Seventh Day Of Christmas: Seven Swans of the Spirit

Seven Swans

According to the Catholic Church for whose youth the song was written these are the seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

Every person has a unique ability about them. Some have a mish mosh of trades they can do but have one special thing that they use extremely well. You know the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”, well the Holy Spirit has given each of us a gift that we use in everything we do. It is that one unique part of us that most people hardly ever recognize that is within us. Peter exclaims this in his first letter:  

10 As each one has received some spiritual gift, he should use it to serve others, like good managers of God’s many-sided grace — 11 if someone speaks, let him speak God’s words; if someone serves, let him do so out of strength that God supplies; so that in everything God may be glorified through Yeshua the Messiah — to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Some folks find their gifts and abuse them by using them for their own gain. In the long run they find that they lack a certain joy and happiness because they misused what was divinely given and their soul actually suffers. Somehow God still uses them but makes them realize their faults when others are given joy as they suffer. I know it sounds mean but it is God’s way of talking karma.

But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust; if it is serving, use it to serve; if you are a teacher, use your gift in teaching; if you are a counselor, use your gift to comfort and exhort; if you are someone who gives, do it simply and generously; if you are in a position of leadership, lead with diligence and zeal; if you are one who does acts of mercy, do them cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8

Paul tells us of the Spiritual Gifts and using them for God’s Glory. Do not prophesy falsely for you will lose others trust; Serve others without need for recognition; Teach right and proper, morally, ethically, and spiritually correct; Counsel others comforting their soul and leading them on a right path; Givers give without recognition and not because they have to or coerced into giving, but because they want to; Lead not with an iron fist or falsehoods but so that others will follow for the right reasons and not your own gain; Those who are compassionate be so without a contrite heart showing and sharing God’s Grace to all mankind.  

To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of these gifts: Wisdom; knowledge; faith; healing; working of miracles; prophecy; judge between spirits; speak in different kinds of tongues; and interpret tongues. Each one is given by the spirit to share God’s Word in unique ways.

To one, through the Spirit, is given a word of wisdom; to another, a word of knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, by the same Spirit; and to another, gifts of healing, by the one Spirit; 10 to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the ability to judge between spirits; to another, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues; and to yet another, the ability to interpret tongues. 11 One and the same Spirit is at work in all these things, distributing to each person as he chooses. I Corinthians 12:8-11

The Holy Spirit chooses each individual gift by deciding when and who they go to. Some gifts are permanently sealed on us while others are temporary. Now as a note, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues (languages) and interpret (translate) them is the ability to speak, understand and share in other earthly languages to spread the Gospel throughout the world preparing Christians for missional work.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are ingrained in us so that we can do God’s work and complete the Great Commission to the world while keeping separate from being of the world. These gifts help us clear our minds to do what God desires of us and helps rid us of earthly desires and prepares us for His Kingdom. We still need to live in the world but that is only temporary. We must Live in the Spirit, Recognize, and Share our gifts of the Spirit with others to accomplish our task on this earth. Be gracious to others as God has shown His Grace to you. Love as God Loves and give of yourself. Strive to be better Christians this coming year so that we can show the Kingdom of God on this earth.

God Bless

How Do We Measure Success

How Do You Measure Up

It is said of the measure of a man, If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.” Robert South

Even more true is what Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Thing is, are these ways that God measures us? Does God even measure us at all? Is measuring more important than remembering? Success is not truly measured by what we did, it is by how it was accomplished. Accomplishing success through fame and fortune gets us nowhere but being successful as a parent, friend, and a person who lives in his/her faith, that is the measurement of success in God’s eyes.

Today I want to speak about how we want our kids to remember us and be remembered ourselves. When we are remembered do we want to be remembered for our fame and fortune, our accomplishments, or our person as a whole. In a list of 20 Bible Verses about success this one was missing:

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

Sure the other verses (some of which will come up in this and later discussions) are great but why was this one not on the list? Of the twenty verses mentioned only two were even close to mentioning staying in the Word and obedience to the Laws and statutes given by God to His people. To me, staying in the Word, meditating on it daily and teaching the children to stay in the Word and finding comfort there are only part of being a success. Joshua that section above to, ”be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” God is telling Joshua not only to read/meditate and stay in His Word but also to “be” in His Word by acting upon it. That, Brothers and Sisters, is how God measures success.

Teaching children in the way they should go (paraphrased Proverbs 22:6) is our way of showing our youth how God desires of us to live. Scripture tells us these basics, study hard and use what you have learned to become better servants. In this day and age; wealth, power, and fame are a measure of success. Show me that in Scripture and you can have my job. Nowhere in Scripture does it say to make tons of money so you can live a life of luxury and be comfortable in the world.

