Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Everything We Think We Know About Marriage and Divorce Is Wrong, By Shaunti Feldhahn

Have you ever quoted the facts about the 50 percent divorce rate?

Shaunti FeldhahnYeah? So have I.

Have you ever lamented the fact that the divorce rate was the same in the church? Or that most marriages are just hanging in there, not vibrant and happy?

Have you seen or shared the sobering statistic that most second marriages don’t make it? Or talked about marriage being hard?

Perhaps, like you, I have said every one of those things—whether just to friends or from the stage at marriage conferences. I felt like I had to exhort people to work hard in their marriages, to get them to realize just how seriously they needed to take their vows. And while that goal is incredibly important, I had no idea that my means of getting there was having the opposite effect.

Without realizing it, those of us who have shared that information have been, as Andy Stanley put it in the foreword to my new book The Good News About Marriage, “a small part of a very large problem.” We have been both accepting and adding to a deep sense of cultural discouragement about marriage. A discouragement that instead of motivating people, leaches hope from marriages. A discouragement that, it turns out, is based more on myth than reality.

Indiana Jones And The Divorce Stats Of Doom

In 2006 I was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist writing a routine piece about marriage and divorce. I wanted to accurately cite the numbers, but my senior researcher and I were soon really confused by contradictory statistics about what the divorce rate actually was. In the end, a question we originally expected to answer in two minutes took eight years of investigation to unravel. I felt a bit like Indiana Jones as we waded into the deep jungle of complex statistical projections and feuding demographers in search of great treasure: the truth that surely had to be in there somewhere.

Along the way, we kept unearthing encouraging facts not just about the divorce rate but about marriage overall. Facts we felt urgently needed to come to light, to bring balance to the national conversation and encourage individual marriages! Yes, we also saw plenty of very real concerns. And we quickly found that this field is so complicated, there is often no way to nail down one “right” answer. But we can get a lot closer.

Here are just a few examples of the truths we cover in The Good News About Marriage.
The Good News

Perhaps most surprising, half of all marriages are not ending in divorce. According to the Census Bureau, 72 percent of those who have ever been married, are still married to their first spouse! And the 28 percent who aren’t includes everyone who was married for many years, until a spouse died. No one knows what the average first-marriage divorce rate actually is, but based on the rate of widowhood and other factors, we can estimate it is probably closer to 20–25 percent. For all marriages (including second marriages, and so on), it is in the 31-35 percent range, depending on the study.

Now, expert demographers continue to project that 40–50 percent of couples will get divorced—but it is important to remember that those are projections. And I’m skeptical because the actual numbers have never come close, and divorce rates continue to drop, not rise! Even among the highest-risk age group—Baby Boomers—seven in ten are still married to their first spouse. Most of them have had 30 years’ worth of chances to get divorced … and they are still together.

Now any amount of divorce is still too high! But still, knowing that most marriages last a lifetime is good news that urgently needs to be part of our conventional wisdom.

Another myth that is begging to be debunked is the notion that “Barna found that the rate of divorce is the same in the church.” Actually the Barna Group found no such thing, and George Barna himself told me he would love to correct this misunderstanding because he wasn’t studying people “in the church.”

The Barna Group studies were focusing specifically on the divorce rates of those with Christian and non-Christian belief systems and didn’t take worship attendance into account. So I partnered with the Barna Group, and we re-ran the numbers. If the person were in church last week, their divorce rate dropped by 27 percent. And that is one of the smallest drops found in recent studies; overall, regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25–50 percent, depending on the study you look at.
“The Implications Are Enormous”

A few years ago, when I first shared these facts and others at a conference of marriage and family pastors, one ministry leader came up to me with a stunned look on his face. “If this is true,” he said, “the implications are enormous.”

Since then I have heard similar statements from hundreds of pastors, counselors and average men and women. They have felt as though for too long they were—as one put it—“held hostage to bad data that we couldn’t contradict.” And they see the dramatic difference it will make to know the truth … and be able to share it.

Imagine the difference for pastors to know that they can stand on stage and tell their congregations with confidence that going to church matters for your marriage.

Imagine the difference to be able to tell a struggling couple, “Most people get through this, and you can, too.”

Imagine equipping the average young person with the ability to counter the cynical statements of his college professors or the “why bother getting married” comments of friends who are living together, with the solid truth that, actually, most marriages last a lifetime. (And are happy! We cover that in The Good News About Marriage, too.)

Those of us who work with marriages may secretly wonder whether there is reason for our ministry, if the news about the divorce rate is better than we think. And the answer is a resounding yes. Because I have seen in the research what every marriage counselor knows intimately: divorce isn’t the greatest threat to marriage. Discouragement is.

What marriages need today is hope. And of all people, we in the Body of Christ should be the most ready to offer hope—not just for our spiritual life but for our marriages. And now, we can.

ShauntiFeldhahn

Shaunti Feldhahn is a Harvard-trained social researcher, popular speaker and best-selling author of For Women Only, For Men Only and The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, which have sold more than 2 million copies in 22 languages worldwide. Her research is regularly featured in media as diverse as The New York Times and Focus on the Family,Cosmopolitan Magazine and The Today Show. With The Good News About Marriage, Shaunti is eager to support leaders in moving marriages from discouragement to hope.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Be The New You

Are you living it?


Sunday comes. We open our Closets, put on our White Robes. Pick up our Staff of Righteousness. Head off to Church. We sing Songs. We say "Praise Jesus." "Thank you Lord." after every other sentence. We hear the Message. We Praise and thank the Pastor. {After asking our friend why the Pastor is wearing Sneakers.} "Look at the Pastor? Don't ya think he could have at least Shaved? I mean if he is not going to put on his best Suit and Shave, and wear his best Watch and look like a million bucks, why am I making an effort?" "Oh great Sermon Pastor. It really Touched me."

Then we go home. We open our Closet. Lay down our Staff or Righteousness. Hang up our White Robe. And we get ready to watch the Pre Pre Pre Show. The Game. The Post Show. The Post Post Show. We go to Work On Monday. We talk about the Game. We talk about what Susie is wearing. We stare at what Susie is wearing. We talk about Susie and Dave.

