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Posts tagged ‘spirit’

THE PROMISE OF HOPE

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THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH CAN CLEANSE YOUR HEART FROM SIN

The Lord Jesus is ready and able to cleanse your heart from its sin, to conquer these sins by His entrance into it, and to set you free.  Are you ready to become free of the sins that are keeping you in bondage?  There is no better time than now to except the promise of hope that God is offering you.  Now listen up and understand what God is saying to you, “I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot handle them now. However, when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He will not draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I have said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’  (John 16:12-15 MSG)

The Lord gave first the promise, I will cleanse you.  Then he gave the second promise, I will put My Spirit within you.  The Holy Spirit cannot come with power or fill the heart and continue to dwell in it, unless a special and complete cleansing first takes place within it.

The Spirit and sin are engaged in a mortal combat.  The only reason why the Spirit works so feebly in the Church is sin, which is all too little known or dreaded or cast out.  Men do not believe in the power of Christ to cleanse; and, therefore, He cannot do His work of baptizing with the Spirit.

It is from Christ that the Spirit comes and to Christ the Spirit returns again.  It is the heart that gives Christ liberty to exercise dominion in it that will inherit the full blessing.

My Friends, if you have done what has been suggested and believed in Jesus as the Lord that cleanses you, be assured that God will certainly fulfill His Word: “I will cleanse you and put My Spirit within you.”  Cleave to Jesus, who cleanses you.  Let Him be all within you.  God will see to it that you are filled with the Spirit.

Do not be surprised if your heart does not at once feel as you would like it to feel immediately after your act of surrender.  Rest assured that if you present yourself to God as a pure vessel, cleansed by Christ, to be filled with the Spirit, God will take you at your word and say unto you: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).  He will manifest it to you more gloriously than ever before.

Keep in mind the purpose for which the Spirit is given.  God said He would put His Spirit within you and cause you to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments and do them.  The fullness of the Spirit must be sought and received with the direct aim that you will now simply and wholly live to do God’s will and work on the earth.  Yes, you will be able to live like the Lord Jesus and to say with Him: “Lo!  I come…to do thy will” (Hebrews 10:7).

If you cherish this disposition, the fullness of the Spirit may be positively expected.  Be full of courage and yield yourself to walk in God’s statutes and to keep His judgments and do them, and you may trust God to keep His Word that He will cause you to keep and do them.  He, the living God, will work in you.  Even before you are aware how the Spirit is in you, He will enable you to experience the full blessing.

Have you been seeking for a long while without finding the fullness of the Spirit?  Here you have at last the sure method of winning it.  Acknowledge the sinfulness of your condition as a Christian and make renunciation of it once and for all by yielding it up to God.  Acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is ready and able to cleanse your heart from its sin, to conquer these sins by His entrance into it, and to set you free.

Take Him now as your Lord, at once and forever.  Be assured that He will do it.  Permit Him to begin and let Him do it in you now.

Now let me close with this final thought for each one of you who have taken the time to read this entire lesson and the many lessons we teach here daily, “Think globally, and work locally.  Looking beyond ourselves in the real and on line world, to reach out to others who might be in need, for we all are truly our Brothers Keeper, may the grace of God abide in you now and forever, in Jesus name, Amen.

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HOW WE LIVE IN BOTH THE SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL WORLD SIMULTANEOUSLY

"The Blue Marble" is a famous photog...

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How we live in both the Spiritual and Physical World simultaneously

We have become more and more aware that we are part of a spirit world that is present around us.  We also understand that we are more than just this physical presence we have, but that we are composed of a spirit, a soul and a body;  in essence a triune being.

Because we are spirit, we have our existence both here in the physical, but as well, we have our existence based in a spirit world that we have become more acutely aware of.  We are, in essence, energetic beings, existing in both a spiritual and natural world, simultaneously.

Translated in English, what does it mean?  It means that we co-exist in 3 worlds simultaneously, and as we have become more and more conscious of that existence, we are more and more aware of our abiding and our interaction within that realm.

Imagine with me if you will a vast ocean.  Moreover, there you stand, immersed in this vast ocean, at one with it.  You sense it, you feel it, and it flows through you.  This ocean is the world of spirit that you have your existence in.  You are a part of it, and every aspect of this ocean affects you and is a part of you.  We live in this world of spirit, 24/7, but most have no awareness of this reality.  Never the less, this ocean, this world of spirit, is reality, and affects all things.  You may think you are a physical being, but you are more spirit than you have ever realized.

