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

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Jesus Sends Forth The Church Matt 10:1-42
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><h3 style="text-align: left;">Matt 9:35-38 A Message of Truth &amp; Hope</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/--qgjgWoYu7U/WdEGywKEygI/AAAAAAAAAlE/QPZgfwuQ3YoR87_XKHBmC9AchLiTTn4owCLcBGAs/s1600/aaron-burden-43435.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1202" data-original-width="1600" height="240" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/--qgjgWoYu7U/WdEGywKEygI/AAAAAAAAAlE/QPZgfwuQ3YoR87_XKHBmC9AchLiTTn4owCLcBGAs/s320/aaron-burden-43435.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>Jesus heart went out to the people He encountered. Without the truth of God their lives and minds were filled with all sorts of false ideas that gave them little hope and little purpose in their lives… mostly just burdens and fears. Jesus responded emotionally. He wants people to hear the truth, He wants people to have hope, and He wants His disciples to continue His ministry after He is gone and feel about it the way He did. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">This introduction to Jesus sending forth of His followers to carry on His work tells us about the heart of our Lord plus it contains a practical instruction for our prayer life so we might have that same emotional engagement … Jesus tells us part of our <br /><a name='more'></a>prayers to the Father should concern the continuation of Jesus ministry through the church, with an emphasis on those who are specifically sent into the field to proclaim the truth.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 10:1-7 The Commission And The Authority</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">There are three elements to Jesus’ command to “go forth”:</div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Grants them authority</b> – not a blank check so they can do whatever they want however they want… they cannot draw upon the authority He has given apart from faith and prayer – <b>Matt 17:20, Mark 9:29</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Gives them some limitations</b>: go only to Israel </div><ol type="a"><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">conforms to God’s general pattern Rom 1:16 – an expression of God’s unfailing love and commitment to Israel even to the very end when Christ returns <b>Romans 11:26-28 / Zechariah 8:23</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">the disciples were from a Jewish background – they were ill equipped to deal with the sophisticated and cynical people of the Greek and Roman world… it would take a person like Paul to go toe to toe with the philosophies of the Greeks</div></li></ol></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Tells them what to say:</b> The Kingdom of God [KOG] is near – the word near can refer to either time or proximity and is used both ways interchangeably in NT… they were near Jerusalem, or the time to leave was near…</div><ol type="a"><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Time</b> – the idea of time is problematic for us today because the KOG clearly has not come. Trying to reconcile the time idea with reality leads some to say that the KOG is a spiritual event that takes place in the hearts of people who accept the H.S. Thus the KOG began in 31 AD when the spirit was poured out. This also leads to the idea that the KOG is the church.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Proximity</b> – the KOG is close by in the person of Jesus who is the king of the kingdom… He is also the embodiment of everything the KOG stands for. Note: subsequent scriptures show us that Jesus will leave and later return to bring the rule of God / Kingdom of God to earth at a future time. That is why we (UCG) proclaim the KOG as something coming and not yet here (Jesus makes this understanding very clear in several of His KOG parables) Note: the KOG is referred to as a future event in Acts and the Epistles by the leaders of the church.</div></li></ol></li></ol><h3 class="western">What Did The Disciples Think The KOG Meant?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Acts 1:3-6 – right up until the moment He leaves them the disciples were still thinking of the nearness of the KOG in terms of time.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Also, at the time the disciples received these first instructions to go forth and preach the KOG they still considered the Messiah and His kingdom to be a Jewish thing (restore the kingdom to Israel)… they did not know that the Messiah was a universal savior and a universal ruler.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Later on they got a much more developed view of what the KOG was all about. For now they had only the most basic understanding of what the KOG meant. Their purpose at that moment was to proclaim the presence of the king among the people. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Perhaps it was the healing of sicknesses and driving away of evil spirits would teach the people about the KOG in ways the disciples were no yet prepared to do… providing an objective demonstration of the power of the king and His kingdom and its spirit of mercy and compassion.</div><h3 class="western">12 Are Selected</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Christ had quite a number of followers but here He selects 12 from among them and sets these 12 apart and sends them forth to do the work of preaching and proclaiming (apostello). </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Eph 4:12</b> we see this principle at work in the church at Ephesus today where some are specifically tasked with the unique roles within the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">We are also asked to pray for workers that the Lord of the Harvest sends into the field –<b> 2 Thess 3:1-2</b>.</div><h3 class="western">Do The Rest of Us Simply Pay &amp; Pray?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The Church of God has always made the distinction that some are set apart specifically to go forth and proclaim the coming of Christ the King and the establishment of the rule on God on earth… and we still have those who are set apart yet today. But does that mean because you are not ordained and set apart for that purpose you have no role in bringing the truth to people in this world? No.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The scriptures clearly teach that we are to train and prepare ourselves that we might talk about our faith “give an answer” to others. We are also to train and discipline our lives so they reflect the values of the kingdom… that some might even be won over by our example… <b>I Peter 3:15 / Col 4:6</b></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">A key phrase here is “train and prepare”… study the work of God so that you can talk to others about what you believe. The negative spin on this is that If you are untrained or unskilled in the word you run the risk of misrepresenting Christ the King.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The 12 who were selected had spent time in Jesus presence. They were part of the inner circle who had received training and preparation for the task at hand. Now Jesus was sending them forth as His representatives on what could be seen as a trial run or practice drill before the beginning of the MAIN EVENT… the beginning of the Church in Acts 2-3.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 10:9-14 Practical Instruction On Dealing With People</h3><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">How they will be supported</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">How to deal with rejection</div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Financial Support: the workers sent forth by Christ are to be supported by the people they are laboring among. They don’t finance the work themselves… they take no bag of money etc. Jesus tells the disciples to give freely and not charge money for access to the truth… but He very much expects those receiving the message of the KOG… to value it enough that they support those who are preaching it.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">I think the practical non-supernatural manner God provides for His workers is a stumbling block for some that causes them to doubt the divine power behind the work. (fed by ravens?)</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Rejection: As heralds / ambassadors of the great King their presence in someone’s home was a great honor to that person. Some would recognize it as such and others would not. The manner in which the disciples were instructed to respond was to withdraw with dignity… not begging or pleading with the person to give them another chance… but to consider that they had performed the duty God required. The person had not rejected them but had rejected the king. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">These instructions would remind them that they were not going forth in their <u>own name</u>… but as ambassadors and representatives clothed with the authority, armed with the power, and vested with the rights of the King of kings.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Verse 15 – the people of Sodom are the biblical poster children for sin and depravity… but one who hears and rejects the truth, his ambassadors… Christ solemn judgment is that they are worse. He will deal with them. (that is another sermon)</div><h3 class="western">Matt 10:16-23 Jesus Predicts the Opposition They Will Face</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus predicts there will be great cost exacted of those who go forth in His name. Those who go forth in His name must expect trials and troubles… Jesus suffered why not you?... Jesus was rejected why not you?</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Verse 19-20</b> persecution is a means whereby a witness of the truth and the message of the Kingdom can be made before public representatives.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Also, “you will be given what to say” – not to be used as an excuse for not preparing to give an answer through study of God’s word. As we read earlier we are to prepare ourselves… the spirit works by bringing to recollection what we have already put in there.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Verse 23</b> – be courageous in the face of opposition and trouble… When the path of duty is clear don’t shirk it… but don’t walk into trouble… flee the city… remove yourself from the source of trouble (caveat: unless fleeing would undermine the teaching and proclamation of the truth).</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Cities of Israel – This verse is perhaps too eagerly looked at as only referring only to the second coming of Jesus. If we stick to the immediate context we see that Jesus is sending them out before Him to prepare for His arrival… literally He was coming to the towns and villages of the land… but especially He was coming to the city of Jerusalem… where He would pass sentence upon the city for rejecting (and killing their King at His appearing).</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">This judgment upon Jerusalem is also a type of foreshadow of His second coming when He will return to pass a judgment of condemnation on the governments and rulers of the earth and replace their rule with the rule of God.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Note: UCG interprets this verse to indicate that the disciples (ie the church) will never have finished delivering the truth and proclamation of Christ’s return and the KOG before the time of the end… that we will never have reached all the cities of the 12 lost and scattered tribes of Israel (let alone the whole world) before the second coming of Christ right up to the very end. Therefore we will be proclaiming the KOG up to the very end… as long as we are able.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">I say this because some in the COG argue that the taking of the message of the KOG to the world was completed by HWA sometime in the 1980s and that the church should turn inward and focus on preparing themselves spiritually for the immanent return of Christ.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">UCG says that there is still work to be done and we will continue to do it. (see also <b>Matt 28:20</b>)</div><h3 class="western">Matt 10:24-33 Have Courage… Fear God Not Man</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus never sugar coated the trials and troubles the disciples were in store for. Although Jesus is directly speaking to those appointed to go forth and preach the principle applies to each of us within the church. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">His advice: in all circumstances place total confidence in the power of Jesus Christ. You are His servant and chosen representative… nothing that happens to you goes unnoticed… no suffering that you undergo for the sake of His name that will go unrewarded.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Knowing this we are to focus on God who holds true power in his hand. What power is that? … the power of life and death… permanent (or eternal) life… or permanent (or eternal) death.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Verse 28</b> – To me this is a verse that is referring to the permanent destruction in the lake of fire. The word soul = <i>psuche</i>, meaning that spark of life that is in you. It is translated as “life” or “soul” in scripture. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">This scripture is saying don’t be afraid of people and how they judge you, or trouble you, or punish you. They at most only have power to kill your body… which simply causes you to sleep until the time of your resurrection. Be concerned with how God judges you because He has the power to permanently establish you or eliminate you as a living thinking being… no hell… nothing.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 10:34-39 Where Do Your Loyalties Lie?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Loyalty to Jesus Christ will cause friction with those who also lay claim to your loyalty. You can be a good son, daughter, father, or mother… but loyalty to Christ and your role in His commission comes first. You can be a good citizen… but loyalty to God comes first.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Again, we are not looking for trouble… we are not trying to pick a fight… but when duty calls we know where our loyalty must be. Maintaining this loyalty may bring trouble… we may suffer loss… and may be a burden or cross we must bear.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 10:30-42 Reward</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Not everyone is appointed to personally go forth in the name of Jesus Christ to preach the KOG… some work behind the scenes providing financial support, help, food &amp; lodging, prayers and more. As we have noted in previous sermons… preaching the gospel is a work with a reward… and here we see that providing support functions (a cup of cold water) is also a work with reward.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The Work of Jesus Carries On In The Church Today</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In His “sermon” Jesus prepares His followers for the future. So He would be gone but they would still have the commission to preach the message of the KOG. After His death they would continue on as His representatives, the ambassadors of a coming King of Kings. How people would respond to this message will be accounted as how they would receive Jesus Himself.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The disciples have long since died but the commission to go forth as His representatives continues within the Church… and you are part of it. </div><br /><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Let us go forth, be courageous, stay loyal, and keep working.</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/SFs9TgJtQSM" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Healing Ministry of Jesus Christ
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><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/-QM1kVwQN0-0/WdEID7cJvRI/AAAAAAAAAlQ/EzLvda_4R8MREC1LTwr6gdW9zL5pQI-pwCLcBGAs/s1600/lukas-bornhauser-131196.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/-QM1kVwQN0-0/WdEID7cJvRI/AAAAAAAAAlQ/EzLvda_4R8MREC1LTwr6gdW9zL5pQI-pwCLcBGAs/s320/lukas-bornhauser-131196.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>A couple a months ago we reviewed the <i>Sermon On The Mount</i> which is Matthew’s overview of a typical sermon from Jesus on ethics and behavior. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Yet there was more to Jesus ministry just words about how we ought to live, or prophecy or judgment. A large part of His ministry involved walking among people like you and me… healing the sick, casting out demons, restoring eyesight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In chapters 8 &amp; 9 Matthew has grouped together a number of examples of Jesus healing ministry interspersed with short examples of how people reacted and responded to what the saw and experienced. There are a number of different themes running through these examples… <br /><a name='more'></a>such as his compassion, His care for those who were outcast. But I would like to draw to your attention to healings as examples of Jesus authority over body, life, forces of nature, forces of the spirit realm, authority over sin and authority over death… and talk briefly about what that authority means for us today.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 8:1-4—Jesus heals a leper </h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The Jews had lots of man-made rules about leprosy that went way beyond scriptural rules of quarantine. The leper was not just exiled from the community… he was hated, he was sin personified, people would throw stones at them not just to keep them away but to show contempt. Just by getting within 6 feet of a leper Jesus was breaking the regulations of the Jews… let alone touching the man. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">But with the theme of authority in mind notice two features in the record:</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The leprous man worshipped and addressed Jesus as <i>Kurios</i> – the supreme authority. He knew Jesus had the power to cleanse him if He desired. Which of course Jesus did. </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">After cleansing him Jesus sent him to the priests to be officially recognized as cleansed according to the rites outlined in Lev 13. This healing would go on record as a testimony of the cleansing and of Jesus power and authority to cleanse.</div></li></ul><h3 class="western">Matt 8:5-13—Jesus heals a gentile soldier’s servant</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">This man had a military background… a Centurian understood authority and he knew it when he saw it. This section is the most obvious recognition of Jesus act of healing as an expression of His authority. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">However, let’s never consider that Jesus did what He did to show off His power (however this is the effect they have)… these are acts of love… Jesus’ heart went out to these people in their needs… remember the people came to Him beseeching Him for help… after all He had spoken to them of love, care. Compassion… how could He respond other that how He did? </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Without the healing part of Jesus ministry all we would have would be a rather cold lesson in ethics and proper behavior. Here we see the emotion of our creator in action.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 8:14-17—Jesus heals many</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Not only does Jesus heal the outcasts and the unclean gentiles… He also heals those within his inner circle of disciples and followers. Plus, here we get the first mention of casting out of demons. But what we want to take some time looking at here is the quotation of Isaiah 53:4 which reminds us that the healing ministry of Christ is a fulfillment of prophecy. But there is more…</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Isaiah 53:4-5</b> also introduces a connection between Christ’s sacrifice as being for our sins/transgressions as well as that which makes possible our healing. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In case you were thinking that making such a connection is reading too much into a poetic analogy… Here are several NT verses that connect sin and sickness: <b>James 5:14-16 / I Cor 11:24-32 / 1 Peter 2:24</b></div><h3 class="western">Is Our Sickness Caused By Some Sin In Our Lives?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">These verses lead some to conclude that <u>all</u> illness is caused by sin… and that repentance from that sin is necessary for healing. I think from scripture we can say that illness caused by sin is always a possibility but we cannot say that every (or even most) sickness is caused by personal sin. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">For example: Paul had an ailment he begged God to heal multiple times which was never healed… but there is no record of any sin either repented of or unrepented of. In <b>John 9:3</b> we have Jesus own testimony regarding a man who was blind that there was no sin associated with it. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">So, when seeking God’s healing you should definitely consider that sin <u>may</u> be involved… but not assume that there has to be some be some sin… and that you need to keep searching until we find it.</div><h3 class="western">What Then Is The Connection Between Sin &amp; Sickness?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>One:</b> The physical is an analogy for the spiritual. Sickness pictures our broken and dysfunctional spiritual state… healing pictures our restoration and redemption to a state of spiritual wholeness and wellness. This is that manner I think 1 Peter 2:24 intends.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Two:</b> Healing, or specifically, the request for healing, is act of faith on your part as well as an act of submission &amp; acceptance of God’s authority. This second point is the connection I want to expand upon for the rest of the healings in Matthew 8 &amp; 9… </div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>James 5:14</b> a person seeking healing comes to the elders (authority) who pray and anoint in the NAME of the Lord (Kurios)… when you do something in the name of you are calling upon their authority.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>1 Cor 11:24</b> people fall sick and even die when they do not show proper respect for the body of the <i>Kurios</i> … the master and supreme authority.</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>Q:</b> if I come to the elders in faith and submission to God’s authority will I be healed?</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>A:</b> God clearly does not heal everybody… consider again the example of Paul</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>Q:</b> if I am not healed is it because I lack faith? Or, am insufficiently submissive to God’s authority?</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>A:</b> No, again refer to the example of Paul. God had a greater purpose in mind for Paul and his ailment had a part to play in it. </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>Consider this:</b> submission to God’s authority means we accept His decision with faith… meaning we believe it is for our greater good and moving us toward His goal of creating His mind and character in us so that we may be perfected and raised in glory . </div><h3 class="western">Matt 8:18-22 People respond to Jesus</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Each set of healings is followed by examples of various peoples and mindsets responding to what they see happening around them. </div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Over-eager/impulsive</b> – Jesus had the ability to read and discern the hearts of people… seems He knew this man’s was getting swept up in the emotions of what was going on and not counting the costs… seeing only the glory and power in Christ’s healing and not considering the sacrifices that following Jesus words would require… not a good combo for the long haul.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Under-eager/hesitant</b> - wants to tend to family business first (clearly sees that sacrifices are being called for)… interestingly Jesus coaxes him to go for it, follow me… but you have to be all in… totally focused on developing the mind of God… don’t put it off for a better day.</div></li></ul><h3 class="western">Matt 8:23-27—Jesus heals/calms the storm</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Extension of Jesus authority over nature “the wind and waves OBEY Him”… obey His authority</div><h3 class="western">Matt 8:28-34—Jesus heals two demon possessed gentiles</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Extension of Jesus authority over spirit realm. Notice the demons speak of the “appointed time”. They know they have only the set allotted time that God the supreme authority has allowed them. Satan knows that at some point his allotted time to exercise authority over the world will be up. What authority them have is subordinate to greater authority of Christ and the Father.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">So, we have seen Jesus supreme / divine authority over health, body, the forces of nature, the forces of the spirit realm… what’s left? Two biggies… SIN and DEATH.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 9:1-8—Jesus heals a paralyzed man</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In verse 6 we read yet another pointed comment about Jesus authority. This time, it is His authority to forgive sins… something highly important to each and every one of us.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">An important little piece of social context adds some oomph to what’s going on here. The Jewish people firmly believed that sickness was caused by sin (refer back to <b>John 9:3</b>). When they saw someone who was sick they just assumed there was sin involved.</div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus sees the man’s faith but instead of healing him Jesus forgives the man’s sin. Jesus knew the hearts of people so perhaps He could see this was a case where sin was involved… or perhaps He knew the man was worried about what sin he might have committed to cause his paralysis.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus knows the Pharisees do not accept that He has the authority to forgive sin. So to show that He does have this authority He heals the man of his sickness.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">It could be that Jesus was saying “If you believe that sickness is caused by sin… then how could I heal this man unless I had the authority to first forgive the sin?”</div></li></ol><h3 class="western">How Do People Respond To What They Are Seeing And Hearing?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">One reaction is to start comparing Him to what they are expecting a religious person to act like… </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 9:9-13</b> Having demonstrated His authority to forgive sin… and heal sin… Jesus shows how this can be the beginning of a new life. He calls a man who would by all the popular definitions of the day be considered a big time sinner… Matthew a tax collector… to begin a new life.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Matthews response is different from the two we read earlier in Matt 8:18-22… Jesus could know Matthew’s heart and mind as much as those other two men. I assume therefore that Matthew had considered what was at stake, perhaps he had listened to Jesus public preaching, seen the healings and was wondering… should I? could I? simply get up and walk away from my life and start anew? And when Christ came to him (not the other way around as previous examples) and said follow me Matthew did not hesitate.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 12</b> similar to salt and light teaching – if I am going to help sinners I have to be willing to talk with them. If I am to persuade them I have to engage in conversation with them. Note: Jesus did not dine with drunkards and sinners and get drunk along with them. The Pharisees policy was to shun such people and avoid all contact with them… and comparing Him to themselves they asked “how can Jesus be righteous if He does not act likewise?”</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 9:14-17</b> next Jesus is compared to John. “why don’t you act like religious people such as John? You know… that good old-time religion we are used to?” … Answer: solid religious discipline will not go away, but right now is a time of joy rather than sorrow… Furthermore with my ministry we are heading into new territory…. and then He gives them two analogies about flexibility during a time of transition from the old to the new. (wine fermenting in wineskins)</div><h3 class="western">Third Set Of Healings</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The issue of Jesus authority comes up again and again we see differing responses. The crowds appreciate and rejoice in His compassion and His power. But the leadership of the Jews is growing increasingly antagonistic towards His authority… probably feeling threatened and judged… they are unable to deny the power… so, they denounce the source of His authority as demonic. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 9:18-26</b> resurrects a dead girl extending His authority over death and life… </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 9:27-34</b> Jesus heals a blind man and a mute man <b>vs 34</b> they acknowledge there is a power and authority there but they denounce it as demonic.</div><h3 class="western">Matt 9:35-10:1 Jesus Intends to Pass Authority On To His Followers </h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In the flesh Jesus was finite… God’s purpose is to work through humans to continue ministering to the world… Jesus grants authority to the disciples… this authority to heal is later passed to the church as seen in the book of Acts… and finally to the church today as seen in James 5:14-16</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Healing in the church is still a matter that focuses our attention <u>on the authority of Jesus Christ</u>… except that now we bring our sicknesses to the elders of the church who offer prayer an anointing in the NAME (meaning in the authority of) Jesus Christ… the Kirios… the Lord. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">We are not submitting ourselves to the elder himself but to him as a representative of Christ. Our submission to God’s authority means we accept His decision with faith… like the leprous man we know He has the power if He is willing… and if He is not willing it is because He is working us toward His goal… creating His mind and character in us so that we may be perfected and raised in glory. </div><h3 class="western">Jesus Offers Us Meaning &amp; Purpose In Life</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">When we read through the records of Jesus’ ministry we see that He did not just talk. He did more than give sermons about God, KOG, righteousness or prophecy. He spent a great deal of His time healing… putting His compassion and out-flowing love into real actions. Seriously, if He had not done so would His words of instruction have been as powerful?</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">He met people in pain / in sorrow / outcast and lonely / deceived and in the grip of demons… the Pharisees offered them nothing, offering only burdens, guilt and fear. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus met people desperate for meaning in life, wanting hope, and He gave it to them. This task of offering people hope, purpose and meaning for life He has also passed on to the Church of God. May we serve Him well.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><br /><br /></div><br /><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/EEn46S-Lek0" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Lazarus & The Rich Man - What Happens When You Die
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Lazarus &amp; The Rich Man</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">You may have gone through all the verses proving humans do not possess an immortal soul. You may have gone through all the scriptures that clearly show that after death humans don't resume conscious life until they are resurrected... either in the resurrection of the just at the return of Christ... or in the resurrection for the rest of the dead who do not come to life until the 1,000 rule of Christ on earth are ended.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">At the end of all that sound biblical teaching someone says "what about <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syV0A6603Oc">Lazarus and the rich man</a>"? Doesn't the parable of Lazarus and the rich man clearly depict the blessings of heaven or the torments of hell as what lays ahead? Either the scriptures are contradictory, or you are wrong!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Today I would like to take an in-depth look at the parable of Lazarus and the rich man and walk through the parable to demonstrate that it is perfectly in-sync with the biblical teaching that death is like a long period of unconscious sleep after which we will be resurrected </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">John 5:28-29.</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Let's Read The Parable</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:19-31.</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Who Is Jesus Talking To?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RNVhPniw84Q/XF3WPhS4JdI/AAAAAAAABDM/HeA4eV5g2moJPmkGFQ2QmBZq58P7ViJpQCLcBGAs/s1600/matt-lamers-679313-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/-RNVhPniw84Q/XF3WPhS4JdI/AAAAAAAABDM/HeA4eV5g2moJPmkGFQ2QmBZq58P7ViJpQCLcBGAs/s320/matt-lamers-679313-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:1 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jesus is talking to the disciples. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:9</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;He teaches them through the parable of the "unjust steward" that we should use our worldly wealth in a way that will build up good favor and reward for our eternal future [dwellings = tabernacle or tent referring to spirit bodies see 2 Peter 1:13-14 for use of tent as metaphor for body].</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:14-15</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Jesus is teaching His followers, but He does it in a public setting where what He says can be heard by a larger group of onlookers… including some Pharisees… who laughed at what Jesus taught. They might have said something like "wealth is God's blessing upon the righteous</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">”, or, “</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">My riches are a proof that I am leading a good life and have God's favor".</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jesus tells God sees matters differently. To expand upon that point He tells them what we now know as the parable of </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Lazarus and the rich man</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">What is the purpose of a parable? </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">A parable is a colorful story used to teach about a spiritual concept. Parables use symbols and metaphors to depict types of people, or situations in an indirect or enigmatic way. They illuminate truth for some and obscure truth for others. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jesus</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;parables were most often not meant to be understood unless they were explained by Him. He did not explain them to just anyone. Jesus only explained His parables to those who were sincere, willing to listen, wiling to act on what they learned, and those who actually asked. </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Matthew 13:34-36</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Note: &nbsp;in verses 9-13 Jesus explained the meaning of the parable of the unjust steward to disciples to whom it was directed. However, He did not offer an explanation of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man the the Pharisees to whom it was directed.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Changing Your Paradigm</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">What you see is greatly affected by what you expect to see. What you expect to see can be greatly influenced by what you are told to expect.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">[slide 1] Here is a silhouette of a fancy wine goblet</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">[slide 2] Here is a silhouette of two people facing one another</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">What you see first is affected by what I lead you to expect.</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; letter-spacing: 0pt;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">So… let me tell you what to expect in the parable: </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The rich man is like the Pharisees enjoying their wealth and the praise of others for their righteousness. Lazarus is like the followers of Christ who build character through what they &nbsp;suffer and are despised. Both of them, rich and poor alike, die in the flesh.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The believer [Lazarus] is gathered together among those who are Christ's at His return and participate in the inheritance promised to the faithful, eternal life in the family of God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The rich man is resurrected to physical life after the 1,000 year rule of Christ. He is very distressed to learn he is now under the judgment of God and could end up in the lake of fire. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Scripture warns you of this in advance and shows you what to do in this life to affect your circumstances after death.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">That</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">s the biblical paradigm to have in mind when you read the parable.</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;But why is it so hard?</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The challenge with this parable is that presuppositions from people, tradition, and translation bias precondition you to expect the "go to hell" doctrine in these verses. Even the suggestion that the parable is a proof of the </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">“</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">go to hell</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;doctrine preconditions you to see it that way.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Let</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">’s Go Through The Parable With the Biblical Constructed Paradigm</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:19-21</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;the rich man represents those who think of themselves as spiritually rich but were really pitifully naked and blind. Being clothed in fine, or white, linen is frequently used to depict righteousness and good works... the Pharisees were esteemed for their long prayers, strict &nbsp;Sabbath observance, rigorous fasting, any avoidance of unclean people or things.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Then we have Lazarus who must endure suffering, trials, and hardship in this life. He is not esteemed by others &nbsp;[unclean dogs lick his unclean sores]. But, his suffering is building in him righteous character, pleasing to God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:20-21</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;both men die but what happens to them after death is very different.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Remember this is a parable; a short pithy story meant to convey a spiritual lesson or warning. Parables often breeze through years or centuries in a single sentence. Because of the preconceptions folks have when they read this parable they presume Lazarus is whisked off to Abraham</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s side [in heaven] </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">minutes after his last breath. But, this timeline would be a contradiction to other scriptures that clearly say otherwise. &nbsp;</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Which scriptures?</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">We have two clues to indicate the scriptures that show us there is a huge time gap:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The phrase, Abraham's bosom (at Abraham</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">s side)</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The phrase, Lazarus is carried away by the angels</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">When do the angels gather up and carry away those who have died? </span></i><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Matthew 24:30-31</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Lazarus is gathered together with God's chosen/elect at the time of Christ's return... so they may be raised to life.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Who are the chosen/elect?</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Galatians 3:7-9, 14</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;those who through faith overcome the trials, tests, hardships, and suffering of life to enter into the family of God. The children of faith, the children of Abraham are the chosen and elect. Note: Lazarus is depicted as being placed in a close intimate relationship with Abraham. The old rendering "Abraham's bosom" indicates this closeness.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Where was Abraham when Jesus delivered this parable?</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">John 8:52</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Abraham was dead, not living in heaven </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">John 3:13</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. Abraham has not yet received the promise. Along with all the faithful who have died over the centuries and millennia, Abraham and the faithful await the receipt of the promise as a FUTURE event </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Hebrews 11:39-40, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Lazarus is in the first or better resurrection!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">What about the Rich Man?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:23-24</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;here is another instance where there is a huge time gap covering thousands of years but in the format of the short pithy parable could be presumed to occur right away. The time of the rich man's resurrection is at the end of the 1,000 years of Christ reigning on earth.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Revelation 20:4-5</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;since the rich man was not among those gathered by the angels for resurrection at the time of Christ's return he must therefore be part of the "rest of the dead" who are raised to life much later. This is a resurrection back to life in the flesh for a time of judgment before the great white throne of God. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Hell or Hades</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The KJV used the word hell in this verse which allows people to throw this parable in your face and say LOOK, SEE, ITS RIGHT THERE! Most modern translations back away from this and more accurately use the word </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Hades… </span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">because they know it has a very different meaning</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. Hades is a Greek word meaning the state of the dead, not the place of the dead but rather the state of the dead. The spirit is separated from the body, it has no body, it cannot be seen, it has no meaningful existence... we would add to that: it has no thoughts, it is in a state much like sleep </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Daniel 12:2</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Acts 2:31</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;the word </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Hades </span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">is only used 7 times in the NT depicting the state of the dead not a place for the dead. For example: Jesus' spirit did not go to some subterranean torture chamber called hell after He died in the flesh. But He entered the state of the dead. He was in the tomb... not alive in some other place (either heaven or hell). His spirit was not conscious, or what we would call alive, because it had no living body.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Torment &amp; Fire</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Torment - in verse 23 the word is </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">basanos</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;- which literally means a touchstone, a type of stone you would rub gold of silver on to test its purity. The rich man is raised to his time of judgment before the God. &nbsp;He will be put to the test using the touchstone of God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s word </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Revelation 20:24-25</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Basanos came to be used to mean inflicting pain in order to get at the truth... also as the mental and emotional stress associated with pain, trial, and loss:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">people brought their sicknesses and pains (basanismos) to Jesus for healing</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">demons cried out "</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">why are you tormenting/basanizo me</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">?" when they knew Jesus was going to cast them out of a person. The mental torment of impending doom.