A Modern Woman's Perspective Of The Kingdom of God on Earth


February 13, 2019

A Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

     The last few posts have been pretty heavy; theologically weighty, if you will. So I thought I would take a break and present a topic to hearten our spirits. It may seem like a trivial subject but it actually has great consequences not only here on earth, but in heaven and in the spiritual realm, too. So, today I'd like to address acts of kindness.
     The Bible tells us that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). When we break these two verses down, it looks like this ... the word fruit is the Greek word karpos and is loosely translated as "harvest". Digging in deeper, Strong's Concordance tells us the word means the fruit that is produced by the inherent energy of a living organism; the visible expression of power working inwardly and invisibly, and the character of the power producing it. So, ultimately, the "fruit of the Spirit" suggests the unity of the character of the Lord as reproduced in us [through the presence of the Holy Spirit]. You might want to meditate on that for a moment. Simply put, yes, it is a harvest, but it is a complex concept.
    So, now let's take a look at kindness. It is the Greek word chrestotes, and Strong's says it signifies not merely goodness as a quality, but it is goodness in action, goodness expressing itself in deeds, showing grace and tenderness and compassion.
     That's an academic and somewhat impersonal description of kindness as a fruit of the Spirit. So what does it look like in reality? Well, I'm going to give you a personal example, and one that I am very proud of.  My niece and God-daughter, Kaylee, has a sweet and tender heart and sincerely loves the Lord. She is somewhat of an anomaly in this Millennial generation. She decided that she was spending too much time on Instagram (a social media platform) and canceled her profile. She is passionately pursuing a relationship with Jesus, and writes a blog about how her experiences and dedication to a righteous life sometimes leaves her walking a lonely path.
     But don't feel sorry for her! She is a beautiful and vibrant young woman who has a witty sense of humor and will one day make an amazing wife for the man she is waiting for the Lord to bring into her life. And she will soon be starting her career as an elementary school teacher and will bless the lives of the children who are placed in her path. But this is a blog post about kindness. And I want you to hear how Kaylee epitomizes this fruit of the Spirit.
     I wish you could hear her tell the story, because she is much more entertaining than my words on this screen, but I will do my best. She had just received her paycheck and decided she needed to go to the pet store to buy her beloved puppy some dog food. The weather was bad and she was carefully making her way to Pet Smart when, on the side of the road, she passed a homeless man and his little dog. You have to understand the members of our family -- we are all fervent dog lovers and the multiple pets we own are loved by all of us; literally members of the extended family. So Kaylee's heart was instantly touched by the sight of the little dog in the cold, nasty weather.
     As she passed the man and his pet, she decided that since she was going to buy food for her own dog, she would get some for the homeless dog and return to deliver it. When she got to the pet store, she purchased food, a couple of toys, a blanket and some dog chews. As she often does, she struck up a conversation with the clerk, explaining that she was buying these for a dog who was on the street in the inclement weather. The clerk told her that he would help, too, and gave her a discount. [Kindness is addictive].
     So she drove back to the corner where the man and dog had been, praying that she would hit a red light when she reached them because there was no place to pull off to distribute the goods. The Lord  heard her prayer and the light turned red just as she approached them. She rolled her window down and gave the man what she had purchased for his dog. He was so thankful and couldn't believe that she had made the effort to come back -- it would have been so easy to keep driving and never think about them again.
     But Kaylee's act of kindness was not finished. Before the light turned green and she had to drive off, she said her heart was pricked with the idea that she should bless the man, too. She said she had heard the advice to not give the homeless money because they often bought alcohol or drugs with it, but that's all she had to give him, so she reached into her wallet and gave him the cash she had.
     Now, Kaylee didn't relate this story to receive accolades or praise. Her story was really more about her feelings for the little dog and the funny narrative of maneuvering through the traffic to secure the  perfect timing of reaching them. But I know better. I know that it was the power of the Holy Spirit to produce the heart of Jesus in her, in that moment. She didn't hesitate, she didn't make excuses why it was too much trouble or that she would be late to work. She just displayed the goodness of her nature, and acted with grace and tenderness and compassion.
     This may not be a story of great import or impact. But you know what? God doesn't require blockbuster deeds. Simple acts of kindness such as this can change a person's life. This is the divine love of God expressed by a young woman who belongs to Jesus Christ. Not only did she touch the life of the homeless man and his little dog, but Heaven took notice, too. When she stands before Jesus one day, she will receive her crowns and rewards for living a life that pointed others to the love of Christ. To the world her actions may look insignificant. But to God, on that rainy, icy day she was the visible expression of the power of His love. And who knows what her actions might inspire in others? I know her life will be a bountiful harvest!

Luke 6:38    Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

February 10, 2019

The Seven Mountains of Influence ... Biblical or Not?

