What Blessings Do We Have In Christ?

This is the start of an article I wrote on the “Satisfaction Through Christ” blog on November 16, 2016. I am sharing the articles I wrote there with my blog readers. To finish reading this article, click the link at the bottom of this post.

What blessings do we have in Christ? There are certain blessings that all regenerate believers have in the spiritual realm. I’m part of a Facebook group that was just discussing how misused or misunderstood the words “anointed,” “favor,” and “blessings” are today. I think so many times we tend to think of blessings as immediate, physical, carnal, or temporal (in the here and now, which actually is temporary). But God’s idea of blessings are spiritual. We are rich and blessed precisely because of the spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1:3-14.

My husband and I are part of a small group at our church, where we are studying the book of Ephesians. I also started a women’s ministry on Facebook called, Tea & Scripture, where we are studying the Word. Since our small group is doing Ephesians, I decided to start with Ephesians with the ladies’ group, too. I had to share these spiritual blessings here as well!

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Keep reading your Bible!

Breaking the Image

This is part of an article I wrote on the “Satisfaction Through Christ” blog on November 2, 2016. I am sharing the articles I wrote there with my blog readers. To finish reading this article, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

I’m reading through a chronological study Bible. It’s the second time in my life I’ve undertaken to read the whole Bible. I’m struck by different events and things that aren’t talked about much, even sometimes having forgotten those things happened.

One such event is in 1 Samuel 5: The Philistines and the Ark. Israel and the Philistines had a fight and the Philistines had captured the Ark of God. Here is part of the account (vs. 2-8):

Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

The hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there.

Each city the Philistines took the Ark to had some sort of calamity, so they were quick to get it out of there!

In verses 2-5, though, was the biggest impact in my mind. Dagon was one of the Philistine gods. My study Bible says Dagon was the deity of grain, taking care of the fertility of the land and populace, protecting the area from human and divine encroachment, and took care of the royal family.

So the Philistines seized the Ark of God during battle and brought it into their shrine or temple for Dagon. See, they believed that when they defeated an enemy in battle, it also meant defeat of the enemy’s god. So when they defeated the Israelites, they believed their god Dagon was stronger than Yahweh, God of Israel. So they sat the Ark beside their image of Dagon.

The first morning they got up and went to the temple and found Dagon on its face on the ground in front of the Ark of God. I wonder what they thought then.

They picked it up and set it back in its place.

The next morning, back they go to the temple. What do they find this time? Dagon had fallen on the ground before the Ark of God again, only this time, its head and hands were broken off.

This was God saying, “You have not defeated Me! I AM. Dagon is just a silly stupid statue. Because you messed with Me, you’re going down!”

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Keep reading your Bible!

Stand Firm :: A Review of “War Room” the Movie

This is the first part of an article I wrote on the “Satisfaction Through Christ” blog on October 12, 2016. I am sharing these articles here on my blog. To finish reading the article, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Last week, I watched the movie War Room with our small group at church. I had read beaming reviews and I had also read warnings about it promoting contemplative prayer. So I decided to guardedly watch it. I braced myself for viewing an hour of Priscilla Shirer sitting in a closet meditating and chanting. The story line was more involved. However, aside from the somewhat predictable plot and cheesy acting, I was left with not one, but three problematic portrayals in this movie.

Unfortunately, I know this movie reflects Priscilla’s theology and doctrine, so I don’t recommend her books and teachings. There were probably a couple of good points in the script, but this flick is one that shouldn’t be sought after.

Here are the three problematic points, which were all central to the movie:

  1. Lack of Biblical modesty
  2. Contemplative prayer
  3. Rebuking the devil

Let’s look at each of these and what Scripture says.

First, we usually think of modesty as not dressing too provocatively. While that’s true, I’m referring to another side of modesty. In the movie, Priscilla’s family lives in a huge house, driving very nice vehicles, and they are all dressed to the “nines.” At church, everyone is looking at everyone else with that judging look. The women comparing themselves and the husband looking too long at another woman. By the end, they’ve all gotten “closer” to God and the man has put an end to his wandering gazes. However, the other things about their life haven’t changed.

It’s okay if we have wealth. But to flaunt it, brag about it, parade it in people’s faces, that’s not okay. We will all be judged by how we steward God’s gifts to us.

“…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 ESV

Respectable apparel and modesty would indicate not dressing provocatively. The braided hair, gold, pearls or costly attire would indicate what the upper class women would have worn to show off their wealth. (Braided hair listed here isn’t forbidding braiding your hair, it simply meant back then, that women with braided hair were well enough off to have servants who braided their hair for them.)

How many times do we dress to impress other women? Or, how many times have we coveted what someone else has? It all takes our eyes off God, the Gospel, and good works. This is an issue of the heart and motives.

In today’s language, this verse could say, “…not with Michael Kors handbags, Gucci sunglasses, 2-karat (each) diamond studs and a GMC Yukon Denali…” That stuff isn’t bad in and of themselves. But when we’re focused on them, our appearance, flashing them around, posting pics of them on Facebook, and even making it seem like we’re “more spiritual” because “look what God has blessed me with!” we’ve gone wrong.

