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Where God Speaks

Hands_of_God_and_Adam

I have been trying to listen to God (Holy Spirit) through my spirit. A couple of months ago I learned that my spirit is found in my gut, rather than in my mind or in my emotions. Some of the places in a word in the original language says heart, should actually read “belly” or “gut”.

Years ago I learned that whenever I sensed something in what I called my intuition, I was always right. This understanding of gut knowledge has me now to hear from that place what it is that God has for me to do. My problem was that I did not understand that that place was where my spirit is.

God Spoke, I Listened

Because of the nature of my job, for the first time in eight months that I worked there, I have not had a single Sunday off until three weeks ago. I had been going to a Tuesday nigh and a Wednesday night  Bible study,  but could not get to church on Sundays.Because I had missed church, I determined that I would go to three services in three different churches. The first church was a denominational church, but the second two were nondenominational churches. In  the second, they had a food distribution going on in which I helped. In the final church, even though I had never been there before, I felt as though i was home.

At the end of the service, I felt the prompting in my spirit to go up to the pastor of the congregation and ask him if I could give a message at his church on June 7th.  As I said, I did not know the pastor, but I did feel as though I needed to ask.

It was not as hard to ask as I thought it would be. I even told the pastor that I understood if he said no. He did not however, said no. He said maybe. I didn’t hear back from him, but on June 7th, I showed up with a message.

Mind you, I had never preached a message in front of a church group before and I even told the congregation that. I was obviously nervous, but everything went well. I knew that I needed more experience and I really want to be able to do that more.

The Message

thunderstormThe message that I gave was out of Luke 11, John 11 and John 12. It was about Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus who sat at Jesus feet, listening to what he had to say. She faced ridicule from her sister. She questioned Jesus when he allowed her brother to die. She then received revelation that Jesus was going to the cross and she wanted to serve him by anointing his feet with Spikenard, an oil that offered physical, emotional, and spiritual healing because she knew the pain that he was going to face on the cross.

Today, like Martha, we are often too busy to take the time to listen to Jesus as Mary did. If we are to get revelation from God, then we need to take the time to spend at his feet listening.

We need to be willing to question Jesus. It says in the word that we receive not because we ask not. Perhaps our problem as Christians is that we think we are supposed to have it all together. The truth is, in our earthly physical bodies, we never will. It is only in Jesus that we can know anything of lasting value.

Nothing is really mystical about what Jesus offers us. Our duty as Christians is primarily to love as Jesus loved and to listen to what he would have us do next.

I hope that I never get too busy to listen to what Jesus Christ has to tell me.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues. Her upcoming book A Coward’s Solace will be available soon. Click here for more information about Cygnet Brown and her books.

 


Fisherman in the Sea of Galilee

In Matthew 4:17 Jesus has started his ministry on earth telling everyone that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

He then walked along the Sea of Galilee. In other places in the Bible and in history Sea of Galilee are the Sea of Tiberias, Gennesaret, and Chinnereth. this sea was source of the Jordan River. The Jordan River flowed from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. We can take a lesson from this when we recognize that the Sea of Galilee is the source. It was alive and teaming with fish and supported the communities that surrounded it. The Dead Sea however only receives water and has no outlet. It is a dead lake where nothing grows. If you take and take and take, you will be as barren as the Dead Sea.

Jesus wasn’t walking along the Dead Sea. He was walking along the Sea of Galilee and as he was walking, he comes across Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and he invites them and then the sons of Zebedee James and John to be his disciples to become “fishers of men”. He took these men and gave them a higher calling. There is no record of them wondering if they should go, whether Zebedee tried to talk James and John out of going, if Peter’s wife was worried about where the money would come from. None of these are recorded. It just says Jesus invited them and they went.

painting of Jesus Christ healing the sick

Throughout Galilee, Jesus started his preaching ministry. He went from synagogue to synagogue preaching the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven. But he did something more, he made a difference in the lives of the people around him. He healed people. He healed all kinds of diseases, but he also healed all types of torments. The word torments here is the Greek word basanos which is thought to come from the root word basia which means to walk, a pace, foot. In other words, this word basanos has to do with anything that makes us feel as though we were going to the bottom or down to the foot.

