I always look forward to Labor Day, enjoying an additional paid day off work and much needed time with my family.  But as much as I enjoy the US Labor Day celebration, there is a much greater Labor Day in the future for those of us that are servants of the Lord.  Let’s take a few minutes and learn more about the eternal Labor Day that the Lord has so graciously promised to us.

THE SCRIPTURE:

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.  (Rev 14:13)

THE STUDY:

Here in Rev 14:13 we find one of many references to the eternal rest that the Lord has promised to those who serve Him.  Please note the four basic principles concerning this rest:

Principle #1 – “Blessed” This eternal rest we receive is a great blessing from the Lord. It not only is a reward for faithfulness but also a great encouragement as we serve the Lord on earth.   What a great blessing it is to know that we someday will enjoy eternal rest with Christ!

Principle #2 – “the dead which die in the Lord” We enter this eternal rest at the completion of our course here on earth.  Keep in mind, all who are servants of Jesus will enter into that rest, whether when we die or when He comes back to take us home at His second coming.

Why do we not rest from our labors while we are still on the earth?  The Lord clearly explains to us that “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”   There is so much work left to do here on earth… now is not the time for rest…. It is the time for service!

Principle #3 – “they may rest from their labors” When the servant’s work on earth is completed, he enters into a very wonderful special type of rest… this rest is described in detail in Rev 21:3-4;  It involves a rest from pain, sorrow, and physical suffering.  But also, the Christian will no longer have to struggle against sinful flesh, but will now be able to worship the Lord in sinless freedom (Rev 22:3-5; Rom 8:21; ”glorious liberty of children of God”)

Principle #4 – “their works do follow them”  What a tremendous blessing! Just to know that when we serve the Lord on earth, our labors are remembered into eternity.  The rewarding of the faithful servant of the Lord is a central, widespread theme throughout God’s Word. (2 Tim 4:7-8; Heb 6:10-11)

Keep in mind, the rewards we will receive in heaven will have a wonderful significance.  The rewards are not given to faithful Christians to bring praise to the Christian.  Keep in mind, any service we have rendered to the Lord is entirely by His grace.  Our health, our physical life, our understanding of Scripture, our salvation, EVERYTHING having to do with our service to Him is a gift from Him.   This is why when we receive our rewards for service we lay them back down at His feet. (Rev 4:10-11)  It is our way of saying “If it was not for you Lord, we never could have served You”.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

On this Labor Day weekend, let’s take a few minutes to give thanks to the Lord for His laborers that are faithfully working the fields that are “white unto the harvest”.  Give your pastor, missionary or Sunday School teacher a quick call or email thanking them for their service as well.  But above all else, we need to be sure that we are doing what our Lord has called us to do, recognizing our time of rest has not yet come!

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Take some time out this weekend to read the Bible and see the work that Christ has performed for His people.  Here are some chapters to get you started. If you read a Romans chapter in the morning and a John chapter in the evening you can easily finish these this holiday weekend. (Romans chapters 5, 8,11; John chapters 3,4,5;)

May the Lord bless you.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Oh What A Thing Fear Is!