     I guess I am still puzzled by faithful Christians who deeply love the Lord, but struggle with seeing the inestimable and immeasurable depth of His Word. As I continuously exhort to all who will listen, everything in the Bible is about God. But everything about God is not in the Bible. By that I mean that there are an infinite number of concepts of the greatness of our God and they cannot all be contained in one book. And He delights in us gaining new understanding and revelation [by the Holy Spirit] of how we can partner with Him to bring knowledge of Him to the world -- to the unbelievers who don't know Him, and let me be frank -- to my fellow believers who could benefit the world from getting to know Him more.
    So, today, I want to tackle a concept that can be construed as controversial within the Body of Christ -- the Seven Mountains of Influence. I say controversial because there are many Christians who will dismiss an aspect of God's authority and character if they are unable to find a concept mentioned in the Bible that is word-for-word, chapter and verse. But if you've read the last few days of this blog, you will be able to see just how important our Christian influence is to be. Ultimately, it will affect our very survival in the Tribulation to come. But let's take a look at why this particular concept is such a lightning rod in the Christian community.
     Just what does the Seven Mountains of Influence mean? Very simply, it is an understanding that in order for the Church to impact the world for Jesus Christ, it would be necessary for the Body of Christ to influence the Seven Mountains of society. What are those seven mountains? They are Education, Religion, Family, Business, Government/Military, Arts/Entertainment, and the Media. Here's where the controversy begins ... there are those who have taken this simple concept and declared that those who are in agreement with it see it is a Mandate from God; that before Jesus will return, the Church must take control of these seven spheres of influence. I will be honest with you; from everything I have read, the original proposal of this concept was not presented as a prerequisite for Christ's Second Coming. And perhaps there are denominations who have corrupted the idea and declared it is as mandatory from God. And then, on the other side of the controversy, perhaps there are those who unable to accept any idea that is not listed Chapter and Verse [in the Bible] and, therefore, declare such concepts anti-Biblical.
     Those among the Body of Christ who tend towards legalism or a religious spirit don't like terminology like "occupying" the mountains, "invading" the culture, or "transforming" society. They will also state that those who see the value in influencing these seven mountains perceive a duty of all Christians to create a worldwide kingdom for the glory of Christ. They will tie the theory of the seven mountains of influence to what they label as "dominion theology" or [taking back the dominion of the earth that was ceded to Satan by Adam and Eve in the Garden]. They will then take it a step further and declare that the principal goal of dominion theology and the seven mountains mandate is political and religious domination of the world through the implementation of the moral laws—and subsequent punishments—of the Old Testament. Whew! That's quite a stretch from the original presentation.
     I'm sorry, but to me, this is just an example of a religious mindset! It reminds me of the Pharisees who were only able to conceive of God by a narrow set of standards derived from Rabbinic laws and teachings. Jesus comes with a new and broader understanding of the will and sovereignty of God and is declared to be blasphemous! The difference is that Jesus had a spiritual mind; the Pharisees had a literal mind. Jesus was opening a gate to a new perception of the Kingdom of God, but the Pharisees refused to move off their familiar track of tradition in the world. 
     Does Jesus or the Bible ever say, "As followers of Christ, you are to have influence over these seven mountains of the world"? Of course not! But we are called to be "salt and light"; distinctive roles in the world. We are to be salt, as in preserving the world from the evil that is inherent in a society controlled by ungodly and unredeemed men steeped in their sin. And we are to be salt, as in a flavor enhancer; standing out from the crowd and increasing the taste for a world living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ. We are to be light, as in letting our good works for the Lord shine forth as a "city set on a hill"; and letting our "light shine before men in such a way that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven". I don't know about you, but that sounds like influencing the world, doesn't it?
     Furthermore, in addressing the criticism of "occupying" the spheres of Education, Religion, Family, Business, Government/Military, Arts/Entertainment, and the Media, doesn't Jesus tell us in Luke 19:13 to "Occupy til I come"? Another translations reads, "There was once a man descended from a royal house who needed to make a long trip back to headquarters to get authorization for his rule and then return. But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, ‘Operate with this until I return.’" Still another translation instructs us to "do business with this until I return". It is clear to me that we are to "occupy" and continue the business that Jesus clearly came to do for the Father ... establish the Father's claim to this world and establish His Kingdom on earth; reclaim, if you will, dominion of the earth from Satan ... "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish". You can label that "dominion theology" if you want, but the Bible clearly says that Satan acknowledged he had authority over all the kingdoms of the world. And the last time I checked, the Bible said that God gave dominion over the world to Adam. So when Jesus says, "The Kingdom of God is at hand, [or is near]", He is announcing that the government of Heaven will be implemented upon the earth and that people should repent, believe the good news that He brought and put that message into action, changing their lives to reflect their belief and commitment, and thereby change their communities, cultures, and countries.
     That's why I don't agree with the critics who have a problem with terminology like "invading the culture". Just consider Romans 8:37, "Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and His demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything!" I think we can agree if we invade the culture of Arts, Entertainment and the Media, we can conquer the seeds of sin. The success of Christian-oriented movies such as "I Can Only Imagine" and the PureFlix Film company are just a couple of examples. Think of the influence for Christ we can have when we invade the movie industry and the media.
      And when it comes to "transforming society", the Bible is quite clear as to how we Christians are to live: "Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes". And what do you think happens when we are transformed? We become that salt and light that influences those around us! 
     So, can we please try to look beyond our Church traditions and doctrines and understand that the Holy Spirit can bring us "divine concepts" that may not be word-for-word Biblical translations? Demanding literal accountability to the Bible is no different than the Pharisees inability to understand Jesus's statement, " I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again." They totally missed the boat, so to speak! When they responded, "How can a man be born when he is old? … Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!" it showed their unwillingness to accept anything other than their entrenched traditional thinking. 
     Remember, Jesus used parables, metaphors and veiled meanings that did not correspond to the "letter of the Law" that the religious leaders demanded. Do we not think that we Christians can present the foundation of Jesus's teachings in a new dialogue, yet with a synonymous message? I have no problem with saying that, as a follower of Christ, and an ambassador of God's Kingdom ["on earth, as it is in Heaven"], that I am committed to influencing those around me in the spheres of education, my faith, my family, our business, in the government of my country, in the movies/tv/books/internet that I choose to endorse, and in how I participate on social media -- all for the sake and glory of God! 
     So, can we agree to un-harden our hearts, take off the veils of tradition that diminish our spiritual sight, and discover the hidden glory of God? And then let's go out and influence the world for Jesus and the Kingdom of God! Future generations of believers will profit from your faithfulness to influence whatever "mountain" you are called to. For that influence will reverberate throughout the days of persecution. Know that you are a royal priest of the Kingdom and you have been given the authority to administer the Kingdom wherever you go. Praise God for His faithfulness!

1 Peter 3:16    "Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."

February 7, 2019

What Do You Make Of Your Christian Influence?