What Jesus offered and gave to the people were The promise of the Kingdom and the gifts of salvation and healing.

“Well,” you say,” that was Jesus and that was then surely that’s not for us today. God works differently today than he did back then. He uses medicine and doctors today, right?”

I’m not going to answer the question for you of whether trusting in the medical system is God’s work. That’s between you and God. What I will challenge you concerning you  though is what Jesus told his disciples:

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, John records in John 14:12 Jesus spoke to his disciples and said, “Verily verily, I say unto you. He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works shall he do because I go unto my Father.”

What I am challenging myself (and you, if you’re up to the challenge) is this: If we believe the Bible as we say we do, why don’t we do the same works and even greater works than Jesus did? Why do we let the tormenter rule over our lives. Why are we ineffective in delivering others of their diseases and oppressions? Is it God who has changed or is it perhaps that we REALLY do not believe what he says? More importantly, what can we do about it?


So far in our study of First Corinthians we have examined Paul–the author, we have looked at the church, and the city where the church was located. Today I would like to look at the rest of Paul’s introduction and discover what we can about how to look at others in the church with whom we may not agree.

In today’s study, we are going to examine I Corinthians 1:2 a little more closely, because there is an important jewel to be discovered here:

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

I want to point out that the words  in my Bible “to be” are italicized. Whenever I see words in my Bible italicized, I know that those words were not in the original language (in this case Greek), but were added by the translator to help clarify the words meaning. However, in this case the words “to be” change the meaning of the passage. The phrase originally read:

” to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus called Saints“.

In other words, those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus are already called Saints. In order more completely understand what this verse means, we need to learn what a couple of words actually mean.

What does Sanctified mean?

The word sanctified here is haglozo (Strong’s 37) means to mentally purify, or to go through the process of making your mind holy. It is a process that you do in your mind. It is different than the spiritual change that occurs at salvation. Your spirit becomes a new creature at salvation (II Corinthians 5:17), but your mind is under a constant renewal process. (Romans 12:2).

Who are the Saints?

This Biblical term is not referring to the canonization of people by the Roman Catholic church. The word “saints” here (and all of the New Testament) in the Greek is hagios (Strong’s 40) which means consecrated thing, one who is held blameless. If you are a born again believer, you are called saint because if you remember from earlier lessons, your righteousness doesn’t come from your own merits. The righteousness that covers you comes from what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. You are held blameless for your sins because of what he did for you.

Both of these Greek words haglozo and hagios come from the same Greek root hagos. As I pointed out, Haglozo refers to the fact that every day there is a renewal in our minds that should go on every day. Hagios is different in that we are made blameless through making Jesus Lord of our lives.

Paul still called them Saints because they called upon the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.

Let’s go on to Verse 3:

3) Grace be upon you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul gave the church at Corinth a blessing in his greeting. He offered them grace and peace. Paul gave this blessing in all of his letters except for his letters to Timothy and Titus. He did not agree with everything they were doing, but he always blessed them anyway.

Perhaps we too need to learn to bless those in the church who we don’t always see eye to eye with or even those we believe are in error. We need to learn to pray grace and peace over them every time we think about them. When we pray grace and peace over other people, we are rewarded with the same thing. If we want more grace and more peace, we need to begin praying the same for others, especially those with whom we do not agree.

If this has blessed you or if you have any questions or comments about this post, please comment below. If you have any questions about any matter regarding salvation or growing in Christ, please contact me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I would love to help.


So far, In our study of First Corinthians we have learned that Paul wrote the book. We studied that the word church meant “to be called”, and we discovered that those who were “called”, also had to choose to accept the invitation. We also learned that we had to accept the provision of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can give us, Today, we will learn about Corinth,  the city to him this book (actually a letter) was addressed in this book. We will also learn how this city is a mirror of our society today.

