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Ground Hog Day Devotional

SIH STSTA ICON“Are We Spiritual Groundhogs?”
(GroundHog Day Devotional 2016)

Our modern day Groundhog Day observance is a tradition that has existed, in several different forms, throughout several centuries.

Many people believe that Groundhog Day finds its roots in an observance called “the Feast of Lights” which was celebrated in the beginning of February centuries before Christ. It was a day set aside by pagans (probably the druids originated it) to worship of the sun which would begin to gain strength and warm the earth in the Spring and Summer seasons.

As time progressed, The Feast of Lights was gradually brought into the Catholic church and celebrated under the title Candlemas Day. The candle is the chief point that unified the two observances. Candles are used by Catholics to picture Christ as the light of the world, whereas to those who were pagan, the lit candle can represent the light and heat of the sun.

The Catholic holiday of the Candlemas is observed on February 2nd. It is set aside to celebrate Mary’s purification at the temple following Christ’s birth. In this celebration, many candles are lit and used during the worship service. In prior times, Candlemas also was believed to predict the coming weather. If the day of Candlemas was a bright sun shiny day, it was believed that more winter was yet to come. However, if the day was overcast it was believed that Spring was just around the corner.

This celebration of the Candlemas was brought into the secular world as Groundhog Day. Our modern day tradition holds that on February 2nd the groundhog arises from its winter hibernation, comes out of its hole and looks for his shadow.

If it is a sunny day and he sees his shadow, he believes it is an indication there will be six more weeks of winter weather and so he proceeds back down his hole to continue his time of slumber. However if, on a cloudy day, he doesn’t see his shadow he then believes that spring weather has arrived and comes out of his hole and prepares to enjoy the mild weather that will come to pass.

For much more information about the origin and observance of GroundHog Day please see the following links:
http://www.groundhog.org/about/history/
http://projectbritain.com/year/candlemas.html
http://wildhunt.org/2015/02/earthspirits-a-feast-of-lights-aims-to-drive-the-winter-away.html

For the Christian, we all should recognize the heathen origin of the celebration, but also recognize the great opportunity it gives us to share Christ with others. As Christians who possess the truths of God, we have the privilege, and responsibility, to use this worldly celebration as an opportunity to bring honor and glory to our Lord. How can we do this? We do this by using the public attention placed on this day, as a tool to present the truths of God’s Word to the celebrants without believing in, or partaking in, the pagan worship surrounding it.

That is what this devotional is all about. It is using a secular celebration as an opportunity to present God’s Word to a lost and dying world…

 

THE SCRIPTURE:

Joh 8:12 – “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.”

2Co 4:6 – ”For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

THE STUDY:

The Groundhog Day celebration centers on the groundhog’s reaction to the sunlight. The tradition says, if the sun is shining brightly the groundhog’s shadow will appear and the groundhog will go back into his hole for another six weeks. However, if it is a cloudy day blocking the sun, then the groundhog will remain above ground and enjoy the spring season that has begun.

Much like the groundhog who comes into contact with the sun, most of us have come into contact with God’s Word which clearly reveals to us the light of knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

2Co 4:6 – ”For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The question that lies before us is “How do we react in the presence of the light of Christ that has shined upon us?

The Word of God directly addresses the consequences of embracing the light of Christ and making it a living part of our lives…

Joh 8:12 – “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.”

Let’s take a very quick look at what this passage teaches to us about our reaction to the light of the knowledge of Christ that we have received…

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me…

If we chose to follow Christ, the light of the world, we will gain two wonderful gifts that are worth more than all the world’s riches put together.

he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,

First of all, by stepping into the light of Christ, we will receive liberation from the bondage of sin in our life.

Christ is the One who has died on the cross to secure our forgiveness and deliverance from our sins. As we submit to Christ as Lord of our life, and turn from our sins and place our faith in Him, we will “not walk in darkness”. This means that we will no longer live a lifestyle that is dominated by sin and rebellion against Him. He will grant us liberation from sin’s power in our life. Someday, He will deliver us from the presence of sin in our life by taking us home to be with Him at our death or His second coming.

he that followeth me… shall have the light of life.

The second blessing we will receive is the blessing of spiritual life in Him. Folks, as a part of fallen, sinful mankind, due to our sinful condition, we are born in a state of alienation from God. The Bible describes this as being “spiritually dead”. When we willingly turn from our sins and turn to Jesus, by faith, He promises to spiritual life which includes being brought into fellowship with God and knowing we will spend an eternity in His presence this is possessing Christ, the “light of life”.

The question before us is this… what is our reaction to this light of the knowledge of Christ that we receive?

Will we act like the groundhog and run from the light, hurrying back down into the “hole” of sin’s bondage? Will we deny our need of salvation from our sins to continue in spiritual sleep of death?

Or, will we step into the light of the knowledge of Christ by embracing it? Will we turn from a life of disobedience and sinful darkness, to a new life in the light of Christ by placing our trust in Him and His work and submitting to Him as Lord of our life?

How we react to the light of Christ is by far the most important decision we have, or will ever make… for it holds eternal consequences for us.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions? Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

http://www.settledinheaven.org
http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com
http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

May The Lord Grant You A Blessed Thanksgiving Day

ThanksgivingPosting

Thanksgiving Devotional Lessons (Click On Link):
A Christian’s Thanksgiving Day
Therefore, O God, We Thank Thee
Let The Redeemed Of The Lord Say So
“A Month of Thankfulness” 30 Part Devotional Series (Day 1)

The Christmas Story Presented In Chronological Order

The following is a very popular blog series that was originally posted in 2011.   In this series we took a verse by verse look at the Christmas Story.  For those new to SIH blog may you enjoy this  visit to the Biblical account of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For those who are long time followers of SIH blog, may these truths be renewed in your hearts and minds.                     ———————————————————-

Since we have looked at the Christmas story from two different books in the Bible, I thought it was important to bring the two accounts together, in chronological order.  In this way, we can see how the two accounts fit together.

This is the entire Christmas story as presented in the two gospels, Matthew and Luke…

THE SCRIPTURE:

(Luk 1:26-56)

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

(Mat 1:18-24)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

(Luk 2:1-7)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

(Mat 1:25)

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

(Luk 2:8-38)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

(Mat 2:1-23)

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

(Luk 2:39-40)

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Christmas Devotion:Christmas Story (Luke – 4)

The following is a very popular blog series that was originally posted in 2011.   In this series we took a verse by verse look at the Christmas Story.  For those new to SIH blog may you enjoy this  visit to the Biblical account of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For those who are long time followers of SIH blog, may these truths be renewed in your hearts and minds.                     ———————————————————-

Here is the conclusion of our verse by verse study of the birth of Christ.  In this blog entry, we will be looking at the conclusion of the account from Luke…

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 2:21-40

THE STUDY:

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

It was Jewish tradition for a child to be circumcised at eight days after birth.  This circumcision was a visible proof that the child was a part of the Jewish nation.  The child officially received his name at the time of circumcision.  In this case, the baby was named Jesus, “Jehovah our freedom” or “Jehovah our salvation” just as the angel had said.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

The ceremony described here had two basic parts to it:

  1. The law of purification applied to the mother of any newborn male child.  This time lasted for a total of 40 days (Lev 12:2-4).  The principle behind the need for this purification was because the woman had brought another man into this world. The male was looked upon as responsible for sin entering this world, and therefore the mother needed to be “purified”.  (Roms 5:12, 19)
  2. Also, a part of this ceremony was to bring to remembrance God’s grace in delivering the Israelites from the Egyptian captivity. (Exo 13:12).   This was done by separating the young child to the service of God.