Women? You do the same thing. It may not be about Sports. But you go and do whatever you do. You talk about Susie and Dave. You look at what Dave is wearing. You talk about Clubs, or Ladies Night. You watch other things on TV. You both, Men and Women, worry about bills. Getting ahead at work. Getting a New Car. Whatever Home Projects you may have going. Dealing with the Kids. What's for Dinner?

Then Sunday comes again. We open our Closets, put on our White Robes. Pick up our Staff of Righteousness. Head off to Church. We sing Songs. We say "Praise Jesus." "Thank you Lord." after every other sentence. We hear the Message. We Praise and thank the Pastor. And so the cycle goes.

Then we wonder why? Why is the Church not doing more? Look at the Community. Why is the Church not doing more to help? Why is the Pastor not doing more? Why am I not receiving all these blessing that I'm suppose to be receiving? Why do I not see God answering my Prayers? The question is not, why is the Church not doing more. The question is, what are YOU doing?

Did you know you will find very few explicit Commands, in the Bible, that tell us to Evangelize? Did you know you will find very few explicit Commands, in the Bible, that tell us to take care of the Poor? Things of this sort. However, there are a lot of Verses in the New Testament that instruct us, or urge us, in one way or another, to be Holy?

Seriously. Here are just a few examples.
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." {1 Peter 1:13-16}
Be Holy???
"And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." {2 Cor. 5:15}
Wait, huh?
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." {2 Corinthians 7:1}
So what are you saying?
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." {Philippians 2:12}
How???
"But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation." {1 Timothy 4: 7-9}
So there is more than going to Church on Sunday, when I can make it, and hearing a Sermon and singing Songs?

In his Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul writes this.

Ephesians 5:
1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
It's hard to tell someone, "God loves you." When they hear you asking God to Damn this or that. It's hard to tell someone, "God can set you free from all bondage in your life." With a Beer in one Hand, and a Cigarette in the other. It's hard to tell someone "There is a better way." When you are living the same as they. It is hard to tell someone, "You can be changed into a new Creature. God Loves You. He wants you to be His Child, and He your Father." When you have not changed.

When someone is facing a choice in life, such as the up coming Elections, they look at the two Choices. Candidate 1 believes ABC. Candidate 2 believe ABC but also D. Hard choice? The Lesser of Two Evils? But if Candidate 2 believes XYZ, then you have a CLEAR choice.

If someone is trying to seek the Truth, and they see Bubba, riding around on the Four Wheeler, smashing Beer Cans on his Head, living recklessly, then they see you on the back of the Four Wheeler smashing Beer Cans on your Head, at the same time as yelling "Jesus loves you?" Do they really have a clear Choice? 

Please do not misunderstand. Striving for Holiness, does not mean you will live Sin Free. As warned in 1 John..
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." {1 John 1: 8-10}
You will not be Perfect. There is only one that is. His name is Jesus. However, it's not really that difficult to be different from the World. When you allow yourself to be the Child of God you are, He will Anoint you. He will Bless you. He will fill you with the Holy Spirit. People will SEE and FEEL a difference in you, in some cases, without you even opening your Mouth. You want to make a difference? Then it is pretty simple. Be the new you.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2 Corinthians 13}

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Wrestling Sermon, Shared by Kelly Benton

Special Guest, Kelly Benton, of Leon Christian Church

Wrestling prepares a person to compete in the game of life. The wrestler is the one athlete that must meet their opponent and do battle completely on their own. No one can substitute and time outs are not possible. You have no one to check, screen, and block or assist you in anyway; there is no one to pass the ball to and no one to blame for your mistakes. When you win, you must display quiet pride and modesty; when you lose the responsibility is yours.

Wrestling is a special sport. In other sports, when contact is made, they blow the whistle and stop the action; in wrestling when contact is made, we’re just getting started.

No sport requires more sacrifice and discipline than wrestling. The individual, through self-denial, offers more of their character, than can ever be explained here. It is something you carry with you throughout your life, and through every trial, test, and tribulation.

Wrestling … truly teaches life skills and values. And today I want to share with you how the sport of wrestling can be related to a true relationship with Jesus.

We started this season with 19 individuals on the team. And here we are a little past the middle of our season with a grand total of 8 wrestlers. Sadly, this is how every season is. We can always count on the fact that we will lose a large number of individuals throughout the season. Some, because of having poor grades, some from injuries, but most of them will not remain because of being released or simply quitting.

You see,

I. Wrestling takes Sacrifices and Commitment.

A. Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is true worship.

1. God call each of us that have joined the so called “Christian Team” to be living sacrifices. But what does this really mean? Many Christians that have given their lives to Him really have no idea what the true meaning is to “live as a sacrifice”.

2. A successful wrestler lives their lives as a sacrifice to the sport in order to be the best they can be. Many people that begin the sport of wrestling really have no idea about all the sacrifices they must take in the sport.

3. One of the biggest sacrifices they make is to weigh a certain amount. This takes both sacrifice and commitment in order to achieve a certain weight. Being careful as to what they put into their bodies is a large sacrifice. No more cake, pie, Mountain Dew, or junk food. All these things do is slow the body up and pack on the pounds. It’s really a huge sacrifice for most.

4. The wrestler sacrifices their bodies to extreme sessions of training in practice and out of practice. Running miles upon miles outside of practice time, avoiding the daily temptations of eating un-healthy, reviewing matches and keeping regular hours of rest.

5. Likewise for the Christian, we must be very cautious as to what we are placing into our lives if it is healthy or not to live as a living sacrifice to God. Once we joined the Christian team we are held to certain standards that we must meet in order to truly live as a Christian.

6. The things in the world in which we use to take into our lives are unhealthy for Christian living. It is vitally important for each of us to stay fit and healthy physically but it is also important for us to keep fit spiritually as well.

7. Each Sunday we gather, this is our practice so to speak. We come here and get knowledge and wisdom and encouragement to place into our lives. Our coach, Jesus Christ demands us to work hard, and it was never said that being a Christian would be easy.