     In the last two posts I proposed an interpretation of Matthew 25:31-46, in which I identified the "sheep nations" as unbelieving people groups (or nations) who helped the saints during the Tribulation [by feeding them, clothing them, visiting them in prison, etc]; in other words, supporting "the agenda of the Brethren". They fed persecuted Christians, sheltered them, cared for them when they were sick, and ministered to them when the forces of the Anti-Christ imprisoned them. Their actions have been credited to them [imputed] as righteousness by God and Jesus, and they are allowed to enter the Millennial Kingdom as citizens who will be under the rule and reign of Christ and Christian saints. 

     As I said previously, this is my understanding at this particular season of my walk with Christ in His Word. You may have a different interpretation, and that's okay. But even if we differ on our rendering of this particular Scripture, I think we can agree that our influence upon the unredeemed will have profound effects when the persecution begins -- and the Bible clearly states, Christians will be persecuted. That is why I ended yesterday's post with the statement, "And that, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, is why it is so important for us to be influencing communities, cultures, and countries for Christ. There is a time when the world will be at war with Christ and Christians, and how we impact nations and peoples now will bring the Church into its final destination. It is exciting and a profoundly significant responsibility for the Body of Christ. Are you ready and willing?"
     And that brings me to the question I have asked in the title of today's blog ... What do you make of your Christian influence? First of all, do you even think you have any? Influence, that is. Perhaps you think you have to hold a religious office, or be a well-known Christian author or philosopher. Perhaps you think only Pastors or teachers have any real influence. Do you think you have nothing to offer, and look at others impacting or transforming people for Jesus, and try to pattern your life after theirs?  
     If any of these thoughts ring true for you, I want you to stop and think about this... Bronnie Ware is an Australian author, songwriter and motivational speaker best-known for her writings about the top deathbed regrets she had heard during her time as a palliative care-giver for the terminally ill. In an article she wrote in 2009, Ms. Ware revealed that the top regret for those who were dying was this: "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me". In other words they weren't their truest self; the person Jesus designed them to be, and they felt they didn't fulfill the purpose for which they had been born. 
     Here's the thing ... we are each individually created and designed for the glory of God. And when our unique design is impacted by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been equipped to influence the world! Listen to the beautiful poem King David wrote to describe God's design of every person:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day. 
(Psalm 139:13-16)

    You were created and designed to be exactly as you are! There was a purpose for your life written "before you'd even lived one day". You were born to have influence in the lives of those who do not know your Creator. Yet, you may be chasing after someone else's gifts and talents because you are believing Satan's lies that yours aren't good enough! Here's what you need to understand and believe -- there is a calling and a purpose on your life that is as distinctive and individual as you are, and it can only be fully reached through your uniqueness. You were made by God for God. You were made to influence others for His Kingdom. 
     And whether or not we are destined to be among the persecuted Christians that are ministered to by the "sheep nations" at Jesus's return, it doesn't change our responsibility or privilege to influence those in our communities, cultures or countries now. By doing so, we could be creating an environment that will result in a legacy of future Christians who will touch the hearts of those sheep nations in Matthew 25. 
     You were created with a distinct purpose in mind; to have life-giving influence in whatever situations you have been placed; to impart the life-giving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world -- and your influence is connected to who you were designed to be. Embrace and accept yourself as He made you. You have the capacity and the power to shape and influence someone's life for Christ. You truly do! We all do! When you know this Truth, it becomes important how you steward that influence in impacting the lives and faith of others.  Your own faith journey will take on new significance and you will be among the men and women God is raising up in this generation to impact the world for His Kingdom. You will find that your life and faith and purpose and influence are all for Him!

Ephesians 2:10    For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.

      
       

February 4, 2019

Final Judgment of Sheep and Goats - Part 2

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, 36 I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? 39 And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” -- Matthew 25:31-46  

