God's Word

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Screenshot_003Yufuin is our favorite getaway spot! The natural hot spring spas, delicious food, quaint shops, and one special kind of coffee bean (that can only be purchased in this little getaway town) all helped us to experience the word “relaxation.” One or two nights did not seem enough to feel really relaxed, so we spent three and even then felt that wasn’t enough.

One evening, we were walking back to our hotel on a narrow street lined with all kinds of interesting shops and spotted this young family. “What an awesome picture,” I thought. Balanced in the middle with their little daughter, this young father and mother were a perfect picture of God’s plan for every Adam and Eve. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”

Families  a social unit consisting of parents and the children that they rear. Families are God’s idea. We were all born into one. It was not God’s intent to leave kids to look after and provide for themselves, but gave them a father, and a mother to guide them into their futures.

Because of the messed-up ways of the world in which we live, there are many children whose parents have forsaken them. We may not know why parents forsake their children, but they have refused to become the father, or mother God intended them to be. Husbands and wives are made parents in order to bring their children to maturity, to educate and nourish them. God creates children in His own image, but gives the responsibility of “rearing” them to the parent father-mother team.

The world system today is robbing parents of something more valuable than job position and wealth. It is robbing them of time, “family time.” It took God a set period of time to create the little girl in this picture in her mother’s womb. When He finished, He handed the baton to her father and mother by saying, “Train up (this) child in the way he/she should go: and when he/she is old, he/she will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 It takes a set period of time to create a family, too. 

Parents’ love for each other, the time they spend together, and the fruit of that love and time (our children), are what link families together. 

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife . . . 

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church — a love marked by giving, not getting.

Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, ‘so you will live well and have a long life.’ Eph. 5:22, 25 and 6:1-2 Eugene Peterson’s The Message.

As I look again, and again, at this photo, I realize that there are children all over the world walking a street at sunset, wandering alone, with no direction, no guidance — and no hand to grasp! 

This weekend would be a great time to go for an evening walk with the WHOLE family! While you’re walking, why not talk to them about God?

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He said unto them, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” And they said unto him, “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” —Acts  of the Apostles 19:2, KJV

He aks um, “You wen get God’s Spesho Spirit fo take charge you wen you wen trus God, o wat?” Dey say, “We neva even hear bout God’s Spesho Spirit befo dis.” —Jesus Guys Wat Dey Wen Do 19:2, Da Jesus Book

New Christians, and old ones alike, have many questions about the Holy Spirit. It seems  it is expected that people who attend what we call pentecostal, full-gospel, evangelical, and even non-denominational churches should already know about the Holy Spirit. This is not so. Many of these churches do not even instruct their people about the baptism or gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The basic thing most denominational people fear about the “pentecostals” is the thing about speaking in tongues. For some reason they have taken the experience of speaking in tongues and equated to something demonic or evil; they may teach that it was something the early church of over two thousand years ago experienced, but it’s not for today.

The Word of God says very clearly, “Jesus Christ (anointed with the Holy Spirit in His fulness is) the SAME yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines.” Hebrews 13:8-9 The Holy Spirit of two thousand years ago is the very SAME Holy Spirit today, in His fulness of baptism, gifts and operations.

Da Jesus Book says it this way: “Cuz, Jesus Christ, he stay da same, yesterday, today, an foeva! Get all kine diffren kine stuff dat peopo teach, you know. No let dat kine stuff pull you guys away, an no take um in!”

Now back to the “tongues” thing. When one is receives what is referred to as “the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” the first, initial, beginning, opening, commencing, starting, inceptive, primary, preliminary, foundational SIGN or EVIDENCE that he has received is that of speaking in tongues. These words that describe “first” show very clearly that there are other signs that will accompany, follow the one who is filled with the Holy Spirit. However, the first sign of being baptized in the Holy Ghost is speaking in tongues. This “first sign” is recorded in three places in the Book of Acts. Read Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-46; Acts 19:1-6. So, in the mouths of two or three the Word of God is established.

After the “first” sign of speaking in tongues, the one who is filled with the Holy Spirit will ALSO experience other signs (indicators).

Fruit of the Holy Spirit will begin showing up in the person’s daily life. Galatians 5:23. There are nine listed: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Nine. This is the number God has assigned to the Holy Spirit. It is an eternal number.

9 times 9 equals 81, right? The answer 81, 8+1 = 9

99 times 9 equals 891. The answer 891, 9 in the middle and an 8+1 on each end = 9

891 minus 81 equals 810. The answer 810, 8+1 = 9

891 times 9 equals 8019. The answer 8019, 9 on one end with an 8+1 = two 9s

8019 times 81 equals 649539. The answer 649539, 6+3, 4+5, plus two 9s = four 9s

Now, take a pencil and paper and try multiplying 99999 times 99999 and see what 9 combinations you get. Try 9,999,800,001 — that’s 9 billion, nine hundred ninety-nine million, eight hundred thousand and one. We see four 9s, an 8 and a 1. The 8 and 1 equals a 9.

