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Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position on Wealth, Riches and Luxuries?

We received the following question from Nahom;

"Donnell, what do you think about luxuries? A rich person should definitely use their money to help those less privileged/poor. Like donating to charity. But does that make it bad to buy a luxury car for example? As long as they don't put it over God and aren't materialists, is is it okay?"

Nahom, thanks for another great question. The relationship between Christians and money can sometimes be a complex one. On the one hand, King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 10:19 that money answers all things, but then a few thousand years later Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10 that the love of money is the root of all evil. In the same way, Jesus said to use money to make friends in Luke 16:9 but in Matthew 19:23, He said it's hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So what are we to think? Which is it? Is it good to be rich or is it bad? Should a rich person enjoy their money or should they give it all to the poor? The answer is, it depends. 🙂 Let's dig in a little deeper.

Enjoy the Fruits of your Hard Work!

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13(NLT) - What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

It's a good thing to work hard and enjoy the benefits of your hard work. Solomon described the fruits of your labor as gifts from God. For instance, if you like eating at nice restaurants and you can afford it, dress up nice, order whatever you want and take a box home with you when you're finished. There's nothing to be ashamed of. God has given you the strength, ability, and favor to generate enough revenue to maintain a particular lifestyle.

It Can't Be All About Money!

James 4:1-3(NLT) - What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

Some people will never be rich and God will see to it that it does not happen. It's not that God doesn't want people to be rich. It's that people whose priorities are in the wrong place won't get His help to be rich. They can help themselves or the devil might help them get money but God won't. When people's motives are wrong, God doesn't get involved in helping them to do wrong. His main concern is not our money. His main concern is our hearts.

Luke 12:13-21(NLT) - Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Nowhere in this parable did Jesus condemn the rich man for being rich. That's an important observation because some people don't get that. Being rich is not a bad thing. The bad thing is when the riches consume your entire life. That's what happened to this rich man. He was a fool to make his money his priority instead of building his relationship with God. He could have had both but he chose one, the wrong one.

Though it's Good To Have Money, Money Can't Have You!

Mark 10:17-25(NKJV) - Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

The rich young ruler did not have money but money had him. Jesus knew that and put him to the test. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything and give the money to the poor not because that's what every rich person is supposed to do but to prove a point. What point? That it's hard to trust in riches and also trust in God. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to get rid of his money, Jesus was asking the young man to trust Him. Unfortunately, he could not. That's the same test Jesus put the twelve disciples through in Luke 9:1-6 and the seventy disciples in Luke 10:1-12. He asked them all to leave their money behind and trust Him to provide for them on a missions trip. They all did it and guess what happened? In Luke 22:35-36, they were free to get their money back.

Mark 10:28-30(NKJV) - Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

When Jesus asked the rich young ruler to give up his money, it was really an opportunity. After the rich man had already left, Jesus explained to the disciples what the man had just missed out on. He promised that when people sacrifice anything they have for His sake or the gospel, He would multiply their seed and give it back to them as a harvest both in the time that they live on the earth and for eternity.

Get Your Priorities Right and God Himself will Give you the Money!

2 Chronicles 1:7-12(NLT) - That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied to God, “You showed great and faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place. O Lord God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?” God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!”

Solomon never asked God to be rich. He asked for wisdom to help people. It was God who decided to give him wealth, riches, and fame. In other words, it was God's Will for Solomon to be rich. If it was up to Solomon, the wisdom to rule God's people would have sufficed. That was God's decision.

Psalm 112:1-3(KJV) - Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

The Word of God is replete with promises like these for those who choose to fear God and delight in His commandments. God did it for Abraham, Solomon, David and many others and He can do it for you too. Yet, it's hard for some people to accept God's blessings of wealth and riches. That's fine. It's not for everyone so if a person doesn't want it, they don't need to have it. However, if you are faithful to God and He chooses to reward you in that way, enjoy it. It is His Will for you to have it.

Riches Come with Social Responsibility!

1 Timothy 6:17-19(NLT) - Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

Again, Apostle Paul reiterates the earlier message of Jesus concerning trust. Rich people should never trust in their money. Their trust should be in God who is the one who gives riches for our enjoyment. They should enjoy their money and they should use their money for good. They should give to others and store up treasures in heaven. That's their social responsibility. If God blesses you with riches, that's what you need to know.

Giving Money to the Poor is not Always the Answer to Everything

John 12:1-8(NKJV) - Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

King Solomon said in Proverbs 19:17 that when you give to the poor you lend to God and God will pay you back. However, some people have turned giving to the poor into an excuse for telling rich people what to do with their money. Why did you buy that expensive car? You could have given the money to the poor. Why do you own a private jet? You should have given that money to the poor. Why is your house so big? You should have given that money to the poor.

Unfortunately, like the example in John 12, people who criticize the spending practices of the rich aren't always doing so because they care about the poor. They do so because they are jealous. How do we know that? Ask them how much of their own money they give to the poor. It's God's Will to give to the poor but it's not God's Will to try to put a rich person on a guilt trip about their charitable giving because you are jealous of their money. It's their money. If you believe the poor need to get money, you give it. Leave other people's money alone.

Acts 3:6(NKJV) - Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Give people what they need. Sometimes, what they need is not money.

The timing of your inquiry could not have been better. I have a new book coming out on January 1st which addresses the role of finances in God's Kingdom. It's called "The Fish with the Coin in Its Mouth". You can click the link to find out more. It's available now for pre-order on Amazon. Check it out!

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Ask Donnell: Is All Secular Music Bad?

We received the following question from Nahom;

"Hello to the reader of this email. I am a teenage boy that has a question about secular music and I would preferably want Donnell Duncan to answer this email. Donnell, I recently viewed one of your Ask Donnell videos, the one about secular music. To be specific, you were answering the question, "Will I go to hell for listening to secular music?". Your answer was that secular music feeds the flesh, and that there is a war between the flesh and the spirit, the one who gets fed more wins. To be clear I did not ask the question that you answered in the video, I'm here to ask you a question based on your answer. Donnell, aren't you aware not all secular music is bad? Secular music is any music that is not used for worship. There is much secular music that is sinful and feeds the flesh, but there is also much that glorifies God. Music is an art. Are you saying that any art that doesn't mention God or Jesus is sinful or feeds the flesh. For example, "See You Again" is a widely known song that was a huge hit in 2013. It has over 2 billion views on Youtube! It is secular. It is about an actor (Paul Walker) and his death that left many close to him sad, including co-star Vin Diesel. The song is about remembering the beautiful friendship between Vin and Paul, and how Vin can't wait to see him again in the Pearly Gates. However, again, it is not gospel, it is secular. But this song certainly does not feed the flesh! Or does it? Please respond if possible, thank you!"

Nahom, thanks for your question. I posted the video above so that the people reading will know what you're referring to. I just took the time to watch it again to remind myself of exactly what I said. Now that we're on the same page, I'll get straight to the point. I know I didn't get into much detail in the video which is probably why you still have questions so I'll take the opportunity now to give you a little more information. First, let's be brutally honest.

Some Christians want to do whatever they feel like and if they can justify their choices it makes it so much easier. People who are called to preach The Word of God have a choice. We can tell people what they want to hear and not disappoint them or we can tell people the truth and not disappoint God. Sometimes, the truth and what people want to hear happen to be the same thing and we love those occasions. However, sometimes, the truth is not what people want to hear and those are some of the most difficult times for ministers of the gospel.

1 Corinthians 6:12(NLT) - You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

Here's the good news. Like I said in the video, your choice in music does not determine your eternal destiny. Your acceptance or rejection of salvation by grace through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross determines your eternal destiny (Romans 10:9,10). Therefore, there is a whole lot of freedom in Christianity. I know Christians who enjoy drinking alcohol, listening to secular music, hitting the clubs, etc. and that's their decision. None of those activities are specifically forbidden in the scriptures. Yet, The Apostle Paul made a great point in 1 Corinthians 6:12 when he said that yes, you may be allowed to do those things but are they good for you? If you say they are. How exactly are they good for you?

If you hear a secular song you like and bob your head to it you're not going to hell but because you like it, does that mean it's good for you? In 2017 when Christian music comes in every genre at the highest level, listening to secular music is a choice and it's one we don't really have to make. There is nothing we lack when it comes to music in the Kingdom of God that forces us to have to look elsewhere for something good to listen to. Nevertheless, it's similar to eating junk food. You know it's not good for you but you eat it because you like it. One cheeseburger and a side of fries with a large coke won't kill you but eat it every day for one year and see what happens.