The offering of animals was a key ingredient to this ceremony.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

A Godly priest, Simeon, was waiting for the coming of the Messiah.  Here, the Messiah is described as “the Consolation” or “the Comforter” of Israel.  He would be the One who would bear the sin burdens of His people, giving them rest and peace in the midst of a sinful world.

And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Once again, we see the Spirit revealing to man the true identity of the baby.  When Christ was presented to Simeon, he immediately recognized Him as both Savior of the people of Israel and a light that would open the sin blinded eyes of the Gentiles.

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

Joseph and Mary were amazed at Simeon’s declaration about the Christ child.

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Simeon spoke to Mary saying that the Jewish people would, at first during His earthly ministry, reject Him as their Messiah (the fall), but later as the gospel message spread, would come to a saving knowledge of Him  (the rising again).  His miraculous life would be a sign of His true identity as Messiah and God, which many people would verbally ridicule.

Mary, as she would watch her child being crucified would suffer as if a sword has passed through her.  This same crucifixion would reveal what was in the hearts of men.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Anna, a woman used of God to reveal His word, who was an older lady of at least 84 years,  but perhaps as many as 100+ years old.  She so frequented the temple that it was as if she lived there for most of her waking hours.  During this her time at the temple she was fasting and in prayer.  She, too recognized the baby as Christ and then thanked the Lord and then began telling others about the Messiah that had come.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Joseph and Mary stayed at Jerusalem until all of the demands of the ceremonial law had been met, and then they went back to their home in Nazareth.  It was there that Christ grew physically and emotionally as He showed an incredible knowledge of His Word and the application of it.

It is very difficult to understand how Christ, who was God Himself, could grow physically and emotionally,  but this was all a part of His humanity.

Throughout Christ’s young life it was obvious that the Lord’s presence and blessings were upon Him in a very special way; hence the phrase “and the grace of God was upon Him.”  The word “grace” is from a Greek word meaning “gifts”, “favors” or “benefits”.

This concludes our study of the story of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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.”

Christmas Devotion:Christmas Story (Luke – 3)

The following is a very popular blog series that was originally posted in 2011.   In this series we took a verse by verse look at the Christmas Story.  For those new to SIH blog may you enjoy this  visit to the Biblical account of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For those who are long time followers of SIH blog, may these truths be renewed in your hearts and minds.                     ———————————————————-

Here is part #3 of our series on Christ’s birth from Luke.

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 2:1-20

THE STUDY:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

Caesar Augustus was the ruler of the Roman Empire.  Israel was a part of that empire.  Augustus desired to tax the people of Israel, but before he levied the tax upon them, he wanted to count them.  Every male head of the family was to return to his ancestral hometown, with his family, to be counted in the taxation census.

Cyrenius was the Roman ruler over the area of Syria, just as Herod was the Roman ruler over the area of Israel.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Joseph, out of necessity, returned to his hometown of Bethlehem, bringing with him his pregnant wife Mary.  King David was from Bethlehem, and Joseph was a descendent of David.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

During their stay in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to the Christ.  Die to the great number of people ascending upon Bethlehem (all the male descendants of King David) there was no room for Joseph and Mary in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

The shepherds had their flocks in the field overnight.  In Israel, the night temperature was warm enough to keep the flocks in the field only in late spring through early fall (approx. May-Sept).  Probably, the time of Christ’s birth was not in late December, but much earlier in the year.

Why, then, do we observe His birth in late December?  This is simply a tradition of man that is not sanctioned by God.  The Catholic church began to celebrate His birth at this time of year to try to attract the Pagan worshippers who were observing the winter solstice at this time of year.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

The angel of the Lord (perhaps Gabriel) appeared to the shepherds and delivered to them a message from the Lord.   God’s presence (the person of the Holy Spirit) was clearly seen among the shepherds as they were given this message.   This same Holy Spirit enabled them to understand and submit to the coming of Christ.

The angel’s message was a joyous message telling of the coming of the Messiah, Christ the Lord.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

After the angels leave, the shepherds decide to make the trip to Bethlehem to see the baby Messiah.

Again, notice the faith of the shepherds willing to make this trip based on no proof except God’s message to them. They did not doubt the message, they said “let us now go… and see this thing…”.  They did not say “let’s go and see if the message is true.”

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

After visiting the child, they next began to tell others about Him.  In the same way, we first must hear the word of God, and then come to the Savior; and once we meet the Savior, we then are to tell others about Him.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

The message of shepherds was met with amazement by their listeners.  Mary, however, reflected on the message of the angels, all the events that had taken place, and the message of the shepherds.  Her  faith allowed her to accept all these things without astonishment and unbelief.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The shepherds continued to tell of their experiences to all who would hear them.

We will conclude our study from the book of Luke in the next blog entry: Luke 2:21-40

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.”

Christmas Devotion:Christmas Story (Luke – 2)

The following is a very popular blog series that was originally posted in 2011.   In this series we took a verse by verse look at the Christmas Story.  For those new to SIH blog may you enjoy this  visit to the Biblical account of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For those who are long time followers of SIH blog, may these truths be renewed in your hearts and minds.                     ———————————————————-

Our four part study of Christ’s birth in the book of Luke continues with part #2.

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 1:39-56

THE STUDY:

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin.  The angel had told Mary about John the Baptist’s conception in the womb of once barren Elizabeth (Lk 1:36).  A now pregnant Mary, acting on faith, makes the trip to Elisabeth’s house, anxious to hear about Elizabeth’s pregnancy and upcoming birth.

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb;

At the sound of Mary’s voice, the baby moved suddenly in Elizabeth’s womb.  Remember, one of ohn the Baptist’s greatest duties was to announce the coming of the Messiah to earth. (Luke 1:76-79) Here, we see John the Baptist announcing the presence of Christ in the room as Mary entered.  This was the first of many occasions where he would announce the arrival of the Lord.

How did an unborn child (John) recognize the presence of Christ in the womb of Mary?  It was through the divine enabling of the Holy Spirit who had filled John while in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15)

(Please note that even an unborn child is capable of fulfilling a God given ministry.  This speaks to the personhood and significance of the unborn child.  No one should say that an unborn child is simply a part of their mother’s body and does not have life in and of himself.)

and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Now we see The Holy Spirit filling Elizabeth, which in turn gives her the ability to prophesy.  Through the Spirit, due to the movement of John, she understands that within Mary’s womb was the Christ child. Elizabeth, describes the baby in Mary’s womb as “my Lord”, again this emphasizes the life and personhood of the unborn child.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Mary’s great desire was to glorify her God for all that He had done for her.  Note she recognized His grace to her, giving her what she did not deserve “he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden”.  This was her motive for giving Him all the glory.  The more we recognize His grace in our lives, the more we see the need to glorify Him as well.

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

She began to recount His greatness:

  1. He is mighty
  2. He does great things
  3. Holy is His name
  4. He is merciful
  5. He blesses those that fear Him
  6. He  is strong
  7. He punishes the proud
  8. He humbles the mighty
  9. He fills the hungry
  10. He keeps satisfaction from the rich
  11. He helps Israel
  12. He speaks to His people

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Mary then remains with Elizabeth before making the journey back to her home.

We will continue our study in the next blog entry: Luke 2:1-20

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.”