Living in this world is analogous to experiencing on-the-job training. We come here to attain growth as a soul (an individualized aspect of spirit). As a spirit, we are already perfectly one with God. But with every human body and life we experienced on Earth over the millennia, we create a different soul body to be the vehicle for our spirit as it experiences the world in the vehicle of a human body. At the physical level, our body is conscious. At the soul level, our mind is subconscious. At the spirit level, we are super conscious. We are multi-dimensional and exist in three different worlds at the same time. There are many abodes and many dimensions. We are working our way back up “Jacob’s ladder” of success toward the goal of perfected individuality as a soul to go along with our already perfect Wholeness as a spirit. We are evolving into an individualized version of the Whole which is “God” consciousness.

As a human being, we seem like such a small creation in an infinite universe, but this is only an illusion. As individuals, we are the human and soul part of God. We are extensions of thought in the Mind of God (the collective Whole). We are bringing this higher universal consciousness into this tiny world called Earth while at the same time we are developing individual consciousness. We are the Mind of God becoming human. We are the body, mind and spirit of God evolving into a perfect individual-divine unity. We have examples of this human-divine unity in the life of Jesus. The goal in human evolution is for us to attain a human-divine consciousness, which can overcome the limitations of the body, walk on water if we choose, or even live-forever on this planet as a human if we choose to. We are powerful spiritual beings with a oneness of the Whole and the wholeness of the One. On a higher level, we are gods just as Jesus said. This is another way of saying we are “godlings” or “children.” We are growing up to be like our Parents. The core of our being, our spirit, is perfect love and perfect “God consciousness.” We travel this River of Life to bring the “kingdom of God” to this world.

You have all knowledge

Within this realm of spirit exists the presence of God, the Father, and Christ, and a host of innumerable angels and spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12).  As well, within this realm of spirit was all knowledge?

And knowledge – all knowledge – exists almost in a state of fluidity, in the spirit realm.  Available to all, however, few really access it.

Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…2Pe 1:3

When the Lord spoke that, He gave us all things pertaining to life and godliness; there was a hitch, they exist and have their reality in the spirit; and must be appropriated or “drawn down” by Children.  Yes we have all things.  Yes we are rich.  Yes, we have all knowledge.  But it must be taken.  It must be appropriated.  This means, you need to know that it is here, and that you can do this.

Let’s look for a moment at a couple of scriptures…

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26 

 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. 1Jn 2:27 

 None of you really has need for a teacher, for in truth; this knowledge is at your disposal, if you only realized it.

 

The Word says….you have not because you ask amiss, or ask not; ask that your joy may be made full.  (James 4:2) (Jn 16:24)

The problem is we have not known how to ask, and we have not known what to ask.  That is why we wait upon the Lord that is why we travail and are driven to stay in His presence.

And what’s more; knowledge is being released, as we speak, into the spirit realm; knowledge which becomes available for the taking.

“And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.  But as for you,

Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”
Dan 12:3-4 

 Knowledge is increasing.  We are in a heightened time of release.  You could call it an outpouring of His spirit, of His presence, and of His knowledge…..knowledge Of the Lord …. That will literally fill all the earth.

(One side note addendum….when the word speaks of many shall go back and forth…it has been vertically interpreted as an acceleration of travel on the physical plane, indicative of the time we walk – but there is a higher meaning….  It really speaks of an access and flow between dimensions, or if you prefer, through the veil.  This is what is unfolding, this is really what Daniel 12 refers to).

As the words of spirit continue to come forth, more and more knowledge is being released and being made available to the sons.  You may find inspiration coming to you, dreams in the night, or impressions, unaware perhaps that their origins are emanating from this release in the spirit of a flow of knowledge to God’s people, because the time is now for all to be in the flow.

David Goines’ NDE:  Humans have a mental and spirit body. Before going through the veil, we chose our own physical body. We must forget these memories because in order to experience a physical life, we must experience the physical things, be physically challenged, make choices of free will, and make mistakes so that we can learn from them in ways that only a physical life could impart.

If we retained all of our prior knowledge, we might not bother to experience the physical life for its fulfillment – we might decide to skip the pain and thus miss the pleasure. We promised God that upon accepting the opportunity, challenges and responsibility of a physical life, we would make the most of this opportunity for ourselves and God, return to God with the knowledge and experience gained so that God will be enhanced by our experience.

The reason we need to experience a separation of our total reality when we took on a physical body is because in order for us to appreciate, benefit, and learn all we can from our physical life, we must re-discover what we knew before – in physical ways.

Through our physical life we must discover how to return to God. By the good that we do to each other here, by the ways we improve our minds, and by the ways that we learn to cope with a physical body and physical life, we earn our right of safe passage back to God; and in doing so we honor God. It is God’s love that sends us on the journey and it is our love for God that will allow us to return to God’s loving arms. (David Goines)

 

HEALTH AND HEALING THROUGH THE POWER OF YOUR MIND (PART 2)

Unlimited Potential of the Human Mind

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WHAT IS THE MIND?

