Biblical topics for youth
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DIET in the Bible
Song of Solomon 2:15 says, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Foxes sometime in search of food would enter into the grape orchards and devour the grapes and spoil the crop. However, the little foxes were too small to reach the grape bunches so they would chew on the vines and it would kill the whole vine. Instead of the farmer just losing his crop, he would lose his vine which was more disastrous. Spiritually some things we do or allow that we might think is little or insignificant can also be disastrous for us.
The "little fox" that I want to address in this article is one that can cause many problems in our lives if indulged in for a long period of time. It is an excess that can cause many maladies. It is over-eating or what the Bible calls gluttony. The over-use of the fork has been the death of many, especially in our country where there is such an abundance of all kinds of food. Also, we are all especially tempted to overeat during the holiday season since partaking of food is a big part of our celebrations. Because we all have to eat every day this little fox can slip in easily.
Proverbs 23:19-21 says "Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. 20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: 21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags".
With so much emphasis on proper eating and physical exercise here in America, it has caused many to examine their lifestyles. A lot of people have now become out of balance by putting too much emphasis on the physical man while neglecting the spiritual man. The other extreme is to be so spiritually-minded that we neglect our bodies by overeating or lack of exercise. The Lord desires order in this area, as our physical condition, if it is not properly cared for, affects our spiritual condition. We cannot serve the Lord to the fullest if our bodies are run down and tired and not functioning as God designed them to function. The medical world is now recognizing that gluttony is one of the major causes of many of our modern day illnesses. Moderation should be our guide.
Philippians 4:5, "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand".
As Christians we are to realize the emphasis is to be put upon the spiritual man; however, just because we have an understanding of our spiritual position in Christ does not mean we can break His physical laws of health and not suffer the consequences. The spiritual man should always be given top priority as it needs to be in ascendancy. Its influence over the physical man is greater than the physical man's influence over it.We need proper balance between neglecting our bodies and giving them too much attention.
"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (I Timothy 4:8).
It is easy to recognize that one of the greatest sins in the United States is gluttony. Food has become the god of millions. Jesus has never been made "Lord of the Fork." The Word of God has much to say about man's eating habits. Many sicknesses that are plaguing mankind stem directly from unhealthy eating habits. How should Christians eat? Are all the so-called health foods the answer to our diet problem? The Word of God not only addresses what is healthy for us to eat, but also the spiritual problems we have in this life. Since the Lord created the human body, He certainly knows what is best for us to eat.
So many have been eating according to the tradition of men instead of seeing what God's Word says about this subject. If we do not eat by the Word of God, our eating habits will be dictated by the patterns of what we have been exposed to in our lifetimes. I will not address the kinds of food we should eat here other than to say that natural foods that are "living foods" (fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, certain meats, and dairy products) are the best for us. The "dead foods" or "junk food" are those that are highly refined and processed and have little nourishment in them.
Daniel and his companions proved the wisdom of eating properly when they refused to eat the King's meat and instead ask for pulse (vegetables and grains) and water to drink for ten days. After that period of time they appeared more healthy than the other servants of the King.
Daniel 1:12-17, "Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. 14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. 15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat 16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. 17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams".
If we are overweight it came about not suddenly, but rather "little by little". This "little fox" begins adding the pounds before we realize it. Each day we over indulge until we become fat. (I realize some people do have overweight problems that stem from hereditary problems however, these can be overcome too, with help from the Lord.) We can tackle this problem with the Lord's help and He will give us the power to trim down. As we seek the Lord and ask for His help in this area, He will not fail us. He will give us the strength to overcome gluttony or other bad eating habits.
Here are some helps to overcoming weight problems which usually come about through lack of knowledge or lack of discipline or lust for food:
(1). First, repent for yielding to the temptation of lust for food. (Phil 3:19, "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things".)
(2). Then, submit to God and ask Him for the power to overcome gluttony through His Holy Spirit and resist the devil through prayer and obedience to God. (James 4:7, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you".)
(3.) Next, ask for God's plan for your weight loss. Allow Him to lead you as to what He wants you to do. He knows your body and He will direct you as to how you are to eat. Ask for a desire for healthy foods and ask Him to remove your cravings for unhealthy foods. (1 John 5:14-15, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him".)
(4.) Daily, thank God for setting you free and do not allow the devil to discourage you by his condemning whispers to your mind. Sometimes the Lord does a quick work at other times it may be slower. Don't be discouraged even if at times it seems slow or you fail occasionally.. Remember, this came "little by little" and it is sometimes more healthy to lose it "little by little" (Losing as little as 2 lbs. a month amounts to 24 lbs. in a year). In the process you will be developing new habits and disciplines that will eventually become established eating patterns. (Romans 8:1-4, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit".)
(5.) Add fasting periodically as the Lord leads. Even fasting one meal or one day a week will help in disciplining your body to be subject to your spirit man. (Matthew 6:17-18, "But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly".)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's".
May the Lord bless you as you seek Him in this area and make Him the "Lord of the Fork" and overcome this little fox!
This article was taken from the Overcoming Life Digest (Nov./Dec. 1997 Issue); click here to view Digest
MAKING JESUS "LORD OF THE FORK"
Proverbs 23:20-21: "Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: 21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."
EATING UNTO THE LORD
One of the greatest sins in the United States is gluttony. Food has become the god of millions. Jesus has never been made "Lord of the Fork." The Word of God has much to say about man's eating habits. Many sicknesses that are plaguing mankind stem directly from unhealthy eating habits. How should Christians eat? How much should we eat? Are all the so-called health foods the answer to our diet problem? Does the Bible address these questions? Yes, the Word of God has the answer to our questions as to what is healthy for us to eat and how we are to eat.
Many people's problem with eating is the problem of overeating. This problem usually develops by eating that little extra helping of food. This "little fox" can grow from one of just "one more cookie" or "another bite of candy" until there is no restraint and then the lust of food rules one's life. In the above verse gluttony is listed along with drunkenness. Although, society doesn't look down on overeating that much. The Bible declares this is a serious sin and warns us to resist yielding to this kind of appetite. Someone has said that the drug of the yuppies is gourmet food and fine wines. It is respectable to entertain and have expensive food served to one's guests. Now God wants us to enjoy the good food He created for us and there is nothing wrong with cooking and serving guests in our homes. However, when all of our spare time revolves around cooking, entertaining and eating rich and expensive food, something is wrong, especially when God is left out of our lives.
Proverbs 23:1-3: "When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: 2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. 3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat."
With so much emphasis on proper eating and physical exercise here in America, it has caused many to examine their lifestyles. Many people have now become unbalanced by putting too much emphasis on the physical man while neglecting the spiritual man. The Lord desires this area also to be in balance as our physical condition, if it is not properly cared for, affects our spiritual condition.
The spiritual man should always be given top priority as its influence over the physical man is greater than the physical man's influence over it. "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come'"(I Timothy 4:8). We need proper balance between neglecting our bodies and giving them too much attention.
God is a good God and has promised us the blessing of enjoying the good food that He has created. Psalm 22:26: "The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever."
It is only when we abuse our bodies through overeating or wrong eating that is wrong. Some people become very defensive over the issue that we should bring God to the table. They want to eat as they please, however as Christians we must bring the Lord into this area of our life as well as every other area. Remember the first sin in the Bible that led to all of mankind's downfall was when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate something they were told not to eat (Genesis 3). This certainly was a seemingly little thing that caused sin to enter into the world. The real problem was the disobedience to God. We should ask the Lord to help us in this area if we are struggling with this problem. Although I can't address the answer to our eating habits in this article I will list a few things that we should do that will help us lose weight and overcome gluttony. One note though, you do not have to be overweight to commit the sin of gluttony. If you lust after food it is a sin..
(1.) EAT GOD'S APPROVED FOODS LISTED IN THE BIBLE:
A good guideline would be to eat "living foods." The natural, living foods are fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, meats and dairy products. The "dead foods" are those that are highly refined. They not only are expensive, but also in most instances do little to nourish. Many people are tired, run down and sick because a large part of their diets are made up of dead junk foods. We want to include at least an outline of some of God's approved foods to help people get started on the road to proper eating. Although this list is not complete, it does give the basic foods that the Bible lists as good to eat:
Corn---Ruth 2:14; I Samuel 17:17
Cheese---I Samuel 17:18
Figs---Numbers 13:23; I Samuel 25:18
Herbs (Leafy Plants) and Vegetables---Genesis 1:29
Meats---(Beef, Fish,Lamb,Poultry,Venison) Deuteronomy 14; Leviticus 11
Olives and Olive Oil---Leviticus 2:4; Deuteronomy 8:8
Wheat (Bread, Cereal, Pasta)---Psalm 81:16
(2.) EAT IN MODERATION:
Ask the Lord to help you eat the proper amount of food. Eat only until full. He will help you. He loves you and cares about you. Philippians 4:5: "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand."
(3.) GET REGULAR MILD EXERCISE: Walking is an excellent form of exercise.
(4.) FAST PERIODICALLY: Fasting helps cleanse the body of toxins that can lead to sickness.
As we seek the Lord in regard to our diets, He will gladly lead us in the right path. We must not get out of balance in this area and let menus and cooking absorb an exorbitant amount of time since this would be just as bad as ignoring diet altogether and eating anything we want. Here is a good verse to claim as we set our heart to overcome gluttony and the tendency to allow the enemy to tempt us little by little to fall into the trap of overeating.
Psalm 141:3-4: "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. 4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties"
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...MASTURBATION?
"What does the Bible say about masturbation?" is one of our most frequently asked questions. Many Christians have found it difficult to answer this question according to the Bible, because the Bible never mentions masturbation specifically. To understand how God feels about this subject, we must examine other verses that deal with issues such as lust, self-control and purity. Also, we must examine its fruit to see if it is from God. We have tried to address this issue by answering some of the most frequently asked questions. Our prayer is that God will use this page to bring freedom and deliverance.
"Does God care about what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms?"
Sex is God's invention. He is the mastermind behind it—and His creation is worth far more to Him than it is to us. This beautiful expression of love was created out of His own heart, as a gift to be experienced between a husband and wife. It is only in marriage that this manifestation of intimacy can be fully enjoyed in the depth for which it was created.
"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4, NIV).
"Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4, KJV).
The more beautiful and unique something is (like sexual intercourse), the more power it holds over our lives, either for good or bad influence. That is why it is so easy for the devil to corrupt the most precious of God's gifts. When we become more in love with the gifts than the One who endowed them, the things that were designed to bless us begin to destroy us instead. Yes, God cares about what we do with our bodies, in public or in private. He doesn't want us to abuse ourselves in any way.
In fact, an older definition of masturbation is "self-abuse." Although more modern dictionaries may no longer carry this definition, they are still linked together under self-abuse:
1. Abuse of oneself or one's abilities.
1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV) further confirms this, saying that unlawful sexual relations defile our own bodies. "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body."
"Isn't it still better to masturbate than to commit fornication?"
The easy answer to this question would be, "Yes, it is better to masturbate, because at best it corrupts only one person. It certainly is the lesser of two evils." However, why would a loving, holy, all-powerful God abandon you to a situation in which you have to choose any evil, whether it be "lesser" or "greater?" To really answer this question, we must again go back to God's original plan for sex.
First of all, masturbation will not truly relieve the sexual pressure that one may feel. It may for a short moment, but in the long run it only creates a deeper desire and capacity for sex, which will lead to more masturbation. If you let yourself become enslaved to a sexual high, you will find that you need to go to increasingly extreme acts to maintain the same degree of excitement. There are even ungodly sex therapists who recommend masturbation as a way of increasing sexual desire, not lessening it. This creates a vicious circle, like the junkie who craves a "fix," but is only temporarily satisfied. The more he indulges in his dependency, the more ensnared by addiction he becomes. This is the nature of all sin. That is why Jesus declared that all who sin become a slave to sin (John 8:34).
Furthermore, masturbation usually involves fantasy, visualization, and often pornography. The Bible is very clear as to what God expects of us in these areas of fantasy and lust. It teaches that we must not look lustfully at each other nor should we behave in such a manner as to entice others to lust after us.
"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a girl. I know full well that the Almighty God sends calamity on those who do" (Job 31:1-3, The Living Bible).
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
While the above verses refer to men lusting after women, all women know that it can very easily be reversed to apply to themselves as well. Men may be more easily visually stimulated than women, but women can be just as vulnerable to sexual fantasy in the emotional realm. Both are sin in God's eyes, and both can be brought into subjection by controlling our thoughts through Christ's power.
All sexual immorality begins with a thought. A lustful thought not taken captive, will eventually lead to other perversions, because sin reproduces itself in increasingly greater measures. If we do not deal with our evil thoughts, they will take root in our hearts.
It is for this reason that God is so concerned with our thought life. Jesus came not only to deliver us from our "outward" sins, but also from wickedness that begins in the heart.
Since masturbation begins with sin in the mind, it might be called an "affair of the mind" because it brings about sexual sin inflicted against one's own body. Although it brings a short lived gratification, it makes one feel defiled when continued on a regular basis. In fact, it is a form of fornication because fornication is more that just sex with someone before marriage, it includes many other sexual sins such as pornography and the use of sexual toys for gratification. People who are not satisfied with God's plan for sex commit idolatry by using evil things to experience weird and unlawful forms of sexual intercourse. Some verses in Ezekiel actually describe this kind of fornication.
15But you trusted in and relied on your own beauty and were unfaithful to God and played the harlot [in idolatry] because of your renown, and you poured out your fornications upon anyone who passed by [as you worshiped the idols of every nation which prevailed over you] and your beauty was his.
16And you took some of your garments and made for yourself gaily decorated high places or shrines and played the harlot on them--things which should not come and that which should not take place.
17You did also take your fair jewels and beautiful vessels of My gold and My silver which I had given you and made for yourself images of men, and you played the harlot with them.
"Isn't God unreasonable to demand sexual purity after giving us sexual drives that seem to overwhelm us at times?"
Our loving God never demands from us what is impossible for us to do. We are so weak within ourselves that it may seem impossible, but He will equip us with His holy power to overcome any sin, if we ask in faith.
Of course, sexual urges in and of themselves are not wicked. They are natural. God created us that way. He desires that we get optimum pleasure out of them by using them the way they were created to be used. However, many desires for physical gratification (whether it be food, sex, etc.) stem from a deeper need that is unfilled deep inside us. Gorging our flesh can never fill a hunger that grows out of our spirit. Only intimacy with God can fill the deepest needs inside of us. No other created thing has that power.
God is no more unreasonable than any caring parent who lovingly disciplines their child. It is only because He knows what is best for us. He sees a mighty potential in each one of us that far supersedes our wildest dreams, and He loves us enough to do all He can to bring it to pass.
"I agree with all the theory, but living it out on a day to day level is another story."
This is the place where we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. The Holy Spirit is not a vague "force," but the very power of God to comfort you and strengthen you against the sins that used to rule you before you were born again. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the very ability that Jesus had to resist temptation. He depended completely upon the Father and so must we.
Something you must know is that God is not the one who is tempting you in this area to "test" you. God is on your side and wants to set you free from these things, not lead you into them! "When tempted, no one should say "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (James 1:13-14).
God wants us to overcome every sin and temptation in our lives. Please slowly read the following verses and let their message seep deep inside your spirit.
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
"For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
"In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather 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 for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:11-14).
"For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16, King James Version).
"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).
"Can I really be set free?"
"In (this) freedom, Christ has made us free—completely liberated us; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery—which you have once put off " (Galatians 5:1 Amp).
If you are in a real struggle with any form of sexual sin, we do not believe it was by accident that God led you to this teaching. He wants to set you free, starting right now! We would like to share several things that you can do to break loose from this stronghold:
1. Confess this sin first to God, then go to a committed Christian you trust, such as your pastor. Ask God to lead you to someone that you can be accountable with, who will be faithful to pray with you and for you. This will take humility on your part, but it will lead to life. James 5:16 says: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (You may not feel "righteous" but if you have admitted your sin to God and received His forgiveness, you are! That means your prayers are powerful and effective!)
2. Flee from and reject anything that aggravates this sin. For example, you may need to get off the Internet for a season or purchase software that blocks out pornography. This may sound too drastic, but it certainly is mild compared to Jesus who said, "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to go into Hell" (Matthew 5:30). His point was that we must be willing to part with anything that causes us to sin—even if it hurts temporarily.
3. You may need to seek healing and deliverance from qualified Christians who are anointed in this area of ministry. If you have been deeply involved in sexual sins, the devil probably has a stronghold in that area of your life. If you can, find some people who can help you stand against the devil, for he is the one who seeks to lead you into temptation, and whispers lies of hopelessness and shame into your ears. If he drops a filthy thought into your mind just when you are trying to pray (he has used this tactic on even the holiest saints of God), tell him to leave in the name of Jesus! Recognize his voice for what it is, and submit yourself to God. As you do this and resist the devil, he will flee from you! He is deathly afraid of those who are submitted to God in brokenness and humility.
