Trust Him… and MOVE!

We’ve all heard the the expression that life is the sum total of our choices. Whether or not you completely buy this relationship is immaterial. What is clear, is that life shouldn’t be left to chance. We need to make the right decisions. For a believer, this isn’t as daunting as it appears because God is on our team!

My father used to say if you don’t know where you’re going, any ole’ road will do. In other words, if we don’t want to wander aimlessly, we must determine a course for our lives—a goal and destination—that orders our steps and strengthens our focus.

Obviously the most important decision anyone can make to start determining this destination is to accept Jesus Christ as savior, thereby beginning the journey of faith that brings us to a personal relationship with our creator! From there, the path of our lives requires a great deal of prayer and consideration regarding things like our career, marriage, parenting, etc. Life is filled with tough decisions. I get it.

I run into people all the time that seem to be living in survival mode. When faced with the uncertainty and difficulty of life, we sometimes become overwhelmed and focus on maintaining our current situation rather than forging ahead toward our destinies. The trials and tribulations of life can often lead to inactivity. Falling into this trap is a terrible mistake that will cost you dearly in the end.

I think the problem is often that we become too paralyzed by fear of the unknown to make the bold decisions that accomplish our goals and progress our plans. We say things like, “I’m just trusting God,” or “I’m believing for a turn-around.” While I urge each and everyone of you to trust your lives to Him, I don’t think we realize the latitude and freedom God gives us to determine our destinations.

Too often we use these statements to mask or rationalize our inaction, which is never the right choice—if you’re not ever learning, moving and growing, you’re falling behind. Life is no doubt filled with tough choices, but for a believer in the context of a relationship with Christ, trusting God means believing that He isn’t going to let you fail!

A good example of what I’m talking about in scripture is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. In this parable, Jesus tells of a business man who goes on a long journey, entrusting his wealth to his servants. When he returns, he finds that two of the servants have worked out business plans and doubled his investment. He rightly commends them saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

In stark contrast the third servant reveals that because he was afraid to disappoint his master, he buried the investment in the ground, reasoning that this would be the safest possible use of the talents entrusted to him. Angrily the master scolds the third servant and sends him away.

While the parable should be very familiar to most of us, I believe we often miss some of its central truths. Most significantly, this is a story of opportunity—the opportunity God gives to all believers to take what He has entrusted us with and get the best from it. When God blesses us with children, a loving spouse or a rewarding career, we must be prepared to work hard, seek God and do what is right. Preparation is key and action is a necessity.

Part of this preparation is putting a proper plan with measurable goals. Next, we can’t be afraid to change up the things in our lives that aren’t working—there is no shame in going back to the drawing board!

We must become comfortable with doing what is necessary to put things into proper order. I urge each and every one of you to strive to become architects of your lives. A person of dedication to the outcome is not always comfortable or even right, but we can move boldly forward knowing that a believer is never alone.

All of us must trust God, but in trusting Him, we have a freedom and mandate to charge ahead, implementing plans and using the talents and abilities God has placed in each of us.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

Church Culture pt. 2

Sometimes people spend so much time focusing on the details, that we completely lose sight of the big picture. I find this is especially true in the church world—ministers and parishioners run around so consumed by programs, classes and servicing the saints that we forget about the big things—the great commandment to love God, to love neighbor and, most importantly, the great commission. The biggest concern of any group of believers should be how to take the Gospel message to those who are far away from Christ.

If you polled a typical group of believers, I suspect the consensus would overwhelmingly support this idea, yet we continue to sit in our churches, so hyper-focused on ourselves—our preferences, tastes and comfort—that we do nothing to reach the lost and demonstrate the love of Christ to the world in a meaningful way. Moving a group toward a specific goal is naturally difficult—with so many people and parts involved in a typical church, without a strong, united vision, it is very natural for individuals to lose sight of the mission and focus on positions and departments. Church culture proliferates this tendency through exalting individuals and minimizing the collective mission.