     First, I'd like to say that if you haven't read the previous post, I suggest you do, so that what I'm about to say will be understood in its full context. Here is what has been established so far ... Jesus is sitting upon His throne, in all His glory, and judging the "sheep" and "goats". The sheep have been judged righteous, and it has been pronounced that they will "inherit the kingdom". The goats, on the other hand, have been judged cursed, and have been sentenced to the "eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels". These are very serious pronouncements, and it is important that we grasp their meaning and understand them correctly.
     As I postulated yesterday, it is apparent that ministering to the hungry, thirsty, strangers among us, and the imprisoned is important to Jesus. In fact, He makes a point of calling these unfortunate souls His "Brethren". In the past, I have assumed Jesus was making a statement from His carnal position, regarding the treatment of all mankind. But as I have spent more time contemplating this important passage, I have begun to see just who He is addressing.
     In verse 32, the Bible says Jesus has gathered "all the nations" before Him, and separated them as "a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats". We've also established that sheep represent obedience, while goats represent rebellion. But notice this: Jesus has gathered nations. Now, some translations go on to say that He "will separate people one from another", while other translations say, "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [implying nations] one from another".  I submit that those translations that use the word "people" are referring to ethnic groups [peoples] or speaking of a group of citizens, collectively, of a nation.
     And here is where we get to the decisive and most important points of Matthew 25:31-46. Because Jesus is sitting on His throne on the earth, and all the angels are with Him, I see that the bowls of wrath have been poured out, the battle with the Anti-Christ and his followers at Armageddon has taken place, and this is the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. This scenario is about more than people ministering to the unfortunate of the world, however important that is to our King. This is a picture of Jesus seated on His Judgment Throne.
     More importantly, it is critical that we understand that [at this point in Matthew 25] there has been a transition from the Church Age to the Millennial Kingdom. Admittedly, I am no Bible scholar. But I know that all of the Bible has been given to us so that we might seek to understand our God and participate in His redemptive plan for His creation. While it is true that Jesus tells us that no man knows the day nor the hour of His return, He also tells us to "Stay awake!" and be on guard for the events to come.  
     I will also admit that the Bible is a mystery as to how these events unfold. And I am still trying to make all the puzzle pieces of Daniel's 70th week, Joel 2, Ezekiel 38, Zechariah 14, the Book of Revelation and Jesus's warnings in the Gospels into a cohesive picture so that I will not be caught unaware and surprised by the "thief in the night". 
     So, if we look at the verses just prior to the separation of the sheep and goat nations at the Judgment seat, we will find that Jesus has delivered His parable of the Talents. This is a picture of the first phase of Jesus's judgment in which the saints (raptured Believers) will be rewarded according to the fruit they bore for the Kingdom. In 25:23, Jesus says to these saints, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord." This is confirmation of Timothy 2:12 and Revelation 20:4, that we will rule and reign with Christ in the Millennial  Kingdom. 
     The Parable of the Talents is immediately followed by verses 31-46, which show us the second phase of Jesus's judgment from the Throne. This judgment is directed, not at the saints (Believers) but at the unregenerate nations that survive the coming of Christ and Armageddon. Remember, these are unredeemed nations that are standing before Jesus, and they will be judged as to whether they are allowed to enter the Millennial Kingdom.
     So, now the obvious question is, why are some of the nations judged as sheep, and some as goats? I believe that Jesus is designating the sheep nations as those nations, ethnic groups, or peoples that cooperated with the brethren of Christ in resisting the Anti-Christ during the Tribulation. These sheep nations may not have been Believers in Christ, but they assisted Christians by housing them, feeding them, and ministering to them in prison during the persecution of Christians by the Anti-Christ. That's why the sheep nations ask Jesus, when did we do all these things? And He answers, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.   
     NOTE: I have an additional question about Jesus's answer, that I have not solved yet. Who is Jesus referring to as His brothers? Are Christians the only people qualified to be called His brothers? Could He also be referring to the 144,000 Jews who are sealed with His Father's name on their foreheads? After all, Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, and these 144,000 are mentioned along with the multitudes that appear before His throne in Revelation 7. I don't know if Scripture identifies these two groups "collectively", as Jesus's brothers. At this point in my journey, I cannot definitively say. But I am willing to say that that He identifies these "brothers" as members of His Father's Kingdom who have been protected by the sheep nations. 
     I will also tell you that I had to take off my rose-colored glasses to dig into these verses. I had read them so many times and just accepted the "easy answer" that Jesus was commending Christians for being, well ... good Christians. But then there was verse 41 and He is cursing people and condemning them to "the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels". That just didn't make sense if He was addressing Christians. And I had to remind myself that when the Holy Spirit inspired the original writers of the Bible, the Holy Book wasn't broken into neat little sections with titles. Yet, here, one of my Bible translations (KJV) tells me that verses 31-46 are about the judgment of the Gentile nations. How many times have I just skipped over that because it didn't fit my current understanding of the Bible, and I couldn't see the connection between the Parable of the Talents and the judgment of the sheep and goats?
     But there was still something that I had to work through. How could Jesus call these unbelieving sheep nations "blessed by My Father" (verse 34) and "righteous" (verse 37)? And how could they be allowed into the Millennial Kingdom if they hadn't believed in Him during the Church Age? Here is how I understand it now (until the Holy Spirit reveals more) ... They could be the unsaved people who survived the Tribulation and return of Christ to be facing Him at His Judgment Seat, and because they helped the saints during the Tribulation [by feeding them, clothing them, visiting them in prison, etc]; in other words, supporting "the agenda of the Brethren", their actions have been credited to them [imputed] as righteousness, and they are allowed to enter the Millennial Kingdom as citizens who will be under the rule and reign of Christ and Christian saints. Meanwhile those goat nations continued in their rebelliousness towards God and sided with the Anti-Christ, persecuting the Brethren. Their "reward" will be punishment in the eternal fires of hell.
     So, in conclusion, once again I have discovered that I cannot take verses of the Bible out of context. I must read it with a discerning spirit and see the whole picture. The Return of Jesus is at the center of Matthew 25 -- all of the chapter.  And we are given a view of the Judgment Seat of Christ. We saints will be judged to determine what kind of reward we are to receive, based on the fruit we bore for the Kingdom of God. It is not about salvation! It is about the work we did for the Kingdom. Then Jesus will judge the nations according to their works -- the sheep nations will be rewarded for cooperating with the agenda of the Kingdom and allowed to enter the Millennial Kingdom ... I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. But the goat nations will also be judged for their works with the Anti-Christ. It is clear to me that the destiny of nations at the commencement of the Millennial Kingdom will be determined on the basis of their partnership with the Kingdom of Heaven on earth during the Tribulation. 
     And that, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, is why it is so important for us to be influencing communities, cultures, and countries for Christ. There is a time when the world will be at war with Christ and Christians, and how we impact nations and peoples now will bring the Church into its final destination. It is exciting and a profoundly significant responsibility for the Body of Christ. Are you ready and willing?

Matthew 24:14    Yet through it all, this joyful assurance of the realm of heaven’s kingdom will be proclaimed all over the world, providing every nation with a demonstration of the reality of God. And after this the end of this age will arrive.
      
