Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Worship God with Body, Soul, and Spirit- Part 1

Worship is such an important aspect of making a spiritual connection with God. It is through our worship that we can experience His prescence in our lives, thus it is important that we learn how to truly worship with all of our being - body, soul and spirit.

Spirit Worship

Spirit worship forms the basis of all kinds of worship. In John 4:24 we read, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." True spirit worship involves the intellect as well as our level of understanding and faith. When we read or hear something, it first goes to our intellect where we become aware of the knowledge that is being passed on to us. The second step is understanding, where we interpret that knowledge based upon our level of understanding, and the third step is faith, where we choose to either believe or disbelieve. In spirit worship, God prepares our intellect where we can receive the written or oral word. He then sharpens our understanding so that we can get meaning from what is being read or said. He then gives us faith to discern truth or non-truth, and to believe or reject what is being said or read, based upon faith, as our faith is inspired by what we read or hear.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God
(Romans 10:13-17).

I tell you, many of us falter at spirit worship because we allow ourselves to become distracted while reading or hearing the Word. How many times has your mind wandered off while listening to a sermon or reading a passage of scripture? We allow the distractions of this world to enter in our mind and cause us to drift mentally. When we do allow ourselves to settle down and listen, our level of understanding prevents us from fully appreciating all that is being said, and we might even misinterpret what is being said or read. Based upon our level of understanding, our faith is inspired as we attempt to discern truth, and if we feel what is being said cannot work, or it is not for us, or it is something we do not want, then we reject. If we feel that what is being said or read is possible, and is truth, and that it will work for us, then we accept. This is one of the biggest reasons why so many diverse doctrines and scriptural interpretations abound. All persons claim to have the Holy Spirit, and claim to be interpreting scripture according to the Holy Spirit, and yet we get diverse views. We get diverse views because somewhere down the line in our receipt of truth, there is some weakness in the process. Trust me, the weakness is not the Holy Spirit. The problem really lies with us, based upon our level of understanding, motives, and willingness to open our minds to learn. Many people make the mistake of thinking that if something in scripture does not agree with their preconceived views, then there must be an error in the scripture, and the text is somehow corrupted or tampered with. How far from the truth.! All scripture is not only given by inspiration of God, but all scripture is in total harmony (2 Timothy 3:16). Just because you do not understand a given part of scripture does not mean that there is something wrong with the scripture. It just simply means that you do not understand - that's all! When we humble ourselves before God, and confess to Him that our knowledge is finite and limited, and that our level of understanding is inferior to His, we can be assured that He will open up our minds and understanding so that we can come into His understanding, His knowledge, and His wisdom. He says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Once we allow God to mold our understanding and give us wisdom, we enter into the realm of true spirit worship, where our minds unite with His mind, and we become one with our Creator.

Next post will deal with soul worship.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Spiritual Journey with God Through Fasting

We have entered in the season of fasting. Last week saw the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan by Moslems. Today at sunset, the Jews will enter into a 24-hour fast for Yom Kippur. Even my church had a special fasting service today to seek God's guidance, in acquiring a building of our own.

Fasting is one of the oldest spiritual exercises of the world, and is quite universal across religions. It is a way for people to connect intimately with God, in a way plain prayer cannot do. When we fast, we put away all worldly desires, even the desire for food, and just focus upon God and His power. People who are uninitiated in fasting often ask, "Don't you get hungry?" The answer is NO! Fasting that is done properly, where the focus is totally on God, does not produce hunger. That is the major difference between fasting and a hunger strike. In a hunger strike, people do feel hungry, but they ignore their hunger for some greater good. In a fast, one might have fleeting moments of hunger, but that feeling soon dissipates when one re-focuses one's mind back on God.

In our American culture, there is an inbuilt fear of fasting. We are so afraid of feeling hungry, that we conjure up in our imaginations that bad things will happen to our bodies if we fast. This is so far from the truth. As a matter of fact, it is the constant consumption of food that tends more towards disease and weakness than anything else. Constantly eating and not allowing the body to rest overburdens the digestive system and weakens it. The body becomes filled with waste matter from too much eating, and if the waste matter is allowed to remain in the system, it can become toxic to the system. Fasting allows the body's digestive system to rest, and allows the body to clean itself of the build-up of waste matter. While your body is being healed in this manner, your mind is also being healed as your focus is shifted from the earthly to the heavenly.

