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Tag: Spirit

2

Prayer: Why We Pray In The Name of Jesus

Every time we pray, we pray in the name (authority) of Jesus. In other words, we don’t expect God to answer our prayer because of who we are or what we’ve done to deserve the answer. If that was the case, we would pray in our own names. We expect The Father to answer our prayers because of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. That’s why we only pray in the name of Jesus.

Date - October 2nd, 2016

The Body Church

3015 Rainbow Dr,

Suite #142,

Building #3009,

Decatur, GA 30034

**Located in Building 3009 in South DeKalb Office Park, 3015 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, GA 30034**

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays - 9:00 AM

www.TheBodyChurchInc.org

2

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.

4

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 4 - You "Know" More Before You Start Than After!

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 4 - You "Know" More Before You Start The Church

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned". Today, we are highlighting the fourth point; "4) You know more about being a pastor when you're not an actual pastor." For the previous point click the following link; "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 3 - You Can't Technically "Start" A Megachurch"

I once heard a pastor joke that he knew the best way to solve everyone's problems in the room. It's simple; everyone switch problems with the person next to you. 🙂 He did have a point that we will address today. We always seem to know what someone else should be doing to solve their own problems instead of solving our own.

When I wasn't a pastor, I could come up with so many solutions for the pastor of my church. I always knew ways he could have done things better. I knew more about pastoring than he did. Of course, that's until I became an actual pastor. At that point I discovered that I knew nothing. In fact, I probably know even less now.

On another note, we constantly meet people just like us who have all the answers to what we need to do for our ministry to be successful. "All you guys need to do is this and your church will be successful. All you need to do is that and the church will grow." It's really easy to volunteer answers off the cuff when it's not your problem because your answer does not have to actually work. Everyone has the secret for someone else's success but can't seem to find the secret for their own.

Single people know what married people need to do to have successful marriages. Poor people know what rich people should do with their money. People who don't have children have the best parenting advice for those who do. Seriously, let's all switch problems so we can eliminate them all. If I wasn't a pastor and I was talking to myself I would probably know exactly what I need to do. However, now that I'm a pastor I don't have the answers anymore. Now, I actually have to trust God which is a strange concept when you think you can figure everything out.

Romans 10:2(NKJV) - For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

From our vantage point in the pews we all know how to run the church. I understood it all as I sat and watched someone else do it. Being a pastor was a breeze I thought. I knew exactly what I was going to do and when I got my chance I would do it better than every pastor I knew. I was ready or at least, I thought I was. Church planting here we come. I had my five point plan for church growth. I knew how to choose leaders. I could raise funds for any project we needed. I had a plan for everything.

I thought that once God called us to do something and He anointed us to do it, things would just work out. Well, not exactly. Everything changed when it was time to start and things didn't work as easily as we thought it would. We had a zeal for God but not much knowledge about the reality of pastoring a church in Atlanta. It's not that we didn't have information but the information didn't work the way we thought it would. Some theories look great on paper but they are only proven when applied in real life.

Ephesians 4:11-15(NLT) - Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

The Lord now has us on a journey through Ephesians 4:11-15 as He brings understanding of the basic responsibilities of the fivefold ministry gifts including pastors. This is what He called us to do and this is where our focus lies. We had to let go of our preconceived notions about pastoring and learn the basics once we got started. We must equip God's people to do His work and build up The Church. We must continue until there is true unity in the faith, everyone knows who Jesus is and people become spiritually mature. That in a nutshell is what God has called us to do.

Jeremiah 3:15-16(KJV) - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

In the process of carrying out God's call to be pastors, we must continue to feed people with knowledge and understanding. We knew so much more before we started but once we started we had to learn the basics. The truth is that things are so much simpler now. We're not called to be experts, we're just called to do God's Will and that's all we need to do. Starting the church was the best decision we could have ever made. We love being pastors and we love the people we have at The Body Church. Regardless of the challenges, we'll never regret the decision to say yes when we heard God's call.