SIH STSTA ICONEver since I was a you boy at home, I enjoy watching scary movies.  John Carpenter’s 1982 movie “The Thing” is at the top of my “favorites” list.  It is a movie about scientist’s trapped with an alien in an Arctic research station.  The catch is this… the alien can assume the shape and identity of any scientist at the station.  You can imagine the basic idea of the movie, the scientists are constantly in fear, not knowing who is human and who is the alien. It is my ideal type of horror movie… not so gross and bloody, but  scary.  If you want to see a few scenes from this movie take a look on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouZkkIsLiNg You might think that I enjoy being afraid.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, I enjoy being afraid when I know my fear stems from a movie that is simply entertainment.  I know in just a few hours, at the close of the movie, everything will be ok.  However, when I face fears that exist in reality, I have an opposite reaction to them…  I HATE THEM. One of the most difficult things in life, for me, is to be forced to face my worst fears.  The longer I live, the more I am noticing one important truth… my fears are at their worst when I am not thinking about my Lord.  Where faith is, fear shrinks away. Within the confines of Scripture, we can find many principles about how a Christian can get through the fearful times in their life… THE SCRIPTURE: And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. (1Sa 12:19-24) THE STUDY: In our text, the Lord had given the nation of Israel judges to rule over them.  A judge had been given the authority from God to enforce the laws of the Lord, but they could not make any new laws.   Israel saw that the other nations were ruled by kings.  These kings had both the authority to uphold existing laws and to write new laws.  Out of jealousy, the Israelites demanded that Samuel place into office a king, so they would be like all other nations.  (1 Sam 8:) It is easy to miss the horrible sin they were committing… by asking for a King, Israel was saying, the laws of God were not sufficient meet their needs, they needed a King who could add to the laws of God. What a horrible attitude to have!  No wonder, when they realized what they had done great fear fell upon them. In our Scripture, we find the basic principles Christians are to follow when faced with fears of any type: “And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” Principle #1 – At times, we bring fearful times upon ourselves due to the sinful choices we make.  By living lives of obedience to Christ we can avoid some of our fearful times. (Exo 20:19-20) “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness:… For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” Principle #2 – Despite our past failures, by placing the Lord first in our lives (through repentance), we can rest assured the Lord will be with us… He is a great, faithful, forgiving Lord. (Psa 130:4) “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you:” Principle #3 – During fearful times we should be thinking of others and not just ourselves.  We should be prayerfully seeking to meet the spiritual and physical needs of those around us.  By concentrating on others, the Lord helps take our mind off our fears and trials we are facing. (1 Thess 5:23-25) “but I will teach you the good and the right way:” Principle #4 –  The fearful times of our life are great opportunites to present the truths of God to others.  This can be done through our words as we tell others about Him goodness to us during fearful times.  But also, it can be done through our lives as they watch us handle the fearful times with grace and peace.  (James 5:10) “Only fear the LORD” Principle #5 –  During our fearful times, as we concentrate on the Lord’s greatness in authority, power, faithfulness, and wisdom.  This develops a reverence or “fear” of Him in our hearts and minds.  In His greatness we can find comfort, and assurance, knowing He is in control and accompanying us in our daily walk. (Gen 15:1, Deut 20:3-4, Deut 31:6-8, 1 Chron 28:20, 2 King 6:16-17) “and serve him in truth with all your heart” Principle #6 – Fearful times in the life of a Christian should bring us closer to Him.   Our service should be greater, our relationship to Him more intimate.  This will lead to greater strength and peace during the troublesome times. (Zech 8:13) “for consider how great things he hath done for you.” Principle #7 – We are to be remembering His past gracious acts on our behalf, saying as King David did, “David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.”(1Sa 17:37, Isa 43:1, Joel 2:21) THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION For the Christian…. In these times of economic and political uncertainty, fear is beginning to enter the lives of even the strongest of Christians.  During these fearful times, please remember… Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  (Php 4:6-7) (see also Matt 6:25-34) For those who have never trusted in Christ… Your main concern should be on your eternal destiny… And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  (Mat 10:28) Above all else, please keep in mind, if you are eternally secure in Christ all the events of this world fade in comparison.  Just knowing that you are going home to be with the Lord for an eternity, takes the  sting out of even the greatest life threatening trials we may face in life…. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   (1Co 15:55-57) Look to Jesus Christ and turn to Him in faith.  He will forgive you of your sins and be with you throughout the trials this world may throw your way….  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isa 55:6-7) If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both. Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Who’s Our Boss?

SIH STSTA ICON(Rob’s Note: Following my Monday posting of “The True Wonder Of Nature… Ignored!”  I have received several emails asking for further information on why the Bible would say that if we reject God as our Creator, it results in many other sins to be committed. 

I was planning on posting today’s blog entry sometime next month.  However, I thought that this entry might help to answer your questions, so I have chosen to post it today.  If you had questions about the relationship between rejecting our Creator and the sin that flourishes around us, please review Monday’s posting after you read this entry. 

It is my privilege to answer any questions you may still have about Monday’s posting,  just leave a comment or send me an email.  It is only through your input that I can know what needs clarification.  Thank you for graciously reading my blog, you are all a great blessing to me.)

In the mid 1980’s, Tony Danza, Judith Light and Alyssa Milano starred in a situation comedy called “Who’s the Boss?”   This show was a classic about a professional woman, her male housekeeper, and their children.  Over the course of the show’s 8 year run, the continual theme was who was running the household, the woman or her housekeeper.   Many times, the housekeeper would override the woman’s instructions, creating havoc for the entire household.