Fasting that is combined with meditation is most effective in accomplishing healing and spiritual wellness. When you meditate, you reflect upon God's goodness, and in those quiet times, you can sometimes hear the voice of God speaking to your heart. You can feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and you learn how to be still and listen to the wisdom that is from above. It then becomes a truly spiritual experience, where heaven meets with earth, where God meets with man, where the Immortal meets with the mortal. You will feel refreshed, revived, and invigorated, and ready to face the challenges of the day.

Let us therefore learn how to make fasting not just a ritual we do, but a spiritual exercise and experience where we can draw closer to God.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Week of Miracles

This has been a week of miracles. They now have vaccines for the H1N1 'swine flu' virus, and they have also discovered a potiential vaccine against HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS. These new developments however should not let us drop our guard and think everything is okay. We still have a long way to go to find actual cures for both of these diseases. Outbreaks of swine flu continues to rise, and there seem to be no stopping it. HIV-AIDS continue to devastate the world, and there is no cure as well. Following the principles of good Biblical health in both hygiene and sexuality is the only real solution to preventing the spread of these diseases. Even if everyone were vaccinated tomorrow against HIV-AIDS and H1N1, I am certain that new diseases will spring up to take their place. Let us then continue to practice good hygiene and healthy habits, so that we do not fall victim to disease.

Devotional of the Week September 27-October 3

Ezekiel 34:11-16

11For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
12As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
13And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
14I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.
15I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.
16I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

Are you going through some difficult times right now? God will take care of you. He will search you out and come and find you wherever you are. He will heal you of your brokenness, and give you the courage to go on. You just need to trust Him and put your life in His hands.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Devotional of the Week September 20-26

Isaiah 62:1-7

1For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
3Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
4Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
5For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
6I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,
7And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Oh, how God longed to establish the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem as "a praise in the earth" (vs. 7). The current and ongoing Middle East conflicts show that Israel continues to be a controversial place in the world scene. Many are the enemies of Israel, and lasting peace within that region seems hopeless. A time will come however when Israel will find lasting peace, and all nations will exalt the city of Jerusalem. When will this peace occur? According to the above passage, it will occur when the land becomes "married" (vs. 4).

A spiritual wedding is going to take place, where God is going to marry off the spiritual bride to His Son. We are all invited to the marriage of the Lamb, and the wedding supper of the Lamb. At this wedding, Christ will marry His bride, the Church, in the New Jerusalem which is coming down from heaven, from God.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Seasons of Time

Click on image for full view

The Biblical year, based on the Hebrew calendar is drawing to a close. On September 18, 2009 Jews around the world will say goodbye to this Biblical year, and welcome in the New Year, based upon the Hebrew calendar. The significance of this to Christians is that Time, as measured in the Bible, is based upon the Hebrew calendar, and not the Gregorian calendar, which came to us from Rome.

I am certainly excited about welcoming in the new Biblical year as well, because the Biblical year forms the basis of the seven-year Biblical economic cycle. Last year I spent many nights watching for the crescent moon in order to welcome in the new seven year cycle on October 1, 2008. The official date set by the Jews on their calendar by calculation was September 29, 2009 but the new moon did not actually appear until October 1. Ironically, it was that same night that the Senate passed the $700 billion bail out bill! I used that information to predict a delayed economic recovery for the year 2009, and I was right! In addition, I also predicted at least seven years of prosperity. Only time will tell if my predictions will all come through ( I am putting myself out on a limb here).

The Bible frequently tells us to observe the signs in the sky and heavens for information. This is not astrology my friends. This is God making an imprint upon the affairs of the world through the use of the celestial bodies He had created. God gave us the sun, moon, and stars to " serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years" (Genesis 1:14). In addition, the signs in the sky also tell us what God is doing in the universe. Jesus tells us to watch the signs of the sun, moon and stars in order to know what is going on in the world, and to know when His coming is near.

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25-28, NIV).