8. If we believe that we can show up to practice each week and go on about our lives not really thinking much more about our walk with Jesus and still excel, we’re wrong.

9. Our commitment isn’t to just show up and go through the motions, it’s to live it out and apply it within all we do. The truth is that it is hard and we are to stay determined and committed to not just ourselves but to our team as well.

II. Wrestling Takes a Team

A. Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

1. This verse speaks volumes about how we live our lives. Most people believe the sport of wrestling as simply an individual sport but it’s much more than that.

2. In order for me to get the most out of our team it takes each individual. I need each one of the wrestlers at the top of their game at all times. Their motivation and presence is highly important. Have you ever tried wrestling by yourself? It just doesn’t work. There are many things for that matter in life that just doesn’t work if you try it alone.

3. Christians need Christians in order to grow sharper and to excel with our walk with Jesus. I have heard it a billion times and I am sure you have as well, “My relationship with Jesus is personal”. Sure it is, just like wrestling is an individual sport but what about those brothers and sisters on your team that can deepen and strengthen you relationship with Jesus?

4. Church, we need each other to help us stay sharp and focused in our Christian walk.

Illustration: I have shared with many of you personally and also publically about the importance of my team mate that keeps me going. I thank God for my wife. She is my sharpening stone and motivator in many areas of my life. She is not only my best friend but she is the one I can count on to always keep me on track.

5. The greatest influence comes from those we call close friends. Little teams of people, who help us try again when we fail, encourage us when we’re discouraged, lighten our load when it gets too heavy, and give us strength against the evil forces and temptations we all face.

6. Our team mates either help us become and stay sharp or they facilitate our becoming and remaining dull.

7. If one of my wrestlers are only wrestling at 25 or 50 percent while the other one is pushing at 100 percent, nothing is really accomplished. No one is learning anything and they both become dull and will never reach their highest potential.

Conclusion: I know life is a tough match. I know this because I am living it with you. many times in my life I feel like just pinning myself and walking off the mat because it gets hard and I get worn down.

I tell myself that I have taken enough of a beat down and I can’t take anymore. Rocky Balboa told his son this... "It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how are you can get hit and keep going!"

I believe God has this same desire for us. He has and always has had high hopes for each of us. He desires to see each one of us to reach our full potential. How many of us have reached it today? How many of us ready to give it our 110% and get motivated within our own lives and to motivate those around us for Jesus?

Let me share my last point this morning. And it is that,

III. Wrestling takes Endurance.

A. James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Illustration: THE WRESTLER WHO NEVER GAVE UP. One of my favorite stories is about a scrawny kid from West Texas who attended a small high school. They didn't have a wrestling program, but he read a book on wrestling and asked one of the assistant football coaches if he would enter him in some of the wrestling matches in that region.

The coach agreed to help the kid. This little guy was neither strong nor skillful, but he had one enduring quality--he refused to give up. He won every single wrestling match because he tenaciously held on to his opponents and wore them down.

By the end of the season, he was undefeated and made it to the state finals for his weight classification. The kid's opponent was a two-time state champ and a bona fide college prospect. As the scrawny kid faced the state champion, the guy made a couple of quick moves, and soon had the West Texas kid on his back and about to get pinned.

The coach knew his athlete was about to lose, and he couldn't bear to watch it, so he turned his head away. Suddenly, the coach heard the roar of the crowd and when he turned around, his kid was on top of the state champ, pinning him. He had won the match!

The little guy bounced across the mat and hugged the coach and said, "Coach, I won! I won!"

The coach said, "Sure, son. But I missed it. I turned away just before you were about to lose. What happened?"

The kid said, "Coach, that guy was good. He had me twisted like a pretzel on that mat. But you know me, coach. I NEVER quit. I refused to give up! So I opened my eyes, and there in front of my face was a big toe. I don't even know if it's against the rules or not, but I bit into that big toe with all my strength...and coach, it's amazing what you can do when you bite your OWN toe!"

1. That is a picture of endurance - the ability to hang on when it would have been easier to let go. Many people are blessed with certain attributes, but endurance jumps to the forefront for success in any endeavor. Endurance is the key that keeps us from giving up and letting go.

2. Endurance "the power of going on in spite of difficulties "Keep on keeping on." "Hang in there." "Don't quit." Its synonyms are determination, perseverance, tenacity, plodding, stamina, and backbone. When endurance is used in the Bible it means "to abide under," "to bear up courageously," and "to tarry or wait."

Conclusion: Are you close to quitting? Please don't do it. Are you tired of trying to live for Christ? Hang in there.

Do you feel like giving up on the Christian life? Roll up your sleeves and get back in there. Can't resist temptation? Accept God's forgiveness and keep on living rightly.

Do you feel that sorrow and disappointment greet your every morning? Hold on. Help is just around the corner. Remember you are not a failure until you give up. You are not pinned until you quit.

So don't quit. Never give up. Keep going. Hold on. God's rewards await us in the distant future not near the beginning; and we don't know how many steps it will take to reach the prize. No breaks or time outs exist; we must work every day of our life. It has been said, "Life is like reading a book. It begins to make sense when we near the end." Endurance maintains the stamina needed to see the end and embrace the prize. So wrestle another round, rise another time, and, above all, like that scrawny kid from west Texas, don't let go.

And always remember this in Life: “Tough Matches are Temporary, but Tough Wrestlers are forever” Friends, life is tough, being a Christian is tough, but being a Christian and enduring it all will give you an everlasting life forever in Heaven.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Proof of God? You

Think about this...


Look up at the Sky at night. What do you see? Stars. Billions of Stars. Each of those Stars are Suns. Around all those Suns are Planets. Look at our Planet. It has been here for a very long time. Here we are, on one little corner, of one little Planet, in the vastness of the Universe. In all the time the Earth has been here, and in all that vastness of Space and Time, there is only, and has only been, and will only be, one YOU. That makes you the most important Person in the Universe.

Now think about this. Before you were, your Mom and Dad were. They were born. They grew up. They experienced all the good, bad, and ugly, that they did, and became the people they are. Then one day, they happened to be at the very precise time and place, at the same time and place, to meet. Of all the time and places, and all the billions of people, those two, came together at just the right time.

