Thursday, November 03, 2005

Answering Some Questions

All questions were provided by Gordon Smith (not the senator).

1) Is okay to pray for animals? I heard a woman pray that no cats would be sacrificed this Halloween.

To pray for animals is fine. We can be emotionally attached to animals, and the Lord understands that attachment. I don't pray for animals usually, myself, but there's nothing wrong with it. Heck, I've prayed for a car before, and we can pray for technology-- why not animals? No where in Scripture does it say that we cannot pray for animals and as humans it is our responsibility to care for animals (Psalm 8). So why not pray for them as well? I'll bet there have been many low level dairy farmers praying for the health of his cow in which his whole economic life depends on.

2) Should Christians pray against legalizing gay mirages? My thinking is on this one, is that, does it really matter if they marry? Should we (the church- the church), pray that they would come to repentance? Rather than waisting time and energy, worrying about the political ramifications, and looking like bad guys.

I think you're right. If we were to pray about this issue, then why don't we pray for all of it-- I mean pray against every area in which the U.S. is unrighteous. The fact that they do not require everyone to worship Yahweh, but allow idolatry-- that's opposed to God's pure righteousness, if anything is. Note that out of the ten commandments, the U.S. only legalizes three of them (murder, stealing, purjury), while the rest are left to each person's "conscience". And Jesus' command of loving one's enemy is considered immoral in many circumstances, as the American justice system is based on punishing one's enemies. The fact is, many wrong things will be legalized before Jesus comes and there will be no really "Christian" nation until Jesus' return.

3) In, the /book of Nahum (1.3) , it states that the "whirlwind and storm is His way." The devil used the whirlwind and storm, to take out Jobs sons and daughters. So, what does that mean, that the whirlwind and storm are exclusively, the Lords?

Storms are under the Lord's command, and Satan-- the minister of God's judgment against humanity-- will sometimes use great powers to judge humanity. God allowed Satan to use that power to test Job-- this is one of the reasons why Job wanted to put God on trial for crimes against him, when he had been righteous.

The main thing we need to remember is that Satan is playing a couple sides, here. He acts for the Lord in judging sinful humanity-- that's his job. He also can judge any human that puts him in authority-- that's all of us.

As far as disasters in the world, we have to look at them open-mindedly. Satan can take pot-shots at humanity any time he wants, and he will occasionally cause a large disaster-- such as the Indonesian tsunami-- just to spark fear in people. He is also sometimes appointed by God to judge a particular area or city because of specific sin-- but the Lord doesn't do this unless he has warned the community ahead of time. This is what I understand happened in New Orleans, and certainly it is true for ancient Jerusalem and Babylon. On occasion, Satan can also ask the Lord to test a specific righteous individual to "prove" their faithfulness. The Lord will sometimes allow these tests, to prove his righteous people.

Thus, in general, it is the Lord's power enacting these judgments, but Satan is the one who is specifically appointed and motivated to use the storm as judgment.

You can see the Lord's relationship to Satan and evil spirits in the following passages--
I kings 22:19-23; Job 1-2; Exodus 12:23; Jeremiah 51:1-4, 56; I Cor 10:10; Hebrews 2:14

Thus, when Satan is finally judged, then this whole system of punishment and testing will be finished. Isaiah 33:1 and Revelation 20. Then we will only have Jesus' method of mercy and repentance.

4) What does it to abide, practicly speaking? Does it mean to seek and serve? What about His 'words?' I read my bible constantly, but I cant rember, hardly a lick. The main reason, that I continue to read it all, is because, God said that His 'word does not come back void.' I am trusting in that promise. So, I guesse my qustion is, What does it mean to truly abide in Christ? Also, what does it mean to have His words abide in you?

"Abide" of course, basically means to "continue in". The opposite of this would be to forsake or to set aside. To abide in Jesus means to retain the covenant with Him. He has established a covenant with us through his death, and that covenant has certain obligations on both sides. On Jesus' side, as we see in John 15, we have complete access to the Father, and thus, the Father's power. On our side, we covenant to obey Jesus and to be faithful to Him-- that is abiding in Jesus and to have his words abide in us.