Ancient man had always used the signs in the heavens as portents or omens of things to come. Halley's comet, the Star of Bethlehem, and so on. This is probably a lost art these days, but nonetheless a valuable one. Let us therefore learn to look up at the heavens for hope and redemption, instead of looking down here on earth at our troubles.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Theology of Sex

Mokgadi Caster Semenya (born 7 January 1991) is a South African middle-distance runner and world champion.[1][2] Semenya won gold in the 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics with a time of 1:55.45 in the final.
Following Semenya's victory at the 2009 World Championships, questions about her eligibility to compete as a woman in athletics events were raised.[2][3][4][5]

(Excerpt and photo taken from

Some of you have probably heard about the controversy surrounding Caster Semenya, the young South African runner who won gold at the 2009 World Championship game. The controversy surrounding her stems from the fact that her physical features are more male-like than female, and she has been accused of being a man, pretending to be a woman, in order to win the race. Authorities subjected her to gender testing, and today results determined that she has 3x more testosterone than an average female. How could this be? Apparently, her body makes more testosterone than the average female, and causes her to develop a male-like physical appearance. She is classifed in that little known gender category of intersex.

The topic of intersexuality is a very complex one, but intersex people can range from hermaphodites (people having both male and female organs) to chromosomal abnormalities, hormonal abnormalities and gender ambiguity. I have provided a link where this topic can be read about.

One of the reasons why I brought this topic up is to show how each one of us has both genders within us, but how those gender characteristics get separated, and determine whether we are male or female. Human gender can all be traced back to the garden of Eden. In the beginning it says that God made mankind into His image, both male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). Genesis 2 details how mankind was created:

7And 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...

18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him...

21And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Based on the above account, it would seem that the female sex is derived from the male. In verse 23 we see Adam declaring that Eve was taken out of the male. The Hebrew word translated man in verses 23 and 24 is the word iysh, which means male. In verses 7, 18,22, and 25 the word translated man is the Hebrew word adam, which means mankind, which is also the name of the first man! From this we can then conclude that the male was created with both male and female characteristics, from which God separated into male and female with the creation of Eve. Adam got the major male characteristics and Eve got the major female characteristics. As a matter of fact, medical science bears this out. Both male and female each have male and female hormones. Men have estrogen (a female hormone) and women have testosterone (a male hormone). The quantity of estrogen in men is low compared to women, and the quantity of testosterone in women is low when compared to men. Any upset in hormonal levels can have dramatic results. Men with high estrogen levels may appear more feminine, and women with high testosterone levels may appear more male-like. The changes however are not just hormonal, but also influences the development of the gonads as well. This can cause the development of both sex organs in one person, called hermaphroditism. Chromosomal anomalies such as reverse sex can come into play as well, as our sex chromosomes determines our gender. Here is another good article about the human sex genome
It will be interesting to see what the test results of gender testing will yield for Semenya, and how it will affect her ability to participate in sports in the future. We all need to remember that we all have male-female inside of us, and that our sex is determined by that which is most dominant in us. Let us continue to pray for her, and hope that a solution will be reached that is fair, and does not cause her any embarrassment and psychological distress.

Devotional of the Week September 13-19

Psalm 32:1-5

1Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
4For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
5I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Are Created in God's Image

In my last post I wrote about self-love and that we love ourselves because God loves us, and that we are valuable in His sight. We are valuable in His sight because we were created to reflect His image - His love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, patience, meekness, and temperance (Ephesians 5:22-23). In Genesis 1:26 we read:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (
Genesis 1:26-27).

Both male and female are created in God's image. The man reflects God's image, and the woman reflects God's image. We should feel good knowing that God has called us to reflect His image. The tendency these days is for us to belittle ourselves as human beings, as something just a little better than the animals. Sometimes our behavior belies our humanity, and sometimes we behave worse than animals. No, no no. God has called us to an elevated position, and He has sent His Son to restore us to that position.

Psalm 8:4-6

4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.

God has made us" a little lower than the angels" in heaven (Psalm 8:4). We have an exalted position within God's created world and we are crowned with "glory and honor" (vs. 5). We need to recognize that we are created in God's image, and we need to truly live a life that honors God as our Creator and the Creator of the world, and value that. We are made in His image.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Self-Love as A Spiritual Act of Worship

What a busy week this has been in the news! This week we saw the comeback of Whitney Houston and the burial of Michael Jackson (finally!). Both are tragic figures, with both being victims to drugs and bad marriages. I pray that Whitney will finally get her act together and redeem what is left of her life, because it is too late for Michael now. For too long they have both suffered from the ravishes of a life poorly lived, but there is still hope, at least for Whitney.