      

February 1, 2019

The Final Judgment of Sheep and Goats - Part 1

     I am deeply immersed in the Gospel Book of Matthew. For me, the four Gospels have so much to offer in revealing my Lord and Savior -- His mission on earth; His "Good News" of Salvation to individuals; our need to "repent and believe"; His message about the Kingdom of God influencing the earth; our assignments as ambassadors of that Kingdom ... and so much more. While I value every sacred book of the Bible [for they reveal the Father and His love for those created in His image], it is the Gospels that touch my heart and spirit the most, and none more than Matthew. This particular Book makes it clear that Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and we see the Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in His life, death, and resurrection.
    I love the parables and Jesus's forthright instructions on how to live a life that is pleasing to the Father. I esteem the prophecies of the future "End Times" and the "Age To Come". Certainly, the Book of Matthew challenges my knowledge of the Lord like no other Book of the Bible, and through meditation on the Word, I have come to know Jesus more deeply and intimately, and to begin to understand the Father's plan for redemption of the world. That being said, much is still being revealed to me [and it will be so until my last breath], and I have to tell you that there is a passage in Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 31-46, that is complex and enlightening, yet at the same time, alarming. I would like to take the next couple of posts to try to share what I think is being revealed to me -- how my understanding has changed, and how it is developing at this time.
     So, let's take a look at the passage: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, 36 I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
     There is so much to glean from these verses, but let me share some of the basic premises presented, which must be understood to grasp the bigger meaning of the passage. First, let's consider the sheep and goats. What does Jesus mean by these designations? I would submit to you that sheep are gentle animals, yielding to the Shepherd's commands; while goats are known to be independent, destructive and defiant when trying to be led. To put it in Scriptural terms, sheep are obedient, while goats are rebellious. 
     Secondly, what is the significance of putting the sheep at the right hand of Jesus on His throne, and the goats on His left? Throughout the Bible, the right hand is known as a place of honor and authority -- Jesus sits at the right hand of God. He states that He is the Truth, the Way, and the Life [Everlasting}. God's right hand also represents His strength and His righteousness -- "I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). But God has two hands. In Psalm 111:7, King David wrote, "The works of His hands are truth and [absolute] justice".  If Jesus is Truth, and He sits at the right hand of God, then the work of God's left hand (as stated in Psalm 111) is justice. 
     Now, let's make note that in Matthew 25, Jesus has come in His glory, and is seated on His glorious throne. He is seated, and displaying both Truth and Justice. This is a time of Judgment. I will tell you that my understanding of the time and place of this scene is based on my theological worldview. This is a difficult theological mystery that the Body of Christ is very much divided on; namely the chronological events that take place at the Second Coming of Christ. There are many things that happen, and it is difficult to come to a conclusive picture of how it all unfolds. I will be honest and say that I am still formulating my theology, but at this point in my journey, here is a [very] brief summary of where I stand as it pertains to Matthew 25... It is my view that Jesus returns after the Great Tribulation and raptures first, the dead in Christ, and then the Body of Christ [the Church], taking us to Heaven while the bowls of wrath are being poured out on the wicked of the world. The Church will then fulfill her purpose as the literal army of God, fighting with Jesus in many battles. This war will climax with the battle of Armageddon. (I look to the following Scriptures for my understanding of this scenario: prophecies made in Jude 14-15, Isaiah 13:1-5, and Joel 2:1-11, among others). It is after Armageddon, that this scene of Jesus on His throne, in Matthew 25, takes place. This is where judgment will take place of the "sheep and goats".
     [NOTE:  I do not say that you must agree with my interpretation of this eschatological timeline in order to understand what Jesus is trying to tell us in this passage. We must each spend time in the Word and with the Holy Spirit to receive revelation. And I fully expect that my interpretation of all the events of the Day of the Lord will continue to evolve as I spend more time studying and searching what the Lord would have me know. I think you will find that it is not necessary to agree on the timeline; rather it is more important to understand what is happening at this moment. And at the moment, we see Jesus, seated on His throne, which has become His Judgment Seat.]
     At this time, I want to present my initial interpretation of what verses 31-46 were telling me. It was very sobering to see how much it means to Jesus that we minister to the needs of our fellow man. For as we minister to people, we are ministering to Jesus! To meet the needs of hunger, thirst, isolation, nakedness, sickness, and imprisonment is the desire of the Father's heart and when we are obedient to do so, we are allowing Heaven to invade earth. That's why Jesus instructs us to pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
     And here is the frightening part .... verses 41-46 seem to imply that failure to do so results in eternal punishment in the fires of Hell! I have spent many a session with my Bible trying to determine if that is what the Word really says. I have read every version of the Bible I can find (and believe me I have a multitude of translations in my library). None of them varied from this text. Is Jesus really saying that the "goats" on his left hand will go to hell for refusing [or at the very least, failing] to feed the poor or minister to those who are sick or in prison? And who are these people who are designated as sheep and goats? Is it as simple as the sheep are Believers and the goats are Unbelievers? Can we justify that interpretation from the Scripture? Or is there more to this important passage? 
     I will let you ruminate on that for the next couple of days.... and then come back for Part Two. I think your understanding of the Word will be illuminated as we dive deeper into this important passage. Shalom!

 John 5:27    "The Father has transferred to the Son the authority to judge, because He is the Son of Man".


  