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Revelation 9 shows God allowing people to be tormented/basanizo by Satan with pain and plagues so they might repent</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">When the rich man is resurrected he will see the tables turned, he has missed out on the resurrection of the just... and he is going to be tormented or distressed by the idea that he could permanently destroyed in the lake of fire. Note: i</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">n this fire</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;could also be translated </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">by this fire</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Will he perhaps experience physical as well as emotional trial and tribulation at that time? Jesus indicates people who rejected him in this life are going to have a harder time when they rise up n the resurrections than those who never knew any better. I expect God will try an test them before writing them into the book of life.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">A Drop Of Water</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Water is often used to depict the holy spirit of God. The rich man wants what Lazarus has. He asks that Lazarus be allowed to give him just a drop of that living water to ease his distress. &nbsp;But can he have what Lazarus has? </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">The answer is NO.</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:25-26</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;there</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s a</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;great divide between these two men; one &nbsp;is of the flesh, one is of the Spirit… &nbsp;and flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. People like the rich man may find themselves written into the book of life and presumably receive eternal life when this judgment is complete... but they will not have a part in the better resurrection... and they will not share in the special status of the bride of Christ seated with Him in positions of authority and judgment over the universe.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">I believe such people have good things to look forward too... but not those two things.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">A man who thought himself spiritually rich and in need of nothing... righteous and chosen... now finds himself to have missed out on the greatest opportunity every offered to a created being.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 16:27-31</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;when the rich man arises doesn't seem be aware that thousands of years have passed and everyone he ever knew is also dead. He proposes that the sight of Lazarus returning from the dead to warn his family would get their attention so they don't end up in the same predicament he finds himself in.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">The answer: No.</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;The only warning people get is the warnings, instructions, inspiration and promises found in God's word. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Conclusion</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The story of Lazarus and the rich man is actually a story that fits squarely and comfortably within the resurrection sequence and the great white throne judgment spelled out in multiple other places in scripture. Read it with the right paradigm... Read it with the goal of harmonizing into the larger picture clearly spelled out in your bible.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Do this and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man will not be a confusing conundrum but a powerful warning and call to action.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/GZuHwZtunOY" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Fourth Commandment: Face Time With 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/-WP1fCh5DQ-I/XEIEg6TE8-I/AAAAAAAABCs/9I0SiUvz4Vsb6N2lvPVyEXBA7Tqm9wGrQCLcBGAs/s1600/blake-richard-verdoorn-15549-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://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WP1fCh5DQ-I/XEIEg6TE8-I/AAAAAAAABCs/9I0SiUvz4Vsb6N2lvPVyEXBA7Tqm9wGrQCLcBGAs/s320/blake-richard-verdoorn-15549-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a><b style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Exodus 20:8-11 </span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt; text-align: left;">God</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt; text-align: left;">’s</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt; text-align: left;">&nbsp;4th commandment presents us with a very tangible, task oriented way to express our love for Him: spending time together. Loving God implies some sort of relationship, and I think we can all agree; good relationships take time together to develop and grow.&nbsp;</span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Our Father Creator</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">’s</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;4th commandment sets apart a specific day of the week, so that we can spend time together, and develop our relationship. It is last of the first four commandments which offer &nbsp;us guidance on what it means to love God with all our heart, mind, and being.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">Let's </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">review</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;the first four commandments in terms of a relationship:</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">1st commandment</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;- to make this relationship your top priority; compare to a courtship where each party wants to be the other person</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">’s top priority. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">2nd commandment</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;- to have a true image of who and what God is; in human relationships we consider it important that the other party </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">“get us”… the understand who we are and what we are all about</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">3rd commandment </span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">- to show respect and honor towards God; in healthy human relationships you want the other party to treat you a certain way</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">4th commandment</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;- to spend time together: you want the other party to spend time with you</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">The Sabbath is </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">Time Set Apart By God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Genesis 2:1-2</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;the day in question is the 7th day of the weekly cycle</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Leviticus 23:32</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;in God's word a "day" is reckoned &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;from sunset to sunset</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The Sabbath is actually very simple and straightforward. Yet, it is the most consistently undermined and confused by ridiculous arguments like:.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">All days are equal.</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;The 7th day Sabbath is merely a ceremonial observance. Commonly expressed "we should spend time &nbsp;with God every day not just on a single day of the week".</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Any day will do</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">. we are adhering to the spirit of the commandment if we set aside one day out of seven. The Sabbath doesn't have to be on Saturday it can be on Sunday, or Wednesday. And its actually better to change the day since we don't want to be confused with the Jews.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Imagine yourself in a relationship where you are rich and powerful and the other party has nothing. Everything they have they owe to you, past and present. You love them and you want to spend time together. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">You say </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">“you can come and see me any time, but I would like you to always come to see me every Saturday”. They reply “I appreciate all you do for me but I think I’d rather be the one to pick when we meet. I’ll let you know what days I’ll come”. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">What would their words tell you about your relationship with that person?</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">Disinformation and Confusion About The Sabbath</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The battle over the Sabbath is a war of deception and misinformation. Few people grasp how deeply and fundamentally humanity, society, and culture are indoctrinated by Satan.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Revelation 12:9 --&gt; 1 John 5:19</span></b><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Satan's objective is to undermine, divert, and destroy the development of that relationship between you and the true God who is your Father. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The fallen archangel Lucifer's great sin was to declare himself God's equal. It was Lucifer who first said "I will make myself like the most high". Lucifer, want3ed to be equal (or above) YHWH. He wanted to Rule over all the &nbsp;created beings (stars of God)</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Isaiah 14:12-14</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;this Lucifer (Satan, evil one) is insanely jealous, angry, and resentful that God is creating in humanity a new class of spiritual beings who will be of greater importance than angels.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Hebrews 1:5-7, 13-14 </span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">the angels are beneath the spirit born sons of God. This is not only a subordination of angels to Jesus but a subordination of a angels to the spirit born children of God.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Hebrews 2:6-7, 11-13</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;while we are yet in the flesh we do not rank above angels, but that is our destiny. We are to be raised to spirit life with the full rights of son-ship in God's family. No longer </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">“a little lower than the angels”.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">This is why Satan hates you. He hates your relationship with the Most High. He hates the Sabbath and its important role in strengthening your relationship with the Father.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">Another Deceptive Argument Against</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;The Sabbath</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">:</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Some say that Jesus broke the Sabbath commandment (Matthew 12, John 5:18) thus setting the example for us and freeing us from the burden of observing it. But saying Jesus broke the Sabbath command is a foolish, deceptive and illogical argument.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Jesus and the disciples kept the Sabbath, </span><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Luke 4:16</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">. In addition to affirming His observance of the weekly Sabbath He is pictured using it for its intended purpose: helping people develop their relationship with the Creator through reading and instruction in God</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">’s word</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Wingdings; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Jesus did not violate the Sabbath commandment. He made some judgment calls about what was acceptable on the Sabbath which violated Jewish tradition, such as healing on the Sabbath, and food procurement. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Wingdings; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">If Jesus had broken the commandment how could He also say "I have kept my Father's commands"? How could He be considered to have live a perfect sinless life? How could He then be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity. If Jesus broke the command then He could not be your savior.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Wingdings; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The very same people often like to say Jesus fulfilled (or kept) the commandments in your stead. Then this righteousness on His part is bestowed upon you… </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">“Jesus is our righteousness”. But if Jesus broke the Sabbath command… then He didn’t really fulfill the commandments for you…. Whichever way you slice it, the Jesus broke the Sabbath is a circular and illogical proposition.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Decades after Jesus</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">’ death i</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">t was Paul's custom to gather together with others on the Sabbath &nbsp;</span><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Acts 17:2, 18:4</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">It wasn</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">’t until about </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">300 years later... 301 A.D. that Sunday was substituted for the 7th day. On the surface this change was a political decision in an attempt to create social and religious unity between Christians and worshipers of the sun. Underneath the surface this was further deception and coercion from Satan the prince of the powers of this world.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Jesus didn't make this change. The 1st century apostles didn't make or even initiate this change. Who gave the Roman government (and the Roman Church) &nbsp;the right to make such a change? They gave it to themselves... therefore, regarding the 4th commandment they too declared "We will be equal to God"!</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">The Sabbath Is </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">A Reminder That YHWH is the Creator</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Exodus 20:11</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;The Sabbath shapes the way we perceive and worship the Most High: He is our creator and as such </span><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">supreme in all things</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">. The Sabbath is not only baked into the foundational instructions from God know as the 10 Commandments, the Sabbath is an integral part of the Creation account itself. Long before we are warned not to lie, steal, murder, or covet, we are presented with the Sabbath as a memorial of creation..</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">In the Creation account of Genesis 1 God is establishing some ground rules:</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Symbol; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">I set the boundaries: light and dark, land and sea, earth and sky...</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Symbol; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">I establish and maintain life: plants, animals, and humanity</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Symbol; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">I set aside the 7th day to remind you of all this</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">The Sabbath is a Day To Focus on God's Ongoing Spiritual Creation</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">We are given the Sabbath as a day of rest. That does not mean it is a day to &nbsp;sit around and do nothing... the Sabbath is not intended as a time for us to lounge around in our pajamas drinking hot chocolate without a care in the world. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The rest we are given is a day t &nbsp;o set aside the daily grind of our routine activities, our jobs, housework, shopping etc. ... not so we can do nothing... but so we can experience a change of focus </span><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Isaiah 58:13-14</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">. We focus on building our relationship with our Father Creator.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Building relationships take time spent getting together, talking together, doing stuff together. Without these there really is no relationship. We see this with courtships, marriages, friendships, teams etc.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">A Day For Sacred Assembly</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;&amp; Instruction</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">God</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">’s ongoing spiritual creation (the development of Godly character in you) is advanced and directed through instruction on the weekly Sabbath.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Leviticus 23:3</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;God's instructions regarding the Sabbath are for us to participate in a holy assembly. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The Hebrew word translated assembly/convocation is </span><i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">mikraw</span></i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;which carries the meaning of both a public meeting and of a public </span><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">reading</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">. Therefore, this sacred assembly is a public meeting for the purpose of instruction.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Numbers 10:2</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;trumpets used to call the people together, therefore PUBLIC, a group activity</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Nehemiah 8:8</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;specific reference to instruction from the book of the law [bible] when the people are all gathered together for a reading… the word reading in this instance is </span><i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">mikraw.</span></i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Leviticus 23:2</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;The word "festival" is a misleading translation. &nbsp;The original word here is moed meaning appointed time. There is a separate and distinct word for festival: </span><i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">khag</span></i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">. That word does not show up in Leviticus 23 until verse 6 when it is used to describe the festival of unleavened bread. &nbsp;A festival is always an appointed time, but an appointed time is not always a festival.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">A more literal rendering of verse 2: </span><i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, these are the appointed times of YHWH, proclaim them to be sacred assemblies. These are my appointed times</span></i><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">: The first of these appointed times to be addressed is the weekly Sabbath (the Sabbath is not described as a festival).</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The weekly Sabbath is an appointment with God. You are summoned by Him to present yourself as part of a group for the purpose of receiving instruction from His word. To facilitate this God has given you a "day off" from your work routine so you can focus on this meeting.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Your </span><u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">priority</span></u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;on the Sabbath is not lounging around in your pajamas eating waffles, or to catch up on your napping... although a more relaxed routine is a side benefit of the Sabbath!</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Your </span><u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">priority </span></u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">is not fellowship, catching up with friends, even personal bible study, or personal prayer… although the altered routine of the Sabbath allows you extra time to do all these good things!</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Yes, do these relaxing and refreshing things on the Sabbath... </span><u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">but</span></u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Your </span><u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">priority</span></u><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;on God's appointed times is to set aside your work and appear before God as part of a body of people for group instruction!</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;">The Sabbath Advances His Ongoing Work of Salvation</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The Sabbath is more than a memorial of God's past creation of the material universe. It is a weekly reminder of God's ongoing and present work of spiritual creation. Bringing into being children who will transcend the material universe.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:10, Philippians 2:13</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;This is God at work in you, writing His laws and attitudes on your hearts and minds. A work which the weekly Sabbath moves forward!</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">I believe this concept is also built into the wording of the commandment.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 5:12-15</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;the weekly Sabbath is also a remembrance of God's act of salvation in your life. You have been called out of darkness, you have been called out of slavery, you have been called out of sin... and called into righteousness, truth, and eternal life. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">This transformation comes about through your ever growing relationship with God your Creator. To make this happen God has commissioned the Church: to baptize for the receipt of His holy spirit; to proclaim and facilitate His holy assemblies. The church provides a safe meeting place with restrooms, running water, a sound system, we provide hymnals and music for singing, and most of all we provide instruction from God's word. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">We provide instruction that is inspired, but also instruction that is regulated. We teach as we have ourselves been taught, we are careful about doctrine so that you do not come here and find strange exotic, highly personalized interpretations of scripture, tantalizing speculation, or human philosophy.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">The laws of God are written on your heart through sound instruction. This new spiritual creation of God is channeled, regulated, and pointed in the right direction by group instruction.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Speaking to the followers of Christ God</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">’s word says -</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;</span><b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt;">Hebrews 4:9</span></b><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Love God with all you heart, mind and soul. The first four commandments tell us how to make this happen. </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo4; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">Set Him as your #1 priority</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo4; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">A</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">ccept no false images or interpretations of Him</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo4; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">G</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">ive Him your honor and r</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">respect, and </span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo4; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun;">4.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">S</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">pend time with Him gathering together before Him on His appointed day of meeting.</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/s9HOVgPGlCs" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Third Commandment - Show Some Respect
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">The Third Commandment: Show Some Respect</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Exodus 20:7 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The third commandment addresses how we communicate our feelings and thoughts about our Creator to others... and how we communicate those things to Him. It warns about our speech, &nbsp;behavior, and attitudes regarding the Father of all life... The 3rd commandment says: </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">show some respect!</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></i></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Respect Definition:</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;&nbsp;t</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">o feel admiration for (someone or something) : to regard (someone or something) as being worthy of admiration because of good qualities : to </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">ACT</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;in a way which shows that you are aware of (someone's rights, wishes, etc.)</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">We easily grasp the need for respect when meeting someone important or powerful... like the Don Corleone, you fear his power to hurt you, so you show respect; or your boss... who has the power to give you a raise or get you fired, so you show respect.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Yet disrespecting the Creator God. He is patient, slow to anger... but the commandment says "He's taking names". If you've been disrespectful to God, turn around, change your ways, move forward... He is happy to put the past in the past. But the day is coming when the allotted time of His patience comes to an end.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Respect is essential for a good relationship. We see this in marriage, business, communities. Expressing respect in ways that others notice and see is necessary. If I say "I respect you" but then ignore you, talk badly about you to others... then you know I don't respect you.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Respect is a way we demonstrate our love for God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">What Does </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">“</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">In Vain</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">” Mean?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The 3rd commandment warns against using the Creator's name in a manner that is rude, frivolous, degrading, expressing an attitude of carelessness... disdain... or antagonism. All this is summed in the word vain: which means deceptive, empty, worthless, meaningless.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">What Is Covered By The Phrase </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">“</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">My Name</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">”?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">A name is a set of syllables, pronounced a certain way, used to refer to a person. But a person's name also carries with it the idea of their whole person, their reputation, their character, what they stand for etc.. For example, "that person has slandered my name"... meaning they have attacked your reputation or standing in the community.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator's name represents His character and what He stands for. Which is every good &amp; perfect thing we could ever hope for… it</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;the hope and promise of everlasting life &nbsp;filled with joy, contentment and completeness.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Profanity in Speech</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PY7n5EjsKos/XDQWd9dX0nI/AAAAAAAABCg/_SZ9pOXvjSoYZ-194Rrgg5Vt-obPfi2qACLcBGAs/s1600/surprise-square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1160" data-original-width="1280" height="181" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PY7n5EjsKos/XDQWd9dX0nI/AAAAAAAABCg/_SZ9pOXvjSoYZ-194Rrgg5Vt-obPfi2qACLcBGAs/s200/surprise-square.jpg" width="200" /></a><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Exodus 3:13-15</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator tells us His name is YHWH, Yahweh, Yehovah. In English that would be, the I AM, the self existing one etc. This name is also a description, a description of a being that is life itself. English bibles tend to follow the Jewish practice of using a substitute word LORD in place of the name YHWH. In our writing we tend to refer to Him as God (capital G)... these are also descriptive but one step removed from YHWH. &nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The idea is that we avoid using the proper name YHWH so we don't run the risk of profaning it. However for practical purposes, if you say LORD, or God, everyone knows you are referring to YHWH. Using substitute words does not protect you from violating the spirit of the 3</span><sup><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; vertical-align: super;">rd</span></sup><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;commandment.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Using "God" in a phrase like "Oh My God, that was amazing","Good Lord, that was a great martini","thank God the bus was on time", are examples of using the Creator's name, reputation, and character in a way that is frivolous, careless, or overly casual. I have omitted examples that are abusive, or dirty. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">You shouldn't say </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">“</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Oh My God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;unless its part of a prayer, or a song of praise. This also applies to euphemisms like gosh, golly, geez. These may seem innocent but unwittingly announce to all who hear that God isn't really special or set apart in your way of thinking. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">The Importance Of</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;Jesus</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;Christ's Name</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Philippians 2:9-11 t</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">he character of Jesus and all that He stands for is wrapped up in His named and should not be taken in vain either. It is through Jesus Christ that we know the Father Creator. It</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s through </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jesus Christ that our path to eternal life is opened up. This is important stuff.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Jesus is the Greek rendering of Yeshua/Joshua</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;meaning salvation in English; </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Christ</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;is a Greek word meaning anointed one in English, the Hebrew equivalent is messiah. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Many people say the name Jesus a lot... but don</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’t</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;properly represent Him. Many use His name to convey a message that betrays and opposes what He stood for.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Matthew 5:17-19</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;people use Jesus name to teach against obeying God's commands... at least the commands they disagree with. This is a misuse of His name.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Matthew 15:7-9 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">People despise the Sabbath but then wallpaper Christ</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">’s </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">name all over idolatrous worship traditions like Saturnalia and pretend they are pleasing to God.</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">People use God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">’s name to validate their political ideologies and leaders, people send their young men to war shouting God is with us. In so many ways we use God’s name to justify our own stupid ideas. The misuse of God’s name causes confusion, doubt, disbelief… which is why its a big deal!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">In this world, God is evaluated based on the people who claim to act in His name.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">What About Members of God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">’s Church</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Colossians 3:17</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;- this is all encompassing. &nbsp;Anything we do that brings reproach, disrespect, or shame on the name of God or Christ is &nbsp;a violation of the 3rd commandment by misrepresenting the God we claim to serve.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">1 Peter 2:9-12</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;While you are yet in the flesh God makes you part of a people. He considers you His representatives in this. You honor God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s name through</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;your example. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">D</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">ishonoring God By Your Example</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">That calling to represent God on this earth was originally assigned to the nation of Israel. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 4:5-7</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Moses wanted their conduct to so honor God that all nations would gain respect for Him... and want to learn more.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The nation of Israel failed this task. Instead they profaned God's name among the nations surrounding them. G God was patient with them... He gave them lots of time... He gave them lots of warning... He was slow to anger... but there came a day when the time was up. They paid a high price.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Ezekiel 36:16-32 </span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">To profane means (among other things) to treat His name as a common thing. Not special, not holy, not revered, not respected... just common... like a block of cheese... or a brush you use to scrub the toilet... handy, useful when you need it... but nothing special.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">At first the nations could say:</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Israel has these commandments, laws, statutes from their God... but they don't live by them. Such a God must be weak, unable to convince them to obey. Why would I worship weakness?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Or the nations could say:</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Israel say they stand for justice and fairness but they are no different than us. These "chosen people</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;a just a bunch of hypocrites. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Then God punished Israel because unrepentant sin must be punished. God is just and He will show Himself just by His acts...</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Then the nations would say:</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Israel has this God YHWH but He allows them to be over-run and enslaved by the Assyrians, then the Babylonians. Their God must either be unable to protect them or doesn't care. </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">It is useless to follow such a God!</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">So, for the sake of His name on the stage of world history God pledged to restore Israel. Not because they are especially worthy, but for the sake of His reputation… as a demonstration of His character and His purpose. For His name's sake. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Israel was restored during the days of Ezra &amp; Nehemiah. That restoration lasted another 400 years until the coming of the Messiah, and the better way of the new covenant. This restored &nbsp;Israel provided a suitable environment where the Messiah could be born, grow up, and live by the commandments and laws of God (even though the Jews around Him did not necessarily do so themselves). How would Christ have lived a sinless life if He had been born in a villa in pagan Rome?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">But, once the Messiah had come and fulfilled His mission... Israel soon ceased to exist as sovereign nation.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">However, the true restoration of Israel happens when Christ returns and establishes the rule of God on earth. At that Israel is restored as a model for the surrounding nations </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Isaiah 2:2-4</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;(this time it will work, holy spirit, absence of Satan, visible presence of Christ and the resurrected saints etc.). This prophetic fulfillment is also done for the sake of God's name.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">B</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">ad Co</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">nduct</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;In God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">’s Name is Blasphemy</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Romans 2:21-24</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Paul says this to his fellow Jews</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">1 Timothy 6:1</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;a message for the servants of God. Your conduct among non-believers reflects upon God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s good name.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">2 Corinthians 5:20</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;you represent the Most High. Any discourteous, disrespectful conduct by you dishonors Him in the eyes of others... rudeness, arrogance, disobedience etc.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">One of the biggest reasons people give for turning their back on God is the conduct of people who claim to be His followers. The most common charge made is "Christians are hypocrites". They say one thing and do another. Furthermore, their God does nothing about it. If such a God even exists… how is He worthy of my worship?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Jesus Condemns Hypocrisy In God's Name</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Matthew 23:27-28</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Promoting God on one hand, while finding ways to work around obedience on the other. Happy to praise and call out His name as long as they can continue to follow their own way... unwilling to give up their own traditions, and their own lusts.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">How We Should Honor God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Avoid using his name foolishly. Whether that means frivolous stuff like saying "oh my God", or using His name as an expression of anger and frustration... </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Don</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’t</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;connect His name and reputation to promote false teachings like ever burning hell, or Christmas… </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Don</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’t</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;set a bad example in the eyes of non-believers who know you as a follower and servant of God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Instead, in all you do or say, &nbsp;hold your Creator in highest regard. Admire and seek out His wisdom, love, fairness. Stand in awe of His power. Always be mindful that your life depends upon Him...both present and future.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Show respect, honor and obedience to Him in the presence of others. Honor Him by loving Him so much that you want to become like Him and accurately represent His character to everyone who sees or knows you. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Show respect to Him in prayer. Give thanks... give praise... express appreciation for what He gives. Tell Him you want to become more like Him. Request the power of the Holy Spirit to help you obey and serve this great purpose.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">If that is our attitude we will never knowingly use His name in ways that are </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">rude, frivolous, degrading, carelessness, disdainful, antagonistic, deceptive, empty, worthless, meaningless.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">M</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">utual Respect</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator wants more than fine sounding words. He wants a positive healthy relationship with us. As &nbsp;relationship built on a foundation of respect. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">I believe God has respect for you as a person. I know He sees all your weaknesses and sins... He doesn't respect that or course... but sins, uncleanness, evil can be dealt with and flushed down the memory hole through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our Creator can see beyond all that and envision what you CAN BE… what you are going to be!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Respect is a facet of the mind of the Creator. His laws, commands and statutes are designed to protect and promote the dignity of humanity and respect their honored place in the creation; the future sons and daughters of God sitting at Christ</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s side as He rules the universe.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">He loves you, love Him back by showing some respect.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">View this message on YouTube - </span><br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc8ekf8mMb0"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The 3rd Commandment: Do Not Use God's Name in Vain</span></a></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/tSZgAdMynfw" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Second Commandment - A True Image Of God