Why is it that the rich and famous sometimes fall victim to poor lifestyle choices? As we can see, poor lifestyle choices are no respecter of persons and not because one is rich means that one will escape the consequences of such choices. What is it, however, that causes people in general to make poor lifestyle choices? Is it just stupidity or hard-headedness? Or is it more than that? My assessment is that people make poor lifestyle choices because of lack of self-love.

The topic of self-love is a controversial one in Christian circles. When you talk about self-love in Christian circles, people become uneasy as they usually equate self-love with selfishness, and selfishness is a sin. One of the scripture passages used to 'prove' that self-love is a sin is found in Mark 8:34,35:

"And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. "

The call of God is one of self-denial but not one of self-hate. In denying self, one might forgo certain pleasures for the good of others or for the kingdom of God. One may even sacrifice his or her own life for some greater good. This is different from self-hate. Self-hate is a product of low self-worth, and belittling one's value as a human being. Self-hate says, "I am worthless and not deserving of anything good." Self-love says, "I have behaved unworthily and fallen short of God's standard for me, but by God's grace I can attain to all that's good." You see the difference? The self-hating person already has a negative self-image, and even if they are offered redemption, they refuse it because they think it is for someone else, not them. Have you not met people whom you try to show them a better way to live but they refuse thinking it is impossible for them to rise above their circumstances? They give in to their circumstances and try to decrease their hurt by turning to some type of escapist activity such as drugs, alcohol, food, or pornography. They never really address their problems. They hope somehow that their problem will go away if they ignore or medicate it. After a while, they become dependent on the very thing which they had turned to in order to escape their problems, and then those things become a problem themselves - and so that person develops new problems such as drug addiction, alcoholism, food addictions or aversions, sexual dysfunction, and so on, on top of their other problems.

True and Biblical self-love appreciates the fact that our bodies are God's temple. (1 Corinthians 6:19). As a temple of God we have true value in God's sight, and therefore we are called to walk "worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1). We understand that God is to be glorified in our bodies, as our bodies were bought by the life of God's Son. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthian 6:20). Our spiritual act of worship therefore is to present our bodies as a "living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). Do you hear that? Giving our bodies over to the control of God is the reasonable service expected of Christians. We are no longer our own, but are now dear children of God, who have now merited eternal rewards and blessings, through the grace of God.

God has placed a value upon you. If He did not value you, He would not have sent His Son to die for your sins. We in turn need to value our lives, especially now that we have been redeemed, and honor God in our bodies, soul, and spirit. We love ourselves and who we are as people, because God first loved us.

So will self-love cause us to be selfish? The answer is no! Healthy self-love recognizes our worth as human beings, and is based upon the love of God for the human race. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). If we realize that Jesus died to redeem sinful mankind and not just a special few, then we will develop love for others, as we recognize their value in God's sight. Therefore, we live by the golden rule which is to treat others the way in which we would like to be treated, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (James 2:8; Leviticus19:18; Matthew 22:39; Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31). If we really understand what loving ourselves means, then we will understand what it is to love others. John puts it nicely in his epistle, "Beloved, if God so loved us [me and you], we ought also to love one another[each other]" (1 John 4:11, words in square brackets supplied). Our love for self and others is therefore based upon the fact that God loves us.

Devotional of the Week September 6-12

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord

Have you ever noticed and wondered why there are not more famous people practicing the Christian faith? It would seem logical that people who are especially gifted and talented, and who have been blessed financially in all the good things on earth, would be the first to give their lives in honor and service to God, but this however is far from being the case. As a general rule, people who are highly gifted tend not to make a public show of faith, and even if they are believers, concerns about their public image usually take center stage.

God is wise in not letting the rich and famous dominate in the spread of His gospel. People have a tendency to worship celebrities, and having famous people promote the gospel would prove to be a source of distraction from the gospel. God instead chooses humble people of low worldly esteem to promote His gospel. Such people are more concerned about bringing honor and glory to God than to themselves. Yes, some of us get famous by virtue of giving glory to God as our life work, but the glory we get is not of the selfish kind where self is elevated above God, but the glory we receive is given to us by God Himself.