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

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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></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/yB5roIcsQ7g" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Marriage Is A Spiritual Relationship
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: left;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JY5EF-ytyy8/Wg9AOPbVH8I/AAAAAAAAAn8/6IP8D0nf7JIDaR8ay9xNot0WLpILWDslwCLcBGAs/s1600/matheus-ferrero-226809.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/-JY5EF-ytyy8/Wg9AOPbVH8I/AAAAAAAAAn8/6IP8D0nf7JIDaR8ay9xNot0WLpILWDslwCLcBGAs/s320/matheus-ferrero-226809.jpg" width="320" /></a>Human marriage reflects the spiritual relationship between Christ and the Church. Even though we live out our </div>marriages in the flesh, marriage is a spiritual relationship as much as it is a physical relationship… and it’s a relationship that is desirable and purposeful.<br /><h3 class="western">Has God Given Us Instructions to Follow For Marriage?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Or, are we left on our own to figure the rest of it out? Are we left wondering what God really intended? The answer is: God our creator has indeed given us sound instructions regarding marriage…<br /><a name='more'></a></div><h3 class="western">The First Marriage</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The importance of marriage in the bible is perhaps best seen in its placement in the book. After creation itself the bible begins with… a married couple. In the beginning God made two models in His own likeness or after His own kind. One was male and the other was female - <b>Gen 1:27</b> (note: the fact that they were different sexually but still both in God’s image tells us that sexuality or gender is not a factor in being made in God’s image).</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">God the creator gave the man and the woman the ability to reproduce through sex… “<i>be fruitful and increase in number</i>”! They had body parts that fit together in an obvious manner that made reproduction and increase happen. This is a truth from biology and creation that should be self evident. And what did God say about this self evident reality? He looked at what He had made and said “this is good” – <b>Gen 1:31</b>.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Sexuality is more than just having the right parts. It is the centerpiece of a relationship that takes place on a very high level… a God plane relationship… marriage between a man and a woman… which teaches us about the relationship of Christ and the Church… of which you are part.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Gen 2:18</b>Man was not designed to be alone… a man is designed to be with a woman. Likewise the woman was explicitly and specifically made to be a companion on his own level. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Regarding the word <i>help</i> or <i>helper</i>: it’s a translation of the Hebrew word <i>ay'-zer</i>, used 21 times in OT… mostly to describe God in action. For example: “We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield” <b>Ps 33:20 </b>… so its not necessarily conveying the sense of subordination we have in our common use of the word “helper” in the English language.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">I say this to emphasize the high level of the husband and wife relationship… the God plane level of this marriage relationship between two beings each made in the image of God. We will cover roles of male and female in marriage later on in the message.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Nor is this intended as a slam against single people. A single person can also be whole and complete. Jesus was single…. Paul drew out the spiritual significance of singleness in his epistles… but right now we are specifically discussing marriage.</div><h3 class="western">Where Do We Find The Most Important Biblical Teaching on Marriage?</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Gen 2:24-25</b>– once again its right here at the very beginning of the book. From this short verse we are going to find 4 fundamental concepts regarding marriage. Leaving/Joining/Oneness/Goodness/and then I am going to add another… Authority</div><h3 class="western">ONE: Leaving Your Father &amp; Mother… to Establish a New Family Unit</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Honoring your parents, closeness, seeking their advice is a good thing… and advisable. But, you two are a new family unit. The family you grew up in had their own way of doing things… but that does not mean your spouse will want to do things the same way. Their family had their own manners &amp; traditions which they likely see as equally valid. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">So, you must learn to work together, in harmony. Showing respect, honor, understanding and love toward each other. This sounds like something very simple like you learned in kindergarten… yet, it is a highly spiritual principle and one that reflects the relationship between Christ and the church.</div><h3 class="western">TWO: Joined &amp; United Together</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Another way to say it might be to bond together… other than bonding with God, bonding with your spouse should be your highest commitment and priority. We build that bond through actions… physical affection, hugs, kissing, affectionate and kind words, gifts, acts of service, spending time together, willingness to listen, showing humility in working out differences.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><i>Mention Love Languages Book</i></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">A common misconception is that love is an emotion… not so. Desire is an emotion but the love that desire leads to is actions. The truth is that loving relationships must be worked at, they require mental and physical effort. Love is care and consideration that is <u>shown to</u>, <u>done towards</u> the other person. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><i>Discuss James – faith and works etc.</i></div><h3 class="western">THREE: Oneness…. Become One Flesh</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>I Corinthians 7:3-5</b> A loving sexual relationship is central to successful marriage. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>What is sex?</b>Today people talk about human sexuality as nothing more than a necessary biological function... animals breathe / so do humans… animals eat / so do humans… animals have sex / so do humans… I want it, I need it, I’ll get it where I can.</div><h4 class="western">Human sex is different… Why would I say that? </h4><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">What makes sex more than a mere biological function when its humans men and women who are doing it?</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Only humans appear to engage in sex for pleasure outside of reproduction. In that way it is one of the means by which a man and a woman unite and bond their lives together as mentioned in point 2. Also, for human sex to be safe and secure for both parties it needs to be performed in an environment of faithfulness and loyalty… which only marriage provides… sex outside marriage is a minefield of disease and contamination… producing children outside of marriage is dangerous and often disastrous.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">As part of human reproduction sex within marriage is a special act that we are to hold in high esteem. It is the act that leads to the creation of a new being who also bears the image of God. In this way, becoming one flesh, we fulfill God’s desire that we produce Godly offspring. <b>Malachi 2:15</b></div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Human sex is the act that initiates new life after the likeness of God in the flesh that has the potential to become spirit life in the family of God… of the God kind. Note: It is not the sex act itself but the product of sexual activity, the godly offspring, that fulfills our physical part in God’s plan to reproduce Himself after His own kind on a spirit level… I say this because confusion along these lines leads the infinitely creative human mind to some very weird places.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Hebrews 13:4</b>Because of the role human sexuality has in God’s design for the universe it is to be treated as something honorable and kept pure. I think the element of purity introduced here is a NT reference to the OT teaching on clean and unclean, holiness and defilement… but it could also be a reference to purity in the sense of “unmixed with foreign elements”… for example “pure gold”… either way it is a state or status that human sexuality can only achieve within the boundaries of marriage according to God’s guidelines.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Likewise, the relationship of Christ and the Church is honorable, pure, faithful, loyal, safe and secure for those who are part of the assembly of God .And His desire is that we be as one with Him.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Caveat: sex outside of marriage also produces new life in the image of God. And that new life has the same potential for son-ship in the family of God as anyone. But a sexual relationship outside of marriage does not picture the relationship of Christ and the church. It is something completely different.</div><h3 class="western">FOUR: Not Ashamed</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Gen 2:25</b>the man and the woman were not ashamed of their nakedness when they were together. Sexuality was not and is not dirty, nasty, or degrading. The husband and wife should feel comfortable with each other’s bodies and with their respective femininity and masculinity. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The first man and the woman were alone… there was no potential for outsiders to look at them. So, their nakedness together is not an argument for public nudity as a more natural and Godly state… or a rationalization for boldly revealing your body to others.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">I don’t have any regulations for you on hemlines, necklines, heel heights, tightness or sheerness… I want you work that out for yourselves. But I do have some spiritual principles I want you to consider when you are working out your wardrobe.