4. Don't give up! Deliverance might take time. Self-control takes effort. You may slip occasionally—or even a lot. But remember that God loves you and He will be faithful to perfect His character in you as long you keep submitting to Him. Eventually you will win—and not because of your best efforts, but because of God's mercy (Titus 3:5). Just as salvation is received in faith, so deliverance must be received in faith. This has nothing to do with our character, strength, or failings. The only thing it is dependant upon is you receiving it in humility. If you should fail, recognize it quickly, ask God to forgive you—and then receive His forgiveness! He is faithful to do that which He promised, not just in a select few mighty men and women of God, but in all who are willing to come humbly before Him. That includes you! We want to encourage you to hold on to this scripture as your anchor:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
If there is anything else we can do to help you, please let us know. In closing, we would like to pray for you:
"Father, we thank you for bringing this person into our website. We know that it was your Holy Spirit that led them here and we thank you for your faithfulness to them! We lift them up to you now and ask that You fill them with a desire for You that transcends every other desire they have ever known. Let them know your cleansing love and power. We thank you that he whom the Son has set free, is free indeed. We speak this freedom into the life of this one whom the devil has bound in shame. We speak healing and deliverance and we break every tie that has kept them under a spirit of addiction and perversion. We stand against the Evil One and his every plan to bring destruction in this one's life. Father, in faith, and by the power and authority You have given us, we declare that this one is FREE in the name of Jesus! We commit them to Your care and we loose Your Holy Spirit to minister to them at this very instant. We ask these things in the precious name of Your son, Jesus Christ."
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT... HOMOSEXUALITY?
We realize that this subject can be a very difficult one to address. Furthermore, as hate crimes specifically committed against homosexuals occur, many feel that this issue shouldn't be addressed at all for fear of only adding to the hostile environment that many homosexuals face. Despite the cultural climate in which we live, this issue must be addressed according to the Word of God. God's laws are always for our good, although man may see them as restricting. In the end, only obedience to the Word of God can bring true freedom. We address this issue out of God's love for the homosexual to bless and help him.
Much of our society has embraced many perverted sexual practices that are considered in the Bible as abominations to God. Homosexuality is among the list of deviate or abnormal sexual practices however, there are many other practices that can be included as well. Pornography, pedophilia, prostitution, bestiality, oral sex, phone sex and computer virtual reality sex, just to name a few of them.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV): "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."
Although the Bible doesn't detail each and every one of these sinful acts, it does clearly speak out about many of them. Any deviation from God's original plan for sex between a married man and woman is still a sin in God's eyes. The main reason we call these things perverted is because they are unnatural and scripture clearly tells us those who do such things are committing abominations. Leviticus 18:22 (KJV): "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind it is abomination."
Homosexuality is also referred to as the sin of sodomy. This reference comes from an account in the Bible of two exceedingly wicked cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, which the Lord destroyed. Sodom was known for its rampant homosexuality and unrestrained sexual lust, as well as other sins such as arrogance, haughtiness, and disregard for the poor. When the Lord sent angels to warn Lot who lived in the city that it was about to be destroyed, the men of the city actually wanted to rape the angels! Genesis 13:13: "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly."
In the Old Testament the penalty for this sin was severe. Leviticus 20:13: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." Today the penalty of death comes in the form of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It also brings death to the soul and spirit of man because the life of God is pushed out by indulging in something that is an abomination to God. God wants to deliver all who are trapped in this unholy practice and He will if anyone calls out to Him with a sincere heart.
We certainly acknowledge that AIDS has broken out of the homosexual community, and now, many innocent people are suffering with this disease through no fault of their own. However, the intent of the above statement is not directed to those who have innocently contracted this disease, but rather to the sinners who are spreading it. A comparison could be made to those who smoke. Smokers are opening themselves up for lung cancer; however, the people who are subjected to breathing the smoke second-hand are also subject to this disease. The person who willfully smokes is guilty of destroying their own bodies, but should those who are forced to live in the environment of the smoke, get lung cancer, they are not guilty of this sin. When we teach that smoking causes lung cancer, we are not judging or condemning those who innocently get lung cancer from breathing second-hand smoke. It is simply a true fact that smoking can cause lung cancer.
The same is true of AIDS. A homosexual life style increases the risk of that person contracting AIDS. There is no condemnation or judgment against those who innocently contract this disease through no fault of their own (for instance, through blood transfusions.) However, since AIDS is most prevalent in the homosexual community, we need to warn people of the dangers of homosexuality, so that AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases are not spread to the rest of society, as now, many heterosexuals have contracted these diseases too, through unfaithful partners.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
These scriptures clearly state that these vile affections of men lusting for other men (gay men) or women lusting for other women (lesbians) are not the natural affections God created men and women to have for one another. Let me say here that God loves all homosexuals! However, He hates the deeds of homosexuality because they are sinful. God did not create any human being as a homosexual. They are not born that way, just as murderers are not born that way. However, these spirits can be transmitted to children, especially if someone who had this demonic spirit seduced or raped a child--or even if they were close to gay people. These demons can also be imparted to others through unholy sexual acts.
People become homosexuals because they yield to abnormal acts or lust. It is through some source that they have received a demonic spirit that drives them to their lust. Viewing evil videos or pornographic books is a way of opening the door for Satan to give one an evil, perverse spirit. Though people are not born as homosexuals, the Bible does say all human beings are born with a sin nature. If we yield to the evils of our flesh it will lead to our destruction not only in this life, but in the life to come. However, through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross we can break the hold that sin has upon us. We do not have to yield to the old fleshy nature but we can now overcome evil temptations and live our lives controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Sex is God's idea and its purpose is not only for procreation, but also for recreation and the development of a deep relationship between man and woman. Nothing is wrong or dirty about sex when it is engaged in the bonds of marriage as the Lord commanded in the Bible. However, when perversions are committed inside the marriage relationship, this can be sinful also. God made man and woman and brought them together "face to face." Oral sex is of homosexual origin that replaces the normal "face to face" relationship God intended in a marriage. The Bible describes the sex act in Song of Solomon Chapter 4. In this chapter it speaks of this "face to face" relationship by describing looking into his lover's eyes and kissing his lover's lips and fondling his lover's breasts. Oral sex is not normal or natural as it is an unclean act.
No one has to live in bondage with an abnormal life of homosexuality nor any other abnormal behavior. No one has to be controlled by pornography. No one has to have evil thoughts plague their minds. There is a way out through what Jesus has done for us. He loves sinners and wants to free us from any evil practices. He will empower those who cry out for deliverance to get free and stay free. Here are the steps you must take to get free:
(1.) Make a total commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Be willing to turn your life completely over to the will of God and yield to His plan for your life. This means you must be willing to do anything, go anywhere and give up any thing as He leads. Remember, God will never lead you to do anything that is not in agreement with the Bible. You can trust God. He created you and has a better plan for your life.
(2.) Your must pray and read your Bible daily. You must study and apply the Word of God to overcome Satan's attacks. The way that you resist the attacks of the devil is by quoting the Word of God to him. When the devil came to tempt Jesus, He simply quoted the Word to him. Good praise tapes will also be of a great help when you are tempted. Put one on and start singing along with it.
(3.) You must pray for and seek out a strong Bible believing group of Holy Spirit filled people. You will need their help and fellowship. As you humble yourself and seek help, the Lord will deliver you. Ask God to lead you to someone that can pray the prayer of deliverance for you, as you probably will need to be set free from a demon. You should also seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit as you will need His power to get free and to remain free.
(4.) You must cut off all sources and relationships that would lead you back into sin. The Bible tells us to flee fornication (sexual sins). You must get out of any corrupt entanglements, or areas that you know will be a temptation to you. If you have been hooked on internet pornography subscribe to an Internet Service Provider that will filter out the pornography for you. Destroy all evil books and videos.
(5.) Should you slip or fall back occasionally, repent and get right back up and go on with God. Do not allow the devil to condemn you once you have repented. Put your sin under the blood of Jesus. He will strengthen you and you will win this battle because of the Lord's promise to you. Remember, He loves you and is there to help you. Run to Him when you get in trouble, never run from Him. He will not ever give up on you! We too, will be standing with you for your total healing and deliverance. Philippians 1:6: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
(6.) You must forgive everyone that has ever hurt you. You can only do this through the power of God. You must by a simple act of your will voice the forgiveness and then the Lord will give you the feeling of forgiveness. This may be a while in coming but just keep forgiving when you think of any wrong that has been done to you. The Lord will give you His love for those people who have wronged you.
PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE
Finally we want to pray for you right now if you need it:
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you in the mighty name of Jesus and we ask that you touch this one right now, first of all with your love and forgiveness. Lord, wash their sins away. Wash away all the uncleanness and guilt. Lord we ask you to free them right now from the powers of darkness.
Now, we speak to Satan and his demons and we command them to leave in the name of Jesus! Satan, this one is no longer under your power. The blood of Jesus has set them free! We resist you and you must flee! This one belongs to God and you have no more authority over them! Be gone!
Dear Lord, thank you that you have set this one free and we are believing that you will lead them to the right people that will help them to walk out this deliverance. We break every chain of iniquity over their life and cancel every evil word that has been spoken against them. We declare they will walk in your victory and that you will enable them to do it. Lord, fill them with your Holy Sprit and guide them in the ways of God! We speak blessing and success to them. Most of all, we pray that they will feel your love for them right now. We ask this all in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...SMOKING?
(Little Compromises That Cause Big Problems)
Song of Solomon 2:15 says, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Foxes sometime in search of food would enter into the grape orchards and devour the grapes and spoil the crop. However, the little foxes were too small to reach the grape bunches so they would chew on the vines and it would kill the whole vine. Instead of the farmer just losing his crop, he would lose his vine which was more disastrous. Spiritually some things we do or allow that we might think are little or insignificant can also be disastrous for us.
I chose to deal with the issue of smoking as a "little fox" because most people that indulge in this practice do not realize the toll it takes on the longivity of their lives until it is too late. I read a shocking statistic that stated "the heavy smoker pays with 34.6 minutes of life for each cigarette he smokes. The pack-a-day smoker pays with 11.5 hours for each pack he smokes." This would equate to someone's life span being cut almost in half due to the evil of smoking. The Lord promises us long life in the Bible but those who violate His commandments are choosing to shorten their own lives.
Psa 91:16 With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
Prov 4:10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
What does the Bible say about smoking? You will find no text that says, "Thou shalt not smoke." Tobacco is not mentioned in the Bible for a very good reason; its use is of comparatively recent origin and was not known in Bible times. In fact, Western Europe was introduced to it from the Americas in the sixteen century.
In 1613 John Rolfe sent the first shipment of Virginia tobacco from Jamestown to England. Sir Walter Raleigh also imported it from the island of Tobago (West Indies) during the later half of the sixteenth century. The practice of smoking tobacco came from the native American Indians and the Carib Indians of Tobago. These practices were done as part of their religious rites. It is interesting to find that the root of smoking tobacco came from heathen religions.
Columbus was amazed when he saw the Indians of the Caribbean drawing smoke through their nostrils with a Y-shaped pipe called a "tabaca", hence the name tobacco.
Satan is always trying to destroy God's crowning creation "man", anyway that he can, and addicting people to tobacco is one of those ways. If Satan cannot destroy us other ways he uses this "little nasty habit" to slowly kill us over the years. Young people are the most vulnerable as many movie and television productions glamorize drinking and smoking. They never show the long term effects this habit has on people.
Coming from a background as a medical technologist I saw so many people in the hospital, suffering needlessly, as the result of their smoking. Most people are aware of the major list of diseases caused by the longterm use of tobacco which are lung, throat and mouth cancer, heart disease and emphezema. However, Satan deceives them into thinking it won't happen to them. Young people just don't think about their latter years, and this "little habit" finally becomes so enslaving it becomes a"big monster" and is very difficult to get free from without Christ.
I have known of a lot of Christians who smoked and really just did not want to give this pleasure up. The Bible does say there is pleasure in sin for a season but in the end we shall reap the result of that sin. The Bible says Moses chose to turn against the pleasures he could have enjoyed to follow God. (Hebrews 11:24-25 says "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.")
Galatians 6:7-8 tells us that in time we shall reap corruption from our sinful habits.
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Tobacco is considered physically harmful because it contains nicotine, a drug which in its pure state is highly poisonous. It definitely is not only habit forming but addictive as well. It is ludicrous to hear the tobacco company executives state otherwise. We all know that their statements were made only because it would produce huge monetary losses for them to state otherwise. They need only ask someone who has tried to get free of this evil if they think it is addicting or just merely a bad habit.
The Bible teaches us as Christians that we are to be clean and holy -- spirit, soul and body. Our bodies are called the "temple of the Holy Spirit". Every Christian is accountable to God for the condition of his body.
1 Cor 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1 Cor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Someone might ask, "Why did God make tobacco since it is responsible for so many deaths?" Not only does it destroy the lives of those that smoke but we know also from research that "second hand smoke" is also a leading cause of sickness that leads to deaths, especially in small children. Pregnant mothers also endanger the lives of their unborn with this evil habit. We should also mention the many lives and property that are lost to fires caused by a careless smoker.
It is never God who is to blame for evil, as the tobacco plant has its virtues. There are useful chemical products made from tobacco which include those which kill insects and fungi. If man would spend the time and research for the good use of tobacco, I believe he would discover some healing properties in this plant, outside of smoking it. Satan always perverts the things in this world for evil use, while God has plans for them to bless mankind.
As Christians there should be no place in our lives for this evil habit. This "little fox" is a killer and we should pray for those to be free whom we know have this problem. If you are in this trap, there is a way out. If you sincerely want to be free, tell God about your desire and your resolve. Ask others to pray for you too. Open the door of your heart heavenward and the Holy Spirit, will bring you both strength and victory.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT TATTOOS? ---- Betty Miller
The Bible warns us against tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 (Amplified) which says, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord."
I know some will have a hard time receiving this teaching because tattooing has now become an accepted practice in our society. However, just because society approves of something does not make it right in God's eyes. Our society at large, also approves of abortion and divorce as well. However, the Bible makes it clear that God doesn't approve of these things.
In sharing this teaching, I am not trying to condemn anyone who already has a tattoo; but rather to warn those who are considering getting one. God loves us, and even when we make mistakes in poor judgment, He doesn't condemn us, but rather tries to help overcome the consequences of those mistakes. Having a tattoo will not keep anyone from serving the Lord. We know some very godly people who have tattoos and are serving the Lord and their tattoos do not interfere with what God is doing through them. Anything Satan tries to use for evil, God can turn and use it for good when we commit totally to Him. God takes us as we are and uses us if we will yield to His will. God will use any of us when we come out of the world and start serving Him with our whole hearts to do His will. Our past is under the blood of Jesus and the sins and mistakes of the past will not hinder our God in our serving Him. Only a hard and unrepentant heart keeps us tied to the old life.
There are many dedicated and sincere Christian people that have tattoos. This article is not meant to say they do not love the Lord. God not only can use them, but does use them. The issue is not whether God can use someone, but rather should Christians pursue getting tattoos? Just because something is popular does not mean it is right. We should always examine things by the "roots and the fruits" of the thing in question.
TATTOOING HAS WITCHCRAFT "ROOTS"
In addition to the above verse, Scripture also warns us not to disfigure our bodies in following verses:
1 Kings 18:28: "And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them."
Deuteronomy 14:1(Amplified): "Ye are the sons of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead."
When it speaks here about doing this in relation to the dead; this was a witchcraft rite done to mourn or remember their dead. Therefore tattooing, cutting one's body and shaving one's head in defiance have their origin in witchcraft practices. Tattoos have their "roots" in witchcraft. Many young people today are doing these very things because of some evil witchcraft influences in their lives that they are unaware of. They do not realize that partaking of these can open the door to wrong and defiling influences in their lives. Evil videos, depraved rock music albums, wicked Internet games and violent movies are displaying evil trends in order to destroy our youth. Satanic tattoos, skin heads and other cultic rites are opening many of our children to demonization.
This is what makes it spiritually dangerous for people. People do not realize displaying a satanic mark or symbol can open the door for Satanic attack which allows the enemy entrance in their lives. It is not the mark itself, but rather the sin behind it. Today this practice is growing because of the spread of False Religions. Some people are so hideously covered with tattoos that their appearances look evil. Others, only have small tattoos that they believe are trendy or artistic.
Now this article is not meant to hurt or offend those that have tattoos, but rather to help people avoid getting tattoos that later on they might regret (especially young people). Many tattoos have evil and witchcraft themes that are portrayed as devil faces, skulls, ugly demonic signs, vulgar pictures, etc. These things hurt the human spirit, just as satanic displays of any kind do. Some tattoos are obviously Satanic as they look devilish, while others may be flowers or innocent looking names or objects but it is the spirit behind this compromise that makes it dangerous for a Christian. God loves the person who has tattoos just as He loves all of us. However, He would rather we did not deface our bodies in any fashion.
Some people object to using Old Testament scripture as a reference to tattoos since the New Testament doesn't speak of these things. However, in the New Testament we are even called to a higher law. We are to have God's laws written in our hearts. When we remain close to the Lord and obey Him, He can direct us in things that are not good for us. For example although the Bible does not say, "Thou shalt not smoke" or "Drug addiction is bad for you;" we know that these things are destructive to the human body. In the New Testament, we are told to glorify God in our bodies. This would include not marring our bodies with tattoos, as the principles in the Bible clearly tell us it is wrong to defile our bodies.
OUR BODIES ARE A TEMPLE
When the Lord created man and woman and placed them in the garden along with His other creations. He spoke these words in Genesis 1:31, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." When the Lord created the human body, He pronounced that the way He created it was very good. The Lord desires that our bodies be a reflection of His own beauty. When people tattoo their bodies they are tampering with what the Lord said was very good the way He made it. We should never mark our bodies as this is unnatural. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are admonished not to defile them. Tattoos on one's body is like graffiti on a wall. Having tattoos on our bodies does not glorify God.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
What is it within man that makes us dissatisfied with the way the Lord made each of us? Most people are not happy with the way they look so they seek ways that will cause them to feel better about themselves or cause others to accept them. This is not wrong when it comes to having good grooming habits, but we need to understand true beauty comes from within, not from what we wear or how we look. When the emphasis is put on the outward appearance we can be ensnared in vanity, rejection, fear, pride and even racial discrimination. One of the most wonderful things about receiving the Lord is that He wants to deliver us from the outward things that we think we need to feel good about ourselves. When we are in sin we do not feel worthy or acceptable, but through Christ we are. When we can fully walk in the knowledge that we are acceptable before God through Christ, we are then free to be the person God made us to be without having to create a different image. Many people are consumed with trying to be different or become acceptable not only by getting a tattoo but by other things as well.
