As a child, it’s easy to feel alone and abandoned. The Father of Lies, John 8:44, has a way of convincing human beings that God is to blame. Yet, Matthew West in his song The God Who Stays seeks to correct and stop any ungodly beliefs from spreading. It’s not God who leaves us. Rather, individuals exercise freewill and, in the process, end up taking a break from God like the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants. 20 So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [[j]fervently], Luke 15:18-20.
The apostle Paul writes an entire chapter about real love in 1 Corinthians 13. The purpose of this chapter is to correct any false assumptions about God’s unconditional love. Unfortunately, this world is filled with fallen and flawed human beings that don’t emulate fruits of God’s Spirit. In view of this fact, may the lyrics of the God Who Stays serve as an encouraging message of hope to anyone who wanders off in life.
Reading the Bible can be like watching a movie with drama and suspense. There are moments where scenes abruptly end, forcing you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Such is the case of the war that broke out in heaven. There are pieces of this event scattered throughout the Old and New Testament leading to the archangel Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels banished from heaven, expelled to earth.
Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels went forth to battle with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought, Revelation 12:7.
Isaiah 14:12-19 speak of Lucifer’s fall from grace. Lucifer appears in the Garden of Eden as a serpent, like a king cobra but able to speak like Balaam’s donkey. Based upon Genesis 1-2, Adam was given authority over the earth which served as a demotion in Lucifer’s eyes. Based upon words of Matthew 4:5-11, the tempter received the authority lost by Adam which is supported by Ephesians 2:2.
But they were defeated, and there was no room found for them in heaven any longer. 9 And the huge dragon was cast down and out—that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth, and his angels were flung out along with him, Revelation 12:8-9.
Ezekiel 28:17 reveals Lucifer’s departure from heaven as does Luke 10:18. The war itself appears to be as Lucifer exercised his freewill which opposed God’s plan. Perhaps each of the temptations Jesus faced shines light on why Lucifer rebelled and what caused other angels to follow. Whatever the reason, John has a quick vision which summarizes when war broke out in heaven.
When I think of angels, I usually imagine guardian angels who watch over an individual’s life. Yet, according to John, one of his visions that makes up the book of Revelation, there were 7 specific churches in Asia Minor who possessed an angel. Based upon the passage below, John compares these angels with spiritual messengers who guided the leaders of these 7 churches.
As to the hidden meaning (the mystery) of the seven stars which you saw on My right hand and the seven lampstands of gold: the seven stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven assemblies (churches) and the seven lampstands are the seven churches, Revelation 1:20.
As someone who has attended various churches throughout the United States, there are certain places where you sense the power of the Holy Spirit as you enter. Meanwhile, other church buildings seem strange, often giving me an uneasy feeling as I sit down. Is the difference between these churches the presence of an angel or the power of the faith within the members of a congregation?
For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service], Psalm 91:11.
One of the Psalmists writes about an angels ability to accompany Christians. Yet, God uses angels to defend and preserve the faith of those who believe. However, if Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels were kicked out of heaven, whether or not freewill is exercised will dictate the spiritual climate of a church. If angels are like modern day spiritual guides, the more church leaders keep in step with the Holy Spirit will set the culture and spiritual tone of modern day houses of worship.
I discovered Sixpence None The Richer during my final year of college. Songs like Kiss Me appeared on Christian and Secular Radio Stations. This bands name comes from C.S. Lewis as Sixpence None The Richer appears in Mere Christianity. Today’s featured song There She Goes speaks of a woman’s intuition which allow thoughts to race through their minds.
Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.
While There She Goes doesn’t contain life altering lyrics, this song reminds me of freewill. One of Jesus’ disciples compares freewill to a door that only has a handle on your side of the door. God doesn’t force His way into your life. Rather, it’s up to you to let God into your life. Instead of following feelings and your emotions, let God into your life so as she goes, God will go with her.
Light and darkness often appear together in the Bible. These common terms are designed to illustrate one’s spiritual condition. Anyone who walks with God by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, is considered a child of the light. Those who exercise their own freewill by choosing to indulge their sinful nature live in darkness, unrestrained and unregulated from God’s commands.
Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect—being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will), 1 John 3:4.
