Monday, June 29, 2015

the effects of sin

Psalms 134:19 says I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Going back to Genesis chapters 1 and 2, we can see that God created man in His image, male and female Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. God said everything He created was good.  He placed man in the Garden of Eden.  It was a perfect place. It was perfection.  His creation had a beautiful, safe place to live. Every need was met. The weather was perfect. He would come and spend time with them everyday.  He would walk and talk with them.  Here, man was in a perfect relationship with the creator. Everything was provided and nothing was evil or bad. All was good. This was His original purpose for His creation. To be able to be all  and provide all with not one ounce of evil or struggle. Everyday having perfect communion, walking and talking with his creation, just loving them.

I don't know how long it took, but eventually, Satan entered that serpent and sin entered this perfection. Sin entered and destroyed the perfection that God had given.  Sin severed and changed the very existence of mankind.
I was reading about epigenetics.  There is an article that talks about very new discoveries and how the original sin and epigenetics are related.  You can read it here:

This is a really interesting description of the epigene and how it the switch that turns a gene off or on. It is the epigene that determines whether a gene will be activated or turned off.  It also describes how nutrition, severe stressors, and behaviors actually can manipulate the epigenes. These manipulations or mutations can then be passed on to children for several generations.
This article describes how the fall of man from the garden and the sin, actually changed the epigenes and physically altered us into sinful, fallen man.  How every one of us is born into sin.

The article desribes how even one person can change the epigenes in their body through nutrition and behaviors. One generation can affect many following.
This also goes along with being "born again."  The Bible describes salvation as being born again.

1 Peter 1:23 being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a person be born again from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again from above.

Perhaps, the actual epigenes are changed into the image that God intended when He first created man.  Perhaps the physical response of salvation lies in the epigenes of our body.
This is quite  curious to me. I don't know how this all works, but it is truly fascinating.

I do recognize there are physical consequences on our bodies due to a sinful lifestyle.
We can all name people who have severe responses to alcoholism, drugs, and out-of-control living. I can name someone right now, who looks older than her mother due to a life of smoking.  Sins of the mind also have outward manifestations. A life of depression manifests in a physical nature. The body responds to the depression with ailments and sickness.   A life lived in sin, affects our physical body and if epigenes are part of that body, it makes sense they are effected as well.  This part of DNA is passed on to the next generation and the next and the next, unless it is changed.  Those epigenes will turn off or on the specific genes to bring about changes that bring about consequences of our actions.

So thinking about that, God intended us to be fearfully and wonderfully made. He formed us from the womb and has great purpose for us.  His original purpose was to be in a perfect relationship with Him.
Sin destroyed that and has altered our very physical nature.  The Bible shows that early on, people lived hundreds of years. We are now averaging around 70. Is this an effect of the sinful nature?

I think about those who restore old cars.  The car was originally made to look good and had a purpose. Cars end up getting ruined and broken by use and accidents. Sometimes, someone will find that old car and restore it to life. Repaint it, fix it, replace the engine, etc.  It is brought back to life and given back the original purpose.

Sin comes in several forms. 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
There are three things listed here that brings about separation from God: Sin

1. lust of the flesh
2. lust of the eyes
3. pride of life
These are not of God, but of the world.

Galatians 5

17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye are led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; which I denounce, as I have also told you in time past that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is a list of sins that are manifestations of the lust of the flesh.  These are not of God, but of the world. This is exactly opposite of the purpose God had for us.

Galatians 5
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is this: Charity, joy, peace, tolerance, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 For those that are of the Christ have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.

The fruit of the Spirit is manifestations of God living in us. These are exactly what He intended for us.
These are of God.

Much of the battle of sin is actually a war with our flesh.  Our very physical nature lusts for sinful things. Our eyes lust for sinful things.  Our pride causes us to sin.  We are often so quick to give credit to the enemy, Satan.  But actually, we are our own enemy when it comes to sin.  Satan may place the temptation there, but our very sinful nature gives in and brings about the sin.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul said "31 I die daily to stay in the glory of having taught you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He also warned us to watch diligently and sin not. 34 Watch diligently, and sin not; for some do not know God: I speak this to your shame.