Some Christians argue that they have the name Jesus or some Biblical word or sign tattooed on their body so they can witness by the tattoo. However, God is more concerned how we are living our lives than by displaying a religious mark on our body. That is not the highest way He would have us witness. The Lord would rather us witness to others by the character of Christ being demonstrated in our lives than display Christian slogans that many times are not matched by the life of Christ. Certainly, the Lord can use a tattoo of a cross or other religious symbol when a Christian has one of these as God knows the heart of the one who truly wants to share Christ with others. However, it is not necessary to use any worldly thing to attract sinners. It is the Holy Spirit who draws people to Christ through any yielded vessel of the Lord. When we pray and witness to others the Lord will cause them to listen.
Just because a person has had a tattoo, it will not prevent God from using people to witness nor keep them from being a minister of God. God looks on the heart and can use different things to testify of Christ's love, even tattoos. However, well- meaning people can be deceived in their methods of evangelism.
THE YOUTH CULTURE AND TATTOOS
I really believe that one of the compromises we see today is parents allowing their children to mark or tattoo their bodies. Christians can look at someone who has tattoos all over them and know by discernment that it is not God, but the same Christians may get a small tattoo themselves or allow their children to have one without thinking anything about it. Toy makers today even sell washable ink transfer kits so children can mark their bodies with designs. This may seem like a harmless game but this is the enemy preparing or setting up our children early to receive real tattoos later on.
Many young people today do not realize that they may be sorry in the future that they chose to put tattoos on their bodies today. We know of many people who have said to us that they wish they had not been foolish when they were young as now they must live with the reminder of what they did when they were young. Only a few people have the money to have them removed by laser.
Years ago our young boys in the military had to go to foreign lands to get a tattoo, now tattoo parlors are everywhere because our nation here in the U.S.A. has opened its doors to many heathen practices and false religions. Another danger in receiving tattoos is a medical one through faulty procedures. One of the latest discoveries of another way AIDS is being transmitted is through contaminated ink or dirty tattoo needles. If fresh ink is not used, then the last person who was tattooed who had any kind of transmittable disease could leave behind that virus or bacteria. Not only Aids, but Hepatitis as well, has been traced to tattoo ink and needle contamination.
Some young people are having them done in defiance and rebellion to their parent's wishes because they want to be like their friends. This is displeasing to God as the Lord tells children to honor and obey their parents.
Colossians 3:20: "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord."
The reason so many people are deceived on this issue, as well as others, is that there is a lack of knowledge in the things of God and a lack of discernment in the body of Christ. Hosea 4:6a says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Many have not been taught nor grounded in the Word of God. We as church leadership owe an apology to the youth of our day because many of us have failed in our responsibility to speak out on the issues of the day and have allowed the influences of the world to shape our society. Many Christian parents have failed in their responsibility also, as they have been too involved in chasing the American Dream instead of raising our children in the nurture and admonition of God as commanded in the Bible. Ephesians 6:4: "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
One note of warning to the church on this subject of tattoos. We have a generation now of young people that love the Lord yet do not understand all of His ways. Soon we are also going to be seeing a great revival among the youth of the world. The youth of this day want a real cause to live and die for. Most have not seen true Christianity. However, when they do come to Christ many will be bringing their tattoos, dress, music and old habits with them right into the church. We must be sure that we do not despise them nor look down on them, but rather welcome and love them and gently teach them the ways of the Lord. We are called to love and pray for them and help them avoid making some of the mistakes we have made in our own walk with the Lord. We need to be true mothers and fathers to them. Yes, we must speak the truth in love, but let us make sure we are loving them and not condemning them. On the other hand, we must not accept all that they would desire to bring with them that would harm them and compromise the Word of God. We will all need God's grace to bridge the generation gap. We would recommend a great article written by a young Christian on this very subject. Click here to read "Bridging the Generation Gap."
If you, through ignorance, have received a tattoo or allowed your children to have one, you should pray against any evil or witchcraft that may have come through the circumstances when that tattoo was received. Some people receive tattoos before they are "born again" and after they are touched by the Lord, they wish they had never had it done. The Lord loves you, so do not come under any condemnation, just pray over them and ask the Lord to remove any spiritual influences denoted by the tattoo and He will do it. The Lord looks on our hearts and motives and judges us by those, not our outward appearance. However, if the tattoo bothers you and you cannot cover it, you can have it removed by laser surgery.
The bottom line for this issue would be to ask the popular youth slogan, "What Would Jesus Do?" I don't believe we will ever see Jesus with a tattoo. The only scars on His body are the ones put there by evil men that crucified Him. They were not self inflicted. Overcomers will put away anything that leads to bigger compromises.
This article was taken from the Overcoming Life Digest (Jan./Feb. 1997 Issue); click here to view Digest
Betty Miller has written several books on other topics as well. To view titles or purchase those books click here: http://store.bible.com/
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TESTIMONY REGARDING TATTOOS
When I was in high school I really wanted to get a tattoo and a body piercing. So, during high school I got a body piercing (in my bellybutton). Shortly after I graduated from high school I got a tattoo. Neither action was well thought-out, but more of a spur of the moment thing. In fact, I’m grateful that the man who did my tattoo wouldn’t do what I originally wanted. He told me to go home and really think about it until I knew what I wanted and where I wanted it. If he would have done whatever I wanted at that moment, I would be even more regretful at this point. So, I ended up getting something I thought I would want for the rest of my life on my ankle. Now, about five years after I got my tattoo I have a scar where my body piercing was and a tattoo that I wish I didn’t have.
I got a navel piercing and tattoo to be different and cool. After a while of having both, I didn’t care much about showing them off. It really surprised me in a way when people would point to me and ask me about my tattoo. It started to annoy me that when certain people noticed my body piercing or tattoo, I suddenly had become more cool in their eyes. I felt like they liked me more, only after they had found out that I was the type of person who would have a body piercing or tattoo.
Shortly after I got my tattoo, I realized that a lot more people from many different groups of society were getting body piercings and tattoos. The trend of tattoos and body piercings was becoming popular among more and more people regardless of what "group" they were in (i.e. the "rebellious" crowd, as well as the more average straight-laced group of people).
After a few years I got sick of my body piercing because so many other people were doing the same thing. Then it came down to deciding whether I wanted metal or a scar. I chose the scar.
After I was touched by the Lord I was told by a friend that body piercing and tattoos were wrong because the Bible said so. I was immediately defensive and confused. I wanted to follow the Lord and do what was right in His eyes. So, while I was with my friend one time we decided to look it up in our NIV Bibles for ourselves. We found Leviticus 19:28: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord."
We couldn’t find anything that directly said you should not pierce your body. In fact, I was surprised to see in certain parts of Scripture that women wore nose rings in the Old Testament. For instance, Abraham’s servant gave Rebekah a nose ring as a gift when he knew he had found the right wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:34-51 NIV). I believe, however, that nose rings were common in their culture, just as common as earrings have been in American culture for a long time. Therefore, there is not the same reasons behind Rebekah wearing a nose ring as someone in America might have today. It would be as simple as her being given earrings today.
I decided to pray about whether it was right for me to have a body piercing and tattoo. During the time I was praying and seeking God about this the Lord led me to Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
I was also convicted by 1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV: "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple."
I felt that I had harmed my body by tattooing it and piercing it. I passed out when I got my body pierced and came close to passing out when I got my tattoo. Basically, I went through a lot of pain to look cool. I felt that it was wrong for me to have pierced and tattooed my body, especially because of the reasons behind both--vanity and pride. Between vanity and pride and harming my body that the Lord had created I knew that I had sinned. Now I can see that I was not honoring God with my body by piercing it and putting a permanent mark on it. Although I was able to remove my piercing, my tattoo is not something that I can just wash away. It is on my leg to stay.
I know the Lord has forgiven me. His grace and love are so amazing. I was living a sinful, ungodly life and then I found the Lord. Jesus died for us all and God raised Him from the dead so that our sins can be forgiven and that we may be cleansed of our iniquities. Now, we can enter into an amazing love relationship with Him. God did this all through Jesus! The point of this testimony is to share how I was convicted of sin in my life. It doesn’t matter what the sin was. We all need to repent and follow the Lord. If we love Him, we will obey Him.
John 14:15 NIV: "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
1 John 5:3-5 NIV: "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 & 1 Corinthians 7:1-2
"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
The dictionary meaning of the word "fornication" means any unlawful sexual intercourse including adultery. In the Bible the Greek definition of the word "fornication" means to commit illicit sexual intercourse. What constitutes unlawful sex? Whose laws do we live by? Worldly standards or laws many times do not always line up with the Word of God. The founding fathers of the United States established many laws that were originally based on Christian standards and the laws of the Bible. However, through time the United States has drifted far from these standards and at the present our moral standards are shocking the world. However, immorality is not only found in the U.S. but is a world-wide epidemic. Societies throughout history and around the globe have embraced sexual standards that are called sins in the Bible.
Fornication is not just tolerated in our society but is actually being encouraged. The sin of fornication is being committed even among Christians, as many couples "live together" and have sex before marriage. The Bible tells us to flee this sin. We have counseled Christians of the opposite sex who share an apartment and they told us they were not having sex so this surely wasn't wrong. The Bible declares these words in 1 Thessalonians 5:22-23:
"Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Our lives as Christians are a living witness to others and we cannot break the laws of God without hindering others from coming to Christ. We must live our lives in purity before a sinful and wicked world. We should not be living according to their standards but according to God's standard in the Bible. No couple should live together outside the bonds of marriage.
Many say they live together before marriage to see if they are compatible as they don't want to divorce. This may sound like a justifiable reason for committing the sin of fornication, but in God's eyes it is still sin. Statistics however, show that those who live together before marriage are more likely to get a divorce than those who do not. Living together shows a total lack of trust in God and a failure to commit to Him the choosing of a mate. Christians who are living in this situation are out of the will of God and need to repent and seek God as to whether this person is the right one for them. If it is God's will for them to be together they should marry. Otherwise, they need to change their living arrangements.
As Christians, the goal of any relationship should be to cause the people in our lives to love and know the Lord better. Living together is shameful and selfish as the parties do not care what others think or how they might affect their families and others. They are living to please their own lust and selfish desires. This type of life style is destructive and especially so for children whose parents are living a bad example before them. No wonder our children are confused about right and wrong when parents degrade the sanctity of marriage by living together out of wedlock. How can living together cause children to love and honor God when their parents break the laws of God before them because they are lustful?
Young people today need to be taught to abstain from sexual intercourse and remain pure virgins before marriage. So many problems in marriages today stem from the fact that they are not virgins when they marry. Young people are bringing wounded emotions and diseased bodies into their marriages because of prior promiscuous affairs. STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) are so widespread that the statistics are shocking. There are 12 million new cases of STDs annually in the United states and 67% of these occur among persons under the age of 25. In fact, every year one out of six teens contracts an STD. 100,000 to 150,000 women become infertile each year as a result of STDs.¹ Others endure years of pain as some of these diseases are incurable. What a tragic price to pay for sexual sins. The Bible is right when it says fornication is a sin against one's own body.
The sin of fornication is not only defined as illicit sexual intercourse between those who are not married but also is an umbrella for other sexual sins as well. The Bible also speaks of the sin of incest as fornication in 1 Corinthians 5:1:
"It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife."
The Bible also lists whoremongers as fornicators in Revelation 21:8:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
All prostitutes and pimps are fornicators. Couples who just "live together" according to the Bible, are committing the same sin that whores commit. Singles who "make love" fall into the same category. Just because society has accepted this type of living does not make it right. The Bible must be our standard of what is right and wrong. We must change our standards if we do not want the wrath of God to fall on us. God hates sin but He loves the sinner. If anyone repents and calls on Jesus today He will help them to come out of any illicit relationship and heal them of all past hurts and even heal any disease that they may have contracted.
God gave us the laws in the Bible for our good. They are not meant to deny us any good thing but they are given so we can enjoy the proper sexual relationship in the proper time. If we obey the words of the Bible and "flee fornication" and glorify God in our bodies, the Lord will bless us beyond what we could believe.
Psalm 145:17-21: "The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever."
CHOOSING A MATE?
We know that it is the Lord's will for people to have a mate if they desire one. In the beginning when God created Adam, God Himself made this statement:
"... It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18 KJV).
"Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, completing) for him" (Genesis 2:18 Amplified).
The Lord wants to bring a mate to those who will ask Him and have the patience to wait for His choice.
There are some single people who are constantly out looking for a mate, and they are miserable because God has not sent them one yet. They have prayed and prayed, yet they still have no mate. Some settle for Satan's provision instead of asking God for the patience to wait for the one whom He would send. If they would look to Jesus and seek to please Him, rather than being concerned about a mate, soon they would find the right one crossing their path. Looking for a man or woman to just keep them from being lonely or just to fill their needs or to be a father or mother to their children should not be the only reasons for desiring a mate. They also need to be concerned about what kind of husband or wife they would be for a mate. These single people are still much in the flesh if they just want their own needs met. They should ask the Lord to fill them with His love and peace.
Being single is an important time to prepare us for marriage. It can also be a time to experience a closer communion with God. As we seek God to cleanse us of the world and help us become the kind of wife or husband that would bless someone, we will soon find that we are not lonely. First, the Lord would begin using us to bless others; then we will find we are content in Him. Eventually, in God's plan and timing, He will bless us with a wonderful mate so that both lives can be a witness for Him. We believe if a marriage cannot glorify the Lord, then it would be better to remain alone. There are worse things than being alone. One of these is to be out of God's will by compromising and marrying someone who does not feel the same way we do about the Lord.
Marriage is the second major choice we make in our lives, and we should never enter into it without much prayer. To rush into a marriage can be disastrous. The most important decision of our lives, of course, is our decision to follow the Lord. This decision is not a one-time declaration, but a daily determination to follow Jesus above all. If we allow the emotional or soulish realm to dominate our lives we become more susceptible to the enemy leading us astray through someone. This area of the flesh should be brought under the Lord's subjection so that Satan does not get the advantage and consequently destroy our lives and ministries. So many have failed the Lord because they chose a man or woman over the Lord.
We find this true throughout the Bible, too. Solomon's heathen wives led him into idolatry. Samson lost his eyes because of a woman, Delilah. David committed murder because of passion for Bathsheba.
Our emotions need to be cleansed as they are not the sign of love. The true definition of love is "God is love." If God is not in a relationship it is not true love. What this world calls love is really lust since it is built on what the other person does for me, not what I can do for him or her. If the other person fails to keep up his end of the bargain, a divorce occurs because the offended mate is no longer pleased. This is the attitude of the world's so-called "love." God's love loves without receiving back; God's love is forgiving and patient. God's love is gentle and kind. God's love waits. God's love sacrifices.
1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible gives us a beautiful definition of real love: (In this King James translation the word "charity" means "love.")
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Man's emotions are not a reliable gauge upon which to establish a marriage relationship. We must know in the Spirit that it is God's will. It is much better to marry for character than for emotion. Emotions fluctuate; character doesn't. Emotions are in the soulish realm, and unless the carnal mind has been renewed, Satan can give us emotions or feelings of love for someone of his choosing. (If he did not have this in his power, he could not split up marriages.) One of his favorite techniques is to suddenly take away the feelings one once had for his mate and give feelings for someone else. When he has successfully convinced a person that he no longer loves his or her mate, then he leads them to divorce, whispering, "You are living a lie." After he has destroyed that marriage, he then leads one to marry again by stirring their emotions for another. Often after their next marriage something happens that they do not expect. Before too long, friction begins to develop with the new mate, then arguing. Finally, they find the same thing has happened again; they feel no emotion for their new mate and the next divorce is in the making. "Falling" in love is Satan's way. The very expression of these words should tell us something. A Christian should not blindly "fall" into any trap. Love is bigger than simply falling for someone. Certainly, the Lord gives us a wonderful emotional feeling for the one we are to marry. However, this "feeling" without God's direction can be disastrous as Satan can tamper with our emotions and feelings too.
Marriage, in a Christian's life, should be based on a decision directed by the Holy Spirit. A Christian's love for another is a commitment. Of course, the Lord will supply the emotions for the mate He sends, but that should not be the criterion for making the decision to marry. The Lord should be sought, and whatever He speaks to us we should do. He knows the future and what is best for us. If we trust Him He will not fail us in this or any other important area. Women or men who allow emotions to rule them will never be victorious Christians. Emotions should always follow, never lead.
During Old and New Testament times, fathers and mothers chose the mates for their children. God's people were very careful to choose those who were "believers." We find this practice still prevalent in India and other Eastern cultures. The parents, being older and more prudent, made wiser decisions than the children in this area. The divorce rate in India is only about 7%, whereas in the USA, at the present, it is nearing 50%. Marriages that are loveless can be saved and restored simply by asking God to restore the love that was once there. Sexual relationships can also be healed by praying for a desire for one's mate. Prayer is a mighty weapon. God's love can mend and heal, providing people are willing to lay down their lives for their mates. His love will not fade, as does the love of the world.