No matter what was happening in the Universe, or even on this little Planet, these two people came together. For a very specific time, they became one. Through all the time and biology, there was that perfect time for your Mother to Conceive. Through all the time and Biology, and all the risks of, and possibilities of, Pregnancy, you were Born into the World. Look in the Mirror. You are you. You have a certain Eye Color. Hair Color, Freckles or not. You are Male, Female, Tall, Short, Whatever makes you, you. You are a work of Art. You are Perfect.

Look at a Painting. It is Beautiful. Have you ever met the Artist? Did you ever look at a Painting and doubt that there was a Painter? Look at a Picasso and say, there is no Picasso. No. Of course not. The Painting itself is evidence that there was a Painter. Just like any other Work of Art, YOU are evidence that there was a Creator. You are Proof, there is a God.

Genesis 1:
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
We are created in the Imagine of God. Our Mind, Intelligence, Will, and Emotions, after God the Father. Our Bodies, this Fleshly Shell that enables us to walked around and interact with this Physical Realm, after Jesus, the Word that became Flesh {John 1:14} The Flesh of God for the remission of our Sins {Romans 8:3} And our Spirit, the real us, that will live on after the Flesh dies, after the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1, John 14, Romans 8} Three completely different beings, yet one.

When we fell from Grace, God said this..
 "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:"{Genesis 3: 22}
We are made in the imagine of God, God gave us the ability to think like Him. Because of our disobedience, He could not longer come and meet with us Face to Face. But we are still His Imagine. We are still His Masterpiece.

The Psalmist wrote this..
 "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!" {Psalm 139: 13-17}
Just think about these statements. "Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb." God knows who you are. The type of person you will become, and what you will do in Life itself, before your Mom even knows she is Pregnant with you. Romans 8 Declares
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." {Romans 8: 29-30}
God foreknows who you are. He sets up a Plan and a Purpose for your life. Then He calls you to accept it or not. If you say yes, He prepares you. If you endure to the end, He will Glorify you along with Jesus Himself.

Because of this process,,"Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." He forms you in a very specific way for a very specific reason. You were formed exactly the way God wrote you will be, in His Book.

Picture God sitting down at a blank Canvas. He says to Himself, this is going to be entitled "Peter." I will make him this tall. I will make his Eyes brown. Hair? Brown. I will give him a large build. Perhaps a happy little Birthmark over here. I will make him Strong Willed. He will be able to do this and that. He will be the one I call to....." then he puts His Brush to the Paint, and then to the Canvas. From a blank Canvas, I come into existence.

Jesus tells us..
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." {Matthew 10: 29-30}
And again,,,
"Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows! " {Luke 12:7}
Not one Sparrow falls to the ground, translate, die, without God's Will that it does so. We are more valuable to God than many Sparrows. So much so He took the time to number our very Hairs on our Head. Which means?? Not one Hair will be lost without God's Will that it does so. God most likely numbered the Hairs, as He was placing them on your Head.

Some people love to believe, and would like you to believe as well, that we are all here by accident. That there was nothing, then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, without God of course, something just happened to be. They can't tell you what. But it was not God. No. Definitively not. Just because they cannot tell you what it was, they will argue til their death, God had nothing to do with it. Pretty silly I know.

But then they want you to believe, that following this mysterious first "something," ALL things, Plants Animals, Hot Blooded, Cold Blooded, Fish, Birds, Mosquitoes, People, and everything else, formed. Just cause. Then they look at self as simple Biology and say no big deal.

You can believe in that if you choose. However, I chose to believe in the more Logical possibility. That first something IS God. He formed all things. He Created me. Whenever one of these people tell me I'm a fool to believe in God, I tell them, they are a fool to believe that something came from NOTHING and all things were formed from that by nothing more than chance or happenstance. When they ask me for Proof that God exists, I tell them, Look in the Mirror.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2 Corinthians 13}

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Everyone Lives by Faith, Dr. Joe McKeever

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And, “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11).

Some fellow writing in to our local paper thought he was slamming Christians when he said, “Religious people do everything by faith; science deals with hard facts.”

Give them credit. When I wrote a response to that slanderous statement, the editors ran my letter.

The simple fact is everyone on the planet lives by faith.

LIFE Is A Faith Thing, For Everyone.

We wake up in the morning without a thought as to whether the air in the room will be breathable and the oxygen in the air will be sufficient for everyone on the planet. Without a conscious effort and no hesitation or doubt, we inhale and begin to stir and head to the bathroom, where we turn on the faucet. We have never been to the water filtration plant and have no knowledge of all the steps unseen people there take to purify the water, making it safe for us to bathe in and even to drink. We use it by faith.

We open the pantry and refrigerator and take out foods for breakfast. The strawberries are from California, the blueberries from Chile, and the milk from a dairy in another state. The cereal was produced in Battle Creek, Michigan, and the coffee originated in South America. Will you be poisoned today? It has happened, you know. You were not alongside the inspectors of those berries or the FDA people overseeing those plants or the agricultural people checking out the coffee beans at the port. However, you give this no thought and open the newspaper and eat your cereal. By faith.

You live by faith.

On The Highways, You Live By Faith.

You will pass hundreds of automobiles today, many of them at high rates of speed and going in opposite directions from you only a few feet away. Anything could happen, and has happened. A driver could fall asleep, be distracted, be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suddenly have a seizure of some kind. His car would then veer out of control and do great damage. And yet, you give this no thought as you merge into interstate traffic.

You drive by faith.

Even with excellent drivers, something could happen to one of the cars, and has happened. A tire could blow, an engine could shut down or brakes could fail. Suddenly, bedlam erupts on the interstate and bad things happen. And yet, you scarcely give this possibility a thought. You are a person of incredible faith.

Faith in what? You have faith in thousands of drivers you have never seen and do not know, as well as faith in their vehicles and in the system that is supposed to keep them in good repair.

You Have Faith In The Medical System.

You go to a doctor whom you have never met who diagnoses a problem you've never heard of. They give you a prescription you cannot read, which you take to a pharmacy where you never see the druggist. Later, you open the dispenser and take out a pill you do not recognize and, following the directions on the label, you open wide and swallow.

