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Weekly sermons from the Raleigh congregation of the United Church of God.

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The Patience of God
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tHp-EvWqxRo/WKcedPwfl2I/AAAAAAAAAWs/eHB9uxZzHbQLUypmPGc9fnhxfmRM-FCjwCLcB/s1600/patient.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tHp-EvWqxRo/WKcedPwfl2I/AAAAAAAAAWs/eHB9uxZzHbQLUypmPGc9fnhxfmRM-FCjwCLcB/s320/patient.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">We tend to think of <i>patience</i> as a human virtue, generally expressing a disposition towards some thing or some expected event that we cannot change… which encompasses a lot because we human beings have very limited power over the universe, time, or other people. However, like most good things we understand <i>patience</i>through knowledge of God, the patience of Jesus Christ and the Father are the source… and pattern for your <i>patience</i>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Goal: Why Should We Seek To Understand and To Practice Patience?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Our Outline: Definition<span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>Examples<span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>Meaning and Purpose</b></div><h2 class="western">What does the word Patience mean?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Patience – there are 2 words that are translated “patience” in the KJV and NKJV…</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><i><b>mak-roth-oo-meh'-o</b></i><i> – slow to anger, willingness to delay judgment</i></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><i><b>hoop-om-on-ay'</b></i><i> – courageous and hopeful endurance/perseverence in expectation of God’s action</i></div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">The NIV and most other more modern translations render <i>makrothoomio</i>as patience and <i>hoopomonay</i> as perseverance or endurance – more in keeping with the actual meaning of the word and how it is used in scripture.</div><h2 class="western">Examples of Patience (categories)</h2><ol><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><i>mak-roth-oo-meh'-o – the patience of God</i></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><i>mak-roth-oo-meh'-o – the patience of Mankind</i></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><i>hoop-om-on-ay' – the endurance of the Saints in persecution</i></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><i>hoop-om-on-ay' – perseverance in doing good (not growing weary)</i></div></li></ol><div><i><a href="https://www.ucg.org/files/sermons/patience_word_study_handout.pdf">download PDF word study sheet</a></i></div><h3 class="western">The Patience of God</h3><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">An attribute or quality of God that is repeated over and over through the OT like the chorus of a pop song: “God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Numbers 14:18</b> <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Joel 2:12-13</b>(Israel)</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Jonah 3:5-4:2</b> <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Nahum 1:3</b>(Gentiles)</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">God’s patience or “slowness to anger” does not <u>dismiss</u> His judgment or the execution of punishment, His patience <u>delays</u>His wrath… His patience provides opportunity for, or calling to, repentance. It is very important not to misuse this display of patience on His part. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">The FOOL says: “there are no consequences to what I have done” (no lightning from the sky, so what I have done either doesn’t matter or is OK)… the WISE MAN recognizes the opportunity to repent and seeks reconciliation with God while there is still time.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">OT phrase “slow to anger” was often translated<span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>mak-roth-oo-meh'-o in Spetuagint which is the translation of God’s word used by the early church.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>II Peter 3:9-15</b> (consistent approach in NT)</div><h3 class="western">God’s Patience Is A Pattern For Us to Follow</h3><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Matt 18:23-35</b> Parable of Unforgiving Servant… (v24) the King (<i>God</i>) does not give up His right to call the servant (<i>you</i>) to a reckoning (v32-35). He has merely given him <u>time</u> <u>to</u><u>repent</u>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Your responsibility for righteousness is not set aside… the fact that God does not smack you down immediately when you go astray is not because He does not care… likewise for those who might have done you wrong… God’s <i>mak-roth-oo-meh'-o </i>allows time for repentance… and even though He is “<u>slow</u> to anger” the day will come… and it won’t be pretty.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>I Timothy 1:16</b> – Christ is patient toward Paul, giving Him the opportunity to repent</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>II Timothy 3:10</b> – Paul in turn becomes an example of patience to others, instructing them to practice great patience </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>II Tim 4:2</b> – even here patience (slow to anger) provides opportunity for repentance/change </div><h2 class="western">Patience of Mankind (Christians)</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Gal 5:22</b> – a fruit of the spirit / an element of God’s mind and character</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Galatians 5:24</b> patience is something you are “obligated” to put on… “<i>For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God</i>”</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Note: H.S. does not “make” you patient… rather it strengthens you so that you can put on patience. For example: the H.S. helps you to understand the truth, to see the big picture of the plan of God both for you and all of mankind… BIG PICTURE thinking is an essential element of patience… </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in; margin-left: 0.6in; text-indent: -0.6in;"><b>Example</b>: you don’t fire an employee after one mess up because you and see the long-term benefit they will bring to the organization once they learn what they are doing</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Godly patience, <i>mak-roth-oo-meh'-o</i>, slowness to anger,<i> </i>helps you deal with the irritations, upsets, disappointments coming at you every day… because you keep the big picture in mind with the longer term goals that come from the mind of God</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Col 1:11</b> – comes when one is strengthened by the power of God</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><span style="color: #4f81bd;"><span style="font-family: &quot;cambria&quot; , serif;"><b>Patience affects how you treat others…</b></span></span> helps you deal with others in a way that is more:</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><u>Loving</u> – <b>I Cor 13:4</b> patience is the first thing said about the workings of love</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: 0.5in;">You are more focused on their long term success that the short term pleasure of passing judgment on them, getting revenge, vengeance belongs to the Lord.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><u>Humble</u> – <b>Col 3:12 </b>(repeats the exhortation to “put this on”)</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: 0.5in;">Placing their long-term welfare above the pleasure of exerting your will over them – it pleases a parent when a child begins to figure out doing good for themselves</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: 0.5in;"><br /></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>I Thess 5:14-15</b> Godly patience, <i>mak-roth-oo-meh'-o </i>delays judgment and anger, it does not repay “evil for evil” /” wrong for wrong”… does not mean tolerance for evil, or dismissal of laws…</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><i>Key verbs: warn / encourage / give them time</i></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><span style="color: #4f81bd;"><span style="font-family: &quot;cambria&quot; , serif;"><b>Mankind (You) Must Be Patient toward God’s Promises…</b></span></span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Where is God and what’s taking Him so long?</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Discuss the example of Abraham… this is taking too long, I am wasting my life <b>Heb 6:15</b></div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Already touched on this in II Peter 3:9… passing judgment on God, He doesn’t care, He’s not coming… result, let’s eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Example of farmer sewing a crop, waiting for the yield… <b>James 5:7-10</b></div></li></ul><h2 class="western">The Endurance &amp; Perseverance of the Saints</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">The word used is <i>hupomone</i> – also translated patience in the KJV and NKJV but is really a different word. Modern translations usually translate <i>hupomone</i> as:</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Endurance</b> in face of trials, tribulations, persecutions <i>and</i> </div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Perseverance</b> in doing good (not growing weary through loss of hope)</div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">Courageous endurance during trials and tribulations is obviously more a part of the human condition rather than a Godly prerogative set forth as a model for us to emulate. God being all “powerful” is not affected by trials. He can do what He wants, when he wants, where he wants etc.</div><h2 class="western">Jesus Experienced Suffering, Endurance &amp; Perseverance</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">The member of the God family known as the Word/Logos has experienced trials and tribulations by coming in human form… Jesus Christ! And having done so is better able to understand and relate to the suffering, trials &amp; weariness that are part of the human experience… “<i>in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God</i>” </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;">In the same way that makrothumio is especially related love, hupomone is related to hope </div><h2 class="western">Endurance… based on your hope and confidence in God’s promises</h2><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Romans 5:3-4</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Romans 8:18-25</b> we wait with eager longing… not apathy or fatalism (we inherit universe)</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Roman 12:12</b></div></li></ul><h2 class="western">Endurance When Persecuted for the Word of God</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Rev 1:9; 2:2-3 </b>– loss of friends, loss of opportunities etc.</div><h2 class="western">Perseverence… not growing weary in doing good</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Romans 2:7 </b>persistence in doing good… <u>even when you don’t feel like it</u>, </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Obedience</b> to God’s commandments, </div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Seeking your reward… </b> generosity, serving others, forgiveness, humility, self-control, leading others to repentance, enduring persecution, prayer, fasting, earnestly seeking God</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Walking in the spirit</b>… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><b>Psalm 37:1-13</b></div><br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.08in;"><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/rpn6MOvaJ0I" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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What Does Your Bible Actually Teach About Hell?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7ztkqYAryEY/W19quoQPiBI/AAAAAAAAA8k/vbtN__omwbYzGqRW4_O1WXHnkfEdSHxnQCLcBGAs/s1600/grasping%2Bhands%2Bhell.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="720" data-original-width="1080" height="213" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7ztkqYAryEY/W19quoQPiBI/AAAAAAAAA8k/vbtN__omwbYzGqRW4_O1WXHnkfEdSHxnQCLcBGAs/s320/grasping%2Bhands%2Bhell.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>In the old testament the word <i>hell</i> is from the Hebrew <i>sheol</i>. It refers to the place where dead people go… which is the grave. A hole dug in the ground into which a body is placed then covered up. It could also refer to a tomb or a burial cave. <i>Sheol</i> is found in the old testament 65 times: 31 times its translated <i>grave</i>, 31 times its translated <i>hell</i>, and 3 times its translated <i>pit</i>.<br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The new testament gets interesting… there are 3 different Greek words that have each been translated <i>hell</i>. Each of these has a different meaning… </div><h2 class="western">#1 The Grave</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The first Greek word which is often translated <i>hell</i> is <i>hades</i> which refers to the place of the dead. <i>Hades</i> is the closest Greek equivalent of <i>sheol</i>… the place of the dead, the grave. The Greeks had all sorts of their own ideas about afterlife which were attached to the word (<i>Hades</i> is the name of the Greek god of the underworld for example)… but if you were going to write in Greek about a hole in the ground where dead bodies were buried… <i>hades</i> was the word. It means the same thing as <i>sheol</i>, the place where dead people go.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The writers of the new testament worked with a version the old testament that had been translated from Hebrew into Greek. Its called the Septuagint. Here’s an example of how the Hebrew word <i>sheol</i> was translated using the Greek word <i>hades</i>: </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 2:27</b> the word here is <i>hades</i> (hell in some older translations like KJV). Modern translations now often simply insert the actual Greek word <i>hades</i>… but the meaning is grave. This verse is part of a quotation from the old testament referring to the grave. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 16:10</b> the word here is <i>sheol</i> (hell in some older translations like KJV). Modern translations now often simply insert the Hebrew word <i>sheol</i>… but the meaning is the grave. This verse was a prophecy speaking of Jesus’ death… </div><h2 class="western">Where did Jesus go when He died?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Luke 23:46 </b>His spirit returned to God like it does for all humanity upon death.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">His body went into a tomb, a burial cave, a form of grave. <b>Matthew 12:40</b> Jesus referred to it as a place in the “<i>heart of the earth”</i>… a hole in the ground where dead bodies are put. He would stay there for 3 days and 3 nights.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Also, if hades, or hell, meant some place of torment under the crust of the earth… then you are saying that’s where Jesus was sent when He died. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When He died late that afternoon Jesus’ was put in a tomb and He stayed there for 3 days and 3 nights fulfilling the sign of Jonah. He was not alive in heaven, He was not alive in hell… he was dead, until he was raised back to life through resurrection.</div><h2 class="western">#2 The Place of Restraint for Demons</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The next word to consider is <i>tartar</i> which is found only once in the new testament in <b>2 Peter 2:4 </b><span style="font-weight: normal;">and usually translated </span><i><span style="font-weight: normal;">hell</span></i>. In Greek literature <i>tartaroo</i> is the name for a mythical abyss where rebellious gods were confined. Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Peter uses this word a name for the place where Lucifer and the other rebellious angels were restrained, or imprisoned. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Seems appropriate… but where is that place of imprisonment?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Isaiah 14:12 </b>[cut down to the earth], <b>Revelation 12:7-11</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The place of imprisonment is not some dark netherworld… they have been cast out and are confined to earth! Scripture tells us that Satan and demons are active and present on earth. Multiple real encounters with evil spirits on earth are recorded – Matthew 4:1-11; 8:6, 28-33;9:32-33. Satan is spoken of as the ruler of this present age John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><i>Tartaroo</i> appears in scripture once and only applies to demons, not humans. </div><h2 class="western">#3 The Fires of Gehenna</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-style: normal;">The 3</span><sup><span style="font-style: normal;">rd</span></sup><span style="font-style: normal;"> word found translated as hell is </span><i>Gehenna. Gehenna</i> is a Greekified version of the Hebrew phrase <i>Gai Hinnom</i>, meaning <i>Valley of Hinnom</i> located to the south of old Jerusalem. Today it’s a park. During the times of the kings in Judah the place was used for idolatry and horrible practices like human sacrifice. King Josiah made a point of desecrating the place during his attempt to reform the nation of Judah <b>2 Kings 23:10, 13,14</b><span style="font-weight: normal;"> [defiled with human bones]</span>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In Jesus’ day [probably following the same idea of desecration] the valley of Hinnom was used as the city dump with a constantly burning fire… dead carcasses of animals would be thrown in there… bodies of despised criminals were thrown in there to be burned up. Jesus referred to this place in His teaching as an example or analogy of the fate that awaited the wicked who refused to repent.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>For example:</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Mark 9:43-48</b> Jesus is quoting from <b>Isaiah 66:23-24</b>. The bodies being talked about are dead bodies… not living beings in the throes of torment from fire and worms. Jesus is saying… if you don’t repent you will be like bodies of dead animals or cursed criminals thrown on the garbage heap where you will be totally consumed.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Immortal worms?</b> No. If a dead body is left exposed what happens? Flies land on them and lay eggs → The eggs hatch into maggots which feed on the dead flesh → The maggots grow into flies → if there is still meat on the bones the flies will lay more eggs. The worms won’t stop until the entire dead corpse is consumed.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Everlasting fire? </b>This simply means the fire will continue burning until all the combustible material is consumed. It will not be stopped, or quenched. See <b>Ezekiel 20:45-48</b>.</div><h2 class="western">When Will This Burning &amp; Consuming Happen?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus, the Messiah will return and establish the rule of God on earth as a demonstration of how God’s way of living works. At the time of His return, those who are His will be resurrected from the grave to eternal life, with bodies composed of spirit. They will work side by side with Christ establishing the rule of God on earth. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 20:4-5</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This amazing demonstration of God’s rule on earth only lasts for a fixed period of time which scripture says is 1,000 years. At the end of the allotted time two further events occur:</div><ol><li> <div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 20:7 </b>Satan is released for one last round of deception… then He is thrown into the lake of fire.</div></li><li> <div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 20:11-15 </b>all the remaining human beings who have ever lived will be raised to life. Not eternal life but temporary physical life in a temporary physical body which can die. For the first time they will know the truth of God [the books will be opened to them] and they will see the marvelous fruits of Gods way. </div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">During this period of judgment, they too will be asked to make a decision… to choose life [to be written in the book of life] or destruction [thrown into the lake of fire]. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Some will not choose life. Their punishment will be complete and permanent destruction.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 10:28</b> The lake of fire is the ultimate destruction of the wicked who will not repent. It is a complete destruction of the entire person, soul and body. Even whatever record of them God kept to be used in order to resurrect them is destroyed. There will be no further memory of them <b>Isaiah 26:10-14</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Malachi 4:1-3 </b>uprooted like an unproductive tree and tossed on the fire. Burned up until nothing remains but ash.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 21:8</b> teachings about universal salvation are false. Not everyone will be saved unto everlasting life… there is a second death after which there is no further hope or promise of life or resurrection. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 21:1 </b>after all this takes place then the entire earth will be transformed through a fire that consumes everything that was… and there is a new beginning, a new heavens and a new earth. The earth, purged by fire, is transformed into a suitable place for the righteous to live <b>2 Peter 3:10</b>.</div><h2 class="western">Conclusion:</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s word says the wicked person who refuses to repent will be punished with destruction in fire. Not the mythical Hell of humanity’s imagination but an all consuming fire that will burn until every last scrap is consumed. [PAUSE]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God is love</b>… many have a hard time reconciling this declaration with the idea of God throwing people into everlasting torment. How could such a God be worshiped or admired? But the human traditions regarding Hell are not found in the bible. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God is merciful</b>… those who will not live according to His way of love and outgoing concern for others will die but they will not suffer forever. They will be consumed by fire and forgotten. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God is righteous and just</b>…</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Eternal life is a gift. God wants to grant it to you. He wants to grant it to as many as are willing. But He’s only going to give it to those who follow Him. </div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The lake of fire… in the final analysis is an act of mercy</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The lake of fire… in the final analysis is and act of righteousness</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Any other alternatives would be a plan for sorrow and anguish.</div><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 107%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> <b>Psalm 19:9</b></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/z7g_zxngiDo" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Why Do People Believe in the Idea of Hell?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UIP7L6itpl4/W0z6NUqSuiI/AAAAAAAAA8Y/9WN2ZUrNqikW9ABUGKwpcfE5sXsAnGfdwCLcBGAs/s1600/ian-espinosa-177961.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UIP7L6itpl4/W0z6NUqSuiI/AAAAAAAAA8Y/9WN2ZUrNqikW9ABUGKwpcfE5sXsAnGfdwCLcBGAs/s320/ian-espinosa-177961.jpg" width="320" /></span></a></div><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">People don’t latch on to the idea of hell it because it’s a feel good notion…</span><br /><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><br /></span><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>My Proposal: </b>Humans believe in the idea of hell because they have to! Hell is the only way to hold on to two other cherished beliefs of humanity.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Traditional beliefs about “hell” are the logical outworking of a basic root error... assuming and believing the human soul is immortal and lives on after death. The error is at the core of most religious systems: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist etc.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri light&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif; letter-spacing: -0.5pt;">Where Did Such an Idea Come From?</span></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Genesis 3:1-3 </b>the big lie of human immortality was introduced into human thinking by Satan… and it began very early in the human time line. </span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Some part of every person lives on after they die (error)</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">On to this error that some part of every person lives on after the death of this body we’ll add a true observation obvious and apparent to all humanity: some people act in a good way and some people act in a bad way. Note: we might have differing opinions about what defines good versus bad… but we all see a world where some are good and some are bad.</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Some part of every person lives on after they die (error)</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Some act in a good way and some act in a bad way (observation/truth)</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Next, we add something else that is true: justice is a force in the universe. This is a spiritual understanding that flows from the person of God the Creator of the universe. Humans have an innate desire for justice because they are created in God’s image.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">For Christians, Muslims, Jews, this is judgment by a personal Creator God involving punishment or reward. For other religions this punishment vs. reward is an impersonal force called karma [how karma is enforced is very vague and confusing, involving the collective mind of the universe and stuff like that].</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Some part of every person lives on after they die (error)</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Some act in a good way and some act in a bad way (observation/truth)</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">There is justice [punishment/reward] in the universe (spiritual truth)</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">If the human soul lives on, if some are good and some are bad, and if there is justice in the universe… you need an explanation for where all those bad people go after death that is in some way different from where all the good people go and provides payback for all their badness. </span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Some part of every person lives on after they die (error)</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Some act in a good way and some act in a bad way (observation/truth)</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">There is justice [punishment/reward] in the universe (spiritual truth)</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">There must be a form of eternal punishment in a living and conscious state (error)</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The idea of the immortality of the human soul does not flow naturally out from the reading of scripture. The idea that you do not really die is found on the lips of Satan, the father of lies. It’s an idea that humans want to be true… and then desperately try to insert back into the scriptures. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The immortality of the soul is the biggest lie ever told.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Why would humanity want to insert such an idea into scripture?</b> To use the obvious authority of God’s word to some how validate this wishful thinking.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Opinion: it’s a lie that also serves Satan’s larger purpose by presenting the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as cruel &amp; unfair.</span></div><div style="letter-spacing: -0.5pt; line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri light&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">How Did This Idea Find it Way Into Christian Teaching?</span></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The immortal soul concept is as old as human history. But how did it creep into what we call Christianity? By that I mean Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, or Protestant teaching.</span></div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Human immortality is not part of the religion of Israel</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Human immortality is not part of the 1<sup>st</sup> century apostolic teaching</span></div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">It crept into biblical teaching through theologians and learned men who love praise and pre-eminence. In their won culture Greek philosophy was highly regarded and offered the possibility of worldly acceptance. Leaders &amp; thinkers who had gained control over the church wanted to make God’s word more “respectable” by synchronizing or reconciling the Greek system of thinking about life and death with what was presented in the scriptures. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Greek and other humanly devised ideas about the afterlife are worthless so I don’t want to spend time discussing their ins and outs… but here’s a basic concept found among the Greeks:</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Greek philosophy teaches that a soul will be free from the restraints of the physical body after death. The body dies and goes to the grave while the soul floats away to live elsewhere. The body is seen as a sort of prison into which the soul is placed. Life’s suffering must be endured and escaped so the soul might take its proper place with some higher form of existence… “to take your place among the stars” for instance.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Question</b>: do you want to build your belief and faith starting with the pure teachings that come from scripture and Jesus Christ… or do you want to build your belief and faith starting with speculative assumptions from philosophers and self proclaimed priests?</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">John 17:17</span></b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>2 Peter 1:20-21</b> it is not for us to dream up our own ideas about life and death and then force them into the pure word God has given us.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Colossians 2:1-8</b> this stuff has always been around</span></div><div style="letter-spacing: -0.5pt; line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri light&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">The Soul in the Hebrew Scriptures</span></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">In the portion of scripture written in Hebrew “soul” is a translation of the word <i>nephesh</i>. The word <i>nephesh</i> does not mean a spirit entity within a human body… <i>nephesh</i> refers to the entire living being: the flesh, the spark of life, the spirit… everything all wrapped up together. In the Old Testament humans are referred to as <i>nephesh</i> over 130 times. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Genesis 2:7 </b>a living soul</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The word <i>nephesh</i> is also used to describe animal existence Genesis 1:21 [living thing/creature = nephesh]. It is used for birds verse 30, insects &amp; reptiles verse 24-25. <i>Nephesh</i> is also used to describe dead bodies Leviticus 22:4, Numbers 5:2, 6:11, 9:6-10</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The idea of a soul as something existing apart from the body is not derived from Old Testament scripture. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Genesis 2:17 </b>two living souls named Adam &amp; Eve are told they will die. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Question: does this mean Adam &amp; Eve HAD immortality and LOST it because of disobedience? See <b>Genesis 3:22-24</b> they would not have eternal life unless they ate of the tree of life.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Genesis 3:19</b> return to the dust <b>Ezekiel 18: 4,20</b></span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">A soul is identified as a living being with a body not as something with a separate existence that lives on after the body dies. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Ecclesiastes 12:9 </b>The spirit is described as returning to God who gave it. However, it has no conscious awareness (or anything else we would call life) apart from a body.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Ecclesiastes 9:5 </b>the dead have no conscious awareness.</span></div><div style="letter-spacing: -0.5pt; line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri light&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif; font-size: medium;">Soul In The New Testament Scriptures… Greek</span></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The new testament portion of the bible is written in Greek rather than Hebrew. Greek was the language of the masses, plus it was also more linguistically precise than Hebrew with a larger vocabulary.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The word translated soul in the NT is <i>psyche</i>, body is <i>soma</i>, spirit is <i>pneuma</i>, flesh or way of flesh is <i>sarx</i>.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The teaching of the New Testament is consistent with the Old and offers some clarification on the concepts of justice and immortality.</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The wicked who refuse to repent will die permanently</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Humans do not possess immortality</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>Truth #1</b></span><span style="font-size: small;"><b> </b></span>The New Testament contains multiple statements confirming that the wicked who refuse to repent will die permanently. This is the truth about God’s justice in the universe.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Matthew 7:13-14 </b>Jesus does not merely say that the justice of the universe leads to punishment of wicked people… He says DESTRUCTION. Jesus says choose life, the alternative is destruction. The options are not a happy life after death in place A versus an agonizing life after death in place B.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Destruction is given 2 qualifiers: It is complete, and it is everlasting</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Matthew 10:28</b> that destruction is complete, it encompasses both body [soma] and soul [psyche] in the fire of Gehenna.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>2 Peter 3:7</b> complete destruction (the whole person not just part of you)… again referring to the fire of destruction.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>2 Thessalonians 1:9</b> that destruction is everlasting, meaning permanent non-existence.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The time of that complete and permanent destruction is mentioned in Revelation 20 as coming 1,000 years after the return of Christ. There are several important other details of that time which we will go into in a future message.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>Truth #2</b></span><b> </b>The new testament teaches that we do not already possess everlasting life [ie. immortal soul]. This is the truth about the present status of your personal existence.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Romans 6:23</b> God has to GIVE us everlasting life, we don’t already have it</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>1 Timothy 6:16</b> God alone has immortality</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><b>Galatians 6:8</b> here are both ideas presented together in a single statement. Corruption is another way of saying destruction.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Reaping corruption/destruction is the logical opposite of reaping eternal life. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The scriptures do not present the alternatives as eternal life in a bad place versus eternal life in a good place. The alternatives are everlasting life or permanent destruction.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri light&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif; letter-spacing: -0.5pt;">Conclusion</span></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> The bible clearly states that we do not possess immortality but must put on immortality. For the first fruits that putting on takes place at a distinct point in human history… the resurrection, when you are raised up with a new, different, and everlasting body. Until then you [your body, or your soul] have no more permanence than a blade of grass. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">Through these same scriptures God presents you with a comprehensive program through which you can have everlasting life. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">So, get with the program and don’t let yourself be confused by the biggest lie ever told.</span></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/ClnX7tviZcg" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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God's Purpose For His Creation