My father became a pastor when I was very young, so I’ve seen the gamut of church styles, doctrines and administrations over my lifetime. More often than not, I’ve observed good intentions for reaching the lost in these churches, but their policies, attitudes and behaviors work in direct opposition to these intentions. In order for the church to thrive and meet the Gospel mandate in an ever-secular world, we must move away from the personality driven model that is so pervasive in the contemporary church, towards a system that builds strong, Spirit-led cultures that organize individuals and departments around a collective mission. The Gospel message cannot remain in the confines of the hallow buildings we call churches—it must be actively carried by people who are passionate to see lives changed in every day life.

I’m talking about empowering people to be effective ministers—energizing and motivating them to work towards a common, Godly vision. These ministers will know the Gospel message and have the confidence to communicate it in a relevant and vibrant manner. The personality-driven model has made Christianity a spectator sport, but Jesus and the Disciples played full contact Christianity!

One of the profound characteristics of the early church was that they held the teachings of the Apostles in common. This common, empowering culture that produced the incredible results observed by early church disciples like Stephen. In churches today, disciples are too often relegated to church service rather than Christ service—they open doors, usher folks to their seats and help with the mundane needs of the church. While these things are necessary for a successful corporate gathering, do they do anything to empower and equip the saints for the real ministry of Christ? Just about nothing the modern church concerns herself with helps to reach those far away from Christ. Our systems train the saints to serve the church and promote the idea that the work of ministry should be carried out by a select minority of believers.

The view that God has gifted and chosen a few and the rest of us are there to watch the show, go home and leave ministry at the church door must be eradicated from our thinking! I fully acknowledge the leadership gifts that God gives to the church—throughout the early church God sent men to groups of people. These men preached the Gospel with power and God confirmed His word with many signs and wonders. I am in no way suggesting that leadership should stop leading—rather, I am proposing we reconsider how Godly leadership trains, equips and empowers the saints. I am suggesting we strive to build a church culture that moves us toward our mission and puts the big picture front and center. Instead of the iconic-personality approach of modern day Christianity, we need to trust the Holy Spirit to inspire everyone to participate in ministry. We have glamorized senior ministry to such a degree that we have buildings full of people waiting for their big chance, meanwhile missing all the simple, everyday opportunities for ministry that made Jesus and the early church so effective at reaching the lost.

The big picture is not filling seats—it’s evangelizing the lost and making strong disciples. I want to encourage everyone to realize you can make a difference in the world, and it starts one life at at time.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

Building a Culture

Culture is the shared set of attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes a group of people. Every group of people has a unique culture. In the corporate world, companies spend millions of dollars and work tirelessly at establishing a culture that helps them meet their goals, organizing teams around a common mission and shared set of values.

In the religious community, we think changing up our dress codes and removing some of the old hymns makes us progressive or relevant in some superficial way. We focus on revising the most trivial aspects of our church cultures and hope that somehow this will trick the world into embracing us. However, simply modifying our dress or updating our music will never establish the kind of culture that produces fruit and changes lives.

Most churches I’m families with have great faith for a harvest of souls but little understanding of the the culture they are seeking to impact. We have been so fearful of becoming “worldly” that we have no idea of how to reach anyone beyond our little niches. Despite this trend among contemporary Christians, the most culturally relevant person in human history was without a doubt Jesus Christ.

He understood His target audience. His message was incredibly effective and accessible to large crowds and small groups alike. He could speak to the hearts of anyone He came across—from prostitutes to tax collectors or the sick in body, there was no one He couldn’t minister to. Though Christ in no way condoned their behavior, He never made them feel uncomfortable in His presence.

In fact, the only people who didn’t receive Him was His own. The religious community gave him trouble on every level. He was the Messiah, the change agent the earth was waiting on, but they never accepted Him because He didn’t look anything like what they expected.

So often people rally around the idea of change. The concept of change is applauded but implementation is often met with entirely different emotions. The Jews wouldn’t have had a problem with Jesus if He could have conformed to their ideology and tradition—this is an example of a rigid culture standing in the way of purpose and plans of God.

Culture shock is something we understand from the stand point of the differences between geographic regions—the culture in African countries differs radically from the culture in America and adjusting to a markedly different culture often provokes unpleasant emotions and anxiety. The real question becomes is this the reason people in the church community are so afraid to deviate from their tradition and liturgy? Maybe it’s about preserving our comfort and predictability.