Fascinating, isn’t it? No matter if adding, subtracting, dividing, or multiplying, the number nine continues forever.

Holiness becomes a desire from deep within the Holy Ghost-filled believer. The old ways begin passing away, and a greater desire to be holy like God begins taking over. 1 Peter 1:15-16

–A non-brash boldness and confidence fills the entire being of a Holy Ghost-filled believer. One is not afraid to talk about their new experience in God anymore. Acts 4:29-31. Plus . . .

–A desire to pray and commune with God more than ever before comes alive. Daily two-way conversing with God through the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:24-33

Did you know that the Holy Spirit cannot speak in tongues? He is a Spirit, and He needs the vocal instruments (the mouth and tongue) of the believer in order to speak the wonderful works of God. Look at Acts 2:4 where it says, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

To find the subject of this sentence, we must ask WHO began to speak? The only answer is THEY began to speak. It was not the Holy Spirit! It was He who gave them the words to speak as they opened their mouths and spoke willingly. The words bypassed their minds and they could not understand what they were saying. Why did the words bypass their understanding? Because God Himself was speaking to the thousands gathered there that day through these tongues-talkers the wonderful things about His Son who had died, was buried, rose again and was now being made known to those gathered there that day. 

The 120 who were filled with the Holy Ghost that day did not know the languages of all the foreigners gathered there that day. But God did! So, He miraculously spoke to all of them in their own languages. God gets the credit, not the 120. This was a miracle of the first degree.

Screenshot_002For those of you who have not experienced the wonderful initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, hey, a first-degree miracle of God is on the very tip of your tongue right now!

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit will take the you through the “eye of the needle” into the vastness and glory of the unending, inexhaustible and exciting love of God.

We have our needles of church tradition, customs and culture. We have denominational barriers that keep us from true fellowship with God and one another. On this side of the eye of the needle we find it dark, and, oh, so narrow that there is no space to move among ourselves (and God) in true fellowship. On this side of the needle it is very narrow because WE stand in the way. There is no space to let God show His glory in the church, perhaps because “we never did it that way before.” Those are the seven last words of any dying church, you know.

But, when we humble ourselves and pass through the eye of the needle, we lay aside the traditions and denominational rules that have been put on us to keep us from knowing God more intimately. On the other side of the eye of the needle we find the roomy, extensive, spacious and open places of God. We find freedom, liberty, no obstacles or hinderances. We find room to move in any direction the Holy Spirit leads us. It is as though we have been “translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of LIght, the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.”

Indeed, the other side of the needle is a kingdom made real only by the Holy Spirit.

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Continuing a thought from our previous post, Psalm 46:10 says, Be still, and know that I am God. The Japanese translation for the word “be still” here is “yameyo.” It is the command form of speech to STOP.

Let’s ask a question: What is one of the things YOU feel most every day? Is it not that you feel tired?

Tiredness is rampant in Japan. There are TV ads for drinks that give instant and renewed energy. The expression “O tsukare sama desu” has become a national way of greeting by praising and thanking an individual for their undying initiative to work. No matter how tired one might be, he feels obligated to keep on going, and going because of being praised and thanked for his determination to work. We live in a society that will not allow us to stop! We live in a FAST FORWARD society. We need to learn how to PAUSE.

Remember the Coca Cola commercial from years ago that said, “the PAUSE that REFRESHES.” If we don’t pause and be still, how then can we know God anymore intimately?

One of the main causes of tiredness is worry and stress. Worry and stress affect our breathing, appetite, physical strength and even blood pressure. Yes, it constricts our blood vessels and stops the normal flow of oxygen to our entire body, causing it to become tired. Tired bodies NEED more oxygen.

Japanese Pastor Yoko Izumi told me years ago when he was asked by a Kita Kyushu City mental hospital to come and counsel patients, that he noticed something peculiar about some of the more severe patients. He noticed they would not breathe through their noses. Instead they were breathing through their open mouths. Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Izumi-sensei thought this breathing pattern was unnatural. Their mouths and lips were dried out, causing some of them to cough. He immediately began teaching them to breath through their noses, just as God had ordained in the beginning and noticed a change begin to take place.

If you happen to swallow something and it goes “down the wrong pipe,” do not gasp for air through your mouth. This will only cause you more stress and panic. Try breathing through your nose and you know, you’ll sense the gasping, fear and stress of the situation naturally begin to dissipate. This is God’s ordained way of breathing. Slowly inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

Let’s look at the Japanese “kanji” for “breath.”