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><h3 style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The Establishment of the Heavens and Earth</span></h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IPGnnDoDwDE/Wzw7cUzOhLI/AAAAAAAAA7c/oV-a3ottxNMZniu2yOpnx-Ib0wL6q4P8gCLcBGAs/s1600/andreas-p-30199.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="982" data-original-width="1600" height="196" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IPGnnDoDwDE/Wzw7cUzOhLI/AAAAAAAAA7c/oV-a3ottxNMZniu2yOpnx-Ib0wL6q4P8gCLcBGAs/s320/andreas-p-30199.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">We cannot exist without an incredible array of features to operate properly… and not just properly but nearly perfectly in order for us to survive for the next 4 minutes. Elements that we consider so simple, oxygen, temperature, gravity to name a few. Take a longer view like 4 days and you might want to throw in water or solar energy. Simple… yet each of these is highly complex and moreover interact in ways that compound the complexity in a manner that can dazzle even the most jaded materialist.</span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Where did all these elements, physical laws, atmospheric and biological systems come from? Why do they work so beautifully together to support life? With all our amazing tools: microscopes, particle colliders, and space stations, our great minds of materialist science provide us the profound answer… “well, they just do” </span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">What about the phenomenon we call life?</span></h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">If we were to accept the premise that the physical universe is just a lucky accident of atoms that have luckily arranged themselves into a universe of galaxies, solar systems, planets and so on… a question remains that is just a big as the origin and organization of the universe. </span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Why would such a universe of atoms and molecules, photons and energy waves… generate living things? From simple self-replicating virus, to the more genetically complex plants, to animal life and finally sentient, self-aware humans with the capacity to love or hate, cry or laugh, to create beautiful music or deadly concentration camps…</span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot; , serif;">The Will to Live… </span> </span></h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">All life forms from the lowly virus, plants, animals, humans share something in common, something that cannot be explained by anything that can be measured or observed in the material universe. That something is the desire to survive. A will to continue living and a goal to pass that life on to a new generation that will carry on and repeat the pattern. To anyone who has not hardened his heart and darkened his mind… this desire to live and survive found in all living creatures demonstrate will and purpose in the universe.</span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Teachers of evolution end up explaining all the various facet of life, animal or human, good or evil, as some form of survival mechanism. Giraffes were lucky enough to be mutant antelopes with extra long necks allowing them to access new sources of food in the tree tops. Even your belief in God is seen by such people as a quirk of the human mind that helps humans to survive in a hostile environment (social cohesion, grouping together for mutual benefit and protection etc). </span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Clever explanations like this are still built upon the assumed existence of will in the universe, but don’t even attempt to explain how this will came to be. Because it’s simply not measurable… like the spirit we can see the effects of it but we cannot see <u>the power or force I am calling will</u>.</span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">A fish develops a fin that allows it to crawl out of the ooze to seek new sources of food… a better chance for survivial… what drives it… what moves it forward to preserve and pass on its life… why does it desire to continue living, and where does it come from?</span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The only answer you are going to get from science is… “they just do”</span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">How Would Life Emerge From Non-Life?</span></h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Prebiotic Soup theory</b> – the idea that the earth was covered with warm lakes filled with enzymes and proteins simmering away at just the right temperature until SURPRISE they are struck by lightning! This random spark triggers freak combinations of enzymes, proteins etc that build and snowball, combine and recombine until they produce… XXXXX</span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The statistical probability of such a sequence of events… are astronomical. The mathematical improbability of that happening it so huge that some credible scientists ave turned to alternate theories such as the idea that life came from out-space… mars, asteroids whatever. However, the soup theory remains the most popular and still finds itself in school text books. </span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The soup theory has problems:</span></h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">For one, it cannot be reproduced in a laboratory setting. If you remember from high school, scientific theories and hypotheses are supposed to be proven by demonstrable and repeatable experiments. Generating the supposed building blocks of life by electrocuting hot soup has been tried and tried but… nope, it doesn’t happen.</span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Perhaps this is because a theory such as this one flies in the face of another scientific observation that has been tested and proven. That life does not spontaneously develop from non-living stuff.</span></div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Mice from dirty shirts?</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Bacteria in covered and uncovered petre dishes etc</span></div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">In face of scientific contradiction and the monumental mathematical improbability of it all, when asked the question: How or Why life could or would emerge from non-life the answer once again is… <b>Well somehow it just did!</b></span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Science prides itself on supposedly being based on observation, proof, evidence… a hypothesis leads to experiments that provide proof… <b>where is the proof for life coming from non-life?</b></span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">People choose to doubt, or disbelieve, God exists often citing the <u>absence of any proof</u> that He does. But isn’t it amazing what other things humans choose to believe with even less evidence or proof to go on.</span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot; , serif;">What About The Theory Of Evolution </span> </span></h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Evolution is not really a theory of origins but it is treated as such by many and has been heavily promoted in schools and popular entertainment. So we need to include it here.</span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Evolution is the idea that creatures gradually developed out of other creatures through advantageous genetic mutation. So, wouldn’t we expect to find an abundant fossil record of all the intermediate varieties of creatures? The answer is NO. Darwin did not base his theory on proof or evidence from the fossil record… </span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><u>The Origin of Species, 1859, Masterpieces of Science, 1958,pp. 136-137)</u> – <i>Why [he asked] if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? … Why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?</i></span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><u>Continuing… pp 260-261</u> <i>The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, [must] be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely gradated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record” </i> </span></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><i>Niles</i><span style="font-size: x-small;"> Eldredge, curator in the department of invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History (</span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the High Table of Evolutionary Theory, </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;">1995, p. 95)</span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">“<span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long,” [he wrote.] </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>“It seems never to happen. </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change—over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. “When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution”.</i></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Steven Jay Gould (the late Harvard Paleontologist), “</span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>the history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: [1] </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Stasis. </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking pretty much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. “[2] </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Sudden appearance. </i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors: it appears all at once and ‘fully formed’”</i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"> (“</span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><u>Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” </u></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i><u>Natural History, </u></i></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><u>May 1977, pp. 13-14</u></span><span style="font-size: x-small;">).</span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">With no real hard evidence why do evolutionists consider the theory to be fact?</span></h3><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Darwin was a member of the clergy and like many of his clerical contemporaries collected and studied plants, animals, insects and rocks. Ironically the naturalist movement that spawned Darwin and his theories on evolution theory has its roots in a faith driven inquiry into the wonders of God’s creation by churchmen with a lot of time on their hands. </span> </span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Darwin (and those who follow in his ideas) sought to explain the obvious relationship linking all living creatures. USE EXAMPLE OF A HORSES SKELETON BEING VERY SIMILAR TO HUMANS. They reasoned that the relationship was because they shared a common ancestor. The real and more obvious answer is that they are similar because they are the work of the same creator. God. </span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>Romans 1:18-25</b></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">The theories that life spontaneously generated out of non-life and gradually developed into more complex creatures are simply not true. Far from being proven fact their basic assumptions contradict what is proven and known and observed.</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">The idea that the random interaction of matter results in increasingly complex systems violates the law of entropy – one of the basic things you should have learned in high school</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">Based on all observable criteria life only comes from pre-existing life – another basic fact you learned in high school (remember the petrie dish experiments)</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">Based on the actual fossil record living creatures appear as a distinct species and stay within the basic parameters of their species or kind with no evidence that they migrate gradually into a different kind</span></div></li></ol><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Organization &amp; Complexity in the Universe</span></h3><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>Colossians 1:15-18</b></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"> the interaction of matter in the universe is not based on random collisions. The observable organization of matter, classification of both matter and life forms and will in the universe (as seen in the drive to live and reproduce) are evidence of God’s power, plan, purpose… </span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>and existence</b></span><span style="font-size: x-small;">.</span></span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">God is the Pre-Existing Life Giver</span></h3><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">Where did God come from? Aren’t we just pushing back the question of the origins of life like the guys who try to explain that life came from outer space?</span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>John 5:26</b></span><span style="font-size: x-small;">… I Am That I Am</span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>I Timothy 1:17; 6:16</b></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"> – God has no beginning… that’s hard for us to grasp (because we are finite)</span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>Hebrews 11:3 </b></span><span style="font-size: x-small;">–for things beyond our grasp we must trust God’s revealed truth</span></span></div><h3 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Life is Classified According to Kind</span></h3><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">The fossil record takes us back to a time on earth prior to the time recorded in Genesis 1 (refere to previous sermon). But as we read earlier the actual fossil record shows that living creatures appear or are created according to their kind and pretty much stay within their kind.</span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>Genesis 1:20-26</b></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"> –God’s renewal of life on earth follows the same pattern of Kind. Which has tremendous implications for what read in verse 26! You are created or more accurately in the process of being created accordin to the God Kind.</span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><b>I John 3:1-3 </b></span><span style="font-size: x-small;">we will children of God, made in his image, after His Kind in his image. But not according to the body you now have but something else… filled with holy righteous character and eternal life</span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: x-small;"><b>I John 5:11-13</b></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/m-vaKtkNxCs" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Love & Loyalty
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-I6f3Fs8hhY0/WzVLbkS3xNI/AAAAAAAAA64/F2UgyVt2yZYOz9MdKxnsgoCN-a2RNIVqACLcBGAs/s1600/omar-lopez-296937.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-I6f3Fs8hhY0/WzVLbkS3xNI/AAAAAAAAA64/F2UgyVt2yZYOz9MdKxnsgoCN-a2RNIVqACLcBGAs/s320/omar-lopez-296937.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Do you value loyalty? </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Are you loyal to others? Are you loyal to communities? How do you show loyalty? </div><ul><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Are there people or groups you should not be loyal to? </div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Are you loyal to those who have authority over you? Are you loyal to God?</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Loyalty definition: unswerving allegiance to a person or institution. </b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To support, or align your priorities in accordance to… to look out for and have concern for their well being… someone who is loyal who will treat you right even when they have reason not to… maybe you’re inconvenient, maybe siding against you would be to their personal advantage. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For example; imagine a loyal friend who will pick you for their team even though you’re not the best player because they don’t want to see you embarrassed. A person who can be trusted and relied upon in small things and with regard to the big things.</div><h1 class="western">Is loyalty a biblical concept?</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Hebrew word would be <i>hesed</i>. In English bibles <i>hesed</i> is generally rendered “faithfulness”, although you will occasionally see it translated as loyalty, kindness, friendship, even mercy.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-style: normal;"><b>God’s loyalty to us: </b></span><i>Hesed</i>, or faithfulness is one of the many ways God describes Himself to us. He is faithful to His promises. He is faithful and loyal to His people. Looking out for them, concerned about their well being</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Our loyalty to God: </b>When <i>hesed</i> [faithfulness] is used to describe how we respond to God it means we are committed to, we support, we are aligned with Him. When describing our relationship with our Creator loyalty also includes obedience.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">So, if loyalty is unswerving allegiance to a person or institution... the scope of that definition changes depending on the relationship of the parties involved.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For example; a person put in charge of a department at work can [and should] be loyal to those who work under him But that loyalty does not involve obedience. If I am one of the persons working under the department head loyalty for me would include obedience. Loyalty is also possible between two peers where obedience is not part of the equation.. although mutual submission would be essential. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">My point is: loyalty is not identical to obedience.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A person might be obedient through fear of punishment and have no trace of loyalty.</div><h1 class="western">Loyalty is an Attitude of the Heart</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 13:20-22</b> to many, God’s love for David is a riddle. David committed adultery, he orchestrated a murderer, he was a warrior who had killed many men, elsewhere God calls David “a bloody man” and because of that wouldn’t let David construct the Jerusalem temple.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We too struggle with the enigma of David. There were other men who come off as very righteous, scrupulous people, Noah, Job, or Daniel. <b>Why did God love him so?</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Yet God saw qualities in David such that He called him a “<i>man after my own heart</i>”. One of the traits God saw in David was loyalty… to commitments, to people, to Israel and all it stood for in God’s plan. Loyalty matters because it is a basic attribute of God’s own character. And as any Father would, God delights in seeing himself reflected in His children: in you… in me… in David. </div><h1 class="western">The Importance of Loyalty</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s plan is to grant everlasting life, position, and authority to those who are in Christ at His return. Does it make sense that He would give all that to someone who does not demonstrate the character trait of loyalty? </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">How do you prove your loyalty except through a life of temptation, trial, testing, even suffering? </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Consider your own life experiences: how would you ever REALLY know your friend is loyal except by seeing and experiencing what he or she does when they have compelling reasons not to be loyal? Loyalty is proved in response to challenges.</div><h1 class="western">The Loyalty of David</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">I found loyalty abstract and difficult to define. God helps us understand concepts through the written example of others… such as the example of David. One way we learn about David’s loyalty is through the contrast drawn between him and Saul. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">David was loyal and devoted to God Himself; did what God asked</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">David was a loyal and subject to his superiors; how he treated Saul</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">David was loyal to those whom he ruled over; how he treated subordinates and subjects</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The same record shows Saul to be a man devoted to himself and his own interests. A man unable to do as he was told. A man of authority ever-ready to throw his subordinates under the bus. Saul was not loyal towards his superior [God Himself was Saul’s superior] nor was Saul loyal to his subjects.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">At times we can see ourselves in both these men and ask… Am I loyal? Can God trust me? Does He see me act with loyalty toward the people in my life… my superiors, my subordinates, my peers?</div><h1 class="western">Saul Had The Look of a King</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Samuel 9:2 </b>Saul was tall and good looking, came from a good family. He was the sort people would naturally look to because people put a lot of stock in appearance. He had a head start and could have been a very effective instrument in God’s hands. But, Saul failed… because he could not be trusted. His first loyalty was to himself. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Samuel 15:3 </b>Saul was given specific and important instructions [this was an opportunity to fulfill prophecy. See Exodus 17:14-16, Numbers 24:20]. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Samuel 15:7-23 </b>Saul failed to carry out the instructions as directed. Worse yet, when confronted with the failure blamed it on the people. He did prove himself to be loyal to the one above him, or to the people who served under him. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Verse 12 Notice how Saul focused on himself [what he accomplished] → verse 15 notice how he blames others <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>verse 20 allows soldiers to take items devoted to God presumably to win favor in their eyes <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>verse 23 arrogant in placing His priorities over God’s [<b>now read verses 24-35</b>]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A similar failure happened at Gilgal Saul blames the soldiers, he blames Samuel for being late, he was concerned about how events would affect him [the philistines will come against me] <b>1 Samuel 13:13-14</b> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The man after God’s own heart who was selected and anointed to replace Saul… was David. </div><h1 class="western">The Rest of Saul’s Reign</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God did not strike Saul down, He simply said: your son after you will not inherit the throne. After Saul the kingship would go to David. In this way God showed Himself to be loyal to Saul. God had commissioned him as king… and let him remain king. But He did not add the blessing of a lasting dynasty to Saul.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Saul reigned for many years as king until he committed suicide on the battlefield. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Early in Saul’s reign David had been anointed as his successor. Through what appears to be God’s hand, David was brought into the royal courts where David served Saul as a loyal subject. As David grew in fame as a warrior Saul became jealous and at some point connected the dots… this was the man who would replace him as king over Israel.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Samuel 18:6-15 </b><span style="font-weight: normal;">treachery towards his subordinate</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Saul went crazy with jealousy. He tried several times to kill David. He sent him on a suicide mission hoping that David would be killed. David had to run for his life and lived in hiding for years. Yet even through those difficult years David showed himself loyal to this man… because of who he was and what he stood for: Saul was still the king of Israel.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Samuel 22:13-16 </b>takes out his wrath on anyone who helps David. How could you say Saul was loyal to the greater cause? The cause Saul is loyal to is SAUL and his fame.</div><h1 class="western">David’s Loyalty to Saul</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">David had every reason, every excuse, and to the carnal mind, every right, to kill Saul first... if he ever got the chance. Beyond pure survival David had an added motive: he would be king in Saul’s place.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">David actually had opportunities to kill Saul. But instead of running a spear through his chest, David used both opportunities to try and prove his loyalty.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Samuel 24:1-13</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Samuel 26:8-11, 18-20</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">David was loyal to the king until the day of Saul’s death. He was aware of Saul’s sins and had every reason to revile him as a man… but when Saul died the first thing David did was write a song praising and expressing thanks for what Saul had accomplished as a military commander and Israel’s king appointed by God.</div><h1 class="western">David Punishes Disloyalty</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Some men killed Saul’s surviving son [who could stand as a rival heir to the throne to David]. They figured they had done David a favor and came to collect their prize David wouldn’t stand for disloyalty! <b>2 Sam 4:10-12</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Samuel 9:1 </b>note the use of the word hesed [kindness=I will show my self loyal]. David took care of the lame son of Jonathan [Saul’s grandson]. Giving him a place of honor at the dinner table in the royal household. David does this to demonstrate loyalty to his friend Jonathan and the vow he made to him.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Samuel 10:1-2</b> note the use of the word hesed {kindness=I will show myself loyal]. To show loyalty to his allies.</div><h1 class="western">Is There Ever a Reason Not to Be Loyal?</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Yes, there is a loophole, an honorable reason that over-rides the Godly virtue of loyalty!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Obedience to God: if a person or an institution ever tries to coerce you into violating the commandments of God. You must go with your higher loyalty which is to God. Just be careful you don’t use this as a crafty way to excuse disloyal behavior.</div><h1 class="western">Examine Yourself For Loyalty</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Before you can be seated with Christ. Before you can be granted position representing the family of God, its values, its priorities, and its goals... you must learn [and demonstrate] what it means to be loyal. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For some that means you deal faithfully and loyally with those you have rule over – your wife, your children, your staff at work: For most of us it means you deal faithfully and loyally with those who have authority over you - Are you loyal to your parents? Are you loyal to your boss? Are you loyal to the company you work for?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Are you loyal to God’s Church? Are you loyal to one another?</div><h1 class="western">Conclusion</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">I found defining loyalty challenging. I came to the conclusion that loyalty looks and sounds a lot like love.</div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/Q74ASqdd3d8" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Laying on of Hands
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T7rZV9gH6jE/Wx_3cSDIH5I/AAAAAAAAA6c/XFq2F62E5t8GTz-szbtfVsgggia_4jkjQCLcBGAs/s1600/marc-scaturro-264165-unsplash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1068" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T7rZV9gH6jE/Wx_3cSDIH5I/AAAAAAAAA6c/XFq2F62E5t8GTz-szbtfVsgggia_4jkjQCLcBGAs/s320/marc-scaturro-264165-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>The laying on of hands is listed in scripture as one of the most basic, foundational, and fundamental doctrines of Christ. Yet, to many it is an obscure practice… you don’t hear about it in many sermons, nor is it a subject that a lot of people ask to have explained, or have questions about.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 6:1-2 </b>here is the listing I just referred to. These are what scripture considers the foundational teachings. Therefore this is a list of what the Church of God considers the foundational teachings. In order to build the mature mind of Christ we must be sure that the foundation is firmly in place. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Within the biblical and church context the laying on of hands is a physical act meant to picture a spiritual reality or spiritual event taking place. It is hard to provide a public witness and testimony to stuff happening on the spiritual level without a physical act. Human beings are simply not wired to commune with one another on a spirit level. We connect with one another through words and actions. God has limited human beings in this way… probably for our own protection.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>John 3:8 </b>Jesus offers us an analogy: we don’t see wind, but we know the wind is there because we see the leaves are moving, or we hear the sound as it moves through the tree. In the same way the laying on of hands provides testimony to something spiritual happening.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Here are 4 spiritual transactions accompanied by a laying on of human hands:</div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Conferring blessings</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The transference of sin from one party to another. </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Acceptance of authority</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The receipt of the Holy Spirit</div></li></ol><h2 class="western">Conferring Blessings</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 48:14 </b>Jacob’s hands had no power to make these prophetic/future blessings happen. The power of the almighty God did that.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 19:13-15 </b>Jesus blessed them through the laying on of his hands and prayer. Even with Jesus it was not His flesh and blood hands that had power in them, or transferred power through them… it was the power and will of the Father at work. Jesus words and actions [specifically the laying on of hands] gave testimony to the blessings only the Father could give <b>John 5:19-23,30</b>.</div><h2 class="western">The Transference of Sin in Old Covenant Examples</h2><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Leviticus 1:2-4 – </b>the spiritual consequences of sin </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Leviticus 16:21 – </b>the spiritual blame/guilt for sin </div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The priest’s hands had no special power in them, nor is it necessary to think the spiritual energy had to flow through the priest’s hands like water through a hose or electricity through a wire. The laying on of hands is a physical act testifying to a spiritual event or transaction.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Like the wind… you cannot see forgiveness, but you can see the sign God offers to testify to it.</div><h2 class="western">To Give Authority [Both Civil &amp; Religious]</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God uses the laying on of hands to ordain/appoint His servants to positions of responsibility and authority within His chosen assembly.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Numbers 27:18-23</b> it was not Moses who put Joshua over Israel. Moses laid hands on Joshua for all Israel to see with their eyes. A spiritual transaction is taking place. God was appointing Joshua to a position of responsibility within the congregation in the wilderness. The laying on of hands was a physical act, a symbol, of the fact that God placed Joshua in that office.</div><h2 class="western">New Testament Examples</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">There are many examples in the early records of the Church of God of official roles within the body conferred upon someone through the laying on of hands.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 6:4-6 </b>deacons</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 13:1-3</b> God chose these men and made it known through the prophets and teachers by the visible laying on of hands</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Timothy 1:6 </b>it was God who gave Timothy the gifts but it was testified to by the laying on of hands</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Timothy 5:22 </b>there is a human element in the process… God allows us to make choices &amp; mistakes</div><h2 class="western">Recognition of [And Submission to] Authority</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We saw that the laying on of hands was used to witness to a person being tasked with a responsibility and granted authority to carry it out. But the laying on of hands is also a public witness of submitting to authority. Their authority does not exceed what is necessary to get the job done. A person ordained is not them an authority unto themselves. They operate within a larger body.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You and I submit ourselves to the authority of the Father. He alone has the power to raise us to everlasting life. We submit ourselves to His judgment in this matter… as to whether we are fit and prepared to receive the full rights of son-ship and inheritance when Christ returns. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Father has given the authority to judge to His Son… Jesus Christ. He has also made Christ head of His Church. Within the Church Christ has designated some to be hands, some feet, some eyes, ears, mouth or perhaps the stomach. Acting together the Church bears the responsibility to prepare those whom God calls to receive everlasting life and inheritance.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Timothy did not proclaim himself a minister of God… it came through the authority of the Church… and whatever authority there is in the Church is given by Christ <b>Ephesians 4:4-13</b>. He does this so that we may be fit and prepared to receive the fullness of eternal life.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Timothy had hands laid upon him by Paul… who in turn had hands laid upon himself by apostles and elders who were commissioned by Jesus Christ <b>Acts 13:1-3, Acts 11:25-30 </b>[prophets and teachers from Jerusalem].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Yes, Paul had his road to Damascus experience… he was called and instructed by the living Christ. Paul was very clear about this in his writings. But, he also worked within [or submitted himself to] the structure of the Church. If ever anyone had reason to believe they could best serve God by breaking off and doing a work on their own it was Paul. But he did not operate that way <b>Galatians 2:1-2</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God wants us to work together through the Church.</div><h2 class="western">Laying on of Hands as Applied to Healing</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-weight: normal;">The purpose of laying on of hands in healing is also tied to the recognition of and submission to authority.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Mark 6:4-5; Luke 4:40 </b>– Jesus healed by the laying on of hands. Besides offering a display of His personal compassion and love. Healing was one of the many signs that He was the promised Messiah… to whom power authority and dominion were given.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 28:8 </b>Paul healed by the laying on of hands. This offered a testimony to who he was and the validity of his commission to preach to the non-Jewish world.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>James 5:14-15 </b> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The elder’s hands have no special powers… there is no power in the oil. The power of the Holy Spirit does not have to flow though the hands of that man like water through a hose of electricity through a wire. The healing is God’s through the power of the Holy Spirit. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Yet through the laying on of hands, God continually points you back towards the flesh and blood reality of His Church… a body of human beings: fallible, imperfect, a source of great joy, a source of great sorrow, perhaps frustration… yet Jesus Christ works with you through His Church.</div><h2 class="western">Why the Elders?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To come to the elders, who anoint, lay hands upon you, and pray is a physical act in which you submit yourself to God’s authority… to His will… to His perfect righteous decision on the matter.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God gives physical procedures as a demonstration of your submission to His authority over your life. God wants people to come to him in the manner He instructs. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Kings 5:6-15</b> the power was not in the water… the power was in the submission… the washing in the water was only visible testimony to a spiritual transaction… submit yourself to God.</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Why jump in the Jordan instead of the rivers of Damascus?</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Why come to the elders instead of the person sitting next to you?</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God gives physical procedures as a demonstration of your submission to His authority over your life. God wants people to come to Him through the Church. That is why you come to the elders, who lay hands upon you, anoint you, and pray.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Father calls and draws a person to Himself through the Son… Jesus Christ. Christ is the door. He is the way. The scriptures are also very clear that the Church acts in this age as the body of Christ… His flesh and blood presence in the world at this time. He is the head of the body… He is the head of the Church. </div><h2 class="western">Receiving the Holy Spirit</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 8:15-17</b> – the hands of the person [Peter or John] don’t transmit the Holy Spirit… only God can place the Holy Spirit within you. Only God the Father can make you a begotten child.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But, God has given us the example of the laying on of hands as the outward sign of this amazing spiritual transaction taking place. A physical procedure which gives a witness and recognition of the human instruments through whom our Father, and His Son have chosen to work through.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 9:17-19</b> Paul/Saul had a direct encounter with the risen Christ. Yet when it cam time for Paul to receive the Holy Spirit, God sent a man. A disciple named Ananias to lay hands upon him and baptize him. Later on, as much as a maverick as he was, Paul worked through the structure of the Church.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 19:5-6</b> Paul continued the process of laying on of hands for the receipt to the Holy Spirit.</div><h2 class="western">Summary</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> The laying on of hands is considered in scripture to be among the most fundamental teachings of Christ and therefore of the church. It is a simple physical procedure meant to draw our attention to, and provide a witness to the very spiritual work that God our Creator is doing in us… through His Church… in this age.</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/NT80FEZhh0Y" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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You Can Be A Pillar In The Church of God