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Enticement &amp; temptation</b> – overly revealing clothing on both men and women is like an invitation to outsiders and strangers into that physical intimacy that should be only experienced in marriage. I understand this is conditioned by the setting… what is considered overly revealing here at a Sabbath service or at a public restaurant is different from what is considered overly revealing swimming at the beach. Use the wisdom God has given you and be willing to take counsel from the older generation in this regard.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Pride &amp; vanity</b> – I’ve heard more than once “my husband likes it when I dress like this, he wants me to look sexy”… “I want to look attractive and modern”… I am not going to offer you a psychoanalysis on what’s driving ideas like this all I ask is that you think about the motive and intent behind ideas like this and look honestly at your own intent.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>I Peter 3:1-7 </b>Modesty in how we reveal our bodies says a lot about us as a person. </div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">What is your level of respect for your own sexuality and its high level purpose in God’s plan</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">what is your level of respect for others not leading them into lust or ENVY,</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">What is your level of respect for God and His desire that sexuality be contained within a marriage relationship that is pure and set apart</div></li></ul><h3 class="western">FIVE: God Ordained Authority</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">As we have mentioned the marriage relationship teaches us about the relationship of Christ… AND the Church and Christ’s relationship to the church teaches us about marriage. Christ’s relationship to the church is a model of loving leadership and appropriate respect for the leader’s authority.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;"><b>Eph 5:22-33</b>the word love here is <i>agape</i>… the word for respect is <i>phobeo</i>meaning fear</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The way Jesus leads the church is the way husbands should lead their wives (and families). Jesus Christ is the model of selfless love toward you, commitment to you, attention to your needs, hearing you when you need to talk, and He always has your best interests at heart. A human leader like that would be easy to follow… wouldn’t he?</div><h3 class="western">The Response to Loving Leadership is Not Guaranteed</h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Would you treat a loving leader him as a pushover? Or would you respond with respect? I think some people would go for option 1 … for many people seem to take Christ’s love for granted and don’t respond with respect for His commands in return… </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">“Yeah but my husband isn’t like that… I’d start respecting him if he’d just shape up”. Women… you cannot withhold respect until he begins to act the way you want. Men… you cannot command that she submit while acting in a manner that is unloving.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Is that how Christ deals with the church? Is that how He deals with you as an individual? No</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The scriptures clearly teach that both in marriage and in life… each of us should do our part <u>even if the other person does not</u>. Individuals acting alone can positively influence a marriage partner… as we read in 1 Peter 3</div><h3 class="western">Why are men in charge? </h3><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Are women inferior? Is it a sexist or demeaning relationship for women? If women were in charge wouldn’t we be asking… Why are women in charge?</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">Consider this: somebody has to be in charge. If authority in the family were merit based then marriage would be a contest… a constant struggle for dominance and control… we’d be so obsessed about who’s in charge that we’d have little time to do all the other stuff we just talked about. </div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">The things that lead to harmony, love, oneness, loyalty affection and all the rest... putting on the mind of Christ.</div><div style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: 0.14in;">When Christ return He will have all authority. There will be no contest to see who’s the best or the most fit to lead… no politics or wars to settle the matter. Think about how much time and energy and pain goes into determining who’s in charge in human society. With Christ in charge we will have time to focus on actions that express love, harmony, respect, oneness, unity and so much more.</div><h3 style="text-align: left;">Conclusion:</h3>Your marriage if you determine in your heart and mind to follow God’s instructions for it… gives you the opportunity to start practicing all those things today.</div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/E6EGouWyXg4" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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God's Command and Instructions For Church Services
<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/-gRlAy-fsrT0/WiA2b7tVRnI/AAAAAAAAAqw/n0HGQMLxZSw4z0rsOxBwcvihi2SLww1iACLcBGAs/s1600/hnuhobuj7s4-ambitious-creative-co-rick-barrett.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/-gRlAy-fsrT0/WiA2b7tVRnI/AAAAAAAAAqw/n0HGQMLxZSw4z0rsOxBwcvihi2SLww1iACLcBGAs/s320/hnuhobuj7s4-ambitious-creative-co-rick-barrett.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>Many people think they can make it on their own... just them and God... "<i>I'm spiritual but not religious</i>", "<i>I love God but I don't like organized religion</i>". Yet God clearly intends His people to gather together. What do the scriptures say?<br /><br />We can start with a direct instruction on the matter from <b>Hebrews 10: 24-25</b> <i>And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near </i>[ESV].<br /><br />This simple statement from God's word implies a great deal... who should I gather together with? Where will we gather? How will we organize ourselves?<br /><br />We'll attempt to address these important question from the only reliable source we have... God's revealed word. You can listen to this audio presentation&nbsp;<i><b>God's Command and Instructions For Church Services</b></i> as a podcast on <a href="feed://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/united-church-of-god-raleigh/id1315758270%C2%A0" target="_blank">iTunes</a>, or <a href="https://play.google.com/music/podcasts/portal/#p:id=playpodcast/series&amp;a=125338960" target="_blank">Google Play,</a> or where ever you like to listen&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh" target="_blank">RSS Feed link</a></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/DA8b5qCGb50" 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.</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/5ge_brNIYvk" 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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The Rise of Lawlessness
<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/-6MxOmasKpC0/WfnT2oyVsUI/AAAAAAAAAmU/ms6tpCG0WukKH3YP2wY9bhrx7F9jZ7T1gCLcBGAs/s1600/83AF.tmp.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="639" data-original-width="1365" height="185" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6MxOmasKpC0/WfnT2oyVsUI/AAAAAAAAAmU/ms6tpCG0WukKH3YP2wY9bhrx7F9jZ7T1gCLcBGAs/s400/83AF.tmp.png" width="400" /></a></div><br />Over a billion people consider themselves christian. Most often they are born into it. The family may be church goers… they may live in a society where bible and church are cultural norms... perhaps christianity is the state religion. Current data tells us christianity is still the largest religious group on earth. Somewhere between 1-2 billion are loosely categorized, christian.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This vast group of people have a wide variety of divergent teachings, but have some core teachings in common. But what this vast majority believe and teach is very different from what the Church of <br /><a name='more'></a>God, and groups like the United Church of God teach.</div><h2 class="western">The Differences Go Way Beyond The Sabbath</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Keeping the 4<sup>th</sup> commandment instruction to observe a Sabbath rest each 7<sup>th</sup> day certainly makes us stick out in a very visible way. But the differences between the Church of God and the vast majority are more than what you see on the surface. Consider these 3 weighty questions:</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What is humanity? [immortal soul going to heaven or hell vs. finite being who must be raised to eternal life or remain permanently dead]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Who and what is God? [an expanding family vs. an unfathomable 3 sided box]</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">What does God expect of humanity? [must we do as God commands or may we make our own decisions about what commands are valid]</div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">On each of these points you will get a very different answer here than you will from the vast majority of christian churches that dominate the world scene.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">People and churches that believe and teach like the United Church of God are so small, so few. To the human mind’s way of reasoning you would expect that teachings with greater numbers of believers are more likely to be true. Might makes right.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 7:13, 21-23</b> [explain <i>anomia</i>] not everyone who accepts, proclaims, or teaches about Jesus is a true follower. Jesus Christ does not recognize those who practice, or teach, a “no-law” message… no matter what else they say or do in His name [either good or bad].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The teachings and the prophecies of Jesus indicate that something would appear that looks deceptively like a church representing Him. This church would dominate human affairs up to the very end, yet this it would be a misrepresentation of what He actually taught. They would come with a message of lawlessness. Jesus has warned you about it in advance.