January 29, 2019

Jesus Wept

     Jesus wept. This is the shortest verse in the Bible and it occurs in John, Chapter 11 as Jesus approaches the tomb of Lazarus, His friend who had died. I think He probably wept for so many reasons -- chief among them, His compassion for those who suffer. But I also think He wept over the damage and distress and destruction that Death causes, knowing that the wages of sin are Death, and Death was what Satan claims as his victory. I can imagine that Jesus felt all that as He stood at the tomb and comforted Lazarus's family.
     But I am also willing to declare that Jesus wept on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. That is the day that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the inaccurately named Reproductive Health Act (RPA) into law. There is nothing "healthy" about it for the unborn. In a nutshell, the law allows third trimester abortions "when the health of the mother is in danger", and it removes abortion from the state’s criminal code. This would protect doctors or medical professionals who perform abortions from criminal prosecution. The law also allows medical professionals who are not doctors (such as nurse practitioners, physican's assistants, and nurse midwives) to perform abortions in New York. Additionally, the law states that abortions can be performed after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable, [or when necessary] to protect the life of the mother. These "exceptions" are rather broad, indicating that age, economic, social and emotional factors are reason enough. And perhaps the most egregious part of the bill is that it defines a "person" as "a human being who has been born and is alive".
     How do you think Jesus, the Creator of that person, feels? The Bible tells us He knew that fetus before He formed it in the mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Psalm 139:13-16 tells us that He knitted that fetus in the mother's womb and that the baby is "fearfully and wonderfully made"; never hidden from its Creator. And if that is not enough to dissuade those who favor abortion, let them read Exodus, Chapter 21, where God considers penalties for personal injuries, and then take a good, hard look at verses 22-25, which state, If men fight with each other and injure a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely [and the baby lives], yet there is no further injury, the one who hurt her must be punished with a fine [paid] to the woman’s husband, as much as the judges decide.  But if there is any further injury, then you shall require [as a penalty] life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. It should be clear from this passage that God considers a baby in the womb to be as human as a full-grown adult, with all the accompanying privileges to life and law. Abortion is a matter of life or death to a human being made in God's image. 
     I know all the arguments made in favor of abortion ... what about the cases of rape or incest? When the mother's health is in jeopardy? And I will grant those are tragic and difficult circumstances. But life comes from our God, and Death is the penalty for our sinful nature. I would ask those who consider abortion in these situations to consider the words of the Lord in Isaiah 45:10-11, Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”  Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? All children are a blessing from God and made by Him. It is the folly of men to think they can decide if that child [created by God] should be born or not, and the purpose Jesus had planned for that child.
     Yet that is exactly what the New York Reproductive Health Act states: “Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental [basic, essential] right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion". 
     I believe Jesus is weeping as he witnesses the pride of man in this law, which states, “Third-trimester abortion will be allowed under the new law when a pre-born child is diagnosed with a condition that will cause him or her to die at or shortly after birth”. Where is the fear of the Lord; that recognition of His ability to perform miracles and to heal? But the arrogance becomes even more pronounced. The bill also states that the new law removes protections for babies born alive after an abortion, repealing the requirement for a second physician to be on hand in case an attempted abortion past 20 weeks yields a live infant. 
     And in case you doubt that Satan is laughing in delight, the New York law sets a precedence preventing "the enforcement of laws or regulations that are not in furtherance of a legitimate state interest in protecting a woman’s health that burden abortion access". In other words, the New York Reproductive Health Act would be immune to any laws set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court. Adding insult to injury, Governor Cuomo gave Sarah Weddington, the attorney in the Roe v. Wade case, a special seat next to him as he signed the bill into law. What arrogance!
     I believe Jesus is weeping because He sees man choosing Death over Life; Satan's victory over Christ's victory. And He is weeping over 880,000+ of His creations being destroyed every year in the United States. The Word tells us that Satan comes to "kill, steal, and destroy" and he accomplishes all those goals in the practice of abortion -- murdering the unborn; stealing the life from an innocent person; and destroying what Jesus created. And He is weeping that those who have been appointed to govern us do not know Him. If they did, they could not legislate as they do. And He is weeping that men and women are willing to follow such ungodly and unrighteous laws because their hearts have been so defiled. 
     I usually do not comment on so-called "political" issues, but this is an issue of morality and a flagrant act of rebellion by mankind towards our Holy God. Who are we to determine that a life begun in the womb [by the hand of God] should [or can] be terminated? Yes, you can find facts that the number of abortions have decreased by a couple of thousand in the last couple of years. But Satan could not let this go unchallenged, so now, in cooperation with rebellious men, he is broadening his attack upon the unborn, stealing and destroying life, even after birth! And it is all in the name of "reproductive rights". 
     Pure and simple, it is man choosing to defy God ... and on January 22, 2019, I believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all wept. And I ask that all of you reading this get on your knees and pray for our leaders and our nation. Pray in repentance and ask forgiveness for this egregious sin! I cannot ignore the warning in Ezekiel 33:25; a warning given to the arrogant and wicked ... Thus saith the Lord God; Ye eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land?  Pray that the hearts of our citizens will turn away from the Billion Dollar industry that is fed by the blood of innocent children. Pray that our nation will be cleansed of its false worship of Self. Our God is a God of Love and Redemption, but He is also a God of Judgment against the unrighteous and the wicked. And they will not be spared unless they repent and turn from their evil ways. 

Proverbs 8:1-7   Can't you hear the voice of Wisdom? .... I’m calling to you, sons of Adam, yes, and to you daughters as well. Listen to Me and you will be prudent and wise. For even the foolish and feeble can receive an understanding heart that will change their inner being. The meaning of My words will release within you revelation for you to reign in life. My lyrics will empower you to live by what is right. For everything I say is unquestionably true, and I refuse to endure the lies of lawlessness—

