********************************************Wise Men Still Seek Jesus
At this time of year we turn our attention to the birth of Jesus Christ. One of the notable parts of this story is about the three magi coming from the east to honor the new born king. You probably all know about how they were led to the Christ Child by a star and that they presented him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We refer to them as the ‘Three Wise Men’. Truly they were wise in seeking to find Jesus and today we are wise to seek him also!
There are many great promises in the Bible given to those seek God. One of my favorites is the promise of provision. Psalms 34:10 states “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Jesus himself taught us the same thing when he said in Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore, take no thought, saying ”What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (For all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Wow! God seekers will lack no good thing! And besides that Prov 10:22 proclaims “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”
So, what is it to be a God seeker? Jesus stated it in John 5:30 “….for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” So, it is to seek to please and glorify God with all that we do. It is to seek God’s revealed will in all situations. It is to draw night to him through prayer. It is to read God’s word for truth and to see what he says is right and wrong. It is to fellowship with other God seekers, because where two or three gather in his name he is in their midst. It is to walk like Jesus and to be led by God’s spirit. It’s striving to know him better. It is to seek his face, which means presence and fellowship. And in his presence is fullness of joy!
The truth is that all men don’t seek God. In Psalm 10:4 it informs us that it’s men’s pride that keeps them from seeking God. They seek their own desires and to do it their way. They think they don’t need him, but we all do. And Isaiah 8:19 tells us that when some do want spiritual guidance they seek to the wrong sources, like to psychics or mediums. Others it says in Galatians 1:10 seek to please men rather than to please God. Yet others seek security in money, which 1Timothy 6:9 teaches is unwise. And yet others seek to fulfill the lust of their flesh through sexual pleasures and substance abuse. Yes, on and on the list goes of seeking the wrong things. The sad thing is that they will reap, but the consequences will be negative.
However, realize there are positive rewards in seeking God. But we must believe and make a conscious decision to seek with all our heart. King David told his son Solomon in 1 Chron 22: 19 “Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord thy God….” In the book of Hebrews 11:6 we read “ And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” It is said of King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 31:21 “In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” Decide today and fix your heart to seek the Lord! It is worth it!
With all the unrest and trouble that surrounds us today, let us take to heart the words in Hosea 10:12 “ Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” We need Jesus!!! Be wise and as Isaiah 55:6 tells us, seek the Lord while he may be found. God is near today and wants you to find Jesus. And when you find Jesus, you find an abundant life. You’ll lack no good thing!!
PRAYER PLUS THANKSGIVING
The scripture teaches us that prayer and thanksgiving go hand in hand. For instance, in Psalms 50:14,15 we are to offer the ‘sacrifice of thanksgiving’ and pay our vows to the Lord, which will then pave the way for deliverance when we ‘pray in times of trouble’. Also, in Philippians 4:6-7 we are told to be anxious for nothing but in ever circumstance to offer ‘prayer, with thanksgiving’, which in turn will give us peace of heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Also, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17,18 we are exhorted to ‘not stop praying and to be thankful’ in every circumstance. Actually, prayer and thanksgiving mark the Christian believer. This truth became very evident a few years ago through a boy named Jacob.
As I was getting my hair cut, the hair stylist shared with me about what had happened to her daughter and grandson Jacob. I was familiar with part their story, since I was able to pray for her daughter and the child before his birth. At that time she was having a terrible time carrying the child. Her placenta had broken loose and the little boy had a cist and wasn’t growing, so she had to just lie in bed at the hospital. I prayed for her in person and once on the phone. Also, many others were praying. Well, the Lord came through and to the amazement of the doctors in Rockford the placenta reattached, the cist disappeared and child grew. But Jacob was born with several problems, the worst of which was an inherited trait of kidney trouble.
Several months before I had learned of Jacob’s kidney problems and we had prayed for him. Their church also was interceding in prayer for his healing. That’s when I heard the rest of Jacob’s story.
Apparently, the local doctor had given up on treating Jacob and suggested going to a clinic in Peoria, Illinois. They had gone there and were returning for another test to see if they could possibly help Jacob. As the mom was driving from Sterling to Peoria, over an hour trip, is where the part about thanksgiving becomes apparent.
The children were asleep, so as the mom was driving she suddenly realized that she had never really thanked God for her son Jacob or for all those who had prayed. So she began to pray and thank the Lord for her son, the ministers who prayed, for the doctors and all who been a help. Then they arrived at the clinic for the tests.
After the testing, the doctor asked the mother to please sit down. This alarmed her and so she braced herself for the worst report. But it wasn’t bad at all! The doctor reported that it must have been a miracle, because Jacob’s kidneys were now perfect healthy and the connecting tubes were straight! Yes, God had done another miracle on that trip to Peoria. God healed the kidney problem. And I believe prayer watered with thanksgiving, brought the deliverance.
So, when you pray, have faith and be sure to add thanks for God hearing you and sending an answer! And when the answer arrives, be sure to give him more thanks and praise! Prayer and thanksgiving is a powerful combination!
The Golden Rule of Jesus
Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” This is often called the Golden Rule. But don’t other religions teach the same? For instance, Confucius taught “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others" (The Analects Book 15:24) And other religions, like Hinduism, speak similarly of not doing something harmful to others. But Jesus teaching is different, can you see it?
The difference is that Jesus said ‘Do to”, not just “Don’t do.” The other religions only stress not harming anyone else, but Jesus taught that we are to model what is right by doing it. If we want help in times of need, then help someone else out when they need help. If we want treated kindly, then treat others kindly. If we want treated with respect, then show others respect. Jesus said you would reap what you sow! So pay it forward! Be the example and do good!
Yes, Jesus’ teaching was radically different! The others religions allow you to live a self-centered lifestyle, just don’t hurt others. Jesus says look out not only for your own interests, but be concerned also for the needs of others. He wants us to think about what others might need, feel or think. In short, love one another!
So be a light, fulfill the law and the prophets, and ‘DO TO OTHERS WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO TO YOU!”
Hades vs Gehenna
The bible mentions both hell and the lake of fire. Hell is real and the lake of fire will be, but they are different. Unfortunately, ‘hell’ in the New Testament is translated from two different words. One is 'hades' and the other 'gehenna'. Where hades is used in the original text, it refers to the lower world in the center of the earth, where now the unbelieving and unrighteous sinners go after their first death, if they don't confess Jesus as savior. Jesus went there at his death for three days and preached. (Matt 12:40, 1Peter 3:19) Those who believed in him he took out of there to be with him in paradise or the third heaven. (2Cor 12: 2-4). Note that hades had two parts until Jesus. (Luke 16: 23) At the present, hades is just for the unbelieving. True believers at death go to heaven to be with Jesus. (2Cor 5: 8) Hades is not an eternal place, but is a terrible and used only until the white throne judgement, when all are raised again to face Jesus on the throne. (John 5:22- Rev 1; 18 -Rev 20:10-15.) Hades itself will be thrown in the lake of fire. (Rev 20: 14) So will those who followed the devil. (Matt 25:41-46) This is called the second death and final separation from God. It is an eternal reminder for choosing evil instead of love.
Again, if the word ‘hell’ is translated from the Greek word 'hades' it is referring to the center of the earth that exists now. If the the Greek word ‘gehenna’ is used, it refers to the lake of fire at the end. Also, if the body is mentioned as being cast into hell, it is translated from the word gehenna and is referring to the lake of fire judgement at the end. Matt 5:29-30, 10:28 and Luke 12:5 uses the word gehenna. Luke 16:33 and Matt 16:18 is hades. Act 2;27 is hades and is referring to the soul of Jesus not being left there beyond three days.
All whose name is not in the book of life will be thrown in the lake of fire. (Rev 20: 15) God is holy, totally righteous and just. His judgements are true and fair. Only the holy and those who love him will be with him forever in the new heaven and earth. (Rev 20: 6, Rev 21:1, 6-8)
The good news is that a true Christian believer does not have to worry about hades or the lake of fire. Their sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ and are in the first resurrection, insuring that they will not have to worry about hades or the second death. (Rev 20:6)
So, have you confessed Jesus Christ as your savior and is your name in the book of life?
‘An Unusual Happening’
By Pastor Randy Osborn - 02/03/2017
A few weeks ago I attended a R2G Conference and a minister known for his prophetic gifting was speaking. At one point he made the statement that God had told him that ‘unusual things’ would be happening. When I heard that, it immediately bore witness is my spirit that it was the truth. Here’s what happened a few days later.