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 24:4-5 </b>people will come forth in the name of Jesus and proclaim Him to be the Christ or Messiah… yet lead large numbers of people astray [verses 11-12 tell you how]</div><h2 class="western">Where Do Most Christian Churches Get Their Teachings &amp; Practises?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You would assume they get their teachings from God’s own word. What they say sounds very biblesque. But if you go back to the 3 core teachings mentioned earlier, immortality of the soul, a triad of co-equal God beings, the place of God’s law in your life… what you are really hearing is human imagination and reasoning, human desires and goals, and doctrines of demons. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Scripture is then distorted and read out of context to comply with these human ideas and philosophies. It sounds very biblesque… yet teaches an approach to life, an understanding of God, and false hope that are simply not found in scripture. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">I believe this is a very serous way in which humanity violates the commandment that warns “do not use my name in ways that are false, empty, and worthless”? Don’t attach my name to your worthless ideas!</div><h2 class="western">What Are Churches Supposed To Teach?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 28:20 </b>we are to teach what Jesus taught</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 19:16-17</b> obedience to God’s commandments leads to eternal life</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This is the same message taught by the apostles and the Church of God!</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 1:15</b> teach the obedience that comes from faith [<b>Romans 3:31</b>]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Colossians 2:6-8 </b>stick with this and don’t be fooled by deceptive philosophy [human reason, human imagination and ideas]. </div><h2 class="western">Error, Confusion, and Deception Are Always At The Church’s Door</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Peter, Paul, John and others went forth filled with zeal, faith, and truth. The church of God grew rapidly and spread out all over the Roman empire. <u>Those were the days</u>! </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A golden age… you knew where you stood… church leaders could all be trusted… the teachings were undisputed… everyone marching shoulder to shoulder under a shining sun… Really?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Alas, that has never been the case. Read the epistles to the churches again. At all times error, confusion, and deception waited crouching at the door, creeping through the windows, desiring to overtake the church, demanding that we confront it and prevail. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 16:17-19 </b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Acts 20:29-31</b> Paul’s farewell the local leaders of the Ephesus congregation</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Titus 1:10-11 </b>[that’s why we need good teachers and leaders to pass along the true teachings verses 7-9]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The circumcision group Paul is referring to represents the first major battle against doctrinal error. The teaching that the Jewish religion was still the right way and had merely been purified and added to by Jesus Christ. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Apostles [especially Paul] had to spend a great deal of time explaining that much had indeed changed. Jesus Christ’s death had put and end to the era of the old covenant. The living Christ had now assumed the title, the role, and the functions of the high priest. With this change in the priesthood came a necessary change in the ordinances of sacrifice, temple service, and the civil authority of the levitical priests.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Paul’s explanations of how all this worked were grossly distorted and wrongly applied to the commandments themselves! The idea took root that obedience didn’t matter… what mattered was vague notions of spirituality.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Peter 2:18-21</b> Peter is talking about the church here [3:14-16 Paul’s words distorted]</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 John 3:4 </b>towards the end John tries to set the record straight</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 John 5:3 </b> teachers of lawlessness represent God’s holy commands as a burden. John seeks to set the record straight.</div><h2 class="western">Satan: Master of Deception</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The no-law concept enters the human imagination easily. Lawlessness appeals to human vanity, feelings of self importance, assumptions we have all the information needed to decide what is best for us. No-law also appeals to our pleasure centers. How can something that feels so good possibly be wrong?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 8:7 </b><span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"><b></b></span><b> 1 Corinthians 2:14</b></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Most people accept some of God’s laws… restrictions on murder, theft, adultery, respect for parents. These seems sensible ways to preserve our lives, our property, our families. But other laws like covetousness, no sex outside marriage, worshipping God when and how He instructs don’t seem so sensible to our human reason.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>James 2:8-11</b> God wants us to keep ALL His commands. Not just the ones we consider worthy.</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;">Lawlessness is also a teaching [or doctrine] of demons…</span></span></span></div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">”Eat from the tree, decide for yourself what laws you will keep or not keep… you know you want to”.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15</b> the great deceiver uses people to mislead people and redirect them away from the truth. This happens within the church as much as it does in the world at large. Notice that once again the scriptures are talking about people who represent themselves as working for Christ, ministers of righteousness… yet leading people astray.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Note: Paul is here addressing the original false teachings about circumcision here… but the same principle applies to the subsequent false teachings of no-law [lawlessness], non-biblical teachings about the immortal soul [which also go back to the serpent], and strange human philosophies and speculations about the nature of God[a different Jesus, a different hope, a different spirit].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1 Timothy 1:3-7 </b>here is an exhortation closer to the end of Paul’s ministry where he clearly targets this wider variety of false teachings.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The motive of human pride and vanity is addressed… “I want to be a teacher”, “I want to be considered your intellectual or spiritual superior”, “I know stuff you don’t know”. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The vast pool of churches presenting themselves as: Christ centered and bible based, may sincerely believe what they teach… but on many, if not most, of the core teachings of God’s truth they are sincerely mistaken.</div><h2 class="western">Lawlessness in Prophecy</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Thessalonians 2:7 </b>the no-law deceptions were at play in the church from the very beginning but also have a place in end-time prophecy.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Lawlessness is to be kept on a short leash until the end time [the restraining force here is God Himself acting through angels assigned to nations and to the church(es)]. If lawlessness among humanity were not restrained we would probably destroy ourselves long before the time appointed by God for Christ’s return.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Thessalonians 2:8-11</b> toward the time of the end all restraint on lawlessness will be removed.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 24:11-12</b> Lawlessness in the end time increases</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Disobedience appeals to human nature, vanity, self importance. Satan exploits this and uses it to accomplish his own goals of deception and sabotage.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We have looked into the rise of false teachings within the church and focused mainly on lawlessness with brief mentions of other major threads of error: the immortality of the soul, and the nature of God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Next time we will learn how false teaching came to dominate and overtake the visible church. To the point where the falsehoods and deceptions are what most people think of when christianity, the church of Christ, or the bible are mentioned.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Our commission is to carry forth the truth of God and make disciples of all nations. Wrong ideas about what God has to say about the weightier matters make our job more difficult. To effectively explain the true hope to others it helps to be aware of some of the wrong ideas people bring to the discussion and why.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>It is also good for us all to remember that controversy and deception have always been part of the reality of life within and without the Church. The Church has never been a walled garden which you enter into as a refuge from all the troubles of the human condition… God has not willed it to be so.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Bad stuff is crouching at the door and lurking by the windows seeking opportunity to get in.</div><br /><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Members of the body of Christ must be prepared, they must have the mental toughness to endure, to persevere, to prevail over pressures both within and without.<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/CNr9s0nc3XA" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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The Role of Promises in Biblical Prophecy
