Christianity 201

July 17, 2017

Walking with Jesus

NLT Gen 3:8a When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden…

Gen 5:23-24a Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God.

Gen. 6:9b Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

Sometimes preparation for articles on the other blog result in finding articles that are well suited for use here at C201. That was the case with this piece by Joanna Pierce, writing for the blog of Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Bloomington, Illinois. Each day when we include an article here, we ask you to click through to the original page. To further encourage that, we usually don’t borrow the graphic images the author created for that piece, so your reward is greater when you click through. With this one, we simply had to include their graphic, only to find that it was used on every page of their articles/blog section. It fit this theme so well.

Just a Little Walk with Jesus

There are those perfect days when the sun is shining, the temperature is at a balmy 73° degrees, and the wind is flowing through the atmosphere, providing a cool and pleasant touch to the day. Whether we’re an outdoor or indoor type of person, we all develop an inkling to get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.

There’s something about taking a stroll down the sidewalk that helps us drink in the day. We can appreciate the warmth of the sun on our skin, the agreeable breeze whisking around our cheeks, and the soft, rhythmic pitter-patter of our footsteps in our ears—an inviting, constant sound in the chaotic melodies of life.

Regardless of if the weather cooperates, it’s still nice to get out and walk! Walking helps us maintain a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Wonderful things happen when we walk—our stress is relieved, the release of endorphins makes us emotionally happier, our self-confidence is improved, and we get to enjoy the great outdoors! Even walking with certain people will help improve our mood.

Where we walk, who we walk with, and how we walk, all affect the true benefit of walking. And, while these factors help with our physical life, they also provide spiritual benefits as well.

How does walking help? Just look in the Scriptures!

Genesis tells us about 3 men who walked with the Lord: Adam (3:8), Enoch (5:24), and Noah (6:9). We’re even told that Adam typically walked with God in the cool of the day—he capitalized on the time and temperature of the day to maximize the benefit of walking!

Scripture tells us that these men not only walked physically with the Lord, but they also walked spiritually with the Lord. The word walked is the same Hebrew word in all settings of Scripture in Genesis. Walked literally means to come near and continue with.

Remember when I said where we walk and who we walk with all affect the true benefit of walking? Walking with the devil, or following our own flesh/desires is going to get us into a lot of trouble. I can guarantee this walking isn’t going to have any benefit in our spiritual life. But, when we draw close to God and come near to Him, the benefits are endless.

Coming near to God helps us to develop a close, intimate relationship with Him. Not only will He know us, but we’ll know Him! We’ll cultivate a friendship and love for Him that can’t be found in this world. Enoch walked so closely with God that God took him from this earth (Genesis 5:24). He may have walked right up to heaven with the Lord—we’ll have to wait until Heaven to find out!

When we stay close to someone, they start to rub off on us. We act like they do. When we continue in the presence of God, His Spirit will dwell in our life. That Spirit will help us live a life that’s pleasing to Him; we’ll be able to imitate Christ! Noah was considered perfect in the eyes of the Lord because he walked with Him (Genesis 6:9).

Today, let’s start our daily walks with the Lord. Physical walks may eventually wear out the body, but continued spiritual walking with the Lord will help rejuvenate us for the road ahead. All it takes is just a little walk with Jesus. I promise you’ll quickly see the benefit in your life.

Read more articles at this link



December 1, 2016

Creation. Where the Christmas Story Begins . . .

by Clarke Dixon

If someone asked you to tell them the story of Christmas, where would you start? With the angels announcing to Mary and Joseph that a baby is on the way? Or perhaps with the prophets of the Old Testament announcing that the Messiah would someday be on His way? That is still not going far enough back for the Christmas story goes right back to Creation. How so?

Imagine you are attending a synagogue service sometime before Jesus is born. The rabbi has read from the scroll of Genesis chapters 1 and 2. You wonder what it must have been like for Adam and Eve in the Garden before the Fall. You ask yourself “What did Adam and Eve enjoy during that time that we are missing out on now?”

Perhaps some of you will think of being naked and unashamed! Perhaps not. Some of you may think of the wonderful non-violence of that time and place. Even in the animal kingdom there was a sense of peace and non-violence:

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. Genesis 1:30 (NRSV)

How things have changed, with violence marking both the animal kingdom, and so called civilization.

However, the biggest change of all, and the thing you should miss the most, is the full-blown presence of God. God is spoken of as walking in the garden as any person might, and only after the “apple debacle” do Adam and Eve feel that His presence is a scary thing.

8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 (NRSV)

We get a sense that before the eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve could spend time with God as easily as we might spend time with a family member or good friend.

Imagining life in the Garden of Eden, you would miss the presence of God without someone pointing to the Temple. The Temple was a symbol of God’s love; “I want to dwell with you.” But it was also a symbol of separation; “Because I am holy and you are not, I must dwell separated from you, in a holy place.” The Temple was a constant reminder that we are not in the Garden of Eden anymore. Adam and Eve enjoyed the full presence of God without the need for a Temple.