Having a source of income is necessary for living but too much of it leads to greed and a distortion of the reason for being here. Jesus tells us:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27.

And:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:28-34

So we are not to worry because God will provide us as long as we stay in His Word. For:

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

And observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” 1Kings 2:3

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 8:18

If we so desire to stay in the world and forget what God has placed in our hearts, Scripture gives us these warnings from Jesus:

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Matthew 16:26-27

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

Luke 16:10-11

Paul reiterates Jesus Teachings by saying:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Look at all the wealthy people in the world and see how few actually claim to know God. Some had a relationship with God and lost it when popularity and fame took over their lives (Katy Perry for instance). Some misinterpreted Scripture and have made money from others desire for God (certain televangelists and mega church pastors). We cannot be judgmental, we must carefully consider them as lost Christians who desire money instead of pleasing God.

Worldly wealth truly leads you nowhere especially if that is what you depend on. So many people have gone back to the basics of life while holding on to certain technologies out of necessity for staying in the world. They are building houses on their own using the land and some man made materials to avoid mortgages and staying in debt. Planting their own gardens so that they only have to buy certain meats. Some even make their own clothing. God desires great things for us but in His way not ours of the world.

So where does this all lead. Get back into the Scripture and really see how God is telling us we will be successful. If we open our hearts and mind to His Word (OT Scripture and most of all, Jesus) we can be the people God desires in His creation. Remember the difference between believing in and being in then you will have Spiritual and mortal success which will lead to a better, happier life as will your descendants. Be the caretakers (or better put care givers) of this current home and we will have a seat at the table in the Kingdom. Be blessed this week and bless others with God’s Word as you go about your day living for God.

God Bless you and may your light shine brightly on the earth.

PRAYER:

Father God, Creator Parent, bringer of joy, we thank You for giving us the guidance needed to live on this place and not in it. Thank you Father for giving us guidance so we have the opportunity to shine for You as we do our best to live for You. Teach us, oh Lord, and chide us as needed to stay on the right path that leads to Your loving and compassionate arms. We lift up our arms in Your praise as You have taught us to give to others what You have given us. Continue to guide us, oh Lord, that we may light the world through the darkness and direct those onto Your path. Thank You God for the things You have done, are doing, and will do in our lives and continue to bless us with Your ways. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, AMEN.

Importance of the Second Son P1

CAIN and ABELCAin and Abel

What is the true significance of these first two brothers? Christians understand it to be a story of jealousy which lead to bitterness and murder with eternal ramifications but there is more than meets the eye here. Cain, whose name means spear, was the first born and understood the land. Abel was the second son whose name means breathing spirit and understood life as a God given gift.
Abel was favored by God but He loved Cain just as much (even though he did not believe it). Abel was blessed being the more handsome while Cain looked as dirty as the land in which he toiled. This was the result of the gifts that God blessed them with. Cain was the farmer, Abel the shepherd. Cain’s offerings were from the fruit of his labors while Abel gave of the firstborn, unblemished male sheep. Prayers were heard the same but it seemed that Cain’s were not answered as quickly as Abel’s.
We all know where this is going…Jealousy, Bitterness, Rage, Misunderstanding God’s Love, these are things that were the catalyst to Cain ending Abel’s life. When elder hid from God, Abel’s blood (Spirit) cried out and Cain learned a valuable lesson. Cain would be tortured by his decision until the end of his days understanding that he was cursed and protected by God until the appointed time.
Adam and Eve then had Seth who was a faithful servant of God. He took the place of Abel and was given the blessing that was originally rightfully Cain’s.
What can we learn from this?
1. We see two types of worship through the brother’s, one out of duty the other out of devotion.
a. Cain worship was an obligation to giving first fruits of his labor in a vain attempt to please God with the “look what I have done for you” attitude. He must have learned this from his parents who were still scarred from the loss of the Paradise in Eden. They worshipped out of fearful respect knowing that disobedience would truly mean death.
b. Worshiping out of total devotion and love for God which was reflected in his sacrifices. Abel cared for the flock as if they were his own. He gave a life back to God to show a willingness to return blessings and give God the glory. Abel sought nothing because he understood he deserved nothing.
2. The faith of Cain was works centered and faith of Abel’s faith was justified by love. This is the beginning of the Sola Fida vs Works alone argument. We are justified by our faith, saved by His Blood which obligates us to live out our faith by attaining to be like Jesus. There is the fine line difference in believing in Jesus and Being in Jesus. Works are important as we find by Jesus’ explanation of the sheep and goats but the works of the sheep were not recognized, boasted nor accolades sought. The goats believed and did nothing to make their faith fruitful.
Equating this to today’s church: Attendance in church out of obligation is dangerous and not fulfilling while attendance out of brokenness is recognition that you are not alone, you are loved, and not deserving of forgiveness. The former is a goat who goes just because and the latter, a sheep who recognizes the desire to live a Christ-like life.