Corinth had originally been part of the Greek empire before the Romans’ conquered the region in 146 BC. The Romans under Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 BC. When Paul wrote this first letter to the church at Corinth, the city had again become a cosmopolitan city of wealth and trade.  First century Corinth was an environment of varying social classes, numerous and varied spiritual influences and with a culture shaped primarily by both Greek and Roman historical influences.  Situated in a key geographical location that supported prosperity, Corinth developed a wealthy economy but a significant divide between rich and poor, resulting in a social elitism. It had a varied polytheistic approach to religion, but also supported a Jewish population and the emerging Christian movement. All of these factors contribute interpretation of First Corinthians, but understanding Corinth can also help us in understanding what we need to do as the church in today’s society.

Culture

By the time, Paul wrote this letter, the city supported diverse cultural influences. As a Roman colony, Rome’s influence upon culture, economy, and religion were in evidence, but the re-habitation of the city under Julius has included Italians and “dispossessed Greeks”, then later Hellenistic Jews. This multicultural society became a virtual melting pot. We can say the same for our culture. As our society becomes more globally influenced, our culture becomes a melting pot of cultures where cultural tolerance rules.

Economy

Economically Corinth’s society ranged from wealthy elite down to the lowest social classes. The city sponsored the Isthmian Games that brought revenue into the city.  Merchants and traders supported other occupations in the city. Not all inhabitants of the city lived well. The socially disadvantaged and slave class, prostitutes, and a criminal element also lived there. Diseases amongst the population caused a high turnover of staff which warranted employment opportunity to newcomers. Our world culture also has the extremely rich, and the extremely poor.  In extremely poor countries around the world, 25  thousand die of starvation every day, whereas  in the United States, approximately 40% of food is thrown away because food’s overabundance.

Spirituality

Corinth was one of the most religious diverse cities of the Roman Empire. Roman Gods, Greek Gods, gods of new religious, philosophers, and  Jewish Rabbis developed a religious society that sported a “just in case” spiritualism. Corinth was also known as the cultural center for the fertility goddess Aphrodite. Her temple in Corinth was rumored to be home to a thousand prostitutes. Some may have participated in church activities. This cult is said to have contributed to Corinth’s reputation  for licentiousness.  As we look at these religious issues, we get a better understanding about what Paul was up against. He certainly had serious issues to confront when we consider all the religious practices, associated with a plethora of pagan religious entities, including eating foods dedicated to other religious gods. In our culture religious ideologies also abound.

According to David Barrett of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones.”

Paganism is probably the fastest growing religion in the west, paganism, and it is becoming a widespread cultural phenomenon. Anchored in ancient culture, paganism is the result of many different anti-establishment ideologies uniting and providing a pliable, culturally rich spiritual system seemingly suited to life in the modern, western world.

Whether Isis or Ma’at to Kemetic practitioners, Freyja to the Asatru, the Lady to Wiccans, or Artemis, Athena, or Hecate to Hellenic Reconstructionists, some aspect of the feminine Divine has become central to most if not all neo-pagan religions. Though individual practitioners may not choose to follow or honor a particular goddess, especially those who follow a henotheistic path, the religion that they identify with is still loyal to certain images of feminine divinity. The same goddess centered system is thriving in our current society.

The Church

As recorded in Acts 18, Paul brought Christianity to Corinth. He propagated the good news that Jesus Christ was Lord while Paul worked as a tent maker. Paul exploited the opportunity influence the spiritually insatiable hunger of the citizens of Corinth. He became socially imbedded into the culture. At this time the Church of Corinth was just a small seed beginning to sprout.

Today the churches of the world are divided on a number of fronts. Barrett states that 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. “Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.

Just as the Church at Corinth squabbled over social issues, the church of today does the same. Even those sitting next to you in church on the same pews may not have the same social ideology as you do. The church is divided along the lines of  women in ministry, capital punishment, the homeless and refugees, abortion, nuclear deterrence, medical technology, public education, homosexuality just to name a few. Some groups believe that congregations should be homogenous. In other words, they believe that everyone should be alike. They believe that churches should be divided by social class, by culture, or by whatever societal denomination you choose. (Personally, I think that if we did that, we’d each eventually find ourselves sitting alone), but as we read I Corinthians, we will discover that Paul had a different idea about how the church in a culturally diverse place like Corinth should conduct service.