Our mind is a complex instrument that God has created within us to guide us to a higher level of learning and giving us the power to go where no man has ever gone before.  It is a powerful tool, that we will always use, to live and explore the creation of our thought process, and just having the knowledge that it is given to us freely to use at our own free will is an awesome vision.

Therefore, in order to provide you with greater knowledge of how to live a healthier life through our teaching on Health and Healing your physical body using your own mind power, we felt it necessary to give you an explanation of WHAT IS THE MIND.

The Encyclopedia say that the concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent thought.

Attributes of the mind include perceptionreasonimagination, memoryemotionattentionfree-will and a capacity for communication. A rich set of unconscious processes are also included in many modern characterizations of mind.

Theories of mind and its function are numerous. Earliest recorded speculations are from the likes of Zoroasterthe BuddhaPlatoAristotle, and other ancient GreekIndian and, later, Islamic and medieval European philosophers. Pre-modern understandings of the mind, such as the neoplatonic nous saw it as an aspect of the soul, in the sense of being both divine and immortal, linking human thinking with the un-changing ordering principle of the cosmos itself.

Which attributes make up the mind is much debated. Some psychologists argue that only the “higher” intellectual functions constitute mind, particularly reason and memory. In this view the emotions—lovehatefearjoy—are more primitive or subjective in nature and should be seen as different from the mind as such. Others argue that various rational and emotional states cannot be so separated, that they are of the same nature and origin, and should therefore be considered all part of what we call the mind.

In popular usage mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on “inside our heads.” Thus we “make up our minds,” “change our minds” or are “of two minds” about something. One of the key attributes of the mind in this sense is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access. No one else can “know our mind.” They can only interpret what we consciously or unconsciously communicate.

 

The mind is generally synonymous with thought. After all, people do ‘make up their minds,’ ‘change their minds’ or are ‘in two minds’ about something. Surely, though, the mind is more than the ability to think. So, then, WHAT IS THE MIND? What does it do? Is it different from the brain – or are they one and the same? These questions keep many neuroscientists’ minds busy, as they attempt to find the exact answers to these ‘mind boggling’ questions.

More than 4,000 years ago, Egyptians considered the brain worthless, believing the heart contained the soul and the mind. This ancient belief lives on in the English language: to route learn something is to ‘learn it by heart’; to have lost a loved one is to suffer ‘ a broken heart’ and to think of someone fondly is ‘to be in one’s heart’.

About 2 000 years later, a Greek philosopher was the first to believe that consciousness arose in the brain. Hippocrates was of the same mind, “It is the brain that is the messenger to the understanding [and] the brain interprets the understanding.” These, however, were unconfirmed theories.

Plato and other Greek Philosophers believed that the soul [mind] was immortal, surviving the death of the body. Years later, in the 1620s, mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes, in his dissections of the human brain, saw no physical soul in the body, and thus concluded the soul [mind] as noncorporeal: operating within the machine, but not part of it – the ‘ghost in the machine’ as it was described by Philosopher Gilbert Ryle in 1947. Eastern religions, namely Hinduism and Buddhism, also carry this belief to this day.

Therefore, in trying to answer the question of how can something of no substance – be it the sense of self, the mind or the soul – can exist in a physical structure (brain or body), the theory of dualism was born. That is, the mind is separate from the brain – independent in existence and nonspatial in substance. The dualism concept is also evident, although subtly, in modern science: neurologists treat disorders of the brain, and psychiatrists and psychologists treat disorders of the mind.

The following was Extracted from the book Transform Your Life by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

Some people think that the mind is the brain or some other part or function of the body, but this is incorrect. The brain is a physical object that can be seen with the eyes and that can be photographed or operated on in surgery.

The mind, on the other hand, is not a physical object. It cannot be seen with the eyes, nor can it be photographed or repaired by surgery. The brain, therefore, is not the mind but simply part of the body.

There is nothing within the body that can be identified as being our mind because our body and mind are different entities. For example, sometimes when our body is relaxed and immobile, our mind can be very busy, darting from one object to another. This indicates that our body and mind are not the same entity.

In Buddhist scriptures, our body is compared to a guest house and our mind to a guest dwelling within it. When we die, our mind leaves our body and goes to the next life, just like a guest leaving a guest house and going somewhere else.

If the mind is not the brain, nor any other part of the body, what is it? It is a formless continuum that functions to perceive and understand objects. Because the mind is formless, or non-physical, by nature, it is not obstructed by physical objects.

It is very important to be able to distinguish disturbed states of mind from peaceful states. As explained in the previous chapter, states of mind that disturb our inner peace, such as anger, jealousy, and desirous attachment, are called ‘delusions’; and these are the principal causes of all our suffering.

