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.
Today’s song comes from Element 101, not a compound on the Periodic Table but a Christian band. Element 101 is made up of vocalistCrissie Verhagen, guitarists Chris Mizzone and Danny Papa, bassist Sal Ciaravino, and drummer Nick Acocella. Standing on the Edge of Night by Element 101 is one of those finger snapping tunes that is great for keeping you awake at night.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather, Psalm 1:1.
Standing in the Bible is symbolic for getting behind someone or something. Whether you’re walking, standing or sitting, temptation has a way of convincing you to stand on the edge of night. Rather than join in with sinners, set a spiritual tone daily by seeking God’s counsel daily. If you keep in step with the Holy Spirit, blessings and good fortunes will follow.
An edifice is an imposing building. This may be complex, elegant and or large in stature. In the passage below, edifice is like a city on a hill in Matthew 5:14. According to Jude, one of the best ways to rise like an edifice is to pray in the Holy Spirit. If the apostle Paul was correct in his assumption in Galatians 5:25, once you learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit your faith will rise like an edifice under construction.
But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [[d]make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit; Jude 1:20.
During a first century conversation with his disciples, Jesus introduces the concept of moving mountains through belief, faith and prayer, Matthew 21:18-22. According to Jesus, belief is the difference between living an ordinary life and rising like an edifice. Perhaps confidence is the key that distinguishes one Christians prayer life above another. The greater your faith, the larger the mountains you’ll move.
Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)—[which will bring you] unto life eternal, Jude 1:21.
Beside developing and strengthening your prayer life, Jude encourages first century Christians to guard and keep your lives in the love of God. Jesus’ earthly brother provides directions to obtain this spiritual state in James 4:7-10. As you draw near to God, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is possible, Galatians 5:25. If you want to rise like an edifice, listen to the instructions of God’s Word so faith continues to grow.
Walking on Sunshine is a song written by Kimberley Rew. This original piece was created for Katrina and the Waves in 1983 for their album. The Bible has their own version of walking on sunshine. However, according to one of Jesus’ disciples, walking is symbolic for living in love. Just as a Christian should learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, love for live should be a daily motivating force to spread sunshine.
And what this love consists in is this: that we live and walk in accordance with and guided by His commandments (His orders, ordinances, precepts, teaching). This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you continue to walk in love [guided by it and following it], 2 John 1:6.
When I was a teenager, I wore my feelings on my sleeves. When I was in a good mood, I wanted everyone that I came into contact to celebrate and feel the joy inside of me. However, as depression set in which was 75% of the time, I didn’t want anybody in the same room with me to be happy or smile. I did the opposite of walking in love, trying to drag everyone down to feel my pain.
And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love, 1 Corinthians 13:13.
The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to love. The final verse of this passage is listed above. According to C.S. Lewis, faith, hope, and love are considered theological virtues. Yet, these spiritual qualities are only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4. Subsequently, if you want to learn to walk in love, Romans 10:9-11, a personal relationship with God is essential. Once this journey begins, walking in love involves keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.
To an average person, the mind of God is hard to fathom. Yet even one of Jesus’ disciples; one of three members of his inner circle tried to cancel Jesus’ plan to save the world from sin, Matthew 16:20-23. Three years earlier, the spiritual leader known as John the Baptist attempted to pull off a similar stunt. In the passage below, John tries to talk Jesus out of being baptized by him. John felt unworthy to perform Jesus’ baptism.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him. 14 But John [f]protested strenuously, having in mind to prevent Him, saying, It is I who have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? – Matthew 3:13-14
Human beings have a hard time seeing the finger of God moving, touching, and working behind the scenes. Perhaps half the problem is that human nature makes most people focus on the here and now so that God’s greater good is never seen. Transition is one of those unpleasant experiences that seems unnecessary at the time it occurs, but it opens the door for future events to occur in your life. This is something that John and Peter both failed to recognize.
But Jesus replied to him, [g]Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to [h]perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, He went up at once out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him, Matthew 3:15-16.
Despite being a discerning prophet, John needed to be persuaded to baptize Jesus. Based upon the discussion in the passage above, John was finally sold on fulfilling all righteousness. Modern day Christians don’t have the luxury of Jesus talking sense into us. Yet we do have an invisible counselor to usher in God’s will for our lives, John 16:13. The next time the Devil, Ephesians 2:2, seeks to block you from doing what God desires, keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:26, so that God’s will prevails.
While growing up in high school, teaching was considered one of the lowest paying occupations. Most of the teachers I grew to admire coached multiple sports or had another job in the summer to pay their bills. Without realizing it, the majority of my friends in college went on to major in Education. Something about teaching attracted me, leading me to eventually become a youth pastor and Bible teacher. Almost 10 years have passed since I taught my last class so as I look toward the future the question is to teach or not to teach?
Not many [of you] should become teachers ([a]self-constituted censors and reprovers of others), my brethren, for you know that we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation], James 3:1.
I don’t miss the countless hours creating Power Point Presentations for my next lecture. Nor do I miss all the emails and phone calls from disgruntled parents wondering why their child didn’t receive a certain grade. Ditto on mind numbing hours spent grading homework assignments, quizzes and tests every weekend. Yet, when you connect with a student or begin to get through to someone that you almost gave up on is what I miss most about teaching. Shaping the minds of future leaders is why I was called to teach in the first place, a form of giving back to society.
