"Imprinting"

Consider the following dictionary definition of the term imprinting: “A learning process occurring early in the life of a social animal in which a specific behavior pattern is established through association with a parent or other role model.”

Research has proven, for instance, that if baby geese hatch and the first role model they have is their surrogate human “parents,” then the geese imprint on them. They follow their human role model even if they are later exposed to adult geese.

We have unfortunately done the same thing in our human existence. We have been born into Satan’s society–the god of this age. Note what Paul stated concerning the people of this society in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “…whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

Again, Paul in addressing Christians of his day, spoke of God’s calling to salvation. In Titus 2:12, he contrasted God’s way: “…teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, and GODLY in the present age.”

We must overcome our imprinting to Satan! Satan’s pattern of living does not call upon one to live “soberly, righteously, and godly.”

God wants us to imprint on Him! (Cp Mat 5:48). To do that, He has given us His very mind and the power to do so through the gift of His Holy Spirit. In addition, He has provided a role model to assure our success in transforming the wrong imprinting human kind has yielded to. Our new pattern is Jesus Christ.

Brethren, let each of us carefully and with all diligence continue to grow in the stature and fullness of our Savior. Let us submit to the imprinting that will lead to eternal life. Finally, Paul sums up our task in Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
 

"To Tell The Truth"

How difficult it is for us to admit when we are wrong! How easy it is, instead, to justify our mistakes – to deny the facts; or to shade the truth; or to set forth a “multitude of words,” when we want to avoid speaking the plain and simple truth.

Many years ago, when reading about Cochise, the war chief of the Chiricahuas, I was appalled by his cruelties and murders, but, at the same time, I was impressed by his sense of honesty. In his book, “The Apache Indians,” (copyright 1938), Frank C. Lockwood quotes on pp. 111-112 a conversation between Cochise and his white blood brother and Indian agent, Thomas Jeffords: “‘The following will illustrate a point in Cochise’s character: He said to me once, ‘Chickasaw [i.e., Brother], a man should never lie.’ I replied: ‘No, he should not, but a great many do.’ He said: ‘That is true, but they need not do it; if a man asks you or I a question we do not wish to answer, we could simply say, I don’t want to talk about that.'”

When I read this statement for the first time, I wondered how an unconverted so-called “heathen” could know or appreciate, what many professing “Christians” seemed to have forgotten. And then I began to ask myself, What about true Christians? Are we always willing not to lie – no matter what the consequences?

Do we always know, and live by that knowledge, that “no lie is of the truth.” (1 John 2:21)? Following the living God, we must become perfect as He is perfect – and God’s perfect and holy will and character make it impossible for God to lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19).

Lies can appear in many different forms and shapes. They can be blatant denials of guilt, as was the case with Adam and Eve; or they can be more subtle. Abraham claimed that his wife Sarah was his sister (Genesis 20:2). This claim was partially true, as Sarah was indeed his half-sister (Genesis 20:9-13) – but since Abraham made the statement to deceive Abimelech, it was a complete lie.

Whenever we lie, we follow Satan’s lead (John 8:44). Unless we repent of lying, unless we stop lying and change, we will end up in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8; 22:15). God wants us to be true, honest and sincere. We must put away lying, and speak the truth with our neighbor (cp. Ephesians 4:25). Our words must be as good as gold – better than any written, notarized, sealed and delivered contract could ever be. We don’t need to verify the truthfulness of our words with an oath (James 5:12), as people will know, in time, that our words are true. They will be able to rely on us — they will know that when we say that we will do something, we will do it (cp. Psalm 15:4). Rather than being forgetful hearers, we will be known as doers of God’s work (cp. James 1:25). There is never a need to lie. We don’t have to say everything that we know – but everything that we say must be true.
 

"What the Holy Spirit Means to Us"

Historically, Pentecost was when the Church of God had its beginning, complete with signs and wonders and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. For us in the Church, the receiving of the Holy Spirit occurred at our baptism. We had hands laid upon us and if we fulfilled the requirements, we received the Holy Spirit. We read about the beginning of the Church in Acts 2.

