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Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Healing Light

The Healing Light
Agnes Sanford was born in 1897, married an Episcopalian priest in New Jersey and had three children.  Agnes Sanford loved God and she loved people.  And her love and concern for people drove her to pray for sick people, in her church and wherever she found them. The word got out that when Agnes Sanford prayed for sick people, they most often recovered. Miraculous healings occurred and over the years thousands flocked to her for prayer. She became known as someone God could use to bring healing to many.
Agnes Sanford was the author of a book titled “The Healing Light”.  In her book she tries to pass on her secrets of how she was able to be a channel for God’s healing. She starts by reminding us that Scripture says that God is a loving Father who delights to give good gifts and healing to His children.  But some of us miss His healing power because God usually operates through us humans to get His work done. His healing and creating power is always here for us.  We can ask Him for His light to shine through us and He will answer that prayer and give it to us. All we need is faith to receive it. Faith that God delights to give us good gifts. In her book Ms. Sanford gives us helpful hints as to how to fan the flames of our faith in God and keep that faith burning so that we can be used to pass God’s healing on to the sick.  
Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12) According to Scripture Jesus is the light of the world and His light shines through us.  Other Bible passages tell us that we carry this ‘Jesus light’ with us into a dark world.  Jesus’ words are also recorded here: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)
Agnes Sanford tells us how to turn on this healing light of Jesus in our lives. And how to keep this healing light on and flowing out of our lives!  The Bible teaches that God only works through faith. Our faith opens our hearts to receive His light. God is the healer and we are the open channel. But only an open channel because we believe.   
She says there are four steps we can take to keep God’s light and life flowing through us and blessing others.  Four little games to perhaps help us develop our precious faith.  First (1) She asks us to imagine or visualize God’s light glowing like a fire and shinning like a light and always there with us.  We can often grow our faith in God’s healing power when we can picture it.  And (2) second, she instructs us to continue thanking God throughout our day that His light (and life) is working through us.  Also we can stand on the Scriptures that promise us this light.
Her (3) third instruction is for us to remember to keep on believing in God’s promise of light and to keep on having faith in Christ.  “Through the door of faith, Christ enters in.” she says. And her (4) fourth instruction to keep the power of God flowing through our lives is for us to continue to give thanks for it all through our day. Agnes says that this is her special secret for keeping God’s healing light shining through her.  Constantly giving praise and thanksgiving for His light in her.
She reminds us that Jesus has promised His Spirit to us.  And that we can be a channel for His Spirit to bless and heal others.  And we can be a channel for His saving love to flow out into the world.  Such an exciting way to live! But when our channels get blocked, His love and healing cannot go through us as effectively.  One big way our channels can become clogged is by us refusing to forgive others and by us not loving others.  Many Scriptures warn us not to let a spirit of bitterness take hold in our lives.   
Love is a serious assignment in life that we have all been given and this assignment of ours is from God.  (John 13:34) (1 Corinthians 13) We do not take it seriously enough.  In Scriptures we are given a very high standard of how to love.  We are commanded to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves.  And in the Lords’ Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) we are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven by God.  As the living waters of love flow through us to others they complete the circuit and flow back to us again from God. Most of us need to practice love.
 To practice love Agnes Sanford suggests that we first of all (1) Think of a person that you don’t love and select that person for the day’s assignment.  And secondly (2) All day hold that person up in your mind and picture Jesus with this person you have problems loving.  Third (3) Speak to the person (in your heart) and say: “I forgive you in the Name of Jesus Christ.  And I give thanks to God because you are now forgiven.” Amen.  Then (4) Keep on thanking God that this is so.  Trust God to work this forgiveness and love into your Spirit.  The person is forgiven no matter how you feel. 
Ms. Sanford gives more hints on healing. She believes that we may have picked up common worldly habits of unforgiveness and judgment.  In order to obey God’s command that we forgive and love and give to one another we must train (practice) new thought patterns of love and forgiveness to replace the old ones.  Practice loving and giving until the new thought pattern becomes stronger than the old thought habit of dislike and selfishness.