John 8:31-32(NLT) - Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 17:15-19(NLT) - I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word secular means "worldly or temporal" and secular music is music that is not overtly spiritual or religious. Is secular music good for you as a Christian? Does listening to it promote holiness unto God or separation from the evil in the world? Let's use your example. I agree with you that Wiz Khalifa's song "See You Again" is quite inspirational. You mentioned that in it, there is an assumption that they will see Paul Walker again at the pearly gates. My honest question is which pearly gates?

My assumption is that the writers of the song believe that they will meet in heaven one day especially since almost everyone believes that they are going to heaven. That's so beautiful and believe me, I love the way that sounds especially after Paul's untimely and tragic death. I wish I can meet everyone I've ever seen on earth in heaven. However, let's be brutally honest. Is that the truth? You know the answer.

The Psychological Power of Music

Have you ever gone somewhere and there was music playing in the background, then left the place and the music you heard kept playing in your mind? Do you know why as children we are taught to memorize things using music? Think about how you learned the alphabet. A...B...C..D...E...F..Geeee... Do you remember the tune? Growing up in church we learned the books of The Bible in a song. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Acts and Epistle of the Romaaaans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians.... Do you know why? Some scholars posit that music has the power to take a message past your conscious mind directly into your subconscious. In other words, music helps me to get information deep into my brain without having to try as hard.

Have you ever heard a song and it instantly took your mind back to a different place or perhaps it brought back the memory of a past relationship, stirring up old emotions and replaying old experiences? That's the power of music. One song can change the trajectory of your entire day. Here's a quote from a report on NPR based on the book, "The Power of Music" from researcher Elena Mannes; "She also says scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. That's why she sees so much potential in music's power to change the brain and affect the way it works."

Simply put, music changes your brain. That's why experts have said that the smartest kids listen to classical music. Have you ever seen the printed score for classical music? It's very complex so from a young age, children who listen to classical music gain an advantage in their mental development. When you're angry, acoustic instrumental music can soothe your nerves. When you want to get hype for a sporting event, loud rap or rock music can get you excited. When you're sad, you can curl up on the couch with some ice cream and some sad R&B or country music and feed your depression.

Some people listen to music and it makes them violent while other types of music stir up sexual desires. Music is the soundtrack of life so whatever your life experience, there's music to match it. If you want to get a message to your brain, music is the easiest way to deliver it. That explains why it's so much easier to remember a song than it is to remember a written paragraph from a book. It could be the same number of words but you can only repeat the words of the song without trying to memorize it. On the other hand, you will easily forget the paragraph even if you just finished reading it.

The Spiritual Power of Music

1 Samuel 16:23(NLT) - And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.

Do you know that every religion, cult, form of witchcraft or spiritual practice includes some form of music? Very few people truly understand the power of music. Do you know that the power of God can be released through music? The anointing of God that was on David flowed through his music and brought deliverance to Saul from demonic torment. When a man or woman of God under the influence of The Holy Spirit sits down to write a song that's based in the truth of God's Word and then delivers that song through music the power of God is released. You can simply listen to certain songs and instantly feel the presence of God. You can sit under the ministry of a true minister of music and instantly sense the rumbling of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Like it did for Saul, God can use music to set you free.

Proverbs 4:23(NLT) - Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

If you know that music has the power to change your brain and affect your spirit would you put that power in the hands of people who are not submitted to God? Do you trust Wiz Khalifa with your brain or your spirit? Maybe he's a great guy but do you believe that he cares enough about you that he would ensure that he only delivers the truth through his music? I can agree that not all secular music is bad if there was a clear definition of good or bad. What defines good or bad secular music? We know that God is not in it or else it would not be secular music, so we can leave God out. What exactly are we left with if God's not in something?

Is secular music good if there are no lies, cussing or sexual references in it? Is a good song good because it talks about love? Even if it talks about love, is it the true love we know from the scriptures or do they have their own definition of love? Is it good because it talks about current issues? Maybe if Tupac didn't cuss, his music would be good because he talked about issues in the streets? Is music neither good or bad because there are no words? What about instrumentals? It's easy to judge words but if you remove the words, does it matter anymore? Is there such thing as a secular instrumental song or instrumental Christian music? What makes it Christian or secular, if it has no words? Now let's go deeper. If we remove all the words from a song, does it matter where the music came from?

Titus 1:15(NLT) - Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Matthew 7:17-18(NLT) - A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.

The music we listen to comes from the heart of the person who created or delivered it. If the person's heart is pure the music is pure. If the person's heart is corrupt, the music is corrupt. We cannot get good fruit from a bad tree or bad fruit from a good tree. Hence, not only are the words important, the music is also important because it's an expression of the person who created it. When a person creates music, something leaves them that comes from within them and when we listen to their music what left them enters us. Hence, it's important to know what we're allowing to leave another person's heart and enter our own.

Here's another excerpt from the book, "The Power of Music" from Elenna Mannes; "Daniel Bernard Roumain, a young cross-genre violinist who is known as DBR, thinks one reason music is so powerful is that sound actually penetrates our bodies: "You know when someone says that a piece of music 'touched me' or 'moved me,' it's very literal. The sound of my voice enters your ear canal and it's moving your eardrum. That's a very intimate act. I am very literally touching you, and when you speak to me, you are literally touching me. And then we extend that principle to the sound of a violin.""

Do you know that the music which brought deliverance to Saul had no words in it? So, even though words are powerful, there's also power in the music itself. The power in the music comes from the person who created it and the person delivering it. When a Christian with a heart that's pure before God produces music, the music itself is pure and you can feel it. That's why certain Christian artists always minister to our souls. That doesn't mean they'll go platinum or become popular but we know that whatever music they deliver has God all over it. The same level of influence can also come from secular music.

2 Corinthians 2:11(KJV) - Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

It's easy to believe that as long as the words of a secular song sound positive, it's great music for Christians to listen to. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. Who wrote the song? Who wrote the music? Who played the instruments? What spirit was in control of the process? Were there spirituous liquors involved? Was it marijuana? Did they do heroin or snort cocaine before they hit the studio or in some cases, while they were in the studio? My point is that secular artists don't have to answer to God so we are trusting that they would not allow the enemy to influence them while they create music. That's a very risky proposition. Regardless, nobody can stop you from listening to secular music. It's your decision. Just remember the power of music.

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Ask Donnell: Can a Christian Lose The Anointing?

Ask Donnell: Can a Christian Lose The Anointing?

We received the following question from Sharon;

"When Christ came and departed the earth realm, he said he would send the Holy Spirit who would guide us into all truth. Since the Holy Spirit resides within new testament believers, can they lose the anointing. I say yes but my class is in dispute. Can you respond to this please?"

Sharon, thanks for your question. Sorry it took so long for me to finally address it. I knew what I wanted to say initially but I had to wait for The Lord to reveal His heart on the issue. It sounds like a very simple question but it's not that simple. Over the years I've noticed that some issues I used to assume were black and white in the scriptures now appear to be surprisingly gray. It's not that The Bible doesn't provide clear answers on these issues but it's the fact that it does provide clear ANSWERS and not just one answer.

What do I mean? I mean there are multiple answers and they are all right. Each answer gives us a different perspective on the same issue allowing us to see it from different sides at the same time. This is the comprehensive way that God sees things and it stretches beyond our basic human understanding. The truth never changes but how we see the truth changes as we learn more and more of it. The topic of The Anointing is a perfect example.

It's our responsibility to find these answers and present them in a balanced way so that we get a proper understanding of God's heart on the issue. Hence, for certain issues that appear gray in the scriptures, we can no longer just pick one side and completely ignore the others. We have to resist the urge to use our denominational and experiential bias and be open to a more global Biblical perspective.

All scriptural truth is truth so if we find something in the scripture that disagrees with what we first believed we must wrestle with it in our hearts until The Lord gives us peace. Let's try to do that with this issue of The Anointing. Since I know you already finished reading our earlier blog, "The Heart of The Anointing" I won't repeat some of the basics on The Anointing. If necessary, you can review what was said there before you keep reading this response.

John 14:16-18(NLT) - And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

The Holy Spirit will never leave you! That's it! For some people, this is the end of the discussion. It doesn't matter what you do or don't do, as long as you receive The Holy Spirit at salvation once, He is in you forever. End of discussion. Since that's what the scripture says, in no uncertain terms, that's the truth. However, this is where we will start our discussion.