You have incredible faith, my friend. Admirable faith.

When your doctor prescribes tests, you obediently submit to the battery of procedures in some unfamiliar building where strange machines probe your body and invade your orifices. Later, when the doctor produces odd-looking printouts and describes some foreign-sounding condition you've never heard of, you agree to go into the hospital for surgery. People you do not know and have never met will take you to the edge of death, do life-threatening things to the inside of your body and (hopefully) bring you back again.

Tell me you don’t live by faith! What a joke.

Everyone Who Goes Into A Restaurant Lives By Faith.

Where did your food originate? Did the handlers in the kitchen observe safe practices? Do they wash their hands? Did anyone cough on your food or even—perish the thought—spit in it? Did another diner reject the plate you are now being served? Did that steak fall on the floor in the kitchen and they merely picked it up again and replaced it on the plate? You have no way of knowing.

When was the last time the health department inspected this restaurant? What grade did they receive? Have they done anything about their cockroach problem? Are the floors and counter tops clean?

No one—well, not one person in a thousand—checks out these things. We live by faith.

Well, we could go on like this all day.

Schools: We do not check out each teacher of our children or monitor everything that goes on in the classroom or the playground. We take a major chance when we allow strangers to teach our children. It’s called faith.

Churches: Your kids are traveling with the youth minister to that distant event. Is he trustworthy? Will everyone be kept safe? Is the church van road-worthy? Is the driver attentive? Are the pastors and the teachers of your church people of integrity? You have faith that they are.

Police: We give incredible respect and liberty to law enforcers to come and go in our communities. What if they are not honest and not moral? They could do great damage, and this has been known to happen. And yet, we sleep securely at night in the faith that they are doing the job they were trained and assigned to do.

Modern transportation: Trains, ships and airplanes have pilots and engineers, controllers and mechanics. Every trip we make, we put faith in a host of people whom we will never meet without the slightest idea whether the faith is well-grounded or not. And almost daily, we hear of accidents caused by an inattentive engineer, a distracted pilot or a drunk captain.

Everyone Lives By Faith. Everyone On The Planet.

There are questions, however, that should be asked and issues that need clarifying...

1. We live by faith, but faith in whom?

2. Is our faith well-founded or are we giving blind confidence to someone or something?

3. Why do we do a thousand things by faith in people we do not know, then look suspiciously at Scriptures which call on us to place our faith (our confidence) in a holy and loving God?

4. Where did the idea originate that scientists deal only with cold hard facts? Pardon me while I laugh at the idea. No one on the planet lives with nothing but cold hard facts, least of all researchers who are forever carrying out experiments in search of something or other.

5. The question is not “Will I live by faith?” but “faith in whom?”

6. No one has earned our faith and trust like the Lord Jesus Christ. We can trust the One who died for us. And we can trust what He says after heaven and hell, the devil and the Heavenly Father, life and death because of His credentials.

It was to this issue Jesus was speaking when He said to Nicodemus,No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from Heaven, even the Son of Man(John 3:13).

Recently, a skeptical man said to me, “You ask us to take everything by faith. Show me someone who has come back from the dead to tell us and I’ll believe.” I said, “Where have you been, friend? Jesus came back from the dead.”

He did not accept that, which was not surprising. He simply had made up his mind not to believe; therefore no amount of evidence was acceptable to him.

As our Lord said in His story of the rich man and Lazarus,If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31). (Note: The term “Moses and the Prophets” refers to the Old Testament scriptures.)

7. The Lord does not require great faith from us. He said, If you had faith as a mustard seed, you could do miracles (see Luke 17:6).

Those who trot out that lame excuse that “I don’t do anything by faith” should open their eyes and use their brains. They do a thousand things a day by faith. So this excuse holds no water.

People disbelieve in Jesus Christ because they have made up their minds not to believe. And they do that because to admit that He is Lord would require wholesale lifestyle changes, and that’s what they are unwilling to do.

Truth matters less to them than their own pleasures.

And that is the cold, hard fact of the matter.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry at JoeMcKeever.com.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

You Are Obligated, But Not Responsible

You have an obligation to tell the Truth. You are not responsible for acceptance.


As a Child of God, we often times get discouraged. Especially if we tell someone we love, this is the Truth according to God, that you accept Jesus's Sacrifice for you, or you can in no other way, enter into Heaven. We tell them Jesus said...

John 3:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
We tell them that Jesus said..

John 10:
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
We tell them there is no other way. As Jesus also said.. 
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. " {John 14:6}
They say, "I do not believe in God." Or "I do not believe that you have to accept Jesus to get to Heaven." Or "Religion is for Idiots." Something to this effect. Have you failed? Have you not communicated properly? Are you responsible for the fact that they will now die, not accepting Christ, and forever be cast out? You think about this. Someone you care about, someone you love, and you have the Key to give them, so that they may enter into Heaven, and yet, they are on their way to Hell. Have you failed to Save them?

The simple answer is NO. You have fulfilled your Obligation. You are now free and clear. You have told them the Truth. You are not responsible for their decision to accept or not.
"When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul." {Ezekiel 33: 8-9}
It is your responsibility to tell people the Truth. It is your responsibility to live as God commanded us to live. John wrote this warning us not to think of ourselves as higher or more Holy than anyone else. It is our responsibility to keep ourselves in check, and to spread the Truth. He wrote this..

1 John 1:
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
The Truth is simple. Believe and accept Jesus, and live. Or do not, and die. This is the Message. The Truth. This is what we are obligated to tell people. "he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Not that God is going to condemn you. You are condemned already. Not that God is looking to Punish you. But rather God is looking to Save you.