A few days later I was talking to the Lord in prayer and mentioned the word concerning his doing ‘unusual things’ and so I mentioned a few that I thought would be good examples of the unusual. However, I concluded that I believed he was going to do those unusual things according to his will not mine.
A few hours later my wife returned and excitedly said, “Guess what just happened to me!” I asked her, “What happened?” She went on to explain that she was at CVS picking up medications for us and the bill was $224. She was going to put it on our credit card when the lady waiting on her said, ‘Wait a minute, don’t swipe the card yet.” The pharm tech then went away and was discussing something with two other ladies. She returned smiling and said, “Thank you and have a nice day.” My wife was perplexed and said, “But I haven’t paid?” The lady replied, “You have a guardian Angel. Haven’t you heard of random acts of kindness?” My wife was dumbfounded. “Are you OK?” the tech asked. “You have an angel” she said again. Finally, my wife, who was visibly shaken and speechless, which in itself is unusual, thanked them and walked away. The three women were all smiling.
After she shared what had happened, we remembered the prophetic word about the unusual. We both just praised the Lord! Also, the Lord used this kindness to confirm his being with my wife on an upcoming colonoscopy, part of the medicines being for that procedure. She knew he was with her and it came out just fine.
You must admit, that was an unusual happening! And we can expect more, so be watching!
'Trump is President, now we must pray for him.'
by Pastor Randy
Now that Donald Trump is officially President of the USA, we are given instruction by The word of God to pray for him. It reads in 1 Tim 2:1-3 "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
Let's do it. I mean, let's really do it!!! Let's pray for him and this new administration.
Is Trump fit to be President?
by Pastor Randy
After hearing Donald Trump’s crude comments concerning women, the question arises “Is he fit to serve as President?” To answer this let’s look at some of God’s decisions after some kings messed up.
King David fell into adultery with Bathsheba and consequently had her husband purposely killed in battle. He paid a great personal price in his own family, but God saw his heart and kept him as king. Or, if you think that is bad how about King Manasseh? He was horrible, even sacrificing his own children to false Gods. God gave him over to his enemies as punishment, but he had a change of heart in prison and God restored him to the throne. Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind for seven years and was put back on the throne after recovering with a new attitude. Were these bad decisions on God’s part? No, because God sees the heart. Men will make mistakes, but they can repent and have the right heart. God knows this.
Donald Trump said crude things at one point in his life, which he admitted, but now he is more mature and is growing wiser. Who hasn’t said or did something that they later regretted. But you don’t disqualify yourself from life. You just move ahead on a straighter course and by the grace of God try not to mess up again. So, give him the same judgment you’d give yourself. Donald’s now married, with good kids, and I don’t think he looks down on women at all. In my opinion, I believe that in his heart he really does want to help America be Great Again. He wants America safe. He’s an organizer and a tough negotiator. He won’t say ‘stand down’ to those in trouble. He knows how business works and what can make it grow. No, he’s not a priest, but God may still use him to lead us to a better future. We'll see.
Who’s Making These Rules Anyway?
Today we are told that it’s wrong to stop a boy, who thinks he’s really a girl, to use the girl’s bathroom. He or she or it might feel bad. Forget that it might make the majority of normal people uncomfortable. And some are said to have a ‘fluid gender’, which is that one day you’re this, the next day you’re that. Whatever you might ‘feel like’ today is what you are. This is insane! And we are to just accept it as the new reality. Who says so? Who’s making these rules anyway?
This is truly a doctrine of the devil if there ever was one. The apostle Paul wrote in his letters to Timothy that in the end time men would not endure sound truth, but give heed to doctrines of devils. The sound truth is that God made male and female period. In fact, in Deut 22:5 it states “ A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” And since God doesn’t like cross dressing, what do you think he feels about a sex change? What gender you physically are born is what you are, not what you feel you are. Since God is not the author of confusion, then where are these confused feelings coming from? I believe it’s coming from a demonic spirit and lie.
To those who might be thinking or feeling like a gender other than they were born, I ask this question, “Have you considered that these feelings might not originate from your heart, but that they could be coming from another source?” What if it was really the devil telling you this lie in order to ruin God’s purpose for your life? This could hold true for suicidal thoughts, same sex attractions or any sinful deed. It could be demonic influence, not God! If so, it must be resisted. The Bible tells us this can be true and that we are to try the spirits to see if they are of God (1 John 4:1). All thoughts must be taken captive to be in obedience to Christ. We must learn to discern good and evil. Jesus himself was tempted of the devil, so we will be also. Jesus defeated Satan by the rightly divided truth of the written Word of God, and so can we. God’s given us the bible for truth and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).
I once heard that if the devil can keep you from the bible, prayer and church, he can deceive you. And that is what I see as happening today. A culture void of bible teaching, no prayer allowed, discouraged church attendance and not even wanting to mention that there is a God. The result is a growing moral darkness and confusion of mind. How dark it will become is proportionate to how much of God’s light (truth) will exist. It’s the knowledge and fear of God that causes men to refrain from evil (Prov 16:6). No knowledge of God means living in dark oppression, but where the Spirit of the Lord is there will be liberty (2 Cor 13:17). We need Jesus, who is the light of the world!
I want you to know that I have written this article out of love. I don’t hate a confused individual, because I know what it is to be under a spirit and have it negatively affect one’s life. I had spirits of rejection, lust and jealousy, all of which kept me from seeing people and enjoying life fully. But through Jesus I have been forgiven of my sins, reconciled to God the Father and set free. The Truth of God’s word and Holy Spirit has cleansed and sanctified my life. God has restored my soul! And I am blessed and eternally grateful! So, I share what I have learned, so you can be set free, be blessed and stay free. Jesus really does love you!
But, as a father and husband, I say ‘NO WAY’ to this male, who thinks he’s a female, going into a girl’s bathroom with my wife, daughter or granddaughter. This is not right and endangers our female population. Why any pervert, under the guise of being transgender, could enter whenever they wanted. Enough is enough of a few ungodly pseudo elite people ruling the masses. And if you feel the same, please raise your voice in protest.
By Pastor Randy Osborn 3/31/2106
On Good Friday, March 25th, 2016, we held a special Redemption Service at our church. The service examined the different aspects of the redemption price Jesus paid for our salvation and the benefits we receive. We also baptized three individuals in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin, according to Acts 2:38. It’s the baptism that was so special.
As I mentioned, three were baptized in water. The first was a Spanish homeless man coming out of alcohol addiction, the second was an engineer who works at a local industry and the third was a godly woman who wanted to be sure she was baptized according to scripture. All were identifying through water baptism with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus their confessed Lord and Savior. We all were gathered in the name of Jesus worshipping God and obeying the Word.
What I thought was so beautiful was, that at that moment in time, there was no male or female, rich or poor, Spanish or English, but just Christian brothers and sisters rejoicing together. It was a picture of how Jesus views his church body and how he wants us to see each other. We are to love one another and see fellow believers as family, no matter what their station in life. We are to look at them as God’s child and judge by their spirit. We are all on a journey, at different levels of spiritual maturity and in different seasons, but we all are God’s workmanship. He is at work in his children to have Christ formed in them.
What I have come to realize is that we as Christians come from varying cultures, have different personalities, gifting, callings and positions in the body of Christ, but in worship we are all the same. Each one of us is a unique soul, with a unique story and a unique way of saying ‘thank you’ to Jesus. No one can take your place and you can’t take anothers place. Each believer is special to God. When we live at peace and worship together, it forms a beautiful atmosphere of praise, in which the Lord can inhabit. How very true is Psalms 133:1 that states “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
A CALL TO CONTINUE A UNITED PRAYER FOR REVIVAL IN 2016: All Area Churches, At the Same Time, Praying the Same Prayer, Asking for Divine Intervention!
by Pastor Randy Osborn
The following letter, calling for a united prayer on Sundays, was sent out April 16, 2015 to local pastors in the Sterling-Rock Falls area of Illinois. It is a result of several things. First, a few months ago we had seen the documentary ‘Appalachian Dawn,’ which was about the transformation of drug-infested Manchester, Kentucky, after the churches began to pray. I began wondering how my area could get such prayer started, when one day I was talking to John, a brother in the church, and he asked, “Why couldn’t the churches just pray for a revival each Sunday?” I then saw how we could get this prayer for an outpouring of God’s spirit started, without even getting together. Every Sunday, all the churches could just pray the same prayer, at the same time. This was a simple plan that could work. So, I crafted a letter, the members helped address all the envelopes and we sent it out to the local pastors. The results are yet to be seen, but your area could do the same thing. Why not join us?
LET'S CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR REVIVAL THROUGH 2016!!!
