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Our Presidential Race and Who You Should Vote For

I have been very surprised by the results of the Presidential candidates and what it has brought out in our society.

I have always expected to see a division in political races.  There are similar opinions about the things that need to be done and disagreements as to how it should be accomplished.  I know that when you have more than two or three people looking at a problem you are always going to have a difference of opinion, even if the objective is the same the journey will be different.

I live in Los Angeles.  On the occasions that I have driven across country to my home in North Carolina I have chosen different routes for different reasons but all with the same destination in mind.  It’s the same in politics………..until now.

During this election process I have heard from both sides saying things and doing things that are beyond anything I could have ever possibly imagined.  Some days I am actually in shock.

I have heard from both sides “I can’t believe a Christian would vote for……….” “You can’t be a Christian if you vote for……..” Comments have been made from both sides that are so far from the truth and I am seeing fights and words being passed back and forth that is simply out of line for believers.  People have had disagreements that are so vile that they have unfriended each other, families have been split and lines drawn in the sand.

The President of the United States is possibly the most powerful position in the world.  It is a position that should be respected.  Today things have changed. Our society has changed, the typical profile of a voter have changed.  It’s a different world all together now.

So the question you have is who to vote for.  The answer is quite simple.  Without the help of the press and media (who are biased to the desires and needs of their advertisers) you should examine each candidate  in line with God’s word.

Ask yourself some questions.  Is their behavior something you  are proud of?  Are they saying the things you agree with?  If this person was not running for president, would you be proud to call this person a friend?  Are they qualified to run the office?

This is where things change in the heart of the believer.

At the end of the election process there will be a winner.  This is truly when you will be able to examine yourself and see what you are made of.  If you find yourself having a hard time supporting our new president with your prayers, you may need to take a look at yourself and see if you are part of the problem or part of the solution.

Every day I pray for our president.  President Obama.  I prayed George Bush Jr. before him, Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.  All the way back to my beginning, I have had zero problem praying for and supporting our presidents.  Not because I always agreed with them but because I respect their position and their success either directly or indirectly affect me.

One of the most important parts of the equation here is that spiritual judgement is God’s problem.  Not mine.  I pray for many people that I don’t agree with.

The Pastor of Our church ( New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ) recently gave us a prayer book.  She asked us to write in the names of people that we wanted to pray for.  This helps us remember people that need our prayers and support.  At the top of the list is The President Of The United States Of America.

Do you?   This is a time when you should be capable of actually demonstrating the Love of God. Can you pray and support your candidate?  Most likely the answer is yes.  Can you pray and support the opponent?  If not, examine your heart.  They will need both your prayers and support.

Lastly, don’t let that root of bitterness spring up inside if you lose and don’t let that haughty spirit get control of you if your candidate wins.

Now is the time for every believer to be careful with their spirits and be sure to keep it in line with God’s word.

In Love

Ric

Are You Kidding?

Is it really that simple?  I mean, to love someone else is actually very simple isn’t it? or is it?

Love is really a word that is misused in our coversations everyday.  We say to people that we love them but do we really?  Do we actually judge them or “size them up” unjustly?

One thing that I am beginning to realize is this.  When you judge someone it really becomes all about the other person.  A simple way to take the “heat” off of yourself for short comings or perhaps MUCH larger situations going on.

I noted this week a very popular eacher/preacher/evangelist/pastor on religious broadcasting as he was speaking.  He explained that when we are saved Jesus actually saves our souls – NOT our bodies.  Some people are still dealing with sins.

1st Corinthians 12: 1-24

Paul opens the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians being careful to let us know that he wants us to understand the gifts of the Spirit.  His first warning is that you can’t mistake the gifts of the Spirit and that when you see these gifts in action they are to be used to the glory of God and honor to the Lord Jesus.

While there are many gifts they are all coming from the same Spirit. That is the Spirit of God.  These gifts differ from each other in use but all bring glory to God when they are being exercised by His direction.

He  explains in verse 5 that there are even differences in the way they (the gifts) are demonstrated and the administration of these gifts BUT, they are all coming from the same place.