If you are not sure if you’ve ever seen this show, just listen to the theme song, it is one of the most memorable theme songs on TV.  If you’ve heard it, you will recognize it in a heartbeat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBKsHdZJjZM

In a sitcom, confusion about who runs things can be humorous and harmless.  But in the world today, our society is falling apart, due to the confusion concerning to whom we should submit.   It is a very serious issue… we are watching our society implode due to a lack of recognition of the ultimate authority that is over us.

Who holds the ultimate authority over us?  What should our attitude be towards this authority?  The Bible gives us an answer to both of these questions…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?(Rom 9:20-24)

THE STUDY:

Today we complain about our appearance, or maybe our vocation, or our financial status in life, or even our family and friends.  In our text, the people were complaining about their eternal destiny (Rom 9:10-19).

Paul, by the inspiration of God, begins to address these complaints…

Man was complaining to the Creator of the Universe, the true God over all, Jehovah.  Paul makes it plain that NO ONE has the right to complain to the One who created him.  Why not? Because the God who created us has every right to create us as He pleases.  (vs 20)

If a potter desired to make a cup without a handle, he has every right to do so.  However, if He desires to make one with a handle, he can do this as well.  Does the cup without the handle have a right to complain to the potter due to his lack of a handle?

Oh course not, Why not?  Because the potter was not obligated to make only cups with handles.  SINCE HE WAS THE CREATOR HE COULD MAKE THE CUP AS HE PLEASES.  The cup is obligated to recognize his creator and submit to his desires.

In the same way, if He desired to show the greatness of His wrath in my life, He certainly could do it.  But He desired to save my soul from sin and withhold the judgment I deserved. In either case, He would be fair and just (vs 21-24)

Since all men deserve eternal punishment, He can allow it into any one’s life.  If He chooses to show His grace and mercy in the life of some, He has every right to do it as well.   We are obligated to recognize Him as our Creator, therefore recognize His authority and submit to His wishes for us. (Isa 64:8)

What’s THE major problem in our world today?  We are in denial about Jehovah God being our Creator.   Because of this, we do not see the need to submit to His will for our life.  This is why we see such heinous sin taking place in our society.  Once we denied Him as Creator, we no longer see the need to submit to His desires for us.  This is the insidious result of denying His Creatorship.  This is the state of our society today… we have rejected His Creatorship and, therefore, no longer see the need to submit to His will.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

As a Christian, we need to recognize that God is our Creator.  He is the Creator of both our physical and spiritual life.  Oh, what a responsibility we have to submit to His desires for us.

Our life’s slogan should be…Since God is my Creator and my Savior, I owe Him my all.  He has every right to do with me as He pleases, I have no right to complain to Him about my lot in life. No exceptions.  He has already blessed me above measure with my salvation.  I am only to always be in alignment with His will.  (see Jer 18:3-6)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Remember, He is our Creator (Gen 1:-2:), therefore, we are obligated to conform to His desires for our lives.   What is His utmost desire for us?  To come before Him, humbly trusting Him to do what we cannot do… save us from our sins.  If you would like more information about receiving the forgiveness He so graciously gives,  please take a look at the page labeled “All About Salvation” just beneath my blog heading above.  May the Lord bless you.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The True Wonder Of Nature… Ignored!

SIH STSTA ICONThe appreciation of nature is on the upswing.  As time progresses, the value of nature is being recognized and more effort is being made to preserve it.  More groups are being formed to help conserve nature and the resources we all hold dear.  You can see a partial list of the many of the groups now in existence at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_environmental_organizations

What is amazing is this …. Although some of the greatness and awe of nature is receiving more attention, the ultimate purpose of nature is being totally ignored.  What am I talking about?  The greatest purpose of nature is to reveal the Creator to all mankind.  Today we appreciate the creature (nature) without acknowledging the Creator that made and sustains it…

THE SCRIPTURE:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:.. God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;… (Rom 1:20-31)

THE STUDY:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; –

The Lord made all nature around us with the ultimate purpose of clearly revealing His greatness and power to all mankind.

so that they are without excuse:

For those who have never received His written Word (Bible) they are still held accountable for the revelation of God that they have received through nature.  No human being can stand before God and say…. “I have never received a message of your existence, therefore, you cannot judge me for rejecting you.”    Due to nature, they are without excuse.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

These verses describe the process of absolute rejection of nature’s message…

step#1 – When God was revealed to them in nature, they choose to ignore that revelation.  Therefore they do not praise, nor thank, the Lord for His creation as they should.

step#2 – They become vain in their imaginations… in other words, they seek to explain the existence of nature using empty, worthless theories to replace the true Creator (evolution, big bang theory, panspermia, etc, etc)

step#3 – Because they rejected clear, obvious truth about the Creator God, God then allows them to enter a state of spiritual darkness.  They brought this darkness upon themselves by rejecting the truth they had been graciously given.  God simply “stands back” and allows them to continue on in their error (instead of actively intervening on their behalf and turning them back to the truth.)

step#4 – Next they believe their own lies and come to the conclusion, by denying God’s role as Creator, they have become wiser than those who worship God.