1 Samuel 16:14(NLT) - Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.

Judges 16:20(NKJV) - And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

The Holy Spirit left Saul and Samson. The scriptures were clear about that. Fortunately, He did return to Samson at the end of his life but never to Saul. Nonetheless, this is The Old Testament and since we're talking about New Testament believers, we'll just use these examples as background information and not the foundation of our approach.

Psalms 139:7-8(NKJV) - Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Obviously, since God is omnipresent, we are in no way asserting that God is not geographically present anywhere at any time. Of course, He's always there because He's everywhere. However, when God left Saul and Samson, even though He was still present geographically due to His omnipresence He was no longer active in their lives.

He took His hands off of their lives and no longer empowered them to do what He had called them to do. That's what we mean by God's presence being with someone or leaving someone. Yes, He's always present geographically but if He's not actively empowering people to do His Will they are not benefiting from His presence. His Spirit is there but He's not manifesting Himself to them.

1 John 2:27(NKJV) - But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

So what is the anointing?

The Greek word used here is chrisma (khris'-mah) which means an unguent or smearing, i.e. (figuratively) the special endowment ("chrism") of the Holy Spirit:

The anointing is the residue of The Holy Spirit when He rests upon someone. In 1 Samuel 16:12-13, immediately after Samuel anointed David something specific happened. The Holy Spirit rested upon him. The oil itself meant nothing. It wasn't about the oil. It was about The Spirit of The Lord resting on the man whom God told the prophet to smear with the oil. Hence, the oil was just a sign that represented God's choice for His Spirit.

Additionally, in 1 John 2:27, The Apostle John said to the church that The Anointing abides in us. Why is this important? The easiest distinction between being saved and anointed is usually The Holy Spirit being in us versus being upon us. According to Romans 8:10-11, The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian so that's established. Then, in Luke 4:18, Jesus stated; "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To....." However, because of 1 John 2:27 we can't use the distinction of Holy Ghost within versus upon us to distinguish those who are anointed from those who are not. Jesus said The Anointing was on Him, but John said The Anointing is in us. Both are true!

1 John 2:20(NKJV) - But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

Apostle John did not isolate a particular group of anointed Christians out of the Christians he referred to in 1 John 2. Therefore, we may assert that Apostle John referred to every Christian who received his letter as being anointed. In other words, knowing this, I would find it difficult to state unequivocally that some Christians are anointed while others are not. That's a big deal because now we have to put salvation and anointing together.

Therefore, if we say that someone can lose The Anointing we might also be saying in the same breath that someone can lose their salvation. That is a much more crucial situation. Nonetheless, the scriptures do show that even though The Anointing comes with The Holy Spirit there is something special about The Anointing. It goes beyond simply receiving The Holy Spirit into your heart at salvation. Let's approach this using Jesus as the example.

Luke 4:17-21(NKJV) - And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “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; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus helped us to understand The Anointing by expounding on what He was anointed by God to do. In other words, The Anointing is for a purpose. When someone is anointed by God what that means is that The Holy Spirit has empowered the person to do something. Whether that means The Holy Spirit is in you or upon you doesn't matter. It just means that He's enabled you. God is a Spirit so the distinction of Him being in you or upon you is not literal especially for a Christian. There is no physical location for the spirit realm so we can't project our physical limitations on The Spirit of God. Some say that prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus, The Holy Spirit was only upon people and after the advent of The Church He was in people.

That makes sense except when describing John The Baptist, who was born before Jesus, the scripture says in Luke 1:15; "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." How do we explain that away? Was he filled with The Holy Ghost prior to the birth of Jesus or was he not? Again, all Biblical truth is truth so that's the truth. We just have to deal with it and just use it as another perspective on the truth which helps us to understand the truth even more. Anyway, let's drive home the purpose of The Anointing.

Can a Christian Lose The Anointing?

1 Corinthians 12:4-11(AMP) - Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good. To one is given through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] the message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; to another [wonder-working] faith [is given] by the same [Holy] Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of healings by the one Spirit; and to another the working of miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.

Here's the bottom line based on what we just finished reading. Everyone who is a Christian has the same Holy Spirit but everyone is not empowered by The Holy Spirit to do the same thing. That being said, if merely having The Holy Spirit in your life is The Anointing, every Christian is anointed. However, our definition of The Anointing has to be more robust than that. We cannot define The Anointing without considering the function of The Anointing. Like Jesus, The Spirit of The Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to do something.

I am not anointed just for being anointed. I am anointed to do something. Therefore, until I submit my will to The Holy Spirit and allow Him to not just be alive in me as a Christian but be active through me as one who's anointed I am not walking in The Anointing on my life. There's no merit to the distinction of being anointed unless we are functioning in that anointing. I might have had The Anointing to preach the gospel all of my life but until I actually started preaching the gospel I was not putting The Anointing to use. Hence, simply saying that I was anointed meant nothing. I needed to preach the gospel because of The Anointing and that's what mattered.

Now let's move on to the main point of this entire blog. Once anointed, always anointed? We know that The Holy Spirit will never leave us but that's not the real question here. The real question is can we ever leave Him? Let's find out!

Hebrews 10:37-39(NLT) - “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

James 5:19-20(NKJV) - Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Hebrews 6:4-6(NLT) - For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

2 Thessalonians 2:3(AMP) - Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed],

Can a Christian make the conscious choice to turn away from The Lord and no longer practice Christianity? In the context of the scriptures cited above, the answer is yes. You may not be able to leave Him geographically because of His omnipresence but you can reject Him and turn your back on Him. Yes, it's true that The Holy Spirit will never leave you but you sure can leave Him. In fact, one of the most distinctive events of Bible prophecy (2 Thessalonians 2:3) is a massive falling away that will take place before the return of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:37 (quoted above) states that a Christian can turn away from The Lord unto destruction. James 5:19-20 (quoted above) says that someone who is a Christian can stray from the truth and return to being a sinner whose soul is destined for death. Thankfully, we can reach out to that person and save the person's soul from death. However, there are those who cannot be saved and that's the category we're most interested in today.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (quoted above) says that there are those who can experience the good things of heaven, share in The Holy Spirit, taste the goodness of The Word of God and His supernatural power and then completely turn away from God. Obviously, these people are Christians who are anointed in every way we can approach the concept of The Anointing. They fall into a special category because of their unique experience with The Lord. If after all of that, they still turn their back on Him, there's nothing we can do to help. Anyone who can walk away from a personal experience with God's power like that has made up his/ her mind.

Saul and Samson lost The Anointing in The Old Testament and it's no different in The New Testament. They chose to walk away from God. Samson sincerely repented and received The Holy Ghost again but Saul never did. Sometimes, people try to explain away the truth in The Old Testament by claiming that everything is different in The New Testament. Well, Old Testament truth is as much truth as New Testament truth. The God of The Old Testament is the God of The New Testament. The difference is Jesus. He gave us a new perspective on the truth of The Old Testament. We don't reject what we see in The Old Testament we just see it through a new pair of eyes; the eyes of Jesus. The truth did not change, our perspective on the truth has changed.

Can a Christian lose The Anointing? That's not the question we should be asking. Can a Christian reject The One who gives The Anointing? Yes. You don't lose The Anointing. You know exactly where it is at all times. It's with The Holy Ghost. What you can do is reject The Anointing by rejecting The Holy Ghost. That's a choice some people have already made and many will make in the future. God will never leave us. He is forever faithful. The choice to leave is ours.

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Ask Donnell: Are Children Assets or Liabilities To Their Parents?

Family in Hands

We received the following question;

"My father says to us that we (his children) were liabilities while growing up and now that we are older we are assets to them (parents). I was looking in the Bible to match it up with what my dad said but all I found was children obey your parents and honour your mother and father. I would like to know if children are liabilities or assets to parents."

This is a very interesting question. An asset is something that adds value and a liability is something that costs. Before we get into the scriptures let me tell you the first and easiest thing that comes to mind. From the perspective of the Government, before children reach a certain age, are mature enough to live on their own and/or can pay their own bills they can be claimed as dependents on their parent's taxes. What does it mean to be a dependent? It means someone else is responsible for taking care of you.

Naturally, when babies are born, they are 100% dependent on their parents for survival. They can't do anything for themselves but cry and hope a parent responds. As they develop, children depend on their parents until they get to the stage of their lives when they can take care of themselves. Until that stage, children live in their parent's home, eat their parent's food, occupy their parent's time and cost their parents money.