Our flesh needs to be crucified, so that the Spirit may be made manifest in us.
Our flesh holds onto sin, unless the Spirit of God enters and changes us. When our spiritual man is made righteous by God, the physical body will be effected and the nature of man will no longer reign over us.

As I read over this article, I began to think about my actions, behaviors, and even my nutrition.  If what I have done to my physical body is passed to my children, I am indeed guilty.  I pray I can demonstrate a lifestyle that reflects God and His nature. I pray that my children will learn from me to live a life that denies the nature of the physical man and allows God to reign in their life.  Maybe that will be passed on instead.

Sin has destroyed the connection with God. Our spiritual being longs to be with God. Our physical nature seeks to fill that longing.  Many make wrong choices to fill that longing only God can fill.  The only way to fill that longing is to allow God to fill us with His Spirit and re-establish His original purpose. That can only be done through the washing of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

the power of the Word

There is always comfort in the Word of God.  The word of God is quick and powerful. It is life. It is our weapon.

I find when I am struggling, fearful or just don't know what to do, I can always go the Word. I can recall it, quote it, speak it, read it, study it and it will bring me the answers that I need.

I know the Word of God is life and brings healing.  Last week, my sweet son had surgery on his mouth.  As he was waking up, he began to throw up and blood kept dripping from his nose and mouth.  He was having a rough time. I remembered Ezekiel 16:6 and began to quote it and pray over him.  That bleeding stopped within a couple of minutes and the nausea went away as well.  He began to rest and ask for something to eat.

Ezekiel 16:6 And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

I knew this verse because my father had told me the story about the time he was bleeding severely from a pressure point on his forehead. His parents and relatives quickly prayed that verse over him and the bleeding stopped.  The doctor at the hospital said that if the bleeding had not stopped, he would have died. God's word speaks life and healing. I can recount many testimonies of using the Word of God to pray for healing and for situations and the power of God revealed through those scriptures.

I cannot say that everything goes according to my plans. There are times when life events happen and we can feel frustrated and disappointed. But in the midst of those moments, we can turn to the Word of God and find comfort, joy and strength.  I can say that this last week, I have had to rely on the strength I find in the Word of God.  It is the only thing that I can trust.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
This verse has been my strength and hope.  I know I can wait on the Lord and he will keep me through every trial.  It may not turn out the way I plan, but God has a better plan than I do.

Another verse I have clung to this week is Psalms 27: 13-14
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
How many times have we felt like giving up or losing heart when all we had to do was call on the Lord and apply His word to our circumstance.
I have reminded myself several times this week that I will see the goodness of the Lord. He is faithful and He loves us more than we understand. I have spoken it aloud,  "I will see the goodness of the Lord!" My soul leaps and my attitude changes when I speak it.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Jesus said His words are Spirit and they are life. John 6:63
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

I realize that we do not fully understand the power of speaking the Word of God. There is death and life in the power of the tongue Proverbs 18:21.  We can speak life  and we can speak death.
We can accomplish much more in our lives and spiritual walk with God when we begin to exercise the Word in our prayer and in our daily walk. When we pray it, use and believe it, God can do it. He will honor His Word. His word is intended to be our access point to Him.

When God commanded the Israelites to write His word on the walls of their homes and to tie it on their foreheads, it wasn't to establish a bunch of rules for them to follow.  It was to give them access to His word, to His Spirit, to Life.  It was to provide power for them to live and walk and give them strength in every circumstance.  God told them in Deuteronomy 30:12, "No, the word is near you; It is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it." It is why David declared, Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalms 119:11 and Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path Psalms 119:105. David understood that power for life comes from the Word of the Lord. He knew God was near when the Word was present in his heart and mouth. Knowing the Word, means God is near.

So many see rules and regulations. They think the Word of God is not relevant or important.  There are many that question the validity of the interpretations and argue over it.  There are those that question it and want to throw it out. There are many that want to claim it is untrue and not needed. This is a distraction intended to keep us from using the Word as it was intended by God. Don't be distracted from the Word of God.