Next, she suggests that we pray and ask the Lord to bless the person we had trouble loving. Ask our heavenly Father to bring out his hidden goodness and strengthen it.  Then next picture the problem person the way God might want him/her – forgiven, loving and good.  And pray for this for him/her.  God is Creator and He allows us to pray for good and then He does that good through us.  He is looking for people He can use!  Such a privilege to be able to be a part of God’s creative work.
We can make these practice sessions (experiments) light and joyful and fun she insists.  Agnes Sanford insists that without love in our hearts for others we cannot be as useful  instruments of God’s healing.  Only love can generate a healing fire! And when we connect our human love with the divine love of Jesus Christ, our human love is charged with power!
Agnes Sanford tells us how she was able to become God’s instrument for healing to so many.  First, she believed Scripture where it describes God as a loving Father who delights to give good gifts to His children.  Then if she is sick and praying for herself she asks for the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in her body.  If she has pneumonia she imagines God’s light and life glowing like a fire in her diseased lung.  And all through the rest of the day she gives thanks that His life is at work within her healing the lung.  Scripture says to “Pray without ceasing” and we need to pray often to keep ourselves open to the continuous inflow of God’s power.  We do this by continually giving thanks for the ongoing healing. 
She also says that many a healing is not finished because the one who prays does not hold his or her faith long enough.  In most cases she says that it is necessary to hold faith because the healing takes place gradually.  We can pray “Thank you Lord, your power is working in this person for a healing.” We keep a picture of the sick person we are praying for as being well and keep that picture in our minds until it happens.  Scripture says that to be used of God we must believe or have faith.  Picturing it helps us keep our faith strong.
Jesus, who is our friend and Savior, is the most loving Son of Man.  He stands before us as light and life when we think of Him, and He transmits that life and light to us through love.  He has given us His Name to use.  Let us ask in His Name that the life and light of God may be increased in us.  That we can be a channel for healing through Him. 

















Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Social Gospel

The Social Gospel
In the late 19th century, many Christians in the United States and Canada were upset and concerned by the poverty level and the low quality of living that people endured in their neighborhood slums.  The social gospel movement began in the Protestant Church.  It started with hopes that public health measures and new laws enforcing schooling for children could make a difference.  That the poor could develop skills and improve the quality of their lives. 
Workers a century ago were working 12- hour days, six days a week often in factories where safety was not a concern.  Many children were also forced to work long hours.  Liberal Christians in the social gospel movement worked to outlaw child labor. A Baptist pastor, Walter Rauschenbusch, railed against the selfishness of capitalism and promoted a form of Christian Socialism that supported the creation of labor unions.  And Washington Gladden, another American pastor, spoke up for workers and their right to organize labor unions.  Many employers and wealthy owners of large corporations and businesses were outraged. 
While many liberal mainline Christian churches in the United States became involved by starting orphanages and hospitals and free clinics for the poor. And they provided food and shelter for the homeless, other Christian churches refused to preach about social problems.  Dwight L. Moody, a prominent conservative Evangelical minister of that day rejected the social gospel ministry claiming that helping the poor distracted people from the life-saving message of the Gospel. He held revival meetings and many people were brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Dr. Moody was effective in influencing the middle class against safety nets for the poor. 
Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist minister, wrote several books stating that the Protestant church preaches to the individual and calls him or her to repent of sin.  But none of the churches shed light on the sinfulness of institutions and monopolies that oppressed their workers.  Many Christian reformers were inspired by these ideas and the social gospel movement began to grow. 
The AFL (American Federation of Labor) was a pro-Christian group that preached unionization with much enthusiasm.  They worked tirelessly to improve the day-to-day life of the American worker.  This movement was countered in Philadelphia by Christians bringing in Billy Sunday, a famous conservative preacher, to preach against labor unions.  Billy Sunday believed “that the organized labor shops destroyed individual freedom.” 
Many of the mainline churches in the U.S. began programs for social reform. Settlement houses sprung up offering services such as daycare, education, women’s suffrage, and health care to needy people in slum neighborhoods.  The Y.M.C.A. and the Salvation Army were started because liberal Christians believed that God was calling them to meet the needs of the least and the lost. But many churches opposed these actions and called them “Godless” communism or socialism.