Those who are single and have never been married are cautioned in God's Word to seek a mate who is a like believer. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)." Many precious people suffer because they are living with unsaved mates. Some did not have Christ when they made their marriage decision, but they have since found the Lord. Those will have God's grace and love to win their mates for Jesus. The Lord always strives to bring the lost mate to Himself through the partner who knows Him. Mighty miracles of deliverance and salvation have occurred when people have endured suffering in order to bring their mates to the Lord. Those people who have the light, but choose to marry into darkness by yoking themselves to unsaved mates find that their flesh has led them away from God.
The Lord wants to bless marriage unions and see His plans fulfilled in both mates' lives. What a glorious plan He had from the beginning for both male and female. We can trust Him in this important decision. If we will totally commit to do His will we will never be disappointed in the one He sends into our lives.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...
"Do not be a fool--why die before your time?" (Ecclesiastes 7:17b)
Almost everyone would agree that life is the most precious gift that human beings have been given. Just the chance to be alive on this earth and play a part in the grand scheme of God's eternal plan is a privilege indeed. Yet, despite this, there are times when life becomes so difficult or unbearable that many have, at one time or another, wished they were dead or had never been born. For some, these feelings linger--and if they linger long enough, suicide seems to be the only escape. In fact, in the United States (and stats are similar in countries around the world) the suicide rate has tripled among teen and young adults in the past 40 years.
What does the Bible say about suicide? How does God view it? Do all those who kill themselves go to Hell?
Very few would argue with the fact that suicide is a direct breaking of the Sixth Commandment which is, "You shall not murder." We are not to murder each other or ourselves. God created human beings in His image and each of us carries within us the potential to overcome the evil in this world, and to rule and reign with Christ in heavenly places. If we are Christians, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to God. We are overseers of our bodies and our lives (which belong to Him), and we are responsible to guard that which has been entrusted to us.
Suicide is a grievous sin that seriously hurts both the heart of God, and those who loved the deceased. The pain of losing a loved one who took their own life is not easily healed, and often isn't fully healed until Heaven. Whether you are contemplating suicide or know someone who killed themselves, God wants you to know there is hope and life for you. He is the great Healer and Restorer of what has been lost or stolen.
Many of the greatest saints and heroes of the Bible faced overwhelming depression and sometimes wrote that they wished they had never even been born. King David, (Psalm 13:2-4), the prophet Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 20:14-18), and Job, (Job 7:15-16) among others, all reached low points where they despaired of their very lives.
Job says, "So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity" (Job 7:15-16).
Yet, each one of these men were blessed of God, and persevered through their trials as an example to us. Though they faced great suffering and injustice, they kept their faith in God and His goodness, and in so doing, were sustained and led into abundant life.
Though we may get depressed from time to time, we believe that the act of suicide never takes place apart from demonic influences driving one to take their own life. Suicide is directly counter to the power of life that God has put so strongly into His creation. Everywhere we look we see life growing, even in the most hostile environments. This "survival instinct" is a gift from God. In fact, if He didn't bestow this gift upon His creation there probably wouldn't be any life on this planet at all! Suicide, then, is directly contrary to the will of God, and originated in the realm of the demonic host, who come only to "steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10). Though demons may try to tempt us to kill ourselves, as Christians we have power over the devil and he cannot push us to do this if we sincerely call on the name of the Lord!
We are all in a spiritual battle. The problem is, many of us are not aware of it, and do not know how to protect ourselves against attack.
Do all those who kill themselves go to Hell?
Some people believe that all who commit suicide go immediately to Hell. However, the Bible never says if this is the case. The Bible is silent on this issue. God probably did not address it in black in white for a good reason. If we knew that we would still go to Heaven if we killed ourselves, there would probably be a lot more suicides taking place than there already are. However, if we knew that all who killed themselves were automatically banished to Hell, no matter what their situation, it may be too much for the grief-stricken family and friends to bear. Murder and suicide are not unpardonable sins. The only unforgivable sins are rejecting Christ (Mark 16:16) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
(Mark 3:28-29 KJV) Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:
All other sins can be forgiven. However, anyone contemplating suicide may be in danger of going to Hell, as their relationship with the Lord is not intact at that point. Those who would consider suicide may have a severed relationship with Christ and therefore they would enter the real Hell--which is worse than the hellish feelings they are experiencing at the moment.
It is so important to remember that God judges each of us individually, weighing all the factors of our lives, our beliefs and our motives. Each one of us is so intricate and complex, only God could really judge us in total truth, wisdom, and without favoritism. The most important truth of all, is that each one of us will stand before His throne and give account of our lives. If we lived intimately with this sobering truth, much of the sin in the church and the world, would immediately be stopped.
If you are contemplating suicide and are relying on God's grace to get you to heaven, PLEASE stop for a moment....God's grace never means that we have a free license to sin! Those who willfully sin after knowing God's grace, are in far greater danger than those who know less. Though you may feel that God is far from you right now, He is much nearer than you think. He may even be speaking to you through these words! Please open your ears and hear Him tell you how valuable your life is. You are needed on this earth and the purpose for your life has not yet been fulfilled. God loves you, and so do many people around you! God would not be God if He could not work this situation (no matter how unbearable it may seem) for His glory and for the good in your own life.
Depression is often anger, and a host of other emotions that have turned inward and become frozen. If you are carrying anger, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, frustration, jealousy, despair, worthlessness, hopelessness, fearfulness, vengeance and/or self-pity in your heart, you can turn these things over to God and begin to receive your healing right now, in faith. If you don't know how to let them go, confess it to God and ask for His help in releasing it to Him. No one can overcome these things by themselves. We all need the power of God to set us free from sinful and hopeless ways of thinking. That is why the Bible tells us that we must be "transformed, by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2)." The Holy Spirit is the only One who can help us break free and be healed of these deadly emotions.
Just as ailments in our physical body need to be treated with medicine to be healed, the same is true of our emotions. One powerful way to fight against depression, is to apply and confess God's Word as a healing balm to the places where you have been wounded. For instance, if you have unforgiveness in your heart, begin to confess God's verses for love and forgiveness, even if they don't exactly feel true right at the moment. If you feel worthless, confess the Scriptures of God's great love for you. A rote, mechanical repeating of words may not do much, but if you deliberately take these living words and hold on to them for dear life, you will have the enemy on the run. The devil simply cannot stand against the Word of God spoken in faith. God's Words are like spiritual antibiotics, destroying every germ and unclean thing in their path.
In closing, we would like to pray with you here. We have written a prayer below, and we encourage you to not only read it, but to say it out loud!
PRAYER TO GOD
"Father, in the name of Jesus, I come before You, confessing my need for You, and crying out to you from the bottom of my heart. Lord, You've said that you are near to those whose hearts are breaking and that you give grace to the humble. I humble myself before you now...I cast down any pride or self-justification that I would hide behind, and I present myself to you as I truly am--weak and helpless and despairing of my very life. I know there is no other Rock but You, and I turn to You with all of my heart. Father, please forgive my sin! I open myself up to receive Your cleansing, Your healing, Your forgiveness, and Your faith, hope and love into my being. I receive your love as a river, washing over the dry wasteland of my emotions. I see that in Your river there is life, and that every place your river touches in me is revived. I cast all my cares, my sorrows, my disappointments into that river and I let the current of Your spirit carry them far away. I believe You, when You say that You think good thoughts about me, and that Your plans are to give me a future and a hope. I believe You when You say that You knew who I was even before my mother conceived me--and that You wanted me to be alive on the earth right now. Thank you for giving me life! Thank you for working all things in my life for good! Thank you that I can call on your Name and You will be near me. Thank you for bearing all my weaknesses and diseases on the cross, and healing me, spirit, soul and body."
COMMAND AGAINST SATAN
"Satan, I close every door that I have opened to you and I renounce every activity I have partaken with you. In Jesus name, I submit myself to God. I resist you and command you to flee from me, as it is written in James 4:7! I remind you that you are defeated by the power of the cross--and with the authority given to me by Jesus Christ I command you and force you to leave me right now!"
PRAYER TO GOD
"Father, I receive Your breath of Life into my mortal body now. I lift up my hands to You, to receive it; I fix my hopes on it and turn my life completely over to You. From this day forth I pray that you will give me the grace and wisdom to guard my heart diligently, to obey You and to resist every scheme of the enemy. I commit all I am to You and I have full faith that You are able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ever ask or think. Lord, send me the help I need now. Show me the way.
What Does God's Word Say About The Tithe?
By Pastor Eddie Cude
What is the tithe? It is the "gateway for the believer into the covenant of blessings." In the Hebrew "maaser" or "maasrah," is translated tenth, or tenth part, and in Greek "apodekatoo" and in both, it means a payment or giving or receiving of the tenth.
The tithe is that tenth of our income that we give to God, which enables Him to move on our behalf in the area of blessings. The Bible records numerous accounts of man tithing to God. God is the creator of everything that exists. He owns everything and we are simply stewards of what we have been entrusted with. The tithe principle is this; "He gives unto us, we give back to Him one-tenth of all that He has blessed us with."
Abraham tithed unto Melchizedek, Isaac tithed, His son Jacob and many others also even before the law was given. Many Christians do not tithe because they have been taught that they are not under the law, but under grace. While this is a true statement, God did not institute the tithe to bring us under the law, but to get blessings to His children. Abraham tithed before the law, and God blessed him supernaturally. We're under grace that we might establish the law; not turn from it. Jesus said that He didn't come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it. Because He fulfilled it, we are to establish it. His Words are forever settled in heaven, therefore we establish His Words upon the earth.
Matthew 5:17-19: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Tithing According to the Law as Given by Moses
Leviticus 27:30 "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD."
This scripture states that all the tithe, whether it be seed of the land, fruit of the tree, or one tenth of all that you earn, is holy unto the Lord. Deuteronomy 14:22-29 states that one-tenth of all that comes into your possession, belongs to God. This was God's plan to instruct His people as to the way of blessings that He had for them. God is a multiplier by nature, and He could not multiply that which was not entrusted to Him. When the children of Israel were obedient to give back to God that which was His, increase was guaranteed. Scripture states, It's better to be obedient than to sacrifice. When the children of Israel were obedient, blessings came; when they were disobedient, they had to sacrifice. Many Christians today are wanting God to honor the covenant that He has with His children, but disobedient children cannot receive the same reward as the obedient.
1 Samuel 15:22: "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
The strongest chain is only as strong as its weakest link. When we fail to tithe, we become that weak link. Statistics show that approximately 20% of Christians tithe. That means, 80% of Christendom is not in covenant with their God, but are like beggars and thieves looking for handouts and what they can steal from Him.
I have said many times, it would be better to rob the First National Bank than to rob the bank of Heaven. I'm sure most Christians don't see it this way, because most Christians steal from God. Malachi 3:8 asks the question "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation."
The Old Testament records two other tithes; one tithe was called the "festival tithe," when they came to Jerusalem three times a year for fellowship. The expense for the festival, (travel, food, etc.) was taken from this tithe. The third tithe was given in the third year and was a tithe holy unto the Lord. It was a tithe of almsgiving for the poor and needy. All of these tithes were brought to the storehouse, and the priest oversaw the distribution of same. The first tithe was for the upkeep of the priests, since they had no inheritance. All of their income and portion was to be given to them by God's people. This tithe in and of itself, is not considered an offering. It is the minimum requirement for all of God's people.
The reason God instituted the second and the third tithe through Moses, was that His children needed to give above and beyond this tithe. It is these tithes that God is referring to in Malachi 3:8 where His people have robbed Him in tithes and offerings. In verse 10 of Malachi 3, you will notice that it states "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
I am convinced that when people see the tithe as an instrument of blessing they will not be looking for a way to give less, but a way to give more. God will help them so that they can be generous on every occasion.
Tithing Establishes the Law
Tithing after the law does not do away with the law, but establishes it. Are you honestly blessed to where you can give generously on every occasion? Or are you like so many that can't give the way they would like to be able to? I've come to the knowledge that most Christians are looking for the truth, so they can be set free. Just because you're a child of God, does not mean you are a "mature" son of God. A mature son or daughter of God will not be found robbing "daddy" God. Revelation 3:18 gives us good counsel on how to re-establish right covenant with the Lord. Jesus' advice to those of us who have become lukewarm is to buy from Him gold that's been refined in the fire. He tells us to do this so that the shame of our nakedness will not be revealed.
Revelation 3:18: "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
How do we buy gold from the Lord? Hebrews 1:7 states that His ministers are as "flames of fire." In Matthew 25:9, Jesus makes a statement concerning the five foolish virgins to go and buy from those who sell. What they needed to buy was oil. Oil symbolizes the Spirit. Those who are in the five-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers) have a command from the Lord to receive tithes (Hebrews 7). These tithes are not given, but paid, because the tithe belongs to the Lord and according to Malachi 3:10 we are to bring those tithes to the storehouse and the storehouse is where we are being fed spiritually, so we are to give where we are being fed. Malachi 3:3 states that the Lord will sit as a refiner, purifying the sons of Levi (those in the ministry) purging them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness. I repeat, Jesus did not come to do away with law, but to fulfill it. Our job is to establish it.
There are those who say that the tithe is not covered in the New Testament, but in Hebrews 5, 6 and 7, one of the main subjects spoken of is the tithe--who receives it and how to become mature through paying it. In Hebrews 5:11-14 it states "...that you've become dull of hearing and that you should be teaching the first principles, but instead you have need of milk, and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a baby." This is preceded by the statement that Christ himself has become High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. In Chapter 6, it goes on to state that once you have been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift--once you have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God--if you still fall away it is impossible to be renewed again to repentance, seeing that you crucify again for yourselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame.
What is this good Word of God? This Word is "rhema" which means, the spoken or revealed Word of God. His Word has been revealed to you concerning Jesus as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, meaning that Jesus has become High Priest over the tithe, (and your life) forever (vs. 20). Chapter 6 further states (vs. 9-19), that God blessed Abraham by saying "With blessings, I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." He also promised immutability (unchangeableness) of His counsel and confirmed it by swearing an oath that by these unchangeable things, we might have strong consolation and lay hold of the hope set before us. Verse 19 states that this hope we have is an anchor for our soul (mind), both sure and steadfast. I am convinced these two unchangeable things are both God's promise to bless us and our promise to tithe back to Him. Chapter 7 states in verse 8, "Here mortal men receive tithes, but there He receives them of whom it is witnessed, that He lives."
Chapters 5-7 deals with the ministry of Melchizedek and that Jesus is the priest forever according to Melchizedek. We know Abraham gave tithes of all that he possessed. We know in the Law of Moses, tithes were commanded. After the Law, Hebrews states that Jesus is the Lord, not just of the past, not just of the present, but forever. Hallelujah! He is the Lord of the tithe, forever.
Seeing that Jesus is the Lord of the tithe, is He our lord? If He is, there should be no question that we tithe unto Him. I can just hear someone saying, " If Jesus was my Pastor, I would tithe," but Hebrews 7:8 states "that men (subject to death) receive tithes on this side; but on the other side, Jesus Himself receives them." Why should we look for ways to excuse us from what we know we should be doing? Let's be about establishing and not doing away with His Words. The tithe was, and is and shall ever be holy unto the Lord.
I am writing an addendum on the article of the tithe above. I have received hundreds, yes, even thousands of e-mails concerning this subject. The majority of these e-mails have been positive and rewarding to read; however, some of the responses have not been so, therefore I am responding to some of the most misunderstood questions concerning the tithe. --Pastor Eddie Cude--
Questions and/or Statements:
Number 1: "The tithe was instituted under the law and we are no longer under the law."
My Answer: The tithe came before the law was given as Abraham tithed unto Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-20. It was required during the law (Malachi 3:10). It was also after the law (Hebrews 5:6-7). Jesus is the Lord of the tithe forever after the order of Melchizedek. In Matthew 23:23 in the New Testament, Jesus plainly states that you should tithe and not leave the other (good works) undone.
A. The tithe has worked before the law, it has worked during the law and it is working after the law.
B. My question: "If the tithe worked during the law; what will it do – under grace?
Number 2: "Since tithing is under the law and we are not under the law anymore, we should not have to tithe."
My Answer: Under the law, we are told, "Thou shall not kill." Would you kill someone because you are not under the law anymore? … Of course not.
A. Don’t check your brains at the door. If the tithe belongs to God then “The tithe is holy unto the Lord and all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tress, it is the Lord's, it is holy unto the Lord" (Leviticus 27:30).
Number 3: "To avoid paying tithes prevents us from receiving a blessing. The tithe was given to us so that the blessing of God could enter this earth."
My Answer: Who does not want the blessings of God?
A. My question: Why are so many people trying to keep the blessing of God out of this earth?
B. The people that tithe don’t get angry with those that don’t tithe, but many that don’t tithe attack those that do.
C. Also, the person that is not saved (born again), will many times get put out with the one that is. One that has not been baptized into the Spirit of God gets upset with those that have been, and say that it is not of God. So it is with people who do not tithe, they state that it is not of God because they do not tithe. It is the same way with deliverance and divine healing, those that have not received, many times persecute those that have. (Galatians 4:28-29)
Number 4: "Jesus gave us an eleventh commandment that, We should love the Lord with all our heart, mind, strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. He never said anything about accusing them, in fact Revelation 12:11 states that Satan is the accuser of the brother."
My Answer: I have never heard of any "born again" man or woman get upset because the preacher ministers on being "born again." I have never heard a thither get upset because the preacher ministers on the tithe; it is always those that do not tithe that get upset.
A. I am told that 20% of Christians tithe regularly, if that is true 80% of Christian feel uncomfortable with the subject.
B. I am so very thankful for the founders of this web site who have a backbone to stand for what is right and not just go along with the majority.
C. Jesus was not always popular with those in His day and He said that you should tithe, why can't we just take Him at His Word?