3. The third thing we get from this is that jealousy and bitterness are vainly dangerous characteristics that lead to heartache and pain.
Remaining in a state where you blame others for your lack of faith, love, and or a good life leads to spiritual darkness. Letting go of negative feelings releases the soul from darkness.

Cain, at an old age, died from a hunting accident by his own kin. God’s protection did not include from his own family. But Cain did not leave this world without leaving his mark. His descendants would never be satisfied, always searching for truth and forgiveness while wreaking havoc wherever they roamed while placing blame for their ways on others.
Abel’s importance is that he showed us a right way of worship. His devotion and trust in God was increased through his faith and understanding that God though invisible is ever present, all knowing, and all powerful.

Though Abel never received the blessing from his father, however, he blessed the world with his knowledge and understanding of God.

Are You Giving from the Heart?

Giving

What is Your Giving Worth?

Parents spend $600.00 for the Prom Dress, $180.00 for the makeover, and $80.00 for the pre-prom meal. That look on her dad’s face when that boy brings his baby girl home early and did the right thing, PRICELESS.

These parents want everything to be right for their baby. Their daughter’s happiness is what matters most to them in this situation. Let’s say these parents are weekly church goers but not members so these questions arise. Would they do something for a complete stranger? Place money in the offering plate? Is their giving worth it?

 I was talking with someone today about my garden and he asked if I would sell the surplus. I told him that I am not into the business of selling or building up my personal storehouse. If I feel this is a good crop year even though my garden is small, I give first fruits away. I do not sell or ask for accolades because it is a survival item freely given from that which I nurtured to grow. When we give of ourselves we are to give with gladness in our hearts. We should not to seek reward of any type unless that is the only income source.

Trading goods that are the fruits of our labor and blessing one another is more valuable than running around in a fancy and extravagantly overpriced piece of cloth with someone else’s name on a label. Think about what goes into the making of dresses that cost more than cars. Does the weaver thank the animal for the wool or silk, the ground for the cotton, the mountain for the gems? Do they thank God for creating? The answer to all this, probably not. If the mountains, animals, and soil give up things for nothing, why do we put a price on items that are not ours to sell?

When we give of ourselves the only thing we should hope to receive is some kind of kindness in return. You know, things like a smile, a thank you, maybe an item we can use and get use out of. All too often what we witness nowadays are people who think they deserve something for nothing without putting any effort into even the simplest smile or thanks. To them, our giving is worth nothing really because it will be squandered in some way shape or form or even boasted about. This is what society has become.

When we give of our hard earned dollar in the church, what do we give it for? Paying the hired staff, building upkeep, that mission in some exotic land, community outreach (given so someone else can do it)? We hear the annual tithing sermons right around the time of the fiscal year of the church when they give that budget speech and coerce people into giving so they do not have to do the work. Personally, I would rather give and help than give and sit back while others sweat for the Kingdom. I would rather help supply the staff with their needs so they would not worry about bills, meals, and clothes. Pastors are to want for nothing with their needs supplied by the flock. That is how it used to be. Scripture tells us to wary of coercion in the church when approached about giving. Think of those mega church pastors or the false prosperity gospel speakers. Do you know where your money goes?  

Nothing is free except God’s Grace and Mercy given willingly to those who accept it and the conditions that go along with it. God’s Love is Unconditional. All that is required of us is to return His Love by living in His ways and sharing Him with others. If God gives freely out of love for us, why can’t we? Because we are human and fall into the Adversaries snare daily. 

Do you give of your gifts in the church (musician, dancer, teacher, carpenter, counselor, or friend)?

The Gift of Giving is a blessing from God. It is a part of God’s Image in us. When we do acts of kindness we are exemplifying God’s Love within us. By helping those in need, sharing His Word, and praising His Name we are showing His Image within us.   

So, what is your giving worth? Is it worth the smile on the face of a hungry child? The hug from that little old lady you helped take care of the yard? The flowers picked, or the fruits and vegetables that someone spent days, even months nurturing? The simple thank you?  

Giving of oneself in the Name of the Father: PRICELESS