A CALL TO A UNITED PRAYER IN 2015
This is asking you to join with all other Christian pastors and congregations across the Rock River Valley in crying out for God’s help! Each Sunday morning of 2015, as all the local churches assemble for worship, we are asking the pastors of every church to lead their respective congregations in a prayer asking God to help us by pouring out his Spirit on the Rock River Valley. Let’s ask God to come and turn hearts to Jesus, so we will become a God- fearing, Bible-believing community, filled with blessings and brotherly kindness. The vision is
All Area Churches, At the Same Time, Praying the Same Prayer, Asking for Divine Intervention!
If you are tired of young people committing suicide, drug and alcohol addiction ruining lives, senseless divorces, fornication with children being born out of wedlock, abortions, bulging welfare rolls, racial tension, increasing STD’s, perverseness, pornography, abundant violence and lewdness on TV, gangs, bullying in our schools, rampant crime, declining church attendance, political corruption, ISIS, beheadings and anti-Christian bias, then it’s time to ask for help: God’s help! We need a move of God’s spirit in our lives, homes, churches and communities. We need Jesus, the Light of the World, to dispel the dark!
The Lord Jesus said in Luke 11:9-10, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Yes, God will answer, but we must ask! In fact Jesus went on to say in Luke 11:13 “ If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Don’t we desperately need God to pour out his Holy Spirit on our lives? Let us ask him to do it!
In the 1940’s evangelist Billy Sunday came to our area and preached. He had fruitful meetings, but I was told that he gave a prophecy about our area as he left. He stated that God was not ready to do a mighty work at that time. In fact, he said it would not be in his lifetime. But when God did begin to move, it would be a very great outpouring that would be known far and wide. I personally have felt that I would see this mighty move of God of which he spoke. However, I know it will start as all great outpourings have started, which was with the body of Christ corporately crying out to the Lord. Why not now and why not by us?
I know that you are busy with ministry, which makes it difficult for us to meet together, so all we are asking is that, as a pastor, you will take a few minutes of every Sunday church service of 2015 to lead your congregation in a prayer that acknowledges our helplessness and asks for the Lord to please come and help us. In addition, also encourage the members of Christ’s body to pray for revival throughout the week. Perhaps you are doing this already, but once again, let’s be one voice crying out for help all at the same time. I believe as we agree and humbly ask, God will answer by giving us all grace and wisdom as how to proceed in bringing about meaningful change. I know it will not be by might or power but by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit that these yokes of bondage will be broken!
As an example of what God will do when his people unite in prayer, we encourage you to watch the documentary “An Appalachian Dawn,” about the miraculous transformation of drug-infested Manchester, Kentucky. It gave us hope, and I am sure it will give you hope also. The DVD trailer is on Youtube.com and it is available for purchase at IHOPKC.org. A recent documentary about ISIS and Christian persecution on the ACLJ website, which is called “Let My People Go,” is also very enlightening and motivating.
This United Prayer is being promoted by Pastor Randy Osborn and the Congregation of Living Bread Fellowship in Sterling, Illinois. Please join us by starting next Sunday! A courtesy call or email of your participation would be encouraging. Thank you.
Pastor Randy Osborn
Living Bread Fellowship 1003 Griswold Avenue - Sterling, IL
Ps 107:27-29 “…. they were at their wits' end. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper…..” NIV
Acts 4:23-33 “when they heard this (threats), they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ' ….. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind…much grace was upon them all.” Acts 5:12-15 “… many miraculous signs and wonders …. more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.”
All Area Churches, At the Same Time, Praying the Same Prayer, Asking for Divine Intervention!
THE EMPTY HOUSE
Have you ever gone by an old abandoned house that has been vandalized? The lawn is over grown, the doors and windows are broken and graffiti covers the walls. It is ugly!
On the other hand, you’ve surely seen plenty of occupied houses, or even some vacant homes that are for sale, but yet they are untouched. Or perhaps a house is under construction and left vacant at times, but yet it isn’t usually bothered. Why the difference? I believe one reason is that the abandoned house is empty, neglected and is serving no useful purpose. Where there is a watchful eye and activity the vandals usually stay away.
Jesus used this thought of a cleaned up empty house in his teaching about what happens when a spirit leaves a man. He tells us of an empty house being like a person who finds freedom through Christ, but then does not live for Christ, but abandons him for worldly pursues. From the Living Bible we read in Luke 11:23-26 "Anyone who is not for me is against me; if he isn't helping me, he is hurting my cause. When a demon is cast out of a man, it goes to the deserts, searching there for rest; but finding none, it returns to the person it left, and finds that its former home is all swept and clean. Then it goes and gets seven other demons more evil than itself, and they all enter the man. And so the poor fellow is seven times worse off than he was before." Those demons are like the vandals who come and destroy that abandoned house. There is no watchful eye or godliness present to keep them away.
The apostle Peter explains this in 2 Peter 2:20-22 “And when a person has escaped from the wicked ways of the world by learning about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then gets tangled up with sin and becomes its slave again, he is worse off than he was before. It would be better if he had never known about Christ at all than to learn of him and then afterwards turn his back on the holy commandments that were given to him. There is an old saying that "A dog comes back to what he has vomited, and a pig is washed only to come back and wallow in the mud again." That is the way it is with those who turn again to their sin.”
We are told in 1 Cor 6:11 that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ we are washed, sanctified and justified. Our house is cleaned. Even so, we know that the devil will come to tempt us to turn away from God, just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. But Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and had only one purpose in life, to live fully for God his father. He resisted the devils temptations with ‘it is written’ and refused to abandon God’s purpose for his life. We must do the same.
So, Christian’s let’s have our house filled with the Holy Spirit, God’s word and the love of Jesus, so that when the tempter comes trying to lure us back into the old sinful ways, he will find us so occupied with the things of God, that he just can’t get in the door!
FINDING A BALANCED CHRISTIAN LIFE
One of the most challenging things a Christian has to do is to keep a good balance in life. We have God, family, work, church and social involvements in our lives. How do we keep a healthy balance? Here’s what has helped me find that balance. It is in the scripture of Matt 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; …”
First, I use to think that life’s priorities had values, so one was more important than the other. So, if it came to a choice, the one would have precedent over the other. For instance, family was above church or work.
I have come to realize that looking at it like that wasn’t correct. God, family, work, ministry and social all are equally important in having an abundant life. The key to the balance and doing what is right at the time is always seeking God first, as stated in Matt 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; …” I have found when I seek God first and spend time with the Lord, he gives me the wisdom to make those righteous choices, and thus balance things rightly.
Here’s an example concerning a family matter. I was heavily involved in a new church plant when my daughter was training to run the Chicago marathon. The run was on Sunday and since it was her first major marathon, she really wanted her mother and me to be there to encourage her. What was the right thing for me to do? Is it church or my daughter on that Sunday?
I began seeking the Lord for what was right in his sight, and he answered. The Lord said to me, “Your daughter needs you right now and if you give her time to something else, you will be stealing what belongs to her.” I didn’t want to cheat my daughter, so I arranged for someone else to handle my church responsibilities and we went to the Chicago marathon to cheer her on. We moved from spot to spot along the 26 mile course so we could see her. She did well and shared that us being there, especially at the 18 mile marker, really helped. She went on to run in many more and even qualified to run the Boston Marathon, but she never requested us to be there, as she had that first time she ran. I was so glad we went and was part of that experience. And I know God was pleased, for I had obeyed him.
At times over the years I have had to choose work or church over family time and vice versa. And as I look back, I have made some bad choices. But those came when I wasn’t really seeking the Lord first and asking for his guidance. When I give God the first of my time and seek to do what he says is best, he balances things out, so I can have an abundant life.
So, to stay balanced, make your number one priority spending time with God. Make sure you set aside some time each day to read the Bible and talk to the Lord in prayer. Get in that ‘prayer closet’ Jesus spoke of and pray in secret. If the Lord is truly your shepherd, Jesus said you’ll hear his voice. And Psalms 23 promises you will not want and he will lead you in paths of righteousness of his names sake. You’ll find balance.
GOD KNOW WHERE HE LIVES
The other Sunday a lady gave an interesting report of talking to two ladies about reaching God and heaven. One woman said, “We all have our own beliefs and the many different religions are all leading to God”. It was then that the Holy Spirit said to the Christian woman, “Tell them God knows where he lives.” The two others replied, “What did you say?” I said, “God knows where he lives!” “What does that mean?” they asked. The conversation followed as such.