Just what does the Holy Spirit do for a person who receives it?

We are told in John 16:13 that the Spirit will guide us into ALL truth and tell us things to come. What God is revealing to us through John is that His Spirit helps us to understand the Bible since the truth is God’s word. We also see things in the Bible we never understood before. God’s word becomes alive — a guide for our Christian living.
God also promises us through John that the Spirit will tell us “things to come,” in other words, our minds will comprehend biblical prophesies which we may not have understood before. God’s Spirit also gives us a sound mind. In John 16: 7, the Spirit is referred to as a “helper.” A helper assists us in completing a task or a job. A helper does not push, cajole or force us, but rather encourages, advises and assists us in the accomplishment of our goals. This is how the Spirit works in our lives, acting as an encouraging and helping force to do the will of God, and not our own.

With the gift of the Spirit to us, we become begotten children of God and thus if we remain faithful to the end, we will be partakers of the resurrection to eternal life (1 Cor 15:51-52), and we will rule with Christ in the Millennium (Rev 5:10; Rev. 20:4) and for all eternity (Rev. 22:5).

Let us be grateful to our God for giving us Pentecost as a reminder of our heritage and our future as kings and priests in the world tomorrow.

"And Satan Came"

As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, we are encouraged because we are reminded of all God has done for His people on this day, down through history.

The Ten Commandments were spoken by God to His chosen people on the day of Pentecost — a law, which defined sin and distinguished right from wrong — a standard to live by.

God gave His Spirit of Power to His Church on that first Pentecost following the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whereby, it would be possible for those God calls, to live by that standard He had established.

And, God established the New Testament Church on the day of Pentecost, at that same time, so that people of like mind could assemble together as a help to one another as they worked toward the goals established by the Almighty.

We are thankful for these wonderful gifts from our Father.

However, there is a god of this world. His purpose is totally contrary to God and His perfect Way of Life. And, he injects himself into the lives of those God has called, with the express purpose of thwarting the plans God has established.

In Genesis 3: 1-4, we see Satan as he came to Eve in the garden. Through his lies, he convinced Eve to go contrary to God’s Way, thus causing her to reject God’s Spirit (Genesis 3: 24). Satan has not changed his ways. He has been able to influence mankind throughout man’s generations.

In Job 1: 6, we read that Satan came among the angels of God, as they presented themselves before the Lord. His express purpose was to attack and destroy God’s servant, Job, whom God described as “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and shuns evil” (Verse 8).

To add to our problem of having to deal with this spirit being, we are told he is a liar (John 8: 44) and that he walks contrary to our calling (Ephesians 2: 1-3). Yet, he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11: 14). He is our enemy.

We must become even more cognizant of his strategies and of his tactics, since we are living in the end-time. We are warned in 1 Peter 5: 8, to “be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Our admonition in James 4: 7, is to “Submit to God and resist the devil.” We must draw near to God (James 4: 8). And we must hold fast, as Paul instructed Titus, to “the faithful word” we have been taught, “that we may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict, those who contradict (Titus 1: 9).”

If we do these things, God tells us in 1 Peter 5: 6, that “He will exalt us in due time.”

Let us keep these things in mind as we approach this season and realize that we have the power to overcome Satan and those who walk in his way, if we will obey our God and stay close to Him.
 

"The Times We Live In"

Today’s newspapers, magazines, television, movies–ALL MEDIA–continue to herald the debauchery and madness that has set in as a kind of world disease.

However, the precious few people who both know the true way to live and still hold to those practices that please God must remain alert to the forewarning we all have been given about these last days. As we each “plug in” for the latest world events, let’s also be constantly reminded of the kind of society in which we now live.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 reads, “But KNOW THIS, that in the LAST DAYS perilous times (times of stress) will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving (irreconcilable), slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And FROM SUCH PEOPLE TURN AWAY!”