息The top half of this character expresses the concept of “my own.” The bottom half shows a “heart.” Thus the character the ancient Chinese used to express “breath” was the concept of God breathing His very own heart into the nostrils of man, and as a result “man became a living soul.” Breath, or oxygen is the very life God — and it makes our ticker tick. (God) “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things . . . For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:25, 28.

Let’s consider here for a moment God’s presence as His breath. Luke 1:19 says, “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” This word “presence” is pronounced eno-pion (ἐνώπιον) in Greek and simply means the place that is before you, the FACE. When God knelt down and breathed into Adam His breath, His very own heart, it was a face-to-face encounter. God made husbands-wives, brothers-sisters, aunts-uncles, cousins, friends — all of us human beings to look at each other when communicating.

More than anything I want in this life of living as a Christian, I would not want money, possessions or even new friends. What I want most of all is the presence of God. However, I must take time to meet God, inhale the presence of the Holy Spirit,  and learn to STOP and LISTEN in order to KNOW Him more intimately.

Let’s consider God’s Holy Spirit as being the oxygen we breathe. He is everywhere and brings life to those who breathe deeply. Breathe in deeply and exhale. Worry, stress and tiredness will be relieved. You’ll become a healthier, happier person, AND your church will become a healthier, happier church.

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Psalm 46:1-3, 10

1 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 

Verse 1 says, “God is our refuge, our strength.” This is very personal. Paul said to the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The verse goes on to say, “A very present help in trouble.” Notice that it is spoken in the PRESENT tense, not past or future tense. God is the God of NOW. Troubles: we all have them from time to time, do we not?

Verses 2 and 3 are descriptive of the kinds of trouble we have:

. . . though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof . . . we will not fear . . . Selah.

Now what in the world could this Hebrew word of exclamation, Selah, mean, anyway? Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines the word thus: rest, silence! 

The Lexicon goes on to say, “Such seems to be the probable import of this musical note, so often found in the Psalms which has been so much discussed and tortured by the conjectures and blunders of interpreters. It seems to have been used to mark a short pause in singing of words of the psalm, so that the singer would be silent, while the instrumental music continued.”

This pause-rest of vocal silence allowing the instruments to continue in what we refer to as the background music, would provide a perfect atmosphere to pause, rest and think deeply, or ponder the words of what has just been sung. Imagine pushing the “pause button” of our busy lives, resting a tad bit and ponder the Word God has spoken here. It would certainly calm us down. God is in control.

Let’s read Psalm 46:1-3 once again.

1 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

No one knows what may happen tomorrow! Good and bad things will certainly happen. If good things, then we all rejoice. But what if something bad happens? How should we respond? One thing for sure is that we should not create a campsite and build a fire around that BAD thing that happened. When God created Adam He gave him two feet wisely designed to move FORWARD, not backward. It’s unwise to build a campsite around bad experiences. We should ask God to help us put out the fire, pick ourselves up, gather our thoughts and continue moving forward. He will, you know, because His name is Emmanuel. When, and if, bad things happen to us, we should . . .

10 Be still, and know that I am God:

BE STILL — Are you ready for the meaning of this word in the Hebrew? It means to sink, relax, let go, let alone and be quiet. A little difficult to do when something devastatingly bad happens don’t you think? But, nonetheless, the Word tells us to BE STILL.

I remember once when I was home all alone. There wasn’t a soul anywhere to be heard. No sound of wind blowing, no sound of a blaring TV, no sound of a percolating coffee pot, nor any background music. I sat down in the chair, took a deep breath, exhaled and listened to the quiet. It was an awesome experience. Every now and then I do it again . . . STOP and listen to the quiet.

KNOW — This word means to learn to know, that is learning how to know; to find out, to know by or from experience, know as a friend, become skillful in knowing.

We learn from our experiences, both good and bad. So whatever happens today, or even tomorrow, let’s make it a point to learn from the experience. Let’s plan on learning a lesson from our experiences. Notice that He speaks this here as a command, “know that I am God,” not you. No arguing.

I AM GOD — Aren’t you glad you’re not God? We should be, yet there are countless people who would give anything to be God for a day. Remember Bruce Almighty? He thought it would be fun, but soon found out that he wasn’t created to be God. He learned from his experiences of trying to be the Almighty that it was God’s purpose and plan for him to simply put his trust in God.

The Bible teaches that we should trust in the LORD with everything we’ve got, and not try to figure things out ourselves. If we just give Him the credit and chance, He’ll straighten things out (Proverbs 3:5-6). We used to say, “Let go and let God.”