She asked them, “If you wanted to go to a certain person’s house, but didn’t know how to get there, then wouldn’t you ask directions from someone?” “Of course”, they answered. Well, if you asked two people the way and the first one said “I haven’t been there, but I think if you go here and turn there you’ll be there.” The second person you ask replies, “I’ve been there myself, go here and turn there and you will be right at the place.” Now, the first person just believed he knew, but wasn’t exactly sure if he was right, but the second had actually been there and knew for sure the directions would get you to your destination. Which one would you believe? Of course you would believe and follow the directions of the one who had been there, right?
There seems to be many over the ages that claim to know how to get to God or heaven. Actually, they just believe their way is right and are not really for sure. Mohammed is one of those who was not actually sure of his salvation. But Jesus, God’s son, claimed in John 3: 13-15 that he came from heaven and told us that believing in him and following his teaching would assuredly get you there. I think we should listen to someone who has been in heaven with God, the Father, as how to get to his house, don’t you? He actually said in John 14:1-3 that he went back to his father’s house to prepare mansions for the believers to dwell in. I think I’ll stay with his directions. How about you?
TRYING TODAY'S SPIRITS!
By Pastor Randy Osborn
Today we are seeing more and more people coming out of the closet and proclaiming that they are homosexual. Society as a whole is against this sexual orientation, but with governmental leaders and much of the media celebrating this so called freedom, it is becoming confusing. Since in 1 Tim 4:1,2 the Apostle Paul warned that in the latter times some would depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits, doctrines of devils and speak lies, let’s look to the holy scriptures for truth on this subject.
First, Jesus did basically four things as he ministered those three and a half years on earth. Mathew 4: 23,24 states that he went about preaching the Kingdom of God, teaching in the synagogues, healing the sick and casting ‘unclean spirits’ out of people who were demon possessed. That same ministry, including casting out of evil spirits, was given to the twelve disciples he sent out in Matt 10:1. It is also given to the Christian believers today. In Mark 16:17 Jesus said believers will “in my name cast out devils”. We see this recorded throughout the book of Acts. The Apostle Peter cast out spirits in Acts 5:16, the Apostle Paul delivered a young lady in Acts 16:16-18, the Evangelist Phillip demonstrated deliverances in Acts 8: 6-7 and Acts 19:11-16 records a very interesting demonic encounter surrounding Paul. Even today deliverances are happening in Spirit Filled Christian Churches around the world.
Briefly, I would like to point out that there is a spirit realm that is unseen, but affects us all. There are the Spirit of God, the holy angels, the Devil and his demons existing in this realm. Spirits are non-material beings. Fortunately, God and the good spirits outnumber the evil ones two to one. Now, the Spirit of God is described as holy, good, righteous, truth, light and love. God uses ‘truth and love’ to set us free and wants to give us an abundant life in Christ. God’s angels watch over and minister to the heirs of salvation. On the other hand, demons are part of the Devil’s Kingdom of Darkness, which uses fear and lies to control. Each demon has a particular negative trait. They will project the thoughts and feelings of their character on their assignments. They are, to name a just a few, witchcraft, idolatry, seduction, lust, fear, rejection, rebellion, stubbornness, hate, revenge, bitterness, murder, suicide, lying, jealousy, envy, greed, pride, perversion, infirmity and death. These are, of course, to be rejected. Their only purpose is to ‘kill, steal and destroy’. Demons tempt through the senses using the ‘lust of the flesh, lust of eye and pride of life’. The human spirit is our will, which is what God and the demons both want. But God wants our heart to be given freely out of love, but demons want to capture it! The demonic spirit will tempt us to break God’s moral law, which in turn brings negative consequences and will give them legal right to control. Your soul is the prize!
Now, the scriptures teach us to test our feelings and thoughts to see if they are good or bad. In 1 John 4:1 we are exhorted ‘not to believe every spirit but to try them, to see if they are from God’. We are given the scriptures, our conscience, other Christians and the Holy Spirit to help us tell what is right. In fact, one of the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Cor 12:10 is ‘discerning of spirits’. We are also told in James 4:7 ‘to resist the Devil’ and in 2 Cor 10:5 ‘to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ’. Again, 1 Tim 4: 1-2 warns of some departing from the faith and listening to demonic lies! False teachers, demonic influence, oppression and possession are realities today. We need to be watchful and think!!
OK, back to people proclaiming they are gay. As a Pastor, who has had some experience in the deliverance ministry, I feel strongly that the homosexual feelings and traits are demonically inspired and not a genetic trait. The spirit might be from a ‘generational family curse’, but I’m not aware of any legitimate scientific study that has identified a ‘gay gene’. Thus, the sexual attraction to the same sex is not really a feelings coming from the individual at all, but is coming from a spirit on the person. If believed and received, then that influencing spirit enters the individual and will take more and more control. So much so, that it will even altar the walk, talk and characteristics of the individual. The homosexual spirit is marked by ‘extremism’, ‘unnatural affection’ and ‘sensuality’. They will be emotionally out of balance in most aspects of life. The homosexual act is described in the scriptures as an abomination in Lev 18:22 and 1 Cor 6: 9-11 states that those practicing this lifestyle will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Jesus referred to it being like the ‘Days of Lot’ before his coming in Luke 17:28-29 and Lot’s day was marked primarily by the sin of Sodomy, which is homosexuality. It is a sign of the end time and of rejecting God. It is a sin with destructive consequences.
What about Gay marriage? What would it hurt? Well, I believe Jesus, knowing what we would face today, told us what very well might happen in his statement of Matt 7:6 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” In scripture the term ‘dog’ can carry different meanings, but I believe the ‘dogs’ he is referring to here can be taken to mean the same as were mentioned in Duet 23: 17-18 “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abominations unto the LORD thy God.” The ‘dog’ here is definitely referring to sodomites or homosexuals. So, if we give ‘Holy Marriage’ to the ‘dogs/homosexuals’ Jesus said they may very well trample and destroy the sacred institution of marriage all together! We should do as Jesus said and not give it to them. Why take the chance? We should not promote or celebrate this sinful lifestyle. Also, it’s interesting to note that ‘dogs’ are the first ones mentioned as being not allowed in the New Jerusalem in Rev 22: 15. Besides, if today we all decided to turn homosexual then no more children would be born and humans would cease to exist on planet earth in as little as 100 years. That’s not God’s plan stated in Gen 1: 27-28, which is for men and women to marry and populate the earth!
What saddens me most is that many young people are being told a lie. They are being told is that God made them to have these same sex feelings and to just accept them. Few are telling them that these thoughts and feelings are not of God and that they are to be resisted! It is a demon influence trying to get them to meet a legitimate need for affection in an illegitimate way. In turn, many are oppressed and even becoming demon possessed! Also, they aren’t being informed about the many negative health issues and shortened life span of those that practice the gay lifestyle. Romans 1:27 actually points to a ‘built in penalty’ for such sexual practices. And I ask you, why don’t they show a Gay Pride Parade on TV? I’ll tell you why, because they are so disgusting. But the good news is that Jesus is still setting the captives free and destroying the works of the Devil!
The homosexual sin is just a sin like adultery, drunkenness or stealing. It is just not right in God’s eyes, so it needs to be resisted or repented of if one is caught in it. It can be forgiven and freedom in Christ is available. But one must confess it as sin, renounce it, turn from it and accept Jesus as Lord. Jesus will help the heart’s cry of the truly sorrowful by giving grace. True freedom and righteousness are available, but one must whole heartily continue in the Word of the Lord, which will show us the truth and set us free. The wrong sexual appetite that has been awakened will in time die out and be replaced by purity, if one doesn’t give up. Freedom will come to those who have faith.
I want you to know that I have written this article out of love. I don’t hate homosexuals, but I know what it is to be under a spirit and have it negatively affect one’s life. I had spirits of rejection, lust and jealousy, all of which kept me from seeing people and enjoying life fully. But through Jesus I have been forgiven of my sins, reconciled to God the Father and set free. The Truth of God’s word and Holy Spirit has cleansed and sanctified my life. God has restored my soul! And I am blessed and eternally grateful! So, I share what I have learned, so you can be set free, be blessed and stay free. Jesus really does love you!
So in conclusion, remember that every thought or feeling you have is not necessarily of God. We need to try the words, thoughts and feelings we encounter. Give them the test of conscious and scripture. Are you feeling peace in your spirit or are you getting a sick feeling? Does this agree with what the Bible says is righteous? If you have peace and it is ok with God, then go with it. If not then, reject it! Follow after holiness and stay free!!
