To Learn About Something, What Do We Study?

The Truth Shall Make You Free

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1.  If you want to learn about something, what do you study?

  • You learn about the thing (person, place, thing, or idea) by studying the thing.

2.  If you want to learn about something, is it reliable to solely study how it is used?

  • Sometimes, we may gain insight by watching how that thing is used, but there is great potential risk to this method of interpretation.  We may gain a false concept of the thing because of the potential false usage of that thing.  

3.  If you want to learn about something, do you study those using the thing or study the source of the thing?

  • Another way to ask that question is, “Should those using the thing determine its authenticity or should the source of the thing determine its authenticity?”
  • What’s the best way to learn about an Apple iPhone?  Do you learn about it best through your friend, Johnny, who owns a phone and may or may not know how to use yours or through a manual that was created specifically for your exact model of iPhone?
  • If we continually look to human practice to determine the authenticity of something, we are looking to a flawed source.  Therefore, there is potential for a flawed result in our understanding.

4. What does our focus tell us in regards to our motives?

  • Focusing on the abuses or false can become an excuse for avoiding truth that is uncomfortable.
  • If we focus on the misapplication of a truth, it is easy for us to dismiss the reality of the truth and justify our avoidance of it. 
  • We think that by finding how the truth is falsely applied, we can somehow avoid the reality of the truth.

In summary:

  • Truth is truth, regardless of how it is potentially misunderstood or misapplied.
  • There will be abuses of the authentic in the practices of flawed humans, but the abuses never change the reality of the truth.
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The Harvest Principle of Life

garlic shoots

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The Sowing-Reaping Principle

There is a sowing-reaping principle that is established in nature. It works the same for human nature as well. You sow what you reap.

You will only get a return on an investment if you make an investment.

If you want to improve the status of your life, you have to improve your life.

If you want change, you have to be the change.

If you want to have success in life, then you have to make decisions and have corresponding actions that lead to success.

The same sowing-reaping principle holds true in character as well. If you are angry and impatient towards others, you shouldn’t be surprised if you reap a harvest of broken relationships.

You cannot detach your actions from the inevitable consequences.

Societies and systems may attempt to avoid the sowing-reaping principle, but the outcome will always be chaos and destruction.  

Prejudice

Prejudice is not limited to race, gender, age, educational status, political party, class “privilege,” or financial/social status.

Prejudice happens whenever we see ourselves as better than someone else, whenever we put ourselves before someone else, and whenever we stop valuing or respecting others.

Prejudice happens when we confine people to their past choices or judge them by a description rather than by who they truly are.  It happens when we judge someone by what we hear about them — rather than who they really are. 

Prejudice happens when we stop listening to what others are saying and only care to listen to ourselves.

Prejudice happens when we are not willing to find unity around what unites us instead of what divides us.

Prejudice happens when people become less important than agendas and people become a means to our platform rather than the platform becoming a means to people.

The answer to prejudice is seeing others as Jesus sees them: as inherently valuable and unconditionally loved. It’s loving them into their identity and calling them into their destiny. It is loving people where they are, but loving them into all they are.

It is loving people where they are, but loving them into all they are.

Just A Few Quick Thoughts While Studying…

Edens garden 2

(FreeImages.com/JennyW)

I am not going to elaborate, but I wanted to share just a glimpse into some of the amazing things I am looking at during my Bible studies.  Feel free to delve deeper because there are way more treasures to be gleaned!

Flesh Offerings and Baptism by Fire:

I have been thinking a lot about the meaning behind the “flesh” offering in the OT and the connection to the Baptism by fire in the NT.  I believe there is quite a parallel, but as usual, the OT is pointing ahead to a greater truth in the NT.

Just a small hint: Flesh will never crucify the flesh, but the Holy Spirit (typified by fire) alone can “burn off” the flesh (our fleshly or sinful/selfish nature).

Also, offering signifies the sacrifice or laying down something of ourselves. In this case, it’s the yielding of ourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit.  I am still doing more studies on this, but God has highlighted this portion to me. There is so much to learn in the Word. May I “rightly divide the Word of God.”  (Further notes: https://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_5_Levitical_Offerings.htm).

Matthew 3:11 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit [a]and fire.