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0WinYbk8HN8/Ww4LI4ei-_I/AAAAAAAAA54/1C2G7E6zh8Ah2hri35-QeolYySYzvYSzACLcBGAs/s1600/JustRight.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="478" data-original-width="597" height="256" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0WinYbk8HN8/Ww4LI4ei-_I/AAAAAAAAA54/1C2G7E6zh8Ah2hri35-QeolYySYzvYSzACLcBGAs/s320/JustRight.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;">A Pillar in the Church</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To call someone a pillar, for example: pillar of society, pillar of the community, pillar of the church… has been a well used idiom of the English language since medieval times. It basically means such a person is an active and respected member of a group of people… local society, community, or church.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Like many such phrases we hear this one is used less often than in the past. Discussions of old-fashioned or quaint idioms of the language are not our purpose here [that would be better suited to a course in philology]. We are going to discuss this particular phrase because its origin is biblical which probably also explains why it is falling into disuse and beginning to sound out-of-date.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In construction a pillar would be a firm, upright, support for a larger superstructure; for example a steel or marble column that holds up a cross beam.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This construction context is way we can explore the biblical use of the concept.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 3:12</b> here we have a prophecy of your future position in the household of God. To be a pillar in this grand and holy building project God is working out. I ask that you consider your present circumstances in God’s Church as training for that future role. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To be, or work towards becoming, a pillar in God’s Church, is training to become a pillar in the temple of God. A temple not made of human hands, stone, or steel, or glass… but a temple composed of the family of God <b>Revelation 21:22</b>… the Father, the son, and his many children who stand as pillars in that creation.</div><h2 class="western">A Pillar As A Metaphor/Analogy</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The primary function of a pillar is to provide support, and strength… to bolster, brace, prop-up, or sustain. We can easily picture what that means in a construction project… imagining those functions in a community, a society, or a church requires some additional thought and application.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 2:1-2, 9 </b>Paul goes to the home church in Jerusalem to make sure he is working in harmony with the rest of the church. He talks with James, Peter, and John… who were considered pillars in the church.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The KJV and NKJV uses the word “seemed” which in modern English casts a shadow of doubt… “it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it wasn’t”… [supposedly pillars as opposed to known as pillars].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><b><span style="background: #fdfeff;">NIV</span></b></span><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;"></span></span><span style="color: #001320;"><i><span style="background: #fdfeff;">James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars</span></i></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><b><span style="background: #fdfeff;">NLT</span></b></span><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;"></span></span><span style="color: #001320;"><i><span style="background: #fdfeff;">In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church</span></i></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">What made these men pillars was not their physical strength, it was their reputation. Meaning others could look to them to uphold, support, strengthen, or sustain the church… through the example of their actions, their attitudes, and their words.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">There are people today who others point to as pillars within the church... people who inspire confidence, stability, and a feeling that this all makes sense. So I hope you are asking… How Can I Be A Pillar?</span></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">A Pillar Needs A Solid Foundation</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">In a construction setting a pillar can only do its job properly if its set up straight and put on a firm foundation that doesn’t shift around, cave in, or wash away </span></span><span style="color: #001320;"><b><span style="background: #fdfeff;">Matthew 7:26</span></b></span><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">Because of this a pillar can withstand adversity. A pillar sticks with it. A pillar it there week after week, year after year.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">That statement from Jesus comes at the end of the sermon on the mount. His teachings were not some new thing. His teachings are built upon the already existing written word of God. The new testament explains the old testament, it does not replace it.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">So a pillar knows God’s word and knows it well. But there much more to it than knowledge. There are plenty of people who know the word well but are not considered pillars.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><b><span style="background: #fdfeff;">Ephesians 2:19-22</span></b></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #001320;"><b><span style="background: #fdfeff;">1 Peter 2:5</span></b></span><span style="color: #001320;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">quotes psalm 118:22, a prophecy</span></span></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #2f5496;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="background: #fdfeff;">The Importance of the Cornerstone</span></span></span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">The&nbsp;</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">cornerstone</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">&nbsp;(or&nbsp;</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">foundation stone</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">&nbsp;or&nbsp;</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">setting stone</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">) is the first stone set in the construction of a&nbsp;</span></span><span style="color: blue;"><u><a href="https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonry"><span style="color: #5a3696;">masonry</span></a></u></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">&nbsp;</span></span><span style="color: blue;"><u><a href="https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_(engineering)"><span style="color: #5a3696;">foundation</span></a></u></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire&nbsp;</span></span><span style="color: blue;"><u><a href="https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construction"><span style="color: #5a3696;">structure</span></a></u></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Christ is that rock. We build our lives around Him by following His example, giving heed to His teaching, and accepting His authority over our lives. </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Christ’s life death and resurrection </span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">– without the reality of those events all the words are of no value. Through them the penalty of sin is paid and the down payment of eternal life [the holy spirit] is made available to us. Without Christ there is knowledge… but there is no life.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Doctrine</span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">– trustworthy teaching based on scriptural record… revealed by God and encoded in a text format</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">1 Timothy 3:15</span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">acting together the church the church as a whole is also a pillar which upholds and s</span></span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">ustains the truth of God in a world that is constantly shifting. The analogy becomes circular… but the church as a pillar sustains the truth that allows you as an individual determine what constitutes a firm foundation… and then build your life upon it.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Let’s get back to you as a pillar within the overall structure of the church</span></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="background: #ffffff;">A Pillar Provides Support</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Earlier we spoke of a pillar as bolstering, propping up, sustaining, and supporting a larger superstructure. A pillar plays a part in holding up something greater than itself. We can apply this in two areas:</span></span></div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">How it applies to our personal relationships one to another; within the Church</span></span></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">How it applies to our personal relationship with the Church when considered as a whole</span></span></div></li></ol><h2 class="western"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Supporting One to Another</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Physically</span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">: to offer help in times of need; like offering a ride to services, taking a tray of food to someone in times of stress and trouble, visiting one another, showing personal hospitality and fellowship to others… including those who are alone. At the some time using discernment to not force yourself on others when they need space.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Spiritually</span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">: pray for one another. </span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Hint:</span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">don’t wait for someone to fall sick before you consider them in your prayers. Encourage one another. Try not to fellowship an opportunity to complain. If you find this hard then try to do things together instead of just talking.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Talking</span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">: to have positive and uplifting talk you have to guard your thoughts and keep your own mind focused on the big picture of the work God is performing. We all care about the church and are very focused on what it is up to… I have always found that conversations with a lot of “the church should do this”, “the church should do that” … can be very engaging [because I am highly invested in the overall project]… but, such conversations usually leave me deflated and depressed. We in the ministry fall prey to this as much as anyone [negative nostalgia].</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Talking bible:</span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">this is a double edged sword. Talking about areas of controversy, or where there are multiple interpretations are definitely more interesting. These are the topics we naturally gravitate towards. Talking bible can be helpful… and sometimes it can be harmful. Very often people who get fixated on their own personal interpretations of some verse find themselves gradually getting more alienated from the body until they float out the window on a gentle breeze like Forrest Gumps feather.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Ephesians 4:11-16</span></b></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Supporting The Whole Body</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Let’s hearken back to the construction analogy: a pillar standing alone does not fulfill its intended purpose … its nothing more than a decorative stone. In a construction project, like building a house, or a temple a pillar must be joined properly to the overall structure to serve its purpose and function. </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">For example:</span></span></div><ol><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"> <span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">if one pillar is higher than the others then the whole weight of the cross beam falls on that pillar. </span></span> </div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"> <span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">If its too short then its either not really supporting any weight, or its causing the entire superstructure to sag</span></span></div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Either option weakens the overall structure. </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">The overall structure we are considering here is the Church.</span></b></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">A pillar does not try to set itself apart from others, exalt its own importance, its not pushy, not seeking its own way. </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">A pillar does not shrink back when it is called upon to support… “why is the Church doing that?” … “don’t ask me… no one asked my opinion… if it all comes crashing down its not my fault… I’ll just be standin’ over here”. If you have ever found yourself saying stuff like that… join the club.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">We all struggle with the same conflicting currents of the human heart. But we must </span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">persevere. </span></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Tone</span></span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">You can say the same thing in a variety of different ways. You might have a concern and express it in a way that comes across as complaining, or you might say it in a way that is criticism, or you might say it in a manner that is perceived as constructive criticism. [Spider on the wall]</span></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Prayer</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">We spoke a bit earlier of praying for one another: I ask that you also pray for the ministry. For example: year after year I have heard lamentations about sermon content: we need more prophecy, we need to focus on the fundamental doctrines, I need encouragement to get through the trials and temptations of my life, I want to be encouraged and uplifted [</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><i><span style="background: #ffffff;">note: I have never heard anyone say </span></i></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">“I want correction”</span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><i><span style="background: #ffffff;">, although I have heard people say</span></i></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">“I want that other person to be corrected”]. </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">I ask you to pray about the messages you hear in Church. Ask for God’s inspiration, ask for those answers you need, ask for the encouragement you need.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Hebrews 13:17-18 </span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><i><span style="background: #ffffff;">Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.&nbsp;Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.&nbsp;</span></i></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">The KJV NKJV translations definitely have an authoritarian spin [add background on 1611 KJV]. Do a word study on this verse and I think you are likely going to see OBEY is not the way the word is usually translated. </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><i><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">My translation:</span></b></i></span><span style="color: #222222;"><i><span style="background: #ffffff;">Work together with/trust/be persuaded by your leaders and let them win you over as those who are tasked with providing you spiritual instruction and who know they will be held responsible for it by God. Help make their work a joy and not a burden of grief. Pray for us, we truly are trying to do what is what is best, in an honest/honorable manner. </span></i></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Financial Support</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Be faithful in your tithes and offerings. They are a clear and obvious way in which each of us supports the overall structure, the church, fulfill its commission to preach the gospel and make disciples of those who respond. </span></span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Reward</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><b><span style="background: #ffffff;">Revelation 3:12 </span></b></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">a pillar in God’s temple is an analogy that points to our reward</span></span></div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">A pillar of perfect Godly character, straight, tall and true with position and place in God’s house… His family… His universe ruling structure</span></span></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">You will remain close to Him forever… not going out</span></span></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">You will bear the family </span></span><span style="color: #222222;"><u><span style="background: #ffffff;">name</span></u></span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;"> FOREVER</span></span></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">You will be living and working at God’s universal headquarters for all eternity</span></span></div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone, who sets the foundation, wants to share His office and administrative duties with us… with you. </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">As pillars we will extend the strength and support to billions of others when they too are resurrected.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Part of your training for that amazing future and glorious reward begins now in the humble setting of His Church… </span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Be the person others can look to as a pillar in the Church. One that endures and remains standing, supporting, and sustaining. </div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/qggOPmzrej8" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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God’s Commands Are Spiritual And Stand Throughout Time
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="MsoNormal"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0Ezb66N03Aw/VzCfwnrkUFI/AAAAAAAAAHg/pu_jtpAjkRw3UbRlcxGQIUmPMRp3YtaDQCLcB/s1600/time.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0Ezb66N03Aw/VzCfwnrkUFI/AAAAAAAAAHg/pu_jtpAjkRw3UbRlcxGQIUmPMRp3YtaDQCLcB/s320/time.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><span style="font-size: large;">There is trouble in our world. Nations and cultures are in conflict… there is fear, anger, corruption at work, in politics… families are drowning in a sea of selfishness, perversion, even violence. What is the cause of it all?</span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: large;">The answers are wrapped up in the concept of law… the human mind does not like this concept of law… but we are going to forge ahead anyway. </span></div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">Physical Laws &amp; Spiritual Laws<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal">The universe has physical laws… gravity, the laws of thermo dynamics, genetics, etc… these are the basis for physical life which is temporary. The universe also has spiritual laws which provide the basis for spiritual life which is eternal. These spiritual laws are outlined and explained in the form of God’s commands… the premier example being His 10 commandments.</div><div class="MsoNormal">God’s laws don’t show us how to build a house or split an atom. God’s law is spiritual… and shows us in humanly, understandable terms, the mind of God, We get instruction in how He thinks and how to put it into practice. Be truthful (don’t lie), be faithful (no adultery), be generous (don’t covet), be respectful, love… these are the mind of God which is permanent and unchanging (the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow).</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>1 John 2:3-5</b> His commandments are how we know God… know the mind of God. We have this knowledge in written form but also in the life of Christ. He came to reveal the Father to us by doing the will of the Father for all to see… including keeping or living in His commandments… the premier example being His 10 commandments.</div><div class="MsoNormal">It is commonly thought that the 10 commands only came into existence as part of God’s covenant with Israel. But if these commands are indeed eternal spiritual principles then we should expect to find evidence of them even before Israel stood before God at Mount Sinai to receive them. </div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">From Adam to Moses<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b>1 John 3:4 </b>sin is the transgression (or violation) of the God’s law</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Romans 5:12-13<o:p></o:p></b></div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->Adam committed sin <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; mso-ascii-font-family: Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-char-type: symbol; mso-hansi-font-family: Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;">à</span> brought death</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->Sin not reckoned where there is no law</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->But there was a reckoning for sin because death did reign from Adam to Moses sin all have sinned</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast" style="mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->Therefore law and reckoning for sin was in effect from Adam to Moses</div><div class="MsoNormal">Sin still brought death and wrath before the commandments were written on stone and given to Israel. The spiritual eternal law of God was in play before, during, and after the covenant at Sinai. The covenant didn’t usher in some new radical concepts of law, it really brought a more complete awareness of what those eternal spiritual laws are… and with that greater knowledge came greater accountability… greater wrath.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Genesis 26:5</b>Abraham is first and foremost noted for his faith… but his faith led him to obedience. Notice that Abraham is praised by God for keeping His laws, statutes, and judgments. The wording is significant. It is the same wording you find referring to the moral principles included in the terms of the OC. The record of Abraham’s obedience is not referring to generalized ideals like kindness or goodwill… this is far more specific.</div><div class="MsoNormal">From Adam to Moses you can find evidence of all the 10 commandments (the spiritual law of God) being judged by God when violated. The sins of Adam &amp; Eve… of Cain… of Jacob… but my favorite is found in <b>Genesis 2:2-3</b>.</div><div class="MsoNormal">The commandments of God show us the path to happiness, success, and peace. They are our guide for right relationships and much more. We say we want happiness, to feel good about ourselves, to get along and God’s laws are our instructions for achieving that. </div><div class="MsoNormal">The problem is, we are not living that way and we don’t get the good results they lead to… and we ask what’s wrong? We want love… but will not act in ways that are loving. </div><div class="MsoNormal">God is love and His commandments are an amplification of how Godly love plays out in the physical realm.</div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">God Makes a Covenant With Israel<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Exodus 19:5-8</b> <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; mso-ascii-font-family: Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-char-type: symbol; mso-hansi-font-family: Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;">à</span>(the laws etc: Exodus 20-23)<span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; mso-ascii-font-family: Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-char-type: symbol; mso-hansi-font-family: Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;">à</span><b>Exodus 24:1-8</b> The eternal spiritual laws of God are best known as part of the terms of the old covenant. Note: the commandments are not the covenant. The covenant is an agreement… if you do this I will reciprocate by doing this. (Give example) Obedience will bring blessing/ disobedience will bring cursing.</div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">There is More in The OC Than The Commandments<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal">God’s covenant with Israel also contained rules and instructions about how humans contaminated by sin could safely approach the holy, righteous and all-powerful God who would dwell among them. Rules for the tabernacle, a priesthood, sacrifices… all of which were temporary until the coming of Christ. But the commandments are not temporary.</div><div class="MsoNormal">As part of making the covenant God wrote down the eternal spiritual principles (known as the 10 commandments) in human language… so that we could hear and understand them... written on stones, later scrolls, then paper, and most recently electrons. Eternal spiritual truth was made more understandable to flesh and blood people by putting them in the context of human physical existence... family relationships, property rights, court justice, worship practices. The essence of the mind of God could now be learned and taught, even to children, and humanly passed on to future generations (rather than by the direct intervention of God).</div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">We Are Not Born With This Important Information Built-in<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal">A giraffe or a penguin is born with almost everything necessary to be a good giraffe or penguin. For the most part they are born pre-programmed to function… Birds have an instinct for flying, nest building etc. From birth animals know how to do most necessary things with very little learning… and they generally stay with the same basic behavioral pattern they were designed with.</div><div class="MsoNormal">Humans are different. Yes, we have instincts and proclivities but most of what we are, how we interact, what we think… is <u>learned</u>behavior. We are born more like a blank slate versus animals that are born with instinct. We have to be taught what it is to be a fully integrated human person… mind, body, and spirit.</div><div class="MsoNormal">We are made in God’s own image with a mind like His but limited in scope and scale and with a spiritual component not found in animals. We are taught, we learn, we choose, which produces character. To learn Godly character and to develop a mind patterned after God our Father we need additional information. That additional information comes from beyond us… not from within us.</div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">The Purpose of the Written Law<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal">The purpose of those 10 commandments… on stone, or scrolls, or paper, or electrons is to give you that necessary information. Possession of the information does not justify you, or save you, or build the mind of Christ in you. They are just words on paper… of themselves they have no active power.</div><div class="MsoNormal">The power is in what you do with the information, conviction of what sin is, repentance and baptism to bury the sins of the past, receipt of the Holy Spirit and the power to clean up your life from attitudes and actions that breed sin… and this is the basis for eternal spirit born life.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Romans 3:20</b> – the purpose of the law is to show you what sin is. The words of themselves have no power… the power to comprehend, be convicted, take action is of the Holy Spirit.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Romans 7:7b</b>, <b>12</b> these are the spiritual principles that speak to us about the mind of God, that bring us happiness, success and hope… and as such, they have been, and are in place at all times in all places.</div><div class="MsoNormal">We do not know these principles by instinct… we must be taught. This is God’s pattern and design from the beginning. Adam received a command from God… Cain was taught about SIN and personal choice. They had to make choices between happiness, right relationships, success or suffering, alienation and failure <b>Gen 4:6-7</b>.</div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">&nbsp;The Law in The New Covenant<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Hebrew 8:10</b> The old covenant was terminated because of the people’s failure to comply and a new covenant has been established. Please notice that the spiritual, eternal, holy, good laws which express in human terms the mind of God our creator are still in place. Why would they ever be done away?</div><div class="MsoNormal">The terms of covenant “deal” have changed… but the mind of God has not changed. Have faith, show faith and I will write my laws on your heart and on your minds… what is written on your heart and mind? God’s Law. This is the process of salvation, sanctification, and transformation leading to eternal life!</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Romans 3:31, I Corinthians 7:19, 2 John 5-6, Revelation 14:12<o:p></o:p></b></div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">God’s Law In The Future<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal">The next step forward in the future of humanity is the return and rule of Christ on earth for a 1000 year period. (KOG) The laws of God will still be around… still be taught… still perform the same function!</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Revelation 20:4</b>judge implies there is a law</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Isaiah 2:2-3<o:p></o:p></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Ezekiel 36:26-27</b>God plans to reestablish Israel as a model nation in millennial period. Their standing as a model nation once again will be based on His laws and commandments, but this time Israel will have them on the same terms as the new covenant… God will write His laws on their hearts and minds. (Romans 11)</div><h2><span style="color: windowtext;">God’s Law Is Spiritual And Stands Throughout Time<o:p></o:p></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal">We do not know the fullness of God. But His desire is to make Himself known to us. He has created us in His own likeness… capable but limited. We have been given His commands, statutes and judgments which help us understand His mind… written in a manner that touches on both the physical and spiritual… just like the lives we live… physical and spiritual</div><div class="MsoNormal">We were born to learn… to be taught and to receive this eternal spiritual information... to mature and grow into fully mature children in His family. God’s mind hasn’t changed and His commandments haven’t been done away with. If anything we simply have more information than ever before.</div><br /><div class="MsoNormal">But the real question is “what are you going to do with it”?</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/QWDg_MWd6Yo" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Spirit of Service - Don't Look Down on the Small Things
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DlZ7PJRlido/Wt9EN4CAPFI/AAAAAAAAA4A/CIzFkFElgH83tvZF-xpZEv0ZFu_49x5JwCLcBGAs/s1600/alp-studio-289331-unsplash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DlZ7PJRlido/Wt9EN4CAPFI/AAAAAAAAA4A/CIzFkFElgH83tvZF-xpZEv0ZFu_49x5JwCLcBGAs/s320/alp-studio-289331-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>The gifts God gives through the <a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2018/04/how-can-person-grieve-holy-spirit.html">Holy Spirit</a> are mentioned in several places in scripture. The letters to the Ephesians, Corinthians, and Romans each contain a list of such gifts. Each listing is different and depends on the context, such as: how they pertain to office in the church, or signs and wonders, or functions within the body of Christ.<br /><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">We are going to zero in on the list in Romans 12 which itemizes various functions within the body of Christ. From there we get our subject for today... the gift of service. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Romans 12:3-8</b> the word service is a translation of the Greek word <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">diakoneo</i>. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">The service associated with the word <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">diakaneo</i> can cover a wide variety of activity but search the scriptures and you’ll find a special emphasis on taking care of the needs of others, very often in conjunction with food and drink, <a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/02/hospitality-way-of-life-god-wants-us-to.html">hospitality</a>, and physical accommodations.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Diakoneo</i> is the verb form of the word <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">diakonos</i>, or, deacon which is a recognized office in the Church.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>A person anointed as a deacon is designated as a <i>servant</i> of the Church and provides leadership in the areas of service previously mentioned.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal">God’s gift of service is not limited to the person ordained as a deacon. Service is for everybody. A deacon provides leadership, and example in this area.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Ephesians 4:11-13 </b>it is the role of a church leaders and teachers to encourage every member towards acts of service. In this way the mind and attitude of Christ work in you.</div><h2>The Attitude of Service</h2><div class="MsoNormal">The list of gifts we read in Romans 12 also mentioned <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">generosity</i>, which implies sharing money or possessions with others, especially those who need help. I would like us to think of service as being generous with your time and energy.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">2 Corinthians 9:1 </b>financial aid for famine relief in Jerusalem is spoken of as <i>diakonea/service</i></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">2 Corinthians 9:6-7</b>in the same way I believe God wants each of us to give generously of our time and energy as we have decided in our heart not reluctantly, or with complaining, because God loves service done cheerfully of our own free will.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">2 Corinthians 8:12</b>the attitude is more important to God than the actual amount <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Luke 21:1-4</b>.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Matthew 10:40-42</b> what these verses tell us:</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="text-align: left; text-indent: -0.25in;"></div><ul><li>·<span style="font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; line-height: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">Service we render others is really service to God</span></li><li>·<span style="font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; line-height: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">God is aware or our service</span></li><li>·<span style="font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; line-height: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">God promises a future reward for our service</span></li><li>·<span style="font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; line-height: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">God is especially focused on the service we perform within the body of Christ</span></li><li>·<span style="font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; line-height: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><span style="text-indent: -0.25in;">Hospitality among the people of God [providing food, drink, and physical accommodation] is a prime example of service</span></li></ul><!--[if !supportLists]--><br /><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">Keeping these factors in our thinking can help us adopt and maintain a cheerful attitude… they also address some of the main reasons hold back from service or serve with a wrong outlook. </div><h2><b>3 Challenges to Maintaining a Cheerful Attitude When Serving</b> </h2><h2><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot; , &quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Calibri Light&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font: major-bidi;">Challenge #1</span></b> - Focusing on the Physical </h2><div class="MsoNormal">God considers service toward our brothers and sisters as service towards Him. But often we only see the other person or group of people and begin to doubt there is a spiritual transaction taking place:</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">We may consider them unworthy</b>… why am I serving these ugly, smelly, uncool, people? Why aren’t they doing their part? They’re no better than me, why aren’t they serving as much as me?</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">They may be ungrateful</b>… no one even knows I’m in the back room hauling out the trash… everyone just assumes I am going to take care of everything… they never even said thanks.</div><div class="MsoNormal">You might think the situation would be better within the Church and we wouldn’t have such struggles with our attitudes. We are all working from the same playbook, right?</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">I have found over the years that serving within the Church is actually rather challenging because the expectations are very high, a lot is taken for granted, and the rewards are far off.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">To do well you must expend the necessary mental energy to remember… your service is really toward God and that it is Christ living and acting within you. </div><h2><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot; , &quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Calibri Light&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font: major-bidi;">Challenge #2</span></b> Desire for Recognition from Others</h2><div class="MsoNormal">God promises us reward for our service… but that reward is not immediate. However, the human mind is wired to focus on immediate results as a means to quickly determine which behaviors are good or bad. For example: when training a very young child the reward has to be meted out quickly so the child makes the connection easily. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">You went potty all by yourself… that makes mommy very happy… have a cookie.<o:p></o:p></i></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><br /></i></div><div class="MsoNormal">That’s the way we’re wired. Working towards rewards that are further off in the future is something we grow into. It’s a sign of maturity.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i>You don’t’ say: If you go potty all by yourself… I’ll buy you a corvette when your 18<o:p></o:p></i></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i><br /></i></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Matthew 6:1-5 </b>its natural to desire immediate praise, but pay attention to what Jesus is saying here: if you do good to get praise from other people… then that praise is all the reward you will get.