Many of the churches that were deeply involved in the social gospel movement were also liberal theologically.  Many of them did not believe that all of the stories in the Bible were actually true. And of course many churches that were less interested in the social gospel movement were more conservative theologically and believed and still believe that the Bible is God’s Word.  And these differences can still be observed today. 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. president from 1932 to 1945, was an Episcopalian Christian who claimed that his main purpose as president was to help make life better for the average man, woman and child.  And he believed that God had called him to do this work.  He made the federal government a powerful instrument of social justice and equality.  His New Deal recognized rights never before granted to African American. 
Roosevelt passed the first national minimum wage and he restricted child labor.  With the Social Security Act, he gave Americans security in old age.  His unemployment insurance gave those who lost their jobs help until they found new employment.  His Glass-Steagall Act created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and provided federal protection for Americans who have savings accounts.
 He set up the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate Wall Street.  And he gave veterans the G.I. Bill to guarantee war veterans a way to go to college.  Millions of Americans were able to go to college and this may have created the American middle class. The Rural Electrification Act gave lights and heat to rural America.  And the Tennessee Valley Authority helped bring prosperity to rural areas in seven states through flood control and electricity.  The conservatives opposed Roosevelt’s work but the liberals believed that he was one of our greatest presidents.
I believe that we can believe the Bible to be God’s Word and also believe in the social gospel. I think those two things go together. When Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer, He taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-13)   When we try to relieve hunger and homelessness, or stop slavery or unfair practices, it would seem that we are doing God’s will in making our world a little more like His kingdom. 
After Jesus died and rose from the dead He spent some time with His disciples.  One day while they were all together Jesus stopped to have a conversation with Peter. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.  And three times Peter insisted that he did love Jesus. And then three times Jesus asked Peter to “Feed My sheep”.  (John 21:15-17)
It seemed that Jesus was saying that Peter could show his love for Him by feeding His sheep.  And I believe that we can do that too.  We can show our love for our Savior by feeding the hungry and by giving to the poor.  Jesus tells us that: “Whatever you do for one of the least of these, my brothers, you do for Me…” (Matthew 25:40)  






Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What is the Anointing?

What is the Anointing?
The Bible teaches that we cannot do God’s work in our own power.  We need the Holy Spirit’s power working through us to get the job done - to meet needs and change situations.  Another name for the Holy Spirit’s power is the “anointing”.  We receive the indwelling Holy Spirit when we believe in Christ.  But we can receive more of the Spirit in our lives if we want. The anointing or the Holy Spirit power is a gift given to us from God.  But we need to receive and maintain the gift – (the power of God in our lives) if we want to follow Christ.  We receive the anointing or the Holy Spirit’s power by asking God for it.  He promises to give us more of the Holy Spirit if we ask. 
Jesus said: “Which of you parents, if your child asks for a fish, will give her a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, being imperfect parents 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!”  (Luke 11:11-13)  So God, our heavenly Father will give us more of His Spirit if we ask.  If we desire to have it.
And we maintain the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives by constantly going back to God who is the Source.  We go back to God and receive more.  It would seem that spiritual power is an outflow of communion with God.  Scripture says that we need to be constantly refilling ourselves with His Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18b) When we read the story of Jesus’ life in Scripture we find that after He spent a long day healing the sick and ministering to the crowds He would steal away and pray and spend time with God.   
According to Scripture, Jesus did not perform any healings or miracles until the power of the Spirit came upon Him.  Jesus said these words: “I do nothing on my own but speak only what the Father has taught Me.  The One who sent Me is with Me: He has not left Me alone and I always do what pleases Him.”  (John 8:28b) The source of Jesus’ ministry was the power or anointing of the Holy Spirit. 
It would seem like the Bible describes the power of the Holy Spirit as sometimes like a tangible substance.  When the woman who had had a bleeding issue in her body for many years just touched the hem of Jesus’ robe, Scripture says that Jesus could feel the power of God go out from Him to heal her.  (Mark 5) 
Also, the anointing or the Holy Spirit can be transferred, flowing from one person to another.  The power of the Holy Spirit is right there in the person who is anointed and it can flow out to heal another person.  When a believer wants more of the power of the Holy Spirit, another Christian with that anointing can lay hands on the believer and pray and often the power from the one believer can be passed to the other. Jesus’ healing power was sometimes passed on that way to sick people who touched Him and were healed. . Scripture says: “The people brought all of their sick to Him (Jesus) and asked Him to let the sick just touch the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed.” 