Proverbs 3:5,6(KJV) - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Starting this church has taught us how to trust God all over again. We don't know what will work anymore other than what God shows us. We ran out of smart ideas and just had to sit before God and wait to hear His directions. I do thank God for my parents, Apostles Emanuel and Jemma Duncan because several times The Lord has used them to speak to us.

They went through this process successfully a long time ago. They now guide and encourage us along the way. We knew it wasn't going to be easy but we thought we would be able to figure it out. Well, there's no figuring out what can't be figured out. There's only trusting The Lord for direction. The only other option is failure and that's not an option for us.

See you next time for "Point 5) When people act "over the top" eager about your church when they first show up, don't assume they'll stay long or even show up again."

0

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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Apostolic Mentorship

Apostolic Mentorship

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10(NLT) - History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.

Have you ever felt like you're the only one going through what you're going through? I have, at times, but I know that's not true. Nothing's new. It's happened before. It might be new to you or me but it's not new to mankind. After thousands of years and billions of people we're running out of unique experiences on the earth. Somebody has felt your hurt before. Someone has experienced your failure before. Someone's been disappointed just like you before. Someone has been in your situation before. In the same vein, someone has had your gift before. Someone has had a similar opportunity before. Someone's had to make a similar decision before. It's not new. It's just new to you.

As I prepared to walk out the door of a previous job into a much better position elsewhere I asked the president of my former company for any advice he could give. At the top of his list was a simple instruction; "Find a mentor. That person will be an invaluable resource throughout the course of your journey." Coincidentally, in preparation for my new position I read the book, "Passing It On" by Dr. Myles Munroe. Contained within it was the same principle of mentorship and how crucial it is to the continued success of The Church of Jesus Christ. With that in mind, I invite you to Friday night's session of this weekend's conference "Building The Church" at The Body Church in Decatur, GA.

At that session my mother, Apostle Jemma Duncan, will officially launch her new book, "Common Mistakes Women Make" in the US market. It's a labor of love to women in the church from a mother of three, wife of almost forty years, pastor of many, radio and television host of "Ask Pastor Jemma", prolific author, Bible School founder and retired elementary school teacher. Each time I hear my mother teach God's Word I am amazed at how clearly the Voice of God is communicated through her words. My mother taught me how to write as a young elementary school student when I would get all A's except for a huge C in Creative Writing. As a young preacher, my mother would critique some of my early messages and helped hone my teaching style.

Titus 2:1-7(NLT) - As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.

Older women must train the younger women to be good wives and mothers, to make wise decisions, to be pure, to take care of their homes, to do well and respect their husbands. In the same way, older men must teach younger men to make wise decisions as men, husbands and fathers. This is the model of The Church. We're not supposed to figure everything out for ourselves, we're supposed to receive and then pass down generational wisdom from which The Church can grow to please God. I didn't have a name for this principle so I created one; "Apostolic Mentorship". Older women are church mothers and older men are church fathers with years of experience from which the rest of us can benefit. We are a family and when things are done right, we won't repeat mistakes.

1 Corinthians 10:13(NLT) - The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Women, this Friday was set up especially for you. Someone else has felt the way you feel. Someone else has faced the challenges you face. Your temptations have been on repeat throughout history. God is faithful and wants to provide you with answers to your many questions. Your questions have been asked before and the answers have already been given. The answers you need are out there and you can get them if you make yourself available to receive them. With that, I am reminded of the common saying, "If we don't learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them." Praise God, that won't happen to you. See you on Friday at The Body Church for the launch of "Common Mistakes Women Make".

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Join The Conversation: Building Apostolic Communities

Fostering and Forging Apostolic Communities

Psalms 133:1-3(NLT) - Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.

This Thursday, August 20th, we are excited to have as a special guest at Coffee Shop Conversations, Apostle Jemma Duncan, the author of "Fostering and Forging Apostolic Communities". This will officially kick off, "Building The Church", our revolutionary weekend of meetings at The Body Church with both Apostles Jemma and Emanuel Vivian Duncan. For this week, this blog will serve simply to whet your appetite as we await The Word of The Lord through the Apostles.