Unless a child does substantial chores or contributes to the household in some other significant fashion, from a purely financial perspective, it's understandable for parents to consider children as liabilities. After all, they are the biggest expense in the household without providing additional income. That is, until they become adults and no longer depend on their parents, sparing them the expense. In some cases, the roles are switched and children are held responsible for taking care of their parents in their old age.

In other cases, this switching of roles between children and parents takes place before the parents are old. It happens when parents hit tough times and need help from their children and even in extreme cases, a roof over their heads. This is an illustration of how children can become assets to their parents when they become adults. However, there is more to the story than just assets and liabilities. There is a third category that bridges the gap between each. Let's get into the Word of God for the truth.

Psalms 127:3-5(NLT) - Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

The Bible describes children as both gifts and rewards from God for their parents. Not just that, children are described as arrows in the hands of a warrior and a blessing to their parents. Yes, children cost money when they are young but the payback is priceless in God's eyes. Hence, nobody should consider a gift from God as a liability. Also, when something initially costs but eventually adds value it is neither merely a liability nor an asset, it's an investment. That's the category that children fall into.

The arrow analogy is my favorite. The archer has four main responsibilities; aquiring the arrows, pointing them in the right direction, providing the force to propel them forward and releasing them. Once the arrow is first propelled by the warrior with sufficient force it can take flight on its own. In the end, it travels faster and further than the warrior who released it. It also fulfils the objective of the warrior without the warrior having to be in the same place that the arrow lands. Let's now apply this to parenting.

Proverbs 22:6(KJV) - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

When children are trained in the way they should go, they are essentially given direction for their lives. The parent has to bear the child, point the child in the right direction, provide the motivation and support to propel the child forward and at some point, release the child. Once released, the parent has to trust The Lord that the child will end up at the desired destination. Sometimes, it might take a while but if it is done right, the end result is always the same. They will eventually hit the target.

Arrows don't travel in a straight line because of the force of gravity. As a result, each arrow takes a unique trajectory before hitting the desired target. In the same way, the path of each child is different so the parent's job is to point, propel and release their child. The rest is up to The Lord. With that in mind, let's wrap this up by emphasizing the multi-generational nature of God's plans. He rarely ever gives someone a big vision that's completely fulfilled in one generation. Hence, children are necessary to carry on the legacy started by their parents.

Genesis 18:17-19(NLT) - “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”

God's plan for Abraham included his children. In fact, God's promise to Abraham could only be fulfilled through his offspring. Look at what the scripture says. Only after Abraham teaches his children and their families the way of The Lord would God fulfill his promise to Abraham. Why does that matter to us? That's how God works. He doesn't just call one man, He calls the entire family. Simply put, the human race (pun intended) is a relay.

One generation passes the baton to the next one to continue running. Abraham passed the baton to Isaac who passed it to Jacob who passed it to Joseph who passed it to Ephraim, etc. all the way until it got to Jesus. Hence, if your parents fulfill God's Will for their lives the baton in their hands will be passed to you so that you can continue the race for your generation. Regardless, even if your parents don't do God's Will, through Jesus the baton of being God's people in the earth has been passed on to us.

So, to tie this entire discussion up, let's settle on a few things. All children are dependent on their parents when they are young. However, as they mature they can become assets to the family by choosing to add value to their parent's lives. They can also remain liabilities beyond the allotted time and drag their families down with bad decisions. In the end, the choice is yours. After all that your parents have invested in your life, have you begun to provide any value for their investment? I hope so. It's expensive to raise a child these days so make something of your life and prove to your parents that it was worth it.

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Ask Donnell: Will Heaven and Earth Literally Disappear At The End?

cloud

We received the following question from Jabari;

"Good morning Pastor Donnell, I was reading Mark 13 where Jesus taught his disciples what will take place in the last days and one particular scripture jumped out at me that I don’t quite yet understand. It is Mark 13:31, “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” This was after Jesus told them in verses 26 &27 of Mark 13 “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world —from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven”. I am unclear as to what it means by heaven and earth will disappear. Can you help?"

Wow! Jabari, you sure are eating that scroll, aren't you? You've obviously been reading your Bible. Great question. Here's the best way to clear up a scripture. Find another one that says the same thing clearer. 🙂 Before we get into that, be sure to read Chapter 7, "The Gap Theory", from my book, Faith Science. In it, I discuss Biblical prophecies that address the end of the heavens and earth as well as certain scientific theories that connect with them.

Anyway, let's get to the good stuff. At first glance, if you don't know much about Eschatology (Bible "End-time" Prophecy), it would be easy to assume that Jesus was just using the phrase, "heaven and earth will disappear" as a figure of speech. Maybe He was just trying to emphasize how impossible it is for His Word to ever pass away. Perhaps, He could have said the same thing in a different way if He was merely using it to make the point about the lasting nature of His Word. However, can what Jesus said be taken literally? Perhaps, there's more in there.

2 Peter 3:10-13(NKJV) - But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

There it is as clear as day. God intends to start over. He will destroy the heavens and the earth as we know it at the end of time and then recreate them. He will burn everything with a fire so hot that even the elements themselves will be consumed. That supports a literal interpretation of the phrase Jesus used; "heaven and earth will disappear" because they will. This outcome is consistent with at least one of the popular scientific theories predicting the end of the expanding universe.

Isaiah 66:22(NKJV) - “For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.

God intends to only do this once. When He creates the new heavens and earth they will remain forever. The tainted old earth and heavens that we live in now will be a distant memory and God will press the restart button. Thankfully, there will be no more sin and the devil himself will be in the lake of fire. Nevertheless, for some more insight into the circumstances surrounding the end of the earth and heavens let's turn to my favorite book of The Bible, Revelation.

Revelation 20:11-15(NKJV) - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:1-7(NKJV) - Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

After the one thousand year Millennium reign of Jesus Christ which follows The Resurrection, the devil will be released to tempt mankind one more time. He will lead those who remain on earth without Christ into revolt against God and they will be soundly defeated. Once that is done, God will administer The Great White Throne Judgment and send everyone who's not in Christ into The Lake of Fire to burn for eternity. It's at that point that God will destroy the heavens and earth and start over with only the people in His Kingdom. Everyone else will be in The Lake of Fire for eternity after being sentenced during The Great White Throne Judgment.

I know I threw allot of information at you there but that's the answer in a nutshell. If you want a better understanding of Bible prophecy read my book, "Revelation Unplugged". In there you will see much more about how things will end according to The Book of Revelation and other supporting scriptures.

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Ask Donnell: How Do I Ask God To Confirm "The One" For Me?

alone

We received the following question from a young lady;

"How do i ask God for confirmation for a person i have never seen? I dated one gentleman that i really liked but he no longer speaks to me. There has been no other suitors that have come along. But deep down in my heart the guy that no longer speaks to me is still in my heart. He may be the one. How do i ask for confirmation?"

This is a great question. A gentleman asked almost the same question a few months ago so check out the response at the following link; "Ask Donnell: How Will God Confirm Someone As Your Future Wife?" The principles in there will also apply in your case.

James 1:5-8(NLT) - If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

First, let me congratulate you on your decision to seek God for guidance in this situation. Without His wisdom we are always bound to make bad mistakes that can affect us for life. When we ask God concerning a mate He answers us. This brings up the broader issue of developing your ability to hear from God so that when He answers, you will be able to hear and act on it. Read this blog, "Respect God's Voice In Other People". It's Part 7 of a mini-blog series on Hearing from God. Read all seven points by clicking the links in each blog to go backward to the previous point. Additionally, an entire section of my book, "Well Done", is dedicated to hearing from God.

So, is the guy who no longer speaks to you the one for you? Well, since I don't have any first hand knowledge of the details of your situation I don't know. However, I can reason using the facts you provided to me. What I do know is that your relationship with him is over and he is not speaking to you. Those two facts are important to keep in mind as you seek God about him. Whether or not he's still in your heart is not a factor because you can keep someone in your heart for as long as you choose to. When you are ready to let him go, he will no longer be in your heart. It's that simple. It takes time but it works. I assume that he's not married because if he is, then it's not a mystery. He's not the one.