Don’t you think He knows how to be God? After all, He made the heavens, earth and all that is in them. Surely He knows how to handle our situations. When we worry and get stressed, it’s a sign we aren’t allowing God into our situation. You know, if we simply “let go and let God,” He’ll worry for us! That would make life a lot, lot easier for sure.

Mark 4:35-39 — Jesus Calms The Storm

beSTILL35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

One day Jesus says, “Hey, guys, let’s pass over to the other side.” So, they all got in the boat and headed on over. Jesus had a plan, He had a reason for heading to the other side. The gang was all excited to head on over and be a part of the plan. I mean, hey, this was Jesus heading up the party! He knew how to heal the sick and cast out demons, walk on water and what not, and, yes, they wanted to be a part of it all.

A great, violent, mighty, strong storm arose and the boat began rocking. Has your boat ever been rocked when you had everything planned so perfectly? When, and if that happens, always remember that it was Jesus who said, “Let’s pass over to the other side.” He said it with purpose and He had a plan! He was so sure of it that he fell fast asleep to take a rest. The storm didn’t bother Him at all. It was the disciples’ noise and screams that disturbed His sleep, not the storm. He stood up and took the control that the disciples had lost because of fear, unbelief and lack of trust in their Captain’s Word, “Let’s pass over to the other side.”

We don’t know what we may today or tomorrow. One thing we can know for sure is that God is in control. Through this experience the disciples relaxed, let go of the fear and came to know the great I AM.

In closing, let’s take a quick look at what Jesus said to the wind and waves of the storm, and apply these principles to whatever may happen to us.

PEACE — hold your tongue, shut your mouth. The original Greek says, “to close the mouth with a muzzle, reduce to silence.”

BE STILL — be quiet, be calm.

The wind ceased, and there was great calm. The Captain and His disciples passed over completely to the other side and experienced perhaps one of the greatest miracles of all Jesus’ ministry.

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A very well know scripture found in Matthew 19:24 KJV  says, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Have you ever thought about what’s on the other side of the eye of a needle? Man, it could be mind-boggling and very adventurous, only if one could get through it.

When a person looks through that “eye of the needle,” it seems impossible to get through. The only place it’s really narrow and impossible-looking is the side from which one peers. On the other side of that “eye” is the realm of eternity. It goes on forever and ever. There are no limitations, boundaries, fences, barriers, railings, blockades, roadblocks, bars or obstructions in that realm. Wow, an eternity of freedom.

The things that keep one from this eternal place are pre-conceived ideas, traditions, cultures, customs and even religions of human beings around the world that oppose and refuse to believe in the Almighty God, Creator of all things in heaven and earth, Creator of human beings, the first of whom were Adam & Eve. That’s why this side of that “eye of a needle” is so narrow.

The other side of that needle is referred to in the above scripture as “the Kingdom of God,” the realm of eternity.

Did you know that God put His very thoughts of eternity in our hearts when He began creating us in our mothers’ wombs? That’s right! It says so right here in Ecclesiastes 3:11—

“He has made everything to suit its time; moreover He has given men a sense of time past the future . . . ” NEB

“He has made everything beautiful in its time; He has also planted eternity in men’s hearts and mind [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun, but only God, can satisfy] . . . ” AMP

No person can say they have not thought about what happens, or where they will go after they die. You see that is when eternity begins. Where we spend eternity is up to us to decide before we die. That decision is what will either get us through the eye into eternity (Heaven), or cause us to remain on the narrow side throughout all eternity (Hell).

The only way to possibly get through the seemingly narrow “eye of the needle” into the Kingdom of God (eternity) is to humble oneself — lay aside all preconceived ideas about Jesus Christ. As mentioned above, many cultures, customs, traditions and even religions around the world are what keep one from getting through the narrow passage. But once those are laid aside long enough to hear a word about Jesus Christ, then it’s as if a special oil is applied to a new way of thinking about the One we so long opposed, and we can slip through that narrow passage into the realm of eternity. 

A word about Jesus Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus, the Christ), that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son (Jesus, the Christ) into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 KJV

Jesus Christ provides us with eternal life on the other side of the “eye of the needle.” On this side of the “eye of the needle” can only be found narrowness, bondage and squinting judgmental eyesight. The Rolling Stones sang a lyric in a famous song typical of this side of the “eye of the needle” —

I can’t get no satisfaction

I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try, and I try, and I try, and I try

I can’t get no

I can’t get no

Thanks be to God for the “thoughts of eternity” He breathed into us when He gave us life. An infusion of a Word about Jesus Christ will enable one to lay down preconceived ideas about God and begin a journey through the “eye of the needle.” Gaining entry is simple: b-e-l-i-e-v-e and r-e-c-e-i-v-e.

The vastness of God and His love waits to be explored. Why wait any longer?

—nils olson