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><br /><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Pda0De_E2rU/WcBzpAFeNmI/AAAAAAAAAiA/2t78OvHLqFcfWoToY7EPohIzhr4H8-apQCLcBGAs/s1600/liane-metzler-30296.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="150" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Pda0De_E2rU/WcBzpAFeNmI/AAAAAAAAAiA/2t78OvHLqFcfWoToY7EPohIzhr4H8-apQCLcBGAs/s200/liane-metzler-30296.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>A promise from God is a prophecy from God. If God says He is going to do something you can be sure He will do it. Not only is your Creator faithful and reliable… He wants you to enjoy the feeling of security in His faithfulness… and He wants to enjoy your confidence in Him.<br /><b><br /></b><b>Trust &amp; Confidence:</b> the foundation of a healthy relationship.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s word speaks His promises to you [and to all humanity]… from beginning to end.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 3:15</b> God’s first promise to humanity is a prophecy directed at the adversary… the serpent… the morning star Lucifer who by his own choice became God’s enemy.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God promises a solution to the problems and suffering humanity have brought upon themselves. A choice to go their own way apart from God. A choice with no good future.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God tells Satan [the serpent] that from the descendants of Eve there will come a “Seed” or descendant who would step/stomp on his head and crush it. Satan would be permitted to attack the foot of the “Seed” and temporarily disable, harass and impede His work [a reference to the execution of the Messiah and the 3 days in the tomb, also a reference to the continued harassment of the present body of Christ as they bring the true gospel to the world]. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But the end is decided and certain. Satan gets stomped.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Scripture begins with a promise:</b> God will send a “Seed”, a Son of Man, a descendant born of woman, to restore humanity from the pain, suffering, and death they chose… He will crush and replace Satan, and take charge of the course of humanity on earth. The rest of prophecy expands and elaborates on this promise.</div><h2 class="western">Promises to Abraham</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God calls Abraham and sets him apart. And He makes some promises to Abraham that show how the original promise from Genesis 3:15 will happen.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 12:1-3 </b>from Abraham will come a nation through which God will bring good to all humanity</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 22:18</b> from Abraham will come the “Seed” or descendant who will bring good things, and the promise of a brighter future to all humanity.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Through Abraham God reveals a new pathway for humanity. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">On one hand we have the path set by Adam, to follow our own heart, our humanly devised sense of what is right and true. Its the way of all physically created beings, but it has no future. Physical life comes to an end after about 75 to 90 years. Without God there is nothing to look forward to. Just nothingness. [there is a way that seems right to a man but the end is death]</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">On the other hand we have the path set by Abraham, to believe God, have confidence in His promises and to live by His word [obey His voice] because of that confidence. This is the way of spiritual creation. To have the mind of God built in you… a way with a bright a glorious future beyond those 75 to 90 years… a hope of eternal life in the family of God. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The promise to Abraham is an example of one prophecy fulfilled in multiple ways [duality]:</div><ol><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Messiah would be born as a descendant [or seed] of Abraham</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Abraham’s millions of descendants would become a nation. God would make known a better way of living through that nation… His commandments, judgments, and statues… a way of mercy, faith, holiness and righteousness</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">All who believe God and follow the path of faithful obedience would be of the same spiritual family as Abraham <b>Galatians 3:16</b></div></li></ol><h2 class="western">The Nation of Israel</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When Abraham was old enough to be a great grandfather, and his wife was decades past menopause, they had a son Isaac. Isaac had two sons: Esau the oldest son &amp; Jacob the younger. Against all tradition and precedent Jacob [the younger] was chosen to receive the promise over Esau [the elder]. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">These children were the beginning of God making good on his promises. The circumstances sent a message about how God works: </div><ul><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God starts things small and causes them to grow larger. </div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s blessing is a miracle… over-riding the laws of physics and biology. Isaac was a miracle baby</div></li><li> <div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Passing the promises along to Jacob was God’s choice. It was not deserved or earned. However, God does expect a positive response from us in return</div></li></ul><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 tribes <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> Jacob’s name was changed to Israel <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> The 12 tribes became the nation of Israel <span style="font-family: &quot;wingdings&quot; , serif;"></span> a line of human born kingship in Israel was established through David… and Israel did achieve a certain level of greatness during their centuries of nationhood.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But God’s promise of greatness was not limited to the possession of territory, or having the written revelation of God, or the possession of a great and noble line of kings. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 4:13 </b>God’s promise to Abraham was everything… the world… the <i>Kosmos</i></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s promises a positive outcome to human existence… a promise made to Adam, to Eve, to Abraham, to Jacob… an outcome never fulfilled by Israel. Even with the huge impact the tiny nation had on human history they never even came close. However, through them God demonstrated His power, showcased His laws statutes and judgements. Through the prophets of Israel He provided further details of the glorious future He has in store for humanity. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">So… through Israel, God has indeed provided blessings for all humanity but there is so much more.</div><h2 class="western">A Spiritual Nation</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Israel was established as a nation on the world stage with a purpose: to become a blessing to all nations. They were given God’s commandments, statutes and judgements so that the nations around would see the goodness and good things that come from following God’s plan for living and want to imitate them <b>Deuteronomy 4:5-8</b>. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Israel didn’t deliver. But God keeps His promise.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Ephesians 2:11-13</b> the Messiah was born into Israel as the “Seed” and descendant promised to Eve, and to Abraham. Through Him the promises of blessing for all humanity opened up and blossomed. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Israel had failed because they lacked the convicting and empowering Spirit of God. Now through that power of God at work a new spiritual nation would be formed. A spiritual Israel <b>2 Peter 2:9</b>.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 11:13-21 </b>now non-Jews were to be brought directly in the spiritual nation of Israel because they have faith and show the results of faith… like Abraham. Note: those brought into this spiritual nation were subject to certain qualifying conditions. God expects a positive response from those he chooses… “to obey His voice”.</div><h2 class="western">Is God done with the physical descendants of Jacob? </h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">No! And understanding this point is essential to understanding many of the future prophecies concerning Israel… prophecies that only take place after Christ returns to establish the rule of God on earth. Not understanding this point leads many to believe and teach that the prophecies about Israel and the fulfillment of them are a thing of the past.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 9:4-6</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 11:1-2</b> not rejected</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 11:3-6</b> a remnant of Israel was drawn out to form the beginnings of the church of God, the spiritual nation of Israel [Peter, John, Paul etc]. They would form the base which the non-Jews would then be grafted into.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Romans 11:7-12</b> tripped because they cannot see and understand the work of the Messiah, that His coming is 1<sup>st</sup> as a redeeming sacrifice… then to come again as a conquering king].</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Verses 25-27</b> Even though Israel failed in their mission, and failed to recognize the Messiah, God has not cast them aside forever. He will fulfill His promise made to Abraham to the utmost degree. Abraham’s physical descendants will be redeemed and rehabilitated. The Messiah will make this come to pass after His 2<sup>nd</sup> coming. The promise does not fail.