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><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/-tPNuCrBw1EY/XDJHKD6Q6sI/AAAAAAAABCU/vr9EP0TbnjUAk23KNqoRPgNI021gnfjyQCLcBGAs/s1600/jaddy-liu-1220709-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://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tPNuCrBw1EY/XDJHKD6Q6sI/AAAAAAAABCU/vr9EP0TbnjUAk23KNqoRPgNI021gnfjyQCLcBGAs/s320/jaddy-liu-1220709-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">The 2nd Commandment: How Do We Perceive God?</span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Exodus 20:4-6</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">How do we perceive God? Is it through our senses... eyes, ears, fingertips, etc.?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">How do we explain Him to ourselves and/or to others?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">We commonly think of the 2nd commandment as a prohibition of strange carvings of Dagon (the fish god), or Molech, or a human figurines with the head of a wolf. But the prohibition of false deities is already covered in the first commandment... "</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">have no other gods besides me</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">". If you obey that first command you wouldn't need this subsequent warning against idolatry. It would be redundant.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The second command must therefore also refer to the use of pictures, statues, and other false representations of the true Creator God. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span> <span style="background-color: #fce5cd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: large;">👍👍👍 Request a FREE copy of our eBook <a href="https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-ten-commandments">The Ten Commandments</a></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">The 2nd command says</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;make no pictures or carvings as representations of Me.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Lifeless inanimate objects could never properly represent the living God. In this same spirit there should be no false theories or explanations of who and what I am (for example; the trinity teaching, which is an attempt to explain the living God that is not what has been revealed in scripture and disobeys His directive to "</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">not add to what has been given</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">").</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The Creator will explain and reveal Himself to humanity as He sees fit.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Did You Know: </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">God Has Provided A</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">n "Approved"</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;Likeness Of Himself</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Genesis 1:27 --&gt; Genesis 5:1-2</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;perceiving the likeness of God begins with human beings. We are living images of a living God. We are a representation that is superior to lifeless pictures, objects, or abstract theories.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The Creator of the universe is active, thinking, feeling, planning, affectionate. He is not creation of human ideals, nor an impersonal "force" within the universe like fertility, strength, logic, math.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Lifeless pictures and statues distort and diminish our understanding of the living God and also limit our understanding of our relationship with Him. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Of all things in the physical realm only living beings could begin to picture the living God. And of all the living things on earth only human beings are designated as the beginnings of a reasonable likeness of God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">I say beginning because it is only through Jesus, the "Son of Man"... (the Son who came in the likeness of a human being) that we have a worthy image of God. Through Him we see how God approaches life. We see Jesus following the lead of God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;spirit and seeking God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;will. In Jesus we are presented with the most complete image of the Father (of God) available to the flesh &amp; blood mind. &nbsp;An image of God that is meaningful and has purpose because it also points to our own personal, spiritual, and eternal destiny.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The Creator will make this likeness complete in us. Beginning in the flesh and completed in the spirit.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">How then are flesh &amp; blood humans like God?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">How are flesh and blood humans not like God?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">How do we to become more like Him?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">How </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">We Are</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;Like God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God gives us creative abilities, leadership abilities which are similar to Him but on a greatly limited scale. Of all the physical creation only human beings have this power of mind. We reason, analyze, plan, visualize the future... We create literature, art... we design and build. We organize, manage, supervise both things and other people. In this way we are LIKE the living God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">How </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">We Are</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;Not Like God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Humans are created in the image of God... yet in many ways we are NOT LIKE Him. We treat each other badly, we have limited grasp of spiritual realities, we are biased, opinionated, unjust, selfish, and quickly get into conflict.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">How Do We Become More Like God?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Human beings have the the capacity to consciously choose and actively develop qualities of character. Fore example we might decide we need to be more self assertive and develop strategies and habits to make it part of our personality. We might decide we need to be more positive, more thrifty, more serious, more mindful, etc.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">When this capacity to make a decision about who and what we want to be is applied to spiritual matters then we move toward being a more complete image of our Creator.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Colossians 3:1-10</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;... the spiritual qualities that define this new man are found in:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Galatians 5:19-24</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">... the fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the spirit show themself in our lives by a very different processes.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">The fruits of the flesh</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;come naturally without any effort on our part... selfishness requires no effort. Fighting is our default setting unless we exert self control.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">The fruits of the spirit</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;&nbsp;require considerable effort to live by. We have to exert our mental emotional strength and determination of will to practice and learn humility, justice, service, and purity. These are aspects of God's true image which we lack and must put on.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The likeness of God found in flesh and blood humans is only a beginning! We must add to it to get the full picture, or image of God. We get this additional information from:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God's word</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">the presence of His holy spirit in us</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Jesus Provides The Perfect </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Human </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Example</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God's word presents us with the person, the teaching, the example, the life of Jesus Christ. In Him we receive example and instruction on what it takes to complete this likeness of God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Christ who has been raised and is alive is present in us. This is the holy spirit which convicts, counsels, strengthens and helps us judge ourselves.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">John 14:6-11</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">the likeness of God we have is living, and it is active in us.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Colossians 1:15 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">where I have gone you too will go</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator's goal is to transform us... our nature and our character... into Christ's image... who is complete in the likeness of God... our creator... our Father. This process will be complete upon your resurrection unto spirit.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">1 Corinthians 15:45-53</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">1 John 3:2</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;the completeness and maturity of Christ</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Living In Obedience To His Commandments</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Exodus 20:4-6 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">the second commandment actually has two parts. The first part says no images, the second part warns of accountability. We must answer for our words and deeds because it is through these that we complete the image of God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Kneeling, bowing, praying, before a picture or an object (</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">yes, I would include in this an image of a cross</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">) might look and feel like an act of devotion and submission... but true worship is demonstrated through the keeping of our Creator's commands.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">John 4:23-24</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;knowledge and understanding of God's truth are essential for growing holy righteous character... and filling out, or completing, our image of God.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Proverbs 2:1-5</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Once you gain understanding of truth (which is received from God through His word and spirit) then you are held responsible and accountable for what you know.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">James 1:22-25 --&gt; 1 John 2:4-6</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">We worship of God by obeying Him, by emulating Him, by learning through practice to think and live as He does. We honor and show respect for Him by living this way.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Negative Effects of Creating False Images Of God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Pictures, objects, and all false representations of God keep us from seeing Him in the multifaceted reality of His being. He acts with gentleness and mercy, He can also act with wrath and judgment. The living God can not be limited to any 2 dimensional, or even 3 dimensional depiction. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">His presentation of Himself to us is active, alive, and moral in nature. BY moral I mean that our understanding of Him is based on the quality or character of His actions; just, merciful, faithful, affectionate, self controlled etc. Anything less is a deceptive.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Use Of Images &amp; Objects As Aids In Worship Are A Diversion</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Reduction of the fullness of God's truth and incomplete presentation of God's truth are highly effective strategies of Satan. It is one of his tactics to get folks to visualize Jesus Christ as a lifeless inanimate picture, statue or object... this subtly diverts our attention from the fullness of the living Christ. It dulls undermines our perception of the vibrant, perfect, living God and gets us focused on created things (the first step towards violating the 1st commandment - have no other gods before me).</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">2 Corinthians 3:18 - 4:1-7</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;this image of God is not so much seen, not so much heard, not so much touched, as it is experienced in the quality of life lived in obedience to our Creator's commandments.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Conclusion:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The 2nd commandment is a warning to keep our eyes and attention on the living God who is known and perceived through His works. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 4:15-20</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;you know me not through any image, or object, or even my own appearance… but through the nature of what I do. I am the God who brought you out of Egypt!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The ultimate of God's works is the life of Jesus Christ, the perfect or complete spiritual representation of our heavenly Father. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The 2nd commandment protects our special relationship with our Creator... we are made in His likeness... yet, destined to become even more fully like Him... fashioned into His spiritual image... and raised to a special place in His own family.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator is greater than anything we can see or imagine. His likeness is truly perceived through living and doing... and this understanding is built upon the foundation of obedience to His commandments and putting on His spiritual outlook; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, loyalty, gentleness, mercy, and justice.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div></div><br /><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">View this message on YouTube - </span><br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMRdhfadiqQ"><span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, sans-serif;">The 2nd Commandment: No False Images</span></a></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/jsirb0Gb9kA" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The First Commandment: Setting Right Priorities
<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/-Sp-4kRNT-h4/XClGczYiUAI/AAAAAAAABCI/w6tAj-7HWSgstsfLIbt4DclBEbMH5E3fgCLcBGAs/s1600/freestocks-org-187367-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://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Sp-4kRNT-h4/XClGczYiUAI/AAAAAAAABCI/w6tAj-7HWSgstsfLIbt4DclBEbMH5E3fgCLcBGAs/s320/freestocks-org-187367-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Matthew 22:35-38 </span></b><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">when Jesus was asked what is the most important thing in life He answered to </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">“</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">love God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">. Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. In Deuteronomy, the verse comes directly after the second proclamation of the 10 commandments in the 5th chapter. In its original context the verse served the same purpose Jesus used it for... establishing love towards God as your top priority.</span></span></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">It is very common for folks to quickly jump to the second greatest command which is </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">“</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">love towards your fellow human beings</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">. But think about Jesus' answer... He did not place love toward other people as your top priority He said love for fellow man was only your 2nd priority.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Ask for a FREE copy of our ebook <a href="https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-ten-commandments">The Ten Commandments</a>. Its a great way to begin your personal study of all God's commandments.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">The 10 commandments give us the broad outline of what it means to love God and love other people. Commandments 1 though 4 provide the essentials of love towards God. Commandments 5-10 provide the essentials of acting out love towards our fellow human beings. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Notice the prioritization... love toward God is spelled out first... it is the top priority. Then comes showing love towards other people. These first 4 commands address:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">How do we think about God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">How do we represent God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">How do we talk about God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">4.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">How do we come into His presence</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">The 1</span></b><b><sup><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; vertical-align: super;">st</span></sup></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;Commandment Establishes Right Priorities</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Establishing and maintaining a positive, lasting, satisfying relationship with God is the primary focus of scripture and the primary focus of the commandments.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Exodus 20:3</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;The supreme being who caused these words to be recorded &nbsp;is our ideal, He is everything we consider worthy, He is what we aspire to be like. We desire to be in His presence and feel His love towards us. Nothing less is enough.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">The beginning of right thinking about God is to acknowledge Him as creator of all things. That's how the bible begins in Genesis 1.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">"Hi, I'm the creator of everything you see around you. I made all this. I made you as well".</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;He wants you to know this and acknowledge it, privately and publicly (Sabbath keeping is a public acknowledgement of the act of creation).He wants you to know that as creator He has power and control over all things, He knows all there is to know, and He cares for you and has plans for you.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Isaiah 40:26-31</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;If we have this outlook and understanding we should trust Him and honor Him. Only the creator can promise you an eternal future and ensure that it comes to pass.The only reliable secure future we have is with our Creator... He is living, thinking, creating, feeling... He is real, and He is the only one. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Worshiping the Creation Over God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">God made the planet which supplies our needs, He made our bodies. All are good for what they are designed to accomplish IE. survive until our allotted days are complete. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">This whole thing we call "life" is really nothing more than a classroom. It is a temporary and passing state designed for the purpose of preparing us for real life... which we don't receive until resurrected unto spirit. Your Creator wants us to graduate from this school and take up a place and position within His family.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Who wants to stay in school forever! God wants us to learn, grow and become mature, like a child who becomes an adult, and then moves on to a life of their own!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Problem:</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;Some people (many?) fall in love with the temporary, with nature, the creation, the planet, the stars, planets... with our own bodily processes like sex or eating. This exaltation of nature has formed the basis of idolatrous religion in ancient times and in our own time.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">God drew Abraham and later Israel out of cultures which had messed up priorities. Egypt, Sumeria (Babylon), Hittites, Canaanites.... all of these had religions that worshiped elements of the world around them rather than the one who made their physical environment.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">On some levels such an approach makes sense. Humans see the wonder in the physical world, the intricacy, the interlocking systems and they become enthralled by it. Captivated by its amazing beauty which can be seen and experienced. For example; </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0000pt; margin-left: 20.9000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; text-autospace: ideograph-numeric; text-indent: -20.9000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">The ancients obsessed over the climate (Baal was first and foremost a rain god), are we that different today? </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0000pt; margin-left: 20.9000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; text-autospace: ideograph-numeric; text-indent: -20.9000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">The ancients obsessed over the food they grew and ate... does our culture do similar things? </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0000pt; margin-left: 20.9000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; text-autospace: ideograph-numeric; text-indent: -20.9000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">They worshiped images of their own sex organs... are we really that different? </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0000pt; margin-left: 20.9000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; text-autospace: ideograph-numeric; text-indent: -20.9000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">They looked for meaning in the stars and the vastness of the universe... ever heard of the quest for the unified theory?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0000pt; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-autospace: ideograph-numeric;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">We in the 21st century see ourselves as to attribute divine powers to storms, or planetary bodies, or biological processes like fertilization. But isn't the theory of evolution just that? To believe that portions of the universe have developed the will to live on their own. Little globs of atoms banded together to form molecules... to form complex creatures... that by the force of their own will to live and survive they dragged themselves out of the primordial mud... to one day build the Taj Mahal or the International Space Station.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">The theory of evolution is a modern instance of granting divine power to physical and created things. In this case power of will and creation.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">What You Prioritize Becomes</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;Your God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Romans 1:21-25</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;Attributing intelligence or will to the physical creation is only &nbsp;the beginning of superstition and religious blindness. It is a path that cuts human beings off from the true Creator, and cuts humanity off from all the creator has to offer. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">The 1st commandment is a warning not to accept any system or religion, or philosophy that teaches life comes from anything other than God. Or that our on going well-being comes from any source other than God. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">But.. Does This Affect Members of God's Church?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">If you are sitting here today you have probably accepted God as creator. So you might wonder "why is he going on about this stuff to us, we believe".</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Even God's people can fall prey to setting elements of this physical life above God and His purpose for us. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">maybe a person reaches the point where satisfaction of their desires becomes the most important thing... addiction to some substance like drugs or alcohol... or maybe just good old sexual desire.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">maybe wanting to achieve financial or professional success leads you to make decisions that go against what you know of God asks of you.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">maybe an expectation of health and long happy life surrounded by loved ones is your top priority... and when the suffering of life comes along you turn your back on God because He is not giving you what you want.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">maybe you think the Church of God should be focused more on helping you cope with your day to day life... money problems, marriage issues, career advice, stress, emotional issues... and when when the answer keeps coming back to keeping your eyes on the big picture, focus on God's plan and purpose... you feel let down.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Philippians 3:7-21</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;the first commandment is a reminder and a warning to not set your heart on earthly things. The flesh and blood life you now live is meaningless, all the happiness you experience, all the houses you build, the money you save, the children you have... mean nothing except for the character you build along the way.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Don</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">’t hate life… e</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">njoy life, but use it for the purpose God has intended it for. The end of the matter is this: </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">fear God and keep His commandments</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">. Make this your top priority and you will find satisfaction, you will find contentment, you will find peace and you will find joy.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Making God Real</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">’s word says</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;the created world and its experiences are a way to discern, appreciate, and then emulate the character and personality of the Creator </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Psalm 145:5-9 --&gt; Psalm 107:8-9 - Deuteronomy 10:18</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Matthew 5:43-48 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">God is concerned for the well being of ALL people... even those who are ignorant of, or deny, His existence and His supremacy! Suppose you were to say to God </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">“</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">I am good to my friends</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">”, He will say “</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">big deal… anyone can do that. But can you be good to everyone</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">”?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Why seek to understand these aspects of God's character?</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">2 Peter 1:4</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;because He wants to create in you this same character. Because that</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">’s an example of the kind of character it will take to sit beside Christ as He rules and administers the entire creation.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Developing this character involves a major shift in our mind, your attitude and YOUR PRIORITIES &nbsp;</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Romans 12:2; </span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Philippians 2:5</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">God’s priority is not to set up a wonderful physical life for you. The physical life serves no lasting purpose except to prepare you for your future role in God’s family. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Getting to Know God Better</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Another way you get to know your Creator better is through do the things He has asked you to do!</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;1 John 2:3-5</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Another way to get to know your Creator better is to study His word. God has caused His commands to be written down for you, He has provided plenty of commentary and elaboration on what obeying them means, He has provided real world scenarios for you to apply to your life. Your creator has put all this before you... BUT you have to do your part. He is not going to do the work for you!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Deuteronomy 8:3 (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 4:4) --&gt; 2 Timothy 3:16-17 --&gt; 2 Timothy 2:15</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><h2><span style="font-size: small;"><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">A Family Relationship</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></span></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Your Creator’s top priority is to have a relationship with you. His desire is that you make that relationship your top priority. He tells you to make if as important to yourself as it is to Him. Set nothing else as a priority over this.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">2 Corinthians 6:18</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">&nbsp;He wants you to appreciate Him as your Father. The relationship He wants is a family relationship. Its a way of thinking about; the Creator, and His universe that is unique among all other belief systems (religions, philosophies or science). All other attempts to describe life, reality, the universes, or eternity are cold and sterile by comparison. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">This family relationship with your Creator is your purpose for living... and its the reason God made the universe. Os don’t all in love with the physical world.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">This family relationship with your Creator is the reason Jesus Christ came as savior and redeemer.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Hebrews 2:9-11</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Your Creator has a future planned for you; that you may sit beside Christ forever assisting and helping preside over all creation.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">He has given you this lifetime to prepare for such a full and abundant future.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Don't worship this life or make any aspect of it a greater priority. He says, “have no other God’s before me”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;">Give you love, honor, respect, and attention to your Creator... your Father... and prepare for what lays ahead.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/_GcMpR_e18E" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Sermon on the Mount: A Look Into The Ministry of Jesus Christ (Part 2)
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><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/-UE2JOGoN9z0/WdOms_3r3oI/AAAAAAAAAl0/HQfEJkkNpYgp3tJkEJrmef1U3iiOguzxACLcBGAs/s1600/davide-ragusa-24118.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="212" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UE2JOGoN9z0/WdOms_3r3oI/AAAAAAAAAl0/HQfEJkkNpYgp3tJkEJrmef1U3iiOguzxACLcBGAs/s320/davide-ragusa-24118.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>In the previous portion of Jesus Sermon we discusses 6 illustrations of greater righteousness that showed Jesus teaching the spiritual application of laws, statutes, judgments etc. and showing how they were to be written upon our hearts and minds. I called this the sermon’s core…</div><h3 class="western">Sermon’s Core II: 3 Illustrations of Greater Righteousness in Good Works (done towards God)</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus now teaches about good works…<br /><a name='more'></a>namely giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting. This is not meant to be a complete list of good works. Rather, like the previous section they are a sampling used to illustrate how good works are to be offered up to God rather than used to enhance our status.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In each of these three illustrations Jesus describes the all too common hypocritical approach and contrasts it with an approach that is from the heart. And in this He offers a very simple technique for testing your own motivations. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The Greek word <b>hypocrite</b> literally means an actor, so we have the idea of one who plays a role that is not reflecting his own character. In Jesus’ examples this person plays his role to be seen doing it by other people. Perhaps it feeds his or her vanity or perhaps it improves their social status. They may be deceiving themselves that these righteous acts tip the scales of judgment in their favor… making up for unresolved sin in other parts of their lives…</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">As an antidote to hypocrisy and mere role playing Jesus proposes the idea that we do these in private or secret… an act that takes place between you and God… a spiritual matter. God can tell a lot about you by what you do when there is no one there to see you. Neither I, nor anyone else here can ever know that part of you. I might fool you, I might fool everybody else here. I might deceive myself… which is a bit harder, but I cannot fool God. He knows what’s really going on.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Notice that each of these examples ends with the phrase “<i>and your Father </i><i><u>who sees in secret</u></i><i> will reward you</i>”.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 6:1-4</b> <b>Generosity &amp; Giving</b>—To the Jews charity to the poor was huge… in the fact the word for charity is the same word used for righteousness. They tended to view this and other good works as a means to gain merit with God… and often as a way to publically demonstrate their superior status economically and spiritually. Jesus instructs us to test the compassion in our hearts by <u>continuing to do this good deed</u> … but to do it in secret, before God alone.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 6:5-15 Prayer</b>—Jesus describes the wrong way to pray and then offers guidance regarding the right way to pray. Prayer was top priority for the Jew… They had formal prayers to recite when they got up, they had prayer before and after each meal; there were prayers in connection with the light, the fire, the lightning, new moons, comets, rain, storms, at the sight of the sea, lakes, rivers, on receiving good news, on using new furniture, on entering or leaving a city… They also had set times for prayer 9am… 12 noon… 3pm. So, if you were at a busy street corner at noon you would simply begin to pray with your head bowed and your hands up in the air… hmm Mordecai certainly seems to just happen to be on the street corner at the stroke of 12 an awful lot… wow that guy can pray! I’m sure God hears him… I certainly can.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">There is a time for public and communal prayer but Jesus instructs us that our prayers are primarily to be unto God with a sincere heart… where there is no one to show off for (I would think if we were trying to show off to God in prayer we’d feel pretty ridicualous). Jesus then gives us an example of a heartfelt personal prayer (more of an outline) commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. There is a good balance of intimacy with our creator who loves us as children… with respect and reverence for Him as supreme head of all that exists… and acknowledgement of His sovereign will… and a special emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 6:17-18</b> <b>Fasting</b>—is a good thing for drawing close to God but not if you are doing it to show off how spiritual you are. The Jews had semi-official days of fasting on Monday and Thursday. These were also market days, and people would come in to town from the country. This meant a bigger audience for those who were ostentatiously fasting… a bigger audience to see and admire their righteousness. Some took deliberate steps to see that others could not miss the fact that they were fasting. They walked through the streets with hair deliberately unkempt and dishevelled, with clothes deliberately soiled and disarrayed”.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Again Jesus says… yes, fast unto God… not to an audience.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Note: these rules, obligations, expectations Jesus was slashing and burning His way through were the traditions of men. God’s word doesn’t give rules about how often to fast, how long to pray, how much to give. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">All this is interesting background explaining why Jesus would criticize them… but assuming everyone in this room is indeed doing these things privately before God… tooting your own horn doesn’t really seem to be a problem among God’s people… our key take-away from this itemizing of bad behavior is to remain humble and reverent before God who knows our hearts and motivations.</div><h3 class="western">What About Legitimate Spiritual Discipline?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">You can make rules for yourself and proactively try to develop habits of righteousness (examples)… But when we start thinking that following our own rules makes us righteous, then we have a problem… when we start judging others based on how well they measure up to our rules we have a bigger problem… when we try to force others to follow our rules and expectations… you get the picture…</div><h3 class="western">Is Seeking A Reward Godly?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus ends each of these three examples with this phrase… “<i>and your Father who sees in secret will reward you</i>”. But isn’t the whole idea of doing something for reward… ungodly? Shouldn’t we simply do good for the sake of doing good itself or the love of God? <b>Short Answer:</b> not according to Jesus Christ. He talks about reward frequently. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The idea of doing something with no thought of reward sounds noble but shouldn’t be applied to the rewards that God has promised… without them life is without purpose or goals, without joys to be obtained, with nothing to anticipate and look forward to… all action is meaningless, every day the same as the next… in the end who cares? That is not how God thinks. God has purpose, He has plans, he has goals and He has rewards in mind. The key is…</div><h3 class="western">What kinds of rewards are we looking forward to? </h3><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Satisfaction</b> (the joy &amp; happiness of knowing you have done well)</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Increased responsibility</b> - Matt.25:14-30 parable of the talents (the brilliant student gets harder assignments, the talented musician gets harder, not easier music to learn, the athelete who does well playing on second string gets moved to the more challenging first string… and so it is with the disciple of Christ… so it is with the firstfruits.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>To see God</b> (to be in his presence without fear but with joy)</div></li></ol><h3 class="western">Contrasting Earthly Riches (Rewards) with Heavenly Reward</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 19-22</b> back before the days of cash, credit cards, 401k plans, people had to stash their wealth in the form of things… fine clothing, homes, jewelry and so forth. These all fade and wear out (compare inflation to a moth or rust)… and even if you care for them and keep them in mint condition… you wear out… you die and none of your stuff goes with you.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">What goes with you is the Godly character you have developed… how you have written His law upon your heart and mind, how you have developed to the fruits of the Holy Spirit, how you have walked in the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 23-24</b> Money can cloud your vision and get you off track (eye as window metaphor… if its clear and unclouded the light can get in). The solution is generosity and godly stewardship of the blessings God has given you.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 25-34</b> Why do people care about money so passionately? There are plenty of reasons… power, vanity and pleasure come to mind… but I think the one most common to all humans is fear (worry). Wanting to know where is my next meal coming from… Can I pay the mortgage this month? What will happen to me? What can I do to control events? Etc. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Fear and worry is the opposite of faith. Trust in money is incompatible with trust in God.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus uses a classic rhetorical technique to compare the two… “if so in the lesser case (animals plants), how much more so in the greater case (the children of God).</div><h3 class="western">Everything Leads to Judgment Before God</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus now begins to wrap up His sermon with a nice conclusion: the point of pursuing this greater righteousness is to prepare yourself to be judged (and rewarded) by God. But along the way He makes some key points about how we treat one another with regard to judgment and compares human judgment with God’s.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 7:1-5</b> <i>Krinos</i> – means discernment, analysis (which are good), it also means condemnation and vengeance (which are not… as Jesus discussed in His teaching on the spirit of murder). Condemnation and vengeance are God’s job… </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The goal of this teaching is not to get us to all just shut up, but to actually fix our own lives so we can legitimately help others. That’s part of what you were designed to do. Judgment is hardwired into humans… it’s a God level function… you were designed to judge righteous judgment.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Gal 6:1</b> you cannot help your brother or sister without the ability to discern and makes judgments on the basis of God’s word. But it is not your role to condemn.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Verse 6</b>… a warning, even constructive criticism from a pure heart and a clear eye will likely be rejected by those who are outside the brotherhood… those who are ungodly, unspiritual and/or deceived by false teaching.</div><h3 class="western">How Does God Treat Us?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 7:7-11</b> When we think about how to approach other people a good place to start is to remind ourselves of how God treats us. Of all people you know the problems in your life… and hopefully you are aware of the great patience and gentleness an generosity God shows you.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 7:12</b> Summary: The Golden Rule (as Jesus explained earlier to be forgiven you must be forgiving, to be treated with kindness you should be kind etc.). Someone might say… “<i>I’m hard on myself so I can be hard on others</i>”… back up to the previous point, consider your dealings with your creator, consider how kind He is to you.</div><h3 class="western">There Are Only 2 Ways You Can Go… Life or Death (3 Illustrations)</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The choice is the same as it was in the beginning… I set before you life and death, choose life! Your decision before God’s truth and way is binary… its on or off, up or down, in or out… there is not third way.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 13-14</b> true disciples will always be few. Our success in preaching the word of God cannot be measured in numbers or percentages. Writing the law of God on your heart and mind is challenging.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 15-23</b> here and elsewhere we are warned that people will come into the church with bad ideas… perhaps some new tradition of men they have cooked up… perhaps some outrageous heresy. For our own sake we will have to judge them based on the fruits of their lives… are they pursuing the will of the Father. How do we know the will of the Father? The Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">You may have said all the right words… you may be in the right place at the right time… but is it your personal goal to write the laws and commandments of God on your hearts and your mind? What about the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Do you have a plan to walk in the good works He has prepared in advance for you to do? Are you preparing yourself for your place in the family of God and the Kingdom of God.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Need guidelines?</b> <b>A to-do list?</b> The Sermon on the Mount is a great place to start.</div><br /><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 24-27</b> just read it</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/alPAtM_WZQM" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Sermon on the Mount: A Look Into The Ministry of Jesus Christ