Sometimes our emotions cause us to hang on to people we should be letting go. So, here is some good counsel. Since he has already let you go by not keeping in touch, it's time for you to let him go! Put him in God's hands and let The Lord reunite the two of you if He chooses to. If God doesn't do it, it's not going to happen because the guy has demonstrated that he's over it. Thankfully, that could be a good thing for you because when you let him go, you make room in your heart for the right person. Right now, that spot is occupied so even if The Lord sends someone in your direction, you're not ready to receive him. You can't see the man in front of you if you're busy looking back. So what now?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35(NLT) - I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

This is some of the best advice ever for single people. It's the same advice I received of The Lord while I was single and it works. Now is the time to go hard after The Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. Since you don't have a husband you don't have to split time so God can get all of you. Additionaly, during this season let The Lord shape you into the type of woman that the type of man you're looking for is actually looking for. It's much easier to attract the right man when you are the type of woman a man like him would be attracted to. Therefore, if you are looking for a man of God, let God help you to prepare by focusing your energy on your relationship with Him.

Psalms 37:4-5(NKJV) - Delight yourself also in the Lord , And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord , Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

Matthew 6:33(NKJV) - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

I was single into my thirties and had to live these scriptures. I had to put God's Kingdom first and trust that He would do His part to add the things I desire to my life. My testimony is that when I finally decided to stop trying to force things and decided to trust God, He brought me my wife, Angel. It took several people speaking into my life and some bad experiences for me to finally reach that point but thank God I did. I just gave up and said God if you don't do it, it doesn't happen.

Until God favored me with a spouse I wrote several books, started The Cracked Door and threw myself headfirst into the Work of The Lord. He had my attention and now that I'm married I understand what Paul was saying to the singles. Make the most of your time while you have it. That's The Word of The Lord to you also. Give your all to The Lord while single until He sees fit to bring you a spouse. During that time, let God prepare you for the man He has for you.

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Let me also share another part of my testimony. When I finally decided to give up on doing it my way, The Lord impressed on my heart to ask Him for what I really wanted in a woman. I had never articulated it before because I thought that was not necessary. He is God so whatever He wants to do He should do. I have no opinion. However, when God says to ask He means it. So I did just that. I wrote a detailed list of the qualities in the woman I really wanted even though I had never met her (I thought) and prayed over it for about one week.

I then forgot about the list and went along with my life. A few months into my relationship with Angel I remembered the list while talking to her on the phone. I found it and was completely blown away. She was exactly the person I prayed for and I didn't even know it. In addition, God spoke to me in a dream through a scripture to confirm that I had found the woman He had for me. Hence, when I walked down the aisle I knew I was walking in my destiny. It was not an act of my will being done but The Lord's. That's what I pray for you too.

John 10:27(NKJV) - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

So what am I saying? Confirmation from The Lord about a spouse is so much more than a feeling because feelings are random and can change at anytime. God knows how to speak to the people who know His voice. I had to learn His Voice over a long time so when I needed to hear Him clearly about a spouse I heard Him in several different ways. Read the blogs I linked to earlier so you can also develop your ability to hear from God. This is probably the most candid answer you may ever get because I'm telling you as it is. I can tell you an answer that sounds good or can make you feel good or I can tell you the truth. I rather tell you the truth because only the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

II Chronicles 20:20(NKJV) - So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

Proverbs 11:14(NKJV) - Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

I'm going to finish this blog with two points. Seek counsel whenever you think you met the person God has for you and trust what God speaks into your life through His prophets. Not only did I hear from God on my own concerning my wife but I received several independent confirmations from prophets and people I sought for counsel. Some people don't want to go through all of that trouble but when the pressure hits them in the middle of a bad marriage they will wish they did.

The decision to marry someone can be one of the best or one of the worst decisions you will ever make in your life so don't cut corners during the process when you don't need to. Before I leave, let me give you some free advice I received from an expert. You'll usually find the type of spouse you're looking for in the places where that type of spouse tends to be. If you're looking for a drinker, frequent the bar. If you're looking for a partier, frequent the club. If you're looking for a man of God, stay in the presence of God.

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Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On "In Vitro" Fertilization?

Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On In Vitro Fertilization?

We received the following question;

"How is it viewed in The Bible when a man and a woman cannot have children but take it upon themselves to get the job done? For instance, by having their egg and sperm fertilized outside of the woman’s womb or body then placed back in the womb! What is your take on this from a biblical perspective? To me this is doing God’s work which brings up another question, Is God’s spirit in this child? God bless you."

Thanks for your question. First, let me apologize for taking so long to respond to some of the questions that have already been submitted. Keeping up with The Cracked Door Foundation has proven to be a little more challenging than we could possibly have imagined. Apart from our careers and personal lives we've been investing any time we have left into The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. Pray that The Lord send us the people we need to help shoulder the load.

Nonetheless, The Lord has provided a long term solution which we will be rolling out next week. We're very excited about what He's doing with this ministry that's been around since September, 2006. What started as a website to market my first book, I Curse Death, has grown into what you see before you now. So, on with your answer.

Ecclesiastes 11:5(NLT) - Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Did you know that each of the patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob faced fertility issues in their families? First, there was the struggle of Abraham and Sarah, then Isaac and Rebekah, then Jacob and Rachel. They all struggled to have children but in the end God worked miracles in their lives. So, fertility challenges are all over The Bible and God has proven Himself as a deliverer in many of those cases, over and over.

Infertility is a very touchy subject. When a married, Christian couple can't have children it's a troubling and difficult reality to deal with. They have chosen to do things the right way in the eyes of God by getting married before having children yet some can't seem to get the expected results. There is little you can say to a couple in that situation to truly comfort their hearts. The last thing we need to do is speak out of turn and not approach this particular topic with as much sensitivity as it deserves.

Nevertheless, just like it was when Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes 11:5, the mystery of childbirth remains a mystery today. Modern science may be able to explain the physical process from the point of conception to birth. It may also allow us to see it using ultrasound imaging and other means. Yet, nobody but God can explain when or how a human spirit enters a human body and turns an embryo into a living soul. That's the part of the process we have no power over and will never be able to control. Regardless, the question we must address today is whether or not we have the right to engage the benefits of biotechnology and modern medicine to interfere with the physical process of childbirth.

Genesis 30:1-2(NLT) - When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”

Proverbs 30:15-16(NKJV) - The leech has two daughters— Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”: The grave, The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water— And the fire never says, “Enough!”

Listen to me. Some men might not really care to have children but according to Proverbs 30:15-16, the barren womb is never satisfied. If a woman has no children and she wants to have a child, there is nothing in the world that you can give her in place of that and The Bible acknowledges it. She can have all the money in the world, all the power, all the fame, her pick of men, the ability to travel anywhere, perfect health, good looks, everything you could imagine but she will never be able to fully let go of the thought of having children.

As a result, if there is any solution available for infertility, any woman in her right mind would at least consider it. She will never give up until it's either impossible or her spirit is completely broken. Hence, it doesn't matter what scripture you quote, you cannot tell a woman she should be okay with never having children when she wants children. Like the grave that takes and takes but doesn't give back, a desert that soaks up water and is quickly dry again or a fire that continues to burn as long as it has fuel and oxygen, the desire of a woman to have her first child cannot be quenched.

Genesis 1:26-28(NKJV) - Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Before we move on to anything else, let's establish that as human beings we are mandated by God in Genesis 1:26-28 to be fruitful and multiply. As a result, just to carry out God's plan we must have children so the desire to have children is built into our DNA. The truth is that everyone will not have children. In fact, everyone will not even get married so that they can have children according to God's order. Regardless, someone has to have children for God's plan in Genesis 1:26-28 to continue. That person might as well be you.

So what's The Bible's solution for infertility?

1) Pray

Philippians 4:6(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Genesis 25:21(NLT) - Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins.

Obviously, we can assume that a Christian couple who has started looking for medical solutions to infertility has already prayed. However, let's not make any assumptions and be thorough in our approach. Pray, then pray, then pray some more. That's such a religious sounding answer to someone in the middle of a tough situation but we have to always say it just in case people need a reminder. Like any other challenge you face in life, pray first, ask questions later. Once you pray, The Lord will then direct your steps. Sometimes, He just miraculously heals without the involvement of any human processes but sometimes He brings deliverance through processes that are already in existence.

2 Chronicles 16:12-13(NKJV) - And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.

Don't be Asa. Never trust physicians more than you trust God. The end! Okay, well not the end but you get my point. If you meet with doctors before you meet with God you might exacerbate your problem instead of getting a solution. Let me say something again, but this time in a different way. God will either miraculously heal you by His supernatural hand or He will use the hands of a medical professional or some other natural process. The point is, we must go to God first and then let Him direct the process.