In actuality, they have become fools. By proclaiming themselves to be wise they have put creation (themselves) on the same level as the Creator. This manifests itself in idol worship… man worshipping themselves or other members of the created world (sun, moon, stars, rivers, air, fire etc etc etc)

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Following their descent into spiritual darkness, in which they honor themselves and other parts of nature as the truly wise ones… they now begin to abuse their bodies, thinking they know better than God how to use them.   They begin to worship their own pleasure and lusts more than the Creator God they have long ago rejected.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

One of the greatest ways that mankind can misuse and abuse their bodies is through homosexual acts.  These acts not only seek to fulfill sinful lusts, but they also abuse their bodies by perverting the natural sexual union for which the male and female were intended.   Even a cursory look at the male and female sexual anatomy clearly shows they were made for union with the opposite sex.  To enter into same sex relations is to pervert the very nature of the male/female creation. It is a grave sin in the eyes of God.  It is a mark of reprobation.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Due to their original choice to reject nature’s message of the Creator God, God now turns them over to a “reprobate”  (totally worthless for the cause of Christ, shipwrecked, unbelieving) mind which leads to a sinful, socially harmful lifestyle.

Some of the aspects of this type of lifestyle include being consumed with:

unrighteousness, – treating others unfairly;

fornication, – intimacy outside of law of God;

wickedness, – planning wickedness;

covetousness, – to desire possessions of another, greed;

maliciousness; – to spread unlawfulness;

full of envy, – jealousy;

murder, – taking of physical life, abortions, euthanasia;

debate, – enjoy quarreling, stirring up arguments;

deceit, – to group together to plan harm to others;

malignity; – totally consumed by evil;

whisperers, – to tell secrets told in confidence;

Backbiters, – to speak and find fault behind back of others;

haters of God, – reject God and His authority;

despiteful, – to avenge grudge by harm;

proud, – to put self above others;

boasters, – to tell of own supremacy;

inventors of evil things, – originator of plan of wickedness;

disobedient to parents, – rebel against parental authority;

Without understanding, – calling evil good and good evil;

covenantbreakers, – to break contracts, unlawful divorces;

without natural affection, – homosexuality, parents abusing children;

implacable, – cannot be brought to peace, cannot be satisfied;

unmerciful: – unable to forgive, unable to show compassion;

All of these above seem to be on the increase in our nation… remember, these things are the result of purposefully rejecting divine revelation.  Aren’t these things to be expected when you think of how our nation has rejected God and is running from Him as fast as it possibly can?

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

To lost and saved alike….

If we were to find a Timex watch lying on a sidewalk, the thought would not occur to us that just by accident it came into being.  By examining it’s construction it is plain to see that someone had to engineer the watch, and then manufacture it, according to stringent specifications.

How blind is mankind, when science is consistently revealing complexities within nature and it’s harmonious functioning and still say that it came into being by accident?

The greatness of nature is a continuous witness to the greatness of its Creator.  Let us all come to a fresh recognition of our Great Creator God and the need to submit to his will and ways. In doing so, we will be pleasing our God; we will be receiving eternal life; and creating a moral, pleasant society in which to live.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Gloom, Despair, and Agony On Me…!

SIH STSTA ICONBack in the 60s and 70s a TV show called “Hee Haw” hit the airwaves.   It was one of the funniest series I have ever seen.   One of the funniest re-occurring features involved a group of “good old country boys” that were feeling sorry for themselves.   They recounted their misfortunes in a song entitled…”Gloom Despair and Agony On Me”.