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VuhYU9GIRhY/WdEM7yEvFuI/AAAAAAAAAlk/eXm5Qd2QsjcYfsRnSNC-iPPmiGJ2LgctQCLcBGAs/s1600/joao-silas-72563.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://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VuhYU9GIRhY/WdEM7yEvFuI/AAAAAAAAAlk/eXm5Qd2QsjcYfsRnSNC-iPPmiGJ2LgctQCLcBGAs/s320/joao-silas-72563.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>The most well known sermon of all time… even those who deny Jesus was God in the flesh recognize the wisdom of His words here… 5 sermons in Matt on evangelism, the nature of the Kingdom, prophecy etc. this one is on ethics. Ethics in the purest sense of the word… how you think affects what you do.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 4:17</b> Prepare yourself for the coming kingdom... an overview of His message<br /><a name='more'></a></div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Calls disciples to train and prepare them to carry the message after He is gone</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Heals the sick… cast out spirits… to display His authority</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">And <u>many</u> people come to hear Him teach and speak (we’re talking thousands at a time)</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Matt 5:1-2</b> What was Jesus teaching like? Matthew now follows with an example. Jesus speaks about law, and works. He speaks with great authority. He magnifies the law, expands upon it, he does not diminish it. He explains how the new covenant will work… writing the commands upon our hearts and our minds.</div><h3 class="western">Vs 2-12 Intro: the characteristics of those who will be in the KOG</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Blessings</b> come from your response to the message and teachings of Jesus. Blessing is a joy which is not dependent on the circumstances of physical life, sickness or health, poverty or wealth, etc.</div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Poor in spirit</b> – that you realize it is not in yourself to know the way to walk (to determine what is right and what is wrong), you look to your creator and the power of His Holy Spirit to reveal the spiritual principles that lead to righteousness and eternal life in God’s family. </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Those who mourn</b> – that you are filled with Godly sorrow when you look upon your own sin and the sin in the world… Godly sorrow that leads to repentance and a strong desire for Christ’s return to right the wrongs of the earth… which you will see!</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>The meek</b> – that you are humble before your fellow human beings but especially humble before your God… willing to be trained in righteousness and Godly character… controlling your passions, impulses, your desires and submitting every thought to Jesus Christ… <i>tearing down the mighty fortresses of rationalizations and arguments we build in our minds against the knowledge of God, taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ. </i><b>Why?</b><i> </i>That you might inherit the earth and take your place within the God Family that rules it.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness</b> - "How much do you want the goodness of God for yourself and for the world? Do you want it as much as a starving man wants food, and as much as a man dying of thirst wants water?" How intense is your desire for <u>total</u> goodness? Or are you content with a sloppy mixture of good and evil like we have in this world?</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>The merciful</b> – Christ’s teaching is insistent that to be forgiven we must be forgiving… to pursue mercy it helps to get inside the other person’s situation, to consider their circumstances, their baggage, their background… <u>why</u> are they doing the stupid things they do? Which if you reflect upon it is what Jesus did himself… <i>God allowing himself to be made fully human in every way that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and make atonement for the sins of the people. </i>Jesus does not condone evil, He rejects it and will judge it against the high standard of Godly righteousness… but He gets it, He’s been inside your skin, and He extends mercy… that we might take the opportunity to repent.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>The pure in heart</b> –you are willing to examine yourself… your motives, your actions, and to let God search your heart through trial, through His discipline, through the conviction of the H.S… purge out the old leaven, eradicate that which is unclean because no uncleanness will come before God.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>The peacemakers</b> – (The blessing is on the peace-makers, not necessarily on the peace-lovers) not passive, accepting evil, willing to look the other way… but active righteousness… seeking to establish right relationships between you and your fellow man… Because this is what being a member of the God Family is all about.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>The persecuted</b> – Jesus never sugar coated it… He did not come to show you how to make peace with the world around you. When you accept and internalize His teachings you will find yourself at odds with this world. <i>“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”</i> </div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">These blessed attitudes are rejected by this world and if not outright rejected held in low esteem as foolish and weak. At your job, at school, your social life, perhaps within your family, these attitudes of mind and going to bring you into conflict with the world around you. And at some future time the disciples of Christ will be subject to state sanctioned violence once again.</div><h3 class="western">Vs 13-16—The Here-And-Now Purpose of Those Who Are Preparing for the future</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Considering how different we are to be from the society around us you could conclude that we are called to separate ourselves… live in a monastery, a religious compound in the desert, be like the Amish. But no, we are expected to interact with others in the world to achieve a secondary, God ordained purpose. Like salt we are to act as a preservative, maintaining purity in a world of corruption. We are to be a light that shines into dark places… exposing evil and offering the truth of God in its place. </div><h3 class="western">Vs 17-20—Sermon’s SPS: God’s Law Is To Be Written On Your Heart</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Jesus made it clear that He not contradicting the law or getting rid of it… BUT He is going to change the way it functions in our lives and our world. Prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34<b> </b>quoted in<b> Hebrews 8:7-13</b></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Some aspects of the law were going to be accomplished, for example a couple that are explicitly spelled out in scripture… a sacrificial system will no longer be needed once He offers himself as a sufficient sacrifice for all sins... the priesthood along with all its regulations will be replaced beginning with a new High Priest, Jesus Himself. Both institutions are still part of the plan but they are very much changed.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Some aspects of the law are to be magnified in a way that calls for <u>greater righteousness</u> than even the Pharisees or teachers of the law… expanded in a way that internalizes the law/concept making it part of how you think and feel… or, if you will, no longer written on stones, or scrolls, or paper, or an LCD screen but written on your heart.</div><h3 class="western">Sermon’s Core: 6 Illustrations of Greater Righteousness (not exhaustive)</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">With each of these illustrations Jesus contrasts the letter of the law and its traditional interpretation with His more exacting requirements. He uses a formula: <i>“You have heard… but I say”</i>. In doing so He is not contradicting the law, or replacing it. He is teaching a new way to apply commandments that requires digging down to the level of thoughts, motivations, and emotions… a project which is ultimately beyond the ability of language to express. If Jesus were merely offering a more complete list of do’s and don’ts it that we could carve on new stones He would not address the core issue of internalization… the Holy Spirit writing the laws of God on your heart and mind.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Gal 3:21</b> If you could put righteousness into words or regulations… then the law of God was it. Holy, righteous, good.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">So, the laws and commandments remain… a guide to life and a starting point for a more intense spiritual project. <b>Putting on the mind of God through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you!</b></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 21-26 Murder</b>—by OT definition not referring to killing in self defense, manslaughter, holy war, capital punishment after due process. Murder is the ultimate act of hatred and anger and surely comes about by harboring and feeding those emotions. Its that spirit and emotional component Jesus is getting at. Notice that the examples he uses are between brothers and sisters, what they say to one another… judgment, contempt. What does He say? Don’t just offer prayers or gifts of penance, go fix the relationship and do it quickly before the emotions fester and grow.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 27-30 Adultery</b>—An example that’s applicable to all sexual sin. Thoughts allowed to linger in the heart and mind are a sexual sin and lead to greater sexual sin. The thoughts will come… no doubt… but how do you deal with them? The solution offered here is that you remove yourself from situations that lead to sin, sexual or otherwise. And sins left unaddressed lead to judgment and death.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 31-32 Divorce</b>—Here Jesus appears to be forbidding a practice that the OT permits… <b>Deut.24:1</b>: <i>"When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house."</i> The problem was the Jews played games with the word <u>indecency</u> such that it could mean anything from sexual sin to being a bad cook or just ugly… in other words they could divorce her for any reason. Jesus says this should not be so.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">What’s the heart issue here? Something God hates… faithlessness, selfishness, hardness of heart. The letter of marriage is legal rights… the spirit of marriage is love, commitment, unity, faithfulness.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 33-37 Oaths</b>—the Jews had created an elaborate hierarchy of oath taking. To swear an oath on the gold of the altar was very serious… you wouldn’t want to break that one. An oath on the tassles of the levite’s robes would be less so... breaking that one wouldn’t be good but there was some wiggle room. So oath taking, or truth telling, was not <b>YES</b> or <b>NO</b> it would be shades of grey… Others should be able to trust you and count on your word being truthful in everything… large or small. That is what is in the heart of a disciple!</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 38-42 An Eye For An Eye</b>—referring to Ex 21:24, Lev 24:19-20, Deut 19:21… the law is generally interpreted as seeking to limit the escalation of retaliation and revenge. In <b>Genesis 4:24-25</b> Lamech says <i>“I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”</i> God’s law sought to limit that… yes there were to be consequences for such things but they needed to be appropriate for the actual crime or misdeed. So, the OT law allows retaliation or punishment… in like kind. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">But, Jesus says the real answer to retaliation (and implicitly reconciliation) is… let it go. If someone insults you (slapping a person on the cheek with the back of your hand was a big time insult) don’t respond in like kind. Let it go. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">On the flip side avoid the downward spiral of grudging resentment of tasks and duties. If you are legally required to do something don’t approach it resentfully… doing the bare minimum required. Go above and beyond with graciousness and good cheer. That’s the way to go about life’s many tasks great and small.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs 43-48 Love For Enemies</b>—there is no specific command in the OT to love your friends and hate your enemies. But it’s definitely the way we as people tend to operate. Everybody loves their own. But the <u>greater righteousness</u> is to go above and beyond… showing love for “others”… those outside our family, our group, our race, even to those who oppose us and don’t like us, criticize and mock us. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">To do so is to be like our Father. He gives rain and sunshine to all His creation… the righteous and the unrighteous. He loves you even when you are not especially lovable. He judges, He disciplines, but He always loves.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Be perfect as your Father is perfect</b> - according to the definitions and meanings of English words a call to perfection is obviously an impossible task. It’s a weakness of our desire to have a word for word translation of scripture rather than to discern the concept. The original word doesn’t necessarily mean perfection as we mean perfection today.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Dig in with a word study here and you see that the concept/idea Jesus is voicing here is to become complete, mature, tempered and tested, well developed for the purpose you were designed for… which is to become like God… a creation in His own image and likeness… as it has been from the very beginning. Paul fleshes out the idea well in Eph 4:13-16. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Putting on the mind of God, developing the character of God means having the commandments of God written on your heart, to become your way of thinking, your motive, and your actions. So…</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Know the commands of God</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Discern the spirit behind them </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Practice them in a way that conforms to the spirit</div></li></ul>________________________________________________________<br /><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><br />Read this message at our blog 📘 <br /><a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/10/sermon-on-mount-look-into-ministry-of.html">Sermon on The Mount Part 1</a><br /><br />View this message on YouTube - <br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upriwyzq6CM">Sermon on The Mount Part 1</a><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/8XkILCvlR5s" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Hospitality... A Way Of Life God Wants Us To Live
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Hospitality is not just a nice idea… it’s actually a requirement</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-19ao_F3RYP4/WKoK-g0x30I/AAAAAAAAAY4/WPQa-pDghi8ltjAiUoUAnTeH4B3kkneQQCLcB/s1600/brooke-lark-93583.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-19ao_F3RYP4/WKoK-g0x30I/AAAAAAAAAY4/WPQa-pDghi8ltjAiUoUAnTeH4B3kkneQQCLcB/s640/brooke-lark-93583.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><br /></div><h2 class="western">3 common approaches to interpreting scriptural requirement of hospitality:</h2><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Hospitality was a reflection of middle-eastern culture of the day therefore not necessarily relevant for other cultures and other times. Hospitality was embedded in the culture, however, we shall wee that the hospitality commands are universal instructions related to Christ-like living not just an accommodation of Jewish, Semitic, Greek or Roman culture but a part of walking in the way of God.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Hospitality was a requirement limited to accommodating travelling ministry in order to further the gospel. On this point I believe we shall see that accommodation of itinerant ministry is <u>part</u> of hospitality but not the full breadth of what God expects in regard to hospitality.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Hospitality was (and is) a practical application of <u>brotherly</u> <u>love</u> among the members of the body of Christ. This is the approach we will be taking today looking at the hospitality “<i>commands</i>”: Romans 12:13 <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>I Peter 4:9 <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> Hebrews 13:1-2</div></li></ol><h2 class="western">Hospitality as a requirement for: </h2><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Position of leadership I Timothy 3:1-2, Titus 1:7-8</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Receiving church support: I Tim 5:10</div></li></ol><h2 class="western">The First Hospitality Command Romans 12:13</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">It’s easy to breeze through this straightforward instruction to “practice” hospitality and consider it a minor point on a checklist of things to do. But let’s zero in on hospitality and see how it fits into the larger context of Romans 12 and provides a practical application of the spiritual principles discussed.</div><h3 class="western">Immediate context read vs. 9-13<span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>devotion to one another in brotherly love</h3><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Let’s pull this set of verses apart and see what’s packed inside</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs. 9</b> Godly love (agape) has to be for real, not faked</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs. 10</b> the word “devoted” means to have deep affection like parents have towards children, the type of affection found in families… </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Brotherly love is translated from the word “<i>philadelphia</i>” which in the Greek language was used only to describe the intimate relationships of a family such as brothers or sisters might have. The church took this word and used it to describe love between members of a spiritual brotherhood <b>Hebrews 2:10-15</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Honoring one another… showing preference for one another (loving or preferring the fellow members of the body of Christ over others)… NIV unnecessarily adds “over yourselves” making it about humility which I don’t think is the case (although we do touch on humility in the verses that follow verse 13. Instead we are talking about holding other members in high esteem knowing who and what they are in the eyes of God</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs. 11-12</b> work hard, don’t be lazy, be fired up. Points out that what we are talking about here takes effort, mental and emotional work to accomplish and we do it as if serving the master Himself… we’ll come back to that concept again later</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Vs. 13 </b>the phrase “practice hospitality” or “given to hospitality” comes across as passive but it shouldn’t. The original word is “doikos” which means to strive for, to vigorously pursue and seek opportunity for. <i>I Tim 6:11 </i><i><u>pursue righteousness</u></i><i>! or I Cor 14:1 </i><i><u>pursue love</u></i><i>!</i></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Sharing time and breaking bread with others is a real and visible example of affection, brotherly love and even Godly love and is activity we should strive for.</b></div></li></ul><h3 class="western">We Have Joy, hope, patience in trials, faithful in prayer…. But why hospitality? … seems mundane</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Broader context <b>read vs. 4-8</b><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> hospitality is part of a discussion of spiritual gifts… one of which is to serve. We talk a lot about service, but what does it really mean to serve others, to have the heart of a servant? Isn’t one of the most obvious, practical, <i>boots on the ground</i> examples of serving others to invite them into your home for fellowship and food? </div><h3 class="western">Larger context vs. 1-3<span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>becoming a “living sacrifice” who understands the will &amp; mind of God</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">And we all know… hospitality towards others involves personal sacrifice… of your time, of your wallet, of your carpets and furniture, of your personal space and privacy etc. In this larger context we see hospitality offered as a concrete, tangible example of the deep spiritual principle of sacrificial living. <b>An antidote to the fleshly pulls of selfishness!</b></div><h3 class="western">Postscript<span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>hospitality isn’t just hanging out with friends</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Read verses 14-16 godly hospitality involves humility and not being a respecter of persons.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The original word translated hospitality is “philonexia”. It’s made up of two parts 1) Philos meaning love and 2) Xenos meaning alien, stranger or guest. This is why some choose to interpret the scriptural instructions on hospitality to concern the ancient customs of providing lodging for travelling strangers, or travelling ministers… a very literal application of the word. And people did do that back in the day… but I think what we are looking at here based on the context (and as we will see in the second hospitality command) is an expression of love, service and sacrificial living among members of the body of Christ. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Philadelphia – literally meant love between kin, but the church took it and used it to describe the spirit of brotherhood that should exist among the body of Christ.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">In that same way philonexia which literally means “love of strangers or aliens” can be interpreted as love toward those who are different from you, alien to you… but who are also brothers in Christ.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">My experience in the Church has been one long trip of breaking bread with people who are very different from me, racial, intellectual, class, education, habit, political views… you name it. People I might never have become friends with were it not for the calling of God to be part of His family. It was no different in the beginning where Paul had to constantly remind his congregations that there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, rich nor poor… and yet all these people, so very different, were to learn to love one another, serve one another, and sacrifice for one another. </div><h2 class="western">The Second Hospitality Command I Peter 4:9</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">This second “command” regarding hospitality is also part of a larger context that includes the practice of love and use of spiritual gifts… but throws in a several additional thoughts for us to consider.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><b>The close connection to love</b></span> is established in the preceding verse… read verse 8. In Romans the exhortation to love one another was supplemented by affection, and honoring one another as a spiritual family. Here love is amplified with the word <i>ektenes </i>which you may find translated <i>fervently</i> in NKJV or <i>deeply</i> in the NIV both of which make us think in terms of intensity. However, <i>ektenes</i> which is similar to words like extensive/extensively make us think in terms breadth or duration (without ceasing/longlasting). So fervent love could be “love without ceasing” or perhaps more to the point… “love without giving up”.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">But wait, there’s more! We are told that this kind of persistent, persevering love comes with a blessing in that it “covers a multitude of sins”. Note: not that god allows sin to be hidden, rather it is covered in the sense that sacrificial blood covers over sin. (see also <b>James 5:20</b> and <b>Proverbs 10:12</b>).</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><b>Hospitality’s connection to the spiritual gift of service</b></span> is found in the following verse… <b>read verse 10</b></div><h3 class="western">What are the New concepts this verse 9 introduces</h3><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Hospitality is to be pursued “one to another” which really nails down the idea that hospitality for the church is not lodging travelers or seeking out strangers on the street to invite into our homes. </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Hospitality is to be pursued without complaining. Refer to the story of Mary &amp; Martha <b>Luke 10:38</b>. Besides the issues of cost, time, privacy there is one other complaint that comes up… “we used to invite others over but we stopped because nobody ever invited us back”… <b>this is not fair I’m doing all the work.</b> Let’s remember the context here is persistent, persevering, extensive love… because love never gives up. <b>John 12:1-3</b></div></li></ol><h3 class="western">What does the larger context of Peter’s letter teach us?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The larger context here is suffering and persecution… summed up nicely in the phrase “insulted (reproached) for the name of Christ” found in verse 14. These people were facing bitter trials, humiliation from friends, family, neighbors, employers because of the change they had made in their lives. Fervent love, fellowship, togetherness would help them through the storm. AND the same applies today.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Hospitality that expresses love, service and sacrifice won’t make people stay in the body… nothing takes away freedom of choice… but it certainly helps to strengthen others when they are weakened or weary.</div><h2 class="western">The Third Hospitality Command Hebrews 13:1-2</h2><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Here the majority of English translations render the word “philonexia” as <i>entertain strangers</i> even though it is translated hospitality everywhere else (RSV &amp; ASV trans. hospitality). This change in approach is most likely due to the intriguing idea introduced here regarding “entertaining angels”… obviously making reference to the experience of Abraham &amp; Sarah, Lot, Gideon and possibly the parents of Samson who ended up playing host to actual angelic being come in the guise of men.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Is the intent of this admonition that we expect supernatural wonders at any moment from strange passers by we invite into our home? Certainly such things could happen, but are there other lessons for us in this idea? </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Once again the context provides understanding and clarity. And once again “philonexia” or hospitality is closely associated with or and expression of, brotherly love. Again hospitality is “among one another”, among those we consider spiritual brothers and sisters. So, if I ask <b>you brother</b>, or <b>you sister</b> over to my home after Sabbath this week should I expect that you are really an angelic being? Or is Hebrews using a well known, dramatic, attention grabbing, biblical event to get us thinking about a broader principle?</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Perhaps the idea presented here is that we appreciation that pursuing hospitality opens up the potential for <u>unexpected</u> blessings and rewards. For example: sharing the wisdom of others, encouragement, new perspectives, humor, fellowship etc. Consider the example of Jesus who was often a guest or recipient of hospitality and was a blessing to those He visited with… Mary, Martha, Matthias etc.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">We don’t pursue hospitality for immediate reward in the flesh (quid pro quo)… “I’m going to invite someone over so something good happens to me”… but they <u>can</u> happen. But most certainly we should pursue hospitality for the spiritual rewards. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Matt 25:34-40 – Jesus taught that hospitality shown toward “the least of these brothers of mine you have done it to me”</div><h1 class="western">A few helpful hints regarding hospitality</h1><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Have a plan, spur of the moment is good but often times things will work out better if you prepare in advance… especially if you are doing something Sabbath afternoon or evening</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Have some goals, make a list… look at the church directory, think about who might benefit or be uplifted by time spend fellowshipping</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Become interested in people’s lives, ask interesting questions about life, faith, experience etc.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Pray that God will help you to overcome whatever it is that hinders you, money, pride, shyness</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Don’t try to be Martha Stewart, hospitality is different from “entertaining”. It’s not about showing off your home, your fine food or your awesome decorating skills… its about sharing yourself with others in love, service and sacrificial living. <b>Go For It!</b></div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Recap of Main points:</b></div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>We are told to pursue (seek opportunity for) hospitality (one to another) among the body of Christ</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Hospitality is an expression of Godly love (agape)</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Hospitality is an expression of Brotherly love (phildelphia)</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Hospitality is an expression of the spiritual gift of service</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>The sacrifices involved in hospitality are part of being a living sacrifice</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Hospitality gains us spiritual rewards</b></div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><br /><br /></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">View this message on YouTube - <br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKBXX9CoVDc">Hospitality</a><br /><br />Read this message at our blog 📘 <br /><a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/02/hospitality-way-of-life-god-wants-us-to.html">Hospitality</a><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/bNA8g4q36Ug" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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How To Honor Your Parents & Why
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-59YBUdcphvA/WaWMuid0PNI/AAAAAAAAAhY/cYDU_XgloZgSG_N59AHgLYJFWPXgOQ4zwCLcBGAs/s1600/age.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1065" height="200" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-59YBUdcphvA/WaWMuid0PNI/AAAAAAAAAhY/cYDU_XgloZgSG_N59AHgLYJFWPXgOQ4zwCLcBGAs/s200/age.jpg" width="132" /></a></div>God our Father has placed the principle of honoring our parents within His 10 commandments Exodus 20:12, <b>Deuteronomy 5:15</b>. So we know it’s a highly important matter to Him. Yet its sometimes hard to be certain of exactly what is expected in fulfilling God’s 5<sup>th</sup> commandment.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We’re going to look at what is expected under ideal circumstances... and why. Also, we’ll look at what might be expected under less than ideal circumstances, even rotten circumstances… and why.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> If one’s parents are among those who live according to the principles of Godly living and we get along well with them, the idea of honor toward parents is more straight forward. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When we are young we should obey our parents and pay attention to their instruction and discipline. Later, when we are older, we leave and set up our own household. We then make our own choices and are responsible for those choices. When we marry and have children we then assume the role of parents ourselves. But that does not mean we have no further responsibilities toward our own parents.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If our parents become incapable of taking care of themselves through sickness, disability, or the natural decline of old age, we should help and assist them.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Whether we are young or old we should never strike our parents in anger or frustration. We should not speak harshly to them. We should not speak about them to others in a manner that is hateful, dismissive, or demeaning. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">An affectionate, harmonious relationship with your parents certainly makes following God’s command to show honor to parents seem a lot more natural. However, it still requires self control and sacrifice even when you both share the same faith towards God.</div><h3 class="western">Related Scriptures:</h3><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Do</b> obey them – <b>Colossians 3:20, Ephesians 6:1-2</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Do</b> submit to their discipline – <b>Hebrews 12:9, Proverbs 13:1</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Do</b> provide for them – <b>1 Timothy 5:4, Matthew 15:3-7</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Do Not</b> strike or verbally abuse them – Matthew 15:3-7, <b>Exodus 21:15,17</b></div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Note: some people point to this as an example of the impracticality and harshness of the scriptures: “if you try to follow this literally every child would end up dead”. How among us has not violated this command in some form as children?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Exodus 22:18-21</b> </div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">this is not a punishment for a single infraction rather it is for one who is habitually disobedient.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">the parents do not take such action into their own hands… they submit the charge to the legal authorities of the community. In that way the act could not be one based on emotion or momentary rage, rather it would have to be a deliberate decision based on evidence.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">the parents fulfill the role of the 2 witnesses who bring the evidence forward. By law a person who was ever found to be a false witness would bring upon themselves the very punishment they sought to bring upon the accused. </div><ol type="a"><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Both parents would have to agree that this was the only course of action</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">By the laws of witnessing in a court case if the parents were ever found to be lying they would be the ones put to death instead of their child</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">As the accusing witness(es) the parent would have to cast the first stone only then would the rest of the community also cast their stones. This would be highly emotionally painful and culturally shaming. It would not be an action lightly taken.</div></li></ol></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">However, God views habitual disobedience towards parents to be a form of cultural rot that should be cut out of the community like a cancer. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 1:29, 1 Timothy 3:2</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Clearly honoring your mother and father is a big deal to God. The instructions and consequences we have just gone through are based on a scenario involving parents who are themselves leading godly lives and who follow God’s instructions.</div><h3 class="western">What About Parents Who Make Bad Choices?</h3><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Lots of parents out there do not live godly lives. Even parents who try to live according to God’s way can make terrible mistakes. Some people’s parents are abusive, some are neglectful, some are addicts, selfish, foolish, lazy or unfair. Under such circumstances following God’s command to honor parents can seem strange and difficult to do.</div><h3 class="western">God Wants Us to Respect His Authority</h3><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Malachi 1:6</b> honoring parents is analogous to honoring God [see also Hebrews 12:9, Ephesians 3:14]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s command to honor our parents establishes a root concept of respect for, and honor towards authority in what we say and do. All authority whether in heaven or on earth begins and ends with God. For now, we experience this authority as it has been delegated to others both spiritual and human.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The command to honor parents is given to begin teaching us this attitude from our earliest formative years. It is built around the most fundamental and universal of all human relationships… parent and child. In other areas of scripture God expands His expectations regarding our approach to authority such that we also have respect for and show honor to human government, officials, kings, rulers, etc. God requires us to show respect for authority whether the person wielding it is righteous or not.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Peter 2:13-18 </b>in the world <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Hebrews 13:17 </b>in the church [also Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 5:17-18]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s program is that we learn to show honor toward fallible and flawed human authority. These situations can be difficult and trying. However, our efforts show Him we can be trusted to respect God’s own authority if and when we are granted eternal life within God’s own family. Challenging and questioning God’s authority disrupts peace and harmony and has no lasting place in eternity.</div><h3 class="western">Showing Honor &amp; Respect in Difficult Situations</h3><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A favorite example of showing honor for human authority that is not acting in an honorable manner is David’s dealings with Saul, the king of Israel. For no good reason Saul declared David his enemy, called David an enemy of the state, and tried repeatedly to kill David. Yet, David continued to speak and act with honor and respect towards Saul because of Saul’s position as king of Israel. While he showed respect and honor toward Saul David wisely kept away from the man and removed himself from harm and danger. </div><h3 class="western">Honoring Parents in Difficult Situations</h3><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Showing honor and respect does not demand that we subject our self to abuse, violence, or harm. Like the practical example of David mentioned previously you may find that for various reasons you need to practice respect and honor toward your parents from a distance in order to protect yourself emotionally or physically.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">As a young person still under your parents control your responsibility to obey your parents does not require you to do anything that is contrary to the express will of God. If you are ever compelled to do anything disobedient to God the responsibility for such actions will be upon your parents not you. Neither should you feel compelled to obey parental instructions that put you in danger, or are exploitive. If you find a way of escape from such situations you should take it. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Be careful you don’t use this as a clever argument to avoid legitimate requests made by parents [refer to Matthew 15: 3-7 Corban etc]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ezekiel 20:18-19 </b>you do not have to follow your parents in their disobedience toward God.</div><h2 class="western">Healing the Breach Through Forgiveness</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When you reach the point of adulthood and have established your own household you may find yourself still struggling with how to show respect and honor towards your parents. Emotional scars may run deep, bad parenting may have left you bitter, or deep divides in respective lifestyles may divide you. The only effective solution begins with forgiveness. Forgive your parents for whatever mistakes they have made. Let go of the condemnation you feel in your heart and mind and leave the matter with God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Forgiveness does not mean you must agree with or approve of whatever your parents have done, or do. Your forgiveness is not for their benefit… its for yours. Forgiveness means you are willing to put the past behind you and move on to a better future. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You may be able to repair a damaged relationship with your parents through gestures of kindness and a gentle humility. You may find that for your own well being you still need to keep some distance between you and your parents. Restoring an affectionate relationship with parents is a desirable goal but not necessarily the same as showing respect and honor.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You can show honor to your parents by taking care of their needs if they become incapable of taking care of themselves through sickness, injury, or old age.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You also show respect and honor towards your parents by what you do not do. Do not treat your parents harshly. Do not speak of your parents, or speak to your parents, in a manner that is disrespectful, insulting, demeaning, dismissive, or impolite. In this way you will avoid showing contempt for the authority God has delegated to parents. </div><h3 class="western">A Commandment With a Reward Attached</h3><br /><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Work to overcome the negative elements of your relationship with your parents and follow God’s command to honor your mother and father. You will be rewarded for it by God your true Father and creator, <b>Ephesians 6:2</b>. With this promise of reward, the 5<sup>th</sup> command is unique among the 10 commandments God has given us to live by. Honor toward parents is a fundamental principle of God’s way of thought. Respect and honor toward parents leads to more harmonious relationships within human families but most important it will lead to harmony within the eternal family of God. &nbsp;</div>View this message on YouTube - <br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTlXV_VQMfA">How to Honor Your Parents</a><br /><br />Read this message at our blog 📘 <br /><a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/08/how-to-honor-your-parents-why.html">How to Honor Your Parents</a><br /><br /></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/wlpLkYPuoec" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Grief is Part of the Human Experience
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><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/-MMBqH4j2wpw/WhTRgFWmTkI/AAAAAAAAApo/YbhqO5Coz3E-HcFIbnAXPIHuIDLd3GDKACLcBGAs/s1600/ben-white-194220.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1068" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MMBqH4j2wpw/WhTRgFWmTkI/AAAAAAAAApo/YbhqO5Coz3E-HcFIbnAXPIHuIDLd3GDKACLcBGAs/s320/ben-white-194220.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><b>1 Thessalonians 4:13-18</b> does this mean we should not allow ourselves to be sad when faced with the loss of a friend, comrade and brother? </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We know they have a future. We know they will be resurrected. We know we will see them again. Why are we still sad? Is our sadness a weakness of faith… a pull of doubt against our confidence?</div><h2 class="western"> What is Grief?</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Grief can be hard to explain. It’s a powerful emotion – often it’s a set of emotions which can be simultaneous and conflicting. We may experience feelings of relief and great sadness at the same time.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For example: In the case of someone who has passed away only after a long stretch of sickness or pain… we may feel <u>relief</u> that they will no longer have to suffer. At the same time we are <u>sad</u> because the inevitability of death has confronted us in an undeniable way.<br /><a name='more'></a></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Familiar patterns, behaviors, interactions we have grown accustomed to will no longer be possible. We are left to adapt with a new reality. The world we have known will now never be the same. We feel loss knowing that we will never again be able to reach out for that person who has always been there before.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Grief can be our reaction to other events, a friend moves away, or we find ourselves an empty nester. More negative situations include divorce, loss of a job… and then there is death.</div><h2 class="western">Grief is Part of the Human Experience</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s people grieve just like all people. We have records in scripture of the grief experienced by people like: Job, Naomi, Hannah, David who experienced great loss and sadness. We also have record of Jesus weeping in grief for Lazarus His friend.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>John 11:32-38 </b>Jesus was moved by their grief but also by the fact of Lazarus’ death. He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He had perfect faith that the Father would answer His prayer for Lazarus to be restored to life. He could have simply said “have no fear” but instead He shared in the grief of the situation.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 4:15</b> This is an example of how Jesus is a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Grief, weeping and sorrow is natural and normal. Its not a demonstration of any lack of faith. We do not want to be overcome by our grief as if we had no hope. </div><h2 class="western">Grief Serves a Purpose</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ecclesiastes 7:2 </b>grief can refresh and inform our understanding and perspective on our life. While we do not want to be obsessed with a fear of death we should use it as an occasion to remember that our own days are numbered and finite. Grieving over death is a time for us to ask “what am I doing with the days of life that I have left”?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 30:5 </b>grief and sadness serve a purpose. But grief also has its limits and it will come to and end. We do not forget those who have died but in time we adjust to our new reality.</div><h2 class="western">God is Beside Us in Our Grief</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God is our master, our creator, our father and friend. God is faithful and we can count on Him to walk with us in our sadness. Jesus used His days in the flesh to show us what God is really like in human terms that would add depth to our understanding. His grief for Lazarus was a demonstration of God’s emotional solidaity with us… even in grief and sadness. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 23:1-4 </b>we will walk through valleys of darkness and death. Through it all He is with us as our guide and protector.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 56:8</b> God sees our grief. When we grieve He does not think of us as weak, lacking in faith. Like we saw with the example of Jesus mourning for Lazarus… God enters into our grief, He feels it. Yet He also wants to reassure us that all is not lost <b>Psalm 46:10, Psalm 91:1-2, Romans 8:28.</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Consider: </b>If God engages with our grief and seeks to appreciate what it means. Perhaps the flow of understanding should also flow in the other direction as well. We are grieved by loss, separation, death. What causes God grief… can we enter into and share His emotional reactions.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We are hardwired for grief. It’s a natural and normal reaction. It may be there as a learning tool so we can understand how God feels about being rejected by those He has created and loved… His reaction when we willingly separate themselves from Him through the terrible choices we make.</div><h2 class="western">Processing Our Emotions</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">An important part of working our way through grief is expressing it to God. The Psalms are filled with any examples of opening up raw emotions of pain, doubt, anger and sharing them with God. However, the psalmist never ends up where he began. He may begin with an outpouring of grief but works through the emotions applying a God focused perspective, putting the emotions of the moment into a larger perspective. For Example Psalm 13 or Psalm 30:11-12, or Psalm 56.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Another important step in working our way through grief is to share it with others. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 6:2</b> the body of Christ is designed to ease the burdens of its individual members</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 12:15 </b>fellow believers have the ability to mourn with you</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Often grief makes us want to stay apart from others to hold our emotions close to us and not let others know about them. Everyone processes their emotions such as grief in their own way. However, shutting ourselves off from others physically, mentally, emotionally can have the effect of increasing feelings of isolation and sadness.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When we share our stories with God and others our grief is lessened. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 “<i>therefore encourage one another with these words</i>”.</div><h2 class="western">Focus on the Hope</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> Grief is a part of the human experience that is almost impossible to avoid. Loss is a part of life and grief is a natural response to it. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Through God’s word and the faith He has planted in us you have hope. You have confidence He is with you as you carry your heavy load… willing and able to help you with it along the way. Open up our heart to Him and trust Him because He cares for you <b>1 Peter 5:7</b>.</div><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">His spirit is alive and in you… speaking to you of hope and visions tommorow… encouraging you with confidence and faith for today. Cast your burdens on Him, rely on the community of the church, dig into the truth of the word and experience hope. <b>Hebrews 6:17-19</b></div></div>Read this message at our blog 📘 <br /><a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/08/grief-is-part-of-human-experience.html">Grief</a><br /><br />View this message on YouTube - <br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAuGVhlS1wA">Grief</a></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/WQzRSGsfEMM" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Tithing is an Act of Worship