Mark 5:25-28(NLT) - A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

The woman with the issue of blood spent all of her money at doctors before she ever got to Jesus who then healed her for free. We can't let the cart drive the horse and then be surprised when things don't work out. First, reach out and touch Jesus then He will either heal you instantly or He'll give you instructions to receive your healing like He did in John 9:7. This leads us to #2.

2) Explore Medical Options

Mark 2:17(NLT) - When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Colossians 4:14(NLT) - Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.

After prayer and by the direction of God, it is totally fine to visit the doctor for help. If something's wrong with your car you visit a mechanic. If something's wrong with your building you call a structural engineer or building contractor. If something's wrong with the electrical wiring in your house you call an electrician. If there's a pipe leaking you call a plumber. If something's wrong with your teeth you see a dentist. So if something's wrong with your body you see a doctor. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doctors. Luke, one of the disciples of Paul was a beloved doctor. Even Jesus acknowledged that people who are sick need a doctor so that's what they are there for.

There are many medical treatments available for infertility once the cause is known. When most of the treatments don't work they turn to in vitro fertilization. Here's what the Mayo Clinic has to say about in vitro fertilization;

"In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks.

IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The procedure can be done using your own eggs and your partner's sperm. Or IVF may involve eggs, sperm or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In some cases, a gestational carrier — a woman who has an embryo implanted in her uterus — might be used.

Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive and invasive. If more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus, IVF can result in a pregnancy with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancy)."

As long as the husband's sperm and the wife's egg are used in the process I don't see any scriptural basis for objection. Their physical bodies are not functioning properly for some reason so a medical procedure has been created to bring healing to the process. Regardless of the way the sperm gets to the egg, under the right conditions, the biological process stays the same. What we don't control is how the spirit enters the embryo. That's God's decision.

Ecclesiastes 12:7(KJV) - Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Just like a spirit returns to God at death and the body decomposes, a human spirit comes from God at conception and the body starts to grow. Perhaps, the entrance of the spirit causes conception? Think about that. I believe that the spirit of a human being plays a role in controlling how DNA triggers the process of cell multiplication in a fertilized egg. This explains why even under perfect conditions, the process never works 100%. Doctors cannot guarantee that cell replication will take place resulting in the development of a fetus when they implant a sperm into an egg.

Jeremiah 1:4-6(NLT) - The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Did you see that? Jeremiah existed before his body was formed in his mother's womb, not just before birth. It's easy to acknowledge that God set him apart before birth because when you look at an ultrasound you see a person. However, how do you explain the fact that God knew him before he was even formed? Simple. The real Jeremiah existed before the physical Jeremiah and when the physical Jeremiah died, his body decomposed and his spirit returned to God.

Psalms 139:13-16(NLT) - You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Doctors do their part but God chooses whether or not the process of conception ever begins because there is no conception of a human without a human spirit that comes from God. This explains why no human being is a mistake. It doesn't matter the conditions of a sperm entering an egg, only God determines whether or not a fetus will form. He forms it. The only part of the process we control is the physical act of bringing the sperm and egg together whether through natural or scientifically enhanced processes. God determines if that embryo fully develops. Regardless, this brings us to #3 which is a stern warning.

3) Think Carefully Before Including A Third Person!

Genesis 16:1-6(NLT) - Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.

One popular solution for infertility is the involvement of surrogates. In this situation, the sperm of a man is used to fertilize the egg of a woman outside of the body and the resulting embryo is placed into the womb of another woman. Sometimes, the couple desiring the baby donates the sperm and egg but many times, other people donate either the sperm or the egg or both. These donors can be anonymous. Though it sounds like a good idea when you first think of it, Abraham and Sarah tried their version of that option and it didn't turn out well.

When the process of conceiving a child involves three or four people the door swings open wide for drama. Right now, there's a famous actress who divorced her husband while a surrogate was carrying their baby. Since the "fertilized eggs" were not her own she claims that she's technically not the mother and should hold no responsibility for the child. The case is probably still dragging through the courts today. The person in the worst position in that situation is the surrogate mother who essentially plays the role of Hagar. She was just trying to help out and now she just can't win. This brings us to Option #4.

4) Adopt

Ephesians 1:3-5(NLT) - All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Do you know that every single one of us in The Body of Christ are adopted into His family? That's because we were born into sin and without Jesus are left outside of God's family. That's the example God set for us. When we were separated from Him and left out in the cold with only the devil as our father, God reached out and adopted us. If a Christian couple can't have children, adoption is always an option. That's why, the first step is always to pray. When you pray, God's solution might just be adoption.

James 1:27(NKJV) - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

What's the most important thing an orphan needs? A loving family! Right now there is a young lady living in your area contemplating aborting her unborn child because she knows she is not ready to be a mother. Why can't someone else who is willing and able raise the child? While there are Christian married couples crying out to God for a child of their own, there are unwed mothers crying out to God because they have children and can't take care of them. In the end, we end up with two problems. Parents who cannot or choose not to take care of their children and parents who cannot have children. Included in the first category are parents who died and left behind their children. Adoption is the solution to both problems.

We will end this blog today with a Word from The Lord;

Isaiah 54:1-6(NLT) - “Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities. “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.
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Ask Donnell: How Should The Church Address Homosexuality?

Crown of Thorns

We received the following question;

"Good morning Pastor Donnell. The question I have is for you and Pastor Angel. It’s a sensitive topic which has been present in my mind for a great deal of time. In what way is the Church of Christ to deal and treat with homosexuality in the church? To be more specific, if there may be an individual or individuals struggling and battling with homosexuality in the church, and he/she knows it is wrong but can’t shake off that spirit, how should a pastor or any one in particular support and help heal that person? Also, what do you recommend if he or she is afraid to ask for help?"

Yes, this is a sensitive topic. You hit the nail on the head with that one. Thanks for being bold enough to submit the question. Pastor Angel prayed for God to help me answer your question. This is one of those topics I know I have to address at some point but I rather delay it as long as I can to avoid the inevitable controversy. However, you have effectively forced my hand. Homosexuality has slowly developed into an acceptable lifestyle choice in popular culture and the only safe public position in the eyes of the world is to support it. If you take the risk of publicly opposing it you position yourself for intense backlash and are likely to be called insensitive, unloving and/ or a bigot.

Regardless, as The Church of Jesus Christ, we only have one position on every issue and that's the truth. Hence, Jesus prayed in John 17:17(KJV); "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." So before we get into how to deal with the issue let's establish what the truth is through The Word of God, the source of truth. In 1 Timothy 3:15, the Apostle Paul calls The Church of The Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. It's better to keep any discussion on homosexuality within the confines of scripture than to start throwing personal opinions around triggering useless and tiring debates about nothing. We'll see what The Bible says and leave it there. If someone disagrees with The Bible they can seek The Lord for better understanding.

Let's start from the beginning. The first point we must establish is The Bible's position on homosexuality. This has come up for vigorous debate in both secular and religious circles. Does The Bible support it? Does it condemn it? Is it silent? Does it send mixed messages? If we can't establish a solid scriptural foundation any arguments we present will be shaky and need not be considered. If The Bible has no position, The Church, as a whole, has no position and the issue will be left up to personal interpretation. If The Bible has no issues with homosexuality neither should we. So unless there's a problem with it, we don't need to try to help anyone who's living that lifestyle because they should be just fine. So here we go...

Genesis 18:20-23(NLT) - So the Lord told Abraham, "I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know." The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham.

Genesis 19:4-11(NLT) - But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, "Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!" So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. "Please, my brothers," he begged, "don't do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection." "Stand back!" they shouted. "This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he's acting like our judge! We'll treat you far worse than those other men!" And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door. But the two angels reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door. Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside.

2 Peter 2:6-9(NLT) - Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.

Jude 7(NLT) - And don't forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God's judgment.

I'm sure you heard the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God destroyed those cities with fire and brimstone but rescued Lot's family because of his faithfulness. One of the many issues highlighted by the scriptures concerning Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality. Pay close attention to the sequence of the scripture excerpts listed above. This can be considered as one of the foundational accounts of homosexuality in The Bible. I deliberately chose this account because it precludes Mosaic law and the endless arguments which surround the applicability of any of the resulting Levitical precepts in the modern age of grace.

