As stated in part one, the things of the Spirit require the Holy Spirit to understand them. While our initial encounter may start in the intellect, it must shift into the heart where true belief begins. Granted, in the scientific and scholastic communities most of the work involved is purely intellectual; however, the things of the Spirit requires the intellect that is beyond human capabilities. The Holy Spirit is able to translate and fuse together the things of the spirit with our intellect, thus making it possible for us to understand these things. Therefore, grasping the things of God begins by inviting the Holy Spirit to teach us spiritual matters. After all, the Holy Spirit is The Teacher, and if you will, the Teacher of teachers. Jesus makes this very clear in chapters fourteen through sixteen in the book of John.
Another requirement alluded to in part one was desire. That is to say, in order to grasp the things of God we have to be willing to know and receive them. For some, the trouble with understanding spiritual matters calls for a change in their thinking and lifestyle. This is called repentance, and frankly, the reason some do not grasp the things of God is that they do not want to repent. They like the status quo regardless of the consequences. Similarly, people like things in neat little packages, which means that truth can really mess with their theology. Understanding Godly principles requires a willingness to let go of false reasoning, also known as “strongholds” (see 2Corinthians 10:3-5). Please keep in mind that we are accountable by God for what we know; however, we must realize that we may also be accountable for what we do not know. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee . . .” (Hosea 4:6, KJV). It is one thing to be ignorant, but it is entirely different to be willingly ignorant. The former may be a defense, while the latter may have dire consequences.
A very helpful thing to grasping the things of God is studying the Bible for ourselves, as the Holy Spirit leads. While the Lord has given us teachers, it is always good to study what we are taught by others. Never take anyone’s word for it, no matter how well respected he may be. We need to be as the Bereans were in the days of the Apostle Paul: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11, KJV). They did not study to disprove Paul, which genders to unbelief, nor did they try to prove him correct. They simply sought the truth, and received it. The more we seek and receive the truth, the more we will be given.
Worshipping God and loving God are similar in that neither one can be excessively premeditated. And we love and worship best when we do not claim to have the Object of our admiration all figured out.
To love Christ is to delight in the genuine reality of His greatness. He is who He is, purely, unassumingly, all the time. If we try to imagine Him as someone other than who He is, then we are neither loving nor worshipping Him truly. Therefore we worship Him not because He meets our expectations, but because He exceeds them marvelously.
Christ is who He is not for our amusement but for our pure childlike acceptance and unassuming enjoyment. He doesn’t reveal Himself so we might compare Him with others and then maybe approve if we feel like it. He already has His approval from the Father and is therefore perfectly content to dwell with the Father just as He is. Christ has already accomplished perfect fullness and perfect sufficiency. His Divinity is unshakable.
God warns us repeatedly not to liken Him to any part of His creation, nor to allow our understanding of Him to resemble that of the Godless masses. Therefore, we mix up our priorities when we undermine our reverence for God in order to “meet lost people where they’re at” or to be “seeker friendly.” While this may be well-intentioned, it oftentimes betrays our calling to set our sights on heaven.
If we start to think like the world in order to quantify the Lord to the world, then we are only misleading ourselves and the world. I’m not talking about conceited elitism. I am talking about a firm respect for God's holiness.
It only kindles God's anger when we try to put pieces of His creation together into some man-made things so we can call this thing “God.” This is the opposite of worship and it has the opposite effect of worship.
If any of us have tasted the fullness of Christ's Divinity, then we are also blessed with the inability to settle for any imitation. There is no way, and indeed we do not want any way, to get around the holiness (the set-apartness) of God.
This is an excerpt from To the Church of the West, Scattered Throughout the World. Find this book and similar articles at www.BooksByPatrick.com
Author Resource:- Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ.
During the colonial period in America’s history the Puritan influence brought condemnation to those who participated in “lascivious” behaviors such as dancing, gambling, card playing (the devil’s “picture books”) and other leisure activities. Participating in sport on the Sabbath could earn one a public whipping in the town square. Life in puritan New England was a shadow of John Calvin’s autocratic system of governing in the French speaking Swiss city of Geneva, where “devilish pastimes” such as hawking and hunting were strictly forbidden and the standard of “purity of conduct” was not to be sullied by participating in frivolous fairs and raucous ribaldry.