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Our world has some serious problems. Humanity seek to solve them through better technology, better distribution of material goods… and lots of wishful thinking. The real answers to humanity’s quest for meaningful and joyful living are spiritual not material. Those answers are available within the message of the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The creator makes that knowledge available in a written document [bible]. Understanding of what that document is actually there to teach us is darkened, confused, seemingly contradictory, seemingly discredited. God has allowed it to be so.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God has provided a beacon of right teaching, true doctrine, and spiritual understanding to cut through the fog. That beacon of light in a darkened world is the church. Not a nation, not an organization… a spiritual organism drawing from all humanity. A body of people commissioned as servants of Jesus Christ to take the message of the kingdom an of Christ to the world. Matthew 28:18-20.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It is God’s will and purpose to work through humans as partners. At one time He worked through a physical entity… a nation, Israel. At present He works through a spiritual entity… the church of God. A spiritual entity operating in a very material world. </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/-_LT6FUijw6E/WaWJkpsTi3I/AAAAAAAAAhA/il0PGMxKfwkkiRrFoAULd9UXmOHsiirBQCLcBGAs/s1600/the-poor-shall-be-with-you-always_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="251" data-original-width="350" height="228" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_LT6FUijw6E/WaWJkpsTi3I/AAAAAAAAAhA/il0PGMxKfwkkiRrFoAULd9UXmOHsiirBQCLcBGAs/s320/the-poor-shall-be-with-you-always_1.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>God provides for this very spiritual work in this very material world through tithing. When you tithe you not only honor God with your possessions, you partner with Him is accomplishing His spiritual goals for this world.</div><h2 class="western">A Tithe is a 10<sup>th </sup>of Your Increase or Net Gain</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Leviticus 27:30-33</b> a tenth part</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Deuteronomy 14:22 </b>on the increase, gain, or profit</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The reality of life on earth is that everything belongs to the Creator. God just lets you use it for a while. When you are gone it passes to another. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Deuteronomy 8:17-18 </b>we are wrong when we think it belongs to us</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Deuteronomy 28:47</b> we are to serve Him willingly, which includes showing honor towards Him with our material goods by giving 10% back to Him [of what is really His anyway].</div><h2 class="western">Tithing is a Form of Worship</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Tithing is a form of worship that exists outside the bounds of the covenant God made with Israel. Abraham tithed hundreds of years before the covenant was put in place with Israel. Abraham gave 10% of what he gained. He gave it to the high priest of God… which at that time was Melchizadek. Abraham honored God with his material goods and gave thanks for the blessing from God [the blessing of victory]. <b>Genesis 14:18-20</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 28: 20-22</b> when God reaffirms the covenant He made with Abraham through Jacob [Abraham’s grandson]… Jacob responds with a declaration of loyalty and a dedication to tithing… I will worship you through titihing. [to Melchizadek?]</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Tithing is part of the covenant of faith that began with Abraham and which remains today for the people of God.</div><h2 class="western">Tithing in the Sinai Covenant</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God established Israel in the land of Canaan to perform His great work in the world. To act as a living demonstration of His way of living among the nations which they could admire and imitate. With this new method of revealing Himself to humanity there was also a change in the administration of the priesthood. Instead of the order of Melchizadek the tribe of Levi were set apart to do the priestly work of God on earth [the role of high priest was delegated specifically to the family of Aaron].</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Numbers 18:21-24 </b>the priests would not work the land to make a living, they would do the work of God… temple service… sacrifices… teaching the word of God to the people. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Numbers 18:26-28</b> they in turn tithed to the High Priesthood</div><h2 class="western">Tithing Badly Neglected in Israel</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When Judah was expelled from the land for violating the terms of the national covenant they were condemned by God to 70 years of exile in Babylon and Persia. Once the 70 years were up a small group headed by Ezra and Nehemiah were sent back to re-establish the nation.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Neglecting God’s commands had become a way of living and thinking for these people and it would take some hard work to get the people set back on the right path. A lot the responsibility for making this restoration happen would depend upon the priesthood.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Things were going badly… the people seemed to be slipping back into the same old habits of neglect that had caused their national defeat and exile. Toward the end of the book named after him Nehemiah puts his finger on why the program was falling apart.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Nehemiah 13:10-13</b> the priests were not doing their job… the people were not funding the work of the priesthood with their tithes. Instead of properly managing the temple service, administering sacrifice and teaching the people from God’s word… the priests were out plowing in the field to earn a living.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The need for steady funding for the work of God was not a surprise to Nehemiah. He had planned a system for collecting, storing and distributing the tithes… and written it into a legal agreement with the remnant settlers.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Nehemiah 10:37-39 </b><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Nehemiah 12:44</b></div><h2 class="western">The Same Principles [and Expectations] Are At Work Today</h2><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Personal worship </b>– honor God with our material wealth</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acknowledgment/Thanks</b> – recognize and appreciate God’s authority over, and ownership</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Funding</b> – God allows us to partner with Him in the work He is doing on earth</div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We saw Nehemiah’s view about the importance of tithing and the bad results from neglecting to tithe… what is God’s view?</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Malachi 3: 7-12</b> failure to tithe is a serious issue with God</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 23:23 </b>Jesus reaffirmed the need to tithe</div><h2 class="western">Tithing in the New Covenant</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">After Jesus’ death and the establishment of the new covenant there was once again a change in the administration of the work of God on earth. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God would no longer perform His work through a physical nation… Israel. The new covenant would be established with people from all nations and backgrounds whom He would call to form a spiritual nation… the Israel of God… the church of God.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Galatians 6:16 </b><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>1 Peter 2:9-10</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">With this new administration the institutions of sacrifice, priesthood, and temple were not done away with… they have been re-aligned and re-applied to a world forever changed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In Ephesians Paul spoke of himself as a servant of God within this new administration but in the same epistle also confirmed that it was built on the foundation of the Old Testament writings yet with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 15:4</b> this should be our attitude toward the OT writing and instructions</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Many of the changes in the administration of God’s work in the world under the new covenant are explained in the book of Hebrews. The high priest is now the risen Jesus Christ… the office is not done away with it is completely changed and improved. This change in the administration of the priesthood is discussed from many angles [sacrifice, temple] and in chapter 7 the change in the administration of tithing to the priesthood is addressed.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You now tithe to Jesus Christ the High Priest of the new covenant.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 7:1-10 </b>Abraham [the father of the faithful] gave his tithes to Melchizadek [who was the one who later became Jesus Christ the son of man]. Levi is the lesser by comparison.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 7:11-12 </b>there is a change in the administration of the priesthood and therefore a change in the instructions on tithing. They are still to be given to the priest of God but the administration of the priesthood is forever changed.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 7:15-22</b> Jesus is that new High Priest which is to the Melchizadek administration. Although it too is better and improved since it now also encompasses the perfect and complete sacrifice for sin. The following verses 22-28 discuss that in greater detail.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Under the new covenant administration you tithe to the living Jesus Christ your high priest. The living Jesus Christ is also the head of the spiritual organism… His church. The work of God in the word is now performed through that church. As head of the church Jesus Christ delegates to those who minister. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Corinthians 9:13-14</b></div><h2 class="western">Tithing is an Act of Worship</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Through tithing you honor God with your material goods.</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Teaches you the attitude of thankfulness, humility, and giving</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Funds the work of God on earth and allows you to partner with Him in what He is working to accomplish</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">As befits an act of worship… tithing is something you do willingly. The church does not check up on you or attempt to enforce tithing [nor lying, adultery, theft etc for that matter]. In the new covenant administration the assembly of God has neither power of enforcement or of punishment. Those prerogatives are left to the nations and states in which we live to whom God has given the power and authority of government. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The worst the church could ever do is say we don’t want to associate with you. </div><h2 class="western">Is There a Penalty For Not Tithing?</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">As just mentioned the church does not enforce nor punish. But disregarding God’s instructions does have personal consequences. Failure to tithe could:</div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Diminish your potential for effective service to God through godly stewardship of your wealth. You are effectively saying “I love you God… but I don’t want to help you perform the work you are doing”.</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Neglect to tithe and you will probably miss out on the blessings God promises</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You may bring God’s curse upon yourself</div></li></ul><h2 class="western">Tithing is an act of Faith</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You may think you only have enough for yourself. You earn so little that whatever you give would be a drop in the bucket. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> All I can say is step out on faith. God has promised He will bless those who act upon their faith. God does not evaluate based on hoe much you give but on how faithfully you give. Your tithe is not a drop in the bucket.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Do not ignore you opportunity and calling to partner with God in the work He is performing on earth. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Worship you creator through tithing!</div>View this message on YouTube - <br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rHJqhekJJU">Tithing: A Form of Worship</a><br /><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Read this message at our blog 📘<br /><a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/09/tithing-is-act-of-worship.html">Tithing is an act of worship</a><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/GXDQfjhxFEM" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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How to Love Fellow Members in God’s Church
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iWvpLevVsn0/WiWWkmKQCOI/AAAAAAAAArA/egJ7hto-5H0u84FQJHWCO5xrmFJWDGtCgCLcBGAs/s1600/phil-coffman-161251.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-size: large;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iWvpLevVsn0/WiWWkmKQCOI/AAAAAAAAArA/egJ7hto-5H0u84FQJHWCO5xrmFJWDGtCgCLcBGAs/s320/phil-coffman-161251.jpg" width="320" /></span></a><span style="font-size: large;">Can one person make a difference in our congregation?&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span> <span style="font-size: large;">Can one family make a difference in our congregation… setting an example that inspires others?</span><br /><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: large;"><b><br /></b></span> <span style="font-size: large;"><b>The answer is yes.</b></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">When a person begins really trying, and making an effort there may be some snags long the way:</span></div><ul style="text-align: left;"><li>they may feel self conscious [this isn’t really me, I’m a fake]</li><li>others may put them down or make fun of them [they are just trying to impress people, they just want to impress the ministry, they are trying to exalt themselves]</li></ul><ul></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Also, a person’s enthusiasm might outweigh their wisdom [their efforts may be clumsy]… but if they are</span><br /><a name='more'></a><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> trying to please God He looks at their attitude more than on their accomplishments. We are pleasing to god when we are committed to Him, to His Church, and to one another. And to be committed means to be involved.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Romans 13:8 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">we owe it to one another.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">We all need to change an to grow in the ability to love one another, serve one another, to help and to give. You may not have thought about it this way but all these Godly goals revolve around FELLOWSHIP.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">We are going to talk about what god expects of us. We will see that one person can make a difference. You can make a difference. And a biblical understanding of fellowship will guide us.</span></div><h1 class="western">1. To have fellowship with one another we must begin with our fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Definition:</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> fellowship means a community, an association, a group in which we participate. Our place within that group is based on what we share, what we have in common.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>1 Corinthians 1:9</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> you have been brought into fellowship with Jesus Christ. We share things in common with Jesus the messiah. We have a close relationship with Him based on our mutual interest. We also have a family relationship with Him… He is our elder brother.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>2 Corinthians 13:14</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> we hold to the same convictions through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. </span> </div><ul><li> <div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">There is a particular quality of fellowship we share because of the holy Spirit</span></div></li><li> <div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">There is a power of love and concern for others that flows into us through the Holy Spirit. Be we have to act upon it.</span></div></li><li> <div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Because of our common conviction and spirit we can understand the trials others go through a bit better. So we share those trials and tests with one another.</span></div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>1 John 1:1-3 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">John wrote to the church about his personal experience with Jesus so that they might all have joint participation in the knowledge of all that Christ did, who He really was, and what He taught.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Fellowship with God means we have such understanding in common… we have are to share the outlook and attitudes of God through Christ. </span> </div><h1 class="western">2. We have fellowship with one another</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Acts 2:42 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">fellowshipping has always been important to the church from the very beginning. Such things as the humble potluck… or perhaps praying with someone about a situation.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>1 Corinthians 10:16 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">we share the participation in the symbols and signs of God’s process for bringing us into his family. Beginning with Passover all the way through to the last Great Day. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>2 Corinthians 8:1-7</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> “fellowship” or sharing in taking care of the needs of God’s people. Note that the people asked “can we be part of this project”? They accomplished this through giving. The Good Works projects we have around the world are just this kind of projects. Where a collection is made to help out God’s sanctified people… back then it was Jerusalem, today it might be Guatemala.</span></div><h1 class="western">3. God wants us to serve to benefit others</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">All too often we only serve for selfish reason, or to impress, or only when it is convenient for us. But serving for the benefit of others will work for our own good… in that we will grow into a person patterned after Jesus Christ. A person who has the capacity to enjoy eternal life.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Take every opportunity for personal growth through service. You might say, “I don’t have the energy for that”… but this type of personal growth takes effort. Our default setting seems to be to think of ourselves rather than others. God wants to turn that way of thinking around. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">When we make that change of orientation and serve within the body we benefit the church, our family, our marriages, and ultimately ourselves.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>1 Corinthians 12:4-7 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">God gives us all certain gifts and wants us to work together harmoniously for the common good. Not comparing our gifts with others and trying to raise ourselves above others or draw attention to ourselves. [read the rest of chapter 12]</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Romans 12:3-4 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">we do not all have the same function. [verse5-9] Paul then follows with a list of doing…. Because in God’s word love is experienced by doing. [verse 10-13] </span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><i>Philadelphia</i></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">, brotherly love, which focuses on our dedication to one another, and by what we do.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>James 2:15 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">you could just as easily substitute the word “love” in the place of faith here.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Other needs to consider, the sick need caring for, the elderly need company, widows and single parents need assistance. Share with others and share yourself </span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Romans 12:15-16</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Philippians 2:1-2</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> It sometimes seems it is the same one who volunteer time and time again. We should all help to bear the burdens. Lets all be on the same page on this… with common cause… fellowship.</span></div><h1 class="western">4. We are told to visit one another</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">We tend to think of visiting as a social call. The word here is </span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><i>episkeptomai</i></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> - means to look in on one another, to check up on, in order to help or benefit, to look after to have a care for, to provide for.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Matthew 25:34-36 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">[expand on what prisons were back then]</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>James 1:27 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">to look in upon the weak members of the body in order to help them, to encourage, and to benefit. There are some logistic concerns that hold us back from doing a better job at this… distance, time.</span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b> Idea: circle principle</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> – visit with those within a radius of 25 minutes. If everyone were doing so then few people would be neglected.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">What about visiting at church services or on Sabbath afternoons? To be friendly, make strangers feel comfortable. Are we trying to benefit and build the church of God? Or, are we merely looking after our own group or circle. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">This is a form of visiting, but lets not have it be the only way we practice fellowship. If that’s all we do them we are being weak. </span> </div><h1 class="western">5. We are to practice hospitality among one another</h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Hospitality means “love of strangers”, “interest in people other than our circle”. Extend yourself, get to know new and different people. </span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Romans 12:13</b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> says “actively seek out opportunities to express interest and love to new and different people” [diokos, philoxenon]</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>Hebrews 13:1-2</b></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><b>1 Peter 4:8-10 </b></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">use hospitality! It is one of God’s methods for drawing people closer together. It is an active demonstration of Godly love. </span> </div><h1 class="western">What do all these points have in common? </h1><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">They are the active practice and doing of what you all say you believe. We have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Maybe you are waiting for someone else to do it. Maybe you’re afraid of feeling fake or put on, maybe you’re worried other will look at you as a goody-goody. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">One person, one family can make a huge difference.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-size: 11pt;">Ask yourself: how much of a benefit am I&nbsp;to God? How much of a benefit am I to His church? Am I really taking full advantage of what God is revealing to me?</span><br /><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: 11pt;">You might like this free ebook as a bible study guide&nbsp;</span><br /><table style="border-collapse: collapse; height: 19px; width: 57px;"><colgroup><col style="width: 43.25pf;" width="57"></col></colgroup><tbody><tr height="19"><td class="et1" height="19" style="color: black; font-size: 10.0pt; font-style: normal; font-weight: 400; height: 14.28pt; mso-protection: locked visible; text-align: general; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: bottom; width: 42.77pt;" width="57" x:str="">https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-church-jesus-built</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/yB5roIcsQ7g" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Clean And Unclean Meats - The Spiritual Principle Behind the Physical Discipline
<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/-LmqXQkZO_r0/W_Wy-oti_sI/AAAAAAAABA0/g_YHn0IC-dcTbnWwDhcgbcJ6UuVeG_APACLcBGAs/s1600/elle-hughes-1090594-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://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LmqXQkZO_r0/W_Wy-oti_sI/AAAAAAAABA0/g_YHn0IC-dcTbnWwDhcgbcJ6UuVeG_APACLcBGAs/s320/elle-hughes-1090594-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Clean and Unclean</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator has given very specific written regulations regarding clean and unclean meat. He gives us His commandments, laws, statutes, and judgments with purpose. With regard to avoiding unclean meat, God is seeking &nbsp;much more than obedience. We start there but our Father Creator wants to change the way we think. He wants to be fundamentally change the way we assess, evaluate, and then act upon things.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">To distinguish good from evil... helpful from harmful... holy from unholy... what is set apart from what is common. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"></div><ul style="text-align: left;"><li><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">The Sabbath</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;--&gt; the physical discipline is the first step in changing the way we think about time</span></li><li><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Tithing</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;--&gt; the physical discipline is the first step in changing the way we think about money, wealth, personal resources</span></li></ul><br /><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">We could say similar things about regulations regarding sex, family relationships, worship which begin changing the way we think about our relationships with other beings and with our Creator.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">In all these matters we begin with physical disciplines which are meant to teach us spiritual principles. Spiritual principles which are intended to transform the way we think.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Instruction A</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">bout Food</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God provides us with a listing of creatures we may eat for food and those we may not. He asks us to make a distinction between what is clean and unclean. &nbsp;He sets before us a physical discipline meant to teach a spiritual principle(s). If we only go so as far as the physical discipline without learning and applying the spiritual principle then we are missing the mark.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Let</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s look into</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;the spiritual principle behind making a distinction between clean and unclean meat?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Is It A Matter of Health? </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Over the years people have tried to validate the practice of avoiding unclean meat by citing possible health dangers related to pork, shellfish etc. Reports and statistics used to make such a case and these may, or may not, be true. But such an approach still does not present us with the spiritual principle God wants us to make part of our thinking.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">It's like saying that laws concerning fornication and adultery were designed the avoid STDs. Having a no fornication or adultery policy has the extra benefit of keeping you safe from STDs ... but that's not the real reason for God's instruction on the matter. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">If modern science can free us from the physical dangers of crispy bacon or free love would that make them acceptable to God?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">What Is Acceptable To God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Its interesting to speculate on why God tells us certain animals are unclean based on criteria such as cloven hoofs, chewing of the cud, scales, fins and so forth... [I have heard and read some good ones, some plausible... some possible... some probable] but in the end God has not given us all the details and reasons why certain combinations are clean and some are not.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">What we know for certain is that some things are acceptable to God and others are not. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator is operating on a different plane... He has a different approach... different strategies... different goals.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Isaiah 55:8-9; Jeremiah 10:23</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Where Are These Instructions </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">About Animals </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Found?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The first mention of the concept of there being animals God considers clean [as opposed to unclean] is found in </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Genesis 6:19: 7:2.</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;From this brief record of what God said to Noah we learn that the distinction between clean and unclean animals was in place long before God entered into &nbsp;His covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God does not provide Noah with a list of clean versus unclean animals. But Noah understood what God's instruction meant and was able to make it happen. The listing of clean versus unclean animals was not spelled out for us until Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, which were recorded many centuries later. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Some argue that the termination of the old covenant means the termination of the distinction between clean and unclean meat. The key takeaway I want you to remember here is that the concept of separating clean and unclean animals did not originate with the old covenant... or Mt. Sinai covenant.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Since its important to the discussion of clean and unclean meat, let</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s take a moment to review what the termination of the old covenant meant for God’s law.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Temporary Administrations Of God's Eternal Principles</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God bases His instructions to humanity on spiritual principles that have always existed. Instructions and applications regarding priesthood, sacrifice, temple are all still present in the new covenant. However, the administration and application of them has changed.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Even the administration and application of the 10 commandments has changed under the new covenant.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">A significant part of God's old covenant instructions for Israel were about how to administer the everlasting principles within the context of a nation/state with borders, courts of law, people tasked with maintaining law and order [judges, king, elders etc].</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">By contrast, the new covenant Church is not tasked with punishing people for violating God's commands. The church has no mandate from God to execute people for idolatry or adultery... we are not the ones to enforce restitution for personal injury or theft. We are tasked with the job of teaching people about these life giving truths... to convince and persuade people, then encouraging and exhorting them to stick with it. The Church of God has no police force to make people obey... nor should it.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">2 Corinthians 3:7-8</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;the administration of Israel had the power of life and death in their hands. To teach and to enforce with the full power of the state. This was only meant to be a passing phase until Christ came and initiated the administration of the spirit... writing those laws on the heart and mind of those who are willing.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The eternal spiritual principles and laws of God have not changed. But, the administration of them has. </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Romans 7:14</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The scriptures contain laws but it is not a book of law. It is a set of instructions for how to develop a positive relationship with your creator </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">John 17:2-3</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Learn what is acceptable… in what we think… in how we do things </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Revelation 14:12</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s way of doing things transcends time and administration.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Clean &amp; Unclean </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Meat </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">In the Old Covenant</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God gave Israel [and us] a written list of clean animals versus unclean. It could be the information was lost or forgotten since the days of Noah [Noah must have had this same list either written down or committed to memory]. It could also be that due to the nature of the covenant with Israel God simply wanted everything in writing. Either way, we now have access to that information in written form... but we also have a beginning of the explanation of the spiritual principle behind this physical discipline of making these distinctions between clean and unclean meat.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The pursuit of holiness!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Leviticus 11:45</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;to be holy one must avoid the unclean [at end of list]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 14:2</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;set apart for God's special purpose. [at the end of the list]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The old covenant instructions have a lot to say about cleanness versus uncleanness. Because God himself was present within the camp, the nation, the tabernacle, the temple... cleanness and holiness was demanded. The spiritual principles behind these regulations are alive and well within the new covenant! For example; the laws of temple cleanliness are now applicable to the individual who is called and chosen of God. Because He is present within them though the Holy Spirit.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">1 Corinthians 6:15-20 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">we have been purchased by Him through Jesus' blood. He wants to dwell within us and He does not want us to contaminate ourselves with any kind of spiritual defilement or uncleanness and bring that into His presence.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The physical discipline of avoiding unclean meat is relatively easy. Its sort of a beginners step, simple, straightforward, with a specific list of do's and don'ts. Some folks really get into it. But we don't want that to become our righteousness! God wants our obedience on unclean meat to lead to something more. God wants holiness within... in our thoughts... in our actions. So that we might dwell with Him, with others, and with ourselves... in peace. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Jesus Teaches on Spiritual Uncleanness</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Mark 7:1-8 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Note: this is not a discussion about unclean meat. It is a discussion about Jewish traditions about performing a ceremonial washing of hands before eating so they could consider themselves first clean and then holy. The practice was a tradition of the elders, the pharisees tried to apply instructions for the levitical priests to themselves and everyone to build up the idea of a priesthood of all believers... also as a means of determining who was righteous and who was not [Exodus 30:19; 40:13]. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">They would do it after being out in the marketplace where they might have contact with unclean people such as non-Jews, tradesmen, people who had themselves touched an unclean thing and transmitted the uncleanness to others... that sort of thing. They did not want this sort of contamination entering in to them through &nbsp;food which they would pick up and eat with their hands. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">As Jesus pointed out these were mere human rules.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">After showing them what a bunch of hypocrites they were He offers up a very clear explanation of what uncleanness means spiritually.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Mark 7:14-23 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">this is the spiritual principle behind discerning between the clean and the unclean.</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Ironically, verse 19 is used by some to say Jesus is using this teachable moment to declare all formerly unclean meats now clean. Let me take a minute to explain...</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"></div><ol style="text-align: left;"><li>This is based on a dispute about the verb tense in the original Greek manuscripts. The traditional translation has been <span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">“thus making all foods purified’ - </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">that all food eaten is purified by the process of digestion and then excretion in the toilet [this is the way its found in the majority of Greek texts]. The modern translations say </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">“thus He declared all foods clean” </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">meaning it was Jesus who was proclaiming all foods clean [this is the way it is found in some of the oldest Greek texts].</span></li><li>We don't need to be a textual scholar to notice that the conversation was not about what meats were clean or unclean... it was about hand washing to avoid contaminating foods. To then say all unclean meats are now clean, &nbsp;Jesus would have been making a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from what was previously said about hand-washing and defilement. Notice that, the very next thing Jesus is recorded as doing [verses 24-30] is interacting with a gentile woman, whom the Jews would have considered unclean.</li></ol>Jesus teaching is that evil thoughts and actions are what make a person unclean. He corrected them for making an external show of separating clean and unclean while letting evil and greed within themselves [for example, through their ridiculous corban laws which contradicted the 5<sup><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; vertical-align: super;">th</span></sup><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;commandment].</span><br /><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">The Physical Discipline Of Avoiding Unclean Meat</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The Pharisees hand washing rules were something God had never required. But m</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">aking a distinction between clean meats and unclean meats </span><u><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">is</span></u><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;a requirement God has set before people... it was there before the covenant with Israel, it was written into the covenant with Israel, and it will be in the future. Don't add to it... or take away from it.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Revelation 18:2</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;in the future days when God sends Jesus to judge the nations He still considers certain animals unclean.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Isaiah 66:15-17</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God has always considered certain animal flesh to be unclean and not acceptable for food.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Our Creator tells us to not eat these things. Its a physical discipline to remind us always of the spiritual discipline we must also practice. Do not let unclean meat enter your body... do not let unclean thoughts, attitudes and actions enter your mind.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Be Holy for I am Holy.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: calibri;"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px;">Listen to this message on Youtube</span></span><br /><span style="font-family: calibri;"><span style="font-size: 14.6667px;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di_78m-khPQ">Clean And Unclean Meats</a></span></span></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/4c0CL3KUQv4" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Career Advice From Scripture