When we really begin to get a hold of the Word of God, it can bring us life like we have never understood. It can give us strength to stand. It can give us peace and joy.  It can heal and deliver. The Word can do more when spoken, than we can ever accomplish on our own. It can also destroy the enemy, shut down attacks, and win wars. There is nothing more powerful than the Word of God. When we wield the Word, we are wielding the sword of the Spirit. It is our weapon Ephesians 6:17.
This is why I want to find delight in the Word of God. This is why I want to read it everyday.  This is why I want to make sure it is hidden well in my heart. I want access to the Word of God, to His Spirit, to Life.
The Bible is not just a lifeless fairytale, it is alive and living.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1  The Word is how we know God.

Speak it and see His goodness. See what He can do.  Learn it to understand Him and know His plans for you. Pray it to see His mighty hand move.  We will see the goodness of the Lord. We can wield it effectively and purposefully to accomplish God's plan for us.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

one of those stories that caused me to ask why

I have been working on reading through the old testament and have been reading about David recently.  King David was a man after God's own heart. He really was a great guy.  I do hope that I can sit down with him in heaven during eternity and ask him some questions. I think I would really enjoy hearing his story.  However, I read this morning in I Chronicles chapter 21 about a time that he sinned and there were some serious consequences.

David was basically  gave in to temptation to number Israel. God was not pleased and considered it evil.  Joab tried to talk him out of numbering or counting, but the King's word won out.  Joab went and counted Israel and Judah and reported the numbers to David. God then sent a seer or prophet named Gad to tell David that God was displeased and would strike Israel.  David had three choices and chose the angel of death coming for three days.  Seventy thousand men died of pestilence and the angel was destroying Jerusalem.  God even repented of this.  He stopped the angel near the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.  David saw that angel and through direction of Gad, went to Ornan, purchased the land and the oxen to sacrifice.  God answered by fire and burnt the sacrifice.

This story has always bothered me, and again today I read it and felt that same bothered feeling. I have so many questions about this story.  So I started talking to God.

First, why was it a sin to count Israel?  Well, Joab was right in verse 3, And Joab answered, The LORD make his people a hundred times as many more as they are; but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s slaves? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why will he be a cause of guiltiness unto Israel?
This boils down to not trusting God to do what he said he would do.  David started looking with his natural eyes and wanted to know how many men he had incase of war. He was counting out his own ability and power, not God's. This was offensive to God. He was not really trusting God. He was feeling prideful and bringing glory to himself.  He was counting his own army and not really putting faith in God here.  It was also stirred up by the devil as seen in verse 1.

Second, why did so many people have to die because of David's sin?  This is the thing that really bothers me the most.   70,000 men died of pestilence or plague because of David's choice.
I realized today as I prayed and asked God about this, that the answer lies in the fact that sin does not only effect the person who sins, it has repercussions that ripple through the lives of others.
One person's sin can greatly affect many other lives.  It doesn't make it fair or right, but that is a consequence of sin.

Think about it.  When a person chooses to sin, such as steal something, there are the victims of the crime.  Not only are the victims affected, but those who hear about the theft are affected, police officers are affected, there are ripple affects.
When a person decides to drive drunk, the effects can be devastating to many lives. Even sins that some consider private sins can effect relationships, marriages, and families.  One sin can alter the course of a life and change it forever.  If a young person commits a sin that may lead them down a wrong path. They may end up in jail, or lose out on many things that God intended for them.  Their families current and future are effected.  In this case, David was a leader and his sin effected those under him.  Leaders are accountable to those they lead.  God holds us accountable.

One sin by one person can ripple out and effect many people, not just those immediately near, but those  further away.  It is like throwing a rock into a still pond or a lake.  There are many ripples that spread across the pond over and over and over.
I just recently had a child come to me and express deep concern and confusion when they saw someone they loved partaking in drinking alcohol.  This decision has ripple effects and this child was so upset.  They other person did not even realize this child was watching, but this choice was having a ripple effect.
There are also many things that happen that cause us to ask 'Why?' There are mean, hurtful people, crimes and situations that are so destructive.  I really do not understand other than knowing that these people are acting upon a sinful nature and allowing sin to dominate and control them.  This sinful nature brings about destruction, not just for  the individual, but for many other lives as well.