See you in 2013!

Christmas Vacation Notice 2012

Christmas Devotion: Christmas Story (Luke – 1)

The following is a very popular blog series that was originally posted in 2011.   In this series we took a verse by verse look at the Christmas Story.  For those new to SIH blog may you enjoy this  visit to the Biblical account of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For those who are long time followers of SIH blog, may these truths be renewed in your hearts and minds.                     ———————————————————-

We will now continue our look at the birth of Christ by turning to the account in Luke.  We’ll be breaking up our study into four parts:

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

Today, we will start with part number one.

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 1:26-38

THE STUDY:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

The angel Gabriel is used by the Lord to deliver the message to Mary.  Perhaps, Gabriel is the “Angel of the Lord” talked about in the Matthew account of Christ’s birth (Matt 1:20,24, 2:13,19)  Gabriel was also used by the Lord to deliver the Lord’s message to Daniel (Dan 8:16. 9:21)

To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The espousal was a legally binding promise to marry.  At this point in time, Mary and Joseph had promised to marry but they had not taken the vows nor had they consummated their relationship.

The word “virgin” here is from a Greek word that can mean three different ideas…“a maiden” or “an unmarried daughter” or “a woman who did not have relations with a man”.  How do we know which meaning is meant here? Context dictates the true meaning.

Contextually there are at least, three different proofs that Mary had never had relations with a man:

  1. Luke 1:34 – Mary’s response makes it clear that Mary had never had relations with a man.
  2. Matt 1:21-25 We are clearly told that her pregnancy was the result of the Lord’s divine intervention, this is why Joseph did not break the espousal agreement.
  3. Isa 7:14 – This prophecy was fulfilled by Mary’s pregnancy, it was a miraculous sign from God.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Here Gabriel tells Mary three different ideas:

  1. she was highly favoured – Lord had chosen to use her in a special way uncommon among  other women
  2. Lord was with her – Lord’s presence was with her in a special way
  3. She was blessed among all women – Lord had chosen to show her a measure of grace above that of other women.

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

This greeting disturbed her, at this point she did not understand what would take place in her life.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

The angel calms Mary’s fears and then explained how the Lord would show her a special blessing above that of other women.  She would conceive and then give birth to a son.  This son would be named “Jesus” which means “Jehovah is our freedom”, “Jehovah is our salvation”  He would be both God and Savior of His people.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Truths about this God, and Savior…

  1. shall be great – Christ would be “High One” or One who is over all creation
  2. shall be called Son of Highest – He would be recognized as Son of Jehovah God
  3. Father will give Him David’s throne – God would give Him authority to rule over Israel of God (Gals 6:16)
  4. shall reign over house of Jacob eternally – His rule over Israel would be an eternal rule
  5. shall be no end to his kingdom – His rule is not limited to that of the Israel of God but over all mankind (Phil 2:10-11)

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Gen 4:1 “knew” – intimate relations.  She knew she had never had relations this is why she was so confused.  How could she ever become pregnant? This is a proof that she had never had relations with a man.

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The answer the angel gives to her is in direct response to her concern about how a virgin can become pregnant… Through the power of God the Father, and through the intervention of the Holy Ghost, Mary would conceive a child who would be the very Son of God.

And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

To prove that this was a message from God and to prove that this miraculous act could be accomplished,  the angel points to another miracle, the conception of John the Baptist in the womb of barren Elisabeth.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Mary shows her faith in the Lord and his word by submitting to His will and believing these miracles would be done.

In our next blog entry we will continue this series by looking at Luke 1:39-56

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.”

A Christmas Devotion: The Christmas Story Explained Part 2

The following is a very popular blog series that was originally posted in 2011.   In this series we took a verse by verse look at the Christmas Story.  For those new to SIH blog may you enjoy this  visit to the Biblical account of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For those who are long time followers of SIH blog, may these truths be renewed in your hearts and minds.                     ———————————————————-

Here is part number two of our study of the birth of Christ as we find it in the book of Matthew.  If you remember, we had divided up the Matthew passages into two parts:

Part #1 – Matthew 1:18-2:10

Part #2 – Matthew 2:11-23

THE SCRIPTURE:

Matthew 2:11-23

THE STUDY:

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The identity of this star is up to much debate ranging from the planet Jupiter, to an alignment of planets, or perhaps a comet or meteor.  Different scientists and scholars hold to different views.

One thing, I think, is important to remember… it was possible for the Lord to miraculous create a light in the sky to lead His people.  Remember the “pillar of fire” that led the children of Israel through the wilderness? (Exo 13:21, 14:24, Num 14:14, Neh 9:12 etc.) Could it be that this star was a miraculous act of God prepared exclusively for this one time showing to lead men to Christ?

And when they were come into the house,

Note they come into “the house” not into the stable.  Joseph, Mary and the Baby were no longer in the stable by the time the wise men arrived at Bethlehem.  Most people believe that it took as long as 1-2 years for the wise men to travel from Persia to Bethlehem.  Keep in mind, Herod’s decree was to kill all babies 2 years and under.  Why two years?  Could it be that was approximately how long the star had been appearing in the sky?  And that was how long it took for the wise men to travel from the east?

they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

At the sight of the baby, the wise men kneel down in submission to Him… a sign of their belief in God’s prophecies and the baby being the Christ, their King.  The gifts that were given to Christ was significant.  In the Bible, many times gold is symbolic of kings (Dan 3:1).   Frankincense was used as incense for worship picturing our communion with God (prayers arising to God from earth – Ex 30:34)   The myrrh was used for the embalming of dead bodies (John 19:39).   These gifts teach us that the baby was a King, who was sinless having perfect communion with His Father, and he would taste death for His people.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

The wise men then departed to their country (probably Persia), being careful not to go through Jerusalem where Herod lived.  You can see where the Lord gave them wisdom to understand the true person of Christ and to see through the motives of Herod.

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

God the Father continued to care for Jesus and His family by warning them of the decree of Herod.  Probably this was the same angel that had appeared to Joseph in Matthew 1:20.

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

From Bethlehem they went to Egypt, trying to escape from the decree Herod had issued.  This was in fulfillment of the prophecy (probably Hosea 11:1.)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Herod’s decree is issued and heinous death of infants resulted… this was in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Jeremiah 31:15.

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

Again, the Lord, through His angel,  directs the lives of this family by telling them to return to Israel at the death of Herod.

And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

They return to Israel.  But Joseph would not enter into the province of Judaea because Herod’s son had now taken the throne of his father.  The Lord then directs them to the province of Galilee through the use of a dream.  Please notice how God had gone before this young family every step of the way, leading and guiding them, always for their protection and safety.

And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

They settled in the town of Nazareth which was Mary’s home town (Luke 1:26).  This would be the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Isa 53:2-3.  Nazareth was a despised city, those who were citizens were looked down upon (John 1:46).  By Christ being given the title Nazarene, he was being looked down upon and rejected by many, just as Isaiah 53:2-3 prophetically described Him.

Please note that in the account of Christ’s birth in Matthew, we find prophecies of His origins to range from He came from Bethlehem, He came out of Egypt and He would be called a Nazarene.  Before Christ’s coming to the earth, NO ONE could have reconciled these passages.  It looked as if He was going to be born in 3 different locations!  However, once He came to the earth and lived His life, all three of these prophecies made perfect sense.

It is much the same with futuristic prophecies for us today.  Great care needs to be taken thinking that we have all the events of the future figured out.  Until these events actually take place, none of us can say for certain, exactly what the future holds for us.