Starting with Genesis 18:20, God specifically said that He would go down to Sodom and see if the wickedness matched their reputation. Fast forward to Genesis 19:4-11 which recounts what happened when the two angels who accompanied God to visit Abraham left to visit Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. What did they see? What type of wickedness was highlighted in their visit? I will reserve my opinion. You can answer that question for yourself by reading the scripture. Then, when you read 2 Peter 2:6-9 and Jude 7, you will have a solid grasp of The Bible's position. You can also read 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 for some supporting scriptures. That's the foundation. Now let's move on to what's going on right now in our society.

Romans 1:21-27(NLT) - Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

Welcome to the 21st century. When people reject God for who He is, they create their own idea of God. For some strange reason the scripture presents a direct correlation between a rejection of God's truth and the rise of homosexual tendencies. I don't mean to beat a dead horse but before we find a solution, we need to diagnose the problem. The first issue that must be dealt with is whether or not The Bible supports the homosexual lifestyle. If it does not, then we can reach out and help those who are caught up in it. If it does, then they don't need our help. Obviously, it does not. Hence, the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sin is a non-issue. With that out of the way, let's move on to answering your question. How do we address homosexuality in The Church?

Galatians 6:1-3(NLT) - Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

In your question you outlined that the person you are referring to is struggling with homosexuality and is fully aware that it is wrong. As a result, the discussion of whether or not homosexuality is wrong is irrelevant to that person so you can leave that out of the situation completely. Someone like that, who is fully aware of their sin does not need to be reminded that it is sin. They know that already. According to Galatians 6:1-3, they need support. They need love. They need someone to share their burden. They also need people around them who are not currently struggling with the same sin and can possibly fall into the same temptation. That's the primary responsibility of brothers and sisters in Christ.

When a Christian is struggling with a sin like homosexuality it's tough to deal with it. There is a lot of shame attached to it. That's another reason why the scripture reference above says those who are Godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. Pay attention to the specific criteria listed. First, this role is reserved for those who are Godly, otherwise referred to as spiritual in other translations. People who are spiritual manifest the Fruit of The Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

Galatians 5:22-23(NLT) - But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Carnal folks who are overcome by their own sins tend to magnify the sins of others to draw attention away from themselves. Jesus said in Matthew 7:3-5 that they see the specks in other people's eyes and ignore the logs in their own. Homosexuality is wrong. The person gets it. It's a struggle that the person's losing so help out. Christian people caught up in that lifestyle are in the fight of their lives against a relentless enemy. They need the rest of us to jump in and fight alongside them. When someone is drowning you don't describe the water, you reach out and pull the person in. Now let's get to the heavy stuff.

Mark 3:27(NLT) - Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

2 Corinthians 10:3-69(NLT) - We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Homosexuality is a strong man. It's a spiritual and mental stronghold that's not easily broken except by the power of The Spirit of God. It is not to be taken lightly nor treated frivolously. A person under the influence of homosexuality is under a powerful influence and it's no joke. There are few among us who operate in the kind of spiritual authority it takes to attack it head on. I once visited a church that had opened its doors to minister specifically to the homosexual community of Atlanta. It was housed in a beautiful building that continues to stand today.

I believe it was a labor of love at the beginning but in the end, the church were completely overrun with homosexuality to the point that even the pastor and elders were visibly struggling with homosexuality. Those precious brothers and sisters came to The Church in response to a show of love which fortunately, they did receive. However, what they they did not receive was deliverance. Therefore, I learned a valuable lesson that I will teach you today.

There are at least three parts to this process. One is an outpouring of love, the second is the establishment of truth and the third is a demonstration of the power of God for deliverance. If we are to properly respond to homosexuality in The Church we must love people like Jesus loves us, speak the truth in love and let love drive us to operate in the power of God.

John 8:32(NLT) - And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

2 Corinthians 3:17(NLT) - For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Now let's get some balance. What sets people free? Truth! And what is truth? The Word of God. It may come in the form of a prophetic Word. It may come in the form of a sermon. It may come in the form of a song of The Lord. In whatever form it comes, the truth will set you free. This is important to understand because love does not preclude the need to speak the truth. You need both. Hence, in Ephesians 4:15 we are instructed to speak the truth in love. There's no point in loving people but leaving them in bondage. They need the truth so that they can get their freedom. The truth for someone in denial is to show them their sin but for someone who accepts their sin, show them the solution.

In addition, once the presence of The Holy Spirit is strong in your church, that's a great place for deliverance from any kind of sin. God has His ways of dealing with certain issues in the fullness of time. As a result, anyone struggling with any sin including homosexuality just needs to keep showing up in an atmosphere of love and truth that's teeming with God's presence. Sooner or later, the combination of love, truth and the presence of The Holy Spirit will jumpstart the process of freedom that may have stalled for years. If any of these three fundamental elements of deliverance is missing there won't be much success.

John 8:36(KJV) - If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11(NLT) - Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

James 5:13-16(NKJV) - Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Last, but definitely not least. For anyone struggling with any sin, these three preceding scriptures outline the process of cleansing right there. Call on the name of Jesus and allow the Spirit of God to move freely through your life. Call on the elders and let them anoint and pray over you. Find someone full of The Holy Ghost that you can talk to about what you're struggling with. Let that person pray for you too. God does not condemn you and neither do we. We love you. We give you the truth. We pray for you. That's our job. That's how we deal with homosexuality. That's how we deal with sin. That's how we deal with life.

If you want to learn more, read this blog; "Ask Donnell: Why Can't I Stop Going Back To This Sin?"

2

Ask Donnell: Has The Church Replaced Israel In God's Plan?

Ask Donnell: Has The Church Replaced Israel In God's Plan?

We received the following question;

"Some people believe that The Church is spiritual Israel. Has The Church replaced Israel in God's plan? If so, what's God's plan for The Nation of Israel?"

Is The Church spiritual Israel? That is a fascinating question. I've heard the concept before and definitely understand why anyone would believe that to be the case. This idea has been referred to as "Replacement Theology" or some version of it by its critics. It purports that The Church replaced Israel in God's plans, prophecies, etc. especially when it comes to Eschatology or End Time Prophecies. The New Covenant with The Church replaced The Old Covenant with Israel. Circumcision of the heart replaced physical circumcision, etc., etc. Therefore, after The Book of Acts, anywhere we see the future of Israel in The Bible we can put The Church in there. Here's two scriptures that could cause some to start thinking along those lines.

Romans 2:25-29, 3:1-2, 9-10, 29-31(NLT) - The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God's law. But if you don't obey God's law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. And if the Gentiles obey God's law, won't God declare them to be his own people? In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God's law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God's law but don't obey it. For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God's Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people....3:1 - Then what's the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God... 9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, "No one is righteous— "No one is righteous— not even one.... 29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn't he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

Galatians 3:26-29(NLT) - For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you.

So what do you see in those two scriptures? Has The Church replaced The Nation of Israel as God's Children? It may appear so to the untrained eye. However, what we're really seeing here is that the believers in Christ out of The Gentiles combined with the believers in Christ out of The Nation of Israel make up The Church. Together, we are God's Children. All who are in Christ are one and God doesn't distinguish between us when it comes to His promise of blessings. We, The Church of Jesus Christ don't replace Israel, we just join the believers in Christ from Israel. Hence, those who accept Christ of Jewish or Gentile heritage are treated the same.

Also, those who reject Jesus, both of Jewish and Gentile heritage will see the same fate for eternity. It's no longer good enough just to be born a Jew. Everyone has to get saved through faith in Jesus. Let me say it another way to drive the point home. Jews who reject Jesus go to hell. Gentiles who reject Jesus go to hell. Jews who accept Jesus are in God's family and spend eternity with Him. Gentiles who accept Jesus are in His family and join the Jewish believers in God's family. However, that doesn't mean Jews aren't special in God's sight. Jesus said in John 4:22(KJV) - "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews."

God's plan of redemption was fulfilled in Jesus who was a Jew and continued with The Apostles who were also Jews. They preached the gospel in Jerusalem to Jews who were the first to get saved and establish The Church. It was all about Jews getting saved until God directed several Apostles to take the show on the road and preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Therefore, The Gentiles who received Jesus joined The Jews who believed in Jesus in The Church. So, the concept of The Church replacing Jews won't make sense because The Church is full of Jews. Nonetheless, ethnic Jews still exist, so what's God's plan for The Nations of Israel and Judah?

Isaiah 45:17(NLT) - But the Lord will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. Throughout everlasting ages, they will never again be humiliated and disgraced.

God plans to save the people of Israel also. However, let's not get carried away and think this means they don't need Jesus to get saved. Fast forward to The New Testament for more clarity concerning God's plan to save His people Israel and Judah.