How things have changed over the centuries. Sport has found a central place in our culture. One thinker said American sport is “too close to the religious to call it anything else.” Several years ago my son and I attended the Georgia/Georgia Tech game in Athens, Georgia. We made our way to the stadium in bumper to bumper traffic. The entire city was draped in red and black. The smell of southern barbeque wafted through the parking lot as thousands gathered to celebrate their favorite team. We climbed the ramps that led into the 7th largest NCAA stadium and joined 92,000 others who all shared a commonality: an undying loyalty to the team wearing red and black represented by a snow white, wrinkled, old looking bull dog named UGA.
It was more than just a few hours of Saturday afternoon fun. It was an obsession. It seemed as if those thousands there were more than just loyal, they seemed worshipful. I commented to my son, “This is almost like a cult. There is almost an attitude of worship here." What was happening in Athens that Saturday was happening all across America in a multitude of cities.
Having coached high school football, basketball and baseball through most of my adult life, I recognize the value of sport in the development of the character. Sport had great value in our family as it kept my sons busy and out of trouble. Athletes learn much about loyalty, team work, perseverance, unity and the benefit of investing hours of hard work. But as a Christian and guardian over the souls of youth I question where to draw the line with sport. Can it become too all-consuming? At what point does sport begin to diminish in its value as it becomes our idol? How does it affect a ten year old son who observes a father who is far more loyalty to Sanford Stadium than his church or has far more love for the Bulldogs than for the Savior?
We call ourselves fans. The word ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’ which was introduced into the English language in the mid 16th century. It means “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion”. It is derived from the Latin word, ‘fanaticus’ which means “insanely but divinely inspired.” You might say that a fan is someone who has a near supernatural devotion to a certain team or player.
Is sport a religion? It certainly felt like a religion to me that day in Athens. Please notice the similarities between sport and religion:
Denominations. Religion, especially protestant religion is divided up into denominations. Each denomination has a certain code of behavior expected of its members. Denominational disciple requires members be removed if they participate in gross violations. That code is written out in a manual available to all.
Sport is divided up into teams. There is a certain code of behavior expected of team members and also fans. Team members who violate the code will be removed from the team and fans are expected to avoid the “fair weather” title by demonstrating intense loyalty whether the team wins or loses.
Rituals. We demonstrate our religion by participating in certain rituals. The Jewish boy enters manhood at Bar Mitzvah and by age 13 he is responsible for his actions. Christians submit to baptism to demonstrate their devotion to Christ and they partake in communion to remind themselves of his sacrifice.
There are certain rituals celebrated in sport. The winners of the NCAA tournament cut down the nets. The hockey player who completes the hat trick is showered with the hats of fans thrown onto the ice. Football players who score a touchdown or baseball players who hit a homerun often raise their finger skyward in appreciation of their God given talent.
Community. Christians are proud to be Presbyterians, Baptists or Methodists. Many will gather every weekend to celebrate their common bonds. They are bound together by their beliefs and creeds. The church parking lot is full of cars with fish symbol magnets and tags that indicate what might happen to the driver were the rapture to occur.
Sports fans come together to celebrate their commonalities. They congregate together in the Hawk’s Nest, the Dog Pound or the Bear’s Den. They tailgate together before the game and they pin stickers and tags on their automobiles to express their loyalties.
Attributes. We believe God to be a supernatural being, transcendent beyond mere humanity. He is all wise, all powerful and present everywhere all at once.
Certain athletes take on an almost supernatural aura. Their power and speed seems suprahuman . They appear to be omnipresent on the field of play, always showing up in the right place at the right time.
Relics. Christians treasure the cross. Jews treasure the star of David. The church steeple is symbolic of America's devotion to God.
Sports fans also have their symbols. They wave their terrible towels, they flash their super bowl rings and they plant kisses on their trophies.
Journey. The Muslims call it The Haji. Every Muslim is expected to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in their lifetime. Many Christians have a bucket list wish to visit the Holy Land.