We will continue our study of the Christmas story by looking at the account from the book of Luke in our next blog entry.

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.”

A Christmas Devotion: The Christmas Story Explained Part 1

The following is a very popular blog series that was originally posted in 2011.   In this series we took a verse by verse look at the Christmas Story.  For those new to SIH blog may you enjoy this  visit to the Biblical account of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For those who are long time followers of SIH blog, may these truths be renewed in your hearts and minds.                     ———————————————————-

With the commercialized Christmas season upon us, I thought it would be good to remind us of the birth of Christ.  Over the next several postings we will be looking at both the account of His birth we find in Matthew and, later, the one that is found in Luke.

I’m going to break up our Matthew study into two parts:

Part #1 – Matthew 1:18-2:7

Part #2 – Matthew 2:8-23

THE SCRIPTURE:

Matthew 1:18-2:10

THE STUDY:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

An espousal is a legally binding engagement.  Back in the NT times, when the couple made it public knowledge that they are intending marriage, they became legally responsible to be faithful to one another.  Although they were not yet actually married, nor did they have marital relations; the law said they had entered into a legally binding agreement, and were to be held accountable if the did not uphold that agreement.

Mary, becomes pregnant during this time of espousal.  Therefore, in the eyes of the law, she appeared to be guilty of adultery, even though she was not yet married to her husband to be, Joseph.

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

Although not married, according to the espousal law, Joseph was her husband.  Therefore, if he did not intend to go through with the marriage he must give legal grounds and have her “put away” (ie do away with his legal obligation to marry her – in other words, he was legally severing the espousal contract.)  However, because he still loved her, he did not want to put her to shame by using a public meeting to sever the espousal contract.  He opted for a private meeting with the city elders to sever the contract instead.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The identity of this “angel of the Lord” isn’t specified in Scripture.  Some believe it is the same “angel of the Lord” that is talked about in the OT scriptures (Gen 16:7, 22:11, Ex 3:2, Num 22:22 etc).  Others believe this is a more generic term that is used for any angel that does the bidding of the Lord on the earth.  The identity of this angel is not of great significance to our story.  What is important is his message to Joseph…

  1. Fear not to go ahead with the marriage to Mary
  2. Mary has conceived through divine intervention of the Holy Spirit, she has not been unfaithful to you.
  3. She will give birth to a son
  4. You will call Mary’s son “Jesus”
  5. The reason for this name is to reveal His person and one of the purposes of His coming… – Jesus means “Jehovah is our freedom” or “Jehovah is salvation” .  In other words, in this one name “Jesus”, we learn that this baby would be God Himself (Jehovah), who would bring freedom from our sins (salvation)

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

This is a prophecy found in Isa 7:14.  Here the name Emmanuel is Hebrew for “God with Us”.  When Joseph gave the baby the name “Jesus” the same truth was brought forth.  He was Jehovah (or God) with us.

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Joseph, by faith, accepted the message of the angel and then changed his plans to obey the angel.  This was true faith at work!   Every human indication was that Mary was unfaithful to him, but based on the message from God, Joseph chose to marry her, trusting the truthfulness of God’s message.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king,

“Bethlehem” is from the Hebrew language.  It means “House of Bread”.  This is the birthplace of Christ. Who is self described as the “bread of life” (John 6:32-51).  Truly, Bethlehem is the “house of bread”!

Herod, this was a family name.  There were many individuals who carried the name of “Herod”.  This man, in the account of Christ’s birth, was a man commonly referred to as “Herod the Great” or “Herod the first” or “Herod the Ascalonite”.

behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The wise men were religious priests from Persia.  By their words and actions, we can see that they were acquainted with teachings about a coming King of the Jews.  Also, they were familiar with the role of the star (perhaps from Nums 24:17).  They had a submissive attitude toward this coming King, they were coming to worship Him and bring Him gifts, even though they were not Jewish but of Persian descent.   All of this seems to indicate it is possible they were actually worshippers and servants of Jehovah.

There is nothing in Scripture to indicate these men were currently practicing “astrologers” nor “mystics” nor “seers”.  It is much more likely they were highly educated scientists studying the heavens (astronomers).  The other possibility was that these men were reformed “astrologers” who were no longer practiced the sinful craft.  Keep in mind, these men appear to be in submission to Jehovah and His Christ.  It is this same Jehovah that makes it clear that astrology and mysticism is sinful and should not be pursued. (see my blog entry “Ask the stars… they will tell you”)

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

Herod, the current “King” of the Jews, was concerned at the news another “King of the Jews” was to be born.  This troubled him, so he gathered together his religiously educated counselors to find out more information.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The counselors quote to Herod the prophecy found in Micah 5:2, which tells of Bethlehem as the birthplace of the coming ruler of Israel.   This Bethlehem was a very small village in the province of Judah (the southern portion of Israel).  That is why it is described as “the least” among the towns (princes) of Judah.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Herod would use this information to calculate an estimate of the Messiah’s age, as He sent forth His decree to slay all infants two years and under (Matt 2:16).

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Herod had no intention of worshipping Christ, he wanted to kill the Christ child.  Here, we see his deceit and his attempt to use the wise men for his own evil purposes.

To  be continued in part #2 of our study which includes Matthew 2:8-23.

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.”

Coming Next Month to Settled In Heaven…

Thanksgiving Devotion: Therefore O God, We Thank Thee

The seriousness of thanking the Lord is emphasized throughout the Holy Word.  In 1 Chronicles 29:10-14, we read a message that King David delivered to the nation of Israel, as he gathered materials which would be used to build the temple in Jerusalem.  In this discourse, he explained the significance of showing thanks to God through, both, our words and actions.  He used this message to encourage the people’s giving of the materials needed to build and maintain the temple.  This text is, probably, the clearest expression of the absolute necessity for the giving of thanks to God.

As we enter into the Thanksgiving season, let us take time to look at this text and learn more about the wonderful blessing and necessity it is to say “Therefore O God, We Thank Thee”

THE SCRIPTURES:

1Chr 29:10-14 (KJV)

10) Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed [be] thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.  11) Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all [that is] in the heaven and in the earth [is thine]; thine [is] the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.  12) Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all.  13) Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.  14) But who [am] I, and what [is] my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things [come] of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

THE STUDY:

Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed [be] thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.

David’s message that he is about to deliver is a message of “blessing” to Jehovah.  The idea of a blessing is a message that produces submission, appreciation and love on the part of the hearers.  This was the three-fold result of King David’s declaration.  It produced in the nation of Israel a spirit of:

1. submission to the desires of the Lord for their lives,
2. appreciation for all the wonderful works the Lord has done on their behalf and
3. love for their Lord as their Creator, King, Father and Redeemer.

Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:

First, David emphasizes several different attributes of Jehovah that had been on display in His workings among the people of Israel…

1. greatness –  His superiority over all the gods and authorities of this world.
2. power –  His strength excels over all the powerful ones of the natural and spirit world
3. glory – He is beautiful in the sight of others. He is always just, fair, honest, kind … the list is endless.
4. victory – Literally, this Hebrew word of origin is translated “He glitters from afar”.  It is describing the awards and payments received by ones who have been victorious in battle or athletic contests.  The idea is that He has won so many victories that, as He carries His awards, He stands out from all others as He glitters from a long distance away.
5. majesty – His magnificence of being sets Himself apart from all others.  Please notice the first four attributes taught us He is set apart from all others based upon His abilities and authority.  It is this final description that declares that His superiority is also based upon His form and appearance.

for all [that is] in the heaven and in the earth [is thine]; thine [is] the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

The result of the five above attributes is that Jehovah is the possessor (“thine is the kingdom”) and the controller (“thou art exalted as head above all”) of all creation.  This includes the natural creation (heavenly bodies, earth, plants, animals, mankind etc.) and the spiritual creation (angels, demons, other heavenly beings etc.) as well.

Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all.

Now we read of all the benefits that we receive from Jehovah…

1. riches – wealth, material possessions
2. honour – weight, significance, consideration
3. power – authority, rulership
4. might – physical strength, ability
5. to make great – to cause to excel in any area
6. to give strength – to conquer, to be victorious

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

After giving a three-fold reason we owe Jehovah our praise (His person and attributes, His possession and control of all things, and finally, His blessings and care given to us) David now explains our indebtedness to “thank” and praise Him.

What is meant by to “thank” Him?  Literally this Heb word means to “hold out the hand”.  This helps us to understand the Biblical concept of the giving of thanks.  Scripturally, when we give thanks we are doing several things…

1.  we are acknowledging our need of Him (much like a baby holds out their hands to their mother asking to be picked up and carried.)  Scriptural thanksgiving involves in recognition and proclamation of our great need of Him in every area of our life… “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28)
2.  we are pointing the attention to Him (much like a person holds out their hand pointing to an object that they want others to notice)  Much like John the Baptist directing the attention of His followers to Christ by saying “Behold the lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
3.  we are sending out our message of His goodness to us (much like we are handing over an object to someone else by extending our hand.) This is much like the role of the Apostle Paul who handed the message of what Christ had done on his behalf to a lost and dying world. “…I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received,..” (1Cor 15:1)

To summarize the above, to give thanks to our Lord involves… submitted to His will and motivated by appreciation and love, we tell others about what He has done for us, and how badly we need Him in our lives.

What is meant by praising Him?  It carries with it the idea of causing others to give Him their attention and respect.

The giving of thanks and praise go hand in hand…. The natural result of giving Him thanks is to give Him the praise He deserves.  When we share with others His workings and our need of Him we are naturally pointing their attention and reverence to Him!

But who [am] I, and what [is] my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things [come] of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

Finally, King David recognizes and proclaims that the ability to thank Him is only through the gracious intervention of God on our behalf.  The capability to thank and praise the Lord comes only through His intervention.  Let me walk us through a bit of this idea.

Without His intervention…

1. If He does not give us our physical life…. We cannot work in our midst here on earth.
2.  If He does not open our sin blinded eyes… we cannot see, nor understand, His person and attributes.
3.  If He does not give us a mind capable of understanding … we cannot recognize His intervention in our lives and His working on our behalf.
4.  If He does not give us a physical voice …. we cannot verbally thank Him and share Him with others.

The list goes on and on… EVERYTHING involved with us giving Him thanks is totally dependent upon His enabling us to do so.

THE SUMMARY:

David presented his case logically by explaining:

1. First, the supremacy of Jehovah that is based upon His attributes and person (vs 11a)
2. Second, His ownership and control that is a result of His attributes and person (vs 11b)
3. Third, the recognition that all things flow by/through Him due to His authority and control (vs 12)
4. Fourth, the logical need to thank Him for His blessings since they all flow from Him (vs 13)
5. Fifth, the recognition that even the ability to thank Him comes as an undeserved grace from Him (vs 14)

The conclusion we must come to…. He is a wonderfully gracious, kind and loving Lord that gives His children the ability to thank and praise Him for His workings among us.  Let’s all be sure that we take advantage of this wonderful privilege and appreciate all He has done for us and then give thanks to the Lord by telling others about Him and all he has done for us!

And, finally, just as the Lord blesses us and shows His love to us continually, let us remember to give Him thanks not just during the Thanksgiving season but throughout the year.

May The Lord Continue To Bless You  As You Seek The Truths Found In His Word.

You may also like the 2010 SIH Thanksgiving Devotional: http://wp.me/pU88A-a7

Also for shorter devotionals take a look at the SIH “A Month of Thankfulness” 30 Day Devotional Series.  The posting for Day 1: http://wp.me/pU88A-1rR

Please visit the “Settled In Heaven Ministries” homepage –

http://www.settledinheaven.org

My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven”  – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

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.”

 

A Devotion for Mother’s Day – The Virtuous Woman

SIH STSTA ICONShort of salvation, one of the greatest blessings a man can receive from God is a virtuous wife.   I can say from my life’s experiences, that a virtuous wife is in dispensable in the service of Christ.  What a blessing it is to have Eva as my wife. She is a wife that loves the Lord, and is willing to use her talents and abilities to further the cause of Christ.

I can honestly say that I do not know what I would ever do without my wife.  I shudder to think what my life would be like without her encouragement, care, understanding, advice and sacrifice on my behalf.  I have become a far better and more effective servant of Christ since Eva has entered my life.  I give the Lord all the thanksgiving, praise and honor for raising up a wonderful lady and allowing me to be blessed with her presence in my life.  To God be the glory.

I know that there are many other men who feel the same way about their wives.

Lemuel, the writer of Proverbs 31:, is one of those men who had a great appreciation and understanding of the value of a virtuous woman.  Let’s take a moment to study what Lemuel had to say about the value and characteristics of a virtuous woman…

THE SCRIPTURES:

Proverbs 31:10-31

THE STUDY:

Before we begin our study, let’s try to define what is meant by a “virtuous” woman.  The word “virtuous” in Proverbs 31 is a word that carries the ideas of:

“influential” – others follow her example and the advice she gives to them.

“precious” – she is highly valued in the eyes of others

“resourceful” – she is able to accomplish her goals through her labors and ingenuity

“morally good” – she keeps the moral commands of God for her life

When we say a woman is “virtuous”, we are saying that the woman is resourceful and morally upright causing her to be influential in the eyes of others.  Because of all these qualities, she is looked upon as a woman of great value.

King Lemuel’s writings about a virtuous woman begins in Prov 31:10 …

The Value of a Virtuous Woman…

10) Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies.

Lemuel attempts to get our attention to the subject of virtuous women by first describing their great value.  So what is the value of a virtuous woman in our world?  God reveals to us through Lemuel that the a virtuous woman’s value cannot be adequately described.  In the days of the Old Testament writings, a ruby was of very high value.  When Lemuel states that a godly woman’s value is HIGH ABOVE rubies, he is stating that she must be included with the most valuable treasures on earth.

What would our lives be without virtuous women in our families, churches and society as a whole?  It is through the influence of virtuous, godly mothers that our children have been brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The idea of rubies reflecting value is also used to describe the value of wisdom and knowledge (Pro 3:15. 8:11, 20:15).  The gifts that a Godly mother bestows upon her children, through her example and teachings give them the tools necessary to deal with the many, varied situations they will face in life.  So too, wisdom and knowledge are greatly needed to give us guidance for the world in which we live.

The Characteristics of a Virtuous Woman…

#1 – Trustworthiness

11) The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12) She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

A virtuous woman can be counted upon to always work for the benefit and advancement of her husband throughout his worldly endeavors.  She can be trusted to be a faithful mate, and one that is always there for support, godly advice and counsel.

#2 – She recognizes the physical, and spiritual, needs of her family and works tirelessly to supply those needs

13) She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14) She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

15) She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16) She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17) She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

18) She perceiveth that her merchandise [is] good: her candle goeth not out by night.