</div><h2 class="western">Israel During Christ’s 1,00 Year Rule</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The physical descendants of Abraham will have a special role to fulfill when the Messiah returns as King of Kings. The 1,000 year rule of the Messiah on earth will re-establish Israel as a model nation. Through them other nations will learn the way of God. This truth is essential to understanding many of the prophecies related to the rule of Christ on earth [<b>Isaiah 2:3-5</b>, 45:19-25, 60:3-6, 66:18, <b>Joel 3:1-2, Zechariah 8:20-23</b> etc]</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Note: entrance into eternal life and the family of God comes only through Christ… the promised “Seed” and firstborn of the faithful. But, as spelled out in the prohecies about the world under Christ’s rule the spiritual work of God takes place in a physical world. In dealing with that physical world as King and ruler Christ fulfills God’s promise to Abraham in working through Israel as a blessing to all nations. </div><h2 class="western">Promises of Kingship</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">On his deathbed, Jacob prophesied of what would come of each of his 12 sons. To his son Judah he made a promise of kingship and rule. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Genesis 49:10</b> Judah was promised rulership. Remember that God had promised Abraham a “Seed” who would be a blessing to all humanity. The Messiah, the king of kings, would come from Abraham’s descendants. Of all the grandchildren this promise would be fulfilled through Judah. This gives us another key to understanding the unfolding of biblical prophecy and the fulfillment of God’s promises.</div><h2 class="western">God’s Promises of Kingship Pass to David</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">After several centuries of turmoil and trouble a line of human born kings was established in Israel. This line of kings began with David… a descendant of Judah.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Samuel 7:8-16 </b>God promised David that his family would be an everlasting dynasty of kings. This promise is partially fulfilled by his physical descendants [for example Solomon]. But certain aspects of what God is promising can only be fulfilled by the Messiah.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Luke 1:31-33</b> Jesus Christ is the heir to the throne of David. This helps us understand the many prophecies about kingship made long after David died that have not yet been fulfilled. For example: <b>Isaiah 9:6-7</b></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">This promise of perfect righteous rule was never achieved by any restoration of king Hezekiah, or king Josiah. It is a promise waiting to be fulfilled by the “Seed” promised to Eve [and through her to all humanity]. The descendant who will crush the head of the serpent and restore the rule of the earth to its rightful place.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The same “Seed” promised to Abraham. A descendant through whom a better and brighter path will be opened up to all nations… and an eternal future opened up to the faithful.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus Christ is the descendant and heir promised to David who will establish a rule and kingship that is everlasting.</div><h2 class="western">Conclusion:</h2><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Biblical prophecy is built upon the promises of God. And God keeps His promises. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A solid understanding of these promises is the beginning to understand biblical prophecy.</div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a> Understanding prophecy is to understand your Creator’s plan of a better future for you, and for humanity</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/jwl3k9qPCYc" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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9 Guiding Principles For Understanding Prophecy
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g3PZPO8-fJs/Wb6tXn7EtkI/AAAAAAAAAhs/9xs8Eunauzg4AnfRzoXxUaDP8X1BWsHFwCEwYBhgL/s1600/keys-to-understanding-revelation.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="565" data-original-width="720" height="251" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g3PZPO8-fJs/Wb6tXn7EtkI/AAAAAAAAAhs/9xs8Eunauzg4AnfRzoXxUaDP8X1BWsHFwCEwYBhgL/s320/keys-to-understanding-revelation.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><h2 class="western">What is the point of prophecy?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">On one hand people don’t like uncertainty… where will I get the money for rent next month?... will the stock market crash and wipe out my retirement savings? … will my son get home safely tonight?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">On the other hand many of us dislike the idea of a future where everything is alreqady decided. Statements like: “I have no choice in the matter”… “its inevitable”… “I can’t change anything”, are statements of despair not confidence.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s word gives us a way of understanding life that is a balance between a future that is reliable and true and a future that is changeable based on the choices we make. For example:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Kingdom of God – the coming rule of God on earth and in the universe is set and will not change.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Salvation &amp; Reward – your relationship to the Kingdom of God is based on the choices you make. </div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Both these aspects of the future are addressed by the word of God.</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s word shines a light on the path you must actively choose if you want to live, and receive reward in the kingdom of God.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s word provides you with prophecies and promises of the certain and inevitable future. Note: by definitions that future has not yet happened. SO…</div></li></ol><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in; margin-left: 0.5in;">God’s word also provides contains prophecies of events that happened just as they were foretold…<u> </u>Knowing these “past prophecies” gives you greater confidence in what has not yet come to pass. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Timothy 3:16 </b>– anyone can claim their writing is supernaturally inspired. Telling about a future event and then making it actually happen is what makes an audacious claim like “this is the word of God” believable. You will not find fulifilled prophecy in other supposed holy writings (Koran, Mormon, Hindu or Buddist literature, etc.). Prophecy and fulfillment is what sets the word of God from Genesis to Revelation apart. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Isaiah 46:9-11 </b>the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob not only claims to reveal the future… He proves Himself by demonstrating the power to make it happen.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2 Peter 1:19-21</b> … its in your best interest to give propehcy attention!</div><h2 class="western">Prophets</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A prophet is one through whom God speaks to humanity. There have been many prophets throughout human history… the greatest of all the prophets sent by God is Jesus <b>Hebrews 1:1-2</b>. [Luke 13:33 refers to self as a prophet].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus’ teaching was about the kingdom of God. It had the elements of certainty and choice:</div><ol><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">a kingdom of God way of living you must choose</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">a sure outcome of human history ie. the rule of God on earth.</div></li></ol><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Note: Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection is also the most extensive and greatest fulfillment of events foretold centuries before in the word of God. Both Scripture and human history speak to the credibility, and reliability, of scripture. A sobering thought when consideringthe future...</div><h2 class="western">Gut check: What is You First Reaction to Prophecy?</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">You might see only strange beasts, cryptic coded messages, riddles, or confusing chronologies… unappealing and unrelated to life as we know it. How does prophecy help me find personal happiness? How does prophecy help me become a better person?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">If you take time to study and understand the prophecies of scripture they can give greater personal clarity as to <u>why</u> the life decisions you make <u>matter</u>. And help you see the choices you make as incremental steps toward a very positive future.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">To get this kind of perspective on prophecy lets step back and take a big picture view of scripture. What are the consistent (an persistent) core messages… what are the consistent threads of events found in scripture? How do these interact with history?</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">We’ll get to those in coming weeks… but today let’s go over nine guiding principles to help us to understand prophecy:</div><h2 class="western"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="__DdeLink__4725_709305221"></a>Guiding Principles of Prophecy</h2><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>1. Role of the Messiah</b> – the key player in almost all prophecy is the Messiah and His intervention in human affairs… what He <u>has</u>done, and what He is <u>going to do in the future</u> <b>Luke 24:44</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>2. Kingdom of God</b><b> </b>– almost all prophecy is in some way related to the establishment of the Messiah’s rule over humanity on earth <b>Daniel 7:13-14</b>. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Luke 8:1 </b>When Jesus talked and taught about the kingdom of God He was speaking as a prophet concerning future events. The hope and goal of all the prophets has always been an end to the problems mankind creates for themselves. That hope is the Kingdom of God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>3. This is Satan’s Age</b> – <b>2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 6:12, 1 John 5:19 </b>understanding Satan’s influence on this world is key to understand prophecy. God’s word contrasts the present age and the future age:</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Present age (Satan’s) –<b> </b>Messsiah has not yet exerted is suthority over the earth</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Future Age (Messiah’s) – a time when humanity will be free of Satan’s influence</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a><b>4. God’s Objective: Redemption &amp; Salvation</b> – prophecy is a promise of judgment and justice. We might see judgment as gloomy and foreboding. That might be because God’s word forces us to see that at our very core we too are “unjust”… we too are part of the problem. <b>Isaiah 29:13, Ezekiel 36:26-27</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">A promise of justice is by nature a predicton of judgment. For those of us paying attention its a call to change our ways and thoughts to prepare for the future of the kingdom.