Sports fans trek to the Hall of Fame. Baseball teams embark on a 162 game journey in hopes of reaching the Promised Land. Last years losers can find redemption by winning. College basketball teams plod along the Road to the Final Four.
Restoration. Religions all teach some sort of restoration. The sinner can become righteous, the lost can be found. The central theme of the message of Christianity is restoration. Jim Baker, Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart shocked their followers by falling from grace only to seek restoration.
Sports fans struggle with the idea that their sports idols are not divine. Pete Rose never made it to the Promised Land (Baseball Hall of Fame) because of his gambling sin. Many believe O.J. Simpson was never convicted of murder because a jury could not perceive of their sports god committing such an atrocity. Barry Bonds cheated, Warren Moon slapped his wife and a multitude of fans are praying for the restoration of the god of golf, Tiger Woods.
The similarities are intriguing but at the most crucial point they break down. Sport doesn't have a true Redeemer. It provides a temporary escape from the unpleasant things that torment us in our lives but the true Savior offers a real and permanent deliverance from the tortures of sin. Many fans are oblivious to the fact that their devotion and enthusiasm for sport is a cheap substitute for a more meaningful commitment and loyalty to a true Savior.
The Christian knows real redemption. He understands that human achievement can win him no grace. The real Savior, the Divine God promises to show us the way to life everlasting. The victory experienced by the Christian is permanent and cannot be snatched away by any opponent. The Christian worships God because of who he is, not because of what he has done.
This is actually a balance message, but since it is about relationships instead of following biblical teaching, I will not include it in the balance series.
The point I want to make is; often it’s the offended party’s own actions and reactions that cause the behavior that they hate in the other party.
Sometimes our or the other party’s behavior can be changed merely by our determining to change. Often it will take the co-operation of both parties working together to decrease the number of times the hateful behavior occurs.
Very seldom do both parties work together with the same amount of sincerity to solve the problem.
The one with the unacceptable behavior or attitude may try and try to change, but without the help and co-operation of the party who triggers the behavior, they cannot change. Sooner or later they give up and become indifferent to the other party’s protesting and pain. Each of them can only pray and hope that some outside force will intervene and change the situation or the heart of the other party.
The one who is suffering the brunt of the unacceptable behavior may try and try to get the offender to stop it, but they most often do not care to learn what they are doing that may have triggered the unacceptable behavior and they are not trying to work with the offender to make the situation better.
It is natural to just blame the offending party. And often the instigator does not even know they are instigating. Many, when they read this, will not want to find out that they have triggered the hateful behavior. They are used to blaming the one with the unacceptable behavior. They won’t want to learn that they need to change anything. But if they want a much better relationship, they are going to have to read on.
Otherwise, separation or divorce will eventually become the only answer. That is not God’s answer. That is the only answer for those who do not love one another enough to get to the root of the problem and work together to root it out or at least mow it down.
Here’s where the balance comes in. Often one of the parties blame their self for all the turmoil in the home or relationship. This is erroneous. As I have pointed out almost always it took both parties to incite the problem.
Then there is the other extreme where the offended party puts all the blame on the offender never admitting or realizing that they have incited a weakness in the other that has caused the eruption.
Those are the two tendencies:
Those who think they must be to blame, though they are trying hard not to offend. This group go around feeling guilty for the breach, but in many cases, they have no clue what they are doing wrong or how to stop irritating the other party.
And then there are those who know they have tried to get the other party to function acceptably and it hasn’t work so they are ready to cross them off as losers and move on, blaming the failure all on the dysfunctional party.
For the relationship to work, both must recognize their part in the turmoil and both must work together to resolve the issue.
Working together does not mean one party pampers the other. It means they search for the cause of the irritation and deal with it.
For example: One party may be crying to their self and maybe everyone else, that they are always under suspicion by the other party. Knowing that jealousy is a carnal thing that God disapproves of it, they naturally think the other party should repent and “knock it off”.