19) She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

For those who have the privilege of having a virtuous mother caring for them… there is one thing they can count on… their needs will be met.  Their mother will “go to the ends of the earth” for them, to meet their needs and make sure that they have what is best for them in life.

Sometimes, meeting the needs of their children, requires a Godly mother to say “No” to her own desires.  She is glad to do this for her children and husband.  Her number one goal is to put her family first and put herself second.

Why does she do this?  She knows that her treasure is awaiting her in heaven for serving her Lord by taking care of her family on earth.

#3 – She is compassionate to others in need

20) She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

A virtuous woman’s compassion is not confined to her family.  She also is compassionate towards neighbors and strangers in need.  She is very welcoming and loving to those who are in need of that which she can give.

#4 – She is productive.

21) She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household [are] clothed with scarlet.

22) She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing [is] silk and purple.

23) Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24) She maketh fine linen, and selleth [it]; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25) Strength and honour [are] her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

A virtuous woman is very creative producing items that are needed by her family.  She enhances the testimony and reputation of her husband.  She makes much needed, high quality items of great great value. Her labor is not wasteful.  She shares in the responsibilities of meeting the needs of her household.

She is repaid by having an outstanding reputation among others and she awaits the receipt of heavenly rewards for living a life pleasing to the Lord.

#5 – She possesses the truth and shares it with others.

26) She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [is] the law of kindness.

27) She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

The virtuous woman not only meets the physical needs of her family and other acquaintances, but she also works to meet the spiritual needs of those around her as well.  She keeps busy actively working for the good of others.

#6 – Her actions demand praise, honor and respect from all that crosses her path

28)  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [also], and he praiseth her.

29)  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

30)  Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

31)  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

A virtuous woman DESERVES the respect, honor, praise and appreciation of her family and acquaintances.  After making sacrifice upon sacrifice for others, she deserves to receive others care and appreciation while yet on this earth.

Nevertheless, ultimately, the virtuous woman will receive the praise that she deserves as she stands before her Lord.  All of her works of charity and self-sacrifice will not go unrewarded.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

As adults, we need to stop and consider the influence our mother had on our developing lives as children.  We need to take time to honor them, thank them and  care for them as they grow older.  (Exo 20:12)

As children, we need to love and appreciate our mothers.  We need to be sure they know of our love by obeying them, making their lives more pleasant for them.  We should respect the other Godly women the Lord has placed in our lives.  We should appreciate them and honor them, knowing they are working for our physical and spiritual benefit. (Eph 6:1-3, Exo 20:12)

As husbands, we need to notice and appreciate all that our wives do for us and our families.  We need to love them and cherish them and strive to care for them as Christ cares for His church. (Eph 5:25-31)

But especially, all of us need to thank our Lord for these Godly influences in our lives.  If it was not for the Lord, we would not have these Godly women helping us through life.

For those of us who have received salvation from our sins, probably a Godly mother, SS teacher, or friend had shared the gospel with us.   We need to especially appreciate them for taking the time and concern to share the wonderful gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with us.

If you have any questions about salvation, I have a tab available on my blog that gives in depth information on what salvation is and what you must do to be saved.  Please click on this link for more information about salvation.

If you have any questions or concerns about your salvation, find a Bible-believing church in your area.  The Pastor would be glad to share Christ and the way of salvaiton with you.   If you feel more comfortable communicating through email, you are always welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

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My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

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.”

St Patricks Day Devotion – The Color Green

SIH STSTA ICONSt Patrick was born in Britain in the 4th century AD.  It is believed that as a young man, Patrick was kidnapped and taken into slavery to Ireland.  He claimed that his escape from Ireland and his eventual return to Britain was based upon God’s instructions, given to him in a dream.  After his return to Britain, he began to study for the Catholic priesthood.

Later in life, as a Catholic bishop, Patrick said that he was called to return to Ireland to win over the  Irish who held a belief in many Gods.  It is believed that he used the shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the trinity.

Although originally being associated with the color blue, gradually green became the representative color for St Patrick’s Day.  It is believed the color green has been associated with the celebration due to the color of the shamrock and the green vegetation found in Ireland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Day

The symbolic use of the color green is not limited to the St Patrick’s Day holiday.  In the Bible the color green is often associated with a state of blessing from Almighty God.  Psalm 52:8-9 is one example of this usage…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Ps 52:8-9 (KJV)

8But I [am] like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.9I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done [it]: and I will wait on thy name; for [it is] good before thy saints.

THE STUDY:

In Psalm 52:8-9, we find King David reflecting on his blessed life and the origin of those blessings…

But I [am] like a green olive tree in the house of God:

Here David is recognizing the blessed conditions of his life.  He describes being blessed greatly as being “like a green olive tree”.    Here, “green” is symbolically describing his flourishing life.  As a green tree is filled with health and life; so too, David was thriving having both his physical and, especially, his spiritual needs supplied by His God.

I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.           

David, as he recounts his many blessings from God, now looks ahead in faith.  He realizes that the Lord can be relied upon for his future physical and his spiritual needs, just as He had met David’s past needs.

The bestowing of God’s blessings is based upon His mercy.

We, as fallen creation, are destined for eternal separation from God.  This is because sin cannot enter into God’s presence.  However, based upon the mercy of God we can receive forgiveness of our sins and live an eternity with Him.  How did our God do this?  He sent His Son to take the debt of sin and separation from God upon Himself so that we can live an eternity with Him.

This is all a part of how God had shown mercy to David. This is why David said that he would trust God’s mercy forever.  It was because of God’s great mercy to Him that his eternity was now secure, knowing that he had been forgiven of his sins.  Once he knew his eternity was secure based on the Messiah’s work. allowing him to enjoy the blessings of God in his physical life on earth and his spiritual walk with the Lord.

I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done [it]:

David is dedicated to praise and honor his Lord because of all his Lord had done for Him.

and I will wait on thy name;

David continues by vowing to seek His will and obey his Lord.  His Lord was going to sacrifice His Son so that David would receive forgiveness.  David is now simply offering to be faithful servant based upon all the Lord has done for him.

for [it is] good before thy saints

Faithfully serving God, affects the lives of the saints.  It sets a Godly example and is an encouragement and strength to the saints (throughout the Bible a “saint” is describing anyone who has been forgiven of their sins).

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For those who have trusted in Christ…

As we see the “wearing of the green” on this St Patrick’s Day, let all of us be reminded of our blessed life based upon God’s mercy to us.  Once reminded of God’s mercy shown to us, let’s appreciate His workings by taking advantage of the opportunities that He places before us.   When we have the opportunity, lets be a good example and encouragement to others who have trusted in Christ.  This means being careful, even on St Patricks Day, to set a Godly example of holiness in living as others see our lives of faith.

1Tim 4:10-13

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

This St Patrick’s Day, can hold a new greater meaning for our lives.  By recognizing our need of His blessings of mercy upon our lives, and then looking to Him in faith; we can experience the greatest of all His blessings, the forgiveness of our sins.

Trusting in Christ is, basically, handing over our life to Him.  It is an action that declares that we know we can do nothing to obtain the forgiveness of our sins.  Our turning our life over to Him is an act of faith, trusting Him to forgive our sins and make our future secure through Christ’s work on the cross.  It is also coming to a realization that He is Lord of our life and, therefore, we will be submitting to His authority and dedicating our life to fulfill His will.”