I don’t understand all of the apprehensions Christians have to change but one thing is certain, fundamental changes to church culture must come if Christianity is to remain the religion of this nation. Although the great reformers of history came from England, now England, and the rest of Europe, is post-Christian. The city of London is experiencing an explosion of Muslim followers, building thousands of mosques to accommodate this growth. You might believe such a shift could never happen in this nation, but I’m certain Spurgeon and Wesley thought the same of England not long ago.

We must being willing to allow God the opportunity to speak to us all concerning how He wants His church to function in contemporary culture. What is clear is that church has to be more than singing, preaching and offerings—the maintenance of the saints can no longer be our primary objective. While this is part of the local assembly’s role, we cannot allow pursuing the comfort of the saints trump our work on the Great Commission.

Why shouldn’t we change, with purpose, to better reach the lost? We know who it is we are to reach, so why can’t we reach them? If we truly understood our target audience as Jesus understood His, we would get the same results. After all, it is His church and He set the ultimate example we should follow.

Taking the gospel to the lost in an effective, relevant way should be our greatest goal. To do it, we have to build a strong culture in our churches that places connecting the lost with Christ as a greater priority than entertaining the saints. Part of my commitment this year is to build a culture in our church that is conducive to carrying out the great commission, energizing the saints and organizing our efforts to reach the lost.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll introduce the core values that will anchor our culture to this mission. The first of these values is we don’t save seats. To create a culture that emphasizes the lost, we must be more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is senior pastor at Spirit Life Church. Listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.

His Love Answers All

In this series of blogs from 1 John 4:7-21, we have already observed several wonderful facts concerning God and His love for us. In this blog, I’d like to take a moment to outline a few more truths that will help us to identify God in all things at all times, for His love is the answer to all of our human problems, struggles and questions.

Acts 14:15-17, NKJV:
And saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

1) His love explains creation.

Everyone has wondered why God created the world at one point or another. Why did He create us? Does the earth testify to the existence of God or are we here by chance?

If God is love, He cannot exist in lonely isolation—He must have someone to love and someone to love what He has made. Acts 14:15-17 speaks of all God made from Heaven and Earth to the sea and all that’s in it. When He created, He wasn’t willing to leave us without a proper witness to His handiwork. This is why there is a natural theology where all that God has done testifies to His great love for us.

2) It explains free will.

In order for love to be genuine, it must be freely given and freely received. If God was only law then He would have made the world to obey, like robots, responding without genuine feelings. But where is the love in that? By definition, love has got to be a free response that comes from the heart.

So God, as a deliberate act of self-limitation, made man with a freewill, so we could freely choose to love Him, as an autonomous response to the fact that He first loved us. We can’t help ourselves as it relates to salvation because we were all dead in trespass and sin—we can, however, respond to the love of God when we hear the gospel message. This is the only way God could have a true, loving relationship with His creation.

3) It explains His providence.

God plays an active role in the administration of the earth. He takes pleasure in the lives of people and the care of all created things. This is so much better than the deistic view of a God who exists on autopilot, not giving care or attention to His creation! People seek to indict God by pointing to the bad or evil in the earth, but remember God is not capable of evil—all good and perfect things come from above. Believers can trust in the providence of God and that He takes care of all that belongs to Him.

4) It explains redemption.

If God were only concerned with law and justice, He would have left us to ourselves, resulting in the consequences of sin crashing down on us. Jesus would have stayed in Heaven and we would die in our sin and be eternally separated from Him.

Thank God for redemption! Because God is love, He came to seek out the lost and offer salvation. He provided the remedy for sin, redemption.

5) And, God’s love explains eternal life.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you understand how difficult it can be to imagine life without them. If God were simply a creator, then the fate for men would be death. All created things would cease and God would, again, be in isolation. But thankfully, because of His love, God has offered us the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

To all who have accepted this sacrifice, physical death is merely a doorway into His eternal presence.

For me, it truly is God’s love that causes things to make sense. So many of the questions that trouble us fade away when we shift our focus towards the love of God and embrace a relationship with Him. I hope something I’ve written here will help make sense of something for you too.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is senior pastor at Spirit Life Church. Listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.