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></div><div class="MsoNormal">What is praise and recognition from other people? A pat on the back, a quick compliment, and <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">poof</i>it’s over… you’ll feel good for a short while and then it’s over. Your reward has come and gone.</div><h2>The Reward God Promises is Better</h2><div class="MsoNormal">Is it better because it’s a pat on the back from God… and He’s like super awesome? No, the reward from God is better because has real substance… and its lasting.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Luke 19:12-19</b> in this version of the parable each person is given a gift equal in value to what is given to the others, some double it, some gain 50%, and some do nothing with what they have been given. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Their reward is in proportion to how well they did with what they were given. The substance of the reward is a position of authority in the Kingdom of God. The reward promised by God is better because it has real substance… and it’s lasting.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Revelation 20:4-6, Revelation 5:9-10 [3:21]<o:p></o:p></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Ephesians 2:5-7 </b>you have been called by God now, disciplined and trained by Him, so that you might be raised up to serve in the coming age of Christ’s rule on earth.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Matthew 25:14-23</b>in this version of the parable the gifts are not all the same. Some are given more to work with and some are given less. The person given 5 bags doubles it; the person given 2 bags doubles it. Both receive the same reward… each has done equally well considering what they were given to work with. Not everybody has the same gifts, or opportunities.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"></div><ol style="text-align: left;"><li>Principle #1 <b>Luke 12:48</b> to whom much is given much will be required, to who much has been entrusted much will be asked.</li><li>Principle #2 If you are faithful in the little things God gives you to do [acts of service for example] you will be put in charge of many things when Christ returns in power an glory. So, the person who distains the day of small things… well, that’s just a bad life choice.</li></ol><br /><h2><b>Challenge # 3</b> Seeking Recognition By Complaining</h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Luke 10:38-42</b>Martha appears to be a person blessed with a desire and talent for service. She is pictured as hospitable and busy. Jesus was a frequent guest at her home and my guess is that part of the reason why was that she always made it a very enjoyable visit. Here she is recorded making some of the classic mistakes of a person given to service:</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Her focus on service generates a great deal of unnecessary busy work </b>– since service is a good thing, the more work we do in service the better, even to the point of creating new things to do! The problem is: these cause a distraction from other spiritual instruction.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">She wants recognition </b>– don’t you care, don’t you recognize my effort?</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">She wants others to conform to her standards of service</b> – command Mary to stop sitting there listening to you talk and help me out here! [even though some of the stuff Martha was up to were not really essential].</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Seeking recognition by complaining has the potential to diminish your reward… because if its praise from other people you are after, then as Jesus says, then that’s your reward. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Which do you prefer? The reward of praise from men… or the reward from God?</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Caveat:</b> praise is OK. If I come along and praise you I have not taken away or replaced our reward from God. The point is: don’t seek praise &amp; recognition. His word tells you to take a lowly position and wait to be acknowledged by God in due time.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Luke 14: 7-11</b>notice the setting... food and drink, status and recognition</div><h2>God Doesn’t Like Complaining</h2><div class="MsoNormal">The classic example of complaining is: the people of Israel in the wilderness.</div><div class="MsoNormal">Newly redeemed and freed from Egyptian oppression the people of Israel find themselves in a desert. After a while they start to get hungry and thirsty [food and drink].</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">They start grumbling: </b>man, what are we going to drink… God provides sweet water</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Then they start murmuring: </b>man, we had all kinds of food in Egypt… have you brought us out here to starve? … God provides manna.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Then they say:</b>man, this food is boring, it’s the same thing all the time… we were better off in Egypt. We should just go back.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">In each case Israel had some legitimate concerns. The problem was how they voiced those concerns. The way they voiced their concerns was not acceptable…<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>“I don’t like how things are being done around here”, “this isn’t the way I would have done things”, and imputing malicious intent on Moses.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>When you are serving in a situation where someone else is in charge this type of complaining is common.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">God does not like complaining… but He often creates situations where complaining seems perfectly justified! <b>Why would He do that?</b> </div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><br /></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Deuteronomy 8:1-5 </b>He purposefully made life hard to test them and see what was in their hearts. God’s goal is not that our physical lives run smoothly, no glitches, no problems, or that our activities have no faults, no flaws.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">God is concerned with the training of the heart and mind.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">He purposefully allows circumstances to be less than ideal, or difficult: to humble us, to test our character, to teach us to set right priorities, to discipline us for maturity, to show us it is not by our strength that His work is done… to trust Him.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Sometimes we lack what seems important to us… sometimes our needs are supplied in a manner we find unfamiliar or not how we would have preferred… sometimes we are stressed… sometimes we suffer disappointment.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">God gives us opportunities for service</div><div class="MsoNormal">God allows problems and difficulties </div><div class="MsoNormal">Serving cheerfully is spiritual discipline</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>1 Peter 4:8-11<o:p></o:p></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a><b>James 1:2-4<o:p></o:p></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/AWnFKAuZIK0" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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How Can A Person Grieve The Holy Spirit?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1aTPVDjWG7I/WtQS8q2TWFI/AAAAAAAAA3w/xcMdGmKkpsYR5Py3FomOkzyK2iNHpNAbwCLcBGAs/s1600/whoislimos-265482.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1096" data-original-width="1600" height="219" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1aTPVDjWG7I/WtQS8q2TWFI/AAAAAAAAA3w/xcMdGmKkpsYR5Py3FomOkzyK2iNHpNAbwCLcBGAs/s320/whoislimos-265482.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 5:30 </b>How can someone grieve the Holy Spirit?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The warning in this verse is directed at those who have believed, been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. God is aware of and watching the actions and thoughts of all humanity. However, at this stage in human history He has special care and concern for those He has called to receive His great gift of eternal life. So, this is a warning for disciples of Christ. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To grieve means to cause sorrow, distress, emotional pain.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The one causing the sorrow distress and emotional pain is you or me.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The sorrow, distress, and emotional pain is felt by the Holy Spirit of God which is Christ living in you.</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit as being grieved because the resurrected Jesus Christ is alive, active, and present within you through the power of the Spirit. We prefer to speak of Christ’s presence within us as our advocate and helper. However, His presence in us also makes him witness to everything we say and think… and so He is also our perfect, righteous judge.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 4:3-5</b> Jesus’ judgment will be a total 360 evaluation of your life. Note: this is the judgment that will establish the reward [praise] given to those who are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit and are raised from the dead at His return [the day of redemption], see <b>1 Corinthians 3:12-16</b>.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Corinthians 5:9-10 </b>we can live a life that is pleasing to Him… or we can live one that grieves Him.</div><h2 class="western">Does God Really Feel Grief?</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God is all powerful. From our human perspective we can assume that means nothing we humans do, say, or think will affect Him. But I propose that’s really just us projecting our own way of thinking on God, rather than accepting Him as He has chosen to present Himself to us. Let me explain:</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Fear, rejection, longing, sorrow... we don’t like these feelings. What causes them is usually something outside our control… very often caused by other people… and we don’t like that either.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If I were all powerful I’d set things up so bad stuff could never affect me… I wouldn’t want any negative emotions. So, it only makes sense that an all powerful being would set things up so He/She/It could not be affected by anything. Either by:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">controlling all things [denying freedom of thought and action]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">shutting out emotions [goal of eastern religion and most human philosophy]- the idea of God as a Universal Intelligence or Mind</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Both of these are dead end solutions that leave humanity with a bleak vision of life and reality. Gladly God has a different way of seeing things.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Isaiah 55:8-13</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 6:5-8 </b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">One of the many things Jesus did during His life in the flesh was to show us the Father. In other words to show us what God is like. Jesus showed emotions… indignation, wrath, sorrow.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What Causes God Grief, Sorrow, and Emotional Pain?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God saw the evil doings of the people on earth and He also saw or knew “<i>that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts were only evil all the time</i>”. God can be grieved by what we do and I believe especially what we think, or what is going on in our hearts. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Lets go back to the immediate context of Ephesians 4:30 for insight on how someone might grieve the Holy Spirit.</div><h2 class="western">Ephesians 4:29 the words we speak. </h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It is amazing to me how much emphasis God’s word, Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the Psalms, the Proverbs and the Prophets place on the words we speak. Perhaps because they provide the clearest window into our heart. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Matthew 12:33-37 [Proverbs 4:23-24]</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We might say “she doesn’t really think that, she’s just venting… in her heart I know she feels differently’’, or,” he didn’t mean to say that… he was just joking around”. But for the person who hears them, and especially for the person who says them they may be an indication of what’s really going on in there. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Ephesians 4:29 doesn’t really give us examples of corrupt communication or “rotten talk”. But we can figure it out by looking at the “not that, but this” formula. We are advised to stick to talk that builds up, helps, and benefits others. We can logically assume that corrupt communication is talk that tears people down, hurts them, and is contrary to their best interests.</div><h2 class="western">Ephesians 3:31 Types of Rotten Talk</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The verse immediately following our warning about grieving the Holy Spirit tells us to get rid of bitterness, passionate wrath, anger, fighting and slander. Lets consider all of these in the context of corrupt communication or “rotten talk”… and as matters of the heart.</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Bitterness</b> – means pointed, sharp, cutting. When used literally it means a harsh, unpleasant taste or smell. But scripture uses it to describe spiritual matters as well.</div><ol type="a"><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">James 3:11-14 extreme and negative jealousy or envy</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Colossians 3:19 harshness, mean cruel [opposite of gentle]</div></li></ol></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Passionate Wrath</b> – <i>thumos</i> meaning a sudden outburst of inward indignation</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Slow Burning Anger</b> – <i>orge</i> a more thought out and lasting feeling</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Fighting</b> – literally “crying out”… for example in controversy or arguing</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Slander</b> – here we are looking at the actual content of what is said. Saying hurtful things about a person [literally blaspheme]</div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Consider the first point “bitterness”. For the most part you can’t tell if a person was bitterly envious unless it shows its ugly head through what is said. You might not even realize its lurking within yourself unless you make the effort to listen to yourself. The same holds true for the other points. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Watching your words is a tool God gives you to look into your heart. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If the Holy Spirit is in you.. meaning the living Christ is in you working to bring about the creation of a new spiritual being equipped with the mind and character of God… and if these things grieve the Spirit. Then Christ Through the power of the Spirit is going to urge you to correct the problem. Get his stuff out. But you have to listen and follow the prompting of the Spirit. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 8:5-10</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The antidote to the bitterness, wrath, anger, contention, and slander that grieve the Holy Spirit of God is to imitate God… which we mostly accomplish be imitating Christ. That means you have to know how Christ spoke and interacted with others [read the gospel accounts]. Once you know the pattern of His life then do likewise until it becomes a habit, and from there a new way of thinking.</div><h2 class="western">Digging Deeper</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Examining our words is a tool we can use to see into the heart, but just saying the right things is not the end goal. It is possible for you to say only nice things to people, to be polite, and never express anger at someone but still have it in for them and work toward exacting your revenge. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This too grieves the Holy Spirit of God that is in you.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 4:25-28</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God does not like deception – </b>A person who says the right thing but does the wrong is not pleasing to Him, if grieves Him. God hates lying lips and a flattering tongue. What’s the solution? </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If you have been able to exert the required mental focus to regulate you patterns of speech to reflect Godly values… why not go to the next level and put that same mental discipline towards changing your thoughts and actions?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God does not like unresolved disputes</b> – holding grudges, maintaining feuds. You may be able to choke down what you really want to say… and that’s good… [unless you are just waiting for the right opportunity for some payback]. But to please God rather than to grieve Him go to the next level and be forgiving.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That’s how we deal with anger… the slow burning kind [orge] and the rash impulsive kind.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><i>Translation of verse 26: don’t let your [orge: slow burning anger] draw you into sin [revenge?], don’t let the sun go down on your [thumos: rash outbursts of indignation]… IE don’t let a temper flare up fester and turn into a grudge or feud.</i></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You Father and Creator likes reconciliation, He likes issues to be resolved. Unresolved grudges and feuds can lead to violence, or other acts of revenge. These grieve the Holy Spirit of God within you.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">His constant exhortation is to forgive one another… as Christ has forgiven you. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God Does Not Like Greed or Laziness</b> – consider that Paul is writing this to a church congregation. Do you think they were swiping one another’s wallets during services or pocketing silverware when visiting one another? Or, is he talking about people who are always taking from others… and exhorting them to get a job so they too can help others in need?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Greed = wanting things which are not legitimately yours to have. We tend to think of greed as a sin of the rich. But isn’t someone who wants fruits of another person’s labor without being willing to work greedy as well?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s word from end to end exhorts generosity. Helping others in their time of need is part of the mind of Christ. But God’s purpose is not to enable people who refuse to work. God’s purpose is that you and I help others to get others back on their own two feet.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God helps you and blesses you. But you don’t wake up each morning to find all your chores done… floors vacuumed, dishes washed, bills paid.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s blessings usually comes in a form that provides you the opportunity to earn your own way. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Greediness grieves the Holy Spirit of God within you. </div><h2 class="western">Digging Even Deeper</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 4:1-4</b> this section is very similar to Romans 1:18-32 which adds that even though the things of God are self evident in the very creation we are all a part of… most of humanity willfully chooses to reject them and go their way. They do not hold God values in high esteem and in both cases the result is sexual immorality.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We are not talking about a momentary lapse or slip-up.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We are talking about a heart that becomes hardened… who through constant practice and human reasoning become convinced that their bad behavior is actually good behavior. Abortion, divorce, sexual abuse, and all relationships outside of marriage. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">These grieve the Holy Spirit of God within you. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a><b>Ephesians 5:1-11</b></div><h2 class="western">Why Does God Grieve?</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">I have a son and daughters. I have a natural desire to see my children accomplish certain goals: establish a line of work they can do well in, start their own families, even that they aspire to the resurrection of the first fruits at Christ’s return.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If I see them making bad choices, heading down the wrong path, I am grieved.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God looks upon you the same way. He grieves when He sees any of His beautiful created children heading down a path that leads away from eternal life and the everlasting joy He wants to shore with them. </div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/XDLwhhp2J6U" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Ruth Redeemed - A Woman Becomes A Bride
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LrdwH1-yFHY/WtNUOJ0VZeI/AAAAAAAAA3Q/D3fTwiwrB7kSFFDsb2kkGwLeZ8pNIMw2QCLcBGAs/s1600/030.millet.-les-glaneurs.-57.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="240" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LrdwH1-yFHY/WtNUOJ0VZeI/AAAAAAAAA3Q/D3fTwiwrB7kSFFDsb2kkGwLeZ8pNIMw2QCLcBGAs/s320/030.millet.-les-glaneurs.-57.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The book of Ruth is a story of how a woman became a bride. The book provides inspirational instruction about the steps leading to our ultimate destiny… to be the Bride of Christ at His return.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The opening scenes of the book take place in Moab. Elimelech, a man of Bethlehem, and his wife Naomi, have gone to live in Moab to escape a famine in Judah. In Moab Elimelech’s two sons married native Moabite women.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Elimelech dies, and in quick succession his 2 sons also die before any children are born. The 3 women [Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah are now widows. Naomi hears the drought has ended in Israel and plans to go back home. Naomi encourages the young women to stay in Moab. Orpah kisses her mother goodbye, but Ruth insists on remaining with Naomi. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">They arrive in Bethlehem poor and destitute. So, Ruth goes out to glean in the field. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">She ends up gleaning in the fields owned by Boaz. He notices her… offers her protection and encouragement while she continues to work in his fields. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Naomi, probably noticing that Boaz was showing Ruth favor advises Ruth to indicate her desire to marry Boaz. However, according to Levitical law, another kinsman has prior claim which Boaz must first address. Boaz redeems Ruth from this other kinsman and marries her.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The book closes with Naomi, who had earlier lamented her loss and barrenness, rejoicing in her children through Boaz and Ruth. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ruth 1:22; Ruth 2:23</b> the main events of the book take place during the spring harvest in Israel.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Note: Israel’s Spring Harvest lasted 7 weeks. The cutting of the wave sheaf on the day after the Sabbath [last Sunday March 31<sup>st</sup>] signaled the beginning of the barley harvest. The 1<sup>st</sup>harvest of barley was followed by the 2<sup>nd</sup> harvest which was wheat (which ripened later). These 7 weeks of harvest end with Pentecost. </div><h2 class="western">Who’s Who? In the Analogy</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Ruth = the one redeemed <span style="font-family: Wingdings, serif;"></span> to become a bride <span style="font-family: Wingdings, serif;"></span> Ruth is you</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Boaz = the redeemer <span style="font-family: Wingdings, serif;"></span> Who takes a bride <span style="font-family: Wingdings, serif;"></span> Boaz is Jesus Christ</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The main themes of the book are redemption, marriage, and harvest. The time setting of the book is the 7 week period between the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Weeks… or Pentecost. Therefore its reasonable to assume the instruction and symbolism of this book are appropriate for a day like today. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What can we learn?</div><h2 class="western">Ruth’s Total Commitment</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ruth 1:15-18</b> Orpah returns to the idolatry of Moab, whereas Ruth wants to remain connected to the God of Israel… through her connection to Naomi.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In these memorable words Ruth pledges her willingness to abandon everything: her homeland, her people, her religion… her whole identity… to follow Naomi.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Colossians 3:5-11</b> This is total renunciation of self… the total commitment to a new identity. Isn’t this exactly what our baptism signifies? Isn’t this the solemn pledge we made… to become a new creation in Christ. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Our commitment must be as thorough as Ruth’s. We must attach our self to the Israel of God and not let go.</div><h2 class="western">Ruth Was A Gleaner</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When she agreed to return with Naomi to Israel Ruth was agreeing to help support an aging woman. Ruth was young and strong so she went to work in the fields gathering up the grain that the harvesters had dropped or left behind so she and Naomi could eke out an existence. It would have been exhausting, hot, and humbling work.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Biblical law established this practice as a way even the most down and out people in Israel could earn a living. <b>Leviticus 23:22</b> [Lev. 19:9-10, Deut. 24:19-21]. <i>Principle: help the poor to help themselves. </i></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ruth 2:2-3 </b>Ruth’s labor as a gleaner was in the fields of Boaz… the man who would later become her husband. Here is another interesting symbol through which we can gain insight.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What does a gleaner do? A gleaner does not sow the seed, they don’t water it or nurture the crop as it grows. The farmer [husbandman] who owns the field sows and nurtures. The gleaner is, by definition one who Is allowed to share in… and benefit from the difficult, complex, enterprising work of another.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s purpose is to bring in a harvest. He owns the field, He provides the seed, and He sustains all things. Its God’s plan… and its God’s power that sees it through [His holy Spirit]. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God gives you and me the opportunity to work in His field… to bring in His harvest. We are part of what is being harvested, and we are actively involved in the harvest of others.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Like we see in the biblical principle of gleaning: He does not simply fill up a bushel basket and hand it to us. He expects us to be active. Following the lead of His spirit: putting out sin, actively pursuing the mind of Christ. Obedient, self controlled, virtuous, wise &amp; fair in judgment, joyful, seeking peace and reconciliation, patient, kind, good, faithful… filled with knowledge of the truth and doing out part in sharing it with others.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Being a gleaner requires effort. But our opportunity to participate, and our profit (godly character) are due to God who owns and operates the field.</div><h2 class="western">Boaz Provided For Ruth</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A gleaner’s work wasn’t easy or pleasant. Ruth would be exposed to ridicule and possible physical abuse at the hands of the harvesters, and her long hours of work might have been rewarded with only a little bit of grain. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ruth 2:8-9 </b>Boaz took notice of Ruth and provided protection for her. Once again we see that Ruth had to do her part: stay in my field, stick with the young women of my household, stay away from the men. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ruth 2:14-17</b> Boaz fed her… but she still had to go to work. Boaz instructed His reapers to deliberately drop grain in her path so she would be encouraged and successful in her efforts.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Verse 19-23 </b>Naomi could see that Ruth had collected a lot of grain for a gleaner, so she asked “<i>where did you glean</i>”. This is when Naomi finds out it is Boaz [a relative, probably a cousin of some sort]. She starts connecting the dots… that He is actively helping out because they are both widows. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The work and effort of obeying pursuing righteousness can wear us down. We might get discouraged, frustrated in our efforts, not seeing enough results for all the hard work… we want to see more spiritual growth, we want to be free of all doubts, we want to released from the constant pulls of the flesh that cause us to slip backwards.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 6:9</b> the scripture tells us to not give up and remind ourselves of the end purpose for our work. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Back to our story… Boaz didn’t just hand her extra grain. He arranged for it to be dropped on the ground and she had to pick it up. It took a lot of small little stalks of barley or wheat to add up to a bushel of grain. Ruth had to keep her head down and stick to her work to see the blessings.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You may wish for God to help you in a dramatic way… and He might... but don’t let that keep you from paying attention to the many little ways you are helped, guided, and protected.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Just as Ruth was under the constant protection and loving eye of Boaz, you are safe in the keeping of your heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Isaiah 41:10 </b>God is ready to strengthen you in your weakness</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Isaiah 43:1-3</b> God is with you in all your troubles</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 12:1-2</b></div><h2 class="western">Ruth Boldly Sought To Marry Boaz</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Acting on Naomi’s counsel, Ruth boldly expressed her desire to marry Boaz. It was an audacious move. Boaz was a wealthy, respected landowner… and she was a penniless gleaner in his fields, an unclean foreigner, from the idolatrous nation of Moab. <b>Ruth 2:10-13</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Yet Boaz readily took Ruth as his wife. He saw a hardworking girl, faithful and loyal to Naomi, eager to attach herself to Israel, and the God of Israel… and he loved her.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Sometimes the Church of God takes heat… because we take literally the goal of spiritual birth into the actual God family… to participate in the oneness of God. But it’s the true promise and we hold on to it firmly. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Boaz loved Ruth while she was still a gleaner in his fields. That love encouraged her to seek a more permanent relationship with him.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus Christ has demonstrated His love for you even though you are not on His level. That love should encourage you to seek a more permanent relationship with Him.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Scriptures reveal that the Church is the future bride of Christ at His coming </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The marriage of God’s Son and the Church will be a marriage between beings that are on the same plane [Just as a man or woman does not marry a cow…]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a><b>1 John 3:1-2; Philippians 3:20-21</b></div><h2 class="western">Boaz Redeemed Ruth</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Although Boaz loved Ruth and she loved him, Boaz was not free to take her as his wife until he redeemed her from a prior claim.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ruth 2:20b</b> by biblical law the redeemer [ogle] had the right to buy back family land sold during times of hardship. He could also pay the redemption price for family members sold into slavery or bond service. If he were single or widowed he could revive the family lineage when someone died without producing an heir [he would marry the widow and father children who would inherit the property of the one who had died [Deuteronomy 25:5-10]. Levirate marriage has to be understood in context of inheritance laws in Israel.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Boaz would become Ruth’s <i>goel</i> redeemer. He would redeem her from poverty, and widowhood. He had shown her great favor… but Ruth had to declare herself willing to marry him. <b>Ruth 3:7-13</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Note: scripture makes no mention of Boaz ever having been married. And he is presented as if there was some reason why he would not seem desirable for marriage. He seems pleased that Ruth would consider marriage.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Christ acts as your kinsman redeemer; He becomes our human brother, buys us back from our bondage to evil, redeems our life from death and returns to us the hope of our eternal inheritance which we lost because of our sin. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Isaiah 53:2-3</b> speaking here Jesus… we do not love him because he is beautiful or majestic… we love him because He first loved us… because He is good… and because He is able to redeem us. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 5:8-10 </b>That redemption began with Christ’s death on Passover.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 5:25-27 </b>The preparation of the Bride [spotless and pure] has been pictured by the Feast of Unleavened Bread</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Now enter the 7 week countdown to Pentecost. A time of harvesting barley and wheat.</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The <a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-feast-of-harvest.html">barley is harvested</a> first: that is Christ [the wave sheaf] who is already resurrected</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Now the wheat is being harvested: that is all those who are sealed with the Holy Spirit. An amazing event we will celebrate at the Feast of Pentecost.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The actual resurrection of those in the second part of harvest does not come until the return of Christ which is the Feast of Trumpets. <b>Hebrews 11:39-40</b> that way we are all together. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 19:6-9</b></div><h2 class="western">Who is Naomi?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Naomi… she represents the role of the Church. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It was through Naomi that Ruth was brought in contact with the true God.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It was through Naomi that Ruth attached herself to the Israel of God.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It was through Naomi that Ruth was encouraged to seek marriage to Boaz</div></li></ul><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; orphans: 2; widows: 2;">This is part of the great work of the <a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-church-of-god-in-todays-world.html">Church of God</a>. <b>2 Corinthians 11:2… Preparing the Bride</b></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/ELazlGs8UF4" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Work of Jesus Christ is Far From Finished