FRANKINCENSE NOT HONEY
In the Old Testament we read that God required the incense frankincense with meat offerings. Lev 2:15 “… lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering.” Also, in the holy place on the Table of Shew Bread, the bread was offered with the incense Frankincense. Lev 24:7 “And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” However, we see ‘honey’ was forbidden to used with the burnt meat offerings. Lev 2:11 “… for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire.” Why?
First, we all know honey is pleasant to the taste and this is stated in Proverbs 24:13 “… honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.” The sweetness of honey is also compared to the sweetness of the Lord’s laws, precepts, ordnances, commandments and fear in Psalms 19:10 “… they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” So, if honey is sweet, why doesn’t the Lord want honey in burnt offerings?
The reason lies in what happens to honey when fire is applied. Honey will just disappear in the fire producing no sweet aroma. Frankincense, on the other hand, will produce a sweet odor when the fire is applied. It leaves a lingering pleasant odor – a memorial. So, what does this mean to you and me?
As Christians we are told in Romans 12:1 to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord. And because our sacrifices will often face trouble or difficulty in their administration, our attitude needs to like Frankincense not honey. What I mean is that we all can be honey sweet when all is going well, but it disappears when things go wrong. For instance, someone sits in my seat at church. However, if we are like Frankincense, when things go wrong or trouble arises, we actually become sweeter and more pleasant. Frankincense is a good attitude that glorifies Christ! A good attitude in a bad situation leaves a notable and lingering impression.
After teaching this awhile back, I was tried on being like frankincense not just honey. Here’s what happened. We had watched my daughter’s dogs while she was at a work related conference and the big lab had gotten in the living room and clawed my leather couch. I hadn’t seen it for several days, but when I sat down one evening I saw the damaged couch. Immediately, the Holy Spirit reminded me to be like frankincense and not to lose my temper. It wasn’t easy, but I did my best to stay calm and collected. My wife later commented that I had handled that well. Actually, the Lord in me handled it well!!!
I thank God for his Word, in this case about the frankincense and honey, because it prepared me to glorify Christ in a bad situation. May this teaching help you also!
In conclusion, a good attitude in a bad situation is a sweet perfume to God. It is frankincense. Let’s remember 1 Thess 5:8 “In Everything give thanks, this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
When we think of ‘meditation’, our minds usually think of some Eastern Religion or picture a Buddhist monk sitting in a candle light room chanting. However, it’s really not like that at all, and a closer look at the scriptures will show that the Bible refers to meditation quite often. Let’s look at biblical meditation.
First, the definition of ‘meditate’ is to engage in contemplation or reflection. It is to reflect, ponder or focus one’s thoughts on something. So, bible meditation is simply to focus and seriously think about some bible subject or scriptural thought, with the intent of really understanding it. It’s like chewing gum until you get all of the flavor out.
God gave Joshua, when he was taking over the leadership from Moses, the following counsel in Joshua 1:8 “ Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” If we desire productive and abundant spiritual lives, this is wise advise for us today! Meditate on the Lord’s word constantly, in order to understand it and put it in practice!
King David, a man after God’s heart, said in Psalm 104:34 “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.” David expressed his thoughts about meditating throughout Psalm 119. He said he meditated on his God’s goodness and unfailing love. He also mentioned meditating on God’s Word, laws, precepts, statutes and promises. The testimonies of God’s wonderful works and ways were constantly on his mind. He encouraged himself in the Lord. He expressed in Ps 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” We should cherish God, his word and his ways the same.
In the Apostle Paul’s New Testament letter of 1 Timothy 4:12, he exhorted the young Timothy to be an example in word, in lifestyle, in charity, in spirit, in faith and in purity. And Paul then stated in 1 Timothy 4:15 “meditate upon these things and give thyself wholly to them: that thy profiting may appear to all.” Our growth in God’s grace and power will be evident also, if we will take Paul’s advise about meditating on and applying in these areas of our lives.
What we think on matters, if we want God’s peace. In Phil 4:8-9 we read “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” All wonder David wrote in Ps 19:14 “ May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Let’s all take God’s word, the Bible, more serious and meditate on the scriptures daily. It will greatly profit us spiritually. After all in 2 Tim 3:16-17 “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Was Phil Robertson Correct?
By Pastor Randy Osborn
Recently, Phil Robertson of the popular ‘Duck Dynasty’ TV show was suspended by A & E because he declared that the scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 stated that the homosexual sex act was a sin. On the other hand groups like GLAD, liberal theologians, many governmental leaders and much of the media are celebrating and encouraging this so called freedom. Gay marriage is now allowed in many states. Since in 1 Tim 4:1,2 the Apostle Paul warned us that ‘…in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils and speak lies…’, let’s look to the holy scriptures to see who’s declaring the truth.
First, we must realize Phil Robertson is a Christian and so he has adapted a ‘Biblical Worldview’. Indeed, all Christians should believe the Bible is God’s Word, true and is what gives us our moral compass. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. Also, Psalms 119:105 states, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path.” Thus, along with our conscience and the Holy Spirit, the scripture to the Christian is a filter by which all feelings, thoughts, or teachings are compared, to discern if they are true or not. If something contradicts what the Bible teaches about an issue, then it is false and is to be avoided. If it agrees with what the Bible says is righteous, then it must be accepted. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 we are exhorted to “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. ” We all have the God given free will to accept or reject something , so we can debate Phil’s wisdom or choice of words in speaking about this issue, but Christians can’t debate the truth stated in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. “ Clearly, immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, thievery, greediness, drunkenness, slandering and swindling are sins, which if not repented of, will keep one from going to heaven.
Since this is Bible truth it should be accepted, but perhaps the bigger question is “Why was this truth spoken?” Truth can be spoken for various reasons, like to impress, hurt, warn, instruct, encourage, comfort, correct, convict or condemn. Truth should be spoken in love to edify. (Eph 4:15) If Phil spoke in love, which I’m sure he did, to convict others of sin and to warn them of God’s judgment if they don’t repent, then good. But if he spoke to condemn the sinner to Hell, with no hope of God’s forgiveness at repentance, then he was indeed in error. All judgment has been given to Jesus, not to us. (Acts 10:42) As long as there is breath, the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that there is hope with God for forgiveness and for making heaven your home at death. I’m sure Phil was speaking to help people turn from a life the Bible says is sin, which has wages of death, to an abundant and eternal life in Christ.(Roman 6:22-23)
So, please don’t reject Phil just because he’s told the truth. That’s like hating the doctor who told you that you have a life threatening disease and need special treatment. I recently experienced chest pain and ended up in the emergency room. After testing I learned I had Coronary Heart Disease and needed immediate open heart bypass surgery. Well, I didn’t like hearing that report, but I knew the doctor was telling me the truth and it was for my good. So, I had the surgery, which has extended my life. It’s similar when God’s Word tells us we are living wrong and that it will have negative eternal consequences if we don’t change. We should submit to God and let Jesus, the great physician, do an open heart surgery! It is for our eternal good. Don’t hate God’s messenger for telling you the truth!
So, from the ‘Biblical Worldview’, Phil stated correctly that the homosexual sin is just a sin like adultery, drunkenness or stealing. It is just not right in God’s eyes, so like all sin, it needs to be resisted or repented of if one is caught in it. It can be forgiven and freedom in Christ is available. In 1 Cor 6:11, after previously mentioning homosexuality in verse 9, it states that ‘And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Yes, some in the early church were x-gays that had been set free through faith in Jesus. The truth is, the Bible in Romans 3:23 states that “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, so we all need to repent of our sins and have faith in Jesus for Salvation. (Act 20:21) Jesus is still the Great High Priest sitting on heavens throne of grace and will help those who call on him with a believing heart. (Heb 4:15-16) True freedom and righteousness are available, but we must whole heartily continue in the Word of the Lord, which will show us the truth and set us free. (John 8: 31-32). Freedom will come to those who have faith. (1 John 5:4)
In Conclusion, in American we have freedom of speech. Phil Robertson just stated what he believed was Biblical truth and I also believe he spoke in love to help. He has brought this subject to light, so we can think about it. And, as one minister says, “We must think to believe and believers must think!” He has made me think about this issue in the light of God’s Word and to form an opinion. Thanks Phil for making me think.
BE ANGRY AND SIN NOT!
by Pastor Randy Osborn
Have you ever been angry? Most assuredly, the answer is ‘Yes’. That’s because anger is an emotion common to man. Even God experiences anger and we see him expressing his great wrath in the book of Revelation. Even Jesus demonstrated a righteous indignation, when he tipped over the tables of those selling in the temple. Since we have to deal with anger, whether it is a righteous indignation or otherwise, let’s take a closer look at this emotion.