May the Lord bless you as you seek His salvation and seek His Lordship for your life.

1Pet 2:21-25 (KJV)

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

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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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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Devotion

SIH STSTA ICONMartin Luther King Jr. was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama from 1954 to 1960.  In 1960, he moved to Atlanta and became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.  He remained in that position until his death in 1968.

While holding these pastoral positions, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was organized to give leadership to civil rights movement.  During his service as president, it is believed that he gave over 2500 speeches, led protests,  wrote 5 books and many articles.   All of this was done in his never-ending quest for equality and civil rights for all people.   This quest led to his arrest at least 25 times, as well as being assaulted numerous times for his beliefs.

Some of his most well-known writings and speeches were: “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and his “I have a Dream Speech”

In 1968, Martin Luther King was murdered while standing on a balcony of a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King Jr’s life is the epitome of a life sacrificed for the good of others.  Because of this, he received many awards during his life and following his death.  Some of these awards include five honorary degrees, as well as was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963, Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and the  Rosa L. Parks Award, presented by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (posthumously) 1968

See the following links (and many others) for more in-depth information concerning MLK Jr’s life and accomplishments:

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html

http://www.paralumun.com/uskingawards.htm

http://www.lib.lsu.edu/hum/mlk/srs218.html

One of the many famous quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a question that he posed to his listeners, which became a summary of his entire life’s mission:  “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” http://blog.twitter.com/2010/01/persistent-and-urgent-question.html

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life was filled with great sacrifices for others.  But the sacrifice made by our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest of all sacrifices made on behalf of others…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Phil 2:4-8 (KJV)

4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

THE STUDY:

In Phil 2:4-8, we find some of the Lord’s instructions to us concerning living lives of service for others…

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 

One of the greatest responsibilities our God has handed to His people is the need to love and care for others (Matt 22:38-40, Mark 12:30-31, Gals 5:14, 1 John 3:17-19)  Because of this, we should be concerned about both the spiritual and physical needs of others:

Gal 6:7-10

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

For many of us, it is easy to love and care for those who are our friends, but what about those who oppose us?  We are to love and care for them as well.   It is a great opportunity for us to show the love of Christ to others:

Luke 6:35-36

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil.  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 

What is one key to showing consistent concern for others?  Thinking as Christ thinks.   What was the mindset of Christ, that allowed Him to literally give all for others that He loved?…

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 

Christ’s mindset allowed Him to recognize His deity (John 10:30) …

But made himself of no reputation,

And be willing to “empty” Himself of the exercise of His divine attributes.  In other words, Christ choose to not exercise His great Godly abilities that He possessed.

 and took upon him the form of a servant,

He was willing to serve others, working for their benefit, by teaching, healing, and dying for them.

 and was made in the likeness of men: 

He was willing to take upon Himself, flesh (not sinful flesh), so as to be in the “likeness of men”.  His perfect humanity is being spoken of here. He was in the “form” of man although, as God, He was sinless.

 And being found in fashion as a man,

Not only did Christ physically appear as a man, but He also came to the earth, lived among men, conversed with men, ate as a man, worked as a man; ie – He lived his life just as any other man lived his life on earth (only without sin).  This is what is meant by Christ being found “in fashion” as a man.

 he humbled himself,

His entire earthly life was characterized by “humility”. From his birth in a stable, to His heinous suffering and death as a publicly convicted criminal (although He was actually innocent).

 and became obedient unto death,

Christ’s death was not only motivated by His love for others, but it was also an act of obedience to His Father in heaven. (Matt 26:39-42)

 even the death of the cross.

Christ displayed the ultimate self-sacrificial act by submitting to a horrible death on the cross.

The greatest aspect of His suffering was not the physical torture.  It was when He was separated from His heavenly Father, as He bore the sins of His people upon Himself. (Mark 15:34)

This was the supreme act of self-sacrifice… the sinless Son of God was willing to be humiliated by His own creation and separated from His heavenly Father.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For those who have trusted in Christ…

By following the Lord’s perfect example of self-sacrifice, we all can leave a legacy of a life that is pleasing to God and of benefit to all mankind.

1Cor 9:19-23

For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.   To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some.23And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you].

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

God the Father chose to give His Son to be the Savior of His people.  Then Christ, in submission to the will of His Father, came to the earth, lived a life of self-sacrifice and then died on the cross, as He bore our sins.  All of this was done to make it possible for the people of God to be saved.

By coming to a realization that we can do nothing to save ourselves, we must come to Christ and rely upon Him to intervene in our life and save us from our sins.

Rom 3:19-26

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

For more information about the way to salvation please take a look at my blog page found here:

https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

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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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Atheist Billboard: Tis the Season to Deny the Existence of God

SIH STSTA ICONAs the Christmas season approaches, Atheist billboards are beginning to pop up declaring that the virgin birth, and even God’s existence, is only a myth.  One example is this billboard…

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/11/atheist_billboard_near_lincoln.html

With all of this world’s mixed messages about the Lord’s person, His work, and even His existence; I thought it was wise to remind every one of some of the results of denying what the Lord clearly told us in His Word.

The Word of God addresses many subjects including:

  1. the proofs of God’s existence – (Psa 19:1-6, Jer 10:10-16, Acts 17:8-9, etc etc)
  2. the proofs of Christ’s coming to the earth and the work which He performed (Acts 5:29-33, Acts 2:29-36, 1 Cor 15:1-11, etc etc )

as well as many other truths that help us to understand who the Lord is and what He has done for us.

The Lord, by His grace and love, has revealed to us the serious results of denying what He has clearly told us in His Word.  May the Lord bless each of us with an understanding and acceptance of this crucial truth…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Heb 10:19-31

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;…30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.31[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

THE STUDY:

In Hebrews 10:19-25, we find the importance of not taking God’s gracious workings in the lives of His people for granted…

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And [having] an high priest over the house of God;

The Lord has given sinful mankind the privilege to enter into His presence now (through prayer and Bible study) and throughout eternity (dwelling with Him face to face).   Although we are sinful, through the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness of sins and communion with Almighty, Holy God.  It is though His work on our behalf that He becomes our intercessor (or priest), standing between God and sinful man, working peace, communion and forgiveness on our behalf.

22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Because the Lord has brought us into a close relationship with Himself, we are to draw near to Him, knowing that He has cleansed us from our inward and outward sins.  This forgiveness was applied to our account when His Spirit applied the Word to our hearts and lives (Eph 5:26).

We are also to be telling others of His workings in our lives and we are to aid others to serve Him in love (by meeting together to worship, learn and encourage other Christians).

All of these acts of appreciation, we are to observe in a greater way because our time is running short.  Soon our God will be coming back to take us home and be with Him forever.

In Hebrews 10:26-31, we find the solemn results of rejecting the truth by those who are not His people…

26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

After we receive the truths God has shown to us, and then count them as being false, there is no reason to believe that the Lord has, or will, forgive us.  If we remain in a state of denial of His truths we should fear, knowing that we are facing the judgment that is prepared by God for those who are His adversaries.  This judgment includes God’s fiery indignation (burning wrath) upon those who oppose Him.

28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Now our attention is turned to the penalty of breaking God’s laws given to the nation of Israel.  According to the law given to them… if there were two or three witnesses to the commission of a crime worthy of death, that was ample proof for execution.