These words from almost two thousand years ago accurately describe this age and this generation. Christians have long understood that these very troublesome times will come to an end when Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of unending peace and happiness–the Kingdom of God! Then, and ONLY THEN, will these prophesied headlines for today give way to the promised GOOD NEWS of God’s majestic Kingdom.

Let us all continue to watch as we are admonished (Luke 21:36). And let us also do so with great confidence and eagerness, because we know with complete certainty that both we and this world really do have a future and a hope!

"Be Converted (A Lifelong Process)"

If we lost the use of our dominant hand through an accident, we would be forced to change and learn to use the remaining good hand. That wouldn’t be easy, but it would be possible. If we lost our home through some disaster, we would have to build anew.

Again, even though this would be terribly upsetting, this is something we could do. Finally, even if our whole world was turned upside down such as happened to Job, we could still start over and carry on.

In a very true sense, all of the above and more has happened to each one of us who have been called to conversion. Our walk in this world, in this age, has been dramatically altered. We must never allow ourselves to grow dull and lethargic in this new pattern of living and learning.

Each year at Pentecost we are reminded of our calling. As we once again approach that special time for this current year, let’s consider those momentous challenges we accepted at God’s calling. In Acts 3:19 we found our first steps with these words from Peter, ” ‘Repent therefore and be converted…’ ” In our zeal of “first love” we embraced these commands with conviction and commitment.

Now, most of us find ourselves well along the path of our calling with much personal history of our Christianity already written. Another insightful directive in this process of our change was taught by Paul in Acts 26:20, in which he taught that all “…should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” Where do we find ourselves, now? Have we changed? Are we converted to God’s way of life–still growing vibrantly after all these years with “works befitting repentance”?

Brethren, being called now is not easy. The proof of that is measured against how much we have changed. Central to the meaning of conversion is being changed into a different form or state. Christ told those willing to hear that humanity faced an almost impossible challenge when He said, ” ‘Therefore you shall be PERFECT, just as your Father in heaven is PERFECT.’ ” (Matthew 5:48).

For certain, we must remember and always consider the awesome and ongoing challenge we face in the conversion process. However, let us also thankfully rejoice that our Father in Heaven has given us of His Holy Spirit so that we can become what He desires of us–converted, sons and daughters of the Living God!
 

"Right Kind of Balance"

How balanced are we – including in our approach to God’s truth? The Bible warns against extremes. Solomon cautions us in Ecclesiastes 7:16-17, “Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?”

During the many years in the Church, I have seen people jump from one extreme to the other. Some of those who seemed to be extremely conservative turned out to be extremely liberal. They did not really change – all they did was to replace one extreme with another.

The Bible encourages us to hold fast to the truth that we have (cp. Revelation 3:11; Jude 3), and, at the same time, to increase in God’s knowledge of the truth (cp. 2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:13). To be complacent with what we got (cp. Revelation 3:17) – thereby resisting the acceptance of newly revealed understanding – is as wrong as rejecting the truth that has been delivered to us (cp. 2 Peter 2:15, 21; 3:17). And, if we have rejected aspects of God’s truth, we must return to it. We are told in Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'”

We will be celebrating Pentecost in a very few weeks, reminding us that we have received God’s Holy Spirit. It is God’s Spirit that leads us into all truth (John 16:13) – showing that we do not have all of it yet. Even the apostle Paul said, prior to his death, that “now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Jesus came to teach us new understanding – He came to exalt the law and make it more honorable (cp. Isaiah 42:21), showing us how we need to keep it, not just in the letter, but also in the spirit. He knew that some would resist that new understanding. It takes time to let God’s truth sink in – and some are unwilling to do that. Notice Luke 5:37-39, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. AND NO ONE, HAVING DRUNK OLD WINE, IMMEDIATELY DESIRES NEW; FOR HE SAYS, ‘THE OLD IS BETTER.'”