First, the definition of anger is ‘a strong feeling of displeasure’. Ps 6:1 says “Oh Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” Anger is a feeling of displeasure that is an internal burning. It must be internally managed.
Anger not controlled turns to wrath or rage. And James 1:20 tells us “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Also, Proverbs 16:32 tells us “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” Also, Proverbs 19:11 says “People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.” Through faith in Jesus we have received the Holy Spirit, which gives us ‘self control’, as told in Gal 5:22-24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is ….. self-control.” So, the Christian has the spiritual strength to control their emotions, but we must choose to do it. Anger must be internally managed.
Scripture reads in Eph 4:26-27 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Again, this says that we will all deal with anger, but we are warned not to do or say something while angry that we will regret later. Don’t react in the flesh. Many a relationship have ended, objects have been broken, jobs have been quit, car accidents have occurred, unholy words were spoken, fights have started and cruel acts preformed, all because people have acted out of anger. But if we will take time to pray and listen to God, we can bring the situation under his control before harmful things happen. We are told not to ignore anger, but to get the anger under control of the Holy Spirit as quickly as possible or else the devil will take advantage of the situation to cause great harm. As an example, let me tell you about the ‘lost hamster”.
A good while ago, my wife and I had an argument about something. I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember that we both were so angry that we couldn’t even look at each other. Well, we knew the Ephesians 4:26-27 scripture about not letting it go to the next day, so we got down on our knees and prayed about it. But quite frankly, the feelings didn’t leave. We went to bed lying as far apart as possible. But then God helped the situation.
The kids had let the hamster out of the cage a few days earlier and we could hear a rustling noise coming from some papers in the corner. I immediately said “It’s the hamster!” We both jumped out of bed and began chasing him around the room. We began laughing and the tension from our argument vanished. God had helped us by refocusing our attention on something other than the argument. We had prayed and brought Jesus into the situation, and he answered our prayer by sending that hamster! So, when you feel hot displeasure rising inside you, remember to take it to Jesus as quickly as possible.
We must learn to not react in flesh, but learn to wait for the Holy Spirits leading. In fact, God can even use this emotion to shed light on an issue of the heart that might be hindering your walk with him. Proverbs 20:27 “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.” Knowing the real cause of the anger is a great help in controlling it! Angry moments can be lessons from God.
When angry you are displeased at something. Again, ask God to show you what’s evoking this angry feeling. It might be real or imagined. The feeling might be a righteous indignation at some injustice or it could be you feel bothered, insulted, rejected, frustrated, left out, threatened, afraid, jealous, envious or you could be experiencing an unknown reaction to something that happened in your past. Ask God, who knows the thoughts and intents of the heart to show you, so the truth can set you free. Here’s an example.
Once my wife said something to me that caused me to push her away when she came next to me. I didn’t hurt her physically, but she was emotionally hurt and angry, for I had never reacted that way before. She went to the bedroom and I followed her. I told her, “I am so sorry, I don’t know why I reacted that way. Please, let’s ask the Lord.” She agreed and we began to pray. Almost immediately I was ten years old and my Mother was pushing me away from my little brother, who had just came home from the being born. God was showing me that I was feeling rejected by my wife, just like I felt rejected back then. I was set free from that negative past experience and my wife forgave me. It has never happened again. Praise God!
Forgiveness also is a big issue. Jesus instructed us to forgive or we will not be forgiven. Eph 4:32 reads “ Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” If we don’t forgive we will live with a constant bitterness of soul and an abiding spirit of anger. Jesus called this the ‘tormentors’ in Matthew 18:34-35. Only forgiveness frees us from this torment.
In conclusion, when you feel that burning or anger arising within you, do the following: 1. Don’t ignore the feeling or react in the flesh, but bring it under control of the Holy Spirit as quickly as possible. 2. Think things through and analyze what is really making you displeased. 3. If it’s not obvious, ask the Lord for help discerning the cause and for wisdom. 4. Wait for the Lord’s instructions before acting. 4. Forgive if necessary.
So, let’s control that anger and not let it control us. We can be angry and sin not!
PEER PRESSURE CAN BE GOOD
By Pastor Randy Osborn
Eph 5:11 "Take no part in the worthless pleasures of evil and darkness, but instead, rebuke and expose them". TLB
A few years back I was traveling with my in-laws and the Lord gave me insight about peer pressure. It was late at night and we needed gas for our automobile, so we pulled off of the highway to a gas station. The place was older looking and a bunch of bikers were fueling up when we pulled up. After I filled our tank, we decided to have a bite to eat in the small restaurant that was attached to the gas station.
The café was empty except for about five guys talking at table. The men were tough looking. They all had shaved heads and wore tattoos. I felt out of place being there, like we were in someone’s private club. I just wanted to have a coffee and leave, but the mother in-law wanted some pie, so we ordered. As the waitress was taking her order, my fears were heightened.
The men at the table were having a heated discussion about something and then one of them stood up saying the ‘F word’ and angrily spoke something about shooting someone with his AK47 rifle. I don’t think my in-laws heard it, but I did, and was thinking, “We are definitely in the wrong place!!” That’s when something interesting happened.
Then one of the other fellows at the table stood up and said, “Hey, we don’t talk like that when a lady is present!” The angry man then said, “Sorry man,” and sat down. I heard no other fowl language while we were present. We peacefully finished our meal, paid and left.
As we drove away, I thought of peer pressure. One member of that group of men had spoken up and used his influence, among his peers, to cause righteous behavior. I thought, “peer pressure can be used as an influence for good or bad.”
Ordinarily, we think of peer pressure as being negative. We think of teens being pressured by other teens to drink, do drugs or have sex. But, teens can pressure each other to do what’s right also. The social pressure of being accepted by your peers is a guiding force, so why not use it for good!
When I was a freshman in high school, some peer pressure taught me a valuable lesson about the tongue. We were having an assembly and as some girls were performing I tried to impress my friends by saying something naughty. The comment was also heard by some senior girls, who were sitting nearby. The girls didn’t say anything, but all three turned around and gave me very scornful looks. Very scornful! I felt ashamed and wanted to crawl under the bleacher. I was wrong and they were reproving my bad behavior. They actually did society and me a favor, for those disapproving looks helped correct my unrighteous behavior.
Jesus, in Matt 5:13-15, taught us to be “light and salt” in this world. The apostle Paul confirmed this teaching in Ephesian 5:8,11 by telling the church to be light in the Lord and to reprove the works of darkness. As we follow Christ's teachings, the behavior or activity that we model, accept or reject, will demonstrate to our world what the Lord accepts or rejects.
So, remember that in the social circles that we are part of, whether in school, work, family, sport, church or friends, we can be a guiding light. Always, use wisdom and act in love, but let your approval of good actions or rejection of bad behavior be made known. We can make a difference in our world!
THE SOFT ANSWER
Once, when I was working as a flooring contractor, there was confusion over where the different colored carpets were to be installed. A supervisor who was there instructed me to install it a certain way, which I did. However, when the owner came by and saw the carpets he was very upset.
He began to use fowl language and call me names, which began to stir up my anger. As we were walking to another building the owner continued to curse at me. I could feel my face getting red and my fists were beginning to clench, but then something happened to changed things. The Holy Spirit brought Proverbs 15:1 to my mind. It reads “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”
I then chose to obey the Word of the Lord and began to speak softly. I calmly said “I’m sorry this happened. Is there anything we can I do to fix it?”
Almost immediately I witnessed the anger leave the man and his face changed. He answered back “Oh, it’ll be OK, I’ll just paint the wall. I never liked this color anyway.”
I paid for the paint and it worked out peaceably, thanks to the Lord. I’m glad I listened and obeyed what the wisdom of the Spirit had spoken to me, for it sure saved me much grief.
As one preacher once told me, “When we work the Word, the Word works!”
RESURRECTIONS OF THE DEAD
The resurrections of the dead and judgment are an important doctrine in the Bible. The understanding of when these resurrections occur, who takes part in them and what they face, will both challenge and motivate us to live a holy life. With this in mind, let’s look into the Word for understanding.
First, Hebrews 9:27 states ‘it is given man once to die and then the judgment.’ We all will experience this death process, unless we are alive at Christ’s return. Death is a separation of soul and spirit from the body. So when we die, the spirit and soul depart the natural body. The spirit goes back to God who gave it and the soul will exist ‘somewhere’ until one of the resurrections and the reuniting with one’s former body. But where will the soul abide?
