Something

Shall:
a.) Something that will take place or exist in the future
b.) Something, such as an order, promise, requirement, or obligation
c.) The will to do something or have something take place
d.) Something that is inevitable

1 John 3:1-3, “1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

When Jesus returns, he will be the unchallenged king that we’ve been waiting for a very long time. So when you read this verse, think on that. When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is. Perhaps just being able to watch him in action will be enough for now. After all, He shall come (in the future) (as a promise) (it is inevitable) (as something that will take place).

One would think that the book of Revelation would be riddled with shalls, but there is only one instance of the word, specifically in the seventh verse of the first chapter. Now while the book doesn’t have many occasions of the use of the word shall, most of the events that happen shall take place in the future.

In the meantime, what shall you do?

Must: a neccessary or essential thing

Ephesians 4:17-32, “17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
 20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26″In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

 29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Christianity is alot of things to alot of people, and nothing if not confusing at first glance. It requires a change and it requires that no Christian purposefully sin. I remember from the history books that there was once a sect of Christianity that believed in being sinners every day of the week, but saints on the Lord’s day. The theory was, “more sin leads to more grace.” It was just that belief that led confused Christians away from the truth and into gnostic heresies.

We must change our lives. Not might, kind of, or sort of. Why is a change neccessary? We lived according to our nature beforehand, darkened in our understanding, as the verses above puts it. The Jesus showed us the truth and saved us from our just punishment. Now we’re the new man. The new man must not live like the old man, or else it would have all been for nothing.

We must no longer live like the Gentiles do…
We must put off falsehood…
We must steal no longer…
We must work…

So where ever you see the word must in the New Testament, you’re not looking at a suggestion or optional ingredient, but a neccessary and essential commandment in your walk with Christ.

Trouble loves Company

(Since our primary chef took ill yesterday at the last minute, Thanksgiving dinner was all my responsibility to prepare. Thanks to my thorough instructions, everything turned out just fine and it was all finished only fifteen minutes behind schedule due to a mashed potato malfunction. Now I know that should it be neccessary for me to make such a meal by myself it will turn out pretty good, but to use instant potatoes if I can get away with it.)

Throughout the New Testament there are a few sorts of lesser well known Christians. The good examples, the mentioned yet otherwise unknown people, and the bad examples. One of my favorite book series talked about the various people in the Bible who were bad examples and just why they were bad examples and what we could learn from them. So let’s talk about the Christians in the Bible who were bad examples.

Hymenaeus – He was a blasphemer and false teacher, but he was never alone in his michief.
Philetus – He was a false teacher.
Alexander – a blasphemer, and if he is the metal-worker, one who is strongly opposed to the message. He didn’t exactly help Paul.

They taught that the ressurection had already happened and that they could be “Christian” and still yet sin. According to wikipedia, they were believers in gnosticism. The teachings of the Bible, the scripture provided by the apostles, and the lessons from the elders just weren’t sound enough for them. Sadly, gnostic teachings aren’t any less enticing today, in an age where just about everything is relative. Several best selling books have had gnostic elements in recent years.

Ananias and Sapphira – they conspired to follow up Barnabas faithful act with a slightly less faithful one. It was the same trick, but they didn’t give all the proceeds to the elders as Barnabas had. Instead they were confronted, they both lied, and then they died all in the same day. That put the fear of the Lord in the early church.
Diotrephes – A man who ‘loves to be first in everything’ impeded the hospitality of local Christians and failed to acknowledge the apostles was so much of a problem, the local church wrote a letter asking just how to deal with him.

It’s interesting to note that almost all of these people were Christians and sinners who couldn’t sin by themselves. They had to take others with them down that slippery slope of backsliding. It was because of a disgreement that Paul lost the company of a brother in the faith and found Timothy to take his place. So just what can we learn?

1.) To root ourselves in sound doctrine.
2.) To not toe the line between entertainment and blasphemy, and to certainly never cross it.
3.) To never misrepresent Christ or the truth.
4.) To not get caught as the company of a sinner taking others down with him.
5.) To know our actions will be remembered and they might hinder us getting the trust of other Christians.

The First Proclamation

For all you Americans, Americans-at-heart, Kin of Americans, and everybody else, today is Thanksgiving Day and I wish you well. May your feast be unparalleled and your company in good humor. On this day of togetherness, let us honor the absence of those serving in a land far, far away. This is a day to look toward the past to gain a glimpse forward. Past presidents have often issued Thanksgiving Day proclamations. George Washington’s is as follows (There was a tendendy to type ‘s’ as ‘f’ in the old days, but one thing is certain, they don’t do things like they used to.):

General Thanksgiving

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
A PROCLAMATION

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WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

A Vested Interest

Philppians 2:1-4, “1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

It’s easy to care about yourself. It’s easy to care about your family. It’s easy to care about your good neighbor. It’s easy to care about church families. It’s really hard to care about people with whom you are less than thrilled. But the most difficult thing is to think of absolutely everybody else before how you might gain from any action you take. It’s not an attitude easily adopted. Now the Bible doesn’t say to forget yourself entirely, it says “not only … but also”. So you can get away with a benefit every now and then, but don’t forget that it’s Christ’s benefit that we’re looking for.