It is interesting that Jesus mentions both sides. If he had said just "abide in me" then it would have led to easy-believism, that just as long as you claim Jesus you're doing okay. If he had just said, "have my words abide in you" then Jesus would just be giving us a philosophy to live by and it doesn't matter whether it's Jesus or someone else presenting it.

But Jesus said both-- not just honoring and speaking about Jesus; and not just obeying Jesus, but the full faith package.

But this isn't talking about some strange mystical experience (although some people do have that experience) nor is it about Bible memorization (although that is very helpful, and all the early disciples did that-- they literally memorized the exact words of Jesus), but it is about remaining in faith and obedience.

5) How does one know if he or she has the Holy Spirit?

There are a number of ways to know how one is having a spiritual experience:
1. You could be doing things you wouldn't do on your own
2. You could experience a miraculous event, such as a healing or speaking in another tongue you haven't learned
3. You could obtain knowledge you wouldn't have known on your own

However, we must remember that there are many spirits out there, and people are experiencing many different spirits apart from the ones that are pleasing to God. If a person is experiencing the HOLY Spirit, specifically, then we need to look for four things:

1. The Holy Spirit will manifest in some miraculous way, such as described above and also in I Corinthians 12.
2. The Holy Spirit will lead one to act in an attitude of love, peace, patience and self-control, as described in Galatians 5:22-23.
3. The Holy Spirit will enable one to proclaim "Jesus is Lord" I Corinthians 12:3.
4. The Holy Spirit will remind and guide one back to the words and teachings of Jesus. John 14:26

If we see one of these four, it isn't enough. All four must be present to be assured it is the Holy Spirit, and not just our imagination, social pressure, or a different spirit.
If we only see miracles, it might be a spirit, but not the Holy Spirit.
If we only see love, it might be community pressure forcing one to act that way.
If one only proclaims Jesus as Lord-- then it is possible today for a person to be caving in to social pressure, as opposed to the days of Paul in which only a person with a death wish would proclaim Jesus as Lord apart from the Holy Spirit.
If one focuses on the teaching of Jesus, that could be intellectualism.

If we are missing any parts of these, then we do not know it is the Holy Spirit--
If we don't see a miracle, we could be living out our own fantasy.
If we don't see love, there may be power, but it isn't holy.
If a person doesn't proclaim Jesus as Lord, they are experiencing idolatry.
If we aren't guided to Jesus' teaching, we could be experiencing a false spirit in Jesus' name, but not the true Jesus.

But if we experience a spiritual power displayed through the miraculous-- healing, tongues, special knowledge, etc-- that leads us to proclaim Jesus as Lord and to obey his words and that assists us to do all this in an attitude of love-- then we know we have the Spirit.

6)Okay, here is a little story for you. (I'll tell you the short version) I was hanging out with these three guys, driving from here to there, and they stared praying. Eventually, they began to laugh and giggle as though they were drunk. In fact, they were drunk in the spirit. I have heard about people being drunk in the spirit, and I have read about it. But, this is the first time, I have witnessed it. I could "feel the Holy Spirit in that car(i felt something). I did not not break out laughing. I personally in that time felt a calming, that I never felt before. So, what are your thoughts?

These guys are certainly experiencing a spirit, but I don't have enough information to know if it is the Holy Spirit or not. There is a spirit throughout North America that is manifesting a laughing, joyful spirit, but it also seems limited in its power. I don't think this spirit is evil, per se-- that is, he isn't causing destruction of God's people. But the spirit isn't necessarily the holy spirit, either.

I will say that it is strange that such a spirit is being manifested within one of the most hedonistic cultures that has ever existed. Our culture is more focused on "having a good time" than any other, and so why should the Holy Spirit be communicating in this way? Is it because it is a way that these people will understand? Or is it a different spirit taking advantage of the hedonistic times?

I want to make it clear, though, that I have not seen this spirit do any evil, other than to de-focus people from acting sacrificially. Of course, since the way of Jesus is the way of the cross, perhaps that is just enough. It is a real spiritual experience, but I haven't yet had enough evidence to call it the Holy Spirit.

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