Romans 9:22-29(NLT) - In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who were made for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles. Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, "Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before." And, "Then, at the place where they were told, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'children of the living God.'" And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, "Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality." And Isaiah said the same thing in another place:"If the Lord of Heaven's Armies had not spared a few of our children, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah."

So, let's start with the good news. God has a plan for the Gentiles and a plan for The Jews. His plan for The Gentiles was Jesus. His plan for the Jews was Jesus. Are they saved just because they are Jewish or from The Nation of Israel? No! Is Jewish salvation automatic? No! They need Jesus just like we need Jesus. Let's dig in some more into God's plan for Israel.

Romans 10:1-11(NLT) - Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don't understand God's way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God's way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4 For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God. 5 For Moses writes that the law's way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. 6 But faith's way of getting right with God says, "Don't say in your heart, 'Who will go up to heaven' (to bring Christ down to earth). 7 And don't say, 'Who will go down to the place of the dead' (to bring Christ back to life again)." 8 In fact, it says, "The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart." And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

So Apostle Paul's prayer was for Israel's salvation and the only way they would receive that salvation is through confessing with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in their heart that God raised Him from the dead. It's a simple plan and it works for everyone. It was Apostle Paul's prayer that the remnant who would we saved would go ahead and accept the path to their salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. Let's now bring this discussion to a close with a powerful scripture.

Romans 11:7-31(NLT) - So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. As the Scriptures say, “God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear.” Likewise, David said, “Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever.” Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it. I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too. But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either. Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong. I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins." Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God's mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God's mercy.

The Apostle Paul settled the issue in this passage of scripture. Israel is the root and we, The Gentiles were grafted into the tree because Israel rejected Jesus and made room for us. Those who were grafted in have not replaced the original branches and we must stop saying that. They will be grafted in again to join us. God added to His family those who would believe and will add the people of Israel again when they choose to believe in Jesus. Israel will be saved. In fact, the time is coming when they will open their hearts to hear the gospel and everyone of them will accept Jesus.

WAIT? Did he also say what I thought he said? All Israel will be saved? How is that possible? I thought God would only save a remnant? Well, let's make sense of this. First, this scripture is referring to the end of time because it clearly states that a time is coming when the full number of Gentiles will come to Christ. Therefore, after that time no more Gentiles will be getting saved. However, there will be a mass revival in Israel when they will receive Jesus. They will finally understand that He was sent as The Savior to Jerusalem to turn them away from ungodliness. Obviously, those who are ALIVE at the time of the end will be able to accept the truth of the gospel. Those who are dead won't be in Jerusalem anymore so I don't see how this scripture refers to them.

Hence, when this scripture is compared with the others that say only a remnant of Israel will be saved there is an easy way to look at it. All of Israel at that time will be saved. Everyone will recognize Jesus for who He truly is and they will be welcomed into The Body of Christ. They will accept the Good News which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, in the end, only those who accept Jesus will be saved. Fortunately, the time is coming when the gospel will be preached in Israel in such a mighty way that all who hear it will believe. Perhaps, this is why God never gives up on Israel. He knows that one day a generation of Jews, referred to as the remnant in the last days, will get it right and accept Jesus.

4

Ask Donnell - Did The Resurrection Already Take Place?

resurrection

We received the following question from Charlene;

Hi Donnell, greetings to you in Jesus name. My son came to me asking me if I knew anybody other than Jesus raised from the dead. I said no. Then he quoted ..Matthew 27:51-53(NIV)…."At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to Bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life." Is this the resurrection that was spoken about? Could you give me some clarity. Thank you and God bless you

Charlene, this question is loaded. There is so much to say on this topic that I must force myself to be concise. Read my book, "I Curse Death" available now at the bookstore if you want the long answer. Yesterday evening I had a long talk with one of my friends about the notion of raising people from the dead. When is it appropriate? Who has the authority to decide that someone's death was untimely and premature. As a result, when is it a good idea to petition God to return a dead person to life?

Matthew 27:50-53(NKJV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

After Jesus rose from the dead, several people followed him out of their graves. Was that The Resurrection? To answer the question directly, no! However, what did happen was a resurrection. In fact, resurrections were commonplace in The Bible both in The Old and New Testaments. The power of God to bring the dead to life has been on display since the days of old. The Resurrection of Jesus was just the highlight of them all and The Resurrection of every Christian at the sound of The Last Trumpet will be the grand finale.

So how should we approach Matthew 27:50-53? There are several ways that come to mind immediately. However, I'll start with the simplest. When Jesus rose from the dead so much resurrection power was released that it impacted many others in the vicinity. That's not so far-fetched because the precedent for such an eventuality was already set in the scriptures. Take a look at what happened when a dead man was thrown on top of the bones of the prophet Elisha. They shared a tomb for a very short time.

2 Kings 13:21(NKJV) - So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.

Here's some quick context. Those were no ordinary bones because Elisha was no ordinary guy. He had a reputation for raising the dead while he was alive and kept that reputation even after his death. You can check out the biblical record of Elisha raising the son of the Shunammite woman who had been dead in 2 Kings 4:32-37! It's a very dramatic account of God's power to raise the dead in action through an anointed man of God.

2 Kings 4:32-37(NKJV) - When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.

So what does any of this have to do with the people who came back to life just after Jesus in Matthew 27:50-53? Perhaps nothing or then again maybe not. If Elisha's bones could raise a young man back to life just by mere contact how much more could the body of a resurrected Jesus affect an entire cemetery? The power on Elisha's bones pale in comparison to the power on the body of Jesus. Not only did Jesus raise the dead during His lifetime like Elisha did, Jesus Himself is the source of all life. Nonetheless, let's see how Jesus explains the nature of The Resurrection once and for all.

John 11:20-27(NKJV) - Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

While mourning the death of her brother, Martha found hope in knowing that one day she would see him alive again at The Resurrection at the last day. It's the event spoken of in Daniel 12:1-2 that was common knowledge at that time.

Daniel 12:1-2(NKJV) - “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.

This is what Martha was looking forward to and her faith was in the right place because it was based in God's Word. However, Jesus revealed something she or nobody else had ever heard before. The Resurrection was more than an event that would take place at the end of time. The Resurrection is really a person and His name is Jesus. As a result, those who believe in Jesus can experience The Resurrection at any moment. Jesus described it as such; if they die, they will live and if they are alive they won't die.

That's what happens when The Resurrection shows up. He puts an end to the power of death in the lives of anyone who would dare to believe in Him as The Resurrection. When Martha believed, Jesus brought the future event into the present by raising Lazarus from the dead right there on the spot. He didn't have to wait for The Last Trumpet because The Resurrection put on human form and called his name. I can go on and on about this topic because it's the subject of my first book, I Curse Death and it remains as my first love when it comes to revelation from the scriptures.

There's nothing I love to teach more than victory over death through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died so we could live and that doesn't just mean at The Resurrection on the last day which is what Martha thought but right now because The Resurrection aka Jesus lives inside of us. Now, with that in mind let's take a final look at the event called The Resurrection through the lens of the person called The Resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58(NKJV) - Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

According to what we just saw in this scripture, The Resurrection will take place at The Last Trumpet. Read Revelation 8 and you'll see that there will be Seven Trumpets signalling seven specific events which will signal the countdown to The Resurrection. At that point, our bodies will change into glorified bodies and the thought of death would become a distant memory. We'll become physically immortal. Now, here's what The Resurrection looks like when it's seen through the lens of Jesus, who is The Resurrection.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18(NKJV) - But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Think of The Church as The Body of Christ then think of The Resurrection as the complete redemption or restoration of The Body. In an instant, Jesus, the Head of The Church will descend from heaven and at the same time His Body, The Church will rise to meet Him in the air. Those who died in Christ will rise first then the rest of us who are still alive will catch them in the air. The Resurrection therefore, is really the event that marks the return of Jesus Christ who is The Resurrection. In other words, when The Last Trumpet sounds, The Resurrection will return and His return will trigger an instant change in the bodies of every Christian and our ascension to meet Him which we also call The Resurrection.

We will no longer be subject to death nor any other physical limitation including gravity, time or space. Hence, just like The Resurrection of Jesus caused many saints to come back to life, on an even higher level, the return of Jesus as The Resurrection will cause every saint to come back to life. Those who are dead will live again and those who are alive will never die. Can you believe that? Lord knows, I believe.

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