Acts 1:4-5 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Holy Spirit Promised

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,”He said,“you have heard from Me;for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 New King James Version (NKJV)

13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink [a]into one Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 New King James Version (NKJV)

19 Do not quench the Spirit.  (comparison to a fire — Holy Spirit)

Luke 3:16-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”

The Garden Of Eden And Jesus Christ:

While studying Genesis, my attention was turned to the fact that gold and bdellium are mentioned in the Garden of Eden’s description.  I looked into bdellium, and it is a sister-tree to myrrh and frankincense. In fact, within this area is where myrrh is still known to grow.

bdel·li·um
ˈdelēəm/
noun
  1. a fragrant resin produced by a number of trees related to myrrh, used in perfumes.  (Google search)

In Matthew 2:11, we find that wise-men brought gifts of these same valuable items to present to the young Jesus.

There is significance in the very meaning of gold (royalty, signifying Jesus is the King of Kings), myrrh (used to embalm bodies and for medicinal purposes, signifying that Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice, and by His death/stripes would be our healing) , and frankincense (used in temples by priests, signifying Jesus is our High Priest and able to make the final and perfect sacrifice).

When the wise-men brought these three gifts, they were bringing incredibly valuable gifts, but they were also showing prophetically (with actual objects) that Jesus had come to restore all that was lost to man in the Garden of Eden due to sin. Jesus came to restore all that was lost and in much greater and in perfect measure!

Some have suggested that the Garden of Eden was God’s first “temple.”  Incense was used in the temple for worship by the priests, and it was made from the resin of both myrrh and frankincense.  It’s interesting that both flourished in the Garden of Eden and still do in that area.

Gold was also used in the temple to form all of the priestly vessels, laths, mirrors, bowls, etc…  It was woven into the tapestries and hammered to cover the rods for the tapestries.  The candelabras (Menorah) were formed from this gold.

Notice what was central at God’s establishment of what we might call a “temple”: God’s Presence was there and fellowship/communion with His people was central to the “worship.”  It seems that worship and communion/fellowship are intertwined.  

Worship is truly entering into His Presence — into fellowship and communion with Him.  Yet, we often think that worship is about the programs, the presentation, and the elements.  The only elemental part of worship involves God’s Presence and our hearts in communion with His.

Yes, God encourages the gathering of the Body of believers to worship:

Hebrews 10:25 King James Version (KJV)

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

God loves to use objects to be a visual picture of what He wants to teach us.  He gives instructions to include communion within our Church assembly times:

1 Corinthians 11:25-26 King James Version (KJV)

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Communion is a continual reminder to us of the sacrifices Jesus made.  It also can speak of more.

There is a saying that we are what we eat.  There is a lot of truth to this.  What we eat does become the building blocks (molecules and enzymes) for our body’s cells.  If we eat unhealthy food, we will have an unhealthy body.

By partaking of Communion, we are reminded that Jesus is to be our very source of sustenance and life.  He wants His very nature to be the “molecule” or “building block” upon which our lives are empowered and sustained.

1 Corinthians 6:17 King James Version (KJV)

17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

 Once again, it’s all about Jesus!  

Just a side note: I would encourage you to look at how myrrh is processed.  Did you know that it is a thorny tree/bush?  Sound familiar?  The resin from the myrrh is also “farmed” by taking a spike or similar instrument to pierce the trunk of the tree.  This can be repeatedly done until the myrrh resin pours out and is then “harvested” for use.  Sound familiar again?  …spikes!  …resin  poured out!  So many analogies…!

Dependency = Influence

Those upon whom you are dependent, you give the right (or they have a right) to have a say in your life.

If you are dependent on the approval of man, you allow a lot of nonsense and negativity to be spoken into your life.

If you are dependent upon creditors, you give them permission to harass you day and night.

There are many things and people upon which we willingly choose to become dependent, and then we react when those things begin to exert their control. The warning to me is “To whom do I want to give that much influence in my life?”  There will always be people we need in our lives, but are they the same people that we want to also have so much influence?

If you allow your happiness to be dependent upon the weather, then your happiness is as unpredictable as the weather.

If your faith is dependent on what you can scientifically measure or prove, then your faith is only as good as your senses are and is reliant on the natural rather than the supernatural.

If your view of God is based on your current circumstances, then your god is your circumstances and can do nothing outside of those circumstances.

Be careful upon whom you become dependent because ultimately they will exert the greatest influence over you.

Our Greatest Treasures

Chest 1

(FreeImages.com/Ove Tøpfer)

What are Our Greatest Treasures?