January 26, 2019

Faith Includes Risk, Persistence, and Rewards

     I received a phone call today from a woman who had heard through the grapevine that my husband and I had a Deliverance Ministry. One of the first questions she asked was, "Who did you train under?" My spirit's response was "Jesus", but I knew that this world demands some kind of human accreditation or authorization. I had never really thought about having to give justification for the journey Mark and I have been on in order to give credence to our walk with the Lord, but I realized that He had actually orchestrated a pretty good resumé for us -- studying and training under Dr. Charles Kraft (a student of John Wimber, and the Vineyard Movement); training under Luke 4:18 Ministries, and Dan Duval and Bride Ministries. But most of all, I would say that the greatest training and guidance has come from the Holy Spirit. And the effectiveness of our ministry has come because we are simply willing to be obedient, risking it all for the Kingdom -- our reputations, our livelihood, and our faith.
     You see, we are interested in presenting the manifest presence of God to the world. By that, I mean that we want this world to experience an encounter with the Father, with Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit -- to know They are real, They are alive, and They care about whatever it is a person is going through or has experienced in their lives. Certainly, that can happen inside the Church walls, but for us, Jesus has called us to take Him to those who need more than just hearing or reading about Him. They need to actually experience or encounter Him in a very real spiritual way. That may come from physical healing in their body; from hearing a Spirit-led word that was prophesied over their life; or from being set free from spiritual bondage -- all ways that will transform a person's life in Christ, but are not universally accepted by the Church.
     That's where the risk and persistence comes in; and the rewards are inestimable -- too great to number. And it is not easy to "go against the flow", so to speak. What would you do if someone walked in to your Bible study who was obviously struggling with an inner battle? Someone who acted erratic and interrupted the structure of the class? How would you react when this person acted out of control and out of character of what a "Christian" is supposed to look like in church? Would you quietly ignore her, whisper that she didn't belong here, or wish she would just leave? Or would you get up, embrace her and whisper in her ear that Jesus loves her, hugging her while she wept? Would you have the courage to speak in tongues over her as she huddled in a corner, rocking in the fetal position, unworried about what the other attendees were thinking or doing? Because that is having the willingness to take a risk for Jesus and the Kingdom of God! That's what a dear Sister of mine did as she ministered to a lost soul who "invaded" the sanctuary of the Bible class she was attending. That's what all the church is supposed to be doing!
     We are supposed to walk in the power and authority Jesus gave us to continue His work. Yes, Jesus came to represent God's love for us, and we are to love one another as He loves us. But there's more for us to do than just loving our fellow man. Jesus also declared that He came to destroy the works of the devil. And physical infirmities, inner soul wounds, and spiritual torment are not manifestations of God's love -- they are evidence of the works of the devil! Loving our fellow man also includes doing what Jesus did to show the Father's love -- healing, deliverance from demonic torment, and letting the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in us to manifest in another person's life.
     Will we always be successful? No. Even Jesus had to heal the blind man twice before he saw with clarity. But it is our persistence that builds our "faith muscles". We learn a little bit more about the Father's heart each time we try. And even if we fail, we know it is still God's purpose for that person to be healed or delivered, and so the event is wrapped up in trusting God's sovereign desire to see His purpose done, as we continue to live in a world ruled by Satan.
     But here's how I look at it... even if the world sees my intervention as a failure, God sees it as a success because I was obedient. I was willing to try and He will always take that over someone who refuses to even contemplate that He can still intervene in the affairs of men; or one who believes that all He wants from us is blind worship with no action. The world demands perfection -- if the heart attack victim is not healed, then we are wrong to pursue healing; God no longer works miracles. But to God, our persistence and willingness to go is seen as success. We went just because He said to go. And we will continue to go, no matter how many times the world or the religious Church says its wrong -- just because we know it pleases our Father.
     Here is what I pray for the Body of Christ.... Recognize that opportunities abound for the Kingdom of God to break into our existence -- both inside the Church walls and outside. It doesn't matter where you minister. Take it from me, there are enough hurting people in this world to share the healing power of Jesus with -- both Believers and Non-Believers!  Ask the Holy Spirit to bring your spirit into communion with Him so you can identify those who need an encounter with Jesus. They may be sitting in the pew next to you in Church, or they may be the person you meet in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The point is, Jesus died to set all men free, and He gave us His power and authority to continue His work. I can promise you that it is rewarding to sow into the Kingdom by partnering with Him to free men and women and children from their bondage in this world. But it doesn't even compare to the rewards you will reap in Heaven when your Father says, "Well done, good and faithful Servant!"

Isaiah 40:5   And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
      

January 23, 2019

What Does It Mean To Be "Spiritual"

     How many times have you heard someone say that they prefer to be called "spiritual" rather than religious, or a Christian, or even a believer in Jesus Christ? This is a term that I frankly think has been abused and misused, diminishing the true sense of the word. I mean, let's be honest ... in its proper sense it denotes the Holy Spirit, and that's a pretty high standard to meet if one is going to call oneself spiritual.
     I agree that it is a state that, in its proper understanding, we should aspire to for the good of the Body of Christ. In Galatians 6:1, Paul tells us "if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness". But that instruction comes with a warning ... "Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted". 
     And lest we humans think the term belongs solely to us in this world, let me remind you of Paul's exhortation in Ephesians 6:12, that we fight against "spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places". Other translations say, "spiritual forces of evil" or "evil spirits" in the supernatural sphere. So, as you can see, that term "spiritual" can be applied to both those for and against God.
     But, if as mortal men and women, it is our desire to be "spiritual", just what does that mean, what does it look like, and how do we get there? I'm sure there are plenty of Christians who do not need the answers to these questions and are satisfied in their salvation alone. But, in my study and meditation on the Word, I cannot ignore all the exhortations and counsel to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior"; that we are being "built up into a spiritual house"; that we are to "supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love -- these are ours and they are increasing to keep us from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ". And there are so many more reminders that we are to "long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it [we] may grow up into salvation".
     In Christianity there is an obvious relationship between our spirituality and our salvation experience, yet I'm not sure we give any credence to "becoming spiritual".  In our modern culture, it has almost become a euphemism for believing in anything. I have heard everyone from vegans to satanists refer to themselves as "spiritual". Just Google what does it mean to be spiritual and see all the many false ways people can be led astray.
     But it is important to remember that we are not born spiritual. It is a process that we grow into and must work at maintaining. Yes, we are born in the image of God, who is Spirit, but we also are born into the natural state of man with the desires of the flesh, which are against the Spirit. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 3, that even "baby Christians" are not yet spiritual. He writes, "Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?" Immaturity and inexperience with walking out our salvation journey will hinder our ability to reach the goal of spirituality.
     So how do we get there? The spiritual state of a Believer is reached by careful and persistent work in studying the Word and in continuous prayer and relationship with God. It is maintained by obedience and the ability to judge oneself according to the precepts of a righteous follower of Christ. Both the "attaining" and the "maintaining" of a spiritual state come by growing and increasing in the knowledge of Jesus through experiencing Him in an intimate and personal way. And we can only become truly spiritual by walking and living in the Spirit; by growing in the Spirit and keeping in step with the Spirit, who is against the desires of the flesh. To be called "spiritual" is to be able to prove one's ability to walk as the Spirit walks; not in the worldly ways of man.
     Is it easy to attain?  Of course not! Who among us can say they are able to fully walk in Christ's footsteps? Yet, we should not think ourselves unworthy of becoming spiritual. If you proclaim Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are a new creation and are capable of building a foundation upon which you can grow into becoming spiritual -- into the very image of the One you follow. 
     If that is your goal, I would ask you this question -- Are you truly hungering and thirsting after that intimate knowledge of Christ that brings the vital union of your soul and spirit with God? If you are, and exercising your faith in obedience and dedication, then you will be deemed righteous and blessed (Matthew 5:6). And you will be "building up that spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5). 
     So, let us not take this designation lightly. It is a serious matter to rightly call oneself spiritual. It is a matter of yielding to the call of God upon our lives, and to passionately seeking an intimate knowledge of Jesus through His Word and experiential encounters with Him in our daily lives. If we can do this, we will begin a journey of being led by the Spirit, and in time, grow and be transformed into His beautiful image. Then we can truly call ourselves "spiritual".