Imagining life in the Garden of Eden, you would also miss the presence of God without the need for a priesthood. The priesthood was again a symbol of God’s love; “I want a relationship with you.” But it was also a reminder of separation; “I am holy, and you are not, therefore we cannot have a relationship. You need people who are holy, separated out from you, to stand between you and me.” Adam and Eve could speak freely with God with no need for priests.

Imagining life in the Garden of Eden, you would also miss the presence of God without all the rigmarole of religion. The ritual purity code again is another reminder of separation from God. By setting up the religious code, God was revealing proper morality, yes, but was also in effect saying; “There are a lot of things you need to change about yourself before you can even approach me.” Adam and Eve did not need to get all religious when in the Garden.

So does Christmas change anything? There are signs that Christmas is part of everything changing! If you were God and you chose to be incarnate, where would you choose to be born? Perhaps in the Temple to remind the people of the separation that exists between yourself and humanity? God chose a different emphasis. Could you get any less temple-like than being laid in a manger? This is an “unclean” place.

Likewise, if you were God, who would you invite to be the first to come and see your infant Son? Perhaps it should be the priests, the people most focused on holiness? Nope, the Lord sends an invitation to shepherds, whose ritual holiness would be impossible to keep given their work with animals. And they come straightaway. No need to stop for purity focused observances. They come to Jesus without getting all religious about it.

The point is clear. God’s focus at Christmas is to be with us, right here in our mess, even though we are not worthy of Him. In place of our worth, is His grace. Where the temple, the priesthood, and even religion stood as symbols of separation, Christmas stands as a symbol of Presence.

Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

I don’t recall where I first heard this, but Christmas is God with us, while Easter is God for us, and Pentecost is God within us. We can point to “the end,” to Christ’s return as our being with God as Adam and Eve were with God in the beginning.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them; Revelation 21:1-3

Just as there was no temple in the Garden of Eden, that symbol of our separation from God is not found in the future:

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. Revelation 21:22

Christmas, with its emphasis on “God with us,” points back to Creation when God was with Adam and Eve, to the present time as we enjoy God’s presence through the Holy Spirit, and forward to the great re-Creation when God will be with His people in the profound way He had in mind from the beginning.

What is your greatest delight at Christmas? Perhaps family? Or turkeys? (Hopefully you know the difference!) Perhaps time off work? Time away? Gifts? Or eggnog? God’s great delight and desire, which Christmas points to, is the realization of His original purpose in Creation; a loving relationship with people. While you may be into the eggnog, He is into you. He has prepared a wonderful Christmas gift, His presence, now, and for all eternity. Have you received that gift yet?

 All scripture references are from the NRSV

For those reading this the first week of December, 2016, click this link for a puppet script which was also part of the service containing this teaching.

January 16, 2016

Praying the Bible Way, God’s Way

In Touch - Charles Stanley

Today we have a weekend 2-for-1 special for you from Charles Stanley and InTouch Ministries. Click the individual titles to read at source.

Learning to Pray the Bible Way

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

God wants His children to ask for what’s on their hearts, because He delights to give. Even more, He wants to fellowship with us. What joy can be ours every time we meet our heavenly Father through prayer!

The privilege of supplication rests on our relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Only those who are part of God’s family can claim Him as their Father (John 1:12) and avail themselves of His pledge to answer prayer. He makes no such commitment to unbelievers. The single exception is the sinner who asks for forgiveness and receives Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. As promised, his or her prayer is always answered with salvation (Rom. 10:9).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses three verbs to describe prayer: ask, seek, and knock. Notice the progression in intensity from a request to a search and then to further action. Prayer is more than giving God requests. It involves seeking His will to guide our entreaties. It means “knocking on doors” by exploring different solutions and obtaining godly counsel to help determine the Lord’s mind. Jesus pledged that we will receive, we will find, and God will open the door for us. We have His assurance that God will respond and what He does is good.

Prayer is simple, yet at times we find it hard to practice. We try different methods but often feel dissatisfied and wonder if our prayers are having any effect. Ask the Lord to teach you more about biblical praying. Put into practice what you learn, and wait in assurance for His answers!

Praying God’s Way

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

We like to keep things simple: Follow a few steps and reach the preferred result. Prayer, however, cannot be reduced to an easy formula. It isn’t some static activity where repeating certain words brings the desired solution. It’s ongoing communication with the heavenly Father and should involve listening, speaking, and acting on what we hear from Him.

God has promised to answer His children’s prayers, but He often waits before responding. He does so for many reasons.

Preparation. Sometimes God has to make us ready for what He wants to give us. We may have some attitudes or behaviors not aligned with His will (James 4:3). He’ll deal with them before He gives us His gift.

Spiritual growth. The Lord may use delays to test our faith or deepen our relationship with Him. No response from Him means He wants us to continue to seek Him and converse with Him.

Timing. God’s timetable often doesn’t match ours. He knows what He wants to accomplish in our spiritual life and in our relationship with Him. We can trust that He will put to good use the time between our request and His reply.

God includes delays as part of the believer’s prayer life. Sometimes He answers our first request, but often it takes several petitions before He responds. In certain situations, we have to keep knocking—as the persevering widow did—before God gives us His answer. (See Luke 18:1-8.)