If you would like to relive the good ole Hee Haw days, you can watch it on the RFD-TV network, or you can see the skit on youtube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ5ob9B9yD4

Many times, as Christians, we start to feel sorry for ourselves as we face the trials and difficulties this life has to offer.   The Psalmist in Psalm 119: put a different type of “twist” on the trials he faced in during his lifetime… he looked beyond the pain he felt during the trying times and he concentrated on the end results of those trials.  His conclusion about those trials can be found in Psa 119:65-72…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. (Psa 119:65-72)

THE STUDY:

Why does the Lord allow bad things to happen to good people?  As pastor, this is one of the most common questions that hurting, faithful, Christians have asked me.  Only the Lord will be able to give us a complete answer as to why we face trials in life, but one thing is certain…  TRIALS BRING A CHRISTIAN CLOSER TO THE LORD.   In every case, after the trial is over, a true Christian will readily admit, they are closer to the Lord after the trial than when the trial first began.

Trials in life will always bring the true Christian closer to the Lord. This is the point that King David, the author of Psalm 119: clearly proclaims.  If you remember, David had faced many trials during his lifetime.  His life had been threatened by King Saul following his defeat of Goliath (1 Sam 18:8-9); He had miserably failed the Lord in the incident with Bathsheba, which resulted in the loss of his child (2 Sam 11: and 12:); and later in his life His own son, Absalom, rebelled against his reign seeking to overthrow his kingdom by force.  This led to Absalom’s early death. (2 Sam 17: and 18:). In spite of all these problems, and others, David was able to thank the Lord for the trials because they had brought him closer to the Lord.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those of us who are saved….

In Psalm 119:65-72, David clearly reveals to us how to deal with the trials we face in our lives…..

Principle #1 Count the blessings that the Lord gives to us…

“Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.”

“Thou art good, and doest good”

David starts by saying that the Lord had treated him well during his lifetime. In spite of the trials, David recognized the presence of God’s grace throughout his lifetime, and the forgiveness God had given to him.

Principle #2 – Recognize the value of His Word, especially during times of trials

The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

David compares the value of the Word to the value of precious metals.  His conclusion?  The Word is of far greater eternal, spiritual value than all the riches this world has to offer.   David also compared the wealth and excess of his enemies with his possession of God’s Word.  His conclusion?  God’s Word brought him much greater joy than his enemies’ enjoyment of great excess and wealth.

Principle #3 – Always desire to grow in knowledge of Him and His Word; while retaining faith in His Word…

“Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.”

“teach me thy statutes.”

“The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.”

David knew the value of His Word and, therefore, craved to receive more knowledge of His Word. As David trusted in God’s Word, he realized great blessings and peace even in the midst of the trials he faced.  Think about what our life would be like without God’s Word… no comfort, no peace, no direction for our life, no counsel, no wisdom….  No wonder David was craving a greater understanding of His Word as he faced the trials of his life!

Principle #4 – Concentrate on the end result of the trials we are facing….

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.;”

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

This is the hardest principle indeed… to look beyond the pain and sorrow and to see the end result of the trials we are facing… a closer walk with Him based on a greater knowledge of His Word!   What a privilege it is to face trials… Let’s thank Him for the trials we face, knowing they will result in a closer walk with Him.

For those of us who have never trusted in Christ as their Savior….

Please keep in mind, the many precious promises the Lord gives in His Word apply only to those who are saved.  Until an individual places his trust in Christ, he cannot claim to be a recipient of God’s gracious intervention in His life during times of trials and heartaches.

Are you tired of facing your trials alone?  Do you desire to know without a doubt, that the trials you face are for your good and your ultimate gain? (Roms 8:28) Do you need a friend that sticks closer to you than a brother, someone who will NEVER leave you nor forsake you? (Pro 18:24, Hebs 13:5)

If this is your greatest desire then look to The Lord Jesus Christ and submit your life, and your eternity to Him.   Be willing to turn from your sin and begin to serve Jesus as Your Lord. (Ezek 33:14, Acts 17:29-32)  He will abundantly pardon you. (Isa 55:7)  He will save you form your sin and adopt you into His family. (Gals 4:4-6) You will never be alone again.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Change We Can Believe In… It’s Not Just An Election Slogan!

SIH STSTA ICONIn 2008, during the presidential campaign, the slogan “Change We Can Believe In” was brought to our attention… over, and over, and over, and over again!   It was the slogan chosen for the Obama presidential campaign in an attempt to capture the desires of the electorate.   Apparently, based upon the result of the campaign, the slogan had hit a nerve with the people.

The desire for genuine change applies to many, many people, cutting across all age, gender and race barriers.  Talk to almost anyone in today’s time… they are unsatisfied, and wanting change to take place in all aspects of their lives.  The problem comes when we impatiently demand change, any change, without considering its end results.  Many times this type of change leaves us worse off than we were prior to the change.