While Paul actually lists 11 or so different gifts that are (or at least should be) exercised  in the church.  They are all very different in meaning and use but all drawn from the same Spirit, that is the Spirit of the Holy Spirit.

While we are looking at these different gifts they are all part of one body.  The body operates with different parts.  The eyes do their part, the ears do their part, the hands do their part, etc.  Even so the gifts of the Spirit work exactly the same way.

But, while these different parts of the body all have separate functions and do different things they are all active for one body.  In that exact same train of thought the body of Christ works the same way.  Each man with different gifts work together for the glory of God inside the same body.

1st Corinthians 11

Paul gives us an interesting insight into the “law” of the church that is under grace.

Verses 1-15 describe Paul’s reminders of how we are to conduct ourselves when we go to church and how men and women ought to pray.  Women should have their heads covered and men should have their heads uncovered, men should have short hair, women should have long hair, etc.

There are some denominations and some religious organizations that will go to extra lengths to require or even in some cases DEMAND that men and women follow these rules to a tee.  Whole churches have been formed with these laws at the forefront.  HOWEVER, verse 16 brings the entire instructions into a different light.

Verse 16 says:  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.  Meaning that if you disagree with these “rules” then you are not bound by them.

This also bears a reason that I explain to many people.  Find out what the Bible actually says.  Find out what it means and immerse yourself in the Word.  Don’t allow someone to force you into believing something without finding out for yourself exactly what God says about it.  Find out what God’s heart is and get to know who Jesus is by finding out what His Word has to say in it’s entirety, not just what fits your situation or upholds your belief system.

Verse 17 – 34 Paul gives specific instructions on taking communion.  Jesus left us a “tradition” or a “ritual” of taking communion.  In so taking communion we are doing this as a remembrance of the crucifixion.  We are compelled to examine ourselves and we are required to ask forgiveness and prepare our hearts before God BEFORE we partake of this communion.

I can’t wait for the next three chapters.  Chapter 12 and Chapter 14 in regards to spiritual gifts.  Of course, being Pentecostal, these are two of my favorite chapters describing the use of Spiritual Gifts in the church.  HOWEVER, (as we would say it in the south) RIGHT SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THESE TWO CHAPTERS IS THE CHAPTER THAT IS DEDICATED TO EXACTLY WHAT THIS WHOLE BLOG IS ABOUT.  LOVE.

1st Corinthians 10

As we rush towards the real subject that I want to spend some time with which is the 13th Chapter of 1st Corinthians we have found some real nuggets of truth that if properly applied to our lives will help us gain perfection in Christ.

So far we have learned about the things that we should avoid in order to keep ourselves clean before God.  One point I would like to make here.  When we speak of how sin is anything that brings separation between you and God.  That separation can (and I suspect often is) be the fact that you condemn yourself when you commit some type of sin (big or small in your mind)  and that causes you to feel unworthy until you are able to personally feel that you have been forgiven.

As Paul opens the 10th Chapter of 1st Corinthians he tries to explain through verse 4 how the Jewish forefathers were all led and followed the same laws  and were under the same dispensation.  THE LAW.

Verses 5 & 6 Paul was very careful to point out that God was not pleased with “all” of the people and how they were led away from God by their own desires.

Verses 7 through 10  explains some of the things that can bring personal condemnation and therefor creates that separation between us and God.

  • Idolatry seemed to be the one thing that the children of Israel were constantly falling for.
  • Fornication has always been a major temptation.  Sexual sins seem to be the one thing that people are always drawn away by.
  • Tempting Christ is a hard one to explain.  It is when we continue to purposely fall into traps knowing exactly where we are and what we are doing yet, we still go against His will.
  • Murmuring against the Church and our fellow Christians.  Paul speaks of murmuring often.  This is a quick way to damage your testimony.

Verse 11 points out that we should have learned from all that these guys went through and how their faith was damaged.

Verses 12 through 13 is a warning and a way out to us.  First off Paul tells us to be careful about how we stand lest we fall.  In other words we should watch our walk.  However, God has promised us that he would not allow us to be tempted without giving us an escape route.

