These things must be

Source: These things must be

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Does your fellowship condone sin?

 

The Corinthians did.  There was this guy who committed adultery with his father’s wife and was still regarded as a member of the congregation.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2(KJV)

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

 

Paul rightly rebuked the congregation and instructed them on the action that was best for the one committing the sin and for the congregation.  Their attitude was all wrong:  “And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned”.  Clearly, they did what was right in their own eyes without thinking about God’s will and way.

1 Corinthians 5:3-5 (KJV)

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 

The sinner had a choice: to keep sinning and be permanently out of the fellowship or to repent and  see what he misses by not being able to fellowship while he is caught up in behavior that does not please God.  Condoning his sinful sexual behavior, in effect, enabled him to continue in his spiritually wrong actions.

 

So, is your fellowship allowing those engaging in sinful sexual behavior to remain worshiping with you?  How do you feel about that?  Have you asked God to give you spiritual eyes to see what living within His parameters entails?  Can you in good conscience continue worshiping with so-called believers who look the other way where obvious sin is committed and incorporated into a lifestyle? Are you aware that allowing this spiritual leaven changes how people see things spiritually? Perhaps you are powerless to change what goes on, but that does not mean you have no say in where you worship.  You can ask God to guide you to a spiritually healthy fellowship where you feel safe and encouraged to grow in God’s grace and knowledge.

 

May God guide your choices.

copyright 2017, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved

 

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Where is the love?

That’s the question that comes out of my mouth when reading about believers who definitely adhere to the letter of the law found in scripture but fall far short when it comes to living God’s love.

Pastor G and I are currently reading a book put together in haste after 9/11 which was intended to comfort and encourage a hurting nation.  With few exceptions, the short essays are detached.  Yes, biblical, but they lack that love connection.  Believers need to know that God is more than sovereign, that He cares about us in ways that perhaps we can’t comprehend but can surely experience.  Yes, He is worthy to be praised, but we need to recognize just how up close and personal He truly is.  If that is outside your comfort zone, knowing how relational God is, you are missing a lot about God.

Love builds up and does not tear down.  Love builds a bridge between hurting people and God.  Have you ever thought about the fact that repentance can be part of that bridge?  Only God can change who and how we are.  Oh, yes, we have a certain limited ability and even will power to make changes in our lives, but God’s power and love truly can make those changes spiritually productive and impactful.

Perhaps one of the most striking examples of change is found in the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery.  (I always wondered about this set up scenario and how little the men valued the woman and her life, for under the law, she would be stoned to death.  Where was the man who committed adultery?). We see Jesus quietly writing in the sand after the woman has been accused by the men present in an attempt to trip Him up.  Scripture doesn’t say what He wrote, but it was enough to drive the accusers away from the scene until finally only Christ and the woman were left.  Jesus clearly teaches by example that love, and He is love, does not condemn while at the same time, it does not condone sin.  Jesus acted as a bridge to a spiritually changed life.  In essence, He forgave the woman while admonishing her to change the way she lived so that she didn’t commit adultery any more.  He lived Luke 4:18-19 and set this spiritually captive woman free.  Hallelujah!

 

 

Spiritual family, let’s live God’s love so that it makes a real spiritual difference in others’ lives.  We are not to be church police, condemning our spiritual family members when we see their lives are not being lived within Godly parameters.  Those that rebuke and shame act in spiritual pride and vanity and not love.  That’s not a right example nor is it productive.  Let’s follow the lead of God the Holy Spirit to know what to say and do and when to say and do it.   Let’s take to heart Paul’s statement in Romans:

 

 

Romans 8:1-2(NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

 

 

I feel like saying to you all:  “Go forth and condemn no more.  Live God’s love.”

 

 

Copyright 2017, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved.

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To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning

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Suffering, God and You

God is teaching me much about suffering.  Did you know it’s actually an honor to suffer for righteousness’ sake?  Philippians 1:29 indicates and confirms that.

 

Philippians 1:29(NKJV)

29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

 

Scripture also says Christ learned through suffering.  How did He suffer?  Well in the Garden of Gethsemane, He struggled with yielding to His will or the Father’s will even unto physical death.  Who knows how He suffered knowing Judas would betray Him?  And that, during His time of great need, His disciples would literally abandon Him?  Granted, John returned and stayed with Mary at the foot of the cross while He was dying, but scripture does say they all fled.  As a man, Christ was without sin.  Scripture doesn’t say, but did He suffer from sexual urges that He controlled?  Did He suffer because the disciples could not possibly understand things, things He knew that they could not yet bear?  Did He suffer denying Himself marriage and a family because He knew His mission while among us that  had to be His primary focus?