The Lord helps us to recognize the most important, beneficial change that a person can experience in their life.  Let’s see what type of change will always lead to our benefit and satisfaction…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,…  (2Co 5:17-18)

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mar 1:14-15)

THE STUDY:

In 2 Cor 5:17-18 – we read about the greatest change a person can experience in their life… this change is brought about by God in the heart of man:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”  –  In other words, just as God created us at our conception by giving us our physical life; so too, He can also recreate us, giving us our spiritual life through the work of Christ.

“old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” – This change results in a transformation in our lifestyle and way of living.  What we used to love we now hate (sin and rebellion to God) what we hated we now love (Obedience to Him based on His word).

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” – Finally, our first text reveals the creator of this great change… it is God (“all things are of God”). It is through His will and workings in our life that we experience this wonderful change.  He changes us and brings us to Himself (“reconciles us”), through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  When Christ died on the cross, He was paying the penalty of the sins of His Father’s people (John 17:9-13).  This payment results in the forgiveness of our sins and adoption into the family of God.

In our second text, Mark 1:14-15 teaches about our response to the Lord’s working in our heart…

“preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:” – This message of Christ was spoken to prepare mankind for His death and resurrection  and the reception of a new life in Christ.   This message was good news (“gospel”) of Christ.

“repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mar 1:14-15) –  Here, our response to His intervention is described as belief and repentance.   Remember how we said that we become a new creature when God intervenes in our life?  We said that this change brought us a change of lifestyle and way of living.

The terms “believe” and “repent” reflect this change in our life as well:

“To repent” – means to change, especially to change our minds, to think differently about things.

“To believe” – has the idea of accepting something as absolute truth and relying on it.

Why are repentance and belief necessary responses to the Lord’s workings in our life?….

To become a new creature in Christ many of our old attitudes about sin, death, the Bible, and even the Lord Himself must change and we must come to believe a new set of truths.  This is what becoming a new creature is all about… it is a life changing experience that revolutionizes the way we look at many different spiritual issues.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those of us who are saved, as “new creatures in Christ”, we should constantly review and reinforce the truths we have come to accept.  By doing this, we are constantly reminding ourselves of the true nature of this world, our Lord, His Word, and eternity to come. (Roms 12:2).

For those who have never come to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is necessary to act upon the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…  “repent ye and believe the Gospel”.

In other words.…

“Change your mind about your sin…. See your sin as harmful and an act of disobedience to the Almighty God, recognize your need to hate it and rid it from your life.”

“Change your mind about The Lord… See Him as your only hope of salvation, recognize He is the ultimate authority holder, who loves you and desires your worship.   Look to Him as your only source of spiritual life.”

“Change your mind about your eternal status before God…. See that without Him you have committed sin and the guilt of your sin remains upon you.  You deserve eternal punishment and, without Him, you cannot escape that judgment.  But, through His intervention in your life, you can escape that punishment and know that someday you will enter eternity with Him”

“Change you mind about His Word, accept the fact that His Word is true, it can be relied upon, look into its message and see the way of salvation clearly revealed to you.  Understand that His Word is a vital part of your daily walk of life and contains “His revealed will” to man in its entirety.”

And finally….

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, rely on His death on the cross to pay the entire sin debt you have built up in your life.  Realize He suffered for you so you could escape the eternal suffering of hell.  Place your entire being at His mercy and accept that you can do nothing to save yourself… all you can do is rely on Him for your soul’s salvation.”  (John 3:14-18)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Do You Believe In Magic ? How About Miracles?

SIH STSTA ICONIn 1965 the Lovin Spoonful band asked the question “Do you believe in magic?” , this became a top 10 song for their group. (Listen to this song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBVOYkhNb1o&feature=related)

Although the “magic” the song spoke of was the magical effect of music on it’s listener… it is still a great question to ask in many different contexts.

One of the areas of today’s entertainment that I enjoy is magicians practicing their craft.  David Copperfield, Doug Henning, David Blaine, Penn and Teller, Kevin James the list goes on and on.   It never ceases to amaze me how their “magic” looks so real, it almost makes me a believer.  And yet, in actuality, it is only an illusion they have created for the benefit of their audience.  In other words, today’s magic is complex deception meant to entertain and amuse.

What about the sign miracles performed in the Bible?  Were they real, or just deception, that was intended to entertain?  Could they be believed in?

