Skipping church is the beginning of spiritual decline.
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A study of angels always proves to be most interesting. They intrigue our minds as their basic nature, order and ministry are considered. Contrary to common thought, angels only assume material expressions (bodies) to be seen of men when it is necessary. Otherwise, they carry out their God-given duties precisely in their natural form. Basically, they are ministering intellectual spirits according to Hebrews 1:7-14.
God created angels and His ministers to minister unto Him in the triune realm of his constitution: mental, spiritual, physical. The chief angels over these orders are Gabriel, mental realm; Michael, spiritual realm; and Lucifer, the material realm.
Of course we know that Lucifer fell because of originating sin, and many of the angels under his command fell with him, and doubtlessly some that were not under his command, too. Hence, the presence of demons on earth, and the locking away of some to the day of judgment.
Angels of God continue to minister unto Him. They are also given charge over affairs on earth. “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7. Guardian angels are not myth, but reality.
Of course, one can recall so many times in the Old Testament that angels appeared unto men for the purpose of delivering a message from God or for other purposes. It was Jacob who wrestled with an angel all night, Genesis 37. Angels also executed judgment by destroying Sodom and Gomorrah and thousands of Israelites on certain sinful occasions. It was also an angel who announced the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph.
No, we are not alone. The songwriter penned, “I can see an angel peeking through a broken windowpane.” Angels are here. They occupy the same space, but live in another dimension. Angels can cross over into our dimension, but we may not cross over into theirs until death. Notice in the defense of Dothan, the city was surrounded by Assyrians and the prophet’s helper was beside himself as he pointed the situation out to his master. The prophet was not disturbed and said that they that be for us is more than they that be for them. Then he prayed that God would open the eyes of his helper that he might see what the prophet could see. God opened his eyes and he saw angels and chariots of fire ringing the hills about them. Elisha prayed that God would smite them with blindness which He did. Then Elisha led them away into the midst of Samaria where they were defenseless.
How marvelous is the Lord! How great is His love and care for His people. We are not alone. Angels are here and some have entertained them unaware. We are not alone!
If the going is easy, you aren’t climbing. How often does the Bible say, Jesus went into the mountain to pray.
Mic_4:1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. KJB . One day it will be mountaintop living. For now we climb out of the valley of sin, degradation, and sorrow, to reach the mountain of rejoicing.
An ounce of mother is worth more than a pound of clergy. – A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother. – KJB
Out of the pages of the New Testament comes a story that many who have a general knowledge of its books have overlooked at worse or put on the back burner for later attention at best. It is a story involving three individuals: the apostle Paul, a Christian property owner named Philemon, and a run-a-way slave named Onesimus. Think with me for a moment about it.
How or why Onesimus became a slave is unknown. There were many reasons why one must become such in the days under consideration. Often, many were born to slaves and were by birthright the property of the master who owned his parents.
Regardless, it is clear that Onesimus was an unhappy individual who probably resented his status, and felt life surely held something better and higher for him. Paul acknowledges that in that state Onesimus was an unprofitable slave to his master Philemon., Phil. 1:11.
He proceeded to run away from his master’s home and somehow made his way to Rome where he sought out Paul who was under house arrest there, and whom he doubtlessly knew from Paul’s visit to Philemon’s place.
Paul received him, and led him to the Lord. He remained there for a time ministering to the needs of the apostle. It was then that Paul penned the short letter of importunity to send with Onesimus to Philemon. One can only assume, but safely assume that Philemon was pleased to receive Onesimus back into his home with considerable joy because instead of a rebel, he now received a brother in Christ who was wiser spiritually, and much more mature mentally. As the apostle put it, he departed from his responsibilities for a season, that he should be received for ever. V. 15.
What a wonderful story this is! It parallels the life of most Christians throughout the age.
Unlike Onesimus, it may not be an earthly authority one is running from. It could be initially, of course, but the lure of sin is strong. It leads one to believe the world has wonderful things ready to heap upon its seekers, but so soon one finds out differently. The prodigal son certainly did. In realization at last that the world has no lasting love for anyone, and that life really does offer so much more that the sinner can receive from it, a turn is made to the lovely Lord Jesus Christ Who saves with an everlasting salvation, and fills the heart with eternal hope. Onesimus found peace, life, and goodness in the truest form, and that is so right!
He who buries his talent is making a grave mistake.
Psa 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
Pro 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Jas 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
There is an old saying, “They can git glad in the same britches they got mad in. Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: We each one have been given an emotion that can be used properly or improperly. How often is it used wrongly and really is a witness against us?