Jesus calls us to a lifestyle of “asking, seeking, and knocking”—a lifestyle based on trust in God’s promise to answer His children. Are you persistent?

September 27, 2015

Enoch Walked With God

Featured writers here range from Reformed to Baptist to United Methodist to Alliance to Assemblies of God. Rick Joyner is a well known voice within the Charismatic movement that we’ve never included here, until today. Click the link below to read this daily devotion online.

Walking With God

Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch….
And Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.
And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Genesis 5:19, 21-24).

Enoch is one of the most remarkable and inspirational characters in the Bible. He walked with God in such a way that he did not have to taste death because God just took him. We read in Hebrews 11:5:

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

Adam was still alive during Enoch’s days. It is probable that Enoch talked with Adam about what it was like to have walked with God before the Fall. Something must have stirred within him, a desire to have that same kind of intimate relationship to God that Adam once had, and he pursued it. God responded.

Nowhere does it say in Scripture that Enoch is the only one who can do this. In fact, we are promised in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” We are all as close to God as we want to be. The veil has been rent and we can all enter into the presence of the Lord by the blood of Jesus. We can be as close to God as anyone in the Scriptures has been. This is not a presumption, because the Scriptures are full of invitations for us to draw near to Him. He created us for that purpose, to have fellowship with Him. If there is anything that can measure the degree to which redemption has worked in our lives, it would be how close we are to Him. The only thing that prevents us from being as close to God as Enoch is our own desire.

Our God is an awesome, holy God. He is a consuming fire, and when we get close to Him the wood, hay, and stubble in our lives will burn. Even so, we do not have to wait until we are perfect to draw near to God, but it is by drawing near to Him that we are changed, as we read in Hebrews 4:15-16:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

If we sin and fall short of the grace of God, we must learn to run to Him, not away from Him as Adam and Eve did. We can never hide from Him anyway, but He has also proven throughout the Scriptures that He will not force us to come close to Him. We have to want to be close enough to Him to seek Him. He promised in Jeremiah 29:13: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” If we are going to be that close to Him, we must desire Him enough to sacrifice all of the things that would distract us. We must choose to draw near to Him when we could be doing other things.

We have another very interesting statement about Enoch in Jude 14, “And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones.'” Enoch is the very first one recorded in Scripture who prophesied. This reveals the true essence and foundation of an authentic prophetic ministry, which is simply to get so close to God that you are His friend. Friends share their plans and purposes with each other. That is why the Lord said in Amos 3:7: Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.”

Nowhere has the Lord obligated Himself not to do anything without first revealing it to His prophets. He does this because He wants to. He wants to because the prophets are His friends. There is nothing that prevents us from being that close to God. There is nothing that says we cannot walk with God to the point that He just takes us up like He did Enoch. Could this in fact be what the rapture really is?

July 14, 2011

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

I sat down yesterday for a half hour with a woman who recently returned from a two month missions trip to Africa sponsored by Youth For Christ.  She told me that she and her husband were sent there primarily to be encouragers to the YFC team, and to share the message of I John 4.  All of John’s first epistle echoes with the message of God’s love, but here is the passage she was referring to:

NIV I John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.   God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

The message that “God is Love” is one of the first thing children learn in Sunday School, or whatever you term its modern equivalent.  “Jesus loves me, this I know…”  It seems so basic, so obvious that chances are many of you read the above passage so rapidly that any new truths that could be revealed from the passage didn’t have the split-seconds necessary to take root.

Let’s slow it down and play back the last two-thirds from The Message Bible:

 13-16This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

 17-18God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 19We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

 20-21If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

Think about it… trained missionaries with a respected Christian organization need to be reminded that they are loved by God.  They can’t reach out to others with God love until they feel the embrace of that perfect love for themselves.  They need to be immersed in the awareness of God’s love for them before they can share it with others.

Where does that leave you and I?

My guess is that many efforts at evangelism are thwarted because the “sent ones” lack the 100% conviction that God truly loves them, and I include myself as often guilty of this as well.  Some will say that today’s item wasn’t exactly Christianity 201, but more like 101.  I wonder if the truth of knowing the love of our Heavenly Father is really more like Christianity 301 or 401?

~Paul Wilkinson

Just a reminder, here at C201, scripture passages are usually in green to remind us that God’s word is life.

November 5, 2010

God as He Wants Us to Know Him

I found this quotation from Baxter Kruger today on a blog called Richard Rantz, while I was researching something else; where it appeared under the title, Fear in the Eye of the Beholder…


How much erroneous theology has been birthed out of misreading into what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam chose to disobey?

I want to share some thoughts here from a brother, Baxter Kruger, on what I am asking.
I would love to hear any thoughts you might care to share here on this matter.


“Reconciliation began when the Father saw that His children could not see His heart, the Son realized that we could not receive his Father’s love, and the Spirit saw the joy of fellowship with the Father vanish from our lives. Reconciliation is about the Father sending His own Son into our darkness. It is about the Son identifying with us, seeing our good, feeling our fear, experiencing our brokenness. Reconciliation is about the Spirit bridging the horrible gap between the Father