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nvUCZFNLejg/WrmjpPGx0EI/AAAAAAAAA2E/FRanaWIQiqUkxcJDHNZYy-71DdgEHne7gCLcBGAs/s1600/far-from-finished.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="853" data-original-width="1280" height="213" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nvUCZFNLejg/WrmjpPGx0EI/AAAAAAAAA2E/FRanaWIQiqUkxcJDHNZYy-71DdgEHne7gCLcBGAs/s320/far-from-finished.jpg" width="320" /></a>Many people assume that Christ’s death finished the plan of God. We [United Church of God] do not believe that is so.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>John 19:28-30</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">My purpose today is to show you that God’s plan and purpose for humanity is not finished with the death of Jesus… rather His death is the beginning. The beginning of a plan far more satisfying, comprehensive, and complete.</div><h2 class="western">What Then Was Finished?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>John 17:1-5 </b>Jesus completed the work the Father had given Him to do. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 5:7</b> that work included the sacrifice of His life as “our Passover” to pay the penalty of our sins [see also <b>Luke 12:50</b>].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That was not the end of the salvation plan, it was the beginning.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>John 4:34-36 </b>reference to work as the calling of many people to enter the path of life and teach them to walk in it. Jesus began this enormous project and has handed it over to His church to continue [Matt 28:18-20].</div><h2 class="western">The First Passover Pictured Christ’s Sacrifice</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s had to inflict a terrible punishment upon Egypt to get them to finally release Israel from bondage. God had to put to death every first born child in the land to force Pharaoh to give in.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But, through the blood of a lamb, smeared on the doorposts or their houses God would pass over the firstborn of Israel, and spare [or save] them from death. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The blood of that lamb, at that first Passover, was a symbol… and a prophecy... of the blood of Christ, the lamb of God [John 1:29]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">With the institution of the Passover God began to reveal His salvation plan in prophetic form to His Church. <b>Acts 7:38 </b>at that time Israel was His Church. He gave them 7 annual festivals and commanded them be observed forever. </div><h2 class="western">Why Do We Keep The Festivals?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Under the new covenant the Israel of God was reformed and is now made up of people from all nations begotten by His Holy Spirit. The new covenant Israel of God [aka Church of God] is tasked with the ongoing proclamation of God’s salvation plan.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When someone comes to the Church they are discipled. Part of that discipleship or training is through the keeping of the Holy Days.</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Passover = fulfilled</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Unleavened Bread = in process</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Pentecost = in process</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Trumpets = future and prophetic</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Atonement = future and prophetic</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Feast of Tabernacles = future and prophetic</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Last Day = future and prophetic</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In this way we reveal, rehearse, and re-affirm the outline of God’s step-by-step plan of salvation. It is an understanding you may take for granted… but the vast majority of humanity has never known and even today does not know. When you know the plan… you have answers to many of the biggest and most perplexing questions humanity has regarding, immortality, freedom of the will, and the true justice, compassion and righteousness of our Creator. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Here is an outline of that plan presented in the cycle of God’s Holy Days:</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Passover</b> = repentance and forgiveness</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Unleavened Bread</b> = overcoming sin and developing the mind of God</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Pentecost</b> = receipt of the Holy Spirit, the foretaste of eternity</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Trumpets</b> = the resurrection of first-fruits at Christ’s return</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Atonement</b> = the removal of Satan and re-dedication of the world</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Feast of Tabernacles</b> = the 1,000 year rule of Jesus Christ</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Last Day </b>= the final resurrection of all flesh, truth revealed to all who have ever lived</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Just as the weekly Sabbath cycle keeps us in a right relationship with God as our Creator, the annual Sabbaths [festivals] keep His church in a right relationship and understanding of His plan of salvation.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>The holy days are for the Church of God… to keep us on track!</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">False and deceived teachers replace these biblical revealed holy days with counterfeit celebrations [like christmas]. Such substitution goes hand in hand with replacing the truth of God for a false understanding of the very who, what, when, where, and how of God’s actual plan.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The new covenant Passover is a memorial of Christ’s death and a yearly reminder of your personal deliverance from sin and reconciliation with your Creator. It is the 1<sup>st</sup> step in the amazing plan to bring about salvation and life for the untold billions of human history.</div><h2 class="western">We Must Not Stop With The Passover!</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Many people and popular preachers teach that Christ’s sacrifice completed/finished the plan of salvation and there is nothing more to be done except believe.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That is a teaching and understanding FAR removed from the truth.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 3:23-25</b> Jesus sacrifice pays for past sins. It does not give us permission to break God’s laws in future thinking the penalty has already been paid.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">After that first step of accepting His death in place of our own <u>we don’t stop… we go on to the next step!</u></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 3:31</b> this is what the Feast of Unleavened Bread teaches! Uphold the law… to do our part in putting sin out of our lives just as we put the leaven out of our homes. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 2:17</b> Christ ministry is not about crating a new reality where sin and obedience have no consequences… where everything is DONE. Christ’s purpose is to free us from sin so we might go on and live a life of righteousness. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">He is our living High Priest, active and at work to help us in the ongoing project of removing sin from our lives to prepare us for eternal life. He said:</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">“<i>my sustenance is to complete the assignment the Father sent me to perform… look the fields are ready for harvest… even now the reaper draws his wages and harvests the crop of eternal life…</i>”</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">He also said this:</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 19:16-17</b> the path to eternal life is living by the commandments. Through walking that path we develop holy, righteous, spiritual character which prepares us for that eternal promise.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Christ’s death by itself does not create that mind in us. It only clears the way to make the process begin… to make it even possible. Our rap sheet may be erased but we still need to be taught how to live and think in a manner that will sin no more.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It is the project of a lifetime… only “finished” when we are resurrected to life at Christ’s return. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That is the project pictured by, brought to our remembrance by… the Feast of Unleavened Bread.</div><h2 class="western">We Must Forsake Sin</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice in payment for the penalty of our sins is only the first step. Once we have repented of our sins and been forgiven by God… He wants us to forsake sin. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 18:4 </b>God commands us to come out of the world’s ways of sin just like Israel left Egypt. <b>Hebrews 11:25-26</b> Egypt is a picture of a world, a culture, a life soaked in sin… we must make every effort to come out of it. With the help and guidance of our living High Priest.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;gill sans ultra bold&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: small;"><b>1. </b></span></span>Get out of sin… <span style="font-family: &quot;gill sans ultra bold&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: small;"><b>2. </b></span></span>Get sin out of us… both the inner and the outer! An all encompassing removal.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To keep us in remembrance of this second step in God’s plan, Christ our LORD, the LORD who was with Israel before us instituted this second annual festival… the Feast of Unleavened Bread. To remind His people that we must do our part to keep the sins Jesus covered with His blood out of our lives from here on out!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">After repentance and baptism God expects us to follow His laws… to spiritually unleaven our lives… just as we are to physically unleaven our homes before the Feast and keep them unleavened for the duration of the Feast. The act of eating unleavened bread during the feast teaches us the opposite of sin… OBEDIENCE to God… putting the mind of God in us.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Feast of Unleavened Bread teaches us about our need to go forward and live by God’s commandments.</div><h2 class="western">Let Us Keep The Feast</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 5:7-8 </b>this is a simple and direct new testament command to observe God’s annual festivals and Holy Days.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We keep the Feast… <span style="font-family: &quot;arial black&quot; , serif;">WHY?</span>... because Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">He said, “it is finished”… the sacrifice and redeeming payment has been made.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Phase one has been completed.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Move forward to phase two…. KEEP THE FEAST</div><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><br /><br /></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/TRAJDuVSqYw" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Examine Yourself in Preparation For the Passover
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-E_9aZbJDgDg/WqYATv90KpI/AAAAAAAAA1g/QVDZ8vezg5EaPNZUWs6rgMIKXa6fG3MEwCLcBGAs/s1600/mari-lezhava-265675-unsplash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="994" data-original-width="1600" height="198" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-E_9aZbJDgDg/WqYATv90KpI/AAAAAAAAA1g/QVDZ8vezg5EaPNZUWs6rgMIKXa6fG3MEwCLcBGAs/s320/mari-lezhava-265675-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><b>1 Corinthians 11:27-32</b> It is possible to take the Passover in a manner that is unworthy… to take it in an irreverent way, with a wrong attitude.<br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><br />The immediate example we have is of the Corinthians. They were keeping the Passover as if it were a Greco-Roman dinner party, with preferential seating and separate rooms for members based on social status. The wealthy among them would get served first, they would get better food, better drink etc. Some had scraps while others indulged themselves so much they got drunk [<b>1 Corinthians 11:17-22</b>].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Paul warned them to examine themselves. To get in the right frame of mind they needed to take a good hard look at their motives, agendas, prejudices, snobbery, vanity and pride. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God detests vanity, pride and self exultation.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Paul’s call to examine themselves included a call to recognize and realize the <i>body of Christ</i>. Each member of the congregation was a member of the body of Christ… but how they were treating one another did not reflect that understanding. All their social posturing [exalting some and humiliating others] was contrary to the love for one another Jesus had commanded them to practice. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 10:16-17</b> sharing together in the life of Christ [His blood] and jointly participating in the body of Christ [the one loaf] are the spiritual realities we are reminded of each year when we take the Passover. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To examine ourselves in preparation for Passover means to examine how we treat one another within the congregation… and the entire Church of God.</div><h2 class="western">Personal Examination</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 6:15-20 </b>to discern, recognize, or set apart as special, the body of Christ can also imply very personal introspection. Wrong attitudes like greed, covetousness and lust can remain hidden within, unseen by neighbors and friends. Yet these can do great damage and harm to us in the inner person… causing harm to our own bodies and to our own spirit which God also considers His own possession and dwelling place.</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Lustful fantasies</span></span></span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">love of money</span></span></span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span lang="en-US"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">despising of authority</span></span></span></span></span></div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To examine ourselves in preparation for Passover means to examine our inner most thoughts and attitudes so we might rule over them through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit which is Christ in us. </div><h2 class="western">Where Do We Begin?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 26:2</b> David prayed and asked God to look into his heart and mind… </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b><span style="color: black;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">kilyâh </span></span></b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">– </span></span></span><span style="color: black;"><i><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">emotions</span></span></i></span><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;"> – some of the rotten stuff that can take root in you is beneath the level of rational thought… “ I know it doesn’t make sense but that’s the way I feel”</span></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b><span style="color: black;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">labe</span></span></b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;"> – </span></span></span><span style="color: black;"><i><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">thoughts</span></span></i></span><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;"> – some of the stuff that lodges in your brain is the result of rationalization, application of materialistic logic and high falutin’ stuff like that…</span></span></span><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"> ‘</span></span><span style="color: black;"><i><span style="font-weight: normal;">I know God say NO but what I'm doing seems like the most logical thing to do</span></i></span><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;">”.</span></span></div><div style="font-weight: normal; line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">We can find it hard to be </span></span></span><span style="color: black;"><u><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">objective</span></span></u></span><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;"> about what’s going on in our head. We need to pray and </span></span></span><span style="color: black;"><u><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">ask</span></span></u></span><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;"> God to show us what our hearts and minds are like… we may not even be aware of what we need to work on.</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">The examination process begins with the understanding that God must reveal to us our spiritual state. He knows and is aware of the shifting currents and undertows of the human heart and mind.</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><span style="color: black;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Psalm 19:12-14 </span></span></b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">some of our issues and problems are obvious… some of them are hidden and require God’s assistance to identify and root out so they do not rule over us.</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><span style="color: black;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">1 Kings 8:38-39</span></span></b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;"> here we have the scenario of a person coming before God with all the afflictions of the heart. Solomon asks that God would forgive and help [or act] giving that person justice or mercy since God alone knows the truth… the inner motivations of the human heart and mind.</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><span style="color: black;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Example</span></span></b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">: sometimes I am talking or counseling with a person… they are doing, or saying, crazy, illogical stuff… then I find out there is some dark secret in their past… abused or neglected as a child, some traumatic event in youth… and I say to myself “ahh, that’s why they react that way”… I feel better able to understand.</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">As a fellow human being what I see is like the tip of an iceberg floating by… I may see the small crest of ice but there is a huge mountain below…</span></span></span><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"> which I, with all the limitations of my human state will never know.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">God your Father and creator can see the whole iceberg. My best advice is to point you to Him. To pray to ask to seek His input, His direction, His advice. </span></span></span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><span style="color: black;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Psalm 139:23-24 </span></span></b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">David wanted God to know his heart… </span></span></span> </div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Are there parts of us you don’t want others to know about you?</span></span></span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">Are there actions and attitudes that you would like to hide from God?</span></span></span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">… <span style="font-weight: normal;">God knows, He can help you address those secrets and lead to the way everlasting.</span></span></span></div></li></ul><h2 class="western"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">The Role of God’s Word in Self Examination</span></span></span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="background: #ffffff;">If we ask God to help us see areas of our life that need to be set straight, attitudes, thoughts, assumptions, unrighteous emotional patterns… how does God is answer us?</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Does He come to us in a dream? Do we hear a voice in our head? An omen?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Scripture provides records of such things… however, I see them as the rarest of exceptions rather than the rule. For my part… I have never experienced such things. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You or I might get a feeling, an emotion, a thought, but in all cases the warning from God’s word is to test the spirit [spiritual perceptions] against the written testimony of God’s word. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Isaiah 8:20</b> in conformity with the law and prophets [within the boundaries of the authority and consensus of Godly leaders]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 John 4:1 </b>in conformity with the teachings of Jesus Christ [to accept Jesus is to accept His teachings]</div><h2 class="western">The Positive Side of Self Examination</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">So far we have considered examining ourselves as probing for flaws, inconsistencies, weaknesses… like your doctor might give you a checkup looking for potential problems like: high blood pressure, signs of cancer, heart problems and so forth. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 17:3-5 </b>David said God could probe and examine him and would found him to be on the right path. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">David made his mistakes and sins… what made him OK was his repentant approach. In like manner, when we repent God forgives and covers our sins. We are right with Him and are forgiven. When God examines us sometimes He will say… your heart is fine, your blood work looks good, you are healthy. But you might want to get more exercise...</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You could also consider your self examination like a final exam a student in college might write. In that instance an examination is performed to verify that the student has learned the material. Therefore, self-examination serves the positive purpose of proving that you do know the material.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 119:57-60 </b>David thought on God’s ways and turned to God’s law to instruct and direct him. He was aware and conscious of the difference God’s instruction and guidance made in his life. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">So should you!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Verse 97-104 </b>God’s word gave him wisdom and insight that could not be obtained through the senses and human logic. This helped him keep his feet on the right path <b>Verses 105-11</b>. When he thought about the impact God’s instruction had on his life it gave him joy.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>I hope this is also part of your own spiritual self examination leading up to this year’s observance of the Passover.</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 6:17-23</b> the positive change God is looking for is holiness. A life that is set apart through its pursuit and heartfelt adherence to the principles of Godly righteousness… which leads to eternal life.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 3:11-15 </b>God will examine our lives to see if we have learned the material… learned the lessons. The picture Paul uses is of a refining fire… all the good stuff we have built in this life we will carry with us into eternal life. All the worthless stuff will be left behind. Attitudes, ideas, outlooks that might seems very important according to the standards of the day but meaningless in eternity.</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">How much time are you spending building what lasts?</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">How much time are you frittering away on what does not last?</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This too calls for serious introspection and self examination.</div><h2 class="western">Comparing Yourself to Others</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It is tempting to examine your spiritual progress by comparing yourself to others… this is not a good way to go about examining yourself.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Luke 18:9-14</b><span style="font-weight: normal;"> the pharisee considers himself righteous by comparing himself to other people.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-weight: normal;">When you do that you are not getting and </span><u><span style="font-weight: normal;">objective</span></u><span style="font-weight: normal;"> look at yourself but a </span><u><span style="font-weight: normal;">subjective</span></u><span style="font-weight: normal;"> one… </span><b>Matthew 7:3-5. </b><span style="font-weight: normal;">What you are seeing is not a clear picture… but filtered through the lens of their sins and flaws AND the lens of your own rotten attitudes.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 6:4 </b>if you are using comparisons to others as a way to evaluate yourself you could actually be reinforcing your bad attitudes, outlooks, assumptions and perspectives instead of rooting out of your thoughts. For example: comparing yourself to other is often driven by envy and covetousness towards those who we consider better… or vanity and pride towards those we esteem lesser.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Evaluate yourself against the unwavering standard of God’s written word. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 4:12-13</b> all things are open and laid bare to God. We should pray to God to ask His help to reveal what we are doing right and where we may fall short. It is the spirit of God in us working with our minds that gives us understanding and washes us clean with His word.</div><h2 class="western">An Annual Reminder To Examine Ourselves</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Examining our lives is a project of a lifetime. It is an ongoing ever evolving process that never really ends. At this time of year… the Passover is in 3 weeks… we are given a reminder to examine ourselves in a thoughtful and honest manner. This is how we can approach the annual memorial of the new covenant we have with our Creator… the Passover… in a worthy manner. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We are God’s children. His goal and purpose is that we learn the material, the way of righteous living. When we are lacking… God will help bring that to our attention so we can make the necessary changes. <b>James 1:22-25</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> <b>1 Corinthians 11:28-32 </b><span style="font-weight: normal;">this is a reminder to us</span>e God’s word and the power of His Spirit to examine ourselves and deal with our faults now… we will not have to be punished by God along with the world when the day arrives. </div><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; orphans: 2; widows: 2;">Examine yourself and take the Passover. </div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/MNNYIsILHKk" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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What is the New Covenant?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To understand the New Covenant we begin with the Old Covenant.&nbsp;</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Summary</b>: the Old Covenant was an agreement [a deal] between the God of Creation and Israel [the descendants of Abraham]. God promised to protect, to provide for, and to give honored status to Israel. Israel promised to obey God’s commandments, laws and judgments. If Israel failed to obey… blessings from God would stop and instead they would receive curses [punishments].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Deuteronomy 5:29 </b>God knew Israel would not be able to keep up their end of the deal. They did not have the heart and mind to obey. Through animal sacrifice He provided a temporary way for them to pay a penalty for sins and reconcile themselves to Him.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That temporary setup of the Old Covenant was always intended to be upgraded to the everlasting system of the New Covenant. The perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ would proved the true saving power the temporary system of animal sacrifice could only hint at. Only through the receipt of the Holy Spirit the heart be transformed to love and obey God always.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 1:3-14</b></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rku5Vc3BbCg/WpzN8z58EVI/AAAAAAAAA0w/c7TMYzJMwMcPpoV1mswKHl8DhYypRbePgCLcBGAs/s1600/marl-clevenger-332116-unsplash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="900" data-original-width="1600" height="180" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rku5Vc3BbCg/WpzN8z58EVI/AAAAAAAAA0w/c7TMYzJMwMcPpoV1mswKHl8DhYypRbePgCLcBGAs/s320/marl-clevenger-332116-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><br /></b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>SPS</b>: to give a comparison and contrast between the Old Covenant and the New itemizing key elements such as: promise, commandment, sacrifice, tabernacle, and priesthood.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God’s word presents the New Covenant as BETTER…</b> everlasting promises, heartfelt understanding of His commandments, a real and effective sacrifice instead of a placeholder, a perfect and all knowing priest with 24/7/365 access to both the presence of God and the believer.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The goals are better and the means to accomplish them is also made better. </div><ol><li><h2 class="western">The Promises</h2></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The old covenant was framed around promises from God. If Israel would love and obey Him… He would be their God and bless them with land and crops, physical well-being and health, protection from their enemies.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Numbers 26:53 </b>the promise of the land in the old covenant was referred to as Israel’s inheritance. The land was to be their possession all the days of their lives and then passed on to their children. The covenant also included various laws and statutes to ensure the ownership of the land stayed in the family… the 50 year jubilee, laws of property boundaries etc. The idea was a permanent and lasting possession of material property.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 23:25-26</b> the promise of physical well-being, long life, and plenty of children to carry on the family name was great… but you still end up dead. What ever joy and abundance God provided came to an end the day you died. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The new covenant contains a <u>better</u> promise of resurrection to everlasting life and a place of honor within the family of God Himself. Currently, we are His begotten children but after our resurrection we will be brought into the family and given full rights and responsibilities… including our share in the possession of all things, because the God family owns all the universe. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 1:11</b> – eternal life</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 21:7 </b>– all creation</div><ol start="2"><li><h2 class="western">The Commandments</h2></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The commandments and laws of God hold a key position in the framework of the covenant agreement. Israel promised to obey and do what God commanded in response to His offer of blessings and land.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 24:7-8</b> signed the deal in blood. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 31:19</b> God gave Moses 2 stone tablets personally inscribed with the commandments. These were to be placed within the ark as a witness to the terms of the covenant.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The commandments represent the mind and will of God. They were inscribed on stone to create as permanent a record as we can achieve on our earth. But even that wasn’t enough. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A law written on stones could only serve to inform about, or remind of, what constitutes sin. Such a presentation of God’s commandments was a condemnation of sin and the proscribed the penalty of death. <i>Note: this is why the old covenant is referred to as a law of death… or as a guardian meant to keep the people fenced in until the appointed time when the new covenant would be introduced</i>. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Jeremiah 31:31-34</b> the commandments also hold a central place in the new covenant as much as the old. The role of the commands in the new covenant is better because it’s upgraded function is to change the person rather than merely to provide a fence or condemnation <b>Romans 12:2</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In the New covenant the commands of God are active and alive in you through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Through its active power you are convicted that His commands are right and good, you receive courage to move forward in obedience, and help to stay committed to the task.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In the framework of the new covenant the commands of God are actively at work to change you into a person modeled after the pattern set by Jesus Christ. </div><ol start="3"><li><h2 class="western">The Sacrifices</h2></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The blood sacrifices of an animal’s life were added to the old covenant agreement as a mechanism to pay the required penalty of sin incurred by human beings… God knew in advance that Israel would sin and fall short of the glory of Godly living spelled out in His righteous commands. He wanted a way to restore a right relationship between Himself and each one of them whenever sin came between them and caused separation. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">These laws and regulations of sacrifice were added to atone for transgressions against God’s commands until Jesus Christ came to establish a new covenant sealed in His own blood.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Analogy: </b>The old testament sacrifices of a perfect animal’s life were a temporary measure. The purpose of such sacrifices was to be like an IOU… with an IOU a person writes a note saying they will pay the required amount at some future date. The piece of paper has no real value except as a promise of payment in real cash or goods at some future date. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 10:4</b> the life of an animal could never really pay the price for a human beings life. The old testament sacrifices were a symbolic placeholder until the real thing came along. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The real payment of the penalty for sin would be the sacrifice of a perfect human life… Jesus Christ who was without sin [like the sacrificial animal which was to be without any defect]. Christ’s life was worth more than the sum total of all human beings ever created… because He was the one by whom, through whom, and for whom, all of humanity were created… <u>So, He can pay the penalty for all.</u></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Colossians 2:11-14</b> through your baptism the life which Jesus sacrificed is applied to pay the penalty for your sins. You are baptized into His death and enter into a new covenant written in His blood. The old covenant with its codes of conduct, its blessings and cursings was terminated with the death of Christ. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Until that point in human history the old covenant was the only mechanism for a person to enter into a relationship with God. After the death of Jesus Christ a relationship with God would only take place within the framework of the new covenant. [Judaism]</div><ol start="4"><li><h2 class="western">The Tabernacle</h2></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Within the framework of the old covenant God said He would dwell among the people of Israel. Like a general among His army, or a chieftain among His tribes God would have a big fancy tent set up in the middle with everyone else around Him.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s tent was made of wood, precious metals, jewels, animal skins and it would be set up in a way that symbolized the throne room of God in heaven. Lots of detailed instructions were given to Israel about how this tabernacle was to be set up, as well as many regulations about its maintenance.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The rules regarding the tabernacle were added to provide a setting where the people could come before the presence of God with their sacrifices and offerings. Not just anyone could enter the tabernacle. Only the priests could enter as representatives of the people. So, there were also many rules added for the priesthood’s service in the tabernacle.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Nothing unclean or defiled was to enter the tabernacle area. The priests had to maintain a rigorous life devoted to maintaining moral and ceremonial purity. Once a year the tabernacle itself had to be cleansed and purified through the sprinkling of animal blood. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The tabernacle and the regulations regarding uncleanness and impurity attached to the old covenant were also symbolic placeholders. The presence of God, the creator of the universe, was never really limited to a tent made of badger skins.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Symbolism Made Clear</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Colossians 1:27</b> through the ministry of the new covenant the symbolism is made clear. God dwells within you. This is realized through the Holy Spirit which you receive after you have been baptized.</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You are a tabernacle in whom God dwells through His Spirit [1 Corinthians 6:19]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The assembly of believers are stones built together temple, collectively acting as the body of Christ to do His work and maintain His presence in the world.</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Holy Spirit is the active ingredient that places the power and quality of eternal life within you… the active ingredient that washes you with the word... transforming your life. Under the new covenant the presence of God is active and at work writing His laws on your living heart and mind not on in-animate tablets of stone. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:13-15,23</b> the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses the new covenant dwelling place of God.</div><ol start="6"><li><h2 class="western">The Priesthood</h2></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The priesthood were added to the old covenant to </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Serve in the tabernacle administering the sacrifices and offerings</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Teach the commands, administer, and also enforce the regulations regarding cleanness and holiness within the temple and among the people</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>The priest was just a normal human being. </b>He lived out his allotted days then died. He had to struggle with personal sins and forgiveness. He was appointed to his office because of his ancestry, from the tribe of Levi, or in the case of the High priest a descendant of Aaron.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Like the tabernacle and the sacrificial system, the priesthood of the old covenant was a symbolic place holder for a future reality. That reality would come in to effect after the death of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the new covenant.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 7:11- 8:6 </b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The priesthood of Jesus Christ is not based on arbitrary ancestry but by the direct appointment of God after the order of Melchizedek. It is a fulfillment of the prophecy found in Psalm 110 [quoted in Hebrews].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The new covenant priesthood of Jesus Christ is an upgrade and improvement because:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">His life is everlasting, not subject to death</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">His life is without sin, He does not have to overcome and atone for His own sin before He can effectively administer the sacrifice for the sins of others</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">His life in the flesh gave Him empathy for our suffering and understanding of our temptations</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Where does the priest operate?</b> Within the framework of the old covenant the priest worked within the tabernacle acting as a buffer between the most holy God and sinful, unclean people o Israel. Within the framework of the new covenant Jesus Christ our perfect High priest works within each and every believer and within His church… but there is more!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The High Priest serving in the old covenant tabernacle served in a compound designed according to the pattern of the throne room of God. The High Priest of the new covenant serves on our behalf in the actual throne room of God which is in heaven. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 4:14-16</b> Jesus Christ your High Priest is present in both the true tabernacle in heaven, and in the earthly tabernacle which is the disciples.<b> </b>Offering His personal assistance as God writes His laws upon your heart… also serving as your advocate before the actual throne of God in heaven.</div><ol start="7"><li><h2 class="western">Conclusion</h2></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Once these better mechanisms [upgrades] of the New Covenant were put in place the old system was no longer needed. The Jewish people were not going to give it up and so in 70 AD. God allowed the Roman armies to destroy and demolish Jerusalem and the temple.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Corinthians 3:6-11; Hebrews 8:13</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>The new covenant is the only deal on the table, the old is gone. To those outside the covenant God says: repent &amp; believe, seek baptism for the washing away of your sins, that you may receive the holy spirit. To those already within the covenant He will give you a reminder at Passover each year.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 11:25 </b></div><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><br /><br /></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/TlQ7oBwKL4o" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Video Message: Is There Racism in the Bible?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U2fiX8-fagc" width="480"></iframe><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US"><br /></span></span> <span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US">The basis for charges of racism made against God and His word come from many different directions but revolve around a common theme: the establishment of Israel as God’s chosen people. In this way, critics portray the entire bible as based upon God’s favor of one race over others. Specific examples often cited include:</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US"> ➤</span></span></span><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US"> </span></span><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US">God’s command to wipe out the Canaanites <b>Deuteronomy 20:16-17</b></span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US"> ➤</span></span></span><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US"> </span></span><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US">Religious exclusivity and forbidding intermarriage with other nations <b>Numbers 25:1-3, Nehemiah 13:23-30</b></span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US"> ➤</span></span></span><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US"> </span></span><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US">Jesus’ comments to a Canaanite woman <b>Matthew 15:22-28</b></span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span lang="en-US">To some these are examples of racial preference found in scripture. Let’s see if we can learn a bit more about how God views different races and peoples using His word to guide us.</span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">----------------------------- FREE eBook --------------------------------------</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">If you want to explore this subject as a personal study of your own, request a copy of YOU CAN UNDERSTAND BIBLE PROPHECY to start learning more about the role of Israel among the nations in the Millenial setting. See it for yourself in the pages of your own bible. </span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Here's a link to the request page:</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal;">➤</span> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/p/discover-how-to-interpret-scriptural.html">http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/p/discover-how-to-interpret-scriptural.html</a></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; 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The New Covenant Feast of Unleavened Bread