 

“When we value God, we value people… Honor is what love looks like.  That sense of value will result in stewardship… Many of us today have received gifts and blessings from above.  How we deal with them will determine how we will be entrusted with heavenly riches.” (From Called To Reign by Leif Hetland).

As I read the last part of that quote this morning, conviction entered my heart, and I began to weep for the truths God was revealing to me.

Intellectually, I have known for awhile that my kids are a blessing.  I have begun to believe this too.  (The rest of this story is in previous blogs from a few years ago: “Afraid of My Children — Part One” and also part two of that story.)  Yet, God revealed this morning that there are still parts where I have believed lies above the truth. Even though I have known intellectually that my kids are a blessing, I have not lived fully from that because my belief has subconsciously lived the lie.

Knowing something intellectually is completely different than what you live out sometimes, and what you live out is what you truly believe.

As I read the quote above, what I realized is that I have not valued my kids like I should.  I have not comprehended the value of my gift.  I have not stewarded my gift to my very best because I have not fully comprehended its value.

I don’t mean I have been a bad mother because that is not true.  I am actually a good mother, though it took awhile for me to believe that, and I still struggle with this truth at times.  The truth is you can be a good parent, a good spouse, a good grandparent and still not really treasure the gifts you have been given.

Here’s the powerful truth: If you understand the value of something, you won’t feel inconvenienced by it.  

I want to say that again.

If you understand the value of something, you won’t feel inconvenienced by it.  

If you and I were given a two million dollar inheritance, we would feel honored to steward it.  If a friend bequeathed their Jaguar to us, we would feel honored to “steward” it.  If God gave us a ministry that impacted hundreds, we would be honored to lead it.  If we received a job promotion, we would be honored to receive it.

Yet, the only thing of eternal value are people.  We can’t take our jobs, our possessions, our promotions, our degrees to Heaven with us, and I am not undervaluing them; I am just not over-valuing them.

We spend so much time valuing and serving things, but things are only to serve for the benefit of people.  People are not to serve as the promotion of the things.

God revealed that the stewardship of my earthly sons and daughter is the first step to an abundant inheritance of spiritual sons and daughters.  Do I steward with the understanding of the abundance of my inheritance and the resources of my inheritance that enable me to steward it?

Here is the final raw truth that is powerfully convicting:

What we feel honored to serve or what we feel inconvenienced by shows what we really value.

There are times that I have felt inconvenienced by my greatest treasures, and yes, my greatest treasures will always hold my greatest responsibilities too.

If I have my Heavenly Father’s heart, I will see the value in each person that I am called to serve and no longer will they be an inconvenience but an honor to steward/serve.

Lord, continue to change my heart to look more like your heart.  You, are my greatest treasure and so are the things that you treasure — no matter how much responsibility and effort on my part they take to serve.  Thank you, that with every responsibility, there is also an abundant supply of your resources to wisely and lovingly steward what you have entrusted to me.

Psalm 144:12

12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:

This means that our sons are being raised from their youth in the Word of God and the fertile soil of love.  Our daughters are also being raised from their youth on the foundation of the Word of God and become heart-connections to bring unity to the family.  There is much more that this verse means; I am just beginning to dig.  Feel free to join me in digging for more treasure.

Mutual Enjoyment

Romantic Dice 02 - Sweet Love

(FreeImages.com/MikeSwope)

This is a sticky topic for a lot of Christians, but let’s talk about sex in marriage.

Christian women have been coming to me and asking me if they should give their husbands the sex they demand, even when it’s painful.

As I said to one wife, “The answer is simple when you understand the purpose of sex and ultimately the purpose for your marriage.”

1. Marriage, first of all, is a union.

This means that both spouses give of themselves in order to become one.  You meld into something that is better and stronger.  It does not mean you are giving up your gifts.  It means you are bringing them to the marriage so that the union becomes stronger. 

It is not a relationship between a lord and his servant. It is a union.  A proper understanding of unity would resolve a lot of marital conflicts.

2. Marriage was created for the benefit of both and ultimately for the benefit of a much greater outreach.

This means that sex is for the benefit of both.  It is a false concept that sex is just to benefit the husband.  If a couple understands that sex is to be mutually beneficial, this may mean that at some times, one spouse must sacrifice his/her own personal desires for the benefit of the union.  If sex has become painful for one spouse, not only should a trained physician be consulted and even a counselor if needed, but the other spouse should lovingly understand that this is their time to selflessly love.