The scripture states, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives Life." Some people get very legalistic about the tithe on both sides of the issue. One, by preaching that you should tithe or you will be under the curse, while others say we do not have to tithe, as we are under grace.
The real truth is that when applied with the right Spirit (motive) the tithe works every time and will produce blessings in your life.
1. Right motive
2. Right information
3. Right methods
These three things will guarantee that the promises of God in His Word will be yours because of your obedience to give and tithe.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...GRIEF?
by Betty Miller
13 A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.
14 The mind of him who has understanding, seeks knowledge, inquires after and craves it, but the mouths of (self-confident) fools feed on folly.
In these verses in Proverbs we find a comparison between a merry heart and a sorrowful heart. Verse 13 tells us that you can tell the condition of a man's heart by looking at his countenance (his facial appearance). When people are happy, you can tell by the sparkle in their eyes, their smile and their cheerful attitude. When they are older, they will even have what we call "smile wrinkles" instead of the wrinkles caused by frowning. Indeed, facial looks reveal a lot about a person.
You can also read on a person's face when they have sorrow in their heart, especially when you know a person. We have all experienced someone saying to us, when we were troubled about something, "What is wrong? Are you worried about something?" We all have experiences in our lives that cause us to be broken-hearted about an incident. The scripture tells us that if we allow this sorrow of heart to continue, it can break our spirits.
How can we get past heart break over the loss of someone or something? We must give the person or situation to the Lord and ask Him to remove the sorrow and grief from our hearts. We can keep the good memories of a lost loved one, but we must not allow the enemy to torment us with the grief of our loss. God will replace the emptiness we feel from the loss of a mate, a child, a friend, or a home, if we ask Him to do this. Jesus died on the cross, not only to give us eternal life, but He also died to take our grief and sorrows. Jesus Christ, on the cross bore all of our iniquities, pain, sickness and sorrow. Since He took them, we do not have to take these things, but rather receive our salvation, healing, deliverance and peace by faith.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Proverbs 15:14 tells us that if we have God's understanding, we can ask Him for the knowledge to overcome every trial and problem we face. God is bigger than our grief, sorrow, pain and every problem that any of us could face. We must never blame Him for our troubles, as the devil is the trouble maker, not our Lord. God is there for us, to help us overcome anything the enemy has done, or is trying to do. God is the one that will rescue us and help us in our hour of need. However, we must not be like the fool who feeds on his folly. This is a person who is continually mouthing his troubles and blaming others, including God, for his circumstances. He feeds on self-pity and rehearses his problems to all who will listen. We must give our heartaches and troubles to God and keep a cheerful attitude no matter what is going on in our lives. We need to remember, "this too, shall pass" as God is eternal and has a good plan for our future.
As Christians, death is the last enemy we face, as we have the assurance that we shall see all of our loved ones who have died in Christ once again. The devil may have snatched them off this earth, but because they belong to God, He snatches them from the devil and takes them home with him. We will be reunited with them. That shall happen when we get to Heaven, or when Christ comes again to this earth and brings them with Him at the resurrection. We are not like those who have no hope. In Christ, our future is full of His promises and we are promised victory over death and the grave!
1 Thessalonians 4:13:
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55:
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Certainly, grief and sorrow are natural emotions that we all experience when we lose someone or something and it is not wrong to feel it at the time a loss or tragedy occurs. However, it is wrong to embrace these emotions as Christians. Just like it is not wrong to feel fear when we are in danger; however, it is wrong to embrace fear because it will destroy our faith. We must not embrace grief either, as the above scripture tells us to "sorrow not."
I remember a number of years ago, a man came to Bud and me for counseling, as he had no joy in his life. We asked him when he lost his joy and he said it was after the accidental death of his grown son. The son had died in a plane crash. This man had been continually tormented by grief from that time, which had been over two years. We explained to him that tormenting grief was from the devil and he could be free from it. We were shocked at his reaction when we offered to pray for him to be free from this evil spirit. He absolutely refused. The devil had convinced him that if he quit grieving for his son, it meant he no longer loved his son. He was equating the emotion of grief with the emotion of love. He had embraced an additive kind of agony and the devil made him reluctant to let it go. This kind of negative emotion causes men to live in the past and robs them of the present, and future. This man was no longer a good husband to his wife as his life was revolving around a dead son through the grief he refused to let go of.
Many people accept the devil's sorrow and grief tunes by yielding to "singing the blues" or the "crying in your beer" mentality. Many of the songs that are sung in bars and nightclubs are this kind of music. Old melancholy songs about a lost love create a type of emotional sorrow that has an almost intoxicating feeling associated with it. The devil uses old memories to keep people in bondage to the past, even through a hurtful emotional attachment. The Bible tells us to forget those things behind us, and reach forth to the things in front of us in Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Grief that is not released to God has a deadly hold on many people. They carry this heavy burden that is aching for release. They may find temporary release when someone sympathizes with them or when they cry some tears, but soon this feeling turns into an overwhelming pain of loneliness that is almost unbearable. Grief and sorrow come to hurt us, not help us. We must resist them in the name of Jesus. Jesus does not want us to bear this grief. He bore it on the cross for us. Gladness and joy are our portion, not sorrow and sadness.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
We must resist sorrow and grief and ask for God's peace and comfort when we face loss and heartache. If we submit unto God and resist the devil, then the tormenting grief and pain caused by the devil, will have to flee.
James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Here is a sample prayer you can offer to God:
Father God, Thank You for always being there for me no matter what I face. I know You will never fail me, even in my most intense trials. I have not always understood why I was going through certain things; however, I do not have to understand, because You are God and You are in control, in spite of my lack of understanding. I know that all You require of me is to trust You, and look to You in faith and You will come and save me, and bring me an answer. You always have, and You always will, because you are faithful. You never fail any of us who look to You. I have failed You, Lord, by my doubt and unbelief at times, but You have never failed me. Lord, please remove all the sorrow and grief I feel. Heal this pain I feel in my heart and help me to trust You more. Fill this empty place in my heart with more of Your Spirit. I ask this in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...
PIERCING THE BODY?
Song of Solomon 2:15 says, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Foxes sometime in search of food would enter into the grape orchards and devour the grapes and spoil the crop. However, the little foxes were too small to reach the grape bunches so they would chew on the vines and it would kill the whole vine. Instead of the farmer just losing his crop, he would lose his vine which was more disastrous. Spiritually some things we do or allow that we might think are little or insignificant can also be disastrous for us.
Many of the young people in our society here in the USA are embracing a dangerous "little fox" or seemingly "little thing" that may seem harmless. The young people are saying that it is a "trendy" thing to do. Many of them are showing off multiple ear, nose, tongue, eyebrow and navel jewels and rings attached to their pierced flesh. Some even have this done on unspeakable parts of their bodies. These are abnormal and unnatural.
As many people are not aware of the spiritual dangers in such practices, this article is not meant to condemn any that may already have this done. However, we would urge you to seek the Lord as to any further involvement in this practice. The Lord loves everyone, no matter what we are currently doing however, His desire is to show us a better way.
The Bible warns us against cuttings in our flesh in Leviticus 19:28 which says, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord."
Our young people do not realize what they are doing has its roots in witchcraft and the practices of false religions. Those that have made trips to other parts of the world have viewed the bodies of those who have not only pierced and tattooed their bodies but have gone further, with mutilating their bodies. It is repulsive to see someone deform the body that the Lord made in perfection. The Lord admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20,
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
If we are to glorify God in our bodies, how do body piercings glorify Christ?
In 1 Kings 18 we find the story of Elijah contesting the evil prophets of Baal (a false god of that day whose followers practiced witchcraft). The prophets of Baal worked themselves into a frenzy trying to get their god, Baal to show himself mightier than the true and living God. However, the God of Elijah proved to be the true God. During the frenzy of the Baal worshipers they began to disfigure their bodies as we see from this scripture in 1 Kings 18:28, "And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them."
Another scripture that warns us not to disfigure our bodies is Deuteronomy 14:1(Amp.): "You are the sons of the LORD your God: you shall not cut yourselves, or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead."
When it speaks here about doing this in relation to the dead; this was a witchcraft rite done to mourn or remember their dead, so cutting, piercing and tattooing have its origin in witchcraft practices. The verse below reveals a connection between foreign gods and earrings.
Genesis 35:2: "Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: 3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem."
Perhaps a more well known scripture having to do with earrings is the record of the children of Israel falling into rebellion and worshipping the golden calf while Moses was up in the mount with God receiving the Ten Commandments. Here we find they took their earrings and cast them into the fire and make a golden idol out of them which greatly displeased the Lord.
Exodus 32:2-3: "And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron."
There is one specific verse in the Old Testament which uses the Hebrew word, "lachash," which is a word specifically associated with witchcraft. Here, the jewelry is used as an amulet to cast a spell.
There is one specific verse in the Old Testament which uses the Hebrew word, "lachash," which is a word specifically associated with witchcraft. Here, the jewelry is used as an amulet to cast a spell.
Isaiah 3:18-23: "In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, 19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 21 The rings, and nose jewels, 22 The changeable suits of apparel,and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils."
This is what makes it spiritually dangerous for people. People not realizing this opens the door for Satanic attack because they
have a mark or opening which allows the enemy entrance in their lives. Today this practice is growing because of false religions and pagan influences infiltrating the church.
Many of our young people are getting body piercings and tattoos out of a spirit of rebellion against their parents advice. Many men are also wearing earrings to make a statement of their rebellion by showing that they are "macho" or homosexual. Because the youth of our day are despising and rebelling against their parents this is very displeasing to the Lord as one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12, "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee" and Colossians 3:20: "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.")
Some complain and say that most of the women today in our society wear pierced earrings and they attempt to use this as an excuse for the bizarre body piercings they are flaunting. The Lord always judges what we do by our motives as He looks on the heart. It is a different matter when women wear pierced earrings as a custom, without the rebellion and pride attached to it. However, this could even be wrong if women are filled with vanity and pride over their appearance. Remember God looks at our heart attitudes. In fact, the Bible speaks of a generation of women that will be alive at the coming of the Lord that will be judged severely for their flirting and their haughtiness. Let us look again at the prophecy in Isaiah 3:16-24 (NIV):
16 The LORD says, "The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with out stretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make their scalps bald."
18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces,
19 The earrings, the bracelets and veils,
20 The head dresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms,
21 The signet rings and nose rings,
22 The fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses
23 And mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
24 Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth: instead of beauty, branding.
25 Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle.
We are living in a day that the Bible speaks of in 2 Timothy 3:1-7:
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
If you have been one that has been led away by lust or have been rebellious against your parents, you can come to the Lord and repent and He will give you a new start and a desire to live a holy and obedient life unto God. We should remove anything that portrays rebellion and ask the Lord to forgive us and give us a submissive spirit. Jesus does not condemn us, but rather, will help us. He loves us and invites us to a wonderful life in Him.
One note of warning to the church on this subject of body piercings. We have a generation now of young people that love the Lord yet do not understand all of His ways. Soon we are also going to be seeing a great revival among the youth of the world. The youth of this day want a real cause to live and die for. Most have not seen true Christianity. However, when they do come to Christ many will be bringing their tattoos, dress, music and old habits with them right into the church. We must be sure that we do not despise them nor look down on them, but rather welcome and love them and gently teach them the ways of the Lord. We are called to love and pray for them and help them avoid making some of the mistakes we have made in our own walk with the Lord. We need to be true mothers and fathers to them. Yes, we must speak the truth in love, but let us make sure we are loving them and not condemning them. On the other hand, we must not accept all that they would desire to bring with them that would harm them and compromise the Word of God. We will all need God's grace to bridge the generation gap. We would recommend a great article written by a young Christian on this very subject. Click here to read "Bridging the Generation Gap"
Bottom line in regard to body piercings would be to ask the popular youth slogan, "What Would Jesus Do?" I don't believe we will ever see Jesus with any body piercings that He placed on Himself. I can't imagine Jesus with a tongue ring or a navel piercing. The only scars on His body are the nail pierced hands and feet put there by the evil men that crucified Him. They were not self inflicted. Overcomers will put away the "little foxes" that lead to bigger compromises.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We are including a testimony of a former Hindu who knows only too well that body piercings and tattoos are a form of witchcraft:
I am from Malaysia and I truly enjoy the Overcoming Life Digest. Although I enjoy reading all the articles, I find the Little Foxes enlightening and informative. Last Friday, when I entered the GCN chatroom, they were discussing about tattoo and piercing (tongue). One of the believers there was telling them it was wrong for Christians to have tattoos. Since I was formerly a Hindu, I know tattoo is from Hinduism and also witchcraft. Also, Hindus pierce their tongue with small spears and prick the entire body with little hooks and go in trances. I have witnessed this personally. But praise God, I never took after any of these rituals even when I was a Hindu. Praise God, I managed to convince a few about the evil of tattoo. One of them asked me for scripture verses which I promised I would send. But during the weekend, I was busy and also, I couldn't find the relevant scriptures. I prayed to the Lord to help me. Then He reminded me of an article I read in your Digest last year. So I send them your article instead. Praise God for the articles in Little Foxes. Keep up the good work.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...
WOMEN IN MINISTRY?
By Betty Miller
Do women have a place in ministry? If so, to what extent? Is there scriptural basis for a woman to be in any position of authority in the church? What does the Bible really say about this issue? To understand God's intentions, we must go back to the very beginning of creation to see His original purpose for both man and woman.
MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:27).
"Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created" (Genesis 5:2).
It is interesting to note that God called both male and female, "Adam" in the day they were created. Adam means "man." Adam and Eve were created with God-ordained differences from each other, but together they made a full "man," or a complete picture of God Himself. There was perfection in their union. Their differences were not a source of discord or inequality, but a beautiful compliment to each other. Together, God gave them the task of overseeing and ruling His creation
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Genesis 1:28).
Notice that God gave the above commission to them both. There is no hint that there was anything but equal authority between man and woman as they existed in a sinless state. What changed things? In the next few chapters of Genesis, we find that sin entered the heart of Adam and Eve. The result was a temporary curse placed upon both man and woman, which would affect the whole earth.
Genesis 3:14-19: "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
This curse has affected all aspects of creation, from the ground itself (infested with weeds and thorns) to human relationships. (I say temporary, because in Christ this curse is removed, as we shall see later on).
When Eve ate the forbidden fruit and enticed Adam to sin with her, one of the consequences for women was the loss of equality with men, as men were to rule over women, instead of men and women ruling together. She would now be "ruled by her husband." However, when Jesus came as sinless Man and died as the Messiah on the cross for us, all things were restored positionally. In actuality, the restoration of man (men and women) began to take place at that very moment.
Though the complete cleansing of the curse has not yet been manifested on the earth, the day is coming when it will be so. Or to put it another way, all those who receive Jesus as Savior receive restoration as Sons of God, but not all of us walk in that restoration--yet. Through Jesus, the curse upon women has been lifted. Women no longer have to receive pain in childbirth nor are they inferior to man with him ruling over them. Women can now be restored to their original place and plan that God had for all His "sons." Although we do not see all things restored at this time, "legally" in the spiritual realm, they already have been.
Adam was the head of the first race of mankind; and Jesus is the head of the last race, the adopted children of God. God only sees two races--the Adamic race (all natural-born mankind) and His children through Jesus (all those born of the spirit).
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:21-22).
Once we are born into the kingdom of God, we become new creatures in Christ. In the Spirit, we find there is "neither male nor female," just as there are no race distinctions nor class separations. The Lord looks on the hearts of His new creatures and therefore does not discriminate when He offers His love and privileges. Women are not excluded from any of God's promises nor callings merely because of their sex.
Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
GOD'S MASCULINE AND FEMININE TRAITS
As we stated above, the command to have dominion over and subdue the earth was given to both Adam and Eve. They were both to rule and reign over the Lord's creation. The very act of subduing something requires authority, aggressiveness and leadership, as well as humility, tenderness, patience, and the ability to respect the intrinsic value of what we are ruling. Most of all, it requires love.
Within God's own nature we find these same qualities. Both men and women are to become like Him as we are conformed to His image. Since this is true, there are times that under the unction of the Holy Spirit a woman should assert herself boldly. (This assertion, however, should not necessarily be toward others, but rather toward the enemy, Satan!) For men and women to become overcomers they must have this boldness and authority over the devil. God still desires that His people rule and reign with Him. His intention is to qualify us for that position, whether we be male or female. "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:6).
Even though "kings" is a masculine term, this is the ultimate destination He desires for all of His people. The Lord often uses both male and female terms to refer to both sexes. Women are to live in the "hidden man of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4). Both men and women in the church are referred to as "the bride of Christ." God has both a masculine and feminine nature. The mother heart of Jesus was evident as he prayed over Jerusalem.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37).
Submission is considered to be a feminine trait. However, Jesus submitted to the cross under the direction of the Father. If we walk in the Spirit, we too will possess both the masculine aggressiveness and feminine submissiveness of God.
Both submissiveness and aggressiveness are God-given strengths. Yet, both can be perverted, so that we become submissive and aggressive in the wrong ways, with the wrong attitudes. Because these qualities are so misused and misunderstood by the world, they have become distasteful and despised. If aggression is frowned upon, submission is viewed in an even more negative light in western culture. We equate submission with weakness and lack of spirit. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was never a human being more submitted to God than Jesus Christ-- yet never was there one as completely resistant to the system of the world! It took extraordinary submissiveness and aggression for Jesus to overcome the world. For the Christian, whether we are male or female, He is our model. We are to possess His qualities and use them according to the needs around us.