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Yet, the Bible has high standards for anyone called to teach. Whether you’re leading a small group, filling in as a substitute or make teaching your career, are you ready to be held accountable? I was fortunate to leave education before Common Core was enforced. Based upon my interactions with a few teachers still in the field, Common Core hinders an individual’s ability to be creative. The older I get, the less likely I would consider a return to the classroom, but never say never when God is involved. All I can do now is keep in step with the Holy Spirit to see what the future holds, Galatians 5:25.
Every January 1st churches across the country begin each new year with a series of fasts. Some of these are designed for health reasons like the Daniel Fast to eat fruits and vegetables, Daniel 1:1-21. Meanwhile, others will participate in media fasts as a way to disconnect from the ways of this world by reconnecting with God, Colossians 3:1-9. Finally, the remaining fasts are geared toward the future by forgoing food for a set period of time as a form of preparation like Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11.
Yet they seek, inquire for, and require Me daily and delight [externally] to know My ways, as [if they were in reality] a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God [in visible ways]. 3 Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do] you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor, Isaiah 58:2-3.
Yet, one Old Testament prophet provides a disclaimer about fasting. One of the first warnings is the self- affliction that fasting may have on your body. The apostle Paul highlights this internal struggle in Galatians 5:16-17 as your sinful nature will clash with the Holy Spirit. Over the course of my life I’ve met several Christians who refuse to fast anymore as it makes them miserable. When people become extremely hunger, it’s not uncommon for these individuals to get easily angered and annoyed.
[The facts are that] you fast only for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do today will not cause your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? [Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke? 7 Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house—when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity], and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard, Isaiah 58:4-8.
If you still want to go through with a January fast despite this warning, make sure you set realistic goals. Even if your church isn’t doing one, there are plenty of calendars, outlines and schedules that you can follow. In addition, try to have some sort of prayer list to concentrate on each day or week so when the urge to break your fast comes, praying will distract you from your hunger pains. Finally, if you do decide to fast, keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25 who tends to alter and add a new direction for your future.
The acronym Keep It Simple Stupid, aka KISS was coined by Kelly Johnson who was a lead engineer at Lockheed Skunk Works at the time. Yet, this phrase also became a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. This naval principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. As a new year begins, why not apply the same strategy to life in 2022.
Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church [k]as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God, Hebrews 13:16.
Based upon the passage above, first century Christians began to make following Jesus much more complicated. Several religious sects like the Judaizers began to add additional stipulations to becoming saved. Subsequently, some Jewish Christians became so obsessed with following the traditions of the Old Testament that they forgot the golden rule which is to love yourself neighbors as yourself, Mark 12:31.
Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. 3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace, Ephesians 4:2-3.
No matter how hard you try, everyone fails to love at some point in their lives. Based upon the words of Matthew 16:24-27, even Jesus’ disciples needed to be reminded to keep it simple. Rule number one is to deny yourself by becoming a servant of God in 2022. The second rule is based upon taking up the burdens of others like Jesus did for you and me. Finally, follow Jesus in 2022 by keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, our spiritual advisor and guide for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Becoming a Christian is like new parents coming home from the hospital with their first child. Adults may take Lamaze classes in preparation, but once there are no doctors around to tell you what to do, you’re on your own. While most churches provide literature for new believers or offer classes to help prepare newbies for a new life in Christ, there are still more questions than answers. Subsequently, countless Christians often don’t know how to act after trusting in Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions. 2 One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand, Romans 14:1-4.
While visiting the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul came into contact with new, immature and weak Christians. The passage above provides advice for coping and dealing with Christians who don’t exactly know how to act yet. As a former high school coach, Paul’s words remind me that not every individual responds well to criticism. Some people need encouragement, others need a pat on the back and the lackadaisical could use a stern talking to promote spiritual growth.
Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. 15 You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. 16 But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:14-17.
The earthly brother of Jesus was introduced to the concept of sins of omission. Perhaps, the Pharisees became so concerned about religious practices such as resting on the Sabbath that they failed to see opportunities to help and serve others. When his older brother was crucified on a cross at age 33, James realized that life is too short to not to know how to act. Therefore, if your conscience or the Holy Spirit compels you to act and you do not, you’re just as guilty as a sinner. Therefore, seize each day and learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you begin to learn how to act as a Christian daily.
The longest book in the Bible begins it’s first chapter by comparing life to talking a walk. Depending upon the choices that you make, you will follow one of two paths, Matthew 7:13-14. The broad road is a popular destination, the easiest and most convenient choice with the vast majority of the crowd going in this direction. Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken coincides with the narrow path, regularly passed over in this life.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. 2 But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night, Psalm 1:1-2.
As a Christian, your walk is an outline for your testimony. The apostle Paul provides a blueprint to follow in Galatians 1:10-24. Spiritual walks are comprised of 3 phases in your life: how you lived prior to being introduced to Jesus, how you entered into a personal relationship with Jesus and how your life has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Where you once walked gives others hope that they too have time to change for the better.
It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), 7 Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices]. 8 But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! 9 Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, Colossians 3:6-9.
The passage above serves as a warning to those individuals considering the idea of reverting back to their old ways. While no one is perfect, Romans 3:9-12, Christians are called to a higher standard, Matthew 5:46-48. Where you once walked is a reflection of your old self, Colossians 3:1-4. Instead of dabbling in the past, Galatians 5:25, Paul exhorts Christians to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. May this blog inspire you to walk with God despite the temptation to go back where you once walked..