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tlECaCVj7Wc/WoshzBWNipI/AAAAAAAAAzg/C7Ot5RrxJ18nZOVLvqs1Y7coJ5VLS9VegCLcBGAs/s1600/hd-unleavened-bread_0.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="480" data-original-width="720" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tlECaCVj7Wc/WoshzBWNipI/AAAAAAAAAzg/C7Ot5RrxJ18nZOVLvqs1Y7coJ5VLS9VegCLcBGAs/s320/hd-unleavened-bread_0.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>How do we arrive at our New Covenant model for observing the DOULB? How does the Church of God what to do and what not to do when observing the festival. Where do we get our New Covenant understanding of the Festival of Unleavened Bread and their spiritual implication for us today?</div><h2 class="western">The Model For DOULB Begins in Exodus</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In Exodus we learn that the feast is 7 days long and begins on the 15<sup>th</sup>day of Abib (the day after Passover). The first day is an annual Sabbath on which we do no work and gather for a special assembly before God. The last day is also an annual Sabbath on which we do no work and gather for a special assembly before God. During the entire 7 days we are to have no leaven in our homes, both the agent that causes leavening (yeast) and the resulting leavened product (bread). Instead we are to eat bread without leaven 7 days. </div><h2 class="western">Additional elements to be added when they were settled in the land:</h2><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">set apart the firstborn males of humans or animals as belonging to God <b>Exodus 13:2</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">offer the wave sheaf on the day after the Sabbath that falls during the festival and begin the countdown to Pentecost… seven full weeks – <b>Leviticus 23: 10-12</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">present a special burnt offering to God each of the 7 days - <b>Numbers 28:17-25</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">observed in central location God designates (Shiloh then Jerusalem)… <b>Deuteronomy 16:16</b></div></li></ul><h2 class="western">What Was The Spiritual Message Of The Festival for Israel?</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Exodus 12:15-17</b> Recall that Passover was a reminder to Israel of when God passed over them when He struck down all the first born in the land of Egypt (<b>Exodus 12:26-27</b>)… DOULB was a reminder to Israel of God bringing them out of their bondage in Egypt the following day. Eating unleavened bread would remind them each year of how they left in rush to escape their terrible oppression in Egypt. </div><h2 class="western">The Model For The New Covenant Festival</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Similar to what we saw with the Passover observance some elements of the DOULB are no longer included because of the coming of the Christ/Messiah. Here’s what changed and why:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The special burnt offerings are no longer necessary. The blood of bulls and goats which only looked forward anticipating the future sacrificial death of Jesus Christ are no longer necessary. His sacrifice only needed to happen once and it was sufficient for all people and for all time.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In the same way the symbolic wave sheaf is not longer offered… Christ the true sheaf from the early harvest (the first resurrection) has been presented to God the Father. </div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Observance is no longer limited to in Jerusalem… the nation of Israel has ceased to be the chosen people of God and is replaced by the church which has no actual territory but is like a seasoning sprinkled throughout various nations and territories</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">What remains is the dates, the unleavened bread, and the removal of yeast. The spiritual meaning of the festival is no longer a memorial of God leading Israel out of Egypt… the meaning of the Festival today is for the Church… the Church of God.</div><h2 class="western">What is the Spiritual Message Of The Festival For Us Today?</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Our New Covenant application and spiritual understanding of the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins with Paul’s letter to Corinth. There we hear the Church of God teaching the linkage between putting leavening or yeast out of our homes and our need to put evil thoughts and deeds out of our lives. AND It’s there we get our first understanding of how eating unleavened bread reminds the Church of our need to have Christ in us… replacing what is evil with what is good. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>1 Corinthians 5:2-8</b> Paul chews the Corinthians out regarding their puffed up pride in the matter of a man among them having sex with his step-mother. Instead of reacting with outrage, or righteous indignation, and shunning him the Corinthian congregation were proud… or puffed up and boasting.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The word translated puffed up is from the Greek word <i>phusioo</i>. It means: to blow up or inflate with air… it comes from the word for what we today would call an air pump.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Paul previously warned them not to think of the teachers of God’s in a competitive way but as fellow servants working together <b>1 Corinthians 4:6</b>…. he tells them not to be <i>puffed up</i> with pride over one another. If the Corinthians didn’t stop this useless boasting Paul warned of sterner measures against those who were <i>puffed up</i> <b>1 Corinthians 4:18-19</b>.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Public speaking was a primary source of entertainment in those days before television and movies. The average person took great delight in knowing and appreciating the finer points of giving an eloquent speech… they had their favorites… their rivalries… and were quite vocal about their preferences… just like fans of movie stars and athletes today… I follow Paul… I follow Apollos… I follow Peter (keep pounding)</div><h2 class="western">What were they boasting about in 1 Cor 5?</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Paul does not explicitly say what proud statements were made here but a very possible clue is found in <b>1 Corinthians 6: 12-20</b>… </div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The idea that sex is a natural appetite meant to be satisfied</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The idea that the sins of the body do not affect the life of the spirit</div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Both of these assumptions are alive today… and they are still as wrong today as they were then.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">I propose they badly misunderstood what it meant to be freed from the penalty of the law and living in the grace of God… perhaps seeing themselves as free from all subsequent moral obligations… such as walking in God’s commandments. Their reaction to this man’s incestuous fornication was to not judge him. They were perhaps proud of what they assumed was God like patience and forgiveness towards another member… but forgiveness is not effective/useful for the forgiven unless they [forgiven] are brought to their senses and change their behavior. Paul says… yeah judge him, and kick him out to boot…. maybe that will bring him to repentance and end up doing him some good in the end (verse 5).</div><h2 class="western">This Must Have Happened Around DOULB</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>1 Corinthians 5:6-8</b> in the same context of him criticizing the evil behavior and their foolish pride based on a misunderstanding of doctrine Paul brings up yeast, bread dough, and the process of leavening. Its a metaphor to drive home a point about how sin spreads. He’s saying don’t let sin take root in the congregation… don’t let sin take root in your life. It may start off small but like yeast it will grow and start to take over your entire life. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">BUT Paul is also clearly demonstrating that a new understanding of the spiritual understanding of the Festival was being used in the church… the ritual act of putting out leaven reminds us of the spiritual necessity to put out sin and evil.</div><h2 class="western">The Process of Leavening</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Leavening is the process of adding gas to a dough before or during baking to produce a lighter, more easily chewed bread. Many breads use yeast as the primary leavening agent (others include baking powder &amp; baking soda). The yeast will grow and divide and spread through the lump of bread dough. In the process of dividing the yeast ferments some of the carbohydrates in the flour, along with the sugar, producing carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide creates the little bubbles you see in leavened bread causing the original lump of dough to expand… <b>in other words the dough gets puffed up</b>.</div><h2 class="western">Puffed Up With Pride</h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-e2Wz3-CG4UE/WUQZpO4qDsI/AAAAAAAAAgQ/5vo_McWSXHo5HMIN4nUY2FAMHF0NpRnugCEwYBhgL/s1600/small-pufferfish1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="240" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-e2Wz3-CG4UE/WUQZpO4qDsI/AAAAAAAAAgQ/5vo_McWSXHo5HMIN4nUY2FAMHF0NpRnugCEwYBhgL/s320/small-pufferfish1.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">What problem is Paul getting at when he’s talking about something starting off small and then infiltrating and eventually taking over? As bad as the gross sexual problem may appear Paul zeroes in on their proud boasting… their false ideas about what it means to be redeemed from the penalty of the law and live in the grace of God… and how to deal with sin in their midst. Giving sin a free pass is not what Christ our Passover lamb died for. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In verse 8 Paul teaches this non-jewish group of believers, people who God had called out of the Greek world with all its idolatry … saying “<i>let us keep the feast</i> [feast of unleavened bread]…</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Paul has taught Greek converts… <u>New Covenant</u> followers of Christ… to observe this holy celebration ordained by God. AND he’s using its symbols and commanded method of observance [eating only unleavened bread instead of leavened] to teach them spiritual truths about dealing with sin… <i>let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.</i></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The Church of God is not just making this stuff up to provide christian sounding reasons for keeping some old covenant festival that doesn’t belong in the new covenant. Its there.</div><h2 class="western">Cautionary Note About Avoiding Sin</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>1 Corinthians 6: 9-13</b> Paul quickly makes a clarification (an important one for us to remember while we are so focused on putting out sin and evil from out lives)… the world is full of immorality, injustice, and false religious teaching. You cannot avoid interacting with these unless you physically isolate yourself from the world… a solution <u>NOT</u> promoted in scripture. Coming out of, or separating yourself from the world is more a matter of mind and spirit [but that’s another subject].</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The scriptural model for coming out of the world is to join the body of Christ, to join the community of fellow believers as an alternative to fellowship with the world… and as a place to work out your salvation… not in splendid isolation but in the social setting God has established.</div><h2 class="western">Where Would Paul Get Such Spiritual Understanding About DOULB?</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Where would Paul get this teaching… the idea of putting out leavening as a physical rite we perform to remind us of a spiritual truth… putting out evil and sin. It doesn’t come from the pages of the Old Testament scripture… and he clearly had taught just that to the gentiles of Corinth. He mentions it in verses 6-8 as an obvious truth both he and the members in Corinth share and agree upon. Otherwise they really wouldn’t understand what he was saying to them.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The ource of this teaching is within the words of Jesus Christ... </div><h2 class="western">The Bread of Sincerity &amp; Truth</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>John 6:4</b>… either during or immediately before the DOULB Jesus delivers a “sermon” providing understanding about the meaning of His body and bread </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>John 6:27</b>food/bread sustains you only until your next meal… what Jesus offers will sustain you permanently (eternal life)… <b>6:32-35</b>… <b>6:48-51, 55-56</b>. We are to feed on that bread of sincerity and truth meaning we are to put Christ’s life in us… His mind, His pattern of living.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Q: </b>Did Jesus specifically make all these references to bread as being “unleavened bread”. <b>A:</b> No, but consider the occasion… right before or during the feast days. AND, at a later point Jesus did <u>emphatically</u> associated His <u>body</u> with the <u>unleavened</u> bread during the NT Passover… we covered that thoroughly in my last sermon.</div><h2 class="western">The Old Yeast of Malice and Wickedness</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 16: 6, 11-12</b> On this same occasion… right after the feeding of the 5,000 and therefore immediately before or during the DOULB… Jesus warns the disciples about the evil and false teachings of the Pharisees and Saducees. Jesus specifically calls their false <u>teaching</u>yeast or leavening… </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Luke 12:1</b>Jesus makes that same statement on a different occasion… this time in a crowd of 10,000 people or more… right after painfully itemizing the hypocrisy and evil of the Pharisees teaching.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Luke 11:37-52</b>. Their teachings are filled with hypocrisy, oppression, violence, doctrinal confusion and <u>filled with pride</u>… or as Paul might have said “puffed up” with pride.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Our understanding of what leaven represents and what putting it out of our homes and lives during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is built upon the words of Jesus Christ and the apostles. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The Festival of Unleavened Bread remains for the followers of Christ… this year we will put leaven out of our homes from the 15<sup>th</sup> of Abib and keep it out for the next 7 days. We do it as a spiritual exercise of remembrance. A reminder not just of something God our Father has done… but what He is doing.</div><br /><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Delivering us from evil.</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/pZQhdD3GK_4" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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What Was The Old Covenant?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kOvkAK6VQHU/WouQYEIKN-I/AAAAAAAAAz8/A0nNKaMsHhkLbJjIPpEscvOu1wCi7w9vwCLcBGAs/s1600/20170425_art_02-979x514.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="514" data-original-width="979" height="210" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kOvkAK6VQHU/WouQYEIKN-I/AAAAAAAAAz8/A0nNKaMsHhkLbJjIPpEscvOu1wCi7w9vwCLcBGAs/s400/20170425_art_02-979x514.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><br /></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The old covenant was an agreement made between God and Israel. If Israel would agree to keep His commandments, statutes and judgments. He would be their God and bless them with land, physical well-being, abundant crops, and protection from their enemies, He would give them special status among the nations.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A covenant is a deal, a formal agreement. It can take the form of a treaty, an alliance, a marriage, or a will of inheritance. What is commonly called the old covenant is a deal that God made with the people of Israel. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The old covenant has elements of treaty, alliance, marriage, and inheritance. The form in which it is first presented has many characteristics of a treaty between a conquering king and his newly subject people.</div><h2 class="western">YHWH the Conquering King</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In the first 15 chapters of the book of Exodus the great creator God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, goes to war with the Pharaoh. The king of Egypt vs. the King of Creation.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The great I AM lays claim to the people of Israel, whom the king of Egypt [pharaoh] sees as his property. The Pharaoh does not intend to give up without a fight. So, a series of battles follows.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In each of these battles the great creator goes up against various Egyptian gods [which are really just figments of the Egyptian imagination]. In each case: the river god, the frog god, the sky god, the sun god… YHWH the creator demonstrates His power, superiority, and authority over these elements of nature the Egyptians have chosen to worship.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Egyptian Pharaoh will not admit defeat and there is a decisive showdown where YHWH has to strike down the firstborn of every Egyptian family. This as you know is the night of the Passover. When the destroying angel passes over the homes of the Israelites who are protected by the blood of a slain lamb smeared over the tops of their doorposts.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Sometime in the dark of that horrible night Pharaoh agrees to let the people of Israel go.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God lines the people of Israel up, marches them out of Egypt to the shores of the Red sea. Pharaoh changes his mind and sends the Egyptian army to recapture them and bring them back. In one last mighty battle the God of creation destroys the entire Egyptian army by luring them into the path He makes through the waters of the sea and then allowing the waters to crash back in on the Egyptians and drown them.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It is a final and decisive victory. The conquering King now has a new nation of subjects.</div><h2 class="western">God Presents the Deal to Israel</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God marches Israel out of Egyptian territory into the desert. He brings them to the foot of a mountain so that He can address them all. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 19:1-6</b> After a short reminder of His awesome power He tells them he wants to set up an agreement with them, a treaty, an understanding. If you obey Me I will take good care of you.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 19:7-8</b> the people hear the offer and say <i>let’s do this thing</i></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 18:9-10</b> I want them to see me talking to you so they know that you are my spokesperson.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God gives some instructions to Moses about how he wants the people to come before Him. Come in nice washed clothes, do not attempt to climb up the mountain, stay behind the barricades etc.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God covers Himself in cloud and smoke and speaks to the people of Israel. From the mountain He presents to them the with 10 commandments. Exodus 20:1-17.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 20:18-20 </b>The people are overwhelmed and ask if God will speak to them through Moses because the experience of having Him talk directly to them is too intense. Moses tells them God did it his way so you would see the intense power that is behind this and be afraid to break the agreement. After this Moses will go before God to get the remaining instructions, bring them back and present them to the people. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Moses goes up to get some additional statutes and judgments. Theses are expansions of what the 10 commandments are about, how the commands are to play out in a social setting, as well as some additional details.</div><ul><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Elaboration on personal injury</b> – extension of do not murder [respect for human life]</div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Elaboration on legal &amp; property matters</b> – extension of don’t lie, don’t steal</div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Elaboration on worship</b> – note the inclusion of annual days of assembly, extension of Sabbath command [worship me how and when I have instructed].</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 23:20-33</b> God reiterates His part of the deal. He will give them land, protect them from their enemies, provide health and healing, ensure lots of children, long physical life. The promises of the old covenant are of the earth and of the flesh… the old covenant does not contain a promise of eternal spirit born life, or a promise of permanent inheritance in the family of God. </div><h2 class="western">Signing the Agreement</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 24: 1-8 </b>the contract has been written and read to all the parties involved. They have agreed to the terms and signed the deal… in blood. This is the blood of the covenant… the old covenant.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The old covenant was signed in blood [the blood of an animal]. The new covenant that would replace it would also be signed in blood [the blood of God himself]. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What we have just gone through is the core of the old covenant… </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But what about the rest of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy? Aren’t they also part of the old covenant as well?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">They do have a role in the agreement God made with Israel BUT the role they play are only relative to the essential DEAL found in Exodus 20 thru 24.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God</b>: I have a proposal… obey me and I will take care of you and give you special status</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Israel</b>: we will do it</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God</b>: here are the essential matters in which I demand your obedience [10 commands and examples of how they will be implemented]. If you do these things I will give you land, health, protection etc. Are you in?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Israel</b>: yes, we are in.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>God</b>: let’s seal the deal. I would like to have it signed in blood.</div><h2 class="western">The Rest of the Instructions given to Moses</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God knew that the people would not be able to obey all-the-time, or every time. A great deal of the remaining writing in the Pentateuch revolves around how God and Israel were going to deal with and address those transgressions.</div><ol><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Israel would mess up. So, they needed a way to get cleaned up. They needed a way to atone for their sins. So God added a system that involved the sacrifice of animal lives to pay the penalty in their stead.</div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God wanted to dwell among them. He gave them detailed instructions about the sort of place He wanted them to set up for Him. These explain all the material related to setting up a tabernacle.</div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God wanted to meet with and interact with the people. But they could not be allowed to bring their uncleanness and sin into His presence or they would be consumed by His wrath. God put a priesthood in place to directly interact with Him in the tabernacle precinct. The priests would have extensive requirements for maintaining personal purity and cleanness. They would also be responsible for enforcing a lesser level of cleanness on the population at large.</div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Additional rulings on how the commandments would be applied and enforced. First, for the life in the camp and secondly to address situations they wouencounter once they entered the land.</div></li><li><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God also includes a frightening listing of dire consequences they would suffer if they persist in disobedience towards Him. </div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 3:17-19</b> When Paul is talking about the LAW here he is talking about the old covenant. Here is why I say that:</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The law [old covenant] was added to deal with transgressions. Transgressions against what? Transgressions made against the commandments. Abraham had the commandments 430 years before the old covenant was put in place <b>Genesis 26:4-5</b>. They were the standard of living before the covenant, they were the standard of life during the covenant, they are the standard of life in the new covenant [which says the laws are to be written upon your heart]. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The old covenant promises are not related to eternal life or the inheritance of the spirit born children of God. The old covenant promises were about achieving land, health, protection in this life. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The new covenant is based on better promises <b>Hebrews 8:6, 10</b>.</div><h2 class="western">What is the Old Covenant?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The old covenant was an agreement made between God and the descendants of Abraham… a nation called Israel. God rescued Israel from oppression and slavery in Egypt and called them to be a special nation to serve a special purpose for Him. </div><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><b>God offered them a deal: </b>Promise to obey Me and I will promise to take care of you. If you mess up and fall short we have a way to deal with your sins and restore our relationship. Just stick with it and persevere. </div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/sJm1w8KSy48" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Baptism as Practiced in the Church of God
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Bjx23vbo9aA/WopBQSDHhYI/AAAAAAAAAzQ/7QHagJrX7bs7gf5GIUaX56sHnB4XYbPvQCLcBGAs/s1600/carolyn-v-546925.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1143" data-original-width="1600" height="228" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Bjx23vbo9aA/WopBQSDHhYI/AAAAAAAAAzQ/7QHagJrX7bs7gf5GIUaX56sHnB4XYbPvQCLcBGAs/s320/carolyn-v-546925.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><b style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot;, sans-serif;">A review of scriptural examples of baptisms in the gospels and Acts and </b><b style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot;, sans-serif;">an </b><b style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot;, sans-serif;">explain how we use these to inform our current best practices and procedures for baptism in the Church of God</b><br /><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The Baptism of John</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Mark 1:2-5 </b><span style="font-weight: normal;">it was </span>a baptism of repentance for the remission of sin</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Matthew 3:6</b> repentance involves an acknowledgment of personal sins and a conviction to make changes in what we do.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Matthew 3:7-9</b> repentance involves making personal changes in your life. To acknowledge sin, to be convinced of the need for change, and before entering into baptism to make some initial moves to redirect your life. [see also Acts 26:20 observable repentance remained in place for the more complete baptism later offered by the church under the new covenant]</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Sin [and therefore the path of repentance] is defined by the commandments and the law <b>Romans 7:7</b>. So, a person who seeks baptism must:</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">know what God’s commands and laws are</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">be convicted that they are to live guided by these same laws</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">show some initial progress on the path of personal change as a token of intent</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">So, for example, the Church of God would not baptize someone who is not keeping the 4<sup>th</sup> commandment. Flagrant violation of any other commandment would also stop the process in its tracks… but the Sabbath serves as a rather effective initial demonstration of intent. Its both highly visible and requires a measure of personal sacrifice.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">As another example, the Church of God would not baptize someone who has not passed through the age of puberty. It’s doubtful they would fully understand the commandments and laws related to sexual purity. After puberty they would have a very different outlook on the matter. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Luke 7:29-30 </b>The Pharisees clearly had knowledge of the commandments and the law but something was missing. Such as the spirit of love and humility. Therefore baptism also includes having the right attitude. </span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The Baptism of Jesus</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Jesus is recorded as having submitted himself to baptism: <b>Matthew 3:13-17</b>, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:7-9.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">John points out the logical conundrum of Jesus seeking baptism. John’s baptism was for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus however, lived without sin. “<i>Why do you seek baptism from me</i>”?</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Jesus answer: it will serve as a conspicuous display of what must be done. The path of righteousness includes a formal, public declaration of intent. Baptism is not a personal, mystical experience. Baptism is done in front of a witness(es).</span></div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">During His ministry Jesus taught His disciples to baptize: <b>John 4:1-2</b></span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">After His resurrection Jesus commanded the church to continue baptizing: <b>Mark 16:15-16</b></span></div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Jesus’ baptism also gave a preview of something new: the receipt of the Holy Spirit. Only until after Jesus death and return to the throne room of God would anyone else receive this important addition.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Matthew 3:11</b> John knew the baptism he provided was incomplete and the receipt of the Holy Spirit would be added to the baptism of repentance.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The New Covenant Baptism Formula</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Acts 1:5 </b>the resurrected Jesus repeats what John previously said about the addition of the Holy Spirit in the baptism event.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Then about a week later the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in a very dramatic fashion with signs and wonders. As a result a crowd gathers. Peter steps forward and begins teaching them about the meaning of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Acts 2:38</b> Peter delivers an expanded baptism formula:</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Repent</b> - acknowledgment, conviction, commitment to change, elsewhere the phrase “<i>believe and be baptized</i>” is used reinforcing the idea that repentance is a change of thinking and attitude.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Baptism</b> - forgiveness and washing away of sins</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Holy Spirit</b> - the seed or down payment of eternal life and the life giving power of God in you</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">This is the formula the Church of God uses today.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The Laying on of Hands</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Acts 8:12-17</b> these people were baptized after they accepted the teachings of the scriptures concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ… but they did not receive the Holy Spirit until some additional steps were taken. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">There appears to be a need for authorization. Two representatives from Jerusalem, Peter &amp; John are sent out to see what’s going on. Perhaps it was to ensure the teaching from the word of God was correct and the baptism administered correctly.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">An additional physical act was needed. The authorized representatives [Peter and John] prayed over the ones who had been baptized… placed their hands upon them and THEN the people received the Holy Spirit. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The Church of God interprets this to mean receipt of the Holy Spirit is administered through authorized channels. Note: the act of laying on of hands is an expression of submission to authority applicable to matters including healing, ordination to office, and baptism. </span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Are There Exceptions? </span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Is immersion in water a necessary step?</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Acts 10:44-48</b> the people who hear the teaching and have the Holy Spirit come upon them are non-Jews [uncircumcised gentiles]. In this instance God gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit without them first having been baptized in water. Clearly God can/may give the gift of the Holy Spirit to whoever He pleases and does not need any minister or church to make that happen… whether through administering the rite of baptism, or the laying on of hands. However, it is important to pay attention to what happens after they receive the Holy Spirit.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Verse 48 </b>says that after seeing what had just happened Peter said, ‘<i>OK, we had better baptize them</i>’.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Peter could have responded, “<i>well, they already have the Holy Spirit so we don’t need to backup a step and baptize them</i>”. No, Peter goes back a step in the sequence and baptizes the to ensure that the entire process is covered </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Note: Cornelius had already begun showing the fruits of repentance <b>Acts 10:22-24</b>. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Why the exception?