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You will spend most of your waking hours working in one form or another. Does the God of Israel have anything to say about work? Does how you approach work affect your spiritual life? Does you spiritual life affect your approach to work? Or are they separate matters?</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QDkezOu7G-s/WhMLWUbnOtI/AAAAAAAAAoc/feINRA4WaG4aahzpb19WfIIC_40TmAPPwCEwYBhgL/s1600/michael-browning-14090.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="266" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QDkezOu7G-s/WhMLWUbnOtI/AAAAAAAAAoc/feINRA4WaG4aahzpb19WfIIC_40TmAPPwCEwYBhgL/s400/michael-browning-14090.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><h2 class="western">Career Advice From Proverbs</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 6:6-11 </b>the ant is gives us a good example to follow:<br /><a name='more'></a></div><h2 class="western">The Ant Is Self-Motivated [verse 7]</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">No one has to tell the any what to do. There is no boss prodding the ant onward. The ant sees what needs to be done and takes care of it. The ants motivation comes from within.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A person with internal motivation makes a valuable employee. A person who constantly needs to be told what to do is: </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Less valuable:</b> If a manager constantly needs to watch over an employee to make sure they are doing what needs to get done it’s a drain on their time. An employee can be counted on to take care of what needs doing frees up that manager so they can be somewhere else getting other work done.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Less successful:</b> lack of internal motivation and drive shows there is little potential for advancement. Employers will give more money to employees with drive in order to keep them. Employers will give promotions to employees with drive so they can take on greater responsibilities.</div><h2 class="western">The Ant Prepares For The Future [verse 8]</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When the ant sees the opportunity to gather food the ant jumps on it [even if its not hungry at the moment]. The ant stores up for the times when nothing will be there to gather. </div><h2 class="western">Hard Work, Works! [verses 9-10]</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To be successful requires hard work. No employer is going to make efforts to reward a worker who is always looking for excuses and ways to get out of the task in from of them. Such people end up poor and not having much.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>IMPORTANT</b>: this doesn’t mean that poor people are all lazy people… ie. you’re poor, therefore, you’re lazy. That is a fallacy as much as the idea Job’s afflictions were caused by sin.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Some people are born poor and its not any fault of their own… it could be because of family legacy, or social injustice. However, the way <u><b>OUT</b></u> of poverty usually involves hard work and drive. Social programs can help give people <u><b>opportunity</b></u> but the way to make those opportunities successful is through hard work and drive. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">[verse 11] The consequences of their behavior come upon the lazy person as a surprise… like a bandit, or an armed robber. They were not expecting it. The proverbs have been placed within God’s word so that you may avoid such nasty surprises. God’s word says “<i>you don’t have to learn the hard way, I [God] can tell you the wise way to proceed in life</i>”.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 26:16 </b>Some people don’t see the consequences of the approach they are taking. Their way seems perfectly sensible and logical… until the moment it isn’t. Consider Proverbs as God’s advice… from one who knows. </div><h2 class="western">Learn From The Example of Others</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 24:30-34 </b>try to recognize the cause and effect at play around you. Learn what leads to success and what leads to poverty. The person with the overgrown vineyard and the broken down property probably thinks he’s the smart one for not working… at first these things don’t seem like such a big deal… then you reach a tipping point when the unattended matters add up so that fixing them isn’t even possible any more. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You might have a house that needs new shingles to keep out the rain. Its going to cost $5,000. You’ can handle the cost but it will mean you have to put off some fun stuff you had planned. The leak is not in the living area so why bother fixing it. A few years go by and the beams get rot in them and now the roof needs to be completely replaced and is in danger of caving in… repairs are going to cost $50,000 which you cannot afford!</div><h2 class="western">The Lazy Mindset</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The lazy person [sluggard] dreams and talks but never makes it happen</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 14:23</b> diligent work is what makes dreams come true… not good intentions</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 13:4 </b>you have to act on the desire, or the idea, to get the good results</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 22:13</b> those who don’t want to work an be very creative in finding excuses</div><h2 class="western">The Diligent Mindset</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Hebrew word translated diligent literally means sharp pointed. For example: its has teeth. The diligent mindset has initiative, motivation, drive, foresight, and enthusiasm. The lazy person and the diligent may both have wishes and dreams but the diligent is the one who acts… who sinks their teeth into it</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 12:24 </b>the person who has the diligent mindset is usually the one who gets promoted. Note: maybe you don’t want more responsibility buts its also the diligent person who usually keeps their job, especially when times get tough.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">So, if you want to be that person who gets promoted, who gets better and more interesting opportunities, who has greater job security… cultivate the traits of the diligent . How? </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Do the best you possibly can in your current position to show you can handle more… and it will come. Don’t be a dreamer who says “if I were put in charge then ‘d be able to show them what I can really do!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">[use example of film stripping , art degree, got job as film stripper, took night courses, was very fast, got bored, asked for side projects to do, got the attention of the plant manager, got promoted to assistant plant manager].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 10:4 </b>– get the knowledge you need to get more done</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ecclesiastes 9:10</b> – work hard at whatever situation you find yourself in</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 22:29 </b>– who knows where diligence will lead you! [where laziness leads is fairly certain]</div><h2 class="western">Preparation Before Pleasure</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 24:27 </b>the setting is a farming culture. The field was the main arena of work. From the field a person got the food they needed to keep alive and all their potential wealth. A nice house to live in was something you could build once the field starting producing food to eat and money to buy building materials. In that setting a house was a place of comfort.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The principle is to get yourself set up with a means to earn a good living before you start enjoy the material goods that go with a good living. When you are just getting started, make do without the finer things of life until you can afford them… like that fancy sports car, or fine furniture.</div><h2 class="western">All This Takes… Self Discipline</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Proverbs 25:28</b> learn to control your impulses, desires, emotions instead of them controlling you. We are asked to imagine a city with its defensive walls broken down [imagine your house with the front door gone]. You don’t feel safe! You no longer have control of what comes into or out of your house!</div><h2 class="western">Career Advice For Followers of Jesus Christ’s</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The work you do in a significant part of your discipleship before God. It is the arena where deep spiritual lessons are learned and put into practice. <span style="background-color: yellow;">Your</span>&nbsp;job is not in a separate compartment isolated from your spiritual life and development. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 6:5-8 </b>approach your job as if you were working for Jesus Christ. In other words, work knowing that God is watching, and taking account of what you are doing [and not doing] even if the boss isn’t. And what does God want to see?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The advice given in Proverbs was presented as stuff you can do to succeed in life, better your condition, perhaps gain some wealth. Putting the good advice from Proverbs into practice is in your own best interest. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">That same advice is also useful for pleasing God. But gaining material wealth or status is not the goal God is interested in… God wants you to become a particular type of person. A useful and profitable servant… a diligent and conscientious member of His family… the royal family of the universe! </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Put for the your best effort with all diligence… to be fearful of wronging your employer [and visa versa]… to deal with one another honestly, in a straightforward manner, trustworthy. To work wholeheartedly, with politeness and respect, even cheerful.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Luke 17:7-10</b> an unprofitable servant just does what he is told. Clearly implies that a profitable servant in God’s eyes is one who goes above and beyond his duty [what the master expects].</div><h2 class="western">Responsibilities of Employees</h2><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Timothy 6:1</b> show honor and respect</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Luke 16:10-11 Matthew 24:45 </b>faithful, trustworthy and not deceitful</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Titus 2:9</b> patient, and do as asked</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Peter 2:18-20</b> even when your employer is unworthy</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Thessalonians 4:11-2, 2 Thessalonians 3:7</b> work and don’t be lazy</div></li></ul><h2 class="western">Responsibilities of Employers</h2><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 6:8 </b>don’t threaten… using your power of coercion to demand employees do anything illegal [offering bribes to clients, sexual favors, cheat clients]</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Safe working conditions <b>Exodus</b><b> 21:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:8</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> Not to take advantage of peoples lack of bargaining power with exploitative wages <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Proverbs 22:16, Mal 3:5</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Don’t hold back the wages but pay on time <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Leviticus 19:13, Deuteronomy 24:14-15</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Established rest day must be given <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Deuteronomy 5:14-15</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Treat employees as if they were a son or daughter <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> <b>Philemon 16</b></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Fairness – not to give someone more or less for reasons of family, ethnicity, gender</div></li></ul><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;">Conclusion</span></span></span>:</div><br /><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">In times of economic uncertainty…. Financial uncertainty… the best way to gain job security, perhaps even to get ahead is to take this valuable career advice from God’s word. The application of that advice is also a deeply spiritual matter and how you approach work has a lot to do with how God sees you.<br /><br /><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';">View this message on YouTube - &lt;br&gt;&lt;a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWbjMG4MvSM"&gt;Career Advice From Scripture&lt;/a&gt;</span><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11.0000pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: SimSun; mso-spacerun: 'yes';"><o:p></o:p></span></div></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/5ge_brNIYvk" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Get Wisdom
<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/-fAWdHaPISLg/W-tlBUzP65I/AAAAAAAABAo/YPYmgsNPEdMWZ0q8zODPCBm4g75V-0MZwCLcBGAs/s1600/jeremy-bishop-408926.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://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fAWdHaPISLg/W-tlBUzP65I/AAAAAAAABAo/YPYmgsNPEdMWZ0q8zODPCBm4g75V-0MZwCLcBGAs/s320/jeremy-bishop-408926.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">What is wisdom? Definition:</span></b></h2><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">the quality of having experience [Karen has been with the company 20 years, she has a great deal of wisdom regarding actuary statistics]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">soundness of actions or decisions - sometimes this is a natural ability but most often it is gained through experience and applying that experience or knowledge [Karen's decision to use the new actuary tables in the Wilson case was a wise decision]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">a body of knowledge written/oral that develops within a community - the advice of those who had wisdom codified for the benefit of others [Karen has written an orientation handbook for newly hired actuaries, its a great way to pass along the wisdom she has gained and help newbies avoid common mistakes]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">We are going to discuss all three senses of wisdom, but we are not going to talk about actuary statistics:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">The body of knowledge</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;is the holy scriptures "able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus"</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Soundness of action and decision</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;is godly living through obedience, good works, and following the lead of &nbsp;the Holy spirit</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Experience</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;is your perseverance and endurance unto the end</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Wisdom in the Bible</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 4:5-7 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s word as a body of knowledge codified for your benefit so you can avoid common mistakes</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. The Hebrew word is </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">khokmaw</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">This </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">khokmaw </span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">is the same word used for the wisdom of Solomon. When Solomon was made king. One night as he was praying:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God said to Solomon, "</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">ask Me for what I should give you</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">". </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Solomon said, "I lack experience, please </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">give me an understanding heart [mind] so I can better govern as king and make sound judgments that rightly discerns between good and evil</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">"</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God said, "</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Good request, better that wanting riches or long life! I am going to give you a wise and discerning mind like none before you and none who will follow</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">".</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Did you know you can make the same request of God? </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Did you know that He says if you ask for it I will certainly grant your request?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">James 1:5 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">many of us have probably gotten on our knees to pray and asked for this very thing! We usually ask when we are faced with a tough decision, a course of action we are unsure of, we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place… then we cry out for wisdom. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">What should I say or do... tell me please... give me wisdom</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Who is telling me the truth... give me wisdom to discern</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Should I demand my rights... or should I let it go and forgive?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">[Jean-Luc Picard example]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">We all want wisdom and guidance when we are in a tough spot, but we also need wisdom and guidance to answer life's bigger questions.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l4 level1 lfo3; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">to understand and discern what is important in life</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l4 level1 lfo3; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">to rearrange or balance our priorities with eternal goals in mind</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Getting this right is the substance of making right choices and character... Godly character... and the only thing that matters in the end is the character you build.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">God wants you to become wise</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Scripture tells us that if we ask for something according to God's will we can have every confidence we will receive it. It is within God's will that you have wisdom.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom has benefits for eternity... and it has benefits for TODAY.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Proverbs 3:1-4 </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">These words are spoken from the viewpoint of a father to his child. Notice that the foundation or base on which wisdom is built are the Father's commands. There are benefits for your physical life... longevity and peace.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The word translated peace is </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">shalom</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. Its a little word with a lot of meaning packed in to it. The general sense of the word is completeness, wholeness, sound in body, prosperous, quietness and tranquility, contentment, fellowship. Well being that is physical, financial, and social.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom is meant to bring you all these various blessings. Note: some people don't want these, preferring excitement, intrigue, or domination over others.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom is inner integrity, converting who you are from the inside, so Godly perspectives and attitudes be written on the tablets of your heart [which sounds like what's meant to happen within the new covenant]. &nbsp;To change the way you think about life rather than merely changing your external appearance or behavior [compare to other wisdom traditions].</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Proverbs 3:5-12 Steps to gaining Godly wisdom</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Intellectual humility before YHWH - </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">God asks you to do stuff that is counter intuitive. But He has a reason and a purpose behind what He requires. He wants you to live the good life... but first He has to re-define for you what the good life really is.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Your hormones, self preservation instinct, and ego are telling you one thing. Listening to and believing what God your Father tells you is the beginning of wisdom.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo4; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: 0.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Submission of material wealth before YHWH </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">- we show our honor toward God with our tithes, beyond what we practice generosity toward others using the blessings God gives us. Godly wisdom understands our material wealth will only be ours for a short time. We can use it in a way that builds in us the mind of God... which is generous, compassionate and wants to build others up.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">We may think that being wise with our money means being a shrewd investor but Godly wisdom understands that building everlasting character is truly being wise with our money. God's purpose in blessing us is not so we can enjoy being rich, but that we might grow in Godly wisdom. Honor God with your possessions.</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo4; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: 0.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt; font-weight: bold;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Patient acceptance of discipline from YHWH - </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">discipline is different from punishment. The sense here is of training. We tend to think of unpleasant events as punishment... why is this happening to me?... what have I done to deserve this? Godly wisdom helps us see the same events in a different light... as training from a Father who loves us so that we can become something truly wonderful and everlasting. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Proverbs 3:13-18 </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Wisdom is a </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Change of Perspective: Building What Lasts</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Godly wisdom is better than money... God tells you it will give you a better payback for your investment than silver or gold. God tells you that it is more beautiful and pleasing than fine possessions like jewelry. Plus, its something you can take with you when you die.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Godly wisdom can make your life joyful and pleasant. Don</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">’t</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;look at God's way of life and see only the doors that are closed off to you... "don't go there", </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">“can’t do that”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">... Be wise and consider all the doors that are open to you... some doors which you didn't even know were there before God brought them to your attention. Doors that lead to </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">shalom</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Finally, Godly wisdom is like the tree of life (vs.18). Developing the mind... the perspective... the attitudes of God are pathway leading out of the curse of death... so you might eat of the tree of life. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Proverbs 3:19-20 Wisdom &amp; Creation</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God tells us that the wisdom He is offering is the wisdom upon which the world, the universe, reality, and life itself is built. Think about that...</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The principles and approach to life God presents to you in His word are a revelation, a pulling back of the curtain, a glimpse of how life everlasting is actually lived. Its priorities are different, its attitudes are different, its perspective is different. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Much of what folks experience right now is built on lies.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Survival of the fittest... whoever gets the most toys wins... what the flesh desires is natural and therefore good... Each of these is carefully crafted lie or distortion. You truly are living in the Matrix!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Proverbs 3:21-26 What The Father Wants For You</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Personal security and freedom from anxiety... every loving parent</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">s desire for their child.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God does not promise that your life will never have trials, tests, or adversity... but He does promise that He will provide you with a way out. Often times this means physical deliverance. Sometime it means setting our eyes upon the promised path of resurrection, glory, and access to that tree of everlasting life. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">You might have street smarts… You might have common sense… You might have people skills... But there are times when even the best practices of all these are not enough without God's intervention and protection.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom is faith and confidence in His power to deliver you from death.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Proverbs 3:27-30 </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Godly Wisdom is Helpfulness</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;&amp; </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Goodwill</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo5; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom means to do good when the opportunity presents itself</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo5; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom does not hold back</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo5; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom means to treat our neighbor with dignity and respect. He is protected from any harm from us because we are people of integrity and truth. We are not looking for ways to get the better of him. What a different world it would be.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo5; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">4.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Godly wisdom is careful with words .</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Proverbs 3:31-35</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;Godly Wisdom is not Envious</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">One of the big questions of those who look to God is: Why do the wicked prosper?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Why is THAT person wealthy... why do people admire HER... aren't riches and honor the blessings God grants to the wise? What about me?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God expects and acknowledges that you are going to have envious thoughts toward people who get ahead by breaking the rules. People who are rewarded for ungodly boldness, violence, or deceit.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God let's you in on a secret. He lets you tap into His wisdom. God tells you what He really thinks about what He sees people doing to themselves and to one another:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo6; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">He detests those who do such things: but He will talk with you and cause you to grow in wisdom</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo6; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">He curses people who walk that way: but He will bless your life with fruits of wisdom, tranquility, wholeness, security… </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">shalom</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo6; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">He laughs at them: but he will smile upon you</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 21.0000pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo6; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">l&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">When you rise up in the resurrection you will inherit glory… the fullness of inheritance and son-ship in the family of God will be yours.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">When they rise up in the resurrection they will be ashamed of themselves as the reality of God and His wisdom is displayed to them. When the curtain is pulled back. Some might say </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">“ we didn’t know, God never told us, so its not our fault its His. But </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God says that His wisdom is available to all through the witness of creation... by observing how the world works:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Many have come to the conclusion that humility leads to more satisfying results than pride</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Many have come to the conclusion that greed leads to emptiness while generosity leads to a fuller richer life. They can see this by observing the results.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Many have realized that relentlessly pursuing satisfaction of bodily desires [food, sex, drugs, alcohol] is vastly inferior to a life of self control. They see the results. But all too often such lessons are learned too late or after the damage is already done.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">To whatever measure people perceive and live by these nuggets of wisdom they are blessed with good fruit. Some will have far less to be ashamed of in the resurrection than others. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">The Completeness of God</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">’s Wisdom</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">You however are a different case. God has called out to you as a Father. For whatever reason He has called you near and opened up the completeness of His wisdom to you. Wisdom that is the basis for life everlasting... You do not have to strain for little nuggets here and there... you do not have to learn the hard way... God your Father is offering you access to all wisdom… now.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">He says to you "ask for wisdom and it will be given to you"</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Seek for wisdom and you will find it.. this is God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s will for you.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/aPYuArnQ9wQ" 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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Does Tithing Only Apply To Agricultural Produce?
<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/-p5HXOTYdkiw/W-BukYCX2HI/AAAAAAAABAI/s-k72dBcmk8tSuvzbMN45Q34iXqgv5CeACLcBGAs/s1600/megan-hodges-96122-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://4.bp.blogspot.com/-p5HXOTYdkiw/W-BukYCX2HI/AAAAAAAABAI/s-k72dBcmk8tSuvzbMN45Q34iXqgv5CeACLcBGAs/s320/megan-hodges-96122-unsplash.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Tithing is a physical discipline intended to teach spiritual &nbsp;principles: one of these spiritual principles is understanding that our physical possessions are not our own. Every piece of land, every animal, every plant belongs to God who created them</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">, </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Psalm 50:10-12</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">. He has given human beings control over all the earth's resources</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;[have dominion, rule over etc]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">... but God retains ownership [refer to handout]</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span> <span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;;"><span style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: , &quot;georgia&quot; , serif;">The handout referred to is a listing of scriptures. Here is a link to the sheet&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.ucg.org/files/sermons/all_things_belong_to_god.docx" rel="nofollow" style="-webkit-text-stroke: 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0); background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: #346593; font-family: minion-pro, Georgia, serif; line-height: inherit;">https://www.ucg.org/files/sermons/all_things_belong_to_god.docx</a></span><br /><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Tithing In the Old Covenant</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">When God acted to establish Israel as a nation on the world scene He gave them the land of Canaan. The territory belonged to God. He took it from its previous tenants and granted full use of its resources and bounty to Israel </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 4:1</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. This gift of land was formalized in a covenant agreement between Himself and Israel [commonly called the old covenant or Mt. Sinai covenant]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Within Go</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s covenant with Israel He gave </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;instructions regarding tithes and first fruits </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Leviticus 27:30-32</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;or </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 14:22</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. The physical act of tithing was meant to acknowledge basic spiritual and eternal truths.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The people were to always offer a small percentage from the increase of their crops and herds back to God. This act would serve as a reminder that God was the true owner of these lands, plants, and animals. Even though Israel was given complete control over the resources of Canaan, God retained ownership </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Leviticus 25:23</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;&nbsp;tithes could be likened to rent paid by tenants. These offerings to God [the true owner] were to come first, after which, Israel could use the remaining portion as they chose </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 26:1-15, Leviticus 19:23-25</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Some read these instructions and say they only itemize agricultural produce. The self serving conclusion drawn is that agricultural products are the only items subject to the tithe. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Does this mean people who made their living at a trade such as carpenter, or an accountant, didn't tithe?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">The Economy of Israel</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God's part in the covenant with Israel was a grant of land. Which He subsequently fulfilled. God also would provide blessings of good weather for crops and protection from invaders who wanted to take the land away from them. &nbsp;The covenant picture of Israel was built on a foundation of all the good things this land would produce. The land would allow them to raise crops and herds. But is that meant to be the limit of items to offer a tithe from?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Re-read Leviticus 27:30, it starts off saying </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">“</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">all the tithe of the land</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">”, then lists grain, fruit and herds as examples.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;Suppose a man of Israel was given a piece of land which had deposits of tin, copper, or gold which he then mines, shouldn't he first acknowledge God's prior claims to ownership with a tithe? </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Haggai 2:8</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">What about processed goods that are not direct products of the field or herd but rather products created by human ingenuity derived from those crops or animals? For example: wine, oil, leather goods, or dairy. Note: tithing on oil and wine are specifically addressed in </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 14:23</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The covenant language does not make specific reference to eggs, milk, or cheese, but shouldn't these be tithed upon as wealth gained from the land in the same way as wine and oil? What about textiles derived from sheep's wool or cotton plants? The language of the covenant was intended to provide a principle to be applied in all areas of life rather than a complete, exhaustive, 4,000 page listing of items subject to tithe. The principle was that Israel should offer up a tithe of all the wealth they were able to generate as a result of controlling the land.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">God also told Israel that He was the one who gave them the power to "get wealth" </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Deuteronomy 8:18</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. The carpenter receives the power he has to swing a hammer from God. The accountant has the wit and understanding to tally numbers from God. Shouldn't they too acknowledge that God has given him the power to gain wealth?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Biblical</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">&nbsp;Example of Tithing </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Outside The Sinai Covenant</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Tithing was a practice long before the introduction of God's covenant with Israel. We have a biblical record of tithing at least &nbsp;430 years before God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">covenant with Israel </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Genesis 14:16-20</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">. Abraham, the father of the faithful, offered a tithe to God by giving it to the high priest Melchizedek.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The items of which Abraham offered a tithe were not agricultural, they consisted of a wide variety of stuff he was able to recapture from the kings of Shinar return to the people of Sodom, </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">“all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah verse </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">11… I.e. moveable wealth, riches, stuff.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">When Abraham came before Melchizedek to offer this tithe, Melchizedek spoke a blessing. This blessing pointed to the key spiritual principles of tithing later to be found in God's covenant with Israel:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">First, God is acknowledged as the owner of all things in heaven and on earth</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Second, God is acknowledged as the one who had given the person offering the tithe the power to get the goods he had </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">“</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">who delivered your enemies into your hand</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Abraham then gave Melchizedek, the high priest of God, a tenth of everything he had gained in the rescue operation. The physical act of giving the tithe provided a witness to the underlying spiritual principle at hand which Abraham knew and wished to acknowledge.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Genesis 28:20-22</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;offers another biblical reference to tithing long before the covenant with Israel. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, vows to faithfully tithe to God!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jacob had been sent to a distant land by his father Isaac to find a suitable wife, but probably also to keep away from his brother Esau who wanted to kill him. One night during his journey Jacob encountered the reality of God during his sleep. Jacob was profoundly moved by the experience and vowed to become a dedicated man of God. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The physical act Jacob intended to do as a sign of this spiritual awakening and new found commitment to God was to tithe! Jacob vowed to return to God a full tenth of ALL that God gave him. At this stage of his sojourn Jacob could only assume he would be a wage earner until he saved enough money to buy his own land and animals. Yet, Jacob vowed to give a full tenth of ALL he received from God. This would include whatever wages he earned until he could afford fields and animals of his own.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jacob's vow also addressed the spiritual realities the physical act of tithing represented. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jacob acknowledged that God would provide for him, they were God's to give since God owned all things in heaven and on earth</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jacob's act of tithing would serve as a confirmation of his personal dedication to God; He would acknowledge YHWH as the true Creator and owner of all things</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo2; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Jacob's tithe would go to support God's house [symbolized by the rock]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Not only the act, but an understanding of the spiritual realities behind the physical discipline of tithing was already in place long before the covenant at Sinai between God and Israel.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Abraham, the father of the faithful, understood tithing to include everything he gained by the skill of his hands. His faithfulness in tithing was not limited to crops and animals. Jacob, the father of all Israel, understood his tithing commitment to encompass ALL that God gave him and was not limited to crops and animals. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Why Did Abraham Tithe?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Abraham believed God was WHO &amp; WHAT He said He was. &nbsp;Abraham believed YHWH was the Creator and owner of all things in heaven and on earth. He said </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">"</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth...</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">" [Genesis 14:22]. Abraham understood and believed this important spiritual reality.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Abraham also chose to express this faith by what he did. Abraham's faith was </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">active along with his works, and [his] faith was completed by his works</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">James 2:22-24</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Tithing was one of the ways Abraham expressed his faith. He chose to honor God with all his possessions.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">How Does Any of This This Matter Under The New Covenant?</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Scripture speaks of the covenant God made with Abraham as one based on the promise of God and the faith of Abraham. Galatians speaks of the new covenant as being built upon the principles of that original covenant God made with Abraham </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Galatians 3:7-9</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">430 later God made another covenant with the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. This covenant was in addition to, not in place of, the previous covenant with Abraham. The Mt. Sinai covenant was added as a temporary way to deal with sin so man might draw closer to God </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Galatians 3:15-19b</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">:</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">a system of sacrifice to atone for sin</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">a priesthood to act as intermediaries between a Holy God and unclean people</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">a clean and holy temple wherein God could be present with these unclean people and accept their sacrifices</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">That system lasted about 1,500 years starting around &nbsp;1440 BC. and was terminated in 33 AD. After which, a better way to deal with sin was provided... namely the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">When the Mt. Sinai covenant was terminated the older covenant God had previously made with Abraham over 4 centuries earlier was still valid and the NC is built on that foundation. The foundation of God's promise and the faith of Abraham. </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">A faith which expressed itself through righteousness acts.</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br /><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Galatians 3:14</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">&nbsp;it is by this same faith that we receive God</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">’s promise. Under the New Covenant we do not have a promise of land, but a promise of His Holy Spirit, a down payment of life everlasting.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Walk as Abraham Walked</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Genesis 26:5 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">The father of the faithful expressed his faith through what He did. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Of all that we have recorded of Abraham's doings... noteworthy among them is honoring God, the owner and possessor of all things, with a tithe. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">Galatians 3:29</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">John 8:39</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;">Conclusion: </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 13pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Tithing is among the works of righteousness God has set before you to do. So, do it in faith as Abraham did.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Tithing did not begin nor end with the covenant at Mt. Sinai.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Tithing is not a quirky old covenant law only related to agricultural produce.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;">Tithing is a way for the faithful and righteous to show honor toward God with all their possessions.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 11.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/7U0Wkk5rRK0" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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What You Can Do To Grow Your Faith