Let’s see what God’s Word says….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: (Jer 32:17)

I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. (Job 42:2)

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you…And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.  And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; … And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. … And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8)

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?  (Heb 2:4)

THE STUDY:

To begin our look at the Scriptures, I would like us to quickly summarize the above passages in the context of our subject “Can the miracles of the Bible be believed?”  Basically, we can draw from the verses above the following truths:

1.  Our God is able to do all things…. This includes giving His followers the ability to perform miracles, as a sign of their ministries authenticity (1 Cor 12:8-11).  If it is His will…. He can do these things! (Jer 32:17, Job 42:2, Heb 2:4)

2.  Both in the Old and the New Testaments, God’s motive for bestowing this miracle working power upon His followers was to accredit their message and to prove He was the only true God.  This is why these types of miracles are called “sign gifts” from God (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8)   A listing of the sign gifts can be found at 1 Cor 12:8-11.

Over the years, studying the sign gifts of the Bible, I have noticed something very interesting.  It seems as if these sign miracles of God were basically performed in three “groups” throughout Biblical history.  Please notice the following basic, generalized table to help explain my point:

Group 1                 Group 2                               Group 3

Miracle Workers:      Moses, Joshua        Elijah, Elisha, Prophets     Christ, Apostles

Worship Accredited:  Tabernacle             Temple                               Church

Message Accredited:  Law                         Prophets                            New Testament

It has been so interesting for me to come to an understanding of the Lord’s motives in these sign miracles that were performed.  Note that the Lord, through divine miracles, accredited the messenger, as well as the section of Scripture written, and the worship place used at that time.

In each case, the “sign miracles” were in existance for approximately 70 years.  In each case, a “silent time” existed after each group of miracles, where no  sign miracles and few, if any, other miracles were performed.  Why?  Once God established the validity of each of the above segments, there was no need for miracles until another segment was about to take place.

For example, following the accreditation of the tabernacle and the message of the law, there was no reason to accredit anything, or anyone, until the temple and the prophets came on the scene.  Likewise, there was an extended period of “miracle silence” after the completion of the Old Testament.  It was only when Christ came on the scene that we have a period of sign miracles taking place to validate the message of the New Testament and the church as the new place of worship for God’s people.

We have the end of the last period of miracles being described in 1 Cor 13:8-10…

“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. “(1Co 13:8-10)

This verse is teaching us that the miraculous gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, shall come to an end.  At the time of Paul’s writing this letter, the NT was not yet completed.  This is why he makes the statement that “we know in part and we prophesy in part”.  However, when the New Testament reached completion, bringing about the perfect Bible (that which is perfect) then the revelation of His Word, bit by bit, (that which is in part) would be finished and no longer needed.  The completion of the Word acted upon the sign gifts of prophecies and knowledge, immediately bringing them to an end.

(Note:The sign gift of tongues died out as that generation of gifted men died and went home to their Lord, shortly thereafter.)

Also remember, prior to the Word’s completion, the church had already been established in Jerusalem  as the worship place of the True God, through the sign miracles of tongues and healings etc.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

How do we know the church is where we are to worship?  We can read all about the wonderful miracles the Lord performed as the New Testament church was being established that proves to us it is His place of worship.

How do we know the Bible is truly His Word?  We can look in the Bible and see where all the segments of the Bible have been accredited previously… the Old Testament which is made up of the law and the prophets, and the New Testament.  They have all been clearly proven to be the Words of the True God through the sign miracles that were performed.

It is now simply an issue of faith in His Word. In our day, we need no sign miracles to accredit anything… we have the Word that has recorded these previous accreditations for us to rely on today.  In the last days, the working of counterfeit miracles will be on the increase, empowered by Satan, performed to mislead even God’s elect (if it were possible). (2 Thess 2:7-10, 2 Cor 11:13-15, Matt 12:38-39)

Does the Lord still perform miracles? Absolutely everyday, spiritual and physical healing, to name a few, are common place in today’s time.

Does the Lord still give men the ability to perform the “sign gifts” listed in 1 Cor 12:8-11? Absolutely not.  He used the sign gifts to accredit the ministries He had ordained.  There is no longer a need for these gifts to be exercised by men.  We have a written record in His Word of the accreditation of these ministries.

As Christians, our responsibility is to be on guard, always watching for the workings of Satan and the deceptions that only he can perform…

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Mat 24:23-25)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”