We may think that our suffering is caused by other people, by poor material conditions, or by society, but in reality it all comes from our own deluded states of mind. The essence of spiritual practice is to reduce and eventually to eradicate altogether our delusions, and to replace them with permanent inner peace. This is the real meaning of our human life.

The essential point of understanding the mind is that liberation from suffering cannot be found outside the mind. Permanent liberation can be found only by purifying the mind. Therefore, if we want to become free from problems and attain lasting peace and happiness we need to increase our knowledge and understanding of the mind.

For a deeper understanding of the nature and functions of the mind, see the book, Understanding the Mind

                                                 

THE LORD’S SUPPER

THE LORD’S SUPPER

by Ray C. Stedman


The Apostle Paul deals at some length with the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, to which we have now come. In an earlier message in this series, I quoted someone who said, “The main thing is to see that the main thing remains the main thing.” When you hear that, of course, the question you want to ask is, “What is the main thing that must remain the main thing?” The answer in the Christian life is that clearly, all through the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament alike, the “main thing” is what the person and work of Jesus Christ really mean to you.

I do not mean what you say he means to you when you are talking about your faith, or what you sing about when you sing the hymns of the church in a service like this. I mean what Jesus really means to you when the hour comes for you to make a decision for right against wrong, or for good against evil, and what he means to you when you are under pressure and tempted to explode with anger, or succumb to lust, or whatever. It is very fitting that Paul ends this long section where he has been dealing with the troubles going on at Corinth by holding up a mirror, in effect, before these people and allowing them to see how they were behaving at the Table of the Lord. Nothing is more revealing than to see what your attitude is when you come to this central act of Christian worship, and this is what Paul is doing . In this section, beginning with Verse 17, he is showing them that they are approaching the Lord’s Table with a totally wrong spirit. There were two things, he says, that were wrong: First, they were dividing up into very destructive divisions, cliques, within the church. Verse 17:

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, [Actually that should be translated: "I believe it, in part"] for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. {1 Cor 11:17-19 RSV}

When Paul speaks of the church “coming together,” or “assembling as a church,” he is not primarily talking about a morning service such as we have here. He has in view the agape, the feast of love and of sharing they held that grew out of that atmosphere in the early church (described in the book of Acts), where no one counted anything as belonging to himself alone but shared with one another the resources and riches that God had provided so that no one was left out. This rapidly grew into a common meal which they all shared together. We would call it a pot luck supper. (I do not like that term because I do not believe in luck and I am sensitive to the word pot!) I prefer the title “multiple choice dinners.” We have multiple choice dinners here from time to time, especially during the summer. They are wonderful occasions where everyone brings something, and then we put it on a table and we all share together. This is what the early church was doing too.)

It was a perfectly proper and beautiful thing to do, but unfortunately, here in Corinth it was being spoiled by cliques, by divisions among them. The cliques and divisions that Paul mentions earlier in this letter had ruined the gathering of the church together, so that he could say, as he does here, “It is not for the better that you come together, but for the worse. You are actually injuring one another and destroying the character of the church by the way you are conducting yourselves at these love feasts which terminate in the celebration of the Lord’s Table together.”

Now, in Verses 18 and 19, Paul reminds them that it is not wrong to have differences in a church: “There must indeed be factions [really the word is heresies], among you.” He is not surprised at that. Everybody does not have the same point of view; everybody does not have the same background; everybody has not had the same training and upbringing, and so there are bound to be points of view that are different, and that is normal, Paul says. In fact, it is healthy, he says, for it allows those who are approved, who are mature, to become manifest.

About a year ago I was speaking to a group of youth leaders in the state of Missouri. We had an open question and answer session, and one of the things they asked me about was our Body Life service. I had told them that we encourage people to share freely, that anyone who wants to can stand up and speak on any subject. Now some of them were rather threatened by that, and someone asked me, “Are you not afraid that somebody will say something that is false, and heresies will spread in the church?” I told him that we do not see it that way. Then I quoted this verse, “There must indeed be heresies among you.” “We like heresies,” I said. “We encourage them to be expressed because they are great teaching opportunities. How are you going to know who in your congregation is able to handle heresies unless they have some heresies to work on?”

That is what the apostle is recognizing here. There is nothing wrong with differences of opinion. They ought to be freely aired, because that gives the opportunity for those who are instructed in the things of God and the Word of God, and who understand the mind of God through the teaching of the Word, to answer these and help people with these struggles. Paul says he understands that, but unfortunately in Corinth it had gone much further. No one had answered these heresies; no one had controlled these utterances, so they had broken into harmful divisions in their love feasts that were creating chaos within the church. Now Paul goes on to describe the disorderly practices that came from this, Verse 20:

When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in” Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this” No, I will not. {1 Cor 11:20-22 RSV}

Clearly he describes here the harm and the danger that was coming from these divisions among them. What he says, in effect, is, “When you get together for your love feasts you cannot call that the Lord’s Supper even though it terminates in the familiar ritual that we now call the Lord’s Table. The Lord’s Supper is an expression of the unity of the church, and what you are doing is a far cry from that. You are acting selfishly with one another.”