Choose Love

1 John 4:12, KJV:
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

From 1 John 4:12, we learn it is by love that God is known. Although we can’t see wind or electricity, we are able to see the their effects. God is a spirit, so we cannot see Him physically, but as with the forces of wind and electricity, we are able to see God’s effect, which is love.

When the spirit of God enters into a person, he is clothed with the love of God and God is made known in the earth by this effect on that individual’s life. The best demonstration of God is not established by argument, but from a life filled with the love of Christ.

1 John 4:9, KJV:
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

The full manifestation of God’s perfect love was demonstrated by His gift to humanity, Jesus Christ. With this in mind we can quickly glean two important truths about the love of God:

1) God’s love holds nothing back.

2) God’s love is totally undeserved.

The Bible says He has blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places. In fact, His love was so overwhelming that He was willing to give His only son as a sacrifice for us—an unimaginable sacrifice beyond all human comprehension.

After all His blessing, it really would make sense for us to love God, but the truly amazing thing is that even if we don’t, He still loves us! That’s right, God even loves those who are disobedient and don’t love Him back. When there was nothing good about us, He directed His love towards humanity—a love that was totally undeserved.

So Human love is fundamentally a response to the divine love of God. In other words, we love God because God loved us first. Without this arrangement, we couldn’t truly love at all because it’s in His love that we gain the choice to love. Very simply, the love of God and the love of man are inextricably linked to each other. As C.H. Dodd finely put it, “The energy of love discharges itself along the lines which form a triangle, whose points are God, self and neighbor.” When we claim the love of God for ourselves, we are equally bound to love one another because the only proof we love God, is that we also love our neighbor.

Like so many things in life, this is easier said than done. Some folks are hard to like, let alone love. It’s difficult to love someone who lies to, abuses or mistreats you, yet when Jesus experienced these same crimes, He still managed to choose love every time. For a believer indwelt by God’s spirit, there is a choice.

The next time you’re faced with an offensive situation, you can choose offense, anger and bitterness, but I encourage you to choose love. It’s not only the best choice, it’s God’s choice. I’ve found that when I do, He honors my decision with great peace and makes my enemies my friends.

Because I chose Christ, I also choose love.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken VanHoose is senior pastor at Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.

All We Need is Love

With the recent tragedies in Bellefontaine fresh on the minds of our community and the nation, I’ve given a great deal of thought to the unnecessary and increasing violence in the world. The violence isn’t limited to the grand-scale evil perpetrated by men such as Moammar Kadafi or Osama bin Laden, there seems to be a pervasive hatred towards our fellow man on every level. When our senior citizens, schools and universities are repeatedly victim to pre-meditated violence and mayhem, it would seem that we are in desperate need of some love!

When the Beatles were asked to come up with a simple song that all nationalities could understand, John Lennon wrote “All You Need is Love.” Later, when an interviewer suggested “Give Peace a Change” and “Power to the People” were propaganda songs, Lennon answered, “Sure. So was ‘All You Need Is Love.’ I’m a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change.”

Interestingly enough, the concept was not the product of a young revolutionary from Liverpool. The message was first heralded two thousand years earlier, by a revolutionary from Bethlehem, the greatest reformer of all.

Luke 10:27, KJV:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.

Some of the most powerful words in scripture about God are found in 1 John 4:7-21. In his first of three epistles, John gives us some incredible perception into the nature and character of God. This passage is so rich with insight about God, that I’m going to dissect it over my next several blogs.

1 John 4:7-8, KJV:
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loves is of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.

Love has it’s origin in God because it is from Him that all love finds it’s source. Chapter one of Genesis teaches us that we are made in the likeness and image of God, so human love is simply a reflection of something found in the divine nature of God. We must love, if we want to be like Him, because He is love.

The love Jesus taught not only emphasized our need to love God, but also our obligation to love one another—He even commanded us to love our enemies. Theologians regard this radical love we strive to walk in as the ultimate goal of moral perfection. According to the Apostle Paul, even our faith works by love, so it’s not just a divine mandate, it is the very fuel that drives our lives into the gracious presence of the Lord!