Considering that we don’t wake up and ask ourselves, “How can I help so-and-so today?” We’re doing pretty good to get by these days. Just because only recently television has jumpped onto the lend a hand bandwagon, let us not forget that it’s one of our many Biblical responsibilities as a Christian. Chances are we won’t get that free trip to Disney land and not all the people we assist will look good on our resumes. There’s one thing that’s on our side, true humility.

Christ lived out His life as our ultimate example of humility. He chose poverty over wealth. He chose sinners over piously religious leaders. He chose to die on a cross over living out the full extent of his days. If we should choose to make ourselves rich, it should be with friends and family. If we should choose a church, it should be full of regular people who love God and each other. If we should choose to live out the full extent of our days it should be spending each and every one of them following Jesus in every way.

A Bit of a Production

1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, “4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

I can only tolerate so much theatrics from a church. In this case, a prayer for a specific individual that turned into an annointing and excorcisim-like affair was too much for me. It didn’t take me long to tune out during the sermon, but I often find it hard to connect various theatrics with Bible passages. It didn’t take me long to find 1 Peter 4:7 and realize that it wouldn’t hurt anybody to put it into practice. One could argue that America’s lack of self-control in recent years has contributed to our debt, obesity, and sheer amount of stuff.

It’s a fine line, really. The Bible tells us that the sorts of congregations that go all out in the Holy Spirit, get quite disorderly, and in every way appear to be outside their minds put an emphasis on the gift of tongues. Rarely would today’s charismatic churches pay attention to the verse that says something to the effect of: “As long as there is an interpreter to share the words being spoken in tongues there isn’t a problem. But if there is no interpreter and the words can’t be used to build up the church then don’t speak! For it is better to build up the church than it is oneself.” However, self-control is demanded of every posititon of authority mentioned in the Bible be they overseers, deacons, etc. It is what we should expect of ourselves.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be excited to be in church, but what good are you doing if you’re running laps around the room and preventing the service to proceed? What if an outsider arrives and decides that you are indeed outside your mind? Is it the outsider’s fault for not knowing the procedures? Is it your fault for offending him? What is the limit of theatrics you can deal with? Is your church too lax or too controlled?

The Front Lines

The young man was already in tears by the time the pastor’s prayer was over. Since he was going through alot of things, the pastor asked the congregation to step up and pray for him, and so they did – some three quarters of the congregation. He took some annoting oil and began to pray loudly and quickly. It sounded like wailing really. I heard the phrases “pleading the blood of Jesus” and “he who is saved by the Lord is free indeed” both interspersed with hallelujahs and amens, yeses and Lords. Each of the dozen or so people praying for the young man were praying differently. I could hear some grunting, presumably from the young man, but a microphone can only pick up so much. After several minutes the noise subsided as the pastor directed the young men to saying “hallelujah” and “Jesus loves me”. They called it a spiritual battle. One thing was for sure, I had never seen anything like it. I hope the kid’s okay, it turns out that he’s related to me.

The sort of churches that I’d attended all my life were the places that never said but always implied that religion was between a man and God and the sort of thing you keep quiet in public. Nobody ever told me what a spiritual battle was supposed to look like or if the ‘spiritual battle’ I had just seen was the sort we were supposed to fight. I couldn’t ever really imagine what the accounts in the Bible of Jesus casting out demons or healing people. Were they always so dramatic?

Awhile ago, on a special on television for Halloween, there was an account of a nun who was possessed. She believed that a minister had invited the trouble upon her and the rest of the convent who were also possessed. Then that pastor was caught and tortured – ran through the usual tests to prove whether or not he was a witch or agent of the devil. When they weren’t satisfied, they tricked up and got the “evidence” they were hoping for. Then they executed him. As for the sisters, it took years for them to be freed of their possessions. I was concerned until I realized something. Jesus said that anybody who was freed from possession ran the risk of getting repossessed if there was nothing there to stop them. The possessed nuns must not have been true believers, after all, they were responsible for the death of an apparently innocent man. Now the whole story took place in the thirteen hundreds, a time when people were more apt to believe in that sort of thing. So now I wonder, does today’s general unbelief of such phenomenon leave us in the free in clear or leave us open to danger?

All I really know is that if you resist the Devil he will flee. Jesus did that by reciting scripture and sticking to it. What do you know of spiritual battles?