The soul of man will go to one of two places at natural death. It will go to a paradise, which now exists in the third heaven where Jesus abides, or to a lower region in the earths heart called ‘Hades’ or ‘Hell.’ Jesus explained this clearly in a Luke 16:19-31 parable about the death of two men. After death, one went to a place of comfort called Abraham’s bosom, reflecting he had faith in God. The other man went to a place of torment. Both had memory in tact and full senses. Although death is sometimes referred to as sleep, it is only because of the unawareness of what’s going on under the sun. They definitely were not just sleeping, as we know it.
What determines where the soul will abide after death? Simply, ‘the where’ is determined by whether or not a person dies in their sin. John 8:24. We all have sinned and come short of God’s glory, so we are all condemned. Romans 3:23 However, Romans 5:1 & 10:9 declares whoever has confessed faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Savior has peace with God and are living in God’s grace. Believers that are living righteous lives in fellowship with Christ will go to heaven to be with him when they die. Jesus said he went to prepare a place for those who believe in John 14:1-2. However, if one is living in sin, Ephesians 2:1 tells us they are ‘spiritually dead’, which means they are living separated them from the Holy God. So, when they die, the life apart from God that they are experiencing in this life will just continue. At death they will go to Hades to await the resurrection for the white throne judgment. However, if a person has accepted and confessed Jesus Christ as savior and is living for the Lord, their sin is forgiven and the fellowship they have with the Lord will just get better. They will go to ‘paradise’ to be with Lord at death. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21-23 that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord and that to be with Christ is far better than to live in this flesh. Death has no sting to a Christian, because their sins have been forgiven and they have pasted from death unto life. 1 Cor 15:55-57 ,John 5:24
Now, let’s look at the resurrections of the dead. Paul in 1 Cor 15:20-25 refers to three resurrections. The first occurred when Jesus rose from the dead, the second would be at his second coming and then there’s one at the end. The first resurrection is past, and the second is soon coming, when Jesus returns in the clouds. Those that have died believing in Christ will be at that time be resurrected in glorified bodies. Those believers, who are alive at his coming, will experience an instantaneous change into a glorified body. 1 Cor 15:51-53 They will then be caught up with the other raised believers, to meet the Lord in the air. This is called the Rapture of the Church and is mentioned in 1 Thes 4:13-18. These will reign with Christ during his thousand-year reign. It is also referred to as the First Resurrection in Rev 20:6, and all those in the first resurrection need not fear the second death. Those in the first resurrection are called blessed and holy.
The Third resurrection occurs after the millennial reign of Christ. Rev 20:5. The earth as we know it has been changed and all the rest of the dead will be raised, in their bodies, to face the White Throne Judgment. The Book of works will be opened for judgment, but those not in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be thrown into the ‘lake of fire.” This is called the Second Death. This is the final and eternal separation from God. Rev 20:11-15
Please remember that God does not want you to live separate from him now, after death in Hades or to be thrown into that lake of fire. The fact that the lake of fire was made for the Devil and his angels is recorded in Matt 25:41. But God our Savior sent his son to die for your sins, so you can be brought into his fellowship in the light. John 3:16 reads “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Don’t die in you sins, accept Christ today and be reconciled to God the Father! Then live a holy life which is pleasing to the Lord and be part of that first resurrection.
WISDOM - ONE GREAT PROMISE!
One of the greatest promises in the Bible, aside from salvation, is the promise of Godly Wisdom. It reads in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Of course, it goes on the say that we will need to ask God in faith if we except to receive. But that’s true of salvation or any other promise as well.
But think about it. If we don’t know what to do in any situation, we can just pray and ask God and he will gladly let us know what to do. It might come directly or from another person who has understanding in that area, but it will come. And God knows everything. We have access to the wisdom of Solomon and Daniel. When Jesus taught and spoke his parables concerning the Kingdom of God, he showed understanding in husbandry, banking, building, fishing, farming, sewing, military, spirits, diseases, baking and more. Yes, we can have the spirit of wisdom that even our Lord Jesus Christ possessed. Wow! What a promise!
Here’s just one simple testimony of how asking for wisdom worked in my life. One Sunday afternoon, after church my daughter was doing the dishes and cut her finger on a sharp knife. It was bleeding so profusely that the wife and I couldn’t get a bandage on the cut. As we struggled to tend to the injury, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Why don’t you ask for wisdom?” This was very interesting, because I had just ministered on the subject of Wisdom that very morning. I humbly obeyed and asked, “Lord, please give me wisdom to bandage this finger.” The answer came immediately as the Holy Spirit said, “Just squeeze her wrist.” I did just that, which slowed the blood flow to her finger, and we were able to apply the bandage. I thank God for that wisdom, which I have applied several times since.
The Bible teaches that wisdom of God covers all areas of our life. So, if you need direction in anything- just ask God for wisdom. If you need help in dealing with a situation at work –ask God for wisdom. If you are a parent that’s having a problem with a child –ask God for wisdom. If you are starting a new job –ask God for wisdom. If you are a student having trouble with a particular subject –ask God for wisdom. If you are doing a task at home and don’t know what to do –ask God for wisdom. If you are dealing with a difficult person –ask God for wisdom. If you are struggling in a relationship- ask God for wisdom. In whatever situation you find yourself and if you don’t know what to do, just ask God for wisdom! The Word promises God will give it!
The Tithe and Me
By Pastor Randy Osborn
The tithe means ‘one tenth’. One cannot read the Bible without running across the word tithe many times, especially in the Old Testament. The tithe’s primary purpose was to support the priesthood(1) . It is also mentioned by Jesus in the gospels(2) , but we only see it occurring once in the epistles, in the book of Hebrews(3). By not being mentioned by all the Apostles, it raises the question, “Is Tithing part of the New Testament Covenant?” The answer is ‘Yes ’, because of honor. And this article is how I came to discover this truth.
Now, I was not raised in what you might call a ‘Christian home’, but it was a loving home and my parents were honest and hardworking. The Bible wasn’t read, talked about or discussed, but Mom took me to Sunday school and I was confirmed in the Lutheran Church. However, I knew little of scripture or what it was to be a Christian. I stopped attending church in High School. So, I was a clean slate for the Lord to write on.
I came to Christ in the early 70’s in what was termed the ‘Jesus Movement’. Many thousands were added to the church at this time. I accepted Christ Jesus as my personal savior, was baptized and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was ‘born again’ and of course began going to church, which meant giving offerings. I found myself giving a tenth, because it just seemed the right thing to do. I really had no scriptural basis. Actually, I always have given that amount, even when I felt it was law and not grace.
As I grew in knowledge of the Lord and God’s word, I began to read about tithing and heard many a sermon about why we should tithe. But I just was not convinced that it was a New Testament requirement. I felt it was just a guideline. If I was asked about tithing I would just say “It’s between you and God.” I really felt it was an Old Testament Law, thus not applicable to now, since the written Law of Moses and the priesthood has been abolished(4).
Actually, early on, the Lord tried speaking to me about this issue through a dream. In the dream, I was running up the front steps of the church that I was then attending, waving my tithe offering saying, “I have my tithe now!” But when I reached the top and looked around, the church was empty. It took years for me to figure out that God was showing me that if we don’t give tithes and offerings the church will not exist!
As the years went by, I continued to struggle with the issue of tithing being part of the New Testament economy, but not with giving. I knew God loved a cheerful giver and that he would bless those who gave (5). Once I actually gave all I owned to help an evangelist whose car had broken down, and God abundantly blessed me. But that is another story. It was I as I was studying on the subject of ‘honor’ that my spiritual eyes began to open to tithing for today. I found that one of the ways we honor someone is to give them financial support, as in honoring our father and mother in their old age (6). But it was when I read John 5:23 “That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father…” that my reasoning was challenged. The question then arose, “If Jesus was to be honored like the Father, how exactly was the Father honored?” The answer became clear in the scriptures.
In Proverbs 3:9-10 it reads “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Also, I read in Leviticus 27:30-33 that “… a tenth is holy unto the Lord.” Through the prophet Malachi God rebuked them for not honoring him as a Father (7) and of robbing him of tithes and offerings (8). God the Father was honored by the tithe and that was how his house and ordained ministry was maintained and in turn the people blessed(9). So in the same way, Jesus is to be honored with the tithe and offerings, so his house, ‘the church’ (10), will have the needed funds to function and for the Christian to be blessed.
Also, Jesus said that it was a righteous act when the Pharisee’s tithed (11) and that we are to give to God what belongs to God (12), which is the first tenth. And Romans 13:7 exhorts us to “Give everyone what you owe him….. if honor, then honor.” God is holy and should be honored with the holy tenth. You see, when we honor Jesus Christ with the tithe, we are also acknowledging and honoring the Father who sent him (13).