How are we measuring up to the standard of love that God desires from us—the standard of love demonstrated by Jesus? While no one can live up to this standard all the time, despite our human weakness, all of us have the capacity to love more perfectly. It’s an acquired taste, so taste and see the Lord is good! If loving God leads to knowing God, loving one another must lead to knowing one another, creating real, Biblical community that overcomes the hate and violence of the world.

Let’s love strong at Ignite this week and see God pour out His presence and blessing on us all!

– Ps. Ken

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Ken VanHoose is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can Listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.

Why Me Lord?

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

In my last blog post, I wanted to you to realize that fact that we serve a limitless God. There is no problem you can face that Jesus hasn’t faced nor that you can’t overcome through His strength.

Throughout my life, in my most difficult times, I often find myself asking “why me”? You might not be facing the same thing as I am, but if you’re alive and breathing, I can almost guarantee you’re going through something. All of our lives are different—different routines, diets, education levels and, most importantly, different belief systems. With all these variables, it’s easy to focus on why instead of who, but sometimes, there isn’t time to understand why. It’s in these moments of desperation we need real, Christ-centered faith to arise.

I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:6 which says, “in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path.” In other words, look to Christ and not to the problem. The solution to any situation you may be going through can be found in Jesus.

As I was thinking about this, I came up with three things you should know about Jesus and keep in mind when you need help. It’s not as hard as you think.

1) He’s inviting.

Matthew 11:28:
Jesus said come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I’ll give you rest.

Jesus is active in helping our situations, but first we need to move towards Him. That’s easy, of course, because He has given us an open invitation!

2) He’s forgiving.

Luke 15:1-2:
1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

No matter who we are or where we’ve been, Jesus receives us and eats with us all, so there’s no need to live in condemnation. Too many people are trying to earn something from God or somehow qualify for help. The truth is, it’s easy—He forgives, just ask.

3) He’s seeking us.

Mark 2:17:
And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

God isn’t hiding from you, He’s looking for you! This doesn’t mean He doesn’t know where we are. It means we must place Him in the right priority in our lives. John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, He must increase.” Allow God to be large in Your life and you will be victorious!

– Ps. Ken

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Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Hear his messages online at spiritlifechurch.us or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.

Victorious Life Through Jesus

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

From studying the historical life of Jesus, one can easily see that his earth-bound ministry was filled with challenges. He was tempted in every area of His life, but remained sinless. Through His sacrifice we have a High Priest who understands our struggles—His victory created a way for all of us to live a victorious life.

Calling the life we achieve through Jesus victorious doesn’t mean it’s free from challenge, struggle and, at times, great sorrow. However, when we appropriate the manhood of Jesus and His bloodshed at Calvary, we gain the strength to press on and experience the greatness of the Exalted Christ in our lives, which, by the way, is the second part of this sermon series.

Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding in Cana when He was 30 years old. The wedding reception was out of wine and Jesus created more from ordinary water, I’m sure much to the excitement of the party guests. From this event onward the popularity of His ministry grew rapidly as His message spread. This single act began the manifestation of God’s Kingdom in the person of Jesus, but it also unlocked His enemies, who would follow Him all the way to the cross.

Like Jesus, all of us will deal with real life issues that become enemies to our peace and, sometimes, even our faith. These battles take many different forms and sizes. They can be financial problems, emotional distress, or physical sickness and disease. While we can’t always pick our battles, we can determine to fight them, as Jesus did, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit!

When I read about Jesus in scripture, I’m continually amazed by how He overcame every obstacle He crossed, no matter how large. He found a way to rise to the occasion and overcame, regardless of what He was facing. In His first encounter with water, He turns it into wine and changes its very nature. The next time He faces water, He masters it by walking on its surface. Finally, while He and the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee during a storm, He commands it by telling the waves to lay down.

Each time Jesus faced something it seemed to be more and more intense, but the outcome was the same. So I urge you to be encouraged, no matter what you’re facing. Because Jesus lived and lives, we can lead a victorious life, like Him. Remember, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13, NKJV).

– Ps. Ken

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The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ is the current series at Spirit Life Church. You can listen to the messages in this series and more on Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.