3. The seeds of love, selflessness, and sacrifice that you are planting consistently will reap a harvest of equal measure.

Don’t plant in order to gain, but understand that you give in order to give.  That’s the meaning of sacrificial love.  Sacrificial love doesn’t give to receive.  It gives from the abundance of love.

If you are sowing humility, meekness, love, patience, selflessness consistently, you will receive the fruit of this.  Your marriage will be much sweeter!

I have intentionally kept this short.  Much more can be said on this topic, but perhaps this is a start to bringing some clarity…

“Fixer-Upper” Promises…

It's a fixer-upper

(FreeImages.com/MarthaJaneCordell)

The marriage you feel was a mistake…

The parents that were too strict…

The church that you were a part of that was abusive or hurtful…

The job that seems like a bad choice…

Maybe, you did make some wrong or simply, unwise choices, but what if God is going to take your failures and use them for something much bigger than you?

What if those kids from your marriage union are going to be used powerfully by God?

What if God decides to take our messes and bring redemption because He likes “Fixer-Uppers”?

What if God sees mistakes, brokenness, sickness, shattered lives, and hideous evil, and He sees past what is seen to what He can do with the messes of life?

What if He sees the potential because He sees the promise… because He is the same God Who speaks, and life begins; He speaks, and the sea calms; He speaks, and the dead are raised to life; He speaks, and people trapped in gross sin are completely set free!

What if He is a God Who is doing something that you can’t fully see now or even imagine but something that will stare evil in its face and say, “You will never destroy what I have come to save?”  

What if God is not overcome by evil, but will overcome the evil by using what was robbed, lost, or destroyed to be replaced with something far greater?  What if the glorious things that arise from those ashes become the very things that overcome the evil?

What if He is a God of resurrection power — including “resurrection life” over the “dead things” in your life?

What if God is bigger than you, bigger than your mistakes, bigger than your circumstances, and bigger than the evil that was done against you?

What if He really is Who He says He is?

Matthew 16:13-19

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah,for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not [a]prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth [b]will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Dehydrated?

water

(FreeImages.com/SriVatsa)

A few weeks ago, I visited an elderly lady and found her severely dehydrated.  Her eyes were sunken.  She was extremely weak and disoriented.

I called 911 and helped get her settled at the hospital.

The intense heat of the summer sun can easily lead to dehydration if we do not drink enough water.

The signs of dehydration are the following: a lack of tears, dry mouth, sunken eyes, weakness, headaches, dry skin, confusion, irritability, dizziness, and more. (See https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086.)

I like to say that the physical will often reveal truths about the spiritual.

Spiritual dehydration looks similar to physical dehydration.

Symptoms are some of the following: confusion, easily annoyed, lacking the “revelation” of the Word, spiritual instability, spiritual weakness, lack of spiritual sight, lack of emotional connection and expression with the Lord, painful thoughts, and much more.

The cause of spiritual dehydration is simple too.  If you are not receiving spiritual “water,” you will become spiritually dehydrated.  The Holy Spirit is often described as “water” in the Word.

John 7:37-39 — Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Isaiah 44:3 –‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants;

John 4:14 — but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 — For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

I found this link that describes all the various references to water in the Word: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/07/17/what-does-water-represent-in-the-bible-a-christian-study/.

To stay spiritually hydrated, we need to stay in the Word, be led by the Spirit, and know our position through Christ’s salvation.

It’s amazing how many times when I have truly encountered the Presence of God that tears stream down my face.  My husband once apologized to me for how emotional he was, following a powerful moment He had with God.

King David in the Bible was misunderstood for his uninhibited worship of God.  On one occasion, his wife mocked him for his joyful dance before the Lord.  God though never rebuked David for his enthusiastic worship/dance.

Emotion can be seen as weakness.  Many times, even other Christians mock worshiping Christians for their emotional displays. We don’t want to pursue emotional experiences for the sake of the experience, but God made our emotions, and true worship will involve a vulnerability of emotion. 

When you truly encounter God, there will be a physical response to a supernatural God.  Go ahead and cry, laugh, sing, dance, get prostrate (bow), clap, raise your hands, or simply get still.  The point is not what you do, but that you encounter God and respond to Him.

Stay in His Word and stay in His Presence, and you will stay hydrated this summer spiritually.

Don’t forget to also grab a glass of water.