</b> Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit from God to teach the disciples something new… that full inclusion in the Israel of God was not dependent upon circumcision. The early church probably never would have figured this out if God had not directly intervened to show His intent. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">This was not the introduction of a new procedure over-riding the sequence of repentance and conviction, baptism for remission of sins, and receipt of the Holy Spirit. We will see that this sequence is still in place in the church years after this exception was made for Cornelius [Acts 19:3-4].</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Is the laying on of hands a necessary step?</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">I mentioned previously that the laying on of hands was an indication that the Holy Spirit was administered through authorized channels. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">You may have noticed that some of the examples given have not specified the laying on of hands. These are instances where the Holy Spirit is administered directly from God.</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Jesus received the Holy Spirit after baptism directly from God.</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The disciples gathered on Pentecost received the Holy Spirit directly from God.</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The household of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit directly from God.</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">In the first 2 cases God had not yet designated any flesh and blood person to administer the Holy Spirit. There was no flesh and blood person to administer the laying on of hands when Jesus was baptized.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">When the disciples gathered on Pentecost Christ had told them of the job He wanted them to do: preach the truth, baptize, and make more disciples. At some point they had been baptized with water [either by John or Jesus], but had not yet received immersion in the Holy Spirit. So, they were no yet ready to begin the job of administering the Holy Spirit to others. God Himself was the only one with the authority to administer the Holy Spirit. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Afterwards He would delegate that authority to those he chose to serve Him in this way.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">In the 3<sup>rd</sup> case involving the household of Cornelius, the men God had appointed didn’t know it was OK to administer the Holy Spirit to uncircumcised gentiles… so, God administered it directly Himself to show them His intent.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Q: Couldn’t Anyone Then Claim to Have Received the Holy Spirit From God Directly?</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Anything is possible… but the God of scripture usually confirms His work in observable action, and concrete reality, rather than the subjectivity of emotion or interior dialog. So, in the cases already discussed… He gave signs:</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">There was a sign in the sky and a dove descending on Jesus when He received the spirit.</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">There was a mighty sound of wind, bright light, tongues of fire, and spontaneously speaking in previously unknown foreign languages to mark the disciple’s receipt of the spirit.</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">There was an outburst of speaking in foreign languages when Cornelius and household received the spirit.</span></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Note: the Church of God teaches that speaking in tongues means spontaneously speaking foreign languages not some unintelligible or unknown “language” no one knows but you. If you are the only one who knows the supposed language how does that prove anything to other people. It’s simply too easy to fake… and therefore serves no purpose in glorifying God or offering any meaningful testimony to the reality of the spirit.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">In cases where God administered the Holy Spirit Himself there was a sign… which was seen and verified by others. Without a sign how would anyone know the household of Cornelius had received the Spirit? The transaction would have taken place on a spiritual level… undetectable to the 5 senses <b>John 3:5-8</b>.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">There are exceptions, as we have read. However, for baptisms administered by the ministry no sign is given. I presume this is because the representative of Christ administering the receipt of the spirit is right there in the flesh… detectable by the 5 senses. Their presence provides the witness. Note: usually we include others at the baptism to provide additional witness to this public declaration of faith and commitment to God.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Baptism is Built on a Doctrinal Foundation</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">People often wonder why the Church of God likes to counsel before baptism. We do it because we want to make sure people understand what they are actually committing themselves to. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Do they understand exactly what it is they are repenting of? </span></div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">You can’t repent of something you are not aware of. So, the ministry want to know: Does the person understand the role the commandments and law have in defining sin? </span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">As far as the fruits of repentance are concerned… we’re not expecting a person to have overcome all their problems but we want to inquire enough to know about basic stuff… are you sexually active outside of marriage… are you observing the Sabbath… etc. obvious stuff.</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Do they have a grasp of the basic teachings, like the necessity for Christ’s sacrifice for their sins? Do they understand that God has a plan of salvation? Big picture stuff. Few things make me sadder than to see a person get baptized and then leave because they weren’t prepared for the long haul.</span></div></li></ul><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">You Need The Whole Package</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Repent ... be baptized ... receive the Holy Spirit</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Acts 19:1-5 </b>Paul must have engaged with these people and perceived that something was missing. They had embraced the change of mind and attitude called repentance… but in taking to them Paul picked up that they didn’t have understanding of Christ, or a perhaps a proper understanding of Christ. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit either. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">I say incomplete understanding of Christ rather than no understanding of Christ because of what Luke records about Apollos in the preceding verses <b>Acts 18:24-28</b>. So, it was possible to know about Jesus but not fully understand what that meant. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Additional information and understanding was needed. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Note: Luke does not tell us that Apollos was baptized again, or that He received the Holy Spirit. My presumption is that Luke [the historian] couldn’t find any verifiable record of it when he was gather the materials he would use to put together his gospel account. So, he did the nest best thing… he included a short account of others in the same situation who were given the additional information, re-baptized, and received the holy spirit through the laying on of hands. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Nowadays, its more likely we would encounter people who have the Christ part… but are missing the repentance part… the acceptance of God’s commandments and law… belief in God’s actual plan of salvation. They have been baptized but into what?</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>Conclusion:</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">These records of baptisms in the gospels and the book of Acts give the Church of God a scriptural foundation for our practice and procedures related to baptism in the new covenant.</span></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/NLRr0Bku37o" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Resurrections - From Here to Eternity
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tFsi2qSGGXI/Wk_1Jb_TzrI/AAAAAAAAAt8/-4yGEb78dWsXm-HYSp93vjg3aPUUA3C5QCLcBGAs/s1600/cristian-alvarez-355423.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="240" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tFsi2qSGGXI/Wk_1Jb_TzrI/AAAAAAAAAt8/-4yGEb78dWsXm-HYSp93vjg3aPUUA3C5QCLcBGAs/s320/cristian-alvarez-355423.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Will science ever find a way to allow us to live forever? With all that humanity is able to accomplish the hope that we may one day eliminate death seems almost possible. Each year new breakthroughs and technologies are introduced in our search for ways to prolong life and perhaps even to live forever. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The dream of living forever is part of how we humans think. Our creator has put this notion of eternity into our minds. But He has not built into us the knowledge or power to make eternal life happen (<b>Ecclesiastes 3:11</b>). The eternity we long for can only come from God our Father who does have the knowledge and power to make eternal life happen.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The good news is God your Father very much wants you to have life everlasting. He wants you to go from here to eternity.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Romans 6:23</b>Yes, eternal life is a gift God wants to give to you. All He asks is that you trust Him and work with Him through the process He has planned for you. It’s a process designed to get you from here… to eternity.<br /><a name='more'></a></div><h2 class="western">Getting from here to there</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">When moving from one place to another place you often must go through a passage way to come out on the other side... like a door, or a hallway. And for a short period of time you are no longer in the place you started nor are you in the place you are headed.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In the same way you can imagine God’s process for getting you from here to eternity. The here is your temporary life that lasts only a short while then ends… the destination is eternal life that never ends. To get to your destination you leave where you are and begin moving towards your destination.</div><h2 class="western">What is that passage way?</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">To get from your dead-end life to an eternal life you must enter into something else. You must pass through a life under the judgment and careful assessment of God. Judgment is a bit of a dirty word these days so it warrants a bit of explanation:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Discuss Krisis (evaluation)… and Krinos (v)/Krima (n) (decision or verdict) <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> use analogy of test driving a sports car</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Possible verdicts would be to condemn or find guilty (katakrino) or to acquit… to find not guilty (dikaioo) or justified.</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">There are two ways you can enter into this process… one is by invitation and it is happening now… the second is offered to everyone and occurs much later – in fact not until after Christ returns and reigns on earth for 1000 years. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The first and best way to get started is to receive and accept God’s invitation now. God calls and draws you to Him by the power of His Holy Spirit. You can accept His invitation through repentance and baptism. After baptism and the laying on of hands you will receive the power that makes eternal life possible… God’s Holy Spirit.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>1 Peter 4:12-17</b> the members of God’s household have entered into their time of judgment with the most holy God…. See also <b>1 Corinthians 11:32-33</b></div><h3 class="western">Living a life under judgment</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">With God’s empowering Holy Spirit and the knowledge from His word you will live out your days. God will watch you, evaluate you, test you, guide you and determine if you are willing to live by the principles of eternal life found in His word. If you demonstrate through your way of living that you can be trusted with eternal life and remain faithful to its principles… then you have an everlasting future. God will confirm the gift of eternal life He has begun in you through the life giving Holy Spirit.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Colossians 3:1-10</b>… verse 1 risen (baptism/physical resurrection)… appear in glory (resurrection to a glorious spiritual body)… read more about it in 1 Corinthians 15</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">This first option will place you among the blessed and holy who share in the first resurrection to eternal life <b>Revelation 20:6.</b> It’s the better option and offers many positive rewards. So, if God is calling you now you should respond!</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">God’s Holy Festivals teach us about the steps in His plan of salvation for humanity and this day when Christ returns to resurrect the firstfruits and bring them into the fullness of their inheritance in the family of God is pictured by the Feast of Trumpets.</div><h2 class="western">What happens to everyone else? Can they go from here to eternity?</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Clearly many people do not answer God’s invitation in this life and the vast majority of people do not even receive God’s invitation in the first place… He does not call them... He does not draw them to himself. But that does not mean God does not care about them or that He never gives them an opportunity to choose eternal life. For those who never hear and answer God’s call in this life there is still hope.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">After the first resurrection a second option remains. It occurs much later than the first resurrection… You can read about it in <b>Revelation 20:5, 11-12</b>. </div><h2 class="western">Everyone must appear before the judgment seat of God</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Like option one option two is an entry into a period of judgment and assessment before God. All people who have ever lived will be resurrected to physical life and appear before God to begin their time of judgment and assessment. We do not know how long this resurrection to physical life lasts but it must last at least long enough for God to make a fair and just assessment.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>John 5:28-29</b>Jesus also speaks of more than one resurrection. Note: you have already been raised to a physical life lived under judgment… that occurred when you were baptized.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The translation “condemnation” is a poor choice that reflects the theological biases of the translators. The underlying word here is Krisis (the trial or evaluation part of judgment)… </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">During this process knowledge from God’s word will be opened up to all these people (<b>Isaiah 11:9</b>) plus they will have access to His Holy Spirit to provide understanding (<b>Ezekiel 37:13-14</b>). God will watch over them with His loving eye evaluating, testing and judging each person. He will determine if they are willing to live according to the principles of eternity and have their name written into the book of life.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">If you have lost a loved one, a parent, or perhaps a child and wondered what will become of them this true teaching from the bible should give your heart comfort. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">God’s Holy Festivals teach us about the steps in His plan of salvation for humanity and this wonderful final step in God’s plan for humanity is no exception. It is pictured in the final Holyday of the biblical calendar called simply “the eighth day”.</div><h2 class="western">Will everyone achieve eternal life? Do we all go from here to eternity?</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">God’s desire is that every person be saved and that all will choose to live the way of life that is required for eternal happiness… but there is also a plan for those who ultimately reject God after they have been given every opportunity to succeed.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Those who reject eternal life will cease to live and they will be no more. There will be no more thoughts, no anguish or sorrow… just nothing (<b>Revelation 20:15</b>). All trace of them will be permanently erased. This is the not so happy part of the eighth day… but if you meditate upon it… a great relief.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">But more importantly…</div><h2 class="western">Your journey to eternity can begin today</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">God your Father wants you to have life everlasting and the good news is He also wants very much for you to have a part in that <u>first</u> and <u>better</u>resurrection. That resurrection pictured during the Feast of Trumpets.</div><br /><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Find out more about how you can get started on your journey from here to eternity… today.</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/yl9esBP6pps" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Listen to Message: Is Lighting a Fire on the Sabbath Forbidden?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" src="https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?feed=%2FUCGRaleigh%2Flighting-a-fire-on-the-sabbath%2F" width="100%"></iframe><br /></span></div><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">God does not forbid you a fire to warm your homes on a cold Sabbath night, nor a cooking fire, nor lighting a lamp in the dark. Let's look at Exodus 35:3.</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">----------------------------- FREE eBook --------------------------------------</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Get our FREE bible study guide on God's holy <a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2016/10/keeping-sabbath-holy_5.html">Sabbath day</a>:</b></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_9.html">http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_9.html</a></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">------------------------------- Find UCGRaleigh -------------------------------</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Subscribe to this YouTube channel: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=UCGx5BY50CSiEWOdNMDJ2gNw">http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=UCGx5BY50CSiEWOdNMDJ2gNw</a></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Find a UCG church near you: <a href="http://ucg.org/congregations/">http://ucg.org/congregations/</a></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Follow UCG Raleigh</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><a href="http://www.facebook.com/UCGRaleigh.main.page">http://www.facebook.com/UCGRaleigh.main.page</a></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><a href="https://twitter.com/UCGRaleigh">https://twitter.com/UCGRaleigh</a></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Subscribe to the UCG Raleigh podcast on iTunes <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/united-church-of-god-raleigh/id1315758270">https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/united-church-of-god-raleigh/id1315758270</a></span><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jk2CIzCDOSU/Wn3o_Pf8MtI/AAAAAAAAAxw/pG6r8qRkYhcdVDPVCRLAqYQC-WFk6CYVgCLcBGAs/s1600/robert-oh-202209.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jk2CIzCDOSU/Wn3o_Pf8MtI/AAAAAAAAAxw/pG6r8qRkYhcdVDPVCRLAqYQC-WFk6CYVgCLcBGAs/s320/robert-oh-202209.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/8jl2MPYuRuA" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Video Message: How Can I Forgive Myself?
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/24QHr3hNIW8" width="480"></iframe><br /></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"></span><br /></span> </span><br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">When God your creator forgives you for whatever you might have done… it is to Him as if it never happened. That <a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/03/be-reconciled-to-one-another.html">forgiveness</a> is yours for the asking because Jesus Christ gave his life to pay the penalty for your actions. Still, some of us have a hard time putting our past behind us.</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">----------------------------- FREE eBook --------------------------------------</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">If you want to explore this subject as a personal study of your own, request a copy of FORGIVENESS IS POSSIBLE to start learning more about amazing spiritual work God wants to complete in you. See it for yourself in the pages of your own bible.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Here's a link to the request page:</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">➤ <a href="https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/forgiveness-is-possible">https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/forgiveness-is-possible</a></span></div><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"></span></span><br /><a name='more'></a><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></span> <br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">------------------------------ Find UCGRaleigh -------------------------------</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Share this video: <span lang="zxx"><u><a href="https://youtu.be/WCTgqpRWv5I">https://youtu.be/WCTgqpRWv5I</a></u></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Subscribe to this channel: </span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal;">➤</span> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=UCGx5BY50CSiEWOdNMDJ2gNw">http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=UCGx5BY50CSiEWOdNMDJ2gNw</a></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Find a UCG church near you: </span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal;">➤</span> <a href="http://ucg.org/congregations/">http://ucg.org/congregations/</a></span></div><div class="western" style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal;">Follow UCG Raleigh</span><br /><span lang="zxx"><span style="font-variant-east-asian: normal; 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A Foundation For Marriage... Good Choices
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PeiuZJmVx3E/Wm9cAzAFLTI/AAAAAAAAAvw/QrEX4fh69fg450KPgAJt5SySu9_qrAphwCLcBGAs/s1600/scott-webb-18685.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1063" data-original-width="1600" height="265" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PeiuZJmVx3E/Wm9cAzAFLTI/AAAAAAAAAvw/QrEX4fh69fg450KPgAJt5SySu9_qrAphwCLcBGAs/s400/scott-webb-18685.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><h2 class="western">Marriage is built on choices.</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A successful marriage is built on making good choices. Even if you have not always made the best choices in the past… maybe not the best choices leading up to marriage… the choices you make from this moment forward can work for you. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You can be confident you are making the right choices if you allow God’s word to guide you. It is time to leave the past in the rear view mirror of your life and move into a better future.</div><a name='more'></a><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ezekiel 18:21</b><b>-23</b><b> </b>you are not trapped in your past</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Your marriage will improve when you start putting God’s word in practice. Yes, the project will move forward faster if both husband and wife are in agreement about God’s law and God’s love…. But even if your mate is not with you on this… one person can make a difference… and God expects you put His words into practice even if you are the only one.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Peter 3:1-2</b></div><h2 class="western">Choice 1: Lifelong Commitment</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Gen 2:24</b>says a man [and woman] shall cleave to his wife… [be joined NIV], [be united NLT], [hold fast ESV]… [<i>dabaq</i> = to stick with… like glue].</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Lifelong commitment is a choice the husband and wife make. It is an agreement you make with one another… and with God. To stay faithful, loyal and exclusive. It’s a choice you make the day you get married… it’s a choice you make every day thereafter. “Whatever problems come our way I will stick with it and we will work it out”</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It is not a choice built on feelings… emotions are always changing… sometimes they are hot… sometimes they are cold. What God is looking for, what He wants to build in you is not loyalty that comes in burst of enthusiasm… when it suits us… when its going our way. Even commitment that is there <i>most of the time</i> is not sufficient. God wants commitment that is there <i>all the time</i>.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This is why marriage vows contain phrases like… for richer, and poorer, in sickness and health… till death do us part.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God may allow events and circumstances that will challenge your commitment… you must make the choice to remain committed.</div><h2 class="western">Choice 2: Love</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Half the songs ever sung are about love… of the lack of it. It’s a thrill, a shot of adrenaline, and not having it can be just as emotional. But are we really singing about love? Or, is it desire?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s word reveals that love is a choice… furthermore, love a choice of what we do rather than how we feel. So, love is a choice rather than an emotion. The distinction is important. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">An emotion is something that comes upon you through instinct, your reactions to stimuli [such as a hard charging Grizzly bear, or a woman with a pretty face]. Emotions are reactions that are hard wired into your DNA…fear, or sexual desire [which of those it is depends on whether or not you are another Grizzly bear or not].</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Husbands are told to make the choice to love their wives <b>Colossians 3:19</b>. If love were not a matter of choice then it wouldn’t be a reasonable demand. God does not command husbands to <i>feel</i> about their wives a certain way. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 13:4-7 </b>here is how husbands are instructed to love their wives. Patience is not an emotion it’s a choice, kindness and gentleness are not feelings they are decisions you make about how you will act or not act… especially in situations which are not going exactly your way.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This is the love God expects and instructs husbands to show towards their wives. </div><h2 class="western">Godly Leadership</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God is very clear that the husband in tasked with the responsibility of leadership in his family. To fulfill His commission you must make a deliberate choice to love… which means regulate the things you do… which we have just heard expanded upon in 1 Corinthians. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The model of leadership Jesus gave us is humility – an acceptance of the role God gave Him to fulfill and submission of himself to the guidelines of that role. So, Godly leadership in the family concerns itself with the needs of others: what will benefit the whole family, your wife and children, rather than satisfying your own self. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">How you spend your money</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">How you spend your time</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Good decisions based on love will leave your family feeling secure, and will make it easier for them to show respect.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Cultural Note:</b>because many husbands have failed to live up to God’s standards of loving leadership our society concludes that the scriptural model for family roles is therefore flawed and we need to try out some new paradigms. But the problem is not with the model, the problem is with the people.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If we are truly followers of God we must continue to follow his instructions and accept his teaching on the marriage model. Our belief and practice regarding family roles is BIBLICAL not cultural.</div><h2 class="western">Choice #3: Submission</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Fear</b> is an emotion. Fear is a natural or hardwired response to a threat. One does not choose to fear although one can choose what to fear, or to over-ride one fear with an even greater fear. Fear is the emotional motive of submission.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Submission</b>is an action and it is a choice: to arrange your relationship with another putting yourself in subordination, to obey, to yield to the decision of the other in cases where there is no consensus or agreement.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You submit to another because you are afraid of what might happen if you don’t.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 5:22-24</b> wives are told to submit themselves to their husbands. To do so is to submit to God. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 5:33 </b>wives are told to fear her husband. Why would a wife be told to FEAR her husband.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The word here is <i>phobios</i> [translated as revere or respect]. If the word had wanted to say respect or reverence it could have… there is a completely different word available that means that [timo]. Have we wallpapered over the meaning of scripture here? Let's read the verse as fear for today.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Men are rather <b>scary</b>… from the female perspective he’s bigger, stronger, and often driven by strange and violent passions. So, fearing a man and submitting to him seems like a natural reaction to a desire for self preservation. Much of human history [separated from God] has operated along these lines. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But if a man is converted by the spirit of God… he’s not going to be violent or abusive… he’s going to be gentle, patient, kind… why would anyone feel an instinctive fear of such a man [unless they were told to]… without fear why then would anyone feel a need to submit to such a man?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You submit to him because you have chosen to submit yourself to a higher authority… God the Creator. You fear him because you fear God who has the power to destroy body, soul and spirit permanently in the lake of fire. To fear God is the ultimate act of self-preservation.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">As previously mentioned a natural fear is replaced by a greater fear, judgment from your Creator. </div><h2 class="western">How Does Submission Work?</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Willing acknowledgment of the husband’s role is the second key ingredient [after Godly love] for success in the Godly model for marriage and family.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That does not mean that he must make every decision. Many successfully divide household responsibilities according to their strengths and interests… the goal is to work together, discussing major decisions and priorities [submitting to one another].</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 5:21</b>the directive to work together is also motivated by fear of God [KJV].</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If however, the husband elects to make the final judgment on whatever matter is in question then the wife should honor it. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Plenty of times the husband shows greater wisdom in deferring to the preferences of the wife, or children. Just because he has the right to make decisions doesn’t mean he should. So many decisions in life are really matters of taste, style, preference. A wise husband should be sensitive to the desires and preferences of the family… as long as they don’t violate family and/or Godly standards.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Submission is a choice… not a feeling. The wife must consciously decide to submit herself and use it as a guide for word and deed. Will she undermine with snarky words… will she usurp with workaround tactics? Will she focus on and admire his good qualities or focus on and despise his weaknesses?</div><h2 class="western">Conflict &amp; Communication</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Using the guidelines of Godly love and Godly submission both husband and wife should regulate the words that come out of their mouths. Couples who’s communication is positive and encouraging are more likely to have a good relationship. Couples who’s words are negative and critical are more likely to have a poor relationship.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">One set of stats I read showed that young couples who ended up staying together had fewer that 5 out of each 100 comments about one another that were critical. Young couples who later divorced had 10 or more critical comments out of every 100. What stuck me is… Its not a very wide margin is it? We are not talking about 50% or 30%.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We’ve all heard the pitch that arguing is healthy and natural… “its good to get it off your chest”, “get stuff out in the open”. Sometimes it touted as a proof of passion, “think of the great make-up sex”. But constant arguing is really an indicator of a marriage headed for trouble. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Passionate they may be… but arguments:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">lower the mutual respect necessary for success</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">build up of resentment. </div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The biblical model for conflict resolution is: reconciliation and forgiveness… NOT impassioned arguments!</div><h2 class="western">4 Principles to Apply To Conflict</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Talk matters out – </b>but regulate the way you talk. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Proverbs 15:1 express you beliefs and concerns with kindness</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Don’t refuse to talk about or address matters</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Respect differences in your mate [personality, tastes]</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Win-Win Solutions</b> – total domination is not a good goal</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Look for solutions that are acceptable to both parties <b>Philippians 2:4</b>.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Be willing to yield when choice or actions isn’t in conflict with God’s instructions Matt 5:9, 1 Corinthians 6:7</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Forgive</b> – Everyone makes mistakes. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Forgive so that they will forgive you when you inevitably mess up. Also, so God might forgive you <b>Matt 6:15</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Approach your mate in the right spirit, ask God to restore your attitude <b>Psalm 51:10</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Don’t let negative emotions rule you! Act toward, and speak to, your mate with honor Your emotions will affect your actions… and your actions will affect your emotions.</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Seek help</b></div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If none of the previous 3 principles is working, ask for counseling <b>Proverbs 4:7</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You may be doing things that you yourself are not even aware of</div></li></ul><h2 class="western">Working Together</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Unity and harmony are God’s ideal for all relationships. You and your mate. You and your Creator.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Working together you and your mate can accomplish more that you would independently.!</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Aquila &amp; Priscilla</b> – these two are a great biblical example of a husband and wife team. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 18:2-3</b> they both worked with Paul verse 18</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 18:24</b> they helped Apollos understand</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 16:19 </b>they provided a meeting place for the church in their home</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 16:3-4 </b>they were loved and respected for their work on behalf of the church</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">They saw the big picture… their marriage was an extension of God’s work in the world.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">By working together their marriage was a blessing to the church and an example of that profound truth which is Christ and the church… which is His bride.</div><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Choose to have a successful marriage.</b></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/esDhzfDXhO0" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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God is One and God is a Family