I think this is the very definition of sin.  Sin is not just about us, it is about destroying and separating as many lives as it can.  The very first sin did not just effect Adam and Eve, it is still effecting us, each and every one of us.  I do not live in a sinless world.  In fact all of us were born in sin. (Romans 3:23, Ecclesiastes 7:20)  We are not immune and not one of us can claim innocence.   We all fall short of the glory of God.

This produces a need for the Savior.
This is where David's sacrifice comes into play.  He went quickly to sacrifice.  Ornan was ready and willing to give David all he needed.  He could see that death angel as well.  He and his sons were in hiding. They were fearful and wanted to live.  In verse 24, And King David said to Ornan, No, but I will truly buy it for the full price, for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.
David paid the full price.  He realized that sin has a cost.  The sacrifice has a cost.  The offerings had a cost.
When we come to God, our sins have cost us, they have cost others and they have cost God.  Jesus paid for our sins with his very life.  His blood was used to pay for our sins.
Wow, think about this.  This story of David, was not only meant to show us about David, it also reflects the saving grace of Jesus.  It reflects the redeeming of the sinner.  It reflects that reason God had to send Jesus to earth.

Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, (for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree),

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation

I know have a greater understanding of what God meant when he made sure to add this event into the Word.  Even before Christ came to earth to die and rise again, there were lessons to be learned.  Our sin does not only effect us, it affects many lives.  We are all in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ.  We are all able to come to him, count the cost and offer up ourselves as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1

So after much prayer and study, I realized that this event does not have to bother me, it can inspire me and deepen my faith.  It can strengthen my understanding of why I need Jesus in the first place.
It also makes me realize why I need Him to help me turn away from sin.  My sin has effects on many others.  God is the only one who can bring us out of sin and turn things around.  Consequences may still be there, but forgiveness reigns when Jesus stands up for us, when we call on the name of Jesus. As a leader, a parent, a Sunday school teacher, etc.  we are responsible to those under us. We need to consider our actions carefully.  We need to count the cost of sin and sacrifice, not only for ourselves, but for those watching and following. May we lead them to Jesus and redemption by our example of seeking after God, even when we mess up.  May they see God's redemption operating in us so they too, will turn from sin and turn to Jesus.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

essential daily routine

I was reading a devotional by David Wilkerson,  It is part of a series of devotional posted on his website and Facebook about Increasing in Christ. There were several days that were inspiring and created a greater understanding but, as I read this particular day, I was really challenged in the way I view things.  I realized sometimes we spend a lot of time looking for  the new and exciting thing  or for great, miraculous events when what God really is interested in is our everyday journey. As human beings, we are creatures that live in routine. We all have routines we follow. Every morning I get up and begin my morning routine.  If something interrupts that routine, I may forget something important , like my contacts or deodorant. Not a good way to start the day.

I realized that we must have routine in our daily walk with God.  I must daily and routinely, pray, read the Word, and walk with Him.  Not just because it is religious, but because it is essential to my spiritual relationship with God.

Hebrews12:1 Therefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, leaving behind all the weight of the sin which surrounds us, let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Run with patience came to mind. I have actually completed a couple of 5K runs.  It is, by far, difficult for me.  I know I am not always completely prepared, but I am able to say, "I finished".  Running in a longer race takes perseverance. It is sometimes a step by step decision to keep going.  Last fall, I ran my first trail run.  It ended up being a really cold morning.  I really struggled. My lungs hurt, my stomach began to hurt. My body grew very tired.  I really wanted to just quit.  I slowed to a walk several times.  I kept taking steps.  I knew I would feel so disappointed if I turned back. I finally saw that finish line.  I was one of the last people in my age group.  I even groaned as the 70 year old gentlemen who ran the 10K jogged past me!!!  But, I finished. I kept going.  I was still there to reach the finish line.