One might also mention that before the Law was given, Abraham, called the father of faith, gave tithes to a priest of the Most High God called Melchizedek for his blessing (14). In Hebrews the 7th chapter we read that Jesus himself is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and that he has given us a better covenant (15). Also, in the book of Galatians we are told that Abraham actually had the Gospel preached to him(16) . So it follows that Christians, as the children of Abraham by our faith in Christ (17), should honor Jesus with the tenth for his blessings, just like Abraham did. Jesus also said that Abraham’s children would do Abraham’s works (18). Abraham paid tithes.
Also, concerning where to give your tithe, Jacob mentioned giving a tenth to the house of God in Bethel and again that occurred before the Law of Moses was instituted (19). In Malachi 3:10 we are told to bring “all the tithes into God’s house”. For the Christian today, Hebrews 3:6 and I Timothy 3:15 tells us that God’s house is the church of Jesus Christ. We also see in Acts 4:32, as the church was first being formed, the believers laying offerings at the feet of the Apostles, the recognized church leaders. So the tithes should go to the church, which is God’s house and Christ’s body on earth. Tithing to the church is meant to be an act of faith towards God and a way God can bless the believer.
Actually, one the greatest blessing of honoring the Lord is that God in turn honors you. In 1 Samuel 2:30 God says “…those who honor me, I will honor.” So, if you support his house, then he will support your house. If you care and help his children, then he will in turn care for and help your children. He also will open up the windows of heaven and bless you. Favor will be given and power to get wealth, as well as, rebuking the destroyer for your sake(20) . When the Devil tries to kill, steal or destroy, the Lord will be your shield. Jesus also reminded us not to worry, but to ‘seek first’ the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then God would supply all we need (21). And Jesus said it was a righteous act to tithe (22). When God is given the first ten percent, then the remaining ninety percent is blessed (23)! Awesome!!
Once I understood about honoring the Lord with the tithe, I did begin to teach it, but not very often. In fact, once I went to a three day Pastor’s Conference and they took an offering every session. Mind you, this is from the same group that had paid to come. I did give at the end, but it troubled me that they took up so much of the ministry time taking offerings. I was actually complaining to the Lord as I drove home saying, “Lord it’s just not right!” To this the Lord replied, “You’re right, but you’re not any better.” I responded, “In what way?” The Lord said, “They do it too much, but you don’t teach the people enough about giving, so I can bless them.” Ouch! The Lord was right. I had gotten so tired of being asked for money, that I had gone to the point of not taking a collection at all. Today, we still don’t take a regular Sunday offering, but I often mention the blessings of giving and we pray for the tithes and offerings that are to be placed in an offertory in the back.
As a Pastor, I’ve had few interesting God experiences and observations concerning the tithes over the years. First, is about a woman who started coming to our meetings years ago. She had nothing but the clothes on her back, plus she was overweight, had a bulging eye, poor teeth and was estranged from her family. She worked at Self Help, a local place that hired the handicapped. Well, she began tithing. In fact, if I didn’t see her for several weeks, she would save up her tithe checks and put them in the offering when she did come. As she was faithful, I watched God bless her. She moved to better apartments, obtained more clothes, had her eye and teeth fixed, lost weight and fellowship was restored with her family. Then she met a widowed man, they fell in love and married. Today they live in a nice brick home, have a new car, enjoy their family and are happily serving Christ together. You sure can’t out give the Lord!
Another widow came to the church that always tithed faithfully and I noticed how God would provide for her. If something broke, the Lord would send someone by to fix it for her. Or someone would give her wood to burn. In fact, once she had cosigned for her son to get a loan and when he couldn’t make one of the payments, instead of the Banker coming after her, the Banker made the payment himself! How many times to you hear of that happening? And although she wasn’t really looking, God sent to her a widowed man. They fell in love, married and are extremely happy as they serve the Lord faithfully together. They both say that they had never known true love until they married. God knows what we really need.
I have also noticed that those who honor the Lord with the tithe, when troubled times come their way, God will rebuke the Devil’s attempt to destroy their ministries, marriages, careers, health or children. They survive the storms of life, while others who won’t tithe go through similar things, but are often destroyed. God’s promise to rebuke the devourer for those who honor him is surely true!
Once, many years ago the church was struggling financially. For several months in a row the income and bank balance just continued to drop. Finally, one day I was at church praying and asked the Lord, “What is wrong Lord?” My wife was also there, praying in the back of the church. Afterwards she came up to me and said the Spirit had brought to her attention about some money we were receiving and not paying tithe on. I said, “We should be tithing on that money.” She told me that I had said we didn’t need to tithe on it. Then I remembered saying something to that effect, but I didn’t mean always. It was a big miscommunication! But who was to blame didn’t really matter, but what did matter was that God had shown us the problem and why the funds weren’t coming. We calculated the amount we owed, wrote out check to the church for that amount and the funds started to come in once again. Sin in the camp, especially at the leadership level, will affect receiving God’s blessings.
Recently, I had been working on the next years wage packages. I was rushed for time, so I quickly put the figures together for that evenings Board meeting. It looked OK, so the Board tentatively approved them. Well, the next morning as the wife and I were praying, I said the Lord, “I hope you approve of the wage packages.” The Lord replied, “No, I don’t like the tithe.” I was shocked, and as my wife continued to pray I didn’t hear a word. “Maybe it’s the wording” was my first thought. Later I was at church and standing before the pulpit I prayed saying, “Lord, I’m sorry if the way we are doing this displeases you. You have always blessed us before, but if I need to change this I will.” The Lord replied, “That is not the problem.” I was perplexed and went over and sat down. The Spirit then said, “Look at the figures and you’ll see the problem.” “What?” I said. Again, the Spirit said, “Check the figures and you’ll see.” Later, I went home and after lunch sat down with the wage package sheets. I added it up and it seemed right. Again, I looked at it and it seemed fine. Then I decided to add things up from the bottom up. Wait a minute, something wasn’t right! I then wrote a math equation to figure a tithe amount and as I solved it I saw the problem. My gross amount of the sum of the different categories did not include a tithe. The gross figure did not reflect a tithe! As I adjusted the figures to include the tithe, a thankfulness and soberness filled my spirit. I was thankful that God had shown me the mistake, so I could receive his blessing, but I was sobered by fact that he was watching so closely! The Lord does care about every detail, especially the tithe. He is taking account!
Before I conclude, here are a few other exhortations concerning tithing. 1. Don’t give your tithe with strings attached. Release it to God and let the Church leadership deal with stewardship of the funds. 2. Always remain consistent in your tithing and give to God first. When you think you can’t afford it is exactly when you need to trust God. He’ll come through! 3. Don’t give emotionally or think logically. God’s kingdom rules are not logical, but work on the principle of faith in what God says he will do. Trust God’s Word. 4. Know that God will bless and provide, but don’t expect it to come back in only one way. His blessings will be come back in manifold ways. 5. God will bless with wisdom on how to make or manage your money, so be listening for it. 6. All the tithes should go to a Church you are physically part of and where you can get to know those who labor there (24). TV ministries and such should only receive an offering, not a tithe, because they can’t really know you or be known by you. 7. Alms given to the poor and general offerings are freewill, to be given after the tithe. 8. Always remember that the church, in which you came to know Christ, existed because some Christians honored the Lord and supported it. Let’s make sure the church will be there for others to find Christ.
So, in conclusion, I do feel strongly that the Christian should tithe to their church, as an honor to Jesus for all his blessings. The church will then have the funds to spread the Gospel, maintain a house of worship, support the ministry and do the works Christ wants them to do. And the fact that ‘a tenth is holy to the Lord’ is still relevant today. God is holy and should be honored with the holy tithe. By putting God first, we bring his blessings into our lives and that of our family. Honor God and God will honor you. Try God and see for yourself. You can’t out give God!
(1) Numbers 18:21
(2) Matt 23:23
(3) Heb 7:4
(4) Heb 7:12
(5)2 Cor 9:7,8
( 6) Mark 7:10-12
(7) Malachi 1:6
(8) Malachi 3:8
(9) Malachi 3:10
(10) 1 Tim 3:15
(11) Matt 23:23
(12) Matt 22:21
(13) John 5:23
(14) Heb 7:1,2
(15) Heb 7:20,22
(16) Gal 3:8
(17) Gal 3:7,29
(18) John 8:39
(19) Gen 28:19,22
(20) Malachi 3:10-12, Duet 8:18, 1Cor 9:8-11
(21) Matt 6:33
(22) Matt 23:23
(23) Rom 11:16
(24) 1Thes 5:12