We are to compare that type of sin with the rejection of Christ, His work and His shed blood.  After hearing of Christ and His great sacrifice and then counting that as untrue, worthless, or of no benefit, we commit a very heinous sin in God’s eyes.  It is as if Christ and His work is being tred underfoot, dirtied, buried and ignored.

Even if the initial receipt of the truth affects our life causing a worldly, outward, reformation (sanctification) , this is not proof of spiritual life being present.   Simple good works shown in the life is no guarantee of acceptance by God.

A heart of repentant faith in Christ and in His work is an absolutely necessity for the forgiveness of sins.  This type of belief cannot be turned from, nor denied. (2 Cor 7:9-10)

30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.31[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The Lord is plain throughout His Word, not only is He a God of love and grace; He is also a God of justice.  The Lord makes it clear that He will send judgment and deserved punishment upon those who reject the kind, loving, gracious, most valuable work of His Son.

This truth will bring terror upon those who reject Him.  To deny God’s existence and work is to sentence themselves to an eternity of separation from God in eternal misery in the lake of fire.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For those who are saved…

Let us never forget all that our God has done for us.  He not only created us, but then He saved us from our deserved punishment  through the sacrifice of His Son.   How much more should we be motivated to serve Him after all He has done for us? (Rom 12:1-2)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Please take time to, honestly and with an open heart, study God’s Word and come to an understanding of the many various proofs of God’s existence and His Son’s work on your behalf.

The Bible makes it plain that we have all sinned and are facing punishment for those sins. (Rom 1:18-21, 2:11-12, Acts 17:30-31)  This is why rejecting the existence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, is tantamount to sentencing yourself to an eternity of suffering at the hands of a Just God.  (Rom 2:5, 2 Pet 2:9, 3:7, Rev 20:15, 21:8)

Things do not have to be this way, however.  This same God, who is just in punishing sin, is also a very kind, gracious and loving God.  He has sent His Son to the earth to save His people from their sins. (Matt 1:21)

Through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, the payment for the sin debt of God’s people was made in full.

By turning from our disbelief, and by trusting in Christ and His work on the cross, we can find forgiveness for our sins and peace with God. (Rom 3:26-28, 4:17-25, 5:1-2, 15:13)

Oh, won’t you change your mind and attitude about God and Christ?   Won’t you believe that God and His Son exist, and that they have performed the necessary work to forgive you of your sins?  By looking to Him and placing your life and future in His hands you will be assured of a life of peace with God.

May the Lord bless you as you seek the truth about Him.

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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 #5 – The Series Summary

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 end 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:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: 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)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  (Jas 1:27)

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Pe 1:13-16)

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1Co 8:7-13)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1Co 10:31-33)

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. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Php 4:6-9)

THE STUDY:

In our previous studies we have seen 4 basic principles concerning the Halloween festival:

  1. The festival of Halloween’s history is connected with the belief that the spirits of dead men walk the earth, it was observed in preparation for the worship of “the Lord of Darkness”,  it was held to appease and secure peace with these spirits for the upcoming year.
  2. The death symbols of Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Vampires, and Bats all were connected to the spirits of the dead which did not immediately go to their eternal state, but were able to dwell on the earth, avoiding the judgment they were facing and wreaking havoc among earthly beings.
  3. The sorcery symbols of Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons were related to  the casting of magical spells and incantations that affect mankind.   Also, the worship of false gods through idols derived from God’s creation (moon, planets, etc) was associated with these symbols.
  4. The necromancy symbols of Séances and Ouija Boards has the purpose of communicating with the spirits of the dead.

 

The Halloween festival, its related characters, and their connection to the occult, are very important considerations in the examination of our level of participation in the holiday.

Some areas of our examination should include:

  1. Are we properly separating ourselves from the sin of this world by participating in the Halloween festival?  (2Co 6:14-18)
  2. Is our level of involvement in Halloween considered “conforming” (molded into the shape of) or “fashioned” to this world? (Rom 12:1-2)  (1Pe 1:13-16)
  3. Is the Halloween celebration “spotting” our testimony for the Lord? (Jas 1:27)
  4. Is our participation in Halloween causing our weaker brothers to “stumble” in their walk for Christ?  In other words, are they encouraged to make bad life choices based on the example we are setting? (1Co 8:7-13)
  5. Can our participation in Halloween be done for the Lord’s glory? (1Co 10:31-33)
  6. When we are participating in this celebration can we be having our minds on that which is true, honest, just etc.? (Php 4:6-9)

Over the years, I have seen four basic “levels” of participation in Halloween by God’s people:

  1. A total participation which involved decorating and dressing up with any of the symbols our study has examined. Along with participation in trick or treating and other exclusively Halloween activities.
  2. A participation that involves decorating and dressing up but avoiding demonic images and using only more benign symbols like princesses, cowboys etc. while still participating in trick or treating etc.
  3. A participation in “Harvest” or “Fall” parties on a date other than Oct 31st that totally exclude the Halloween title and avoid all aspects of the holiday (no trick or treat, no costume wearing etc.)
  4. No celebration of any type.  No decorating, no costumes, no parties. They treat the holiday just like any other day.

Which do I believe is the proper approach?

  1. First, let me emphasize that every Christian must decide for him/her self as to the level of participation in Halloween activities.  There is no ‘thus saith the Lord’ on the subject.
  2. Remember, participation in Halloween is NOT participation in the sins it represents.  In other words, you can participate in Halloween and not be guilty of the sins of necromancy, the casting of spells etc.
  3. The question for the believer is … by participating am I appearing to condone these activities that Halloween symbolizes?  Am I placing upon myself the appearance of approval or indifference to those activities? By participating am I saying…. “Hey its no big deal” ?
  4. So what do I think?
    1. Please remember, it really doesn’t matter at all what I think, all that matters is what God’s Word says.  However, for the sake of you who are reading this, I need to take the time to explain what I believe…I think a full participation in Halloween, with costumes and decorations that include the occult symbols is a very questionable stand for a Christian to take.  My feeling when it comes to my service to the Lord is …”it is always better to be safe than sorry”.  If you have a question about an action.  Don’t do it!
    2. By removing the occult symbols out of the Halloween celebration is certainly a big step in the right direction. “The appearance of evil” is basically being removed from the issue. However, the activity of trick or treating and wearing of any costume does have less obvious occult implications.  But certainly, this is a far better than our first option. Also, by participating in trick or treat, it opens the opportunity for witnessing by distributing tracts and pocket sized Bibles with the candy that is passed out to children who come to your door.  The Christian considering this option will have to weigh the gospel going out against the indirect occult association of Halloween.  For me, this is a very difficult decision to make.  I can easily see both sides of this option.
    3. I see no problem at all with the last two options of a harvest party or no celebration at all. Both are totally benign options that have no occult connections whatsoever.

If you would like to have more information about the proper Christian role in Halloween please take a look at: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/1126.  This is a link from Bro John McArthur’s website and well worth our time to read it. (A special thanks to Sharon A. for sending me this link, it’s a good one!  It is much appreciated.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

So let me end this study as I began this study by saying can we, as Christians, say our participation in Halloween aligns itself with (1Th 5:21-22) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

May the Lord lead each of us to an understanding of His will and an attitude of understanding and temperance towards other Christians.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

The greatest need that we all face in our lives is the need for the forgiveness of our sins.  We all have sinned and come short of our Lord’s expectations for us.  If you have never been saved, Halloween should not be your main concern, but concern about your sinful condition should take priority.  How do we find forgiveness of our sins and peace with our Lord?

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 #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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