Paul goes on to describe this. Some were bringing a lot of food and gathering in their own little family group to eat it, while others who had hardly anything, or nothing at all, were left hungry. One would have a crust of bread, perhaps, to chew on, and over here would be a family group eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, or steak and lobster, perhaps, while others were completely left out. Paul says, “That an absolute parody of what the church ought to be. Instead of caring for one another, you are excluding one another, and even worse, some of you are eating and drinking so much that, unfortunately, you are actually coming to the Lord’s Table intoxicated.”

That is hard for us to conceive of, but that is what was happening. (Incidentally, that answers the question that many have asked as to whether the wine that the early Christians drank was alcoholic. I remember Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse being asked on one occasion, “Don’t you believe that the wine the early Christians drank was really grape juice?” In his brusque way he said, “Well, they got drunk on it at Corinth.” This certainly is the answer to that question.) But even worse, in the eyes of the apostle, some of them seemed to shrug off any rebuke along this line. They were indifferent; they exhibited a careless defiance of the need to minister to one another.

When Paul asks, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” he is not saying it is wrong to have church suppers, multiple choice dinners together. That is a good thing. What he means is, “If all you are coming together for is to eat and drink, you can do that at home. If that is all it means, if you are not going to manifest a concern and care for those who are without among you and be concerned to meet the needs of those who are hungry, then you might just as well stay home and eat and drink there. When you come together you ought to be concerned about the needs and the hungers of all.” Thus, fragmented, selfish, uncaring, indifferent to human needs, the church was hurting the cause of Christ rather than helping it. By sharp contrast, the apostle now goes on to draw the picture what he had taught them about the Lord’s Table, Verse 23:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. {1 Cor 11:23-26 RSV}

There is an amazing claim on Paul’s part here in Verse 23, where he says, “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you.” By these words the apostle clearly means that the One who told him what went on in the Upper Room on that dark betrayal night was Jesus himself.

In the letter to the Galatians, Paul says he did not learn what he knew of Christ and Christianity from any man. No apostle taught it to him. He had never read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. They were not even written when this letter was written; they came later. And Paul had never been told what went on in the Upper Room by any of the other disciples either. In fact, he uses here the same language he uses later, in Chapter 15, where he says that he delivered unto them the gospel which he also received from the Lord, which in Galatians he says clearly he did not receive from any other man. Therefore, we have here what amounts to the earliest description of the Lord’s Table when it was instituted in the Upper Room coming from none other than the lips of Jesus himself.

What the apostle passes on to them, and passes on to us, is our Lord’s emphasis upon two remarkable symbols, the bread and the cup. Deliberately, after the Passover feast, Jesus took the bread, and when he had broken it, in order to make it available to all the eleven disciples (Judas having gone out), he said to them. “This is my body.” Now unfortunately some have taken that to mean that he was teaching that the bread becomes his body, but I think it is very clear, as you look at the story of the Upper Room, that he meant it in a symbolic sense. If it was literal, then there were two bodies of Christ present in the Upper Room, one in which he lived and by which he held the bread, and the bread itself. But clearly our Lord means this as a symbol. “This represents my body which is for you.”

Not “broken for you,” as the Authorized Version has it. That is not a very accurate rendering. It is not broken for us. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that not a bone of his body would be broken. Rather it is intended for us to live on; that is the symbolism. Thus when we gather and take the bread of the Lord’s Table, break it and pass it among ourselves, we are reminding ourselves that Jesus is our life: He is the One by whom we live. As Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” {Gal 2:20 KJV}.

This is what the bread symbolizes — that he is to be our power by which we obey the demands of God, the Word of God, to love one another, to forgive one another, to be tender and merciful, kind and courteous to one another, to not return evil for evil but to pray for those who persecute us and mistrust us and misuse us. His life in us enables us to be what God asks us to be. We live by means of Christ. Jesus said it himself in John 6, “so he that eats me, even he shall live by means of me,” {cf, John 6:57}. One of our teenagers wrote a song the other day, and these verses are part of it:

You brought me back to yourself.
I had tried to go my own way,
Thinking I didn’t need your love.
But you showed me the light of day.

I need you to keep me strong.
I need you to keep me from falling,
I want to keep growing closer to you.
I want always to hear you calling.