Jesus never told us to go out, get in peoples faces, and thump them on the head with the Bible. He never told us we should go out and FORCE people to believe. He told us this..
"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." {Matthew 10: 14-15}
Why? Because before someone hears the Truth, they know no better. They have an excuse for living the way they do. Yet, AFTER they hear the Truth, then they are without excuse.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"{Romans 1: 18-20}
"I didn't know" is far different than "I didn't believe." If I was going through a strange town, and I get pulled over and told that the Speed limit in that Town is 35. If there are no signs, and no way of me knowing, "I didn't know." may find me some compassion and Grace. However, If the first thing I see when I enter is the Sign saying 35. Someone who lives there tells me it's 35. I get pulled over, I say "I didn't believe it, nor do I accept it." Guess what? I'm guilty beyond any excuse.

I understand your compassion and your desire to free those you love from the Laws of Sin and Death. God has blessed me, with now, three beautiful Children. Joshua who is not going to be Nine years old, accepting Jesus into his heart at age 7. Without conversation or prompting, he stood up and walked up to the Altar, and asked to be, and was, Baptized. Elijah is 3, and Maya is just 15 days old, at this time. When the time comes, it will be their choice.

Let's say that one or both, chose to live a life of Sin. Do I love them? Yes. Of course. Would I do whatever it takes to Save them from the Laws of Sin and Death? Of course. Let's say one or both are living in a way that causes me to have to lay down my life for them. I do so. I have paid the ultimate price. If they choose to go back to the same life, I can no longer help them.

Jesus loved us so that He came and died for us. He can do no more. He paid the ultimate price. If we choose not to accept that, there is no longer anything He can do for us. He already paid the ultimate price. Death. He cannot, nor will He, come and do it again. It is final. It is settled. It is now up to us to accept it or not. It is up to all of us, individually, to do so or not.

Our responsibility is to be Sowers of the Seed. Tellers of Truth. Share freely what we received freely. The Way. The Truth. The Life. That is our responsibly. That is our obligation. Acceptance of this Truth and Reality. It is everyone's own responsibility to accept it or not. We are not responsible for their choices or actions.

Remember what Jesus told the Disciple that asked to join Him?
"And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead." {Matthew 8: 21-22} 
And again 
"Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." {Luke 9: 60-62}
Was Jesus saying this to be mean? No. He was telling His Disciples the Truth. Not everyone will accept the Truth and Live. Even those we love the most. So, we need to rather focus on those that DO want to hear the Truth, and those that God will lead us to. Tell them the Truth, and what they choose to do with it, is their choice. You are free and clear. You have met your obligation.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2 Corinthians 13}

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hearing God, Bible

Know the Truth, or you will fall for the Lie


Last time we talked about the fact that the reason God no longer has to speak to us in an Audible Sense, or send us Angels daily, or give us Dreams and Visions constantly. How we learn how to hear the Spirit. Where the advice from our fellow Brothers and Sisters come from. The reason for Church itself. How we get to this place of Inner Peace? The answer to every question ever asked is right here. {Holding up the Bible} The Word of God.

The Reason for this is simple..
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."{2 Timothy 3: 16-17}
Also,,,,
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."{Hebrews 4: 12}
This is why when we first accept Jesus, when we first hear the Gospel and accept the Truth, we fall into the danger of becoming those that Jesus spoke of when explaining the parable of the Sower of the Seed..
"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."{Luke 8: 13-14}
Without building a solid Foundation, without reading The Word, we can soon forget, or become confused by others, and fall away. To come to that place of Truly knowing God, you must know His Word. You must allow the Spirit to Teach you, and bring things to you remembrance, that Jesus told us. If you do not know the Truth, you can and most likely will, fall for the Lie. Remember, the enemy knows The Word. He will attempt to use it against you. You must know it yourself.

Did you know that The Word declares ???
"There is no God. " 
Yup. It does. Actually, it says it twice. First in Psalms 14:1, then again in Psalms 53:1. As a matter of fact, these two Psalms are almost identical with minor differences. Most agree that they were both written by David, however, at different times addressing different issues such as referring to the first and second Temples. Regardless of the reason it was repeated, there it is. Twice.
"There is no God. "
So if you do not know the rest of the verse, someone could persuade you that, if you are to take the Bible Literally, you will have to accept the fact, that God's own "Word" declares He doesn't exist. However, if you do know the whole verse, then you can quote the WHOLE passage..
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."{Psalms 14: 1}
Big difference is it not? "There is no God" and "The fool hath said in his heart," meaning that if you say the same, you "are corrupt, and have done abominable works, there is none {Including you} that doeth good." If you are not aware of the meaning behind the words, you may be able to be tricked into believing the words that you are given out of Context.

Remember, the Devil himself used The Word when tempting Jesus..
"For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." {Luke 4: 10-11}
The Devil was quoting Psalms 91. Does it say that? Yup. How did Jesus respond? He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16
"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."{Luke 4: 12}
You see, it does not really matter what Man says about anything. You should never take anything, including from me, as absolute Gospel. You need to take time to recharge. Time to fill up. Time to read what will never pass away. Not just Read it. But fill yourself with it.

In Matthew 24:35, Luke 21:33, Mark 13:31, it is recorded that Jesus said this.
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." 
It is only by God's own Words that you can fully grow in Truth and Righteousness. There is no other way. In one of His recorded Prayers, Jesus said this.
 "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me." {John 17:8}
Peter even wrote this.
"But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." {1 Peter 1:25} 
As declared in Hebrews 13:8-9
 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."
It is only by The Word, and spending time with God, allowing the Holy Spirit to commune with your Spirit, that you may build a solid foundation for yourself. The Word gives you Peace. The Word answers all your questions. The Word gives you Hope.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." {Romans 15: 4}
But I can't do that. It's just too hard to memorize the Bible. It's just too tough. Truth is, when you become a Child of God, you now have the same Spirit that raised Christ Himself from the dead. You have no reason to fear ANYTHING. Get into The Word. Eat it. Digest it. If you can sing favorite Songs, or quote scenes from your favorite Movie, you can learn and understand The Word.

As a side note, also be careful of the version you are using. Some are good. Others? Some are changing all the Characters in the Bible to be Black. Not true. Some are removing all Masculine Titles for God. Not true. Some are even attempting to leave out the Resurrection. Always remember this simple Truth. Jesus said..
"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." {Matthew 5: 18}
So be careful what you are reading. It may not even truly be The Word of God. God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, His Word, The Truth, is simply a constant. They are never changing. What was Sin then, is Sin now, and in some cases, will kill you quicker at that.