Over the course of my life, I’ve met thousands of individuals. There is one particular individual that I can recall who was unrestrained and unregulated. This person was unfiltered, saying and doing whatever came to his mind. While going down the beach with a friend, I made the mistake of getting into this guy’s car. This was the most uncomfortable and scariest car ride I have ever experienced.
But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do, Galatians 5:16-17.
The apostle Paul refers to the spiritual aspect of being unrestrained and unregulated. These individuals choose to be led by sinful cravings. Rather than respond or be guided by the Holy Spirit, temporary pleasures become their sole focus. The only way to break this lifestyle is by putting to death your old self as described in Colossians 3:1-9. While making any type of change takes time, but with God anything is possible, Philippians 4:13.
A pretext is given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. Whenever you are caught in the act of wrongdoing, the creative will come out with a logical excuse right off the top of their head. While watching an episode of Cold Case Files, one serial killer blamed a Succubus; a female demon. Similar to a child whose is caught by a parent, “the Devil made me do it” is a common rationale to explain irrational behavior.
[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God, 1 Peter 2:16.
In a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul explains that everything is permissible via freewill, but not everything is beneficial, 1 Corinthians 6:12. A few verses later, Paul uses a prostitute to introduce the concept of soul ties. Whenever human beings participate in any sexual act, a bond is formed. Instead of waiting for marriage to consecrate sacred vows made by a couple, temporary pleasures are gratified by giving into temptation.
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 16 The people answered, Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods; Joshua 24:15-16.
Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, there were several religious cults that arose. Some of these groups cheapened God’s grace by professing the more you sinned, the greater God’s grace will be poured out upon you. This likely explains the words in Hebrews 6:4-6 as freewill was being used as a pretext for wickedness. Rather than follow the trends in today’s progressive culture, God wants more leaders like Joshua who aren’t afraid to take a stand by faithfully serving the Lord.
Most Hollywood films begin with a main character who is introduced in their ordinary world. This comfortable place quickly illustrates who the protagonist is, a specific desire in life and each is given a flaw that prevents this individual from reaching their full potential. Like a story from the Bible, screenplays have a call to action that will take the hero on a 90 minute journey. During this adventure, the main character is forced to rethink some of their beliefs and values. By the end, most characters will change.
Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath, Hebrews 6:17.
According to one New Testament author, God never changes. Later on in this book, a comment is made about God’s one and only son. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. This convincing statement is made beyond a doubt. This conviction is based upon God’s promise of a spiritual inheritance in the Old Testament. Although the forefathers of Israel never received this promise prior to their deaths, this oath is fulfilled in the afterlife, 1 John 5:13.
And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. 7 It is right and appropriate for me to have this confidence and feel this way about you all, because [b]you have me in your heart and I hold you in my heart as partakers and sharers, one and all with me, of grace (God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing). [This is true] both when I am shut up in prison and when I am out in the defense and confirmation of the good news (the Gospel), Philippians 1:6-7.
Anyone who has ever sought out God’s will for their own life, Romans 12:1-2, this never occurs in a straight line from point A to point B. Rather, freewill causes all human beings to deviate, going off course for an extended period of time. While your detour may not last 40 years like the Jewish Exodus out of Egypt, you will continue on the wrong path until common sense returns. Nonetheless, God has prepared in advance for you good works to do on earth. This is what the Bible means by the unchangeableness of God’s purpose and plan. May you put aside idleness so that you will fan into flame your God given gifts.
Anytime a child leaves home for college or a new job, a true sense of independence is realized. Unless you have a roommate, for the first time in life aspiring students don’t have anyone to tell them when to come or go. This freedom can be liberating with the whole world ready for you to explore. While the mature will be able to handle this, there are many college students and young adults who experience their own version of the prodigal son or daughter.
Jesus used this parable (illustration) with them, but they did not understand what He was talking about.7 So Jesus said again, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that I Myself am the Door [a]for the sheep, John 10:6-7.
While the passage above isn’t the parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus provides the Bible’s version of the Motel 6 slogan. Instead of saying, “we’ll leave the light on for you,” Jesus introduces his open door policy for his followers. Referring to Himself as the Door, Jesus is the way to heaven. Unfortunately, countless individuals look for an alternate route, trying to find a back or side entrance. This invitation isn’t forced, but Jesus encourages his sheep to come and go as they please.