That captures very accurately what the bread symbolizes to us. Following that, our Lord took the cup. The wine of the cup symbolizes his blood which he said is the blood of the New Covenant, the new arrangement for living that God has made, by which the old life is ended. That is what blood always means: Blood is the end of a life, and the old life in which we were dependent upon ourselves, and lived for ourselves, and wanted only to be the center of attention is over. That is what the cup means. We agree to that; we are no longer to live for ourselves. That is why, written across the front of this auditorium, it says. “You are not your own. You are bought with a price.” You do not have final rights to your life, and the price is the blood of Jesus. Therefore, when we take that cup and drink it, we are publicly proclaiming that we agree with that sentence of death upon our old life, and believe that the Christian life is a continual experience of life coming out of death. That is what it says.

Power with God only comes when we die to the wisdom and the power of man. We give up one in order that the other may be manifest within us. “God cannot be glorified,” we are saying, “as long as we insist on being glorified.” Thus we are surrendering our right to take credit for things, surrendering our right to have people praise us and affirm us, etc., in order that God, who is working in us, may have that glory and that praise. That is what the cup means. It is a beautiful picture of what Jesus said of himself, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone,” {cf, John 12:24 KJV}. I do not think anything is more descriptive of the emptiness of life than that phrase “abides alone” — lonely, restless, bored, miserable, unhappy. That is the life that tries to live for itself and its own needs and its own rights, but the Christian life is one in which that is freely and voluntarily surrendered. And if the corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, Jesus says, it will bring forth much fruit, and by the participation in the cup this is what we are declaring. Thus, every celebration of the Table tells us the old, old story all over again: We are consenting to follow our Lord, to go to death as he went to death that we might rise again in the new life of the spirit. And this, as Paul tells us, is to go on through the whole age, from the first coming until he comes again. This is a constantly repeated feast by which we, in symbol, tell over and over the heart of our Christian faith, that the old life dies in order that the new life might live. In the last paragraph of this section, Paul makes very clear how seriously God himself regards the Lord’s Table, Verse 27:

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cop. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. {1 Cor 11:27-28 RSV}

These are sobering words; they indicate that God guards the Table from unworthy partaking. Now, what that means, of course, is what Paul has just been rebuking these Christians at Corinth about. They were partaking in an unworthy manner because they were careless, selfish, and indifferent to the needs of others. They were coming to the Lord’s Table in a kind of an empty ritual, just going through it in a mechanical, ceremonial way. That, Paul says, is a dangerous practice, because it is acting as though the death and the life of Jesus mean nothing to us, and he warns against that. We become sharers of the guilt of those who put the Lord to death when we participate without our heart-interest and our heart-concern involved in the Lord’s Table. Therefore, according to the apostle, a proper participation involves a careful self-examination. That is why he says let someone examine himself or herself earnestly and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

The word examine means “to prove,” or literally, “to qualify” oneself. In Chapter 10 Paul said he buffeted his body and pummeled it in order that, having preached to others, he himself would not be “disqualified,” set aside, {cf, 1 Cor 9:27}. Now that is the negative of this term and, therefore, someone who examines himself is qualifying himself to eat the Table of the Lord. How do you do that? Well, it does not mean to try to live an absolutely flawless, perfect life, because no one can do that. Even with all the help that the Spirit of God gives us, there are failures and weaknesses, times of frustration and outright, sometimes deliberate, evil come into our existence.

What does it mean when it says to examine yourself? It means, of course, to handle your sin honestly. Do not try to cover it over; do not try to persuade yourself that it is not there. Admit it; call it what God calls it and repent, that is, change your mind about wanting it in your life. Bring it to God and let him cleanse you. David writes in the 51st Psalm, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise,” {Psa 51:17 KJV}. When you look at the things that are wrong and say, “Lord, I’m sorry. Those things are wrong. I must not act that way any more,” then you have qualified to participate in the Table of the Lord. That is what he says. You have proved yourself in the right way, and so, Paul adds, “so let him eat.”

Some people want to refuse to eat. They pass by the elements. That is basically a cop-out, thinking that God is only going to bring some subsequent judgment if you eat. But God pays no attention to those surface things. He reads the hearts, and what he is after is a heart that does not lie to itself, that is honest about its misdeeds and is willing to put away a wrong spirit. As Paul says to the Ephesians, “let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you,” {Eph 4:31 KJV}. Attitudes of lust and of selfishness and misdeeds of dishonesty and lying and all these things are what we face when we come to the Table of the Lord. We acknowledge them and thank God for his cleansing grace and then partake, forgiven by the grace of God. That is why Paul goes on to add, in Verse 29,

For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. {1 Cor 11:29 RSV}

What does “discerning the body” mean? It means two things: First, it means understanding the meaning of the symbols. The Body of Christ is involved, his death on the cross for us, his life made available to us. But then it means also our concern and care for others who are members with us in this Body. We are members one of another, and we recognize those ties. In the next two verses the apostle indicates that God guards this with using physical judgment. Verse 30:

That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world. {1 Cor 11:30-32 RSV}

God knows that pain often makes us stop and think. Have you found that to be true? Many of us have suddenly become aware that we have been drifting away from our closeness with Christ because we have been laid aside for the time being, maybe with nothing more than a bad cold, but it gives us a chance to think and to review our lives. That is God’s hand. That is what was happening at Corinth. Some were weak, some were sickly, because God was enabling them to take a look. It was a red flag of warning saying, “Watch out now. You are going too fast. You are being tripped up by the world around you. You are reflecting some of their attitudes and their reactions and adopting some of their ways. Watch out. Slow down. Think it through.”