How do we release the anointing of God to operate?  Scripture says that the anointing is released by faith.  To learn to operate in the anointing is to learn to walk in faith.  If faith is not present then the power of the Holy Spirit cannot work.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  So faith is all important.
We can build up our faith by fellowshipping with other Christians.  By going to a Bible believing church and staying away from churches that water down or tear down the faith.  There are church leaders that believe they are too intelligent to believe the Bible to be God’s Word.  And other church leaders who are more political than Christian. These people are wolves in sheep’s clothing!  They pretend to be the sheep -(God’s children) but often are really wolves – (out to destroy the sheep) (Matthew 7:15) And watch out for unloving judgmental churches!  They can be a problem too.  Stay away from these places and people and books.  Your faith probably will not grow in these environments.
 But don’t give up!  Keep on looking for a church that worships God!  A church where you can grow your faith!  And a loving church where you can belong! Don’t give up looking.  Ask God to show you where you should go and trust Him to lead you. The Bible tells us not to neglect the fellowship of other believers.  (Hebrews 10:25) You need other Christians in order to grow and they need you.
 Also, we strengthen our faith by studying the Bible, God’s Word.  Scripture says: “Faith comes by hearing. Hearing the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) It is important to learn God’s Word as it builds up our precious faith.  We can not only learn what God’s Word says, but we can obey it.  We can also build up our faith by doing God’s work.  Step out in obedience to minister and watch God’s power at work through you.  Scripture says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)  
Our faith in Christ is so valuable – so precious.  We need to protect it and do what we can to help it grow. We can grow more faith by asking God for more.  He will always answer that prayer.  The Bible tells us: “If any of you lack wisdom, he or she should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him or her.” (James 1:5)
A friend of mine wanted to be able to pray for healing for her loved ones and friends and see people made whole and well again.  To have more of God’s healing power in her. Her faith was strengthened by this verse in James 1:5 so she asked God for the gift of healing. She asked for more power to pass on His healing to the sick. Gradually she began to see more and more people made well when she lovingly prayed for them.
 The verse before James 1:5 reads: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” (James 1:4) God doesn’t want His children to lack anything to do their work. The word “perseverance” means “keeping on.” And “not giving up.”   We need to keep on asking God for what we want and need.  And we need to keep on trusting Him.
You may wonder what work God has for you to do. Most ministry begins by reaching out to people we meet: loved ones, friends, coworkers, neighbors, relatives. We can pray for them, love them, help them.  And we can meet their needs in the love and power of God and be a witness to His love and power. And your church may have a ministry for you. The Bible tells us that God has prepared good works in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:10) Isn’t it exciting to be a part of God’s mysterious plan? 
 Some of the truths in this blog were taken from Robert Heidler's book, "Experiencing the Spirit"

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Jesus, the Great Physician

Jesus, the Great Physician
Whenever people came to Jesus to be healed, Jesus healed them.  And He taught His disciples to follow in His footsteps and go about healing the sick also.  (Mark 16:18: Luke 9:1,2 and 6: Luke 10:8-9: and John 14:12) Jesus was and is the Great Physician. Jesus not only cares for lost souls but He cares for broken bodies.  Much of His time on earth was spent healing the sick and those with physical problems.  These following scriptures are just a few of many that tell some of the story of Jesus’ healing ministry while He was on earth.
“People brought to Jesus all who were ill with various diseases, or demon-possessed, those having seizures and the paralyzed, and Jesus healed them all.”(Matthew 4:24)
“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to Jesus, and He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick persons.” (Matthew 8:16)
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed all of their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)
“Great crowds came to Him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet: and He healed them all.”  (Matthew 15:30)
Everywhere Jesus went the crowds followed as He healed people and taught them about God.   His fame spread throughout the land of Israel. One of the reasons the religious leaders wanted to have Him put to death was because so many Israelites believed in Him as their Messiah and Savior. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees were especially upset. They wanted to keep their religious power and influence over the people, but Jesus’ healings and miracles were causing too many people to ask questions.  Could He be the Messiah that God had promised Israel?  