<b> </b>The church carries forward the Messiah’s message of coming judgment to all humanity.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Some change in the here and now… most only change in the age to come, after the Messiah’s return.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>5. Duality in Prophecy</b><b> </b>– a prime example is the 1<sup>st</sup> and 2<sup>nd</sup> coming of the Messiah. He came first right in the middle of the present evil age as a teacher and prophet. He will come a second time to initiate the “new age” a.k.a the kingdom of God.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">The Jewish teachers of the scriptures knew the prophecies of the coming Messiah but because they did not accept the principle of duality… they did not accept the 1<sup>st</sup> coming. “He’s doing lots of Messiah type stuff but the messiah is supposed to restore Israel… so how can we accept Jesus as the Messiah?..and they didn’t. Answer: that part of the Messiah’s work would happen at His 2<sup>nd</sup>coming [duality]. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Where did we get that idea from? Jesus taught the principleof duality:</b></div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Matthew 17:11-12 </b>referring back to a prophecy from Malachi 4:5, Jesus identifies a dual fulfillment.</div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Matthew 24 Jesus talks about an abomination of desolation that was <u>yet to come</u>. He was referencing Daniel [circa 530 BC]. That prophecy had already been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BC. Yet, in <b>Matthew 24:15-16 </b>Jesus taught that there would also be a future fulfillment of the abominationof desolation. </div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>6. Specific Dates Are Rare</b> – <b>Matthew 24:3</b>, <b>Acts 1:6-7 </b>God’s word foretells events… but in such a way that we do not [may not] know in advance the date they will be fulfilled. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">When prophecy is fulfilled we are then able to look back and see historic events and dates line up [for example the 70 weeks prophecy of the Messiah’s first coming]. God wants us to able to recognize prophecies that have come to pass to assure us of the reliability of prophesied events yet to come.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Daniel 12:6-9 </b>[signs would become more apparent as the day approaches]. Verses 11-12 times stamps are provided so that when the prophecy has been fulfilled we will see how it unfolded according to plan <b>John 14:29</b>.</div><ul><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For past prophecies… we can see how the dates and events line up </div></li><li><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">For future prophecies… we do not know the dates</div></li></ul><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>7. Cause &amp; Effect</b><b> </b>– <b>Galatians 6:7-8</b> [applies collectively as well as individually] Our Father Creator allows humanity to experience the results of our bad choices. Unconverted hearts make bad choices and reap bad results. This provides teachable moments… sometimes painful lessons [again this applies individually and collectively.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Overall, human nature is rather predictable. He made us, He knows us, and He can accurately predict trends and resulting outcomes [law of large numbers].</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">But God does not simply leave the universe to unfold according to the law of cause and effect, action and reaction. He is actively pursuing His program to bring many children into His family. God does intervene… to protect, or to punish as fits His purpose. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Psalm 9:15-16 </b>all nations, not just Israel</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>8. Prophecy is Related to Human History</b> – the purpose of scripture is not to dazzle and amaze with spooky predictions of supernatural interventions. Prophecy searches out and exposes attitudes and behaviors … and gives God’s own view on what humanity has been up to. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Prophecy plays out in the context of the story of humanity, or “history”… biological, ethnic, human governments, etc. If there was no connection between secular human history and prophecy it wouldn’t be very compelling, persuasive, or instructive.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">So, if you want to better understand prophecy you should invest at least a bit of time and effort into learning about the human story… in other words, history.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>9. The purpose and future of humanity</b><b> </b>– humans were created for a purpose: to rule over all created things <b>Genesis 1:27-28</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">God’s plan is to go beyond the planet earth as we know it <b>Hebrews 2:6-11</b>.</div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;">Jesus Christ is the first to step over that threshold, the firstborn, the author, the pioneer… but the intent is that we are to follow. </div><div class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><b>Revelation 3:21</b></div><h2 class="western">Conclusion:</h2>Prophecy is so much more than trying to figure out when and how the end of the present age comes. It helps us understand God has an organized thought out plan, it affirms the authority of scripture as reliable and authoritative, and it is a call to action for those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear.<br /><div align="left" class="western" style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.11in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/0UDaT6KC-io" 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 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><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/WQzRSGsfEMM" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Jesus' Example of Prayer
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">I like biographies. I learn about history through the lens of a person’s life. </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">Scripture does not give us much information about people. A few personalities have a fair bit of coverage… Abraham, David, Daniel, Paul. But what we have is bare bones… facts, snippets of dialogue, what was said, record of key actions taken. The scriptures don’t often delve into the motives, emotions of persons and personalities... <i>ex. Why is this incident recorded and many others not?</i> </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">But we can often look at the actions or events, consider the context, and use our understanding to figure out what is going on.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">The life of Jesus Christ is also like that. We know more about Him than any personality in scripture… we are given brief glimpses into the motivations, emotions of His life. But many times we have to read the report we have and try to connect the dots ourselves. For example: why would He say what He said before He did what He did?</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qwAK_06zeq0/WKoRRGxco1I/AAAAAAAAAZU/ZNyUKwPwxuYsv7-SMJm4mHj571NZE_dHQCLcB/s1600/rainbow.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qwAK_06zeq0/WKoRRGxco1I/AAAAAAAAAZU/ZNyUKwPwxuYsv7-SMJm4mHj571NZE_dHQCLcB/s320/rainbow.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>Let's look into something Jesus did on a regular basis… He prayed. The circumstances surrounding the recorded instances we have of Him praying may teach us about the nature of prayer and its place in our lives.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">We'll use Luke's record [Luke &amp; Acts for Jesus' followers]. Jesus is found in prayer before new developments or crises arise, when decisions need to be made etc.… suggesting that prayer is a preparation for what is to take place next... seeking guidance from God. </div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>James 1:5</b>You are told that if you lack wisdom [i.e. you don’t know what to do] you should ask God who is very willing [glad] to give you what you are seeking. The context appears to be facing a trying situation<i>... what does this mean? Why am I going through this? Help me understand.</i></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in; margin-top: 0.06in; orphans: 0; widows: 0;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><b>Why Would Jesus Seek Wisdom?</b></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">We often fall into the trap of thinking of Jesus as coming out of His mother’s womb… fully formed… at least spiritually… as if there were nothing He did not already know or would learn. But one of the first comments made about Him while He was still a boy is that <i>Jesus </i><i>increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man</i> Luke 2:52</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in; margin-top: 0.06in; orphans: 0; widows: 0;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><b>Examples of Jesus’ praying [not the content - but the occasion]</b></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Luke 3:21 </b>– While in prayer the H.S. comes upon Jesus and the Father makes a formal acknowledgment that Jesus is His Son… also, a new phase of Jesus life begins: His ministry.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">This is our first example of important revelations [instructions] coming during the activity of prayer. These revelations were also a preparation for what lay ahead.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Luke 5:16</b>– Jesus was gathering fame. You or I would probably respond to this by thinking we were HOT STUFF and therefore we should start calling the shots rather than seeking God's help in humble prayer. However, Jesus was committed to prayer and seeking the will of the Father. He would withdraw from the adoring crowds and seek God.