And, as Paul says, some of them had even died, that is, they had rejected God’s tender, loving warnings; they had persisted in their evil to the point where they were “disqualified,” as he says in Chapter 10 {cf, 1 Cor 9:27}. God had to say to some of them, “Look, I can’t trust you any more down there. Come on home where I can keep an eye on you.” This still happens today. God is no different. Some among us, perhaps, are weak and sickly because we need time to think through what is happening in our lives.

Now not all sickness comes from the disciplinary hand of God. Sometimes it can be a ministry that God deliberately gives us in order to open up a door that nothing else would open. So do not think that every time you are sick it may be the judging hand of God, but it is always a time to ask yourself, “Is God trying to slow me down? In his loving concern for me does he see me drifting into something dangerous that I ought to stop and rethink — my relationships with others, my attitudes about life, habits that I am forming? Are these wrong or right?” The apostle tells us, if we truly judged ourselves, God would not have to judge us.

Therefore, when something like this happens, take a good look, a careful look, is what he is saying. Be honest with yourself. You can avoid this chastening of God by honest dealing with yourself because God will always give you a chance to change. But, if those are passed by, then God must judge you further in order to make it clear what is happening to you. Then do not see it as something terrible and evil that God has sent into your life to punish you. Oh, no. Hebrews tells us, “whom the Lord loves he chastens,” {cf, Heb 12:6 KJV}. A loving Father is simply putting up some barriers and saying, “Look, you are getting into trouble. Now stop and take a look.” It is his love that has brought that into your life.

The apostle clearly implies by this that if you, as a professed Christian, can go on week after week and month after month doing something — living in a relationship or holding an attitude that you know is wrong — and nothing ever happens to you in the way of judgment, then it is very likely you are not a Christian at all. You may well be headed for that final condemnation which the whole world will ultimately face. But Paul says when judgment comes it is the loving hand of your heavenly Father stopping you and telling you, “Look, you are mine. I will not have you involved in that condemnation with the world. You need to straighten up some things in your life, and this is your opportunity to do so.” The last two verses simply indicate how God is concerned that this be done in such a way as to bring out the acts of love and courtesy one for another. Verse 33:

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another — if any one is hungry, let him eat at home — lest you come together to be condemned. About the other things I will give directions when I come. {1 Cor 11:33-34 RSV}

God’s purpose in any form of judgment of his children is that they might begin to act differently, begin to be more thoughtful and courteous toward one another, especially their immediate families. That is where this has to begin to show — not with your friends, but with your family. And when he says, “wait for one another” he does not necessarily mean at the Lord’s Table, though that is a good thing to do. What he means is, “Be aware of the needs and the problems of others and do something to meet them, to help in that area, so that, when you come together, your meetings are not a curse but a blessing, that your coming together is a delight to everyone who comes, because your attitudes and your reactions with one another are right, and love prevails within the assembly.”

This is what the apostle has been aiming at all along. Paul says, “That is the central thing. There are some other little things that I will set to right when I come, but those can wait. The important thing is that you begin to act out of the central meaning of the Christian life. The old selfish ways are ended. the new life which thinks of others is to be expressed. The blood and the bread are indications of that.”

“…now go forth into the world. And we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are your leaders in the Lord and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work, and be at peace among yourselves,” {cf, 1 Th 5:12-13}. Amen.


Title: The Lord’s Supper
By: Ray C. Stedman
Series: Studies in First Corinthians
Scripture: 1 Cor 11:17-34
Message No: 24
Catalog No: 3594
Date: December 10, 1978

Library

Copyright © 1978 Discovery Publishing, a ministry of Peninsula Bible Church.

 

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO BE A SPIRITUAL SLAVE TO SOMETHING?

Romans 7:13-25 (Amplified Bible)

13Did that which is good then prove fatal [bringing death] to me? Certainly not! It was sin, working death in me by using this good thing [as a weapon], in order that through the commandment sin might be shown up clearly to be sin, that the extreme malignity and immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear.

14We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin.

15For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[a]which my moral instinct condemns].

16Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it.

17However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

19For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.

20Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me [[b]fixed and operating in my soul].

21So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

22For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].(A)

23But I discern in my bodily members [[c]in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [[d]in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh].

24O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?

25O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

 

 

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING

GOD ALWAYS HAS A RAM WAITING IN THE BUSH (Genesis 22:1-13)

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

 

 

TASTE THE SWEETNESS OF FORGIVENESS

TASTE THE SWEETNESS OF FORGIVENESS

BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, to be envied) is he who has forgiveness of his transgression continually exercised upon him, whose sin is covered.
Psalm 32:1-3

Happiness is to be forgiven! It is an emotion that defies description.  It is the relief of an enormous burden lifted, of a debt canceled, of a conscience at rest.  Guilt is gone, warfare is ended, peace is enjoyed.  Can you smell these beautiful aromas’; taste the sweetness of this exotic meal?  If you truly desire to feast on such a meal, the bible says, “ask and you shall have, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened.” 

Please allow me to give you the Dictionary meaning of this very important word.  First of all it is a  noun, and it means the act of forgiving; state of being forgiven.  Disposition or willingness to forgive.

Now listen further to what Jesus commands us to do, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. (Mark 11:25) AMP

When we continue to harbor our un-forgiveness of another person in our spirit, we are truly living in spiritual darkness; having that unforgiving spirit and fostering of resentment is spiritual suicide.  So I ask you today, why do you want to commit spiritual suicide, why do you want to live in spiritual darkness?  Do you realize that there is no rest for you when you continue to brood over slights and injuries and wrongs; there is no quiet repose of the mind when you constantly feel that you have been unjustly treated, and you scheme how best to act for the discomfiture of your enemy?

Now I ask you, how can happiness dwell in your heart, if your heart is disturbed by ill-will towards your brother are your sister?  How do you expect to find wisdom and humility when your heart is filled with hate?  I say shame on you.  It is time to wise up and find that happiness that the bible speaks of.  You know you deserve it, you know you want it, and you are always seeking after it, but always in the wrong place. 

Revenge seems sweet only to the mind that is unacquainted with the spirit of forgiveness; but when the sweetness of forgiveness is tasted then the extreme bitterness of revenge is known.  Revenge seems to lead to happiness to those who are involved in the darkness of passion; but when the violence of passion is abandoned, and the mildness of forgiveness is resorted to, then it is seen that revenge leads to suffering.

Revenge is a virus which eats into the very vitals of the mind, and poisons the entire spiritual being.  Resentment is a mental fever which burns up the wholesome energies of the mind, and “taking offence” is a form of moral sickness which saps the healthy flow of kindliness and good-will, and from which men and women should seek to be delivered.  The unforgiving and resentful spirit is a source of great suffering and sorrow, and he who harbors and encourages it, who does not overcome and abandon it, forfeits much blessedness, and does not obtain any measure of true enlightenment.  To be hard-hearted is to suffer, is to be deprived of light and comfort; to be tender-hearted is to be serenely glad, is to receive light and be well comforted.  It will seem strange to many to be told that the hard-hearted and unforgiving suffer most; yet it is profoundly true, for not only do they, by the law of attraction, draw to themselves the revengeful passions in other people, but their hardness of heart itself is a continual source of suffering.  Every time a man hardens his heart against a fellow-being he inflicts upon himself five kinds of suffering-namely, the suffering of loss of love; the suffering of lost communion and fellowship; the suffering of a troubled and confused mind; the suffering of wounded passion or pride; and suffering of punishment inflicted by others.  Every act of unforgiveness entails upon the doer of that act these five sufferings; whereas every act of forgiveness brings to the doer five kinds of blessedness-the blessedness of love; the blessedness of increased communion and fellowship; the blessedness of a calm and peaceful mind; the blessedness of passion stilled and pride overcome; and the blessedness of kindness and good-will bestowed by others. 

Numbers of people are to-day suffering the fiery torments of an unforgiving spirit, and only when they make an effort to overcome that spirit can they know what a cruel and exacting taskmaster they are serving.  Only those who have abandoned the service of such a master for that of the nobler master of forgiveness can realize and know how grievous a service is the one, how sweet the other.

When a man abandons retaliation for forgiveness he passes from darkness to light.  So dark and ignorant is unforgiveness that no being who is at all wise or enlightened could descend to it; but its darkness is not understood and known until it is left behind, and the better and nobler course of conduct is sought and practiced.  Man is blinded and deluded only by his own dark and sinful tendencies; and the giving up of all unforgiveness means the giving up of pride and certain forms of passion, the abandonment of the deeply-rooted idea of the importance of oneself and of the necessity for protecting and defending that self; and when that is done the higher life, greater wisdom, and pure enlightenment, which pride and passion completely obscured, are revealed in all their light and beauty.

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