I love that self-control is thrown in this verse. Use it to repent and refocus. Aside from the rottenness of causing someone to stumble in envy, who cares about the handbag… when there’s a new mom in your church who could use a meal for her family? What about the elderly lady who lives down the street and needs a ride or her sidewalk shoveled? What about volunteering in the nursery? What about the Gospel message that can be shared?

Anyway, the movie showed this family with wealth that likely few of us “regular people” could relate to and it wasn’t reigned in, even when the husband lost his job. Even setting aside the material possessions, the movie was self-centered, using God like a genie to get blessings they wanted. There was no portrayal of good works or spreading the Gospel.

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Keep reading your Bible!

Aren’t We Inherently Good?

This is the first part of an article I wrote on the “Satisfaction Through Christ” blog on October 4, 2016. To finish reading, click the link at the bottom of the post.

When you look into a sweet baby’s eyes it’s hard to think of that baby as a sinner. When you look at yourself, you know your good intentions and you know the justifications for your own sins. It’s tempting to think the baby is good. It’s tempting to think we are good; that we aren’t “bad” people, committing “those” sins. We think we would likely choose the “good” choice the majority of time.

It might be tempting to think that humankind is usually basically inherently “good.” I know people who believe this.

This belief, or partial belief, of the basic goodness of humanity is called Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism.

The problem is that it contradicts the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word which lays out the total depravity of humanity. We are imperfect, unholy, corrupt sinners from conception. (Psalm 51:5) We don’t even have to do anything or a specific “sin.” In this fallen world, we just are sinners. Sin is as much in our heart attitudes, such as our innate desire to put ourselves first, as it is in actions.

Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament will show over and over how humans – the Israelites, who were God’s chosen people – would try to “straighten up” for short times, usually due to God’s anger against them, but would inevitably drift back into rebellion. Many times they would even go beyond what was before, into worse treachery.

That pattern has played out in modern history, and has probably proved true in our own lives.

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Keep reading your Bible!

What’s the Deal with Spiritual Gifts?

This is the beginning of an article I wrote on the “Satisfaction Through Christ” blog on September 20, 2016. I am sharing the posts I wrote there on my blog. To finish reading the article, you will have to click on the link at the bottom.

Charismatic churches and religions are growing, and evangelical churches are jumping in with spiritual gifts tests and classes, so many people are wondering, “What’s the deal with spiritual gifts?” Spiritual gifts as a whole are much too large to cover in one blog post. However, I decided to write a little about them because of a comment on my last post, Religion Matters, where I told about leaving a church that turned out to be charismatic, because we couldn’t overlook our differences. Specifically, I felt like I was in danger of being led astray by the heavy influence of the spiritual gifts.

It was a long comment, but the reader asked, “I hope this comes across as an honest question and not antagonistic, but why are the gifts of the Spirit seen as so unbiblical and negative?”

I would like to start by pointing out that in no way are the spiritual gifts unbiblical or negative in and of themselves. The Holy Spirit does give gifts to believers. At this point, I have heard some people say that God gives believers their gift(s) at salvation and they come out in the believer’s life in the form of the believer’s passions, talents, and abilities, which would assist them in doing ministry work. Other people seem to think that God gives believers gift(s) at  certain times or situations where someone might benefit from them, in a supernatural way.

From Wikipedia: “Charismatic Christianity (also known as Spirit-filled Christianity) is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern-day miracles as an everyday part of a believer’s life. Practitioners are often called Charismatic Christians or renewalists. Although there is considerable overlap, Charismatic Christianity is often categorized into three separate groups: Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and Neo-charismatic movement. According to the Pew Research Center, Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians numbered over 584 million or a quarter of the world’s 2 billion Christians in 2011.”

Also, we need to understand two schools of thoughts about the gifts. The charismatic groups would be considered continuationists. From Theopedia, “Continuationism is the belief that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit taught in the bible — such as prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healings, miracles, etc. — have not ceased and are available for the believer today (1 Cor. 1:7).” In the other camp are the cessationists, which make up most Reformed and Calvinistic theology. “Cessationism which teaches that supernatural gifts have ceased either when the canon of Scripture was completed or at the death of the last apostle.” (To be clear, the supernatural gifts are prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, and miracles.)

Then there are the people in the middle, who don’t know, haven’t researched, or aren’t even aware of the sides of the issue. I fear that many Christians are here, not knowing what to believe or aren’t being taught to do the proper digging, due to a lack of discipleship.

To be clear, neither side is debating the existence of spiritual gifts that accompanied the Holy Spirit’s coming at Penticost in Acts, and that Paul gives plenty of instruction about in his Epistles. Likewise, in most cases, people on both sides also agree on God’s ability to do mysterious and surprising work as He wills. In other words, the cessationists don’t discount God’s sovereignty in the world, denying that something miraculous that doesn’t normally happen in modern times, could be a supernatural act of God. But it would be seen as the exception, not the norm.

[For further reading: “What is Continuationism?” and “What is Cessationism?” from GotQuestions.org; and “Why I Am a Cessationist,” from The Gospel Coalition]

Unfortunately, there is debate. However, the proper reading and understanding of Scripture and some background on Church history goes a long way toward understanding it better.

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Keep reading your Bible!

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