WOMEN AS MINISTERS
How does all of this lead up to women ministers? Perhaps you are thinking that although we have laid a biblical foundation for "neither male nor female" in Christ, certain verses in the New Testament still seem to ban women from ministry positions in the church. Let's examine these verses for the true interpretation.
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law" (1 Corinthians 14:34).
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:11-12).
In these verses, Paul cannot be addressing women who were in the ministry, but rather those in the congregation who were out of order. How do we know this? We have many such proofs, many from Paul himself. Here is a partial list of women who were all in influential positions of leadership in the early church.
Pheobe (Romans 16:1-2): This woman was a deaconess of the church in Cenchrea, who was beloved of Paul and many other Christians for the help she gave to them. She filled an important position of leadership. It would be a difficult stretch of the imagination to say that this woman fulfilled her duties without ever speaking in the church!
Priscilla (Acts 18:26): Priscilla and her husband Aquila are often mentioned with great respect by Paul. Together they were pastors of a church in Ephesus, and were responsible for teaching the full gospel to Apollos. We are informed that they both taught Apollos, and pastored the church together. In fact, Priscilla is sometimes listed ahead of Aquila when their names come up. This has led some to speculate that of the two, she was the primary teacher and her husband oversaw the ministry. At any rate, we see here a woman in a very prominent position of teaching and pastoring. (Other references to Priscilla and Aquila are Acts 18:2, 18; Romans 16:3, and I Corinthians 16:19).
Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3): Here we see reference to two women who were "true yokefellow" and who labored with Paul in the advancement of the gospel.
Junia (Romans 16:7): In this verse we see Paul sending greetings to Andronicus and Junia, his "fellow-prisoners" who are of note among the apostles. Junia is a woman's name. In some modern translations, an "s" has been added (Junias) because the translators were so sure a woman could not be an apostle, that they assumed a copyist has accidentally dropped the "s." However the proper male ending would have been "ius," not "ias." No church commentator earlier than the Middle Ages questioned that Junia was both a woman and an apostle.
Though there were other women throughout the Bible in positions of leadership, such as prophetesses, evangelists, judges, leaders, etc., the above references should be enough to establish that women were indeed a vital and normal part of church leadership. Paul expected women to speak in the church, or else why would he have given the following directive? It would have been useless to give directions for women who were speaking in the church, if they were never allowed to do so.
1 Corinthians 11:5, "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven."
Furthermore, if Paul believed that all women should never teach or speak in church, why does he commend many women who did just that?
With all this in mind, what then do we make of the troubling verses that command women to be silent in the churches? First of all, we must interpret those verses in light of what we have just established--that there were women in leadership positions of the church. Obviously, Paul is not writing to them. He is must be addressing another issue entirely--the women who were loud and unruly during the service, causing disorder and confusion..
When he wrote the Corinthians, he was dealing with a church that was very disorderly in their services. Much of the letter was spent correcting excesses and abuses. Some of these pertained to women in particular and some were to the entire church. Paul is not being prejudiced against women when he instructs the Corinthian women to keep silence. In the early church the seating arrangement was quite different from our modern day churches. Men were seated on one side of the church while the women and children were seated on the opposite side. This is still practiced in many cultures today.
The women of Christ's day were generally uneducated and usually only the men were privileged with an education. Due to this situation, when the church met the women were tempted to shout across the room and ask their husbands the meaning of whatever was being taught. This disturbed the service. Paul was simply saying during the service, "Women, keep your children quiet and you be quiet, and if you have anything to ask your husbands, wait until you get home." Because of the new equality that Christianity brought to women, it could be that some of them were taking their freedom too far, to the point of being obnoxious.
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he gave him a similar directive. Again, it is important to understand the context in which the letter was written. In I Timothy, a careful reader becomes aware that many severe heresies and false teachings that were being dealt with. We can draw a conclusion here that many of the proponents and victims of the false teachings were women. Timothy pastored in Ephesus, and it has been suggested that goddess worship might have played a large part in Paul dealing so severely with the women. Ephesus was a primary center of the worship of Diana or Artemis. The heresies being taught might have suggested that women were authoritative over men and had higher access to spiritual knowledge than men did.
Regardless of the particulars, in both cases we can see that Paul is dealing with specific incidents in specific churches for very particular reasons.
We must understand that many of Paul's epistles dealt with local problems and his commandments are not meant to be taken as "commandments" across the board for all situations. Rather, we are to seek the Lord for the basic principal that needs to be incorporated in our churches. Because of Old Testament precedents that had already been set, apparently it never occurred to Paul to re-establish the case for women in ministry. Why would he need to? The early church took it as a matter of course that Jesus would call and ordain anyone He chose--and that settled it! As a matter of fact, the Bible mentions a prophetess who was in the Temple when Jesus was brought there as a baby. Her name was Anna (Luke 2:25-35), and she was one of two people who recognized Jesus as the Messiah because of her sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Paul's writings are sometimes misunderstood today because we do not know all the details that led him to write as he did. We must rely on the Holy Spirit, and the rest of the testimony of Scripture to interpret how we are to apply these things to our everyday lives. Scripture should always be compared with other Scripture and the context taken into consideration. Even in Paul's day, there were those who tried to twist the meaning his words.
"...His (Paul's) letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do other Scriptures, to their own destruction" ( 2 Peter 3:16).
It is a fair conclusion that the testimony of the bulk of Scripture, church history and God's anointing upon them, all speak plainly for women being able to fulfill all positions of the five-fold offices of apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist and teacher.
It has always been a strange doctrine that will allow women to go to foreign mission fields and teach heathen men, but will not allow the "heathen" men at home to be taught by the same women! It makes absolutely no sense to think that a female who is learned in the Scriptures cannot teach a male who is unlearned. Additionally, it is acceptable for many women to teach Sunday School to children, and for mothers to teach their sons. Where do we draw the line and say to the women that can no longer teach a male once they reach a certain age? This may seem like a ridiculous scenario, yet there are those in the church who teach along these lines.
Those that are dogmatic in excluding women from the ministries of God usually are not walking in the Spirit, as they see women after the flesh (viewing her sex), not after the Spirit (seeing her heart and calling). The Lord admonishes us in His Word that we are not to look at one another with regard to our sex, race, class or culture, but rather we are to see one another through spiritual eyes.
"Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation: To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:16-20).
God wants to use any person who will yield to His Spirit, regardless of that person's sex or capabilities. Those who are a new creature in Christ have His capabilities.
Our problem is that we must see there are rules for the fleshly, or earthly man, and there are rules for the spiritual man. Then, we must discern when to apply the appropriate Scripture. We are admonished in 2 Timothy 2:15 to "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
THE FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY
The Lord gave the church gifts of His choosing in the form of men and women who would lead the church into perfection (Ephesians 4:8-12).
It is the Lord who calls men and women to His ministry. He does not call special people, but the call goes out to "whosoever will." First, we are called to salvation; then as we walk in obedience to Him, He calls for us to be baptized in His Holy Spirit. As we continue to obey and follow Him, He then may choose us to serve Him in a full-time ministry. He chooses people for the ministry out of those who have walked in obedience to His other calls. He desires that all follow, but can only choose those who are obedient. These men and women who have answered the call are set in the ministry by Jesus Himself. Man's ordination does not qualify them, but the ordination of God does. Men will recognize those who are truly called by Him. They will even recognize women who are called of God as God empowers them with His anointing and power which cannot be denied.
God has used many modern day women in His service as well as women spoken of in the Bible. Madame Guyon, Catherine Booth, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Aimee Semple McPherson, Corrie Ten Boom and Kathryn Kuhlman are only a few of the women on the list of great five-fold ministry gifts to the church. What are those gifts and that ministry? "And His gifts were (varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us,) some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers'' (Ephesians 4:11, Amplified Bible.).
When this Scripture says, "appointed and gave men to us," it does not mean just the male sex. The same man whom God created in the beginning which included male and female is the one referred to here. These "men" are both male and female and they have a responsibility to bring others into the maturity that they possess.
Ephesians 4 continues, "His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church), [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God; that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood....the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection -- the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ, and the completeness found in Him'' (Ephesians 4:12-13, Amplified Bible.).
The Lord has lofty intentions for His men and women and desires that they come into perfection and maturity even as Christ walked in that perfection. The Lord sends those whom He chooses to bring about this maturing and perfecting. If we have been raised in a traditional church, the idea of coming into perfection may sound impossible--even heretical! However, it is clearly a Biblical precedent and until we understand it we will not be able to understand God's full intention for His body. The separation of laity and clergy is not God's plan for His people. All that are called to salvation are called to a full-time ministry in the Lord. This does not mean that all should leave their secular occupations, but all should devote their lives to the Lord and be as committed and active in witnessing, learning and growing in God as the leadership.
The leadership that God raises up is those men and women whom He trains for His work in the kingdom. Women have been limited in traditional churches to certain positions that men would give them, but the Lord is restoring His full five-fold ministry in these last days to prepare the body of Christ for His return.
If Jesus wanted women to minister, how come all His disciples were men? This question is actually raised from a misunderstanding of the word "disciple." Jesus had many women disciples. These include, Mary and Martha (John 11:1-4, and many other references as well. Mary and Martha, along with their brother Lazarus were among Jesus' closest friends). In addition, Jesus had many other women followers as well.
Luke 8:1-3, "And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance."
For the sake of brevity, I will not include other lists of names of women who followed Him. However the Scripture makes it clear there were many of them.
In another incident, Jesus motions to the crowds that followed him and said, "Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matthew 12:49-50).
In John 4:1-42, we see that it is a Samaritan woman who leads a large population of her community to Jesus.
Why didn't Jesus choose any women to be among His twelve original apostles? Jesus could not choose women to be among the twelve because it would not be wisdom for men and women to be travelling about together when many of them were single. Also, the twelve apostles fulfilled the "type and shadow" of the twelve patriarchs, so they had to be equal to men (Revelation 21:12, 14). However, this doesn't mean that he does not anoint women to fill an apostolic role today, as we already established in the case of Junia.
Jesus showed a great deal of respect for women--and children as well. In the culture of Jesus' day, these were often deemed "lower class" so to speak, and not worth paying serious attention to. However, Jesus repeatedly broke this unspoken rule. Because His actions were so unusual, those closest to Him were often surprised and annoyed.
WOMAN, THOU ART LOOSED!
We pray that this teaching will encourage many women, who might otherwise relegate themselves to the "back burner" to instead step forward into the full calling of God upon their lives. Likewise, we pray that men who have been taught against letting women minister will see the truth of the fullness of God's plan. No matter who we are in the Lord, we will be held responsible for how we treated others and how we either hindered or helped the cause of Christ on Earth. Those in leadership especially need to heed this warning with reverent fear. Just because we have believed something our whole life, or because our denomination or culture teaches us so, doesn't mean it is correct. If you have a problem with seeing women in the pulpit, or in any position of leadership, we pray that you will prayerfully seek the Lord with an open heart on this issue.
In conclusion, let us read the following promise from the prophet Joel. This prophesy was initially fulfilled at Pentecost, and as we draw closer to the End, we can expect to see it fulfilled in even greater measures.
Acts 2:17-21, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Personal Note from Betty:
My own personal call to the ministry came as a surprise to me. I was not expecting the Lord to use me because I did not realize God used women in the ministry. At the time of my call I was in the medical profession. I had been filled with the Holy Spirit and because of the tremendous transformation in my own life, I was eager to share with others this beautiful blessing. I had known the Lord since the age of twelve. However, I had not known Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. After my baptism in the Holy Spirit, I found I had a new holy boldness that I had not had before. I found myself witnessing and sharing with all who would listen. I wanted them to know of my new joy, love, peace and faith. I did not intend to pursue the path of becoming a female preacher. (I really did not know such existed). I just found myself sharing and preaching. Actually all of us who know Christ should be "preachers." Preaching is simply sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. The clergy should not be the ones who do all the preaching! This is the responsibility of every member of the body of Christ.
When the Lord spoke to me about His plan for my life, I immediately thought of many objections. My first was that I was a woman, so how could He use me? I told Him I didn't have the kind of tremendous testimony that would cause people to listen to me. He said, "Betty, it is not your testimony that will cause people to listen, but it will be My Spirit and My anointing." He then ministered to me in a beautiful way to show me in His Word that it was Scriptural for women to minister. Most of these truths are in this teaching. Our confusion over women ministering comes by misunderstanding the full counsel of God's Word. The verse with which this chapter begins is one of the first He revealed to me, "...there is neither male nor female..." in the Spirit. In heaven there will be no sex; so if we are walking in the Spirit now, we will not be conscious of sex, but only of the Spirit of God.
"For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30).
My husband and I have been privileged to serve the Lord together as evangelists, pastors, teachers and now pioneering this new work on the Internet. It's rewarding to allow the Holy Spirit to minister through us as He sees fit. We only want to be those vessels who stand ready for the Master's use. The Lord uses Bud to relate to many that I could not reach, and He uses me to minister to others that he could not reach. Together we are able to accomplish much more for the Lord than we would if we were ministering by ourselves. We are grateful that the Lord called us into His service together.
God bless you! Betty
Excerpt from the book and workbook Neither Male Nor Female by Betty Miller. To purchase books click here: http://store.bible.com/
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WOMEN THROUGHOUT HISTORY SERVED AS LEADERS
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOME WOMEN IN MINISTRY
by Richard M. Riss
The involvement of women in public ministry is as old as the gospel. Historian Richard Riss pays tribute to women whose amazing ministries have transformed lives throughout church history.
LEADERS IN THE EARLY CHURCH
Women have always been active in public ministry. On the pages of the New Testament we find mention of many who filled positions of leadership in the first century church. Acts 2:19 mentions the four virgin daughters of Philip the evangelist as prophetesses who lived in his home at Caesarea, where Paul and his associates visited during his third missionary journey. Priscilla, or Prisca, and her husband Aquilla, were known as fellow-laborers in Christ with the apostle Paul. Their expertise as teachers enabled them to explain the way of God more accurately to Apollos of Alexandria, another important leader of the early church (Acts 18:25-26).
Another associate of Paul's, Lydia, a seller of purple dye, opened her home for ministry (Acts 16:40), as did many other Christian women in the Roman empire, including the "elect lady" to whom John addressed his second epistle. Close examination of 2 John would suggest that she was functioning in a pastoral capacity, as would also have been the case for Lydia (Acts 16:40)(Acts 16:40), Nympha (Colossians 4:15), and Chloe (I Corinthians 1:11). Phoebe was a leader of the Church at Cenchrea. In Romans 16:1,2, Paul commanded the members of the church at Rome to receive her as such, and to help her in whatever manner she requested. Paul also mentions that Andronicus and Junia were outstanding among the apostles (Romans 16:7), and there is little doubt that Junia was a feminine name. Both John Chrysostom and Jerome made reference to her as a woman apostle, and no commentator referred to her as a man until the late thirteenth century.
MARTYRS FOR THEIR FAITH
As Christianity spread, women along with their male contemporaries, lived their faith "even unto death," and through heroic deeds of love, helped build the foundations of God's Kingdom in their countries. In the early fourth century, Catherine of Alexandria defended the faith at Alexandria before philosophers and courtiers, before she was tortured to death by Maxentius, the son of the Roman Emperor, Maximian. At about the same time, Dorothy of Caesarea in Cappadocia was martyred (A.D. 313). As she was being led to her execution, Theophilus, a lawyer, taunted her, asking her for a basket of flowers and fruit. Soon afterward, a child came to her with a basket laden with roses and apples. She sent this to Theophilus, who as a result of this incident became a Christian and later gave his own life as a martyr.
Macrina the Younger (A.D.328-380) was founder of a religious community for women in the eastern church. With her brothers, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, she was a pioneer in the monastic life. She healed, prophesied, and actively spread the faith. John Chrysostom wrote of her that "she was a great organizer, and independent thinker, and as well educated as Basil himself." After the death of her mother, she reared and educated her younger brother Peter, who became Bishop of Sebaste.
Marcella (325-410) was an important teacher in the early church who was highly esteemed by Jerome. She was in the front lines in interacting with heretics and bringing them to a better understanding of Christian truth. Her palace on the Aventine Hill became a center of Christian influence. At one point, when a dispute arose in Rome concerning the meaning of the Scriptures, Jerome asked Marcella to settle it. Her Church of the Household was not only a house of study and prayer, but a center for deeds of Christian charity and sacrifice. It was here that another woman, Fabiola, received inspiration to establish the first hospitals in Rome. Marcella later established on the outskirts of Rome the first religious retreat for women.
It was also at Marcella's Church of the Household that Paula (347-404) and her daughter, Eustochium, first made their decision to assist Jerome in his Latin translation of the Bible. They went to Bethlehem in order to aid him in this work, revising and correcting his translations and making new Latin translations from the Hebrew and Greek texts. In turn, Jerome dedicated some of his books to them. Paula founded three convents and a monastery in Bethlehem, where Biblical manuscripts were copied. This became a model for what soon became the universal practice at monasteries for many centuries.
Genevieve (422-500) lived in Paris when Attila and his Huns invaded France in 451. She assured the inhabitants of Paris that God would protect them if they would pray. While the men prepared for battle, she persuaded the women to pray for hours in the church. Then, after Attila destroyed Orleans, he decided not to touch Paris. At a later time, she was said to have averted a famine in Paris and the surrounding cities by distributing miraculous gifts of bread.
Bridget, also known as Bride (455-523), inspired the convent system that made an indelible impact upon life in Ireland. After settling in Kildare, she built for herself and her female friends a house for refuge and devotion. As other houses were founded through her missionary efforts, she became known as the "mother abbess" of all of Ireland.