When we look at Jesus’ healing ministry we see that healing is also God the Father’s will.  The Bible tells us that Jesus was the perfect expression of the Father’s will.  (John 1:18) Jesus often said: “I have come to do your will, Oh God.” (Hebrews 10:8) 
Scripture tells us that it is God’s will to heal the sick.  Healing is God’s nature.  One of the names for God in the Old Testament is “Jehovah Rapha” (Exodus 15:26) which is translated: “I am the Lord, who heals you.”  God the Father is a God who restores and saves and binds up and strengthens and heals.  (Isaiah 61:1, Malakai 4:2) 
But many churches today are afraid to pray for healing for the sick.  Praying for the sick can move a church out of its comfort zone. But God is calling us to step into the waters and pray for the sick.  Healing was not just for the time when Jesus was on earth in His physical body.  Scripture says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8) Christ is still healing today through us. So, we are to carry on Christ’s healing ministry today and be His hands and feet. 
For healing to happen when we pray, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not minister healing until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon Him.  And He told His followers not to begin their healing ministry until they were “clothed with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:49)   Healing comes through a release of power of the Holy Spirit.  If you are filled with the fullness of the Holy Spirit that power to heal is within you.  And if you do not have the fulness or baptism of the Holy Spirit you can ask God for this and He will give it to you. (Luke 11:5-13) 
The other thing we need to follow Christ in the healing ministry is faith.  Scripture tells us that faith releases the Holy Spirit’s anointing to move and work in a situation.  Many times, when people received their healing Jesus would say: “Your faith has made you well.” (Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34, Luke 8:48) Scripture says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  (Hebrews 11:6) If you want more faith – the faith to move mountains- you can pray to our heavenly Father and ask Him for more faith and He will give you more. 
Unbelief can put out the fire of the anointing of the Holy Spirit so that healing cannot operate.  When Jesus visited Nazareth, his hometown, there was such an atmosphere of unbelief in that town that He could not heal many or perform many miracles.  (Mark 6:5-6) When the general attitude towards divine healing was unbelief, even Jesus could not heal!  Today Christians in many churches are taught not to trust God for healing. Not to expect miracles.  And then we don’t have divine healings and miracles and we never know what we are missing!  Let’s not just have sound doctrine and never get to experience the power of the Spirit!
 There are some misconceptions concerning divine healing.  Some people think that if the healing is from God that it will be instantaneous.  The Bible shows that healing is not always immediate.  Jesus says that His disciples “will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” (Mark 16:18)  Often the power of the sickness is broken and recovery begins at a natural process.  And sometimes healing is partial and may come in stages, needing more prayer. 
Another misconception is that healing is always permanent.  If the sickness is caused by something the sick person is doing, then if he or she continues this behavior the sickness may return.  Jesus warns a man that He had healed to: “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”  (Matthew 12:45) Jesus healed a man suffering from demonic oppression and then warned that he could experience a return of the problem if he continued sinning. Also, we must remember that all the people that Jesus healed eventually died.  Sometimes God heals by taking the sick person home to heaven.  All of us will die some day and then we will be permanently healed in heaven when our mortal (dying) bodies will put on immortality (will never die). 
Another misconception some have is that if a priest or pastor lays hands on a sick person and prays for God’s healing that the sick person should not go to a doctor. Seeking medical help might show a lack of faith in God’s healing.  But a belief that God will heal does not rule out receiving medical treatment as well as receiving prayer. Jesus said that the sick need to see a doctor.  (Luke 5:31) When we are sick we are to do our part and go to a doctor and let God do His part and bring healing after we ask other Christians to pray for us.   
Jesus said “You have not because you ask not.  Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be full.”   (john 16:24) What are we waiting for?   
Many thoughts in this blog were taken from Robert Heider’s book, “Experiencing the Spirit”



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Receiving the Holy Spirit's Power

                        RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT'S POWER
We received the “Indwelling” Holy Spirit in our hearts when we believed in Jesus as our Savior.  He quietly guides us and helps us.  Teaches and comforts us.  He convicts us of sin and develops love, peace, joy, faith, patience and other fruits in our life if we let Him.  The “indwelling” ministry of the Holy Spirit is automatic when we accept Christ into our lives. We don’t have to ask the Holy Spirit to live inside of us.  