Acts 2:1-12(NLT) - When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

Our latest sermon series at The Body Church is called "One" and it's an intense study of unity in the local church first and then in The Body of Christ as a whole. When we look at the beginning of The Church in Acts 2 we see a couple simple things happen in a very specific sequence with fascinating results. Let's take a look.

How The Church Was Built!

1) Jesus left a group of 120 people to wait for The Holy Spirit in The Upper Room. This was the first step of the process. Jesus said wait for The Holy Spirit before doing anything else and they obeyed.

2) They were unified in one place until The Holy Spirit showed up and anointed everyone of them. The Bible said that they were in one accord in one place. That's the type of atmosphere that's ripe for a move of God's Spirit.

3) They all received a common language (The Language of The Spirit) which enabled them to say the same things (testify of God's wonderful works) with completely different tongues, none of which were native to them but were easily understood by the foreigners gathered around listening to them.

4) Apostle Peter stood up and preached the first church sermon ever and it was a long one. Someone has to say something even though everyone experiences the power of The Holy Spirit. Church communities cannot grow without good teaching. Talking in tongues, prayer, prophesying, dancing, falling out, etc. are all good but preaching is important too.

5) The message ended with an altar call during which the first 3000 people got saved. Peter taught the people about the crucified and resurrected Jesus and they responded by committing their lives. Jesus was lifted up from the earth and He drew all men to Himself. He just did it that time through Peter.

6) The Church developed from 120 people waiting for The Holy Spirit in a room to a community of at least 3,120 who engaged in some very specific activities outlined in the following verses.

Acts 2:40-47(NLT) - And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

7) They devoted themselves to The Apostle's teaching. In other words, The Apostles kept teaching and the people kept doing what they were taught. One sermon from Peter, though quite effective, was not enough. The same applies to us.

8) They devoted themselves to fellowship. People spent time together which meant that even though they were different they learned to get along. We can't hate each other and fellowship. Church communities share life together. Lone rangers have no place in church. Plug in!

9) They devoted themselves to sharing meals including Communion. When people eat together it builds community. The same way families grow when they all sit at the table together, church communities grow when people eat together. Note that I didn't say churches grow. I said church communities. There's a difference. You can have a big church but that doesn't make it a community. 😉

10) They committed themselves to prayer. Have you ever heard the saying, "the family that prays together stays together?" Well, it applies to church families too. When it's time to pray we should all show up in the same numbers as when it's time to listen to The Word, hang out together or eat. All four are crucial to building the church community. You can't leave out any of them.

11) When the top ten were complete, God moved through miraculous signs and wonders among The Church. That was the order. The first miracle was The Holy Ghost falling upon everybody, then other miracles followed.

12) They helped each other out. Church communities take care of their own. We look out for each other first even before we try to look out for the community around us. We are a community already. It starts at "home".

13) They went to church consistently. You can't build a church community if people don't go to church. That's an easy step to follow because it's directly related to being devoted to The Apostle's teaching. People who show up on Sunday morning get something to follow during the week.

14) They hung out at each other's homes. This one's special for me because I grew up in a pastor's home where people would show up at our house uninvited, some of whom we did not even know. Thankfully, those days are over. However, church communities grow as people spend time at each other's homes when invited, of course.

15) They enjoyed each other. This seems too simple to make the list but it's pretty important. We have to enjoy each other's company. When people like each other, they enjoy each other. Truthfully, you don't have to like everybody you meet or even know, but at the very least, you should like the people at your church. To build the community you should enjoy each other's company.

With these 15 characteristics in place The Church community grew daily as God kept adding people. Additionally, miracles and wonders were done consistently at the hands of The Apostles. If that does not describe your church community, you're invited to Coffee Shop Conversations on Thursday night. If it does, you're also invited because we would love to hear how you do it. Today's blog is just a quick introduction. It doesn't do justice to what my mother, Apostle Jemma Duncan will teach from her book, "Fostering and Forging Apostolic Communities". If you live in the Atlanta area, don't miss it. What are your thoughts? Join the conversation.

Dedication Flyer

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Hearing God's Voice

Date - Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

The Body Church
3015 Rainbow Dr,
Suite #142,
Building #3009,
Decatur, GA 30034

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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