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r-FE4_0PPWA/Wl0Z01L9cKI/AAAAAAAAAug/XujcCCqxBQ4FlKcr66kFySz7FZaQ3kXnwCLcBGAs/s1600/kevin-delvecchio-273275.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="265" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r-FE4_0PPWA/Wl0Z01L9cKI/AAAAAAAAAug/XujcCCqxBQ4FlKcr66kFySz7FZaQ3kXnwCLcBGAs/s400/kevin-delvecchio-273275.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><i><br /></i></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><i>Shema Yisrael Yahweh Elohim Echad Yahweh</i></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, One is the Lord [Jews call it the SHEMA]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">I’d rather not wrangle about the Hebrew grammar and syntax… the gist of it is “there is one God, YHWH [the LORD]”. That much most people agree upon.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Deuteronomy 6:4 </b>the SHEMA trips people up. Misunderstanding this verse and this concept can take you right out of the Church of God! So, who needs to know about this stuff? You do [1 John 5:5].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">-------------------------------------------------------------------</div><h2 class="western">How Does The Shema Affect Doctrine?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Jewish people use the Shema as a proof text to deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God... on the <br /><a name='more'></a>same plane as the Father. To them, Jesus’ claims to be on the God level are considered blasphemous and therefore He deserved execution. Many try to take the sharp pointy edges off but the Jewish position is still about the same.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Catholic Fathers read this verse and developed the Trinity concept to reconcile this “SHEMA” with other clear statements found in the new testament claiming both the Father and the Son Jesus Christ are God. Good examples are: <b>Hebrews 1:8, John 1:1,14</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The new testament scriptures are not offering up something contrary to what we read in Deuteronomy. They also teach that God is one. Good examples are: <b>1 Corinthians 8:4, 1 Timothy 2:5</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">How do we get these seeming contradictions to all work out? We answer that question by asking a question about our assumptions: Is the SHEMA [and other similar biblical statements] commenting on numerical one or as something different?</div><h2 class="western">Definitions of One/Echad</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Hebrew language of the bible has a very limited vocabulary. Often a single word stands for multiple things or concepts. Echad, the Hebrew word for one, can be used in multiple ways:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Numeric</b>: the number 1: the NC Panthers are number 1 [first] in their division</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>One and the same</b>: yep, she’s the one I am going to marry</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Together, unified</b>: the NC Panthers defense played as one</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Each and every</b>: the ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah!</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Alone</b>: there is only 1 Michael Jackson</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Three of these fit the grammar and context of the SHEMA. Lets see how:</div><h2 class="western">First</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The true God is to be our first priority. This would have been a necessary shift of thinking for the people coming out of Egypt with its many Gods.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The context of the SHEMA supports this approach. Let’s take a look at the following verses: <b>Deuteronomy 6:5</b> <i>love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength</i>. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 22:36-38. The way it reads here definitely gives you the sense of making God your top priority. So, this seems like a valid interpretation of the use of the word one in the SHEMA.</div><h2 class="western">Alone</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">YHWH and no other is truly God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Mark 12:28-34</b> the Jewish scribe’s reply in verse 32 indicates that this is how he understood the SHEMA… YHWH and no other is truly God. Jesus did not correct this man, or redirect him, so understanding the word ONE as ALONE, or ONLY is definitely a valid interpretation of what the word Echad or ONE means.</div><h2 class="western">Unity</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Understanding the Hebrew word ECHAD as <i>unity</i> is how we take all the various statements about who and what God is and reconciling them with the SHEMA. Also, using this definition does not mean we have to throw out the previous two [use example of the Panthers].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Here are some examples of ECHAD used this way: <b>Judges 20:1, 8-11; Genesis 11:6; Genesis 2:24</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In all these instances we understand ONE as involving multiple unique individuals. We do not have to perform strange mental gymnastics to merge them all into one single being.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Does Jesus also use this definition of ONE? Yes He does!</b></div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">He describes the Father and the Son as, of one mind and purpose – <b>John 4:34; 5:30</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">He describes this relationship of the Father and Son as being one – <b>John 10:30</b></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">He uses this idea of being one as a model of unity for the church – <b>John 17:20-22</b></div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We certainly don’t need to take these statements and try to conceive of the members of the church as merged into a single being!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">All three of these definitions or understandings of the word ECHAD or ONE are useful for understanding the SHEMA. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God is a unity of Father and Son who think and act as ONE</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God is #1 or top priority</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">There is only ONE God who is supreme, and no other</div></li></ul><h2 class="western">God as a UNITY is also found in the old testament</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Understanding God as more than one individual, yet acting as one, is also an old testament concept [although the new testament certainly draws it out more].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 1:26</b> the Lord God [YHWH ELOHIM] said “let us make man in our image”</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 3:22-24</b> the Lord God [YHWH ELOHIM] said “the human has made himself like one of us”</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The word ELOHIM is a Hebrew word meaning <i>mighty ones</i>. It comes from the word ELOAH [mighty one] with the suffix IM added to it ELOAH + IM = <i>mighty ones</i>.</div><h2 class="western">How Does This Apply?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Understanding the oneness of God as a <i>unity</i> instead of as <i>one being</i>has two direct applications:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>It guides our teaching and practice of marriage</b> – which is a unity of husband and wife</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>It guides our teaching and practice of Church life</b> – which is a unity of many different types of people with a unity or purpose and intent</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">I have had people tell me they want more practical messages… how do I regulate my life using Godly principles… family, sex, finances, fellowship, depression, suffering etc. Let’s call it the <i>How To</i>model.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">My thinking on the matter is that doctrine directs what we like to call <i>Christian living</i>. I can tell you all kinds of principles for improving your marriage or church life. But the doctrinal teaching tells you WHY. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Why we do what we do… is driven by what we hold to be true.</div><h2 class="western">The Unity Of Marriage… Why is it important?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Two separate, unique individuals become one. Their oneness is expressed sexually, legally, and in submission:</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Sexually</b>: in marriage the husband and wife come together physically to create new life. Having a child together is a oneness we can grasp using our senses such as sight, touch… mother and father, sperm and egg, your DNA and his DNA, molecules, atoms, etc..</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It’s a picture of how God’s spirit works together with our spirit bring about a new eternal life. Which is WHY we should take matters related to human sexuality very seriously. Operating outside the sexual boundaries God has given shows a disregard and disrespect for the spiritual process He is working out. People who have no respect for what God is doing will have no place in the future He is building.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Legally</b>: in marriage the husband and wife come together in a covenant or binding agreement. Promising to remain faithful and exclusive as long as they live. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The marriage covenant is a picture of the loyalty and faithfulness we have towards God… and the loyalty and faithfulness He has towards us. WE will never turn our back on Him now or at some point off in eternity… GOD will never reject or abandon us either now or at some point down the road of eternity. This is why we take matters related to the legal status of marriage very seriously.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Submission</b>: in marriage the husband and wife come together in a relationship of authority: one is in charge, one is not. But they are both responsible to see to the needs, concerns, and well-being of the other. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Making your own needs and desires subordinate to the well being of the other is the very model of how a joy filled eternity will be lived. The structure of authority in marriage is a picture of our own future role in the family of God as the bride of Christ. This is why we take the ROLES given to husband and wife very seriously. </div><h2 class="western">The Unity of Church Life… Why is it Important?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 3:28 </b>the church is a spiritual organism composed of a variety of origins, race, gender, social status etc. That diversity presents a challenge… but also an opportunity to grow in understanding of the way of life God is trying to teach.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 12:4-6</b> the church is a spiritual organism composed of a variety of skills, strengths, personalities, talents etc.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Verses 13-14 </b>go on to echo the same teaching found in Galatians. The church is ONE because we share the same spirit… we are convicted of the same truths… we are committed to the same path of action… we share in one another’s ups and downs.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #2f5496;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri light&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">To be one does not mean we all must be the same.</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In God’s reality… variety, individuality, uniqueness and oneness are not mutually exclusive.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Understanding how individuality, variety and uniqueness can come together in harmony and oneness is the key to understanding God’s amazing plan for eternity. Its an understanding that we must learn. It’s a reality we move towards when we live within the boundaries of self control, gentleness, loyalty, honorable, helpful, patient, and concerned for one another.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Some of these lessons we learn through the good times and bad times of church life. That is why God puts you into the organized fellowship of the church. It is your personal responsibility to stick with it… learn the hard lessons and prepare for the future. You simply cannot fully develop as the spiritual creation God intends you to be without active participation in His church.</div><h2 class="western">The Family of God</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Some truths of the divine family of God are revealed to us through marriage and the families they create. Some truths about the divine family of God are revealed to us through the fellowship and family of the church.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God is one… God is first… God is the only… God is a family. For now composed of the Father and the Son but poised to include many more.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 8:29 </b>God has always known and determined that there would be additions to the family. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Even though you are not yet resurrected to eternal life, you do not yet have a spiritual body... you are already considered part of the family through the Holy Spirit within you.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A human father and mother conceive a child and watch it grow in the womb. That growing child is theirs, already part of the family, but they are still waiting for that special day when it will come forth to take its first breath of its new life… “you were always my child but now you have taken on a life of your own”.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For the children of God that is the resurrection.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 John 3:1-2</b> this is WHY we pursue righteousness and godly living</div><h2 class="western"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>Conclusion:</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Clear doctrinal understanding of what the oneness of God really means is more than just a philosophical debate and wrangling over words. It’s a presentation of the inter connectivity, interdependence, cooperation, and variety of eternal life.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The oneness of God is more than an intellectual construct we must affirm. The oneness of God gives us a model for our marriages, and the biological families which spring from them. Unique individuals… yet one.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The oneness of God gives us a model for our church life [and hopefully our extended social life]. A road-map of cooperation, and loving interaction with others that gives us a classroom, a text book, and lab assignments for eternal living. Diverse… yet one.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A clear understandi9ng of the oneness of God gives us a hope and an open door to be born into the eternal family of God.</div><br /><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/0xlX-GyUKu4" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Dating Marriage and Friendship
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6zW2ggFxmdw/WkqbpGHptgI/AAAAAAAAAts/31zoxeVDzBgNsgML78eMHXDh_janzJWoACLcBGAs/s1600/vince-fleming-487756.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6zW2ggFxmdw/WkqbpGHptgI/AAAAAAAAAts/31zoxeVDzBgNsgML78eMHXDh_janzJWoACLcBGAs/s320/vince-fleming-487756.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The subject of dating and attitudes toward human sexuality must be discussed in the context of marriage.&nbsp;</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Marriage is the foundational relationship of human life. Marriage affects our biological viability, defines a positive social culture, and is the stabilizing factor for all forms of human government.&nbsp;</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Key Features of Godly Marriage:</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 2:24</b>&nbsp;marriage is designed by the Creator of Humanity as a separate and distinct organizational unit.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ecclesiastes 9:9</b>&nbsp;marriage is designed to last [a feature which teaches important spiritual lessons, lifelong </div><a name='more'></a>commitment to each other teaches us about God’s eternal commitment to us]<br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Malachi 2:15</b>&nbsp;marriage is designed to produce Godly children. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Physical creation is the first stage in the expansion and growth of God’s spirit born family… and it has been assigned to you and me. God says go forth and multiply. This is not a directive to go and seek our own pleasure its an invitation to participate in God’s amazing project to grow His divine family.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Before the spiritual creation comes the physical. God places a spiritual component in each new human being and when combined with the power of the Holy Spirit we have the potential to become an eternal spirit born member of God’s own family.</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 5:31-32</b> Through our participation in this project we learn valuable personal and spiritual lessons along the way.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Creative and curious humanity are constantly dreaming up new hypotheses about what human sexual interactions should be, or what marriage should be. Then we start experimenting to see if our hypotheses work. Ours is an age of intense speculation and experimentation. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For success in marriage look to the Creator of marriage. God has given us... simple, basic, concepts. Simple but challenging… because they run counter to many human passions BUT you can count on them to actually work.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Laying the foundation for success in <a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2016/06/marriage-tool-for-spiritual.html" target="_blank">marriage </a>starts long before your wedding day… even before you find Mr. Right, or the woman of your dreams. So let’s talk about dating… </div><h2 class="western">Dating: Love American Style</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><b>Wikipedia</b></span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">defines dating as “a stage of romantic relationships in humans whereby two people meet socially with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a prospective partner in an intimate relationship or marriage”.</span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Social interactions that lead to marriage vary greatly from culture to culture. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Some are arranged by parents… or extended family, or professional go-betweens… with negotiations, contracts and so forth. These emphasize the practical elements and show little concern for the emotional. In our western world we have a system where the individual carries most of the responsibility for finding a mate with a heavy emphasis on the emotional. Often over-riding some of the serious practical considerations necessary for a successful marriage. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Scripture does not indicate any preference for one method over the other. Scripture contains examples of both ways of finding a mate. Both approaches have their pros and cons. The western way of doing things is what we have to concern ourselves with here. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Parental control in modern western culture is very limited once our children reach the age where they are ready to start seriously dating. Wise parents will make every effort to teach their young people wise principles, and biblical standards for dating long before they are actually ready.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If you wait too long you will miss that important window of opportunity when you can still control the situation. What is that age? There is no biblical instruction for what is the appropriate age for dating. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You have to make your own determination of the right age when you see readiness to accept responsibility for actions. But the time to start laying the foundations is early.</div><h2 class="western">Instruction is a Gift You Give To Your Children</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The gift you give them is life… a better life now, and a hope for eternal life. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Don’t just turn your children loose and hope for the best. When it comes to sex and marriage there are just too many dangers lurking out there: STDs, unwanted pregnancy, abusive and destructive relationships… and spiritual dangers.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Try not to give them your own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. The gift of true value is passing along instructions from their creator.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 14:12</b></div><h2 class="western">God’s Standards Do Not Change</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Principles for dating apply just as much for adults who might find themselves on the dating scene through divorce, or widowhood. Age is not a license for relaxed standards. There is not a different set of standards for males than for females. With God there is one set of standards for all people… young or old, male or female.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Humanly devised standards change, what was forbidden 50 years ago is common practice today. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In my own lifetime free love became the norm. It was deceitfully sold to my generation as the ultimate expression of a loving relationship, proof of trust, and test of compatibility. Today’s kids live in a world of recreational sex with little pretense of it being more than a way to satisfy ones own personal needs.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Try to be aware that what your kids are dealing with is different from what you faced. Perhaps as different as your circumstances were from your own parents. Cultural attitudes on human sexuality will continue to change.</div><h2 class="western">The Standards That Does Not Change</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 20:14 </b> meaning by extension: all sexual activity outside marriage is illegal</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Zoom forward 1,500 and that standard was still in place <b>Hebrews 13:4</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The epistles were written to a highly sexualized Greek-Roman culture. It was a time when traditional values that had been held for centuries were being thrown out for some wild and crazy stuff that would rival anything we’ve go going on these days. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The church could have said “we’ve got to come up with standards that are more realistic. Find some sort of compromise with what’s happening out there”. But the church did not… because God’s standards do not change. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 6:18-20</b> instructions like this would have made the church really stick out… what the church was teaching was very different from what others had to offer. What the church was teaching is the same rule “no adultery” meaning all sexual activity outside marriage is illegal… but putting it in a new light. The message here is more than just obey. The message is RESPECT YOURSELF… who you are, and what you are in the eyes of God. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 </b>the customs and practises of dating should be conducted with a mindset of HONOR toward the other person, toward self, and toward God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God expects us to enter into marriage as virgins, otherwise as chaste. Which means, if you can no longer enter marriage as a virgin you can confess before God, seek His forgiveness and move forward with a commitment to sexual purity.</div><h2 class="western">Principles of Dating and Friendship</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">How can parents teach their children wise principles: wisdom for dating begins with wise principle for friendship.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Dating for friendship:</b> at some point your teens are going to want to start getting together with members of the opposite sex. That’s normal. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Group dating is a good way for your kids to get started in a setting that avoids the pressures for intimacy that come with one-to-one dating.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">As a parent you want to continue to turn their focus towards developing friendships rather than intense one on one romantic relationships.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Encourage activities where they get to interact and see how the other person relates to others. What that guy’s personality is like. Is that girl kind and respectful towards your other friends.</div></li></ul><h2 class="western">Friendship With Purpose</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Most people want to be around other people… to have friends. God called Abraham and Moses His friends… Jesus had friends.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If you have friends who are getting into bad behavior its tempting to think you are going to be a force for good. That by hanging out with them you are providing a good example they might choose to follow. But remember, all the while they are also providing a BAD example for YOU to follow. And the flow of persuasion is heavily weighted towards the bad undermining the good. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 15:33 – Proverbs 22:24-25 </b>don’t knowingly subject yourself to temptation</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 19:4-6</b> People often have ulterior motives [why do pretty girls have more friends than plain girls?]. Make friends for the right reasons.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 17:17 </b>a true friend is consistent regardless of troubles and trials… when you are popular and unpopular. They are committed to the relationship.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 27:6 </b>some think being a friend is someone who never openly disagrees with you, but there are times when a true friend needs to [and will] tell you when you are wrong.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 27:17</b> find friends who help you grow in positive ways</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 </b>its better to work together. God’s way in not about independence… its about interdependence. Maintaining good friendships is part of putting on the mind of Christ.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Dating for marriage: </b>your kids are going to mature and start thinking more seriously about the opposite sex… they will want to focus their attention on a particular person. This too is normal. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Parents need to prepare young people now for a period of life where they will start making decisions with lifelong consequences. If dating is a process of searching and evaluating then there are some questions that seem obvious but need to be spelled out for young people:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Does this other person believe God exists? Does this person obey God? How will that affect your life?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What is their personal background and standards? The makeup of this other person’s family can tell you a lot. Is the family life stable, or chaotic… if so, are they committed to breaking the cycle of negative family behavior? Or do they just accept it as the new normal?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What are their likes/dislikes/preferences [can I live with these or do they strongly clash with my likes dislikes and preferences]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What is their character and personality like? </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">weak analysis: they’re nice, they make me laugh]… </div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">strong analysis: do they show the fruits of the holy spirit? [do young people even know what the fruits of the spirit are… or how to spot them in others]</div></li></ul></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Can I love and respect this person?</div></li></ul><h2 class="western">Getting Input From Others</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Sexual attraction clouds you thinking and makes it harder to focus and rationally consider the values and traits of the other person. Sexual activity [everything from full-on intercourse, to kissing, touching etc.] has the potential to further cloud your thinking. The more you escalate… the more fuzzy your decisions can become. </div><br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>Most people only seek input once they are already pretty far down the road… and the further down the road you are the harder it is to hear objective outside opinions. The ministry is a resource you can tap into. Alas, most people are merely looking for validation of decisions they have already made.</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/1fLWlTF8OZ8" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Financial Security and Peace of Mind
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XLxcoJIrOK0/WjnXz_LkAfI/AAAAAAAAAsw/omiColM1l3Qj1hVjoQU_-7o-QsrLvAl1ACLcBGAs/s1600/fabian-blank-78637%2Bcopy.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="720" data-original-width="1280" height="225" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XLxcoJIrOK0/WjnXz_LkAfI/AAAAAAAAAsw/omiColM1l3Qj1hVjoQU_-7o-QsrLvAl1ACLcBGAs/s400/fabian-blank-78637%2Bcopy.jpg" width="400" /></a></div>Concerns about money and wealth dominate relationships among nations, national politics, our businesses and jobs, our families, and our own internal dialog. We highly esteem the acquisition of wealth yet it ends up weighing us down like an unbearable burden… either obsession with how much we have or worries about what we lack. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Without the wisdom and perspective we get from God and His word the place and position of wealth in life gets out of balance.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Your Creator knows that money, wealth, and stuff are important to you. Actually, He is very interested and has plenty to say about how we handle our money, wealth, and stuff. God wants His children to prosper, work hard, and be content. He offers lots of guidance to help make that possible. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">As with other matters like, sex, law, worship humanity makes a huge error… we think we can handle it alone. What does God know about slugging it out day to day… trying to make a living… trying to make ends meet? He knows a lot because: a) He created all things b) through Jesus, God has lived it.<br /><a name='more'></a></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But humanity does not give God credit for having the answers. We want to figure out our own answers… cutting ourselves off from His favor, and His advice. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Today we are going to review what God’s word has to say about financial security, and peace of mind. I have 6 action points:</div><h2 class="western">Guard Your Mind Against Materialism</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Our brains are wired to understand reality through what we can feel, see, hear etc. We know there is a spiritual component to our minds but our first instinct is to go with what it material, or physical. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That is why God’s advice [which is oriented toward the development of the spirit] is hard to swallow. Much of what God reveals to us is contrary to human nature. He tells us not to make accumulation of wealth and goods our top priority. While our human nature screams “no, gather as big a stash as you can… its your ticket to survival, dominance, and happiness”.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 6:33 </b>God tells us to make spiritual development, building the mind of Christ needed for success in the coming rule of God on earth through Christ. He adds to that, saying that if you make this your focus He will take care of the necessities of life [but that’s not a promise of a life of ease and comfort… many aspects of your spiritual development come only through perseverance in trial].</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s warning about the wrong mental outlook regarding wealth, money, and stuff is actually one of God’s TOP TEN guidelines for living: <b>Exodus 20:17</b> [also applies to sex, status etc.]</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Covetousness</b>: intense/obsessive desire for more… “I’m not content with what is legitimately mine… I want to possess yours as well”.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 13:5</b></div><h2 class="western">Remember That The Source of All Wealth is God</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This is a subset of remembering God as Creator. As creator of all things… they are His to freely give to whomever He chooses… for whatever reasons He chooses.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 </b><b>Chronicles 29:11-12 / Psalm 24:1</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Here’s your first TO DO item: acknowledge God for His gifts to you:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Say thanks</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Put your money where your mouth is. Give back 10% of all your increase.</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This 10% give back to God accomplishes takes your thoughts and puts it into concrete action. It also puts you in the position of participation in, and support of, the proclamation of His truth to others so they might also learn and benefit.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Abraham did it, Jacob did it, all Israel was instructed to <a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/09/tithing-is-act-of-worship.html" target="_blank">tithe</a>, Jesus endorsed it!</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This willingness to acknowledge and obey God is the first step toward learning important spiritual lessons, through the management of your personal finances. Note: God also promises material blessings to those who obey and acknowledge Him through tithing. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Putting God first in your financial plans is a demonstration of intent and a re-alignment of priorities <b>Leviticus 27:30 </b>the 1<sup>st</sup>10<sup>th</sup> set aside for His purpose not your own.</div><h2 class="western">Make a Conscious Decision What Will Be Your Highest Priority</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 </b>pleasure, wealth, stuff is futile</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ecclesiastes 5:10 </b>it fails to satisfy [at some point you realize, you will have to leave it all behind, worse, it will all be given to someone else who didn’t have to work for it, probably will never appreciate it]</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 6:24</b>– You might think you can give equal focus to both God and the pursuit of wealth… but you cannot have 2 top priorities. You need to make a conscious choice.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Riches: </b>God acknowledges you need money to survive and promises to help. But it can seem a lot more sound and secure to rely on a horde of cash, property, precious metals. We can see those things. And they do have some power to keep us from many troubles, trials… but not all. Like the death of a child, or a divorce. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Riches are vulnerable. They can be suddenly taken away from you… a stock market crash, flood or storm, and of course your own day of death. [Steve Jobs]</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Luke 12:15-21, 32-34 </b>– rich man’s wealth and accomplishments die with him</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Serving God: </b>if you put your primary focus on building the mind of Christ in you, then you are investing in something that will not ever be taken away from you. Even on the day you die. It is there waiting for you on the day of resurrection. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 </b><b>Corinthians 3:12-15</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 13:22 </b>if you do try to have them both, money will probably end up choking out it rival. </div><h2 class="western">Fulfill Your God Given Financial Responsibilities Toward Others</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Pay your taxes <b>Romans 13:1-7</b>. We are not exempt from government authority.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 22:17-21</b> pay your taxes but don’t neglect God.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Be generous and willing to contribute to the needs of others. <b>2 Corinthians 9:6-15</b>, </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 4:28 </b>a God given rationale for the work ethic. We tend to think of money as a way to satisfy personal needs and wants. Therefore, money is a “me” thing. But in God’s eyes money is just one of life’s many temporary experiences we can use to build Godly thinking. In this case to not only take care of our own needs but have some extra so we can help others in need. </div><h2 class="western">Develop A Mindset of Contentment</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Philippians 4:10-13 </b>Paul is here presenting contentment as a form of mental discipline.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Focus on your genuine needs rather than the extras, the frivolous, the flashy things you see on Facebook or that advertisers say you simply must have.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Timothy 6:6-12 </b>there is great spiritual danger in always wanting more.</div><h2 class="western">Fulfill Your Personal Responsibilities Before God</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Contentment does not mean laziness. God’s plan and purpose for you involves working hard, being self-sufficient, not taking advantage of others. The mandate for generosity is not to create a haven for freeloaders. Its to create an environment where people are given a way to get back up on their own 2 feet and start becoming a productive person.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Thessalonians 4:11-12</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Thessalonians 3:7-13</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Timothy 5:8 </b>families should take care of their own</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a><b>1 Timothy 6:17-19 </b>share blessings with others who are in need</div><h2 class="western">Conclusion</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Money itself is neutral, neither intrinsically good of bad. Love of money, the pursuit of wealth and stuff… that’s what is bad. If we have the wrong mental outlook on money we can be guilty of covetousness, or idolatry. If we have the right mental focus on money it can be a wonderful vehicle for us to learn important spiritual lessons and practice God like patterns of thought.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Money is merely a tool.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Our challenge is to establish our priorities and practice the financial principles pleasing to God.</div><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/nxDoq1cX93U" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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