The Historical Jesus: A Context for Christ’s Earthly Teaching

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

The current series at Spirit Life Church is titled, The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ. The crux of the first half of this series is understanding the context in which Jesus carried out the earth-bound portion of His ministry. I believe too many Christians and churches have moved away from the simple, powerful message of the Gospel delivered by Jesus and have moved towards formulas, recipes and self-serving doctrines that lack the power of Christ.

According to John 16:13, one of the Holy Spirit’s assignments is to “guide us into all truth concerning Christ.” Therefore as Christians, we should rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the revelation of Jesus. Beyond the Holy Spirit’s guiding and Christ-shaping in our lives, it is vitally important that we study the message of Jesus, as it was recorded during His ministry here on earth by the Gospel writers. As we study God’s word, there are a couple of things to keep in mind if we want to understand the full meaning and comprehend the entire message behind Jesus’ teachings.

There’s a saying that the past is like a foreign country itself. The greater the amount of time that has passed between then and now, the more foreign the culture, customs and normal behaviors of that time seem. This idea is significant, particularly when studying the word of God, because without a proper context, subtle nuances and the full impact of the message of Jesus can become muddled or lost entirely.

Without some understanding of the Civil War era, the speeches of Abraham Lincoln and his powerful words, which stood in bold defiance of the racism and prejudice of the day, would lose some of their power. Consider Martin Luther King’s message which spoke directly to the social structure of the Civil Rights Movement. If you were to move the words of these great men to a different time and place, and didn’t understand where and when they were spoken, the great wisdom and insight contained in them could change dramatically.

The same rule applies to the words and messages of Jesus. We know the Bible is for all people at all times, but there still remains an important social component to the words spoken by Jesus. I urge you to pray and seek understanding about Jesus, His truth and His power in your life.

– Ps. Ken

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The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ is the current series at Spirit Life Church. You can listen to the messages in this series and more on Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.

Haunted House

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

Matthew 12:43-45:
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

In this passage, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees’ request for a sign, made just a few verses earlier. Jesus’ reply is not a discourse on how demons operate but an indictment against Israel’s current spiritual condition. Before Jesus came, God gave the Israelites the law and sent His prophets to turn Israel back towards Him. Now God sends His only begotten son and Jesus is trying to show them that this is the hour of their visitation and they’re in danger of missing it. Their legalism is blinding them from recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.

To understand the full meaning of Jesus’ words and their message for us, we need to build a proper context around them with respect to Jewish culture of the day—the culture in which Jesus’ earthly ministry took place. The Jews believed unclean spirits dwelt in many things and were completely pervasive throughout the natural world.

For instance, the Pharisees thought unclean spirits dwelt in bread crumbs, yet Jesus knew this when His disciples gathered 12 baskets full of fragments, after He had fed 5,000 people (Matthew 14:20).

Jewish culture forbade Jews from drinking after Samaritans but Jesus didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to drink after and minister to the Samaritan woman at Jacobs well (John 4:5-29).

Israel believed evil spirits lived in dry, arid places. Still, despite this belief, Jesus completed one of the most important acts of His earth-bound ministry when he fasted and prayed for 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4).

So it is clear by His repeated disregard for the Pharisees’ beliefs that Jesus does not agree with their theology about spirits. His statement in Matthew 12 is communicating to them that driving away an unclean Spirit and avoiding the physical objects and places believed to harbor these spirits is insufficient—no matter what you do the spirit will return and this time he’ll bring help. Jesus is attempting to show the Pharisees they need more than the law to reconcile themselves to God.

The distinction comes down to practice versus confession. It’s not enough to hate evil and want it gone. The Pharisees confessed but had no Godly practice. They had tradition and liturgy but lacked power. The message of Jesus is that we should love Godliness and fill our house with the things of God, eliminating any room for the uncleanness of sin. Being filled with the presence of Christ is mankind’s only hope now, just as it was then.

John the Baptist said I must decrease, He must increase. This should be our prayer as well. Let Jesus fill the empty places of your life and you will find the true peace that can only come from a right relationship with Him. Live Strong. Love Strong.

– Ps. Ken

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The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ is the current series at Spirit Life Church. You can listen to the messages in this series and more on Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.