All others who came [as such] before Me are thieves and robbers, but the [true] sheep did not listen to and obey them. 9 I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture, John 10:8-9.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee in life. Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario of thieves and robbers who will disrupt your life. During these exchanges, you may have valuable possessions stolen from your car, house or place of work. This is what happens when sheep venture outside of God’s pen. Freewill allows any Christian to come and go as they wish. No one is forcing you to go to church, pray or read the Bible. Yet, if you want to experience the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, listen to and obey the Shepherd. Then you will reach a point where you can come and go about life freely.
Religion is an interest that a pursuer ascribes to as their supreme importance. This pursuit results in a particular system of faith as individuals believe in and worship a personal God or gods. Meanwhile, relationships are the way in which two or more people are connected and behave toward each other. Relationships can be traced back to a common alliance, bond, or connection based upon shared values. Religion tends to focus on teetotalism, a rigid following of a clearly defined set of rules. Depending upon your own personal desire, relationships can be kept at an arms length, drawn closer, or become intimate.
For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself, Galatians 5:14.
This case study begins with a first century sect referred to as the Judaizers. These Jewish converts to Christianity did not want to abandon their Old Testament heritage. Instead of focusing on their newly formed relationship with Jesus, the Judaizers overemphasized a strict adherence to Jewish customs. The leaders of this group convinced Gentile members of the Church in Galatia to become circumcised. Instead of following the apostles teaching in Romans 10:9-10, the Judaizers claimed that if you really wanted to be saved, “you need to to adopt Jewish customs and practices found in the Torah.”
But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another, Galatians 5:15.
The opposite side of this study is a woman who took relationships to the extreme. Unable to find love in normal relationships, Mary turned to prostitution, selling her body to unfulfilled men. Despite the money Mary made, the void in her heart remained. Instead of developing a physical attraction toward Jesus, a spiritual hunger was conceived. Eager to discover meaning in life, Mary becomes a follower of Jesus, trying to reconcile all the poor decisions of her past. Based upon the actions taken in John 12:3, Mary was closely listening to Jesus’ teaching. Perhaps a sign of contrition, Mary takes an expensive bottle of perform and anoints Jesus’ feet.
But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God), Galatians 5:16.
The passage above offers a solution to souls wrestling with religion verses relationships. While religion provides a sense of direction, relationships offer freewill to choose your level of commitment. According to the apostle Paul, there is an internal tug of war going on within your mind daily. Instead of feeling forced to go to church or behave in a certain manner, walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit. As Christians begin to develop a permanent meaningful lasting relationship with Jesus, you will want to go to church, pray and read the Bible. When you embrace the freedom Jesus offers, faith replaces the need for religion. Thus, choose the abundant life Jesus promises by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.
According to ancient tradition, the Spirit of God hovered over the earth prior to the commencement of creation. This information was passed down from generation to generation orally before Moses was called by God to write the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Throughout the early years, God’s presence drifted from one place to another, causing many to wonder, “where is God’s Spirit in the world today?”
The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters, Genesis 1:2.
Moses compares God’s Spirit to an accompany of blessings, Deuteronomy 28:1-2. The prophet Samuel refers to a special anointing given to David which led him to become King of Israel. From a New Testament point of view, the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-6 ushered in the Holy Spirit to become a greater presence in the lives of human beings. Recognizing Pentecost as a once in a world event, the apostle Paul compares God’s Spirit to a force like momentum which you can follow, Galatians 5:25.
I form the light and create darkness, I make peace [national well-being] and I create [physical] evil (calamity); I am the Lord, Who does all these things, Isaiah 45:7.
In the passage above, another Old Testament prophet claims God’s Spirit allows good and evil to occur. Instead of forcing obedience like a militant leader, God created freewill so that God’s Spirit is only a door away, Revelation 3:20. While false doctrines, prophets and teachings continue to confuse many today, bread crumbs have been left behind in the form of a book, Romans 10:17. The more you open the Bible, Psalm 119:105, the presence of God’s Spirit comes into focus as a light in the darkness of 2020.