As we will discover later in this first chapter of First Corinthians (verse 10), Paul wanted no divisions in the church. He desired that we believers be united having the same mind and judgment. We will see however,  that He did not think that all churches should be clones of one another. We will discover that he wanted The Church to be relevant to their overall society, and he knew that in order to do this, the church had to be united. This is a lesson of which we can all benefit.

What is your viewpoint concerning our diverse social structure? Do you think the church should be more tolerant?  Do you feel that the church should be diverse or do you think that we should divide up into “relevant” social groups? Feel free to comment below.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I am here to assist you in any way I can.

 


No one ever uses the word “sin” any more. What is sin anyway? The term is definitely not politically correct. Our society discourages anything that has negative connotations, and the idea of sin definitely has negative connotations. When we are willing to acknowledge the existence of sin, we think about it as terrible things that “evil people” do  like murder, child abuse, or armed robbery. We are quick to say that whatever we did was “not that bad” or God knows my heart and even he knows I am really a good person.

However, God does not see sin that way. He sees sin is anything that we do that takes the place of him in our lives. He admits that he does not want us giving what he considered his place to something or someone else, even if just temporary.

We are not responsible for the existence of our sins.  We are all born sinners. In Genesis chapter 3 we learn that Adam and Eve made the decision to disobey God. They listened to the serpent when he encouraged Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil (not an apple). They caused a death sentence for their physical bodies.

In the New Testament, in Romans 5:12-17 Paul explains what happened spiritually to Adam. In this passage, Paul explained that through Adam all humankind have a sin nature (sinning comes naturally to them) because sin ruled over Adam down to his DNA causing each person living to have sin in their DNA. The law of “wages of sin was death” was put into effect from that time forward.  We cannot simply just do what we think is right in our own eyes and get a pass. We are doomed to death.

However . . .There’s good news. . .

The verse talking about “the wages of sin” does not end with death. The verse finished with “BUT the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Because Christ allowed himself to become our sacrifice, we are able to receive the gift (free for the asking)  of Grace through his sacrifice. Our part is that we accept his sacrifice as being enough for us to receive eternal life.  His grace gives us the ability not to sin.

We can receive this gift if we believe on the authority by Jesus Christ to forgive sins. Acts 4:12 says that there is no way for man to get eternal life except through Jesus Christ. You cannot earn it, you will never be able to do anything that will be good enough. You must accept his provision.”

This does not mean that the law that “the wages of sin is death” no longer exists. It does. If you do not accept his provision, you will die in your sins. You must accept his provision if you want eternal life. Think of it this way. We have the law of gravity. Gravity results from the magnetism of the earth. You jump; you come down. However, we have another law. It is called the law of lift. When we go up in an airplane, the law of lift takes effect. This law of lift supersedes the law of gravity and as a result, the heavy metal plane with you in it can rise above the clouds. In the same way, the Law of Grace supersedes the law of sin and death.  But there is one way that the law of grace is different. Under the Law of Grace, you do not ever have to come down. Once given, God will not take it back.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” (Act 16:31) Jesus did not come into this world to condemn us. He said that he came to the world to save the whole world (John 3:16+17,               I Timothy 4:10). The truth is, he said that he did not want anyone to die in his or her sins. He has done all that he can do to rid you of your sin. The ball is in your court. The choice is yours. As Joshua said (Joshua 24:15), “Chose you this day whom you will serve. . .” Will you choose to serve God or serve your sin? Will you chose continue on your road to death, or will you choose life?

If you want to know more about the Law of Grace, I would like to help you. Send an email to me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com and I will get back to you. Also, I would like  to help you connect with someone locally to help you along your spiritual journey. Also, I ask that you continue reading my blog posts. I pray that the posts I share will be timely and informative.  I will be posting a new blog post every Tuesday morning. If you have any questions, please either put them in the comments below (others may have the same questions). Also, feel free make comments below.

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