<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/-8z_HXqwJk4c/WUPzSuj4J4I/AAAAAAAAAec/LJpZFklrQssEa-jurymDk6OEI_Sed90bACLcBGAs/s1600/chrissie-kremer-259099.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1068" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8z_HXqwJk4c/WUPzSuj4J4I/AAAAAAAAAec/LJpZFklrQssEa-jurymDk6OEI_Sed90bACLcBGAs/s320/chrissie-kremer-259099.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><h2 class="western">At times life comes at you with all its force and you feel weak or inadequate... you can become discouraged and feel like you lack faith… “<i>if only I had faith I wouldn’t be afraid… I wouldn’t be overwhelmed</i>”.</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Does courage mean you experience no fear… or is courage standing firm even with a shaking hand. A quivering lip, or a racing heartbeat? Even the great heroes of faith struggled with trials and challenges… sometimes crying out to God with great anguish and despair. <i>What is God’s purpose in all this?</i></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 11:34 </b>out of weakness they became strong</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">They grew in faith as a result of the trials and tests they faced, not in spite of the trials <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> You will grow in faith through the trials and test you face. But its not the mere presence of a trial that grows faith… it’s the way you face it… with the active work of the holy spirit in you.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Timothy 3:12</b> We tend to think of persecution as Gestapo officers coming to arrest and drag people off to jail… but the meaning of the word <i>dioko</i> = chased after, harassed, troubled (same word in in verse 2:22). You could also be pursued by spiritual forces. You could have health issues, job issues, family issues.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Where do you go when you’ve got such trouble? <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>Go to God. Like the man said when Jesus told him anything was possible for those who believe “I believe, help me in my unbelief”! And Jesus gave him what he needed. He healed his son from possession by a demonic spirit.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus will not condemn you or turn you away when and if your faith falters… He will help you. Note: there were times when He said he could do nothing for certain people who had zero faith… but faith that is struggling, faith that is struggling with fear, doubt, anxiety… He is willing to help those who cry out “I have faith, help me in my lack of faith”!</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;">Christ wants you to participate in the process.</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus Christ is active and living in you through the power of the Holy Spirit working together with your spirit… bringing into the fullness of the mind and character of God. One of the great products of that active working of the Holy Spirit in you is FAITH.</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;">Grow in Faith</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Faith is the key to everything good and worthwhile. First and foremost it is through faith we receive God’s favor, His approval, which leads to resurrection at Christ’s return. </div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ask for it</b> – ask for greater and stronger faith in prayer. Ask for it often. It is God’s will that you grow in faith and He s glad to work with you to increase it. </div><ol type="a"><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Prayer is a vital part in our lifelong conversation with God… through it we express our concerns, our love, wisdom and understanding.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When we ask for wisdom in a trying situation are we not also asking for faith? To see and understand things as they really are?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You did not find God rather He has found you and made himself known to you… but once He has made himself known… He wants you to seek Him. And if you seek Him you will find Him… if you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul [Deut 4:29]</div></li></ol></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Interaction with His word – Romans 10:17</b></div><ol type="a"><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><u>HOW</u> - Regular bible reading on your own – direct interaction</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><u>HOW</u> - Christ has commissioned teachers within His church whose are to explain and fill out the meaning of God’s word. So you also interact with His word through hearing sound teaching and instruction. However, you are also responsible to know the scriptures yourself so you can check and verify the truth of what you are taught.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><u>WHY</u> - In its simplest form faith is believing God exists and can do what He promises. To know what God promises you need to read His word.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><u>WHY</u> - We also learn how He wants us to live &amp; think, what He is willing to do for us, examples of His interactions with humanity… which we can learn from, which provide inspiration etc. <b>Romans 15:4-5</b></div></li></ol></li><li><div style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Obey</b> – acting upon God’s commands is an expression of your faith. Faith is not bliss… faith is putting what we know to work. We will lose our way if we confuse faith with a desire for constant happiness, delight, ecstasy, or a seeking to be oblivious to the perils around us. </div><ol type="a"><li><div style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Obedience is powered by faith – put the word of God in your heart and in your mind so it can become your way of thinking and acting… powered by faith in the one who gave you this word.</div></li><li><div style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>John 14:21-23</b> Jesus promises that any who obey Him will have a special bond with the Father</div></li><li><div style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You grasp the reality of His presence in your life through obedience</div></li></ol></li></ol><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You, or I, can say “I’m going to fully obey God”! </div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">… yet I know its impossible to do on my own. Scripture tells us that… but for most of us its also played out in bitter personal experience where we fall short of the glory of God. BUT… I go ahead anyhow… we step out in faith.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To the degree that you, or I, yield ourself to Christ living in us I am able to keep His commands. <b>Galatians 2:20</b></div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To yield I need to:</div><ol><li><div style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Believe that Christ is in me and truly acts [if Christ were sitting next to me would I do that?]</div></li><li><div style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Make an effort myself. Note: this effort of my own would never go anywhere without the help guidance and active work of Christ in me through the power of the Holy Spirit. But I must yield to that Spirit of Christ in me. If I do nothing He will not drag me against my will. I must willingly follow the lead of His Spirit. <b>Colossians 1:24-29</b>, Ephesians 1:18-20 </div></li></ol><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This is living faith… expressed in righteous works.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 15:5-6 </b>Abraham declared to be righteous through his faith</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>James 2:22</b> which then leads to obedience</div><h2 class="western">Faith &amp; Deeds</h2><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Think of playing catch with a little child. You [the parent] throw the ball to them… usually a soft little lob with a light ball. Then they respond by throwing it back to you. Wobbly at first then getting stronger as they do it over and over again. You move up to a harder ball, a further throw… etc. etc. The more you do it the stronger and better at it they get. <b>Romans 1:17</b></div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">All this requires a good understanding of His word… His commands, statutes, judgments, promises, prophecies, corrections, and examples from the lives of those who have gone before us.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This is how you can walk with God and grow in faith!</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Prayer <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> study/instruction <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span>obedience <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> repeat cycle. Faith increases with time. Sometimes in small incremental steps, sometimes in huge leaps [often associated with trial]. But it is a daily process. Don’t look down on those small incremental steps… they help prepare you for the huge leaps we sometimes have to make through trial and testing. [PRACTICE VS. GAME DAY]</div><h2 class="western">Everyone Who Has Faith Will Have Their Faith Tested</h2><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Peter 1:1-9</b> [word picture—gold does not oxidize]</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Trials and troubles are not pleasant… they are traumatic, frightening, painful. But they are the stuff that grows faith.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Your test may be health problems, finding a mate, a threat to your life, family, job problems. God knows how to test your faith. There is not one size that fits all… but He will do His perfect work in you.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Our Father Creator is kind and understanding of our weaknesses… but still expects us to move forward in faith. So, as part of your prayer for faith ask for wisdom… <i>open my eyes… help me to see and understand</i>. <b>James 1:2-5 </b></div><h2 class="western">Prepare Now For What May Lay Ahead</h2><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We cannot choose the time, or the manner, of our testing… so prepare now. A life of prayer, God’s word, and humble obedience strengthen your faith in the good times so you may be better prepared when a time of testing comes.</div><h2 class="western">Hold on to the Promises of God</h2><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The present can seem dark and grim…but know the future is bright and filled with God’s glorious purpose. </div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The rule of Christ on earth…</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; text-indent: 0.5in;">A role for you to partake in it…</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: 0.5in;">A resurrection to eternal life for you…</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Those who have gone before us in faith have not yet received the promises they set their hopes on. Through faith they saw it and believed in the inevitability and sureness of it. So can you.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To inherit so great a future requires faith.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A life of Faith means we must step into… endure and persevere in difficult, uncomfortable, even threatening situations. At such times stay focused on the kingdom of God… </div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 11:39-12:2</b></div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>We make our stand based on the word of God <b>1 Peter 1:23-25</b> </div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For those who seek first and foremost the kingdom of God there is great reward. In the meantime while we persevere and endure He offers us comfort. We get that through His word… but He does not leave us alone with only a book to read… He gives us one another… so that through Christ living and active in you comfort is given to others.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Corinthians 1:3-5 </b></div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The English word comfort is ok but it limits the scope of what is being considered here. The word is <i>paraklesis</i>. It’s the same word Jesus used when He spoke to the disciples about the workings of the Holy Spirit which was to come after He was executed. He called the Spirit… the comforter (KJV), helper (NKJV), advocate (NIV). In our day and language “<i>comforting someone</i>” conjures up images of being tucked up in a cozy blanket with a warm mug of chicken soup. And sometimes that might be part of the work of the Holy Spirit. But…</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Paraklesis</b> [ie. comfort] is a calling, a summons, exhortation, encouragement… cheering one another on, admonition [authoritative counsel, warning], consolation, refreshing of the thoughts and emotions, persuasion, and a call to action. </div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">It is for theses things that our Father wants us to spend time with one another. Let’s make sure not to neglect His will in the good times so that we are able to do this good work in the bad times.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 </b><i>paraklesis</i> one another</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Not everyone is call to the understanding and future that God has called you to. The time to put this calling to action is now.</div><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Grow now in all the good things of faith so you are prepared for the days ahead.</div><br /><div class="western" style="background: #ffffff; line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/GVItY3PD5uw" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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You Need The Faith Of Jesus Christ
<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/-EimT7sXbSVg/WUP3OfY2R6I/AAAAAAAAAeo/7XtpMxLutiISkAOKKa-A5OvT6SbFP--hQCLcBGAs/s1600/rachael-crowe-94006.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="213" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-EimT7sXbSVg/WUP3OfY2R6I/AAAAAAAAAeo/7XtpMxLutiISkAOKKa-A5OvT6SbFP--hQCLcBGAs/s320/rachael-crowe-94006.jpg" width="320" /></span></a></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">God’s word contains the record of many people’s lives, their challenges, their failings, and their faith. The record is not so much an example of good people doing good things as it is people overcoming themselves and learning to have trust and confidence in God. Abraham, who is called the father of the faithful, David who was a man after God’s own heart, Daniel who was deeply loved [precious].</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">You could look at such heroes of faith and conclude they are in a special category… “their example doesn’t apply to me”. You might assume they were so spiritually strong that the faith needed to get them through their trials came easily… that it just flowed naturally. You could say, “that was them, it will never be me”.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">But you can have faith like that. </span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">You can have the faith of Jesus Christ Himself</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">I’m not talking about having faith IN Jesus Christ… I’m talking about having the faith that Christ had [what English Bibles used to call the faith OF Christ]. The faith that got Him through His trials, difficulties, and tests… yes, He had trials and troubles… He didn’t go through His flesh and blood life floating 2 inches off the ground with a golden glow around His head.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Hebrews chapter 11 is a sort of Hall of Fame for faith. Read it and you’ll see Abraham gets a lot of attention and elsewhere he is spoken of as the father of the faithful. </span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">But the greatest example of faith was Jesus. </span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Hebrews chapter 11 ends after 40 verses… then chapter 12 starts [naturally]. But the beginning of chapter 12 is really the end of our Hall of Fame for faith. The grand finale of the heroes of faith is Jesus.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Hebrews 12:1-2 </b>Jesus is described as the author and perfecter of your faith, meaning He is the one who creates faith in your heart and mind [author]. He is the one who brings it to the point of fullness or completeness [perfecter]. The verse also points out his greatest trial… being executed, dying to pay the penalty… for you.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Jesus was faithful in that He did what the Father wanted Him to do:</span></div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Gave His life to redeem others</span></div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">As He said of Himself “ I have kept my Father’s commandments”</span></div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">For you to have the faith that Jesus had… the faith OF Christ… means that you live your life like He did. You present your self to God as a living sacrifices holy and blameless… live a life of righteousness practicing judgment and mercy… keep His commands and let them be written on your heart and mind with greater depth and understanding.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">That is what scripture means when it says the righteousness that comes by faith <b>Philippians 3:9</b>. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Note: Here is an example of what English bibles used to call the <i>faith OF Christ</i>. Modern translations [NKJV included] now translate this <i>faith IN Christ</i>. Implying that simply believing Jesus was who He said He was and believing He sacrificed Himself as a payment for your sins now counts as the righteousness God is going to evaluate you by.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Head knowledge and emotions are not the criteria for your final assessment by God!</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Galatians 2:16</b>here’s another one… the verse actually uses both wordings first is mentions the faith OF Christ… then it says we also have faith IN Christ [there are two different grammatical constructions side by side]. Which is exactly how it works. You need the head knowledge [belief IN Christ] AND you need the living active faith [belief OF Christ]. You need both in order to be justified [declared righteous] in God’s eyes.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Paul’s making a parallel between the two. But modern translators have made both phrases the same which renders the sentence into nonsense. [He’s not just repeating himself, we are justified by faith in Christ plus we’re justified by faith in Christ]</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The phrase “faith of Christ” in verses like this is telling you is that you can be declared/made righteous through Christ’s own faith being implanted in you through the power of the Holy Spirit… the power of God in you… the power of Christ in you… or Christ living in you. These are just different ways of saying the same thing.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Galatians 2:20 </b>at the tail end of this section of teaching the older traditional translation “faith OF the Son of Man” makes more sense. The context adds weight to this conclusion. Paul is talking about Christ living in him, the active living faith Jesus had… active and living in Paul… the faith of Christ.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Jesus lived His flesh and blood life filled with faith and perfect obedience to His Father’s will and commands. Now… today… through the power of the Holy Spirit He will plant that faith in you… like a seed… so it can grow to become strong and powerful in you [like a mustard seed that grows into a mighty bush].</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Two Erroneous Conclusions</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">At this point its possible to get the wrong idea. First, that Jesus puts His own faith in you in place of… or as a replacement for, your own inadequate faith. This can lead to belief that there is nothing more you need to do. Christ does it all for you.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Another equally wrong idea is that Christ is working in you to strengthen your inadequate faith. To make it stronger and stronger until it reaches His own level, or at least a level that is adequate for God’s purposes. Sounds good but still misses the mark.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">You receive a measure of Christ’s own faith as a gift from God through the power of His Holy Spirit. This is a measure of the actual living faith of Jesus Christ at work within you. Remember from previous messages that you are created in the likeness of God, you have a spiritual component in you [the spirit in man]. <b>Romans 8:16 </b>God’s spirit works with your spirit throughout the course of your life to bring about something totally new. A new creation, a new person, born again… like the two different sets of chromosomes that came together to form YOU… some from your mother and some from your father. but that is a different message.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Faith is a product of the spirit [a fruit of the spirit, what the Holy Spirit brings forth]. Jesus faith works together with your faith. Not just His faith given as a substitute for yours. Not just your faith grown up big and strong… its something different, a new creation! </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">John 14:23</span></b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">I Corinthians 3:16</span></b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>I John 3:24</b>anyone could say “the spirit of God is in me”. How would you know if that is true or not? To the law and the testimony… is that life in conformity to the boundaries provided by God’s commandments… Is it all a dream? Is it all in my head? NO. To answer that question we have [and still need] a written code… carved in stone… or written on paper… provided by God. With it we can check and verify what’s going on within us against something concrete that exists outside our own thoughts, emotions, and subjective experiences.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Test the spirit… hold fast to what is good [read John 4:1]</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Paul writes: Do not quench the spirit and let its fire go out… Do not despise and consider the written teachings of no value… <u>test</u> and <u>prove</u>everything… hold on to what is good.</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>Jesus Christ Actually Lives in You</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The holy spirit in you, Jesus living in you, the presence of God… these are all different ways of saying the same thing. His thoughts and actions impact, influence, and direct your thoughts and actions… to the extent that you let Him. </span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">In this manner you can live like Jesus did… exhibiting His character, following His pattern of faith… and He will actively intervene… empower and assist</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Galatians 5:22</b>faith is one of the fruits of the spirit… there are others Christ wants to build in us also</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Romans 12:3</b>we receive faith not as an all or nothing brain dump… we are given a measure</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>1 Corinthians 12:9</b> the amount of faith given is unique to the individual… not one size fits all</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>1 John 5:4</b>our success in growing into the fullness of Christ is accomplished through faith but also is faith.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">Ask God To Increase Your Faith</span></h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">I have an assignment for you, a takeaway, a call to action: Ask God to increase your faith.</span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Mark 9:24 </b>cry out, I have faith! Please grow and build the faith of Christ in me!</span></div><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><b>Luke 17:5</b>thank you for the small seed of faith your have given… help it to grow in me to be a strong and mighty tree.</span></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/PCC96vyLjCI" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Active Living Faith
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The end times… the end of the age… the days when Christ returns… we think of mighty armies at war, horrible religious repression, greed, violence, arrogance and so forth. Have you ever thought of <u>faith</u>as an issue related to the end times?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Luke 18:8</b> Jesus positions faith as a question for the end times… when He returns. His question Jesus asks you to think about the possible answers. What is the answer? Yes or No? Are we close to that end time? If so, what do we see? What would faith look like?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">If you consider faith as simply belief in any entity; a body of teachings, an institution, or perhaps even a person, then on you could argue people show plenty of faith.</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">in all the various religious dogmas out there [belief and confidence they have truth]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">in science &amp; technology [belief and confidence in observable data]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">in political ideologies [belief and confidence their way will work]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">in persons of fame and talent [belief and confidence the right person can get it done]</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Yet, all these objects of faith are fickle and with enough passage of time prove unreliable.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Our age also shows a great loss of faith… in marriage, in government, in the military, in journalism, in education… a loss of faith that truth even exists and is knowable… a loss of faith that there is meaning and purpose to life… a loss of faith in any kind of positive future.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Many people are turned off and tuned out… immersing themselves in alternate worlds of drugs, social media, entertainment, and sex. Our young are taught life is merely a series of highly personal choices and experiences, each person alone and adrift. Captain of your own ship… but going nowhere.</div><h2 class="western">The Faith We Need [You Need] is Active Living Faith</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sy2zWaMQtZM/WV0RL5JduEI/AAAAAAAAAgk/zxhmZwfyWWsG1KE-k4MtVFMz9EP2OGe3ACLcBGAs/s1600/banner_ActiveLiving.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="370" data-original-width="640" height="185" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sy2zWaMQtZM/WV0RL5JduEI/AAAAAAAAAgk/zxhmZwfyWWsG1KE-k4MtVFMz9EP2OGe3ACLcBGAs/s320/banner_ActiveLiving.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>Living faith is an active living trust in, and relationship with, your Father Creator. that is the faith we are here to learn more about. Living faith is not all in your head, or in your heart… its also in your hands and your feet. Living faith takes what you think and feel and puts it into action. Lets start with a simple example:</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in; margin-left: 0.25in;">Will you worship God YES/NO? If yes, then how does that become active and living...</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in; margin-left: 0.25in;">Will you worship God as He has instructed or as you please? Will you get up out of your sofa and come before Him at the time He has appointed?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">… to do as He has instructed, rather than how you please, is <u>active living</u> faith in God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Luke 18:1-8</b> another example of active living faith. Why is this active living faith? [answer: perseverance]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Was her confidence that the judge’s better self would eventually shine forth? No, the circumstances and situation indicated she would fail. The judge was unjust, he didn’t care about people. She won out through sheer endurance. How much more should we expect an answer to a request made to God the righteous judge in accordance with His will!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">God promises “I will answer”… at the right time and in the right way to get you to the point where you can achieve the fullness of your potential as a child of God. Have confidence that this is so! Have active living faith!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Question</b>: When the Son of Man comes… will He find people with active living faith?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">I started off listing things humanity commonly puts their faith in, science, politics, religious dogma, human goodness etc. The very idea of faith presupposes some ideal outcome, some goal, or end game.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Humans want to “feel good” or “be happy”. That future happiness usually takes place in a setting of prosperity, health, and peace [a setting without fear or worry]. We hear a lot about this goal of peace.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">People light candles for peace, they hold seminars for peace, they propose treaties for peace, they protest for peace… even beauty contestants tell us that what they want is world peace and an end to hunger. It seems like a universally desired outcome.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Imagine Miss Universe [as the representative of humanity, <i>Serena Strawman</i>] standing before God… “we want peace, and an end to world hunger”.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>God says</b>: ok, I’ll show you how to have world peace, but all of you have to do the stuff I tell you to do.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Serena</b>: like, what?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>God</b>: here’s the list of stuff</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Serena</b>: [reads list]… hmm, there are a few problems in here. Like item # 7… by that you mean no sex outside of marriage… I don’t see what that has to do with world peace. Can’t we just strike out a few of these items?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>God</b>: No, it doesn’t work that way. You have to buy into the whole program. TRUST ME</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Serena</b>: Your list isn’t quite what we had in mind… we sort of saw it as… no killing, justice, lots of personal freedom, people get to do what they want, pursuing personal happiness.. you know</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>God</b>: That won’t make you happy. That is not how I designed you to operate. TRUST ME</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Serena</b>: Why didn’t you just make us to work that way… like make us want the things that lead to peace?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>God</b>: I want you to think for yourself. I want you to choose what is good. I want you to be on my level.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Serena</b>: this list of stuff to do isn’t going to work. There has to be a different way.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>God</b>: There isn’t any other way. TRUST ME</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Serena</b>: Well, I think were going to try some other options. We’ve got some pretty good ideas of our own we want to explore. Your list has some real keepers on it… maybe we’ll use some of those in the mix.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>God</b>: You’re going to get mixed results. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>James 4:1-3</b> we want what God has to offer [peace, health, prosperity] but we don’t trust Him to show us how to get it. We want things our way. When Christ, the Son of Man, returns will He find faith? Will he find people actively living in faith?</div><h2 class="western">What is Faith?</h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LOdaxsXq2GM/WUP526gVebI/AAAAAAAAAe0/PHsCvniDI3Yk82kn5NgrAhsSJFehdNJ_wCLcBGAs/s1600/Dictionary.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="310" data-original-width="496" height="200" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LOdaxsXq2GM/WUP526gVebI/AAAAAAAAAe0/PHsCvniDI3Yk82kn5NgrAhsSJFehdNJ_wCLcBGAs/s320/Dictionary.png" width="320" /></a></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><br /></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Is faith an emotion? Is faith how I feel about myself and my standing with God? Is it more?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Romans 3:25,28 </b>faith begins in your mind and heart [your spirit]. You begin with a mental acceptance that you need your record cleared and that you can be cleared of all charges through the blood of Jesus Christ.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Once you have made peace with God the substance of your ongoing relationship with Him is faith. You learn and accept His plan for humans, and for you. You gain confidence that He wants good things for you. But you also move from merely believing <u><b>IN</b></u>God… to believing God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Romans 3:31 </b>you express faith through what you do. You uphold and follow His instructions. [from Strong’s <i>to uphold </i><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"><i></i></span><i>sustain the authority or force of anything</i>]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>James 2:14-19 </b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Satan and demons believe in the existence of God. They just don’t believe what God says and they won’t do it. They believe there is another way. But, God who made them, and made us, says there isn’t.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Many people on earth believe <u><b>IN</b></u> God, but do they believe God… do they trust He knows the way to peace, prosperity, healthy life, and happiness? </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">I’ll go further… Satan believes Jesus is who He said He was, the Son of God. Its no stretch to say Satan believes and accepts <u>the fact</u>of Jesus death… and that Satan gets the logic of how Jesus death can pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">So, believing those two things cannot be the sum total of faith?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Hebrews 11:6 </b>two elements of faith are itemized here: you must believe that God exists and that He is judge and rewarder. If you see injustice God will judge and reward. If you do wrong God will judge and reward. Plus, there is a third element: to seek out God… ACTION.</div><h2 class="western">Definition of Faith</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The word translated faith is <i>pistis</i>. In Greek it means a sense of conviction, that you have been persuaded, convinced, especially conviction based on hearing. So, faith can be understood as a feeling. It could also be understood as a collection of ideas that represent your personal creed. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">How the word [pistis] is used in scripture adds depth and dimension to our definition:</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Mark 1:14-15 </b>Acknowledgment of God’s revelation of truth</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>2 Thessalonians 2:11-12</b> a flawed set of teachings produces a flawed faith. To seek God is to seek the truth [Kingdom of God, New Covenant, Jesus’ sacrifice]. What we teach matters.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>John 1:12</b> personal surrender – I do not know the way to peace, prosperity, health, life, and happiness. I need you, my Father and Creator, to show me.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>2 Corinthians 5:7 </b>conduct inspired by such surrender. I am going to do the things you show me and I’m going to stick to it. Even if circumstances appear [by sight] to demand other options.</div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Faith… begins with thought. Acceptance that there is a living God, and acceptance of the truth He reveals to humanity. But real living faith is active and doing.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Real living faith changes minds [thoughts, emotions]… and faith changes how we live by changing what we do. Through faith we <u>uphold</u>God’s law, His instructions about how to attain all our hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of humanity… for peace, prosperity, life, and happiness.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">You can get all those things… when we <u>have</u> faith, and when we <u>live</u> in faith.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?</div><br /><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><br /><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/81vDHlxtJG0" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Church of God In Today's World
<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://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XM5Zc3SAQ3s/Wgh4jGdOK1I/AAAAAAAAAnI/h8QdAhnKUYsdYXBzBN1V3iv6KCQ2Gbp_QCLcBGAs/s1600/natalia-y-339474.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="900" data-original-width="1600" height="180" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XM5Zc3SAQ3s/Wgh4jGdOK1I/AAAAAAAAAnI/h8QdAhnKUYsdYXBzBN1V3iv6KCQ2Gbp_QCLcBGAs/s320/natalia-y-339474.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>Jesus promised He would establish an assembly of followers on a rock solid foundation and that assembly (church) would not die out. So, its reasonable to expect there to always be an assembly of His… active somewhere in this mixed up world. Can it be identified?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus also told us many imposters would come in His name, and they would lead many people astray. When they come before Him saying look what we did! His reply to them will be “<i>I never knew you. Get away from me you lawless people</i>”.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 7:20-27</b> in that same section of His teaching Jesus tells us we can know the true from the false. His church will be an assembly of people who “<i>do the will of the Father</i>”. That is the rock solid<br /><a name='more'></a>foundation.</div><h2 class="western">Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector Luke 18:9-14</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Pharisee is a man of obvious religious practice with an impressive list of good works. He tithes, he spurns injustice and immorality, he prays regularly, he fasts frequently, he is thankful to God for making him a righteous person.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The tax collector would have been a person despised by most people. Because of his profession people would naturally assume he was a greedy, corrupt, extortioner. Now consider how this man he sees himself. He sees his faults, how he appears in God’s sight, how much he has fallen short of God’s standards. With this realistic view of himself he seeks God’s forgiveness. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If you didn’t know what these men were thinking and praying, if all you could see was the clothes they wore and the badges of social standing they wore… you would probably make some superficial assumptions about which was most pleasing to God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But, Jesus uses the imaginative power of a parable to give you a God’s eye view of what the two men are thinking and praying:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">One is confident and self assured… convinced that his approach is correct… not examining his life for ways he needs to change but exalting himself before God.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The other comes before God, not expecting acceptance and praise, but asking forgiveness.</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">With this insight into their thoughts… which of these two would you imagine would be more willing to adjust his outlook, and his actions, to make the changes needed to please God… to really do His will?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Beyond the world of parables we don’t get to know what people really think, and pray, and feel. God does… God can enter into thought, mind, and feeling [1 Samuel 16:7 God looks into the heart]</div><h2 class="western">Paul Was a Real Live Pharisee</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Pharisee of the parable was a fiction. But Saul of Tarsus was a real Pharisee before his transformation into Paul an Appostleof Jesus Christ. What does Paul say?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Philippians 3:4-6</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 10:1-3</b> Paul says the religious Jews are fired up about God, <u>but</u>not according to proper understanding [<i>epignosis</i>]. Paul tells us part of their problem was they substituted their own ideas and religious practices in place of what God desires, or God’s will.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Timothy 1:12-13</b> super religious Paul, spoke evil of the church, did bodily harm to members of the church. Paul the Pharisee, and others like him, considered themselves righteous, zealously doing what they assumed was the work of God… Paul the Pharisee was sincere, but sincerely wrong. He says he did what he did because he did to not knowing any better, and did not believe the teaching of the Messiah. </div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #2f5496;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">People can be Very Religious But Lack Proper Understanding</span></span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Today, we live in a world where many know the general outline and purpose of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Enough to be dangerous… We live in a world where many read scripture regularly and sincerely… but not according to proper understanding [epignosis]. Most have been tricked into ignoring obedience to God’s commands… yet sincerely convinced they are somehow doing God’s will.</div><h2 class="western">God Gives Credit Where Credit Is Due</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">People, nations, cultures that have contact with God’s word, whether in small measure or large measure, have an advantage by that contact and interaction. Those who practice even a part of what God’s word says have an even greater advantage. However, if we mix our good with evil then your blessings for good will be mixed with cursings for evil.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Scripture says that even those who have <u>no access</u> to God’s word yet do some of the things that are found in the word… are considered to have done good <b>Romans 2:14-15</b>. They will have an advantage when they rise up in the second resurrection.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But why not receive <u>ALL </u>the blessings and promises God has in store by making every effort to do <u>ALL</u> that God has commanded? … to do God’s will.</div><h2 class="western">Develop a Right Understanding Of God’s Word &amp; Will</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Proper understanding come through the power of God’s Holy Spirit in you. But, for your own part, there are some important areas to good hard look at:</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What does scripture teach about keeping God’s commandments?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What does scripture teach about repentance and change?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What does scripture teach about the purpose and goal of human existence?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What is the real message regarding the kingdom of God?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What is the meaning and process of salvation?</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What is the truth concerning the church Jesus established?