 

Luke 22:42(NKJV)

42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

 

So what is it about suffering that makes it an honor spiritually?  What kind of person does God choose for this kind of suffering?  First, the person has to be spiritually mature.  Note that Paul wrote this way to the Philippians.  To other fellowships, he wrote of the need to be rooted and grounded in God’s love and to show the fruits of that love in their lives as opposed to the carnality that cropped up needing correction.  The Philippians were commended by Paul that they willingly contributed to his ministry needs without being asked or prodded to.  That shows a dedication to the work God gave Paul to do, a seeing beyond themselves and their needs.  A putting the kingdom first.  Job was that kind of man, too.  God specifically pointed him out to the devil as spiritually unshakable and allowed the devil full access to his life and circumstances with the boundary that Job’s physical life be spared.  We all know the terrible things that happened to Job, and he did remain faithful.  Job was perplexed and demanded God to let him know what he did wrong (scripture says he was faithful and righteous), and God eventually answered him in code so that his windbags of so-called friends would not understand that the devil was the source of Job’s suffering.  The list goes on to include David, Joseph and many others.

 

Did you know you can do everything right spiritually, and life can still be hard?  I do.  Some of my colleagues do.  We just didn’t realize that suffering is a spiritual badge of honor.  Again, Philippians 1:29 says it is.  Pastor G and I stand with Paul in that regardless of life’s circumstances physically, we know how to cope.  Life, at times, has been hard, and we know what it’s like to be hungry and homeless.  That phase lasted for a number of years, and God has always been faithful to provide for our needs.  Sadly, we have been badly misjudged by those who were sincerely wrong and limited in their understanding of God and His ways, which are higher than ours.  Like those windbags who considered themselves Job’s friends and supporters, people have accused us of lacking something in our spiritual life like obedience or faith.  Would that they had understood the spiritual badge of honor that this kind of suffering is.

 

My prayer for you is this:  that you ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see what is really happening and not rely on your own limited understanding.  That you are there for the one who is suffering and love him or her.  If you personally suffer this way, I pray God equips you to endure to the end of this period.  From personal experience, I can share that this kind of pain and suffering does have its end, and God can choose to restore what He allowed you to lose.  What you will appreciate over time are the blessings of spiritual growth in your life and ministry, if God has blessed you with doing a work for Him.

 

Suffering changes a person.  It helps us focus on what is important.  For Pastor G and me, it was about moving forward spiritually regardless of physical circumstances.  God blessed us abundantly and continues to do so.  Currently, we praise Him for us being on the good side.  He has placed a blessing-filled table before us, and no enemy can touch those blessings.

 

So, are you spiritually mature enough to suffer for righteousness’ sake?  Will you accept God’s badge of honor and suffer along with Christ for a season?  God’s will be done.  Be physically and spiritually safe and be blessed.

 

copyright 2017, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved

 

 

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God, Spiritual Abuse, and You

Yesterday, someone contacted me in tears because she had been cast out of a group and unfriended on Facebook.  God had sent her across my path the day before, and we were setting the groundwork for her to begin counseling to set her free from a number of issues that are holding her back from being and doing what God wants her to be and do.  Praise God that He lets me know what I need to know, and I asked this woman if it was who I thought it was that had done these things to shut her out.  Yup, it sure was.

I had an unpleasant experience with this woman as well.  She sets herself up as an authority figure (something I did not buy into) and is literally the queen of her group.  Turns out the woman who contacted me in tears didn’t want to do things the other  woman’s way and got rejected because of it.  The queen had indeed experienced abuse herself and, like many abuse survivors, considered herself an expert in how to be free and, surely unwittingly, continued the abuse cycle with others like she tried to do with me and my new online friend.  The queen is not only an abuser but an oppressor.

I asked God to help me reassure my new online friend that He is working out His promise in Romans 8:28.  Even though the queen may be unaware of the spiritual harm she wages, removing her from my new online friend’s life will work for her good.

Romans 8:28(NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

God is the real deal, and there are many counterfeits out there who lust after being Him and having power like He has.  This is not limited to satan and the demons.  There are those in the flesh who are like this as well.  Not only do we need to test the situations, people and spirit, we need to look at ourselves to see if we are spiritual encouragers or spiritual abusers and oppressors.

1 John 4:1-6(NKJV)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

2 Corinthians 13:5(NKJV)

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Spiritual family, we are to follow Christ and model Him and not do what only seems right to us.  We can be instruments of spiritual death as well as spiritual life.  I want to be spiritually uplifting.  How about you?  Can we say with Christ that we are here to be His instruments in healing the broken-hearted and setting the captives free?

Luke 4:18-19(NKJV)18 

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me

Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

James 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Pray with me:  Father God, help us to see ourselves as You see us and help us to make the changes we need to make so we can be more like You.  Grant us what we need, including love and compassion, so we can be Your instruments in setting emotional and spiritual captives free.  Thanks for Your part in being there for the broken-hearted.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Copyright 2017, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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From our family to yours

Enjoy celebrating Jesus: Lord, Savior, Messiah, Friend, Healer, Teacher

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