In truth, the party under suspicion keeps doing little things that make the other party wonder “what’s up” behind their back. The first party may subtly flirt with the opposite sex. Or maybe they have sneaky ways about them. Or perhaps they spend a lot of unaccounted for time away from the other party. Things like that trigger suspicion in those who are prone to it. Especially if the relationship is missing some key elements.
How could this be resolved?
The one under suspicion will have to understand that these behaviors are triggering the suspicion of the other party and they need to work together on a way to dissolve the suspicion. For instance the offended party could work on being more open about their private life--could fill in the gaps for the suspicious one.
Or it it’s flirting, they will need to resolve to break the habit or endure the suspicion. If it was sneaky ways, when the party finds that their behavior is stirring up the other party, they could work on being more open and explain their reasoning to the other party.
If they are under suspicion because they have a lot of sneaky ways about them and the other party knows it, they will have to face their own fault and learn to be open and honest.
Meanwhile the suspicious party must work on giving the other one the benefit of the doubt and on being self-controlled and tolerant.
Needless to say, all of this works best with God at the helm.
This article is not meant to excuse the overly suspicious party or the jealous party, or the easily offended party, or the impulsive spender party or the absent too much party. They must understand that they have a problem that must be dealt with. And they must realize that their problem has caused problems in the relationships.
On the other hand, I think it could save relationships if people could understand that usually the innocent party--the so called victim is not always totally innocent. Their behavior may well be triggering the offender’s behavior.
I know of a case where the husband would go on a spending binge and it would freak the wife out. But when the case was looked into, it turned out that the wife was doing her own thing and neglecting the husband. He would take feeling neglected and unappreciated for so long and then turn his attention to things he wanted. He felt that he worked hard and deserved to enjoy something and he needed something to spice up his life. He would go out and use a credit card.
When the wife found out about it, she hit the roof and saw it to be all his fault that they were going under. Had they had a wise counselor, he or she would have seen the connection and helped them compromise. She needed her space, but she needed to budget her time so that she could give her husband quality time and attention. Thus he would be much more empowered to keep his desire for things under control. Instead they separated, then got divorced. The wife continued to blame the failure of their marriage on the husband, until she became an alcoholic. So you see the cause and effect here.
But there is one other thing to address. There are cases where there is nothing to do but suffer or end the relationship. That is in cases where one party refuses to work with the other party or in cases where the relationship was always one sided and there is no way to change it.
© Sylvia Huffnagle
True love is the key and many in the world are crying out for true love. Many do not even know what it means.
I had been in this place and no one, not one could tell me the answer to my questions.
You may be in this place right now, wandering the highways and byways looking for the purest form of love to be found.
You may already know and met face to face with LOVE in its purest form and heard many words and received healing and wholeness in yourself.
Then the one looking is looking for you my friend, brother, sister and disciple. Their words to you may be filled with venom, hate, bitterness and brokenness but this love will fill your mouth with words to speak to those in these places.
These words will cut right through everything in their hearts and bring gladness and joy to their souls for they will know they are hearing words of life and healing.
For if you walk in me my word says, Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.
When I walked upon this earth I went to those I was called to speak out the good news, signs and wonders followed me wherever I went because I did my Fathers will.
My question to you my children is will you do the same? Will you walk in the same places and go where I went when I call you to do so for my love is the key to set the broken, hurt and lost free.
You will challenged and stretched beyond who you are until you learn it is me and not you who will do all these things.
As you learn and follow my ways sign and wonders shall follow you in those places where I sent you to go.
My love is the key to all men’s hearts just as it was to yours.
My love in you says you will overlook their failings and understands their feelings because you have been in the same place.
When they weep my love in you will weep with them and they will see and hear that my love is true in you and this will set them free.
For those who do not know me or no one has come to you in my name, if you call to me, Jesus of Nazareth, I will come to you right where you are in this moment of time.
I will lay my hands gently upon you and speak my words of truth into you and fill you with me and only then shall you truly know that the Key to freedom is the love of the Father, Son and God Almighty.
For those in me as you walk upon this earth my love will be your guide. It will guide you in all circumstances and places that I take you to and all people that I place before you.
Walk in my love and let it fill you and you shall know me as others before knew me and walked in those places I walked so others could be set free.