</div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If you are confused about any of these and want some answers, here’s what to do. Ask God for understanding in prayer. We can help, we can teach, guide, instruct… but you need the understanding that comes from God, His spirit, and His word. Ask Him for it.</div><h2 class="western">Finding God’s People</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We learned earlier that Jesus said His true followers will be people who do God’s will. Are there other identifying features?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>John 13:34-35</b> here’s another clue for finding the people of God among the crowd. Yet this too is covered by a veil of deception because we often approach it with incomplete and therefore un-biblical definitions of love.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>What is love? </b><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> accepting others as they are, seeking to live in peace and harmony with them, having empathy, giving them a little cash when they need it. If you go seeking the people of God with this definition in mind… you’re going to end up in some weird places.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">All those things matter and with a few minor tweaks fit within a biblical definition of love [see 1 Corinthians 13 for example]. But as a definition of love its incomplete. A biblical definition of love is built on the firm foundation of God’s commandments.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 John 5:2-3 </b>to love one another is to regulate our interactions with one another according to God’s commandments. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 13:9-10</b> love does not replace the commands. Full biblical, godly love is accomplished through doing the commands and building on top of them with the fruits of the spirit [1 Cor 13 , Gal 5:22]. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 22:36-40</b> this is not a revolutionary new concept never before revealed… Jesus is merely quoting OT verses [Deut 6:5, Lev 19:18].</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Treating others as God commands is love toward neighbor</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Treating God as He commands is love toward God</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s people will be an assembly of believers convicted through the power of the holy spirit to live differently. Convicted to actually do what God has commanded.</div><h2 class="western">The Church of God Will Be Filled With The Holy Spirit</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The power of the holy spirit makes living in Godly love possible. So… how does God go about dispensing His spirit? God gives His spirit to those who demonstrate a desire, a willingness, and a submission to changing… and conforming their life to His revealed will.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 2:38 </b>the ministry of Jesus Christ will instruct people to show evidence of their commitment to change and seek God’s will → then to be baptized → then to receive the holy spirit. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Believers accept the idea that they need to change, and that the change will take place within the guidelines of God’s commands. Otherwise, what does baptism really mean? The holy spirit would be like that river without any banks, flowing here and there with no forward movement or purpose… without banks to guide and channel it our river becomes a lake.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God does not give us His spirit to make us happy [its not spiritual Prozac or Zoloft]. God gives us His spirit so we might learn to do His will… so we might learn to live by His commandments… and build upon that with the other fruits of the spirit.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 19:1-5</b> Paul re-baptized folks who had previously been baptized but lacked sufficient knowledge and understanding of what God actually wanted them to submit to [note: what was lacking in this case was a clear understanding of the truth about the person of th Messiah]. They had been immersed in the water but not received the holy spirit until Paul had properly counselled and re-baptized them. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God wants us to know exactly what it is we are committing and converting to before He gives us His spirit. </div><h2 class="western">How Does This Affect Our Quest For The Church Jesus Established</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We live in a world where billions have been baptized but without a clear comprehension of:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">the need to change</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">the guidelines of what needs to change</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">a wide variety of false teachings on fundamental issues</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We live in a world where most are baptized into a wildly off-track understanding of God’s plan and purpose for humanity, without a clear understanding of the kingdom of God, not knowing the process of salvation. What exaclty have they been baptized into?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The great deception has gotten people to believe on Christ without understanding what it is He taught, what He practiced, or what He expects. Many in our world accept the idea of the bible being God’s word… while believing they can cross out the parts they don’t like about what it teaches. Worse yet, that humanity can substitute in our own ideas, or customs, and say they are of God. </div><h2 class="western">The Church of God Today...</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">… Must be people who believe, teach, and practice a change of heart regarding their previous disregard for God’s commands</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">… Must be people who’s way of thinking and acting is transformed by the baptism and the receipt of the holy spirit. Not without sin but committed to the ongoing process of conforming their lives in obedience to God</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">… Must be an assembly of people the living Jesus Christ uses to proclaim the truth of the kingdom of God, the truth about the family of God, the truth about eternal life</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">… Must be an assembly of people who wait in anticipation for a new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells… righteousness built on the foundation of the law, the prophets, and the apostles.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">… Must be an assembly of people awaiting Jesus Christ’s return and the role they will play in assisting Him bring true change and salvation to the earth and all its people</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To fulfill their mission and maintain the unity of the faith these people of God will somehow have to band together. They will probably form physical organizations to pursue the very spiritual goals itemized above. The COG cannot fulfill it purpose without some form of organization.</div><h2 class="western">Your Final Clue...</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Hebrews 10:24-25 </b><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"><b></b></span><b>Hebrews 4:9</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">There is a prophecy about the church of Jesus Christ in Revelation . The setting of the prophecy is just prior to the return of Christ at the end of this present age. It also provides a defining characteristic of the church…</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 12:17</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You might also like to request our free bible study aid&nbsp;<a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/p/how-should-we-understand-meaning-of.html">The Church Jesus Built</a>. It will help you find the answers you want from the pages of your own bible.<br /><br /><br /></div>We have created a 3 part sermon series to help you take a good look at this important subject:<br /><ol style="text-align: left;"><li><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-rise-of-lawlessness.html">The Rise of Lawlessness</a>&nbsp;transcript |&nbsp;<a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/listen-to-message-rise-of-lawlessness.html" target="_blank">podcast</a></li><li><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/falling-away-from-truth-begins.html">The Falling Away From The Truth Begins</a>&nbsp;transcript |&nbsp;<a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/listen-to-message-falling-away-from.html" target="_blank">podcast</a></li><li><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-church-of-god-in-todays-world.html">The Church of God in Today's World</a>&nbsp;transcript |&nbsp;<a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/listen-to-message-church-of-god-in.html" target="_blank">podcast</a></li></ol><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QIG2vA7Qvgs/WhQwxvomcaI/AAAAAAAAApM/_6TY20ds5_EKrrXLqhMGC5QQMl5os9JQQCEwYBhgL/s1600/The-Church-Jesus-Built.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="438" data-original-width="300" height="200" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QIG2vA7Qvgs/WhQwxvomcaI/AAAAAAAAApM/_6TY20ds5_EKrrXLqhMGC5QQMl5os9JQQCEwYBhgL/s200/The-Church-Jesus-Built.png" width="136" /></a>If you want to explore this subject as a personal study of your own, request a copy of&nbsp;<a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/p/how-should-we-understand-meaning-of.html">The Church Jesus Built&nbsp;</a>and start finding the answers in the pages of your own bible.<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/GUTLsNeWM48" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Falling Away From the Truth Begins
<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://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ne7E2FeZtQI/WfnWSmutA3I/AAAAAAAAAmg/UaP74IZpyVQ3KVTLrCEwwt-N-iCESrZ_gCLcBGAs/s1600/patrick-hendry-249303.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="266" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ne7E2FeZtQI/WfnWSmutA3I/AAAAAAAAAmg/UaP74IZpyVQ3KVTLrCEwwt-N-iCESrZ_gCLcBGAs/s400/patrick-hendry-249303.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><span style="color: #00000a;"><br /></span> <span style="color: #00000a;">It has been foretold that a mighty deception will settle like a veil over human history. The veil will cover and hide the truth of God… the whole world would be led astray, the truth will be hidden, the way will be narrow and few will find it, many would hear the call of the message but few would be chosen. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Doesn’t this seems contradictory to the accepted world history of a church, a religion, aggressively spreading and progressively growing over the centuries. Spreading and growing until it reached a </span><br /><a name='more'></a><span style="color: #00000a;">position of domination on our planet. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">What the word of God foretells and what history reports and records appear to be very different. The record of history is not up for dispute… so did the bible miss the mark? Did the word of God underestimate the power of the message and how it would spread across the planet?</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #00000a;">Prophecies of a Mighty &amp; Powerful Church</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>Revelation 4:1; 5:1-2, 5; 6:2 </b></span><span style="color: #00000a;">the 7 seals give us a foretelling of the general themes of human history from the time of Jesus death up to the time right before His 2</span><span style="color: #00000a;"><sup>nd</sup></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> coming. [provide chart of parallel to Matthew 24] </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">The first seal opened reveals a mighty figure riding a white horse wearing a crown of authority and rule. The white horse and rider certainly makes us think of Christ coming in great triumph </span><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>Revelation 19:11-16</b></span><span style="color: #00000a;">. But the rider released with the first seal in Revelation 6 is not Christ… but looks like Christ. Instead this rider is one who goes forth in the name of Christ to create confusion and deception. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">The coming Christ wears the mark of royal authority on his head… a diadem. The rider of the first seal wears only the wreath of victory [stephanos]. The false rider is indeed victorious… but he is no king of kings or lord of lords.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">The coming Christ of Revelation 19 wields the sword of God’s word to gain his victories. The rider of the first seal uses the bow, the military weapons of human warfare, subjugation and power.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">In Matthew 24:5 Jesus prophesied saying “</span><span style="color: #00000a;"><i>many will come in my name proclaiming ‘I am the Christ’ but will deceive many</i></span><span style="color: #00000a;">.” The prophecy of the 1</span><span style="color: #00000a;"><sup>st</sup></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> of the 7 seals tells of the same deception but reveals to us that this deception will actually prevail, and conquer. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Deception will be the winner and wear the wreath of victory. </span> </div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #00000a;">Where Did The Rider of the First Seal Come From?</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>2 Peter 2:1-3</b></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> the ride of deception begins in the Church of God… the very congregations formerly pastored by Peter, Paul, and John.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Note: Scripture predicts false teachings not only about ethical matters [sensual pleasure vs. the holiness of God], it foretells false teachings about the very nature of who and what Jesus Christ was and is. We are also told: </span><span style="color: #00000a;"><u>many</u></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> within the church will fall for it.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>1 John 2:18-19</b></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> a little over a decade later John reports that adversaries of Christ have risen up in the church. Sometimes they lead people off... presumably to create followings of their own. Sometimes they stay and later undermine the congregation they are part of.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>3 John 9-10 </b></span><span style="color: #00000a;">there is no specific indication of a doctrinal dispute. But John has written something Diotrephes does not want read or distributed in the congregation. Diotrephes even wants to put people siding with John out of the church congregation. Remember, John was an eye witness to the ministry of Jesus… but the church leader Diotrephes wanted to limit John’s influence in the church.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #00000a;">Church History Gets Murky After John’ Death…</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">If people like Diotrephes were getting the upper hand in local church congregations its plausible that true believers were losing control of the situation. Even to the point of getting forced out of their own congregations. Perhaps having to start up afresh somewhere else. Further and further to the fringes and then beyond the frontiers of the empire.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">In the meantime a new brand of christianity began expanding rapidly. I would guess it had enough of the true message of hope to attract new believers… but it also had the additional appeal of confirming to deeply entrenched human philosophies and ideas.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">After the death of John in the 90’s any written record of what was going on in the church gets murky and scarce. Its as if a dark cloak were spread over the church. Then about 150 years later the dark cloak is taken away… but what is then revealed is very different from the Church Jesus Himself established. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">One obscure example can be found of this period is found in the reference to Polycarp. He seems to be a true believer from Ephesus. Polycarp attended a sort of church council in 150 AD to discuss keeping Passover instead of the new easter celebration popular in Rome. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">The report from the original council was friendly and collegial [they agreed to disagree]… but by 193 AD Polycarp was kicked out of the church for his faithfulness to what had been passed along to him by John.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">By 250-300 AD the visible church was filled with controversy and doctrinal disputes. But those who held fast to the teachings of the apostles and Jesus had become a small minority pushed to the outermost fringes of the empire. By this time they no longer had a place at any of the church leadership meetings.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #00000a;">The White Rider Emerges From the Shadows</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">During the decades of the early 300’s Diocletian became emperor of the Roman state. He greatly intensified persecution on this new religion called christianity. Diocletian’s persecution involved the burning all books, scrolls, manuscripts related to the church. This may account for the absence of information about the years from 100 AD to 250 AD.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">For example, the reference to Polycarp is a quote found in Eusibius’ history of the church. Eusibias is quoting from and earlier record of church history written by Papius. All Papius’ writings were destroyed. All we have are quotations of his writing referenced in other books. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">After Diocletian there was a 10 year period of political turmoil in the empire. Various factions fought what amounted to a small scale civil war to have their man placed on the throne. When the dust settled a guy named Constantine came out on top. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">During those challenging years the christians had not taken sides politically and retained at least some form of uncompromised moral authority.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #00000a;">Constantine sees an opportunity!</span><span style="color: #00000a;"> </span> </h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Perhaps this unaffiliated but very popular religion could be used to unite the fractured society and culture of the empire. Constantine makes 2 executive actions:</span></div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Constantine legalizes christianity</span></div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">2 years later, Constantine presides over the first of several church councils to resolve major doctrinal disputes. </span> </div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; margin-left: 0.5in;"><br /><br /></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; margin-left: 0.5in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Note: to a man like Constantine such wrangling over words would only undermine the christian religion’s usefulness in bringing unity to the empire. Constantine himself presides over the meeting. He would provide the final judgment on which teachings would become the officially sanctioned doctrines of this church… backed up and enforced, if necessary, by police and military.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Constantine wasn’t even a believer, he wasn’t baptized, he still worshiped the mighty sun god. Constantine was a head of state looking for a way to provide social stability and unity for his empire. </span> </div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #00000a;">The Church Hits The Big Time!</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">In exchange for government support and sanction these leaders of the christian church allowed the government assume the role of deciding and enforcing doctrinal and administrative matters. With the support of Roman police, military, and financial resources a church presenting itself as the proclaimers of Christ would grow in power and influence.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">In the 400’s millions… all across the empire... began pouring into this church. Probably drawn more by the appeal of state sponsored religion than by any type of spiritual calling. History also records that these new converts never really gave up their pagan ideas and practices… strange rituals and folk celebrations… philosophies of immortality, heaven, hell, even the very idea of who and what God is.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Church leaders, who had themselves already accepted a lot of error, were simply unable to counteract these customs and superstitions. They baptized people </span><span style="color: #00000a;"><i>en masse</i></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> figuring they could sort out all the craziness later. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>What was the result?</b></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">State approved christianity was a strange mix of beliefs, practises, and customs from many sources. To this day it remains hard to tell where paganism ends and biblical truth begins.</span></div><h2 class="western"><span style="color: #00000a;">Jesus’ Message to the Church</span></h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Before the 1</span><span style="color: #00000a;"><sup>st</sup></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> seal is opened and the white rider is revealed, there comes a long message from the living and glorified Christ addressed to His church. Its written to 7 congregations in existence in the 90s when the revelation was recorded. The number 7 is most likely meant to be understood to signify completeness. The message was to be to the whole church and gave a full picture of the trends and divisions already beginning in the church at that time. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Trends and divisions that would become so great, it would result in 2 separate groups pursuing very different agendas.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">In His message, Christ makes note of obedience and disobedience… showing who He would bless and who He would reject. He offers praise where praise is due and criticism where criticism is due. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Christ compliments devoted members for their service, labor, patience, perseverance, endurance, and faith. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">His criticisms tell us a lot. </span> </div><ul><li> <div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">There is a wake up call to those who were spiritually weak, indifferent, and blind to their precarious and pathetic condition. </span> </div></li><li> <div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">He has very harsh words for false teachers: those who followed the doctrine of Balaam, the practises of the Nicolatians, and those gave in to the allure of Jezebel. </span> </div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>Revelation 2:18-29</b></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> “sexual immorality” covers all those who teach a misrepresentation of grace that encourages tacit permission to ignore God’s commands. “Food offered to idols” covers mixing false religious practises with true.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">The “deep things of Satan”… that subject would require a lot more time than we have available. In this category I would put the horribly misleading teachings about the immortality of the soul, lawlessness, and the nature of God. Clearly, Satan had infiltrated the church on a fundamental level promoting deep, thought provoking, but misleading ideas.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">While some were plumbing the depths of Satan…. There were others who not put up with those ideas and the people who promoted them. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>Revelation 2:2-3 </b></span><span style="color: #00000a;">in spite of Satan’s influence some remained strong and faithful</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>Revelation 3:8-12</b></span><span style="color: #00000a;"> the number of those who remained true and faithful was and is small</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">Christ’s message to the church at the close of the age calls out two distinct religious approaches emerged from the days of the original apostles. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> <span style="color: #00000a;">One that remains faithful to Christ… and teaches faithfulness to Christ.</span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">One that has become deluded… and teaches others that same delusion. </span> </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;"><b>Conclusion:</b></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><span style="color: #00000a;">A mighty deception has settled over the face of the earth. Most are fooled into believing this falsehood accurately represents the teaching of God through scripture. </span> <br /><span style="color: #00000a;"><br /></span><span style="color: #00000a;">Make it your goal to know the truth… and know that you know the truth.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><br />We have created a 3 part sermon series to help you take a good look at this important subject:<br /><ol style="text-align: left;"><li><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-rise-of-lawlessness.html">The Rise of Lawlessness</a>&nbsp;transcript |&nbsp;<a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/listen-to-message-rise-of-lawlessness.html" target="_blank">podcast</a></li><li><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/falling-away-from-truth-begins.html">The Falling Away From The Truth Begins</a>&nbsp;transcript |&nbsp;<a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/listen-to-message-falling-away-from.html" target="_blank">podcast</a></li><li><a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-church-of-god-in-todays-world.html">The Church of God in Today's World</a>&nbsp;transcript |&nbsp;<a href="https://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/2017/11/listen-to-message-church-of-god-in.html" target="_blank">podcast</a></li></ol><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QIG2vA7Qvgs/WhQwxvomcaI/AAAAAAAAApM/_6TY20ds5_EKrrXLqhMGC5QQMl5os9JQQCEwYBhgL/s1600/The-Church-Jesus-Built.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="438" data-original-width="300" height="200" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QIG2vA7Qvgs/WhQwxvomcaI/AAAAAAAAApM/_6TY20ds5_EKrrXLqhMGC5QQMl5os9JQQCEwYBhgL/s200/The-Church-Jesus-Built.png" width="136" /></a>If you want to explore this subject as a personal study of your own, request a copy of&nbsp;<a href="http://ucgraleigh.blogspot.com/p/how-should-we-understand-meaning-of.html">The Church Jesus Built&nbsp;</a>and start finding the answers in the pages of your own bible.<br /><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 17.28px; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><br /></div></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/VWaxiVPKHgI" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Winning Your Spiritual Battles!
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><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/-DcaBbHhUy10/W7zUcr7xlYI/AAAAAAAAA_o/AcL81p-Wp3kuvJ0kb0UmOB0WsRyE1xyugCLcBGAs/s1600/miguel-bruna-503098-unsplash2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="867" data-original-width="1600" height="216" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DcaBbHhUy10/W7zUcr7xlYI/AAAAAAAAA_o/AcL81p-Wp3kuvJ0kb0UmOB0WsRyE1xyugCLcBGAs/s400/miguel-bruna-503098-unsplash2.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Another cycle of God's festivals have come and gone. After the Feast of Tabernacles a new spiritual year begins.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">I always come away from the Feast of Tabernacles with a plans to make a few positive changes in my life. The 8 days I spend away from my routine and my stuff allow me to step outside of myself... make a few critical observations... rather like new years resolutions.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Most new years resolutions die after a short burst of application. Then folks slide back into the pattern of life they are most accustomed to. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">We love changing our hairstyles, fashion, TV shows, maybe we'll strike out in a new direction by growing a mustache. But, changing our ideas, our habits, is a different matter. We resist change on these... To admit we're wrong and to make necessary corrections... makes us feels foolish, insignificant, and threatens our notions of self worth.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">A great deal of human reasoning is put to work to resist real change... by justifying, rationalizing, and plain old "making excuses".</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">In the year that has passed we each received a lot of good information about eternal life, reward, and salvation. Resolve this year to be a Year of Change! Believe and act upon what you have heard!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">A New Beginning</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">2 Corinthians 13:5 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Has the past year brought you to see yourself more clearly? As you really are rather than how you wish to be or be seen? As God sees you?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Have you sized yourself up by means of His word? Have you seen how you have fallen short or the glory of God?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Are you ready to surrender those strongholds in your mind rather than protecting them like a mama bear with her cubs?</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Common Strongholds: </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">thoughts, music, substance abuse, perverted sex, occult, money matters, authority issues, psychological dysfunction (such as stress, anxiety, depression).</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Prevention is the best remedy... however, if a stronghold has already been established: </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Admit where you are: stop denial and self delusion ("its just entertainment", "I can stop anytime once I set my mind to it", "its not me its the system")</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Possibly share &nbsp;your situation with a trusted individual</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Seek help</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">4.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Change your environment (bad company ruins good morals)</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">5.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Set your will to do the right thing (you gotta exert some effort)</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">6.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Go to the source of the problem (what trigger gets you started)</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 21.2500pt; mso-char-indent-count: 0.0000; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; mso-para-margin-left: 0.0000gd; text-indent: -21.2500pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">7.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Bathe your mind in the word of God - (it provides the only objective standard against which you can measure your current situation, then measure your improvement, and keep you oriented toward the right goals)</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">God gives favor to the humble... humble people are willing to change. God wants change, change that's permanent with no turning back!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">G</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">ive Yourself To God Completely</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Live by every word of God. Make this your goal above all else: above family, friends, even your own life. </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Matthew 10:37-39</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">&nbsp;think of losing your life as letting go of those mental strongholds in your mind that are guarded, armed and ready to repel any intrusion by God. What good does it do you to hang on to what is temporary &nbsp;at the risk of that which is everlasting? Instead: "</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">seek first the kingdom of God</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">".</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Everything Begins With Change</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Jesus gave His life to pay the penalty for your sins. But you </span><u><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">access</span></u><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">&nbsp;the power of this salvation through a change of mind and thinking... "</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">repent and be baptized so your sins may be forgiven and you may receive the Holy Spirit</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">".</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The changing of mind and attitude does not end at the beginning. The active renewing of your mind after the pattern of Jesus Christ continues throughout your whole life.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Winning requires ongoing effort </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">1 Timothy 6:12; 1:18-19, 2 Timothy 2:3-4</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">A life successfully lived... is a battle won </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">2 Timothy 4:6-8</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Godly Change Means Doing Battle With 3 Deadly Enemies</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Yourself - your human nature</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The world - </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l1 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Satan - the accuser, tempter, and liar</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">1. </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Yourself</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Your flesh and blood mind has an instinct for reproduction and self preservation... neither of these is intrinsically bad. No one faults a moose for wanting to pass on his genes or putting his needs above others to preserve his own life. But God is not trying to prepare a moose for eternal life in the eternal family.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Human beings have a spiritual component built into them. This spirit is what sets us apart from animals. We are subject to a set of spiritual standards. They are not designed to suit the development, nurturing, and preservation of the flesh. These spiritual standards are </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">geared toward the development, nurturing and preservation of the spirit. God makes us aware of these standards through the revelation of His word and His Spirit.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">What's good for the flesh is not necessarily what is good for building the mind of God in this spiritual "work in progress" called human. Sometimes these two different sets of standard conflict </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Romans 8:5-7</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">. Self preservation has very different goals and priorities than outgoing concern for others. The flesh is going to resist putting another person's needs before your own... the spirit needs to exert itself and prevail.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The flesh is a battle ground for the spirit. A battle that tests and strengthens the spirit...that tests and strengthens right priorities.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">2 Corinthians 10:3-5</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">&nbsp;pulling apart and destroying all deceptive human reasoning and high falutin' thoughts</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">1.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">God wouldn't really want me to do without that</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">2.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">That rule doesn't apply to me in this instance because... (x)</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">3.&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">How could the vast majority of humanity be wrong on something so important etc, etc.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">2. The World - Culture, Society</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Galatians 1:4</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Most people in this present age either have not heard, not believed, or not completely accepted the set of spiritual standards for eternal living which God has made available. God is preparing only a small number of people in this age... He does this so that the larger work preparing all the rest of humanity [which takes place in the age to come] can be shared... God wants to have you work together with Him [like a Dad who wants to work on a project with his sons, even though he is perfectly capable of doing it all by himself].</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">This present age is a product of the human mind and caters to the human mind. Built on a foundation of seeking and providing material needs, self preservation, reproduction etc. [but with a perverted twist we'll discuss in a few minutes]. Matters are evaluated on criteria such as: beauty, wealth, and intellect.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">... and its deceptive.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Human minds are wired so when we see a large numbers [perhaps even the majority] of people acting or thinking in a certain way our human reasoning says "there must be something to it"... "it can't be all bad'. Its basically a survival mechanism, herding. But that means if the vast majority of people have wrong ideas about sex, money, authority, music, drugs, dabbling with the occult... your natural mind is going to stop, listen, give it some consideration as valid based on sheer numbers. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">This can strengthen those strongholds which are against Christ... and in some cases create new ones you hadn't even thought of on your own.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Beware of your friends, beware of your school teachers, beware of singers, beware of your TV, your news-feed, your co-workers... everyone. The only sure thing you have in this world is God's word, and even there you must beware of false interpretation, false teachers.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 18.0000pt; text-indent: 0.0000pt;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Q: </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Should I move to some remote desert where I can be safe from the negative influence of other people?</span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">&nbsp;No</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Physical separation from culture and society is not what God intends </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">John 17:15-18</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Que</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">stion </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">E</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">verything</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">!</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Question the world, friends, co-workers, celebrities. Question their values, question their motives.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Should you question God?</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">&nbsp;I think God is up to the challenge... if you know scripture you know that many times He lays down the challenge "prove me", "test me". If you do this with a willingness to believe you will get answers. If you pray for wisdom and understanding you will get answers.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">However, if you question God as a form of human reasoning... as a means to justify your bad behavior you will have accomplished nothing.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">It is God's desire that you become convinced in your own mind... that you see His way of thinking as the right way. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Don't Conform</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">!</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Romans 12:2</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">When you truly question the world and its ways... when you won't conform... people aren't going to like or appreciate what you are trying to accomplish [so, you think you're too good for us huh?] </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">1 Peter 4:3-4, John 15:18-20</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">How should you then respond </span><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Romans 12:20-21</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">3. Satan - The One Who Is Against You</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">1 Peter 5:8-9</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">God lets Satan roam the earth and put humanity to the test [but only as much as God allows]. Satan is going to feed you lies, he is going to to accuse you of weakness and demand that you be tested, he is going to throw tasty temptations in front of you to lure you into disobedience... and keep you there.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Winning the battle in the coming year won't be easy. But it can be won!</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">verse 10 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The Holy Spirit has been added to your mind so that you have the spiritual power to resist. It is there to remind you and of what is right and good.... it is there to point you in the right direction and prod you along. The Holy Spirit does not shield you from Satan's powers of suggestion... it helps you confront it.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">No one is forced to follow Satan's influence but to the unsuspecting his power is overwhelming. You however should not be unsuspecting... unless you're sitting there each week and not listening to what being taught. In the coming year those of us tasked with teaching, exhorting and correcting will do our part in reminding &nbsp;you of the lies, helping you address your weaknesses proactively [rather than waiting to be accused and tested], we will point out temptations to be resisted. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">#theresistance</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">Jesus gave us the playbook for confronting Satan and temptation: confront deception with the word, confront disobedience with humility and submission to God's instructions for life. Read Matthew 4.... Jesus confronted Satan with the word and with humility... and Satan had to retreat.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">James 4:6-7</span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">&nbsp;Satan has to retreat if you resist</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><h2><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Prepare </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Y</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">ourself for </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">B</span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">attle </span></b><b><span style="color: #4f81bd; font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Ephesians 6:10-12</span></b><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo4; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The breastplate of righteousness [obey the commandments, live the fruits of the spirit, do good works}</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo4; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The shield of faith [believe and have confidence that the battle is worth winning and can be won]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo4; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The helmet of salvation [keep yourself properly oriented toward what the real goals are, eternal life in the family of God, know and understand God's plan and purpose]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="15" style="margin-left: 36.0000pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo4; text-indent: -18.0000pt;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">·&nbsp;</span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">The sword of truth [the word of God, study it, do memory work, don't be passive]</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14pt;">Ephesians 6:18-20 </span></b><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">persevere in prayer</span><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;">You can overcome --&gt; You can win your personal battles --&gt; You can make the year ahead of us a year of victory!</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><span style="font-family: &quot;calibri&quot;; font-size: 14.0000pt;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><br />View this message on YouTube - <br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9GHpIScSgc">Winning Your Spiritual Battles!</a></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/ZfB4HBBzTOQ" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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