Good and evil never "Evolve." They do not change with the times. They do not care about Political Correctness. They do not care if you become offended. They are what they are. I really get annoyed when someone tells me, "Get with the times Man. It's 2014." And your point? "No one sees this or that as "Sin." or wrong anymore. If you do, then YOU are the one with the problem. You are this or that Phobe. Or you are an old fashioned fuddy duddy" Something to this effect.

Nope. What God called Sin then, is still Sin. He doesn't change His mind and go with the times. It was not God who "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." It was Man..

Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Just because we have declared things OK. Or even deemed them a Human "Right" or whatever, doesn't mean that they are all of a sudden Right. Just because WE have changed Good to Sin and Sin to Good, does mean that it is so. Unless you KNOW the Word, you may accept things as they are, instead of knowing the Truth, they are Sin. Against God. Against Nature. You may fall for what sounds Compassionate and Right, without knowing, what you are being told, is Sin and Wrong.

Also understand this, The Word of God, The Bible, is absolute. It is not filled with Contradictions. There is not one. There is misunderstandings on our part. Misinterpretations on our part. Purposeful twisting and ignorance on our part. Not God's. If you go into the Bible, with the Spirit to understand, you will receive Eyes to See, Ears to Hear, and a Heart to understand. God can and WILL speak to you CLEARLY in His Word. This is why it is so important to make time to do so.

All the things we have talked about are wonderful and great. Would you like to be sitting in your Living Room and hear a Thunderous Voice call out from Heaven your Name? Would you like a Angel to appear from nowhere and tell you God sent Him? Would you love to have Dreams and Visions? Of course. You most likely would. Perhaps more for the experience itself, then they actual reason for the contact. But God IS waiting to talk to you. Never forget nor forsake your direct communication with God. Prayer? Yup. And this {Holding up the Bible} His Word.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2 Corinthians 13}

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hearing God, Sense of Knowing

Through a simple sense of knowing. {Think Inner Peace.}


We all "know" Right from Wrong. We all know that we should not Steal. We should not Murder. We know that Lying is bad. Even those of us that do not believe in God, Jesus, or The Bible, still understand that Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong.

Most "know" there is a God. Some "know" Jesus came and died for our Sins. Many "know" The Bible. However, this is NOT what we will be discussing today. What we will be discussing is "knowing" in a Biblical Sense.

You see, The Devil knows God. He was there in the beginning of Man.

Genesis 3:
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
He was there in the beginning. Then we learn that Satan can come and go, seeing God Face to Face..
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them."{Job 1: 6}
And again,,
"Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."{Job 2: 1-2}
Satan knows God. He knows the Bible. After all, he was there when it was written. He can quote it Verse for Verse.
"If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."{Matthew 4: 6}
Notice Jesus did not say, "You are wrong, this is not what it says." No. It IS what it says. He spoke it correctly. However, he twisted the meaning of it. Same way he did with Eve. Jesus simply responded in kind. They were having a Biblical Debate.

What did Jesus mean when He spoke, perhaps, at least to me, the scariest words in the Bible?
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."{Matthew 7:22-23}
How could He say to people that profess Him as Lord, Prophesied, Cast out devils, and did many wonderful Works, all in the name of Jesus, " I never knew you?" Because they did not have a Biblical sense of knowing.

So what is that? Some of you heard that old saying, "I knew her in a Biblical sense." Many are aware that is code words for sex.Where did that come from? Many contribute this Phrase with the Story of Adam and Eve.
“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain.” {Genesis 4:1}
So knowing someone in a Biblical Sense is to have sex with them? No. It is to know them intimately. Sex yes? With Married People is not only as gift, but an obligation, which is a whole other topic. But it's not just sex. It is as Jesus quoted...
"For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."{Matthew 19: 5-6}
One flesh. Meaning we know each other as good as, or even better than ourselves. I would not take my Wife to a Jewelry Store, and ask her "Do you like this Ring? This Necklace? This Bracelet?" Why? She doesn't really care about Jewelry. I do not buy her Flowers on a regular bases. Don't be jealous. Why? She doesn't really care about Flowers. Why? She thinks is a waste of money to spend on cut Flowers, that no matter how beautiful they may be, will simply die in a matter of days.

I do not have to asked her what she likes to eat. I do not have to ask her her favorite color. I do not have to ask her what her mood is. I simply KNOW. I know when she is happy, sad, angry, or depressed. I feel it. Why, because we are one. We are closer than anyone else can be to either of us.

Now people know me. They know her. They may try to do something nice for us, or get us something they "think" we might like. Maybe they hit the mark. Maybe they do not. I cut my Neighbor's Grass once and He bought me a Twelve Pack of Beer. Some of which was in my Fridge for something like Six Months. Why? I do not drink all that much. He thought he was doing something nice for me, and he was, the thought and all that, but he thought incorrectly, because he does not really know me.

Why do you think The Word, talks so much about Marriage in reference to God, and The Church. Or Jesus and the Church. When John was talking about Jesus, he said this..

John 3:
28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
We are told..
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"{Ephesians 5: 25}
Again,,
"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ."{2 Corinthians 11: 2}
This is not talking about sex. This is talking about an intimate, one on one knowledge, and Relationship, with God Himself. Not having to think about it. Not guessing. Simply KNOWING who and what God is. Knowing what He likes and dislikes. Understanding His way of doing things. Just knowing Him. Do we know God the Father and His Son Jesus? The Holy Spirit? Not simply, do we hold Orthodox ideas of them? But personally, from the heart, in a relationship sense, do we know Them?

Once you get to that place, that relationship, you inevitably come to a place of Inner Peace. A place where you do not have to think about it. A place where you do not have to wonder. You simply KNOW. You no longer have to guess, "What would Jesus do?" You no longer have to wonder, "What would God say about this of that?" You will simply know.

The best way to get to this point, is what we will talk about next time, right here. {Holding up the Bible} The reason God no longer has to speak to us in an Audible Sense, or send us Angels daily, or give us Dreams and Visions constantly. How we learn how to hear the Spirit. Where the advice from our fellow Brothers and Sisters come from. The reason for Church itself. How we get to this place of Inner Peace? {Holding up the Bible again} The Word of God.