Like Paul said, in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith;

I have kept the faith.  I love this thought.  I want to be one who can say, "I have kept the faith." One thing that David Wilkerson pointed out is that growth comes in doing things over and over.  When we learn a new skill, we become proficient by practicing that skill, doing it over and over.  He mentions learning to write.  On your jobs or in school, we become better by doing skills over and over, improving in those skills and practicing skills. This applies to spiritual matters as well.  I can say reading the Bible gets easier and more fulfilling by reading everyday.  Prayer becomes easier by praying everyday.  Fasting gets easier when you fast more often.  Leaning on Jesus gets easier, when you do it more often.  Trusting Jesus gets easier when you trust him everyday.  Obeying God's Word gets easier when you make it a practice and skill you do everyday. Spending time with God gets easier when you do it everyday. If you only come to Him with an occasional problem, that is not running with patience. That is not daily perseverance.
In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17 it says 16 Always rejoice. 17 Pray without ceasing.
That is a daily routine, a daily choice. A relationship is built by spending time with someone often and even daily. In Genesis, God came to walk and commune with Adam and Eve every evening. Under the Law, Aaron and the priests were instructed to burn sweet incense and sacrifices every morning.
In 1 Chronicles 23:30 it says, "and to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise in the evening."There was a daily expectation.

We should not consider a daily routine of praise and worship, bible reading and prayer to be unimportant. That is where the foundation is laid. That is where growth and maturity come forth. That is where relationship develops.
I really understand that we may grow weary, worn or tired in the daily routines, but that is part of the process. If we keep walking, keep taking steps, keep persevering, we are able to finish this race of  life.  That is where the "It is well" will be heard.

2 Thessalonians 2:3  Let no one deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,

I think too many Christians get caught up in trying to chase the latest fad, spiritual event or greatest happening at church, even just attending Sunday services with hopes of a refuel to make it till the next service. We may become deceived by the new and unusual and forget that daily routine is needed. Getting spiritual food on Sunday only is not enough to sustain you in a daily race. If a runner only practices one a day a week, they will never make it in the big race. There has to be a daily routine of practicing our faith. That may sound boring or even unimportant, but it is essential for maintaining the steady walk in this pursuit of faith. Stay the course, keep walking, run the race, don't stray, fall or stop.  There is nothing more precious than my daily routine of waking up and digging into the Word of God and talking with my dearest friend, Jesus. I will no longer feel it is just a requirement, but it is the routine that makes my life livable and purposeful. It is my most important, essential routine.

Here is the devotional mentioned above for you to read as well.

by David Wilkerson | June 5, 2015

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Every day you do things over and over that become boring and repetitious. For example, every weekday you get up at the same hour, eat the same breakfast and make the same drive to your office. You go to the same restaurant for lunch, stop at the same coffee shop on your way home, and listen to the same radio station during the drive.

The same can be true of our spiritual lives. On Sunday morning, we go to church and sit in the same seats. We sing the same choruses and hymns. Even our prayers can sound the same. We do the same things over and over and we are tempted to think, “I’m not doing anything more than I’ve always done. I read my Bible and pray. I sing in the choir. But there’s no variety to it. I’ve done these same things for years and I’m not growing at all.”

What lies your feelings tell you! Such thinking can rob you of God’s grace. The fact is, we all face endless repetition in our daily routines. That’s just life. The real proof of growth is that we haven’t quit. We’re still giving ourselves to God’s work, day by day, week by week, year by year.

You see, growing in grace doesn’t mean doing more or greater things for God. True growth comes in doing the same things over and over, with more heart assurance that we’re doing everything for Him. It’s like learning to write in first grade. You begin with looping circles and lines, forming big letters. But after a while, the letters become smaller and closer together and eventually, you learn to put words together and finally form sentences. Even though you’ve been doing the same repetitious things for a long time, you’ve been writing. The whole time, something worthwhile was being accomplished.

I am convinced that spiritual growth occurs more in the repetitive things than it does by jumping from one ministry activity to another. It takes more grace simply to keep going when we’re tired, broken, downcast or afflicted than it does when everything is new. You may think you’re spiritually dead, going nowhere in the Lord, but most likely you’re increasing in Christ every day.