The Psalmist says to cease from anger and forsake wrath:. The context shows that anger or wrath is inappropriate is come instances. The Lord says to not fret or be angry over those wicked that prosper. There are certain things that we can do nothing about, but we should depend upon the Lord in these situations. So let us not be angry over the wicked, that is God’s responsibility. Let us not be angry over what we perceive. We could be wrong in our perception.
Proverbs says to be slow to anger. Let us not mistake a situation and be wrong in our anger. Often, prayer and patience reveals that anger is not necessary. James says be slow to wrath. Haste to become angry often testifies against us. It reveals a heart of unforgiveness. We are to be a forgiving people. Do not misunderstand what is said. The scriptures do not say to never be angry, but our encouragement is to use our anger in such a way that it is beneficial to all. Do not allow anger to rule us but rule anger as Jesus did when he drove the money changers out of the temple. Anger, don’t lose it, use it.
Who was Stephen in the New Testament? Why is he mentioned? He must have done something that is so right. Think with me for a minute.
Stephan is mentioned first in the list of six men filled with the Holy Spirit whom the first church set aside as deacons to relieve the apostles from administering material things. Acts 6:5.
The name “Stephen” is spelled practically the same in both English and Greek, indicating it is one of those words that is transliterated rather than translated. It means “A Crown,” or “That which surrounds.” Most of the time “crown” designates a headdress made from gold, of a monarch or other important individual, perhaps with many inset stones, and designates the wearer as one with great authority and/or responsibility. As a headdress, it symbolically indicates that which surrounds the head or the occupation of the mind. This the way it is used often in the scriptures.
Often Paul referred to the churches as his crown of joy and rejoicing. He told Timothy that God had a crown of righteousness laid up for him. He spoke of the crown of glory and honor. Solomon said grandchildren were a crown to old men. Of course these were not literal headdresses, but the certainly did occupy the mind, and told the story of life.
But the most telling crown of all time is the crown that Jesus wore on Golgotha. It was made of thorns, and symbolically portrayed the awfulness of our Savior’s experience on our behalf. The pain of his head was so real, but not so severe as the pain of his mind and heart as He bore our sins.
Now, back to Stephen. His being full of the Holy Spirit tells us the things of God, and goodness was predominate in his mind. He preached most effectively, and worked miracles among the townspeople. When warned to stop it, he refused to do so. At his trial, he preached one of the longest and most thorough messages in the New Testament, recorded in Acts chapter seven.
Stephen was stoned to death by a group of religious hypocrites. But heaven was looking on, and allowed him to see that it was. In death, he became the first of millions of Christian martyrs.. He remained true to the faith, and gave a testimony that Saul of Tarsus could not shake, and won the incorruptible crowns of glory, righteousness, and life. He would not be deterred by the forces of evil, and folks that is so right! What is the crown you are wearing?
Life is fragile, handle with prayer.
John 15:5; I John 2:28; II John 9
Abide – to dwell, to rest to continue, to stand firm.
John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.”
Abiding is fruit-bearing. The place of abiding is in Jesus Christ the Son of God. Some choose to abide in the world, in sports, arts, education, politics, power or prestige. The propensity of some to always gravitate to worldly things is evident in what holds their attention and receives their time. These days of hectic activity of the world, we hardly have time for Jesus, much less abiding in him. Abiding means to spend time with him. We abide in our house that we call our home. This is where we eat, we sleep and basically live our lives. This is the hub of our life. Jesus should be the hub of our life.
With Jesus, we are “in Him.” We should be just as comfortable being in him as we are at home. Abiding in Him means that no matter where we are He is ever-present. Since we are in Him at work, we should be just as faithful in representing Him at work as we are at Church. Where ever we are, if we abide in Christ, we will produce, not just fruit but much fruit. Notice that statement “… for without me ye can do nothing. If we are not producing fruit, maybe we should examine ourselves to see if we are abiding.
II John 1:9 “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”
If we are abiding in Christ, we have an overwhelming desire to abide in His doctrine. Truth is so important in a time of lying and deceit. So many distort and twist the doctrine of Christ in this modern depraved age. The Bible says, “ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” John 8:32. We areresponsible for diligently searching for the truth and finding it. Finding the truth tells of the love we have for Christ.
I John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
My desire is to not be ashamed before God when I stand before Him. Therefore, I must abide. I don’t know when His return is so I must be ready at any time. I have confidence in his return as a thief in the night and because His appearance will not be announced, I must be faithful and true at all times. I must not be drawn away by worldly lusts or desires. I MUST abide in Jesus at all times.