Some went so far as not to even follow Christ any more when they could not understand aspects of the teaching that He brought (cp. John 6:53-60, 66). We must never make the same mistake of ceasing to follow Christ when He, through the Holy Spirit, reveals new aspects of the truth to us.

A balanced person will be able to combine “the old” with “the new,” seeing how it all fits together. Christ said in Matthew 13:52, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

Let’s continue to do so.

"Pray That You May Be Accounted Worthy"

When Christ admonished us to “pray that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things” it should be understood in the larger context of our responsibilities as Christians to “preach and publish the Gospel as a witness ” and “grow in grace and knowledge”. To the shepherds you can also add, “feed my sheep”.

We all have a responsibility in the areas God has assigned to us. We in the ministry are to feed the flock. Members are to pray for and support the work of getting the Gospel out. One should never underestimate the power of prayer in this regard. One thing to consider in the larger context is making sure everything we do and pray for is according to God’s will and not our own. It is nice to pray that we escape future trials and go to the place of safety for what I believe is final training and also to get the spots and wrinkles out but this should not be a means unto itself, that is, it must always be according to God’s will. I am sure Stephen was not looking forward to being stoned to death so early in his walk as a deacon in the church but history shows us it was God’s will and God gave him the strength to say what was needed at the time prior to his death.

Therefore our focus should not be to pray that our hides be spared but rather pray that God’s will be done in our lives. If our lives are spared in the future that is good — if not, that is good also. Whether we live or die at the end we all want to stand before our Lord and Savior at His return to rule the earth.
 

"God's Tithes Belong to Him"

We are all aware that April 15 here in the U.S. is income tax day. It is settlement time for one more year with Uncle Sam. Of course, he makes it relatively painless for a majority of taxpayers with the current withholding system established to collect taxes at the time a person gets paid, thus transferring a good part of the burden of the collection effort to the employers in this country.

God has a system of collection for funds due Him to be used in carrying out His work on the earth. He calls that system tithing. The big difference in the two systems is that God depends on the honor of the individual, thus allowing the individual to properly pay the funds due Him.

The thing many do not consider is that the obligation to pay God’s tithes is just as binding under God’s system as is the obligation to pay the U.S. Government for taxes due. Most people, today, are not even aware that such an obligation is due from them. But those called of God have been apprised of the truth in this matter. Yet, many have begun looking for any and every reason not to pay God’s tithes. This is a serious error!

Christ tells us in Luke 20: 25 to “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

God told Adam, in the Garden of Eden, that he was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lest he die. (Gen 2: 16-17) He and his wife chose to go contrary to that command and established a pattern of death.

Today, God raises the question in Malachi 3: 8 … “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. When asked the question, “Wherein have we robbed You?” … The answer comes back … “In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.”

This nation is cursed, brethren, because it has failed God in the payment of His tithes. But even more critical, many in God’s Church, today, are suffering from this same curse, because of disobedience. Let us not be guilty of committing this sin against our Creator.
 

"Watchman"

While we are observing, with horror, the present violent events in the Middle East, we must remember that worse times are ahead of us. Future events will involve the city of Jerusalem. Prophecy paints a dark picture of indescribable suffering, pain and misery for that city and its inhabitants. At the same time, the bible portrays a bright and peaceful future following the soon-coming desolation of Jerusalem — once the Messiah, Jesus Christ, has returned to the Holy City.

The present and immediate future looks grim, and yet, the true disciples of Christ can already see the joy and hope that is in store for this world and the Middle East. God expects His people to fulfill a mission — to announce and to share the good news of the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth. They are to proclaim what is soon coming to pass. Listen to these encouraging words for us today, that can be found in the Scriptures of the prophet Isaiah:

“O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!'” (Isaiah 40:9).

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, With their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye When the LORD brings back Zion.” (Isaiah 52:7-8).

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7).

What a privilege, and what an awesome responsibility it is, to be called by God as one of His watchmen. Let’s all make sure that we are fulfilling our commission and that we are doing what God expects us to do.
 

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