Philippians 1:6    "I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put His finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ."  

 

      

January 20, 2019

The Word Empowered By The Spirit

     Well, Beth Moore is once again the target of her fellow Christians. This time, she has offended Believers with her comments about Bible Study. Here's what she said: "Spending time with God and spending time with the Bible are not the same thing. The Bible is the Word of God, crucial to knowing Him, but it's not God. We can study our Bibles till the Second Coming and leave God completely out of it. We can grow in facts and never grow a whit in faith".
     To begin, I would venture to say that sometimes we Christians react hastily to comments such as this, without first trying to understand the central point that is being made. Secondly, I would also say that we Christians often times don't clarify the point we are trying to make, and can confuse those we are trying to reach. I have been guilty on both counts.
     But let me tell you what I believe Beth Moore's comprehensive position is and why I agree with her. I think most people reading her statement got stuck on the first sentence, and never went any further in trying to determine the point she was attempting to make.  And I have to say that I can see why -- when I am spending time with the Bible, I feel I am hearing from God, so my time is well-spent. But I do not think that I am receiving the fullness of God just by reading the Bible. In other words, I am encountering Him in part through acquiring history of Him, His Nature and His Character -- an intellectual comprehension of who God is. But there is a supernatural empowerment that comes when the Holy Spirit inspires us in the Word. I believe that is what Beth Moore was trying to articulate.
     Let me see if I can explain it this way.... Someone reading the Bible without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is able to capture the meaning of the written word and understand it according to the human mind.  But someone reading the Bible under the inspiration of the Spirit is captured by the Word and is activated to apply it to his or her life. See the difference? In the first instance we are doing the capturing; in the second it is the Word capturing us through the Spirit.
     Where we Christians are coming into so much conflict is when we limit the empowerment of the Word in our study. And I think it is this "middle ground" that Beth Moore was trying to address. You see, our human understanding of the Word is veiled without the Holy Spirit. It is possible that sin [which is inherent in every human being] can get in the way of our mind's discernment. And because we tend to let our religious traditions and group opinion within our denominations determine our interpretation of the Bible, we oftentimes ignore what the Holy Spirit is trying to illuminate in a passage.
     Beth Moore is not trying to devalue Bible Study nor say that God is not speaking to us when we study the Bible. I believe she is trying to say that time spent studying the Bible without the illuminating and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit is leaving an important aspect of God out of the equation. The bigger question she is posing is this: What is the role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical interpretation, and do we allow Him to reveal His Truth?
     If we realize that the Holy Spirit is the "breath of God", breathing life into our souls and spirits, then we can see His importance in comprehending the Bible. The Bible is the written Word of God, and words are spoken with the use of breath. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reads, Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Passion Translation actually says, Every Scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. The rest of that passage articulates that "It will empower you ... to fulfill any assignment God gives you". The Holy Spirit does not try to give a new meaning to the Word of the Bible through how we personally relate to it, but instead, shines His Light into the Word that He wrote so that we can more fully comprehend it.  It is His Light, not our minds or religious traditions that determine the Truth of the Bible!
     I will finish by commenting on Beth Moore's last sentence .... "We can grow in facts and never grow a whit in faith". And I think this is the point on which I agree the most. We can study the Bible and accumulate mountains of information about faith -- but never be empowered in and by faith to act for God's purpose. But if we do as Jesus commanded ... "Have faith in God", we can actually move mountains. Faith is not just knowing, but doing.  And it is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to do.
     I believer the Apostle Paul expressed the heart of Beth Moore's argument when he wrote, "so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God". We are sometimes guilty of studying the Bible without inviting the presence of the power of God [the Holy Spirit]. I'm sorry, but I believe that to be true! 
     I will grant that Beth Moore's words were controversial and subject to different interpretations. But she made her position quite clear when she followed up her original remarks with the following statement: "... People who study the Scriptures constantly and are continually mean-spirited, rude, slanderous and aside [of] their religious rhetoric, bereft of outward evidences of the Holy Spirit are having Bible study without God. He affects us." Perhaps it is time that we, the Body of Christ, examine ourselves. Are we being impacted by outward evidences of the power of God when we study the Bible? Are we allowing the breath of God to move us from continuing in our man-made religious traditions to acting in faith from God's perspective? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to show us the meaning of our study, or are we relying on, as Paul says, "the wisdom of men"?  If not, then we are studying from our human intellect. 
     Don't you want to know and understand the things of God from a personal, active, and empowered basis? I know I do. And I know that I can only apply the Word of God in my life with the help of the Holy Spirit. So, I was not offended by Beth Moore's comments. Not at all. It only made me more determined to seek the Spirit's help whenever I sit down to study. Bible study without God is not an option.

1 Corinthians 2:14   "Someone living on an entirely human level rejects the revelations of God’s Spirit, for they make no sense to him. He can’t understand the revelations of the Spirit because they are only discovered by the illumination of the Spirit".