Paul points out in 14 through 21 that we can not follow the things of the world and the things of Christ and be successful.  We are encouraged to follow one path or the other.  Long periods of trying to be two different people in church and in the world can and usually does lead a person down a very dark path.

What I find very interesting is that Paul allowed the rest of this chapter to be directed to NOT offending others.

In the early church it was understood that we are now under a new dispensation.  Not being under the law but under grace was one of the reasons Christ came to earth in the place.  But there is also a problem with NOT being under the law.

Imagine a world of no laws.  In some ways it would be a much better world to live in and in other ways it would be a lot more dangerous. Because people are simply going to be people, some will take advantage of others as if it is second nature while others will naturally care when you are in trouble.

Paul explains this by showing us this:  When we have this kind of freedom we are not to do things in front of people who do not approve or would be offended by our actions.

Here’s a great example:  I am not a drinker at all.  I couldn’t fill up a wine bottle with the amount of wine I have had to drink in the past 5 years.  However, I am not offended when a fellow Christian has a glass of wine while I am with them.  This would immediately be offensive to many people.  In this situation, if you are the drinker, it is better to leave that aside so you don’t offend someone else or damage your witness.

Do NOT offend people just because you can.  More on all of this in a couple of chapters.

1st Corinthians 7

Paul took the 7th chapter of 1st Corinthians to discuss marriage and relationships between a husband and his wife.  In these 40 verses Paul was very specific about marriage and the proper roles that the husband and wife should play to each other.

I am not going to go into any great detail about this specific chapter for several reasons.  I am going to try and help set the stage to explain the possible logic and reasoning for this chapter.

Please remember as you read and study this chapter that at the time of Paul’s writings the city of Corinth as most likely at the height of their sexual awakening and explorations.  Corinth boasted of their temple to Aphrodite and several statues were eventually erected to prostitutes and sexually virile men and women.

The entire society was wealthy and sexually charged so it was very commonplace to see and hear of sexual games and activities throughout the region.

With this thought in mind it was important to the early church to begin to set some type of standards and limits of what Christians should be participating in.  While Paul seemed to many to be very judgmental  and condemning, it is my opinion that what Paul was attempting to do was to lead the early Church into a relationship with God.

Since this was the very beginnings of the early Church, most of the Christians and citizens of Corinth were perhaps unaware of what was the correct relationship standards between a man and a woman and between married couples.

Paul removed most of the doubt and confusion among the citizens of Corinth and among the congregation at the early Church.

 

Disgusting Comments From A Minister

I want you to take a moment and read this article.   I have  to say that I have never seen nor experienced a time in my life when the church at large seems to be so violent minded and so mean.

We are experiencing a mass exit from most congregations today.  We are experiencing a situation where even in the most contemporary churches we are losing members and regular congregants at an alarming rate.  I have never seen so many churches FOR SALE.

I have been wondering for some time now why so many people seem to be less and less interested in anything to do with Christians or church.  I began to take a long look at the church and the message of some of the churches and now the picture is becoming crystal clear.

In this week’s news was yet another PATHETIC statement from a more well known Christian personality that spewed from his mouth a ridiculous story about Ebola and a potential reason of why this disease is here and growing concerns about it’s existence.  Follow the information below to see:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/06/christian-radio-host-hopes-ebola-will-solve-americas-problems-with-atheism-and-homosexuality_n_5656455.html

There are many things in life that follow a rule that I have:  “It makes sense until you think about it”.

First of all let me voice an opinion and may I add this is only my opinion.  If you don’t have anything sensible to say, PLEASE DON’T SAY ANYTHING.  Since the days of the PTL club and Jimmy Swaggart, I have told many, many people this:  When a minister of the Gospel or a leader in the church falls, he/she doesn’t really hurt themselves on the same level as it hurts the church.

Nothing in the New Testament supports the types of actions that this minister or leader has made.  These statements are not only inflammatory but approaching idiotic.  Not a good witness of the church and certainly not led by the Holy Spirit.

I have gotten weary of the idea that ministers feel as if they can say anything they want to say.  It actually makes me angry to see this happen.  Why? you may ask.  These people are misrepresenting the message of hope.