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Luke 6:12-13</b>– once more we do not know the content of Jesus’ prayer. But the context and circumstances indicate that He was praying about a very important decision… who would He select and train for the future role of apostle. Who would follow Him and continue the preaching etc. Is it is far fetched to conclude that He sought wisdom [what is your will, what should I do here?].</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Luke 9:18-20</b>– another important unfolding of understanding from comes on an occasion of prayer [praying together?]. The reality of who and what Jesus’ was is confirmed to the chosen disciples. </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Luke 9:29-31</b>now a further and more intense revealing of the divine person and purpose of Jesus the messiah. Note that “as Jesus was praying” this vision and supernatural experience happened. Surely it was a further revelation to the three disciples… but read carefully and you will see that the 2 men [Moses and Elijah representing the law and the prophets] were speaking to Jesus about His coming death [exodos/departure] which would take place in Jerusalem. </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">You could interpret this event as also being for Jesus’ benefit. He was fully human and did not relish the idea of death. Here He is given a preview of the resurrection and glory that would follow His death. This discussion could also have been a more complete disclosure of the Father's will given to Jesus regarding His sacrificial death.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">Remember Jesus was fully human and that He grew in understanding as time moved on.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Luke 22:39-46</b>one of the few instances where know some of the content of Jesus’ prayer. He seeks the will of God… He already knew what God wanted Him to do… Now Jesus asks for the courage to do what God had asked. And He was given the strength… from God… to see it through. </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">The context is obvious. He was preparing for the arrest and crucifixion which would happen within a matter of hours.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.13in; margin-top: 0.06in; orphans: 0; widows: 0;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><b>Examples of Apostles praying [context not content]</b></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;">What good for Jesus is also good for us...</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b>Acts 10:2-6, 9-20 </b>God announced to Peter His intention to offer reconciliation unto eternal life directly to the non-Israelite peoples. Once again we see an important revelation during the activity of prayer.</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Acts 9:7-12 </b>After he was struck down and made blind Paul was praying. I think it is highly likely he was praying about what God wanted him to do. He was seeking to find out what God’s will for him was. <b>Acts 22:17-21.</b></div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in; margin-top: 0.06in; orphans: 0; widows: 0;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><b>The Prayers of Daniel</b></span></span></div><div style="line-height: 108%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Daniel 9:20-23</b>– insight and understanding given to Daniel in the context of prayer. </div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;"><b>Daniel 10:10-12</b> – he earnestly sought to understand... and God answered him</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">There are many other ways to explore prayer... seeking His blessing, asking for healing, blessings and help for others, thanksgiving, prayer for the church, the leadership, that we avoid temptation, etc. Given time we will get around to discussing these. But for now...</div><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">Prayer is our opportunity to ask God questions and seek His answers. We may want to know how to face a trial. We may want to know what to do in a situation or when faced with a decision [signs are possible but we are most likely to get the answer through His written word]. We may seek to understand a section of scripture. </div><br /><div style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0.17in;">God promises to answer... if we are willing to ask. &nbsp;</div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/d0RHVhgsexM" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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Marriage Exposes The Real You!
<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="MsoNormal"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-I0y04hlI4yU/VzxptINrJCI/AAAAAAAAAJs/y_u-WWdHue8bHLiJdyRethNXdBvXMZyeQCLcB/s1600/marriage%2B2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-I0y04hlI4yU/VzxptINrJCI/AAAAAAAAAJs/y_u-WWdHue8bHLiJdyRethNXdBvXMZyeQCLcB/s320/marriage%2B2.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><span style="font-size: large;">For most of us marriage is the longest… most intense… most intimate relationship we will ever experience. We might spend many hours at work… but our relationships there are narrow and task focused nowhere near the breadth experienced in marriage. Friendships can have similarities possibly approaching the breadth we find in marriage… yet not with the same investment of time… both day by day, or over the span of your life. You get the picture.</span><br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Considering the time, the intensity, the intimacy… surely your marriage will have a profound, if not defining, effect on your spiritual life. The hours, days, years and decades of your marriage… or more to the point your actions and attitudes within your marriage… will help shape and mold the spiritual creation God is working in you.&nbsp; For better… or for worse.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><audio controls=""><source src="http://www.ucg.org/system/storage/serve/392906/ucg-sermon-scott-craig-2016-01-30-marriage-exposes-the-real-you_0.mp3"></source>If you cannot see the audio controls, <a href="http://www.ucg.org/system/storage/serve/392906/ucg-sermon-scott-craig-2016-01-30-marriage-exposes-the-real-you_0.mp3">listen/download the audio file here</a></audio></div><div class="MsoNormal">Marriage is a blessing God has given you that can bring you much joy, contentment and satisfaction… or possibly daily mental, emotional and physical struggle. Either way through marriage you will learn about yourself… but also do something with what you learn… practice spiritual discipline… grow in grace and knowledge and build a Godly &nbsp;mind.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">This outlook on marriage isn’t always our default setting. Even those who are spiritually minded there lingers a notion that marriage is a worldly consolation. Meant for those who cannot handle real spirituality. Supposedly, there is a higher state of spiritual discipline… a person totally devoted to God… with no attachments… no worldly cares… truly&nbsp; seeking first the kingdom of God… renouncing marriage, family, passions and positions.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">This concept of holiness is familiar to western culture and non-western cultures alike… monks, nuns, gurus, holymen, and more… renunciation of marriage and family life allowing more time for prayer, fasting, study and other good works etc.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Is this a better way? Is it a harder way? Or… Is it an easier way?</div><h3>Consider the challenges of marriage</h3><div class="MsoNormal">I’m speaking here of a biblical marriage involving two people (or perhaps only one) who take their covenant with God seriously, who are trying to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, and want to build the fullness of Christ in themselves and their mate.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Consider the trials and tribulations of raising children… the physical exhaustion of caring for them, the mental challenge of keeping your head when everything within you wants of scream, or yell, or lose your temper.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">What about the emotional slights must be overlooked… the tiny indignities, the unnoticed sacrifices… you could so easily ask “what for”… are these not spiritual challenges… are they easy?<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Matt 19:8-12</b> I read these words of Jesus to mean if you cannot handle the commitment God expects in the marriage covenant then don’t get married. If you can’t handle it don’t go there. </div><div class="MsoNormal">Marriage isn’t for spiritual wimps.</div><h3>Paul’s comments on Celibacy</h3><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]--><b>I Cor 7:1</b>refers the preceding scenario… avoid sexual immorality get married.</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]--><b>1 Co 7:6</b>&nbsp; From my own knowledge (sungnoomeen) and not as a command, I am saying this:</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]--><b>I Cor 7:10-11</b> toggles back and forth God’s command… my word (logos)</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]--><b>1 Corinthians 7:25</b>&nbsp; (Simple English Version) About virgin girls. I don't have a command from the Lord , but I am giving you what I know (gnome). I'm dependable; the Lord has given me mercy. </div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo2; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->See also <b>verse 40</b></div><h3>Why does Paul offer his opinion in Corinth at this time? </h3><div class="MsoNormal"><b>I Cor 7:26-28</b> a lot of what Paul says here is circumstantial… </div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->marriages were mostly arranged often with little control or say so in who&nbsp; you were married to… </div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->times were troubled for God’s people… persecution etc. </div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->Paul also clearly expected Christ to return soon… </div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo3; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->there was a lot of missionary type work that needed to be done and could best be done by unmarried people. </div><div class="MsoNormal">It was good advice in Corinth in 52 A.D. <u>but</u> not God’s intent and purpose for all people at all times. As we have noted… these are not commands or instructions from God but good advice from a pastor to his flock in a troubled town… at a troubled time. Advice like this might come around again.. depending on circumstances… you never know.