But that is not the case with the “empowering” of the Holy Spirit.  The “empowering” Holy Spirit is very different from the “indwelling” Holy Spirit. Usually a believer must want the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  And usually we must pray and ask God for more of this fullness of the Holy Spirit in our life.
Sometimes we must keep on praying and wait for this gift. One expression of our faith is our willingness to continue seeking until we have received.  (Luke 11:5-13) Perseverance is a sign of faith.  (Timothy 4:16 and Hebrews 12:1) Jesus promises that God the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask in faith.  (Luke 11:13)
A second way to receive the Holy Spirit’s power is by receiving it through another believer.  Another Christian who has already received the “empowering” of the Spirit can lay his or her hands on the one who is seeking and pass on this power.  When Paul had his dramatic conversion on the Damascus Road when the glorified Christ came and spoke to him, Paul believed in Jesus at that moment. But Paul did not receive the “empowering” of the Holy Spirit until a few days later when another Christian, Ananias, came and laid hands on him, praying for the Spirit to fill him.  The Bible teaches that the Spirit’s power can be imparted this way.  (Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 9:11-17)
The “empowering” of the Holy Spirit is a ministry where the Spirit of Christ “comes upon” you with power to equip you to accomplish the work of God.  The “empowering” of the Spirit can be called by several names.  Some call it the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”  Or being “filled with the Spirit.”  It seems that there are different levels of empowering.  Perhaps when you first receive the empowering of the Spirit you may not receive a great deal of power.  But if you use what you have and continually ask for more, you will receive more in answer to your prayers.  
Believers will see changes in their lives when they receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  Many people say that when they receive the “empowering” of the Spirit they have wanted to praise God and worship Him more.  There is a strong desire in their hearts to have a closer relationship with God.  Sometimes there was a release of tongues or prophecy.  And they would want to pass on His love and be a witness for Him.  Acts 1:8 reads: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be My witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” 
There are many wonderful Christians who have given their lives to Christ but still know little about His charismatic power. The display of the Holy Spirit’s power makes many Christians uncomfortable.  Many Christians feel better when our worship services are orderly and the charismatic Christian may upset that order when he or she speaks in tongues. Years ago, instead of submitting to what God wanted for me, I made the mistake or committed the sin of telling God that I was afraid of any confusion the empowerment of the Spirit might cause.  I have since been sorry that I put up barriers to receiving all that God might have for me.
I believe that one thing we may need to do to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not to put up barriers. To submit to God and want anything He wants to give us.  Scripture says: “Offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life: and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.  For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. “ (Romans 6:13b-14)
When the Christians in Thessalonica were skeptical of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote these words to them: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire: do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold onto the good.” (Thessalonians 5:19-21) 
What does a Christian do with this power from the Holy Spirit?  We are to preach the Word, help others, pray for the sick, feed the hungry, give to the poor and be God’s people in the world. 
Scripture tells us that in the beginning there was only one kingdom in the universe – the kingdom of God.  Everything that God made was very good.  God is all powerful and holy and loving and merciful.  Just and good.  He can do no evil.  His kingdom is always righteous and loving and always holy and good. 
But Scripture tells us that Satan rebelled against God’s kingdom of light and a started his own kingdom of darkness.  (Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-15) Satan drew away a third of the angels in heaven and established a second kingdom of darkness and hate and murder and lies and evil to oppose God’s kingdom of goodness and light.
 The Bible tells us that this world is now controlled by Satan and his forces.  (Ephesians 2:2 and John 5:19) But at the second coming of Jesus, He will destroy Satan’s kingdom and fully establish His righteous rule on the earth.  And what rejoicing there will be on that great Day!
 But until then we on earth are to rescue people from Satan’s kingdom of darkness to God’s kingdom of light. And we are to resist everything that Satan’s kingdom brings- sin, hunger, sickness, suffering, poverty, and more. When He taught us the Lord’s prayer Jesus taught us to pray and ask that “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:9-10) Helping to bring God’s light to a dark world is a big job for us to be given.  That is why God has promised us the empowering of the Holy Spirit. 