Theodora I (500-548), wife of the emperor Justinian, was an important and influential Christian. A woman of outstanding intellect and learning, she was a moral reformer. Justinian, as Christian Emperor, was, for all practical purposes, head of the Church of his generation, and his wife, as Empress, shared his power to select church leaders. The inscription "Theodora Episcopa" or "Theodora, Bishop (fem.)" in a mosaic at the Basilica of Sts. Prudentia and Praexedis in Rome, may have been a reference to the Empress.
Hilda (614-680) was appointed by Aidan as abbess of the convent at Hartlepool in County Durham in 649. Ten years later, she founded a double monastery for men and women at Whitby in Yorkshire, which became world famous as a school of theology and literature. Five of her disciples became bishops and a sixth, Caedmon, became the earliest known English poet.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a German abbess, and writer known throughout all of Europe. Skilled in subjects as diverse as theology, medicine and politics, she did not hesitate to rebuke the sins of the greatest men of her time in both Church and state. She exerted a wide influence among many people, including the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and various kings, prelates, and saints. Many miracles were attributed to her during her lifetime.
Clare (1193-1253) was co-founder, with Francis of Assisi, of the Poor Clares, a mendicant order which spread rapidly through Italy and into France, Germany, and Spain. In 1249, when she was lame, her convent was attacked by a group of Saracens. She told the sisters to carry her to the door of the monastery, then addressed the Saracens and prayed aloud that God would "deliver the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy love." She heard a voice answer "I will always have them in my keeping," and turning to the sisters, she said, "Fear not." At this moment, the Saracens scrambled down the walls of the cloister, recoiling from her valiant words. Clare's care for the poor was a tremendous inspiration to Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231), a princess who, in the last years of her short life, led a life of rigorous self-sacrifice and service to the poor and sick.
Some other significant women of the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries included Hechthild of Magdeburg, Gertrude the Great, Angela of Foligno, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Sienna, Catherine of Sweden, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Joan of Arc, Catherine of Genoa, Isabella of Castile, and Maragaret Beaufort.
During the Reformation, a member of the Bavarian nobility, Argula von Grumback (1492-1563), challenged the Rector and all of the faculty of the University of Ingolstadt to a debate in which she would defend the principles of the Protestant Reformation. She offered to base this debate upon a translation of the Bible published prior to the outbreak of the Reformation. She was permitted to present her position in 1523 in Nuremberg before the heads of the Empire. Martin Luther wrote of her, "that most noble woman, Argula von Stauffer, is there making a valiant fight with great spirit, boldness of speech and knowledge of Christ." Her extensive education and fine critical abilities enabled her to become a force to be reckoned with. She conducted church meetings in her home and officiated at funerals.
Two other important leaders of the Protestant Reformation were Margaret of Navarre (1492-1549) and her daughter, Jeanne d'Albret (1528-1572), the grandmother and mother of King Henry IV of France, who issued the Edict of Nantes, granting religious toleration to the French Protestants for almost a century. Jeanne d'Albret held services of the new Reformed faith in her palace apartment. A friend of John Calvin, she also used her palace as an institute for Reformation study.
LEADERS IN DENOMINATIONAL MOVEMENTS
During the Puritan era, Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), became influential in Boston, and opened her home to large classes of women. It is estimated that as many as eighty overflowed to the doorsteps of her house, at a time when Boston had a population of roughly 1,000 people. These meetings grew rapidly, and soon men, also, began to attend. Among her loyal followers was Henry Vane, who served for a short time as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Within two years of her arrival from England, she had the strongest following of any leader in the entire colony. Her large following, coupled with her strong exegetical and homiletical skills, deep Christian commitment and insightful understanding of spiritual truths, may have incurred the jealousy of several New England ministers, who became uncomfortable enough with her successes that she was accused of heresy and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638.
Margaret Fell (1614-1702), the mother of Quakerism, was an English peeress and wife of Judge Thomas Fell, member of the Long Parliament and Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster. Her home became a place of refuge and renewal for the persecuted Quakers for almost fifty years. She was arrested for holding Quaker meetings in her home, Swarthmoor Hall, and imprisoned for four years. After her release from prison, she visited Quakers in jails and traveled on horseback with her daughters and servants to remote farms and villages as an itinerant preacher. Many people sought wisdom and advice from her, including Thomas Salthouse, and, of course, George Fox, who married her a number of years after the death of her husband. Because she had his blessing in her preaching ministry, she wrote many tracts and letters on the subject of women in ministry.
Madame Guyon (1648-1717) was French woman who was imprisoned on several occasions for long periods of time because of her beliefs, but she was never known to complain about this. An author of forty books, including a twenty-volume commentary of the Bible, she had a wide following, particularly in France and Switzerland. Among those profoundly influenced by her ministry was Archbishop Francois Fenelon.
The founder of the first Methodist congregation in America was Barbara Heck (1734-1804).
In England, Lady Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791), founder of the Calvinistic Methodist denomination during the Evangelical Awakening, functioned as a bishop by virtue of her right as a peeress to appoint Anglican clergymen as household chaplains and assign their duties, and to purchase presentation rights to chapels, enabling her to decide who would conduct services and preach. Among the many chaplains whom she appointed and continued to finance for many decades was George Whitefield. In 1779, after sixty chapels were already functioning under her auspices, this practice was disallowed by a consistory court of London. Therefore, in order to continue to function, she was able, under the Toleration Act, to register her chapels as dissenting places of worship, known as "The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion."
Lady Selina frequently invited members of the aristocracy to her home to hear the preaching of the Wesleys, Whitefield, Isaac Watts, Philip Doddridge, Benjamin Ingham, John Fletcher, John Berridge, William Romaine, Henry Venn, and others. She founded Trevecca House on property adjoining the home of Howel Harris. A seminary for the training of ministers for all denominations, its first president was John Fletcher. Joseph Benson eventually became headmaster on John Wesley's recommendation. George Whitefield preached the inaugural sermon when it opened in 1768.
NOTABLE AMERICAN PREACHERS
In America, two important preachers during the first years of the Second Awakening (1800-1808) were Deborah Pierce of Paris, N.Y. and Martha Howell of Utica. Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874), "The Mother of the Holiness Movement" began her ministry in 1835 with her Tuesday Meetings for the Promotion of Holiness, which continued for 39 years in New York City, where she lived with her husband, who was a physician. Hundreds of Methodist preachers, including at least five bishops, were profoundly affected by her ministry. The success of Phoebe Palmer's informal meetings encouraged other women to conduct the same type of ministry, and dozens of them sprang up throughout North America. These meetings brought together Christians of many denominations under the leadership of women, particularly among Methodists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Quakers.
In 1858, Walter Palmer, Phoebe's husband, purchased the periodical GUIDE TO HOLINESS, which under her able editorship, grew in circulation from 13,000 to 30,000 subscribers. She traveled widely with her husband, conducting evangelistic meetings during the summer months. In the fall of 1857, she and her husband traveled to Hamilton, Ontario, where they attracted crowds of several thousand people when an afternoon prayer meeting became a ten-day revival meeting during which four hundred people were converted to Christ. They experienced similar successes in New York City and in England, where they preached for four years to packed houses at Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, and dozens of other places. It is estimated that within her lifetime, Phoebe Palmer brought over 25,000 people to faith in Christ.
Catherine Booth (1829-1890), with her husband, William Booth, founded the Christian Revival Association in 1865 and the Salvation Army in 1878. The Booths regarded the active participation of women to be vital to Christianity. Before 1865, when they were still Methodists, Catherine began preaching. Soon after her pulpit debut, her husband became ill, and his slow recovery paved the way for her own preaching ministry. For a time, he was so ill that she had to take over his entire preaching circuit. She eventually became one of the most famous female preachers of England, and her last sermon was delivered to an audience of 50,000 people.
Hannah Whitall Smith, author of THE CHRISTIAN'S SECRET OF A HAPPY LIFE (1875) catalyzed the development of the Holiness movement in Britain and throughout Europe. Her activities in England led to the Keswick Convention in 1874.
LEADERS OF THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT
Carrie Judd Montgomery was a healing evangelist of considerable prominence beginning in 1879, and became a founding member, along with A. B. Simpson, of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1887. She later became a part of the Pentecostal revival and was ordained a minister by the Assemblies of God in 1917, continuing in ministry until 1946.
Maria B. Woodworth-Etter was also involved in the Holiness movement before she rose to prominence as an early Pentecostal leader. In 1884, she was licensed to preach by the Churches of God general conference, founded by John Winebrenner in 1825. Within a few months of this time her meetings were already beginning to receive national press coverage, and in the late 1880s she started twelve churches, added 1,000 members, erected six church buildings, and started several Sunday Schools. Her work at this time resulted in the licensing of twelve preachers. The revivals that she held at this time were accompanied with unusual manifestations of God's power, many healings, and mass conversions. During the early Pentecostal movement, Woodworth-Etter was in continual demand, becoming a featured speaker at the Worldwide Pentecostal Camp Meeting at Arroyo Seco, California, in April 1913. She founded the Woodworth-Etter Tabernacle in western Indianapolis in 1918, which she pastored until her death in 1924.
Beginning in 1906 and 1907, Florence L. Crawford, Mabel Smith, Ivey Campbell, and Rachel A. Sizelove were some of the first women to spread the blessings of the early Pentecostal revival through their separate itinerant ministries. Florence Crawford planted and pastored several churches in the Pacific Northwest, founding and becoming general overseer of the Apostolic Faith Church based in Portland, Oregon, which later became part of the Open Bible Standard Denomination.
Other pioneers of the Pentecostal movement in the U.S. included Mrs. Scott Ladd, who opened a Pentecostal mission in Des Moines in 1907, the Duncan sisters, who had opened the Rochester Bible Training School at Elim Faith Home, "Mother" Barnes of St. Louis, Missouri, who, with her son-in-law, B. F. Lawrence, held tent meetings in southern Illinois in the spring of 1908, and Marie Burgess, who preached in Chicago, Toledo, Detroit, and New York City, where she founded Glad Tidings Hall, which soon became an important center for the spread of the Pentecostal revival. Another early Pentecostal pioneer in New York was Miss Maud Williams (Haycroft).
CANADIAN AND EUROPEAN PIONEERS OF PENTECOSTALISM
In Canada, some early pioneers of the Pentecostal movement included Ellen Hebden in Toronto, Ella M.Goff in Winnipeg, Alice B. Garrigus in Newfoundland, the Davis sisters in the Maritime provinces, Mrs. C. E. Baker in Montreal, and Zelma Argue throughout all of the Canadian provinces. Aimee Semple McPherson of Ingersoll, Ontario, began a preaching ministry in 1915 which began in Toronto and took her along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, and across the United States in 1918. She eventually founded Angelus Temple in 1923, where she continued as senior pastor until her death in 1944.
An outstanding authoress and minister at the turn of the century was Jesse Penn-Lewis who was directly involved with the revival in Wales. Evan Roberts, the chief evangelist of the Welsh revival joined Mrs. Lewis in penning some of her writings on the overcoming life. Mrs. Lewis had a wide public ministry. Perhaps the most popular book she wrote was WAR ON THE SAINTS, a book on spiritual warfare.
AN OUTSTANDING HEALING MINISTRY
Kathryn Kuhlman's ministry began in the summer of 1923. After her ordination by the Evangelical Church Alliance in Joliet, Illinois, she established the Denver Revival Tabernacle in 1935, which she pastored for three years. In the mid-1940s, she went to Franklin, Pennsylvania, where she began to thrive as a preacher and radio evangelist. Many people were healed with notable miracles at her meetings beginning in 1947, and she gained a reputation as one of the world's outstanding healing evangelists, carrying on as a leading figure during the charismatic movement until her death in 1976.
PASTORS OF THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT
A few of the women working as Pentecostal pastors during the charismatic movement of the 1960s and 1970s included Charlotte Baker, Myrtle D. Beall, Helen Beard, Aimee Cortese, Sue Curran, B. Maureen Gaglardi, Anne Giminez, Ione Glaeser, Hattie Hammond, Alpha A. Henson, Marilyn Hickey, Violet Kitely, Janet Kreis, Freda Lindsay, Fuchsia T. Pickett, Iverna Tompkins, and Rachel Titus. A sampling of a few of the other women who were vital during the time of the charismatic movement as speakers, authors, or evangelists, would include Eleanor and Roberta Armstrong, Rita Bennett, Edith Blumhofer, Hazel Bonawitz, Roxanne Brant, Mary Ann Brown, Shirley Carpenter, Jean Darnall, Josephine Massynberde Ford, Katie Fortune, Shirlee Green, Nina Harris, Sue Malachuk, Daisy Osborn, Dorothy Ranaghan, Agnes Sanford, Gwen Shaw, Bernice Smith, Ruth Carter Stapleton, Jean Stone, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Corrie Ten Boom. Mother Teresa was also an outstanding woman who ministered in the helps ministry to the poor of India.
The women mentioned here are, of course, a mere sampling of important figures who have been mightily used of God in every conceivable capacity of leadership in the church throughout history.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...
LIFE AFTER DEATH?
by Betty Miller
All over the world during the Easter season, multitudes will gather in churches to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hear about life after death. Many will suppress a yawn and attend their "yearly church service" to please their spouse. Others will attend out of curiosity; still others, because it makes them "feel good" to think about the cycle of life and new things growing out of death.
Pastors will wax eloquent before large crowds, families will don their finest clothes and the children will gather Easter eggs. Easter is a time of joy and promise as the first blades of grass begin to peek through the shroud of winter. In the pastel climate of spring, eternal life is a popular subject. Yet, how many people will really stop to think about how they can obtain eternal life? How many people will actually know the truth about how to receive it? How many will give their heart and lives to God so they may understand who Jesus Christ really was and who He still is? What does His death and resurrection actually mean to mankind?
A remnant of believers will celebrate Resurrection Day, knowing the real meaning of this season, but many more will simply be going through the tradition of a religious service. Religion cannot save anyone. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Son of God can give us life after death.
In today's world, most people do not have a problem believing in the fact that the spirit is eternal. Even those who do not consider themselves "religious" often believe in some form of life after the grave. They just aren't sure what it is, and many do not want to know. Hell is an unfashionable topic. New Age teachings have settled in almost every facet of our society with vague, cozy feelings of the "afterlife."
We have read many documented accounts of people who have died in their physical bodies and have given testimony that they entered into a spiritual dimension beyond this life. Life did not cease for them. They then returned to their bodies to tell of their experiences. Some tell of seeing a "white light," others give descriptions of hell; still others see Jesus or angels. What awaits us on the other side? This will be determined by what we did in this life. Just because people report they saw a "white light" does not mean they will go to heaven when they die. Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." There is only one way any of us will go to heaven and it is through accepting Christ as our savior. This is the message of the cross. Jesus died so that we could live and have eternal life. It is not our works that will save us. We must repent of our sins and ask Jesus to come into our heart and change us. Then we shall live and not die. John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY
In Daniel 12: 1-4, Daniel talks of the end of the age where it says, "Many that sleep in the dust shall awake to everlasting life." This "sleep" is referring to the physical body sleeping, not the soul or spirit. Our spirit is the "real us." We are a spirit and have a soul (mind, will and emotions) that lives in a body. There is a cultic teaching that talks about "soul sleep" which is not scriptural. When people die, they do not enter into a state of eternal sleep, neither do they cease to exist. When we die, our body will go into the ground to decay and return to dust, but our body is not who we really are (Genesis 3:19). Our spirit, when we die, goes either to hell or to be with the Father in heaven. There is no in-between place, heavenly sleep or state of non-existence.
Many young people in our society have become morbidly preoccupied with the subject of death. "Punk" rockers are sending forth messages in their rock music that can cause some of them to receive demon spirits that drive these young people to commit suicide. They think by committing suicide they will escape living, believing that everything will end; but the Word of God clearly teaches that some go to everlasting life (heaven) or others to everlasting shame (hell). The body dies, but men's spirits live on in one of two states: with God or with the devil. Some evil rock music even encourages suicide as a "ticket to hell." These musicians don't even try to deceive the people as to where they will end up. The deception is, they believe the devil will reward them. The truth is that Satan will not reward anyone with anything good for serving him. These deluded people will suffer eternal torment in hell with the devil and his demons, forever separated from God and His goodness.
Yet the troublesome question still remains--why must we die in the first place? The truth is, God never made us to die. Death of the body was not God's original plan. It is the result of sin. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin (disobedience to God), sin entered into this world; as a result of it, every single one of us will face death at sometime. When we die, we will also face judgment before God. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The Bible speaks of death as an enemy. 1 Corinthians 15:26 says, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." In this world we are seeing death all around us: death by old age, disease, murder, suicide, accidents, disasters, famine and war. All of these have been brought on mankind because of sin and a fallen race. Death is an evil that produces torment, fear, hatred, suffering, agony, pain, grief and heartache. There is only one way that we can overcome both death and the fear of it; that is through the One who conquered death and the grave. The death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, has now made a way for us to also conquer death. Romans 8:37: "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
Matthew 10:28: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Aside from death in the body, the Bible also speaks of another death--spiritual death (the second death). This is the death Jesus is referring to in the above verse, and it is ultimately the death that He came to deliver us from. This death is eternal separation from God. It extends beyond our mortal bodies. It does not mean ceasing to exist, rather it means that we will exist forever in our sinful state. Though hell is a literal place of torment, the main source of its torment is the eternal separation from God. This is far more ghastly than anything we can imagine, just as heaven is more wonderful than anything we can conceive. God never created hell for mankind. It was created as a fiery prison for Satan and the fallen angels (demons). Men are going there because they have chosen to follow the devil and have rejected Christ. Matthew 25:41: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
From the time we are born to when we die, we are given the chance to choose our own destiny. No one can choose it for us, least of all God. He created man with a free will that He will not violate. All He can do is set before us life (which is only found in the provision of Jesus' death on the cross), or death (which is found in rejection of Jesus). To choose the latter will in no uncertain terms lead to the second death.