</div><div class="MsoNormal">My advice is that because of the immorality afoot in our time people should get married</div><div class="MsoNormal">However, as Paul says multiple times in multiple ways celibacy is a totally legitimate walk with God… and so is marriage. Both have pros and cons. The important point is to take your physical state and face its particular spiritual challenges in a manner that results in positive spiritual growth!</div><h3>The Washing of The Word</h3><div class="MsoNormal"><b>I Cor 6:11 / Titus 3:5 / Rev 1:5 / Eph 5:25-27<o:p></o:p></b></div><div class="MsoNormal">Notice the phrase “washing with water through the word”. The washing could be:</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo4; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]-->1.<span style="font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><!--[endif]-->cleansing or purification through the application of the word of God in your life</div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast" style="margin-left: .25in; mso-add-space: auto; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo4; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]-->2.<span style="font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><!--[endif]-->baptism… the death of the old person and the rising in newness of life. </div><div class="MsoNormal">What’s interesting is the idea of applying within marriage. The work that Christ is doing in the church making it holy, and clean is somehow a model for a work that can (and possibly should) take place within a marriage…<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->A Christ-like husband who loves his wife will want to see her grow in pure Godly character more than beauty, outward appearance, or status… <br /><br /></div><div class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast" style="mso-list: l1 level1 lfo1; text-indent: -.25in;"><!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-family: &quot;symbol&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family: Symbol;">·<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot;; font-size: 7pt; font-stretch: normal;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span><!--[endif]-->A Christ-like wife who loves her husband will want to see him grow as that new man in Godly character more than wealth, power, or comfort</div><h3>Are You Responsible for Changing Your Spouse? </h3><div class="MsoNormal">Is it your job to call out their character flaws, and draw sound the alarm when you spouse falls short of the glory of God or the fullness of Christ? My answer is: rarely yes, mostly no.</div><div class="MsoNormal">Within marriage the work of washing is spoken of as through the word. So… you should both work to have God’s word in your heart and mind as a foundation and basis for right behavior and attitudes (and the husband does bear an extra level of responsibility to make sure this happens). Then you must each have the power of God’s Holy Spirit to provide the conviction that it’s the right thing to do, courage to do it, and the commitment to stick with it.</div><h3>Using Your Marriage As a Mirror</h3><div class="MsoNormal">When you were dating I guarantee that you checked yourself out in a mirror before stepping out in public… keenly aware of every facial blemish or hair out of place. You wanted to be at your best for that other person who you love… and who you hoped would love you. But a lot of that superficial anxiety goes away once you are actually married (perhaps too much). Yet, the mirror effect doesn’t go away… it just works differently.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Sharing a bed, a shower, a kitchen sink, a couch, a TV, a credit card, a bank account,&nbsp; means you… all your habits, your self-indulgences, your attitudes are on display all the time.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Spiritual growth come when your marriage forces you to see yourself as someone else sees you. <o:p></o:p></b></div><div class="MsoNormal">Faults, flaws and sins seem more… explainable… reasonable… justified when only I know about it. But when I am forced into the position of considering my failings, shortcomings and sin through the eyes of another (especially someone who has the same word of truth that I do) … that’s hard. And marriage, because of its intimate nature, has the potential to drill down deep into who you really are.</div><div class="MsoNormal">But, as a person led by God’s HS and guided by His word this can lead to positive change… recognition of character flaws you might have explained away… identification of ways you fall short of the fullness of Christ.</div><h3>Do I Want to Be Confronted With My Sins? Psalm 139:23-24</h3><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Scenario 1</b> – You could say to your mate: What weaknesses and character flaws do you see in me? Help me I want to change. Wow that would be a very intense and potentially painful discussion. The resistance to following such a scenario is powerful. If we start digging in like that would my husband still love me… would my wife still respect me… would they abandon me? I’m comfortable having that discussion with God my Father… but with my marriage partner?</div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Scenario 2</b> – a more likely scenario is that your marriage partner finds a gentle way to bring it to your attention… patiently waiting for you to recognize what going on. Notice that we are talking about the fruits of the spirit at work here: gentleness, patience, faithfulness. These are some good examples of how you can help your partner with that washing of the word we spoke about earlier <b>Gal 6:1</b></div><h3>The Natural Response To Sin is to Try to Hide</h3><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Gen 3:7-8</b>&nbsp; when sin enters the picture… they begin to hide themselves from each other.</div><div class="MsoNormal">Do you hide from your wife or your husband? Hiding out at work, encased behind a protective wall of hobbies or mindless entertainment… Or do you actively use your marriage as a tool for spiritual growth? An opportunity for self examination?</div><h3>What is a Good Response When Seeing Yourself as Your Mate Sees You?</h3><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Humility </b>– the intimacy of marriage almost guarantees that your deep seated issues, vanities, moral shortcuts, your appetites, your selfishness are going to show themselves… and hopefully with God’s word in your heart and mind… you will see it yourself. They may never be called out… your mate may never mention them but just keep loving you with patience, gentleness, faithfulness etc. But they know… and you know that they know…&nbsp; your mate has access to that same word of God… even if they are not a believer they know an ungodly attitude when they see it … this is humbling and must be accepted / not fought.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Change</b> – do not run and hide. Use it as a powerful motivator to repent</div><h3>What is a Bad Response When Seeing Yourself as Your Mate Sees You?</h3><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Ignore</b> - The revealing of the real you is inevitable. You can use it as a tool for spiritual growth or not. If you choose to do nothing… if you choose not to respond in humility and change then you run the risk of searing your conscience and you will pay a price for that.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>Resentment</b> – somehow when another person knows something about you there is the potential for you to fear that they will try to hurt you with this knowledge… that can lead to self defense mechanisms to kick in… anger, quarrels, bitterness… accusations, blame…. This is dangerous territory because it can lead to dissatisfaction… which can lead to sexual sin.</div><h3>What about when the shoe is on the other foot?</h3><div class="MsoNormal">Possessing knowledge of another person’s intimate details is powerful. It can be used in all sorts of bad ways… to intimidate, to humiliate. For example: to throw their sins back in their face when defending yourself (because your flaws have a way coming out too)… Well I might … but at least I don’t …<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Rather use it to lovingly lead them into the fullness of Christ. But again, not by calling out… but by gentleness, patience. And faithfulness. <br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b>1 Peter 3:1-2</b> if for the unbelieving mate then how much more for the fellow believer!</div><h3>Commitment</h3><div class="MsoNormal">When your selfish and/or sinful attitudes are exposed it can lead to an unpleasant self awareness… seeing&nbsp; yourself as another would see you. You might want to escape from marriage. Maybe you fantasize with the idea of starting over with someone new.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">If you are committed to God’s way divorce is not an option. You cannot simply swap out a new spouse for a new one. But. you can swap in a new you.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">A mature disciple of Christ focuses on being a better husband rather than dwelling on having a better wife… being a better wife rather than having a better husband. A disciple of Christ gets their fulfillment in living faithfully before God… not from being around another person that make them feel good.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">Marriage is a holy relationship ordained by God. It is the most enduring, most intense, most intimate relationship you’ll ever have. It has a tremendous effect upon the spiritual outcome of your life… you eternal life. Its not the only way… but it’s the way God intended.<br /><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">You can use your marriage as a way to grow in grace and knowledge and the fullness of Christ… or you can ignor and abuse it. Like everything else God is doing with you it’s your choice.</div><br /><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div></div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UnitedChurchOfGodRaleigh/~4/3YsUDuvhyZQ" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
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