Our ministry can take many forms.  We have each been given special talents and we can use them to God’s glory. The Holy Spirit will be there with us as we go about our daily duties.  He will give us guidance that we wouldn’t have on our own.  And He will give us the power to bring blessings into the lives of others.  And bring people out of darkness into light.  We need the empowering of the Holy Spirit to be able to do all of the wonderful work that God has planned for us to do.   
Many of the truths spoken of in this blog were taken from Robert Heider’s book, “Experiencing the Spirit”

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Love One Another as I Have Loved You

Love One Another as I Have Love You
Jesus commands us to love one another as He has loved us and it isn’t always easy to obey this command.  Here is what He says to us: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:3)
When we think about love we think of it as just a feeling.  But love is a decision – a choice.  What choices or sacrifices do we have to make to obey His command to love others?  Christ is commanding us to love our neighbors and to love them as He loved us!  He gave His life for us and continues to love us always. And He is calling us to follow His example! 
We U. S. citizens have recently experienced another mass shooting!  The shooter killed fifty-nine people and injured over five hundred and fifty others at a Las Vegas concert. Just in the past few years our country has suffered many more of these mass shootings.  But this one in Las Vegas is the worst mass murder ever recorded in the history of our country!  
When the bullets were reigning down on the Las Vegas concert, many good people ran into the crowd to save the injured and dying.  Some giving up their lives to protect people they didn’t know. So many unselfish people risking their own lives on that terrible night! Weren’t they obeying Jesus’ command to love and care for one another? We are asking why this mass shooting happened?  Perhaps our questions should be more about what we can do to help make our country a safer place so this won’t happen again!
In trying to follow Jesus’ command to love others, we can cast our vote and use our influence to help make our country a safer, kinder and more loving place. We Christians are called to be “salt” and “light” to all those around us – to our neighbors. (Matthew 5:13) Salt seasons our food and gives flavor to the whole dish. And light chases away the darkness. So we, as “salt”, can be an influence for good and change the “flavor” in our country.  Instead of going along with wrong doing we can shine a “light” into the darkness. We can make a difference, set the tone, and spread Christ’s love to others.
 Most of the citizens of our country- the United States of America- feel strongly that “freedom” is all important. Freedom to do our own thing and in many states- Texas being one of them- we have freedom in Texas to carry our guns anywhere we want.  And freedom for mentally ill persons to purchase guns any time they want.
A loop hole in the gun laws today does not restrict anyone from buying a gun at a private gun show since many states do not require record checks for those buying guns at gun shows. Our society is not safe when the wrong people are carrying guns around.  But we continue to refuse to regulate these gun sales.  And the shootings and killings continue to get worse.  We need to temper our freedom with responsibility and we need to try to secure a reasonably safe place for all of us to live.  Isn’t that the loving thing to do?
Also, there is no safety net in our country for people who need prolonged medical care and have no money or insurance. We have a friend who lost his job and then broke his ankle. He couldn’t afford to pay to have his ankle bones set by a doctor. Now he forever walks with a limp because his ankle healed in a crooked position. Another friend lost his job and was forced to go without expensive long- term cancer treatments that could have saved his life. 
Another older friend has a serious thyroid problem, heart issues and diabetes.  Her monthly income doesn’t stretch far enough to cover both her prescription drugs and her groceries. So she chooses to buy food and she goes without her prescription drugs. If we Christians vote for candidates who care about these poor and desperate citizens then our vote may help to shine a light into some of the dark corners of our land. 
We live in a materialistic culture today where the gross national product is valued above everything else.  We will sell our souls for the bottom line. The productivity of the average worker has been pushed to the breaking point so that maximum profits can be earned.  Frantic workers are often stressed to the breaking point trying to reach their quotas.  Employees work harder and longer with less time off.  Cut throat tactics are regularly used in the workplace and loyalty is a thing of the past.  Jobs are sent overseas and faithful long- term workers are fired and replaced with cheaper labor in order to save a few bucks.  And some even dare to call these maneuvers Christian! 
Maybe in our rush to get ahead, we have done it all backwards!  We think we are better off financially but we may have paid a big price spiritually.  Are we taking Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor”seriously?  Or are we just playing games? Perhaps we can stop and ask God to lead us back to a kinder and more loving way of living.  Perhaps we can get serious about Jesus command to love others as He loves us!