The emblem of the cross is seen all over the world in the display of church steeples and crucifixes worn around people's necks. However, many people do not know the real meaning of the symbolism of the cross and what it means to those who look to the event of Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection for their salvation. The cross is the greatest symbol of love that was ever shown to this world. It speaks of a perfectly innocent man, who was brutally tortured in the most scandalous of deaths, for a world that spit in His face. We are just as guilty of crucifying our Lord as the people who actually did it because we have sinned and it was for sin He was crucified.
Anyone who would call God unloving for "sending" people to hell, has never really understood the cross. We are the ones who chose to sin! Yet, God in His great mercy, made a glorious way out of the inevitable result of our sin for us. He took it upon Himself, and it cost Him more than we can imagine--His Beloved Son. God put all of the sins of the whole world upon Him and punished Him in our place. This is a profound mystery, but it is the central message of the gospel-- that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him wouldn't die in their sins, but could inherit eternal life through faith in Him (John 3:16). I Peter 2:24 says Jesus bore our sins in His body, not in His spirit. He is the eternal and sinless Holy Spirit. (Jesus did not die spiritually. The Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:21 which says, "For he hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin..." means He was made to be a "sin offering" for us, not that He literally became sin.)
However, if that was all that took place, the story would have a very bitter ring to it indeed. Preaching just the death of Jesus is only half the message. The gospel (good news) is that Jesus is alive today!
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JESUS' RESURRECTION?
Jesus is the only man that ever came back to life from the grave. Every religion in the world outside of Christianity has a grave or tomb where their leader is buried. Only in the Bible is recorded the tomb that was found empty because Christ rose from the dead and is alive today!
Luke 24:1-7, " Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen:
We often think of the cross as the end, but without the resurrection, we have no Christianity. It is the resurrection that makes the Christian religion different from any other religion. Some portray Jesus still on the cross, but He's not there any more; He's alive in His resurrected body! Hallelujah!
1 Corinthians 15:16-23: "For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST DECLARED FOUR THINGS:
Acts 2:32-36 says Jesus is Lord and Christ because of the resurrection.
Romans 1:1-4 declared Him to be the Son of God with power.
Ephesians 1:19-23 says Jesus is the Head of the Church.
John 11:25 says He is the Resurrection and the Life.
Only one has ever been resurrected thus far, Jesus Christ. Because Jesus overcame the grave, this resurrection is now available to every one of His followers. It is not the same thing as being raised from the dead. This is an eternal resurrection. Some people, such as Lazarus (John 11), were raised from the dead but not resurrected (as they eventually died again). There have been many documented cases of people dying and coming back to life. Though this is glorious, the resurrection to eternal life with Christ is different; it is the final state of those who have trusted in Christ.
Revelation 1:18: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
Jesus spoke these words also in John 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Death of the body is not anything that the Christian should ever fear. If we are in Christ when our body dies, we will face an existence that will make our time on earth seem pale and shadowy. Some Christians will even escape death if they are alive at the second coming of Jesus to the earth. In that day, those that are alive will receive their glorified bodies right after the dead in Christ are raised and receive theirs. That day is approaching quickly and that is why the Lord is warning all of us to be ready. The hope of the church is the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57: "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed...and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?... 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
What are some of the things that those who have been redeemed can expect to find in our next life?
Philippians 3:20-21 says Jesus will change our "vile"bodies. What will our glorified bodies look like when we get to heaven? We have some clues by noting the characteristics that Jesus' body had when He rose from the grave. Our glorified bodies will appear different. We will therefore recognize each other by the spirit. What we really look like on the inside will be apparent to all. Jesus' body could go through walls (John 20:26).It felt like ours; Thomas touched it (Luke 24:39-40). On the road to Emmaus, the disciples didn't recognize His new body and He vanished in front of them (Luke 24:13-32). Jesus even ate with His disciples. In our glorified bodies, we don't have to eat for sustenance, but we will be able to eat for pleasure (Luke 24:39-43; Matthew 26:29). It will have no pain, no sickness, no aging, no restrictions (with the power of translation), and be able to appear in different forms.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg, of what God has prepared for those He loves. Surely there is nothing in this life that can hold a candle to the surpassing greatness of living in Christ--living in the very One who is the source of all life! How foolish we are to let the cares of this life, the god of unbelief, and the temporary pleasures of sin keep us from knowing Him.
VICTORY IN THE CROSS
When we celebrate Resurrection Day (Easter), we acknowledge that we are sinners, saved by grace. The greatest truth of the cross is that when we accept Christ as our savior, a wonderful exchange takes place. Jesus died so we could live. We can now live in victory in this earth. As we identify with His death, we also identify with His life. Jesus became poor so we could become rich in His blessings. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says,"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." He took our sickness and infirmities so we could receive health. He took our curses so we might receive His blessings. He gave us peace for anxiety; love for hate; joy for sorrow; faith for fear; goodness for evil; temperance for lust and the list could go on. He took our hell and gave us heaven. We didn't deserve it but He did it for us because of His love for each of us!!
The Easter holiday is the most triumphant celebration of grace and life that we will ever experience on this earth! It is a celebration of God's goodness, love, and His awesome power. It holds the promise of not only eternal life to all who are willing to humbly receive it from Him; but also for a victorious life in this earth through the power of His Holy Spirit. We can spend eternity in our heavenly home with Jesus and all the saints of all the ages if we receive this wonderful gift of love!
Romans 10:9-13 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Proverbs 12:28: "In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death."
THE DANGER OF THE POKEMON FASCINATION?
What is behind the fascination with the Pokemon phenomenon? Even though this fad is highly popular among the children today, some may not be really aware of what this game is all about. Children and parents alike may not realize the importance of choosing their games and toys with God's guidance. Some might argue that this is a small thing and as long as children are entertained it shouldn't matter what they are playing with. Even as the "little foxes" can spoil the entire grape vine, the games and toys our children embrace can be destructive for them. As parents, the Bible admonishes us to train our children in the right way.
Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
The question is, what is the right way and how do we know if something is right for our children or even us personally? In the case of Pokemon let us look at the "roots and fruits" of this game. The Bible tells us in Matthew 7 that we can recognize the tree by the fruit that it bears.
Matthew 7:17: "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
We have a small orchard and this year we are going to have a "bumper crop" from all of our fruit trees, as the frost didn't freeze the blossoms in early Spring. Usually our apples, pears and grapes bloom out late so we always have those fruits. However, the plums, peaches and apricots usually don't make it before the freeze gets them. Just yesterday I was looking at all the trees and the small fruit that was on them and was surprised to find a tree that I thought was a plum all along that turned out to be a peach tree. Since they had not had any fruit for a number of years I did not know what kind they were until I saw the small fuzzy fruit on one of them and the shiny plums on another. In the same way it is difficult to discern the true nature of anything until we can see the fruit. Pokemon players are beginning to produce fruit that isn't good so we need to examine the tree and the root.
LIST OF THE ROOTS AND FRUIT OF POKEMON
1.) First of all, its name describes what this game is about. Pokemon is short for "Pocket Monsters". When I was growing up, we were taught monsters were evil, not something to play with. When I was a little girl, the "boogie man" or monsters caused us fear and we did not want to be around them. This game makes some of its monsters out as friendly; thus causing children to embrace certain evil spirits as friends instead of resisting them. This is not the only game that does this as there are other games and books that trivialize or glamorize the occult as well. One of the most evil book series that children are reading at this hour are the Harry Potter books. These books are just as dangerous as the Pokemon games. The Harry Potter books have become a best selling series that chronicle the tales of an orphaned boy at a school for wizards. These books deal with the occult in a fantasy way. In the books you will find animal sacrifices, threats of human sacrifices, witchcraft, wizardry and divination as well as other evil things.
For more information about the Harry Potter books: (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24080)
2.) The game was created in Japan and the concepts of the game and trading cards reflect the principles of Eastern Religions and the philosophies that influenced them. Pokemon is the result of influences that are completely mystical and that embrace warrior religions. These belief systems are not compatible with Christianity.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Book of Tao
The Analects of Confucius
The I Ching
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Shinto teaches that that all such natural features were felt to have a god behind their power. Many Shinto beliefs were incorporated into Japanese Buddhist practices after its introduction in the 6th century. Just as they believe in evolution and reincarnation, these ideas are manifest in Pokemon. To be specific, one of the typical examples of the dark side of Pokemon is a character named Haunter; an evolved spirit that can hypnotize and has "dream eater" power (powered by the purple Pokemon energy cards which is psychic energy). This power lets him drain the energy from his opponents. Kadabra is another Pokemon character who evolved from Abra. Both characters have demonic powers.
In Pokemon, the monsters actually die to their old self and evolve into the new, more powerful Pokemon. This is the teaching of eastern mystery religions and is spelled out in the Egyptian book of the dead and other occult religions. Through this children are subtly being indoctrinated into the theory of evolution and mysticism of the eastern religions.
3.) The maker of the Pokemon U. S. trading cards is the Seattle-based company, Wizards of the Coast, owner of the Dungeons and Dragons game and creator owner of a card game called Magic: The Gathering, which is played by an estimated 6 million people. Many of these preteens and teens are learned in the art of casting spells and summoning spirits. Hasbro, a toy company, bought Wizards of the Coast for $325 million. Nintendo introduced Pokemon to the children of America and spent $20 million on just the marketing. Nintendo has sold more than 14 million Pokemon-related video games according to a recent Family PC magazine review.¹ Wouldn't it be fair to ask what the real motive is for distributing these games? Sales of the Pokemon products have reached the $1 billion mark for Nintendo.
4.) Other philosophies are also evident in Pokemon and these are the demonstration of occultic powers in the games and cards. We also find the influences of New Age Cults, Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism and Satanism in this game. In the practice of witchcraft, spirits are summoned and called to stay in a circle until needed to fight off bad spirits. In these practices they develop relationships with the so-called "good spirits" to fight the bad ones. This is totally against scripture as the only spirit we are to call on is the Holy Spirit to combat evil spirits with His Holy Angels. In essence these guardians or "spirit guides" that are used in Pokemon actually encourage children in the ways of witchcraft. In the Bible one of Israel's kings, Manasseh, was guilty of witchcraft and other sins and he was brought into bondage because of it.
2 Chronicles 33:6: "And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger."
5). The trading aspect of Pokemon is unhealthy for children too. This aspect has become addictive in many children. It is also creating bad feelings among friends. Some of the older children who are more knowledgeable play off the younger and less knowledgeable ones. When a child doesn't get the card they want, they feel bad; when they do get the card they want, they feel superior. This trading game is not fostering good Christian traits in children but rather greed, combativeness, extreme competitiveness and obsessiveness. Some children have been so completely obsessed with the game that's all they want to talk about and do. Family relationships have deteriorated and children no longer talk about themselves or others but rather about when they can make another trade. Some schools in the nation have even banned Pokemon from their schools when trading resulted in kids trading lunches, stealing back packs, and threatening bodily harm for deals gone bad.
6.) Some parents are also saying that they are concerned about disturbing behavior changes since their children started playing the Pokemon games. They are seeing their children fight and display anti-social skills instead of the proper ones. Instead of this game just being one of imaginative fun, it has become addictive and changed the emotional disposition of children. Some children even complain that they don't feel good after playing the game. Since it is a role playing game, some of the characters are not good and this opens the door for children to receive evil influences and even demonic invasion. Children can receive demon spirits by opening themselves up to the spirits behind Pokemon. When it was first released in Japan in 1997, it was reported that over 600 children went into epileptic seizures while watching the Pokemon cartoons. ² The epileptic seizures were said to be caused by the incessant flashing lights in the cartoon overloading the optical nerves and inciting seizure; however, seizures can also be caused by demonic attack.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I have tried to condense the elements of danger for our children. Now, what can we do about it and what are our responsibilities as parents? First of all, parents and children should pray and ask the Lord for the truth about this game so He can reveal it to you. Many parents just buy the toys their children ask for just so they will be occupied (since many parents are too busy to spend quality time with their children). Parents, you must take a more active role in praying over and researching the toys, books and games before buying them for your children. Children, you must not partake in games that do not help you be a better Christian. You must refuse to go along with the latest fads when they are bad. How can we know if a game or toy is good or bad?
• Determine if the game, video or book involves supernatural power. There are only two sources of super natural power -- God or the devil. When it is beyond the natural, it either comes from God or the devil. If it is not from God then we should not be partaking of it.
• Children, ask yourself if this is the kind of game that makes you happy and improves your relationships with others. Parents, see if your child is growing in character via the games he plays or vice versa.
• What kind of things are being learned via these books, games and videos. Remember our minds are molded by what we hear, read and partake of so we must guard our spirit. Psalm 101:3: "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me."
If children have been involved for some time in these satanic games, they may need a prayer of deliverance prayed over them as sometimes the devil can have a stronghold in their lives. Finally any games, books or cards must be disposed of due to the addictive nature of these things. Remember we are in a battle and we must stand on God's Word to see our children protected and delivered from the influence of the wicked one. Their hearts, as well as our own, need to be guarded from all evil influences.
Philippians 4:8-9: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you".
Proverbs 4:23: "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
We encourage you not to let the seemingly little things, like helping choose your children's toys wisely, be a door for unwanted evil influences in their lives. Don't let this "little fox" destroy the minds and hearts of our children.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...
DRINKING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES?
by Betty Miller
Proverbs 20:1 (KJV):
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Proverbs 20:1 (AMP):
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a riotous brawler, and whoever errs or reels because of it is not wise.
The Bible has much to say about many subjects; and drinking alcoholic beverages is one of them. There is a debate in religious circles in regard to the question - was the wine in the Bible referring to grape juice or fermented grape juice, which is alcoholic in nature? To answer this question we must study the original language in which the Bible was written.
Actually, there are fifteen words from the Hebrew and Greek languages, which are translated "wine" in the Bible. When we compare these words in the context in which they are used we can better understanding their scriptural meanings.
The first scripture in which wine is mentioned is found in the book of Genesis. The Hebrew word used there is "yayin." It always means fermented wine, primarily from grapes.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
Noah could not have become drunk by drinking grape juice, so we must assume he drank an alcoholic beverage made from the grapes of his vineyard.
The New Testament word translated wine is usually the Greek word "oinos." We also find in the New Testament the account of Jesus performing his first miracle which was turning water into wine. You can read the entire account of this miracle in John 2: 1-11.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
Notice in verse 10 the comment that men usually served the good wine first and kept the wine that was not as good to be served lastly so that its quality was not noticed. This had to be a reference to fermented wine, as the alcoholic content of the wine would be more inclined to cause them not to notice bad wine later in the evening after they had a few drinks.
There are many other references to wine throughout the Bible showing that it is actually an alcoholic drink. Now with this scriptural evidence, comes the next question. Is it sinful to drink wine? The answer to this question is that the wine itself is not sinful, because sin is in the heart of man and does not exist in any object of itself. It is the drunkenness and intoxication that comes about when a man drinks too much that causes him sin. The Bible teaches discipline and moderation; even eating too much food is a sin and is called the sin of gluttony in the Bible.
The scripture in Proverbs 20:1 warns us what wine and strong drink can do to a man. Men can end up raging and brawling and doing things in a drunken stupor that are very unwise and that they will also regret. How many times have we heard the expression when someone talks unwisely after drinking too much -- "That was the alcohol talking." The Bible does make a distinction, as to the affect that strong drinks (alcoholic beverages like whiskey, vodka, etc.) have on a person, as opposed to wine, showing that the strong alcoholic drinks are far worse at causing men to become out of their heads and violent. The wine is bad enough, as it can cause men to loose their senses and mock others. People will also mock them for their out of control inebriation.
So what should our position be as Christians since we know the many sorrows that drunkenness causes? We know that alcoholism is responsible for many broken homes because of the abusive behavior toward family and others. We know the many deaths on our highways caused by drinking and driving. What about the many premature deaths caused by health problems stemming from alcoholism? Alcoholism has now become a costly drug addiction problem. Yes, drunkenness is a very evil sin that hurts the whole nation. The Bible says all drunkards who do not repent will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Although, a Christian may be free to drink moderately as long as they do not become drunk, is that the highest thing we should do? Paul stated in the New Testament that he would not allow his liberty to be a license to sin, nor would he do anything that would cause a brother to stumble.
Galatians 5:13: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
1 Corinthians 8:9: "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak."
In the Old Testament there was a group of people known as Nazarites that took a vow to separate themselves unto the Lord and therefore they would not drink any wine or alcoholic beverages.
Numbers 6:2-3: "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried."
We must all give an account of ourselves before our Lord. What would please Him? Would it not be pleasing to Him if we loved others enough to give up those things we could have, for a greater cause? Would it not be a more powerful witness to others in our age to stand out as one who did not drink alcoholic beverages because we had no need to do so. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, His spirit gives us the joy and release that many are seeking by drinking. May we instead desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have no need for "spirits."
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the liberty we have in Christ. Help us not to judge one another in regard to the issue of drinking a little wine, but rather to be honest before You as to the issue in our own hearts in this regard. May we be a good witness before those in the world. When we make our choices in this life, may they be pleasing to You and show love to those around us. You told us the highest law is the law of love. We are first to love You, and then, to love one another. May we do this in word and deed. Keep us from temptation and sin and let our actions prove to the world that we are true Christians. Deliver those who are addicted to alcohol and who are in this snare of the devil. I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
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