Jesus was born the ONLY  Son of God and left his heavenly estate to take his place among humanity.  Was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life.  He became the ultimate sacrifice for humanity when he was crucified, while God and His angels watched.  He was laid in a borrowed tomb and rose the third day with the keys to Hell, Death, Sin and the Grave.  He ascended to the right hand of God the Father and has promised us that one day He will return to gather His children home to be with Him for eternity.

He said that he came not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.  My daily prayer is that we can all learn to communicate to the world the love of Christ and the reason for our Hope.  Love others as we would want to be loved.

1st Corinthians 6

As we enter into this chapter of 1st Corinthians I want to remind you of some of the culture in this area of the world at this particular time. It seems that Paul almost stays focused on sex.  There was such a division going on in the church at this time and also the whole culture in the area was sexually driven.  Reminds me of the world we live in today.

Paul opens up this chapter with a look at what you should do when you are having a major disagreement between two believers.   Paul asks the question in the opening verse; How could you take a matter before the unjust (unbelievers) before taking it to the believers?

Paul explains that the Christians will judge the world.  If the world is going to be judged by us then we should be able to judge the small matters that happen between us.

As Paul goes on he starts to ask if there is not a wise enough person between all the people in the church to judge people in small matters. Today, we see somethings that happen similarly.  Christians don’t want to get involved in small personal matters and we wind up putting others in a situation where they have no choice but to consult the courts. Yet, we have the knowledge, wisdom and authority to help people work out things if we will just allow ourselves to take that step and help.

In verses 8, 9 and 10 Paul categorized some of the sins that are separating people then AND now from God.  While these things do separate us, God continues to love us.  The damage that is done is often what we do to ourselves.  Our shame, embarrassment and self-imposed condemnation leads us to believe that we are less of a Christian or less committed to Christ.  We tend to make ourselves the judge and jury of ourselves and won’t allow ourselves to – first  and foremost, ask God’s forgiveness of our sins and second ask ourselves to forgive ourselves and move forward knowing that we have been redeemed.

Verse 11 tells the end of the story.  We are washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of God.

Verses 12 to 18 warns us that fornication is a sin that is done with our body parts.  Not only the man with the woman but the woman with the man in that in the act of sex, different from most other sins, our bodies are actually making internal contact with each other.  In this act the two participants become one.

Verse 19 explains that we are the temple of the Holy Ghost.  When you join your body with another in the act of sex you actually are becoming one body and in that act you are actually linking with another and causing sin to occur, also because it takes your mind away from the things of God.

Paul closes what must be a very difficult chapter explaining that we should be glorifying God with our bodies.  In  all things we should be working and doing things to His glory.  In this we grow deeper in His knowledge and grace and are able to walk more clearly and with a clear conscience.

Quick Break

It’s at this point that I feel like I should interject a few thoughts.  The first 5 chapters of 1st Corinthians has been heavy and in some people’s mind perhaps even VERY judgmental.

Let’s reexamine the actual messages here.  In today’s world people are looking at everything they possibly can in order to bring condemnation to someone else.  The reason they want to do this is to draw the attention away from themselves; sort of projecting self righteousness onto you in order to clear themselves in some way.

The reality is that when Jesus came He  did not come to bring condemnation, He came to bring life.  Condemnation separates you from God.  Condemnation separates you from the reality of your own human traits.   Condemnation makes you feel unworthy.  As explained by my Pastor this week, conviction is a different thing.

Jesus came to bring us eternal life.  Period.  When the rest of the New Testament was written, it was written as a guideline of how we  should live our lives to draw ourselves closer to God and understanding of His fullness.  In order to draw closer to God you have to remove those things in your life which cause separation. These things are what makes your walk with God difficult.

Unless you are superman you are going to fail.  Unless you possess superhuman strengths you are going to blow it from time to time. When  these things happen don’t wallow in self-condemnation but rather glory in the teaching process and be aware that you are still human.

I am ready to head into the next section of 1st Corinthians but wanted to stop for a moment and explain that this is not condemnation but a step into a closer walk with God.