When we first accept Jesus, when we first hear the Gospel and accept the Truth, we fall into the danger of becoming those that Jesus spoke of when explaining the parable of the Sower of the Seed..
"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."{Luke 8: 13-14}
Without building a solid Foundation, without reading The Word, we can soon forget, or be confused by others, and fall away. To come to that place of Truly knowing God, you must know His Word. You must allow the Spirit to Teach you, and bring things to you remembrance, that Jesus told us. If you do not know the Truth, you can and most likely will, fall for the lie. Remember, the enemy knows The Word. He will attempt to use it against you. You must know it yourself.

Once you reach that place of quiet. Of Inner Peace. Of understanding. You then will have a simple sense of knowing. Testing the Spirits is so much easier, when you know who the Spirits are. Make sense? Knowing how to hear God is a whole lot easier, when you know His Nature. Make sense? Knowing that the enemy is real, and how he operates, makes it a whole lot easier to defeat him. Make sense?

Instead of waiting to hear God Thunder out your name, or send and Angel to slap you upside your head, or send you Dreams and Visions, why not try to understand who God is first? Get to know Him. Get to know Jesus. Get to know who the Holy Spirit actually is. You will find the Inner Peace you are looking for. Then you will be able to claim this.
"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." {Isaiah 30: 21}
You will simply know, or be assured that if you do not know, you have the Right to ask God, for the right direction. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2 Corinthians 13}

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hearing God, Through Advice and Counsel

Through the Advice and Counsel of your fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Why should we go to Church?
"Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." {Proverbs 11: 14}
We are not in this alone. We have a Family. They are our Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ. In the Family of God.
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." {Proverbs 12: 15}
We can help each other and strengthen each other. Protect and Teach. Celebrate with, and Morn with. Your Strengths maybe my Weaknesses. My Strengths may be your Weaknesses.
"Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand."{Proverbs 19: 20-21}
I know things you do not. Sorry, not bragging here, just stating a fact. You know things I do not. You have Gifts that I do not have. I have Gifts you do not have. Paul explained it this way..

1 Corinthians 12:
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
That is why it is so vitally important that you Pray about, and go to, The Church that God Leads you to. He does have a Plan and Purpose for you. He wants to Adopt you into His Family. That means, you all of a sudden have Brothers and Sisters, Mothers and Fathers, not to mention THE Father, that love you and are now there for you.

Look what Jesus said when they came to Him saying "Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee."
"And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it."{Luke 8: 20-21}
Jesus wants us to come together. He even told us this..
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."{Matthew 18:20}
Then Jesus tells us that the Church should be involved in nearly every aspect of our lives. Remember when He was telling Peter to forgive, He told him, and all of us, that if need be, we should bring our problems to the Church.

Matthew 18:15-17
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Just like your earthly Family, in God's family you have Babies. Those that just heard the Truth and have allowed the Truth to set them free. They know next to nothing, and are in need of being fed, taught, ETC. You have teenagers. Those that are more knowledgeable, not yet ready to go out on their own. They can certainly help in the raising of the young.

Then you have the Moms and Dads. Those that have grew up, put away childish things, and are in a position to Teach, Encourage, Love, and Guide in the way both the Teenagers and Children should go. These are the Elders of the Church.

Of course, you have the earthly Father, who is the head of the Church. The Pastor. The one that should be guiding the rest of the Family. The one that is responsible for communicating whatsoever the Spirit, Jesus, or God himself tells him.

I have faults. No doubt about it. I have a temper. No question about it. At times, I find it difficult to suffer fools. Others in the Church have far more compassion than I. Others in the Church have far more patients than I. Others in the Church have different Gifts than I. I different than them. My weaknesses are their strengths. Just like in your earthly Family, we can lean on each other and strengthen each other. Learn from each other. Teach each other.
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."{Galatians 6: 1-2}
Some say that once you become a Child of God, you receive the Spirit of God, and since "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." {1 John 4:4 } And since it is the Holy Spirit that will "teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." {John 14:26} We no longer have a need for Church. This is simply not true.

Hebrews 10:
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

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.
Think about this, if you forsake the coming together with like minded and with fellow Children of God, who are you coming together with? You become the company you keep. Do you want people in your life that suck the life out of you? Do you want people in your life that are negative influences? Or would you rather have people in your life that will lift you up. Strengthen you. Keep you safe?

When we forsake the coming together, and there are SO many reasons to miss Church. I've use most of them myself. Because we are a little tired, our Child has Team Practice, or there is a TV show we just can't miss. Or we walked outside and Sneezed. Think about this. When we do this, are we saying that God comes absolutely first in our lives? Seriously. Think about that. Would we skip Work on a regular basis for the same reasons? Do you think your Boss would be as understanding? When we fail to to come together on Sundays or Wednesdays for reasons like these, we are saying to God, and those all around us, those that watch us, that God is not the Number One Priority in our lives.

Also, think about this. When we forsake coming together, we are saying to our Bothers and Sisters in Christ that we don't love them like the Bible says we should. One of the purposes of coming together as Children of God, like the Family we are, is to Edify, Encourage, and Support one another. We cannot give the support, or receive it, if we are not present.

Then for you Parents out there. Keep this in mind as well. When we forsake coming together, we are saying to our children that Worshiping God is not that important. Parents have the Spiritual responsibility of "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." {Proverbs 22:6} Trust me, they learn FAR more watch what you do, than listening to what you say.

All throughout the Word, Kings seek Counsel and Advice from those they know are more in touch with God than they. Advice and Counsel are used to strengthen everyone from Kings to Paupers, from Children of God, to Heathens. However, there are two very different types of Advice and Counsel. That of which comes from God, and that of which, don't. Make sure that you understand the difference.

Next time we will be talking about Hearing God through a simple Sense of Knowing. {Think inner peace.} God can, and often does, use Advice and Counsel to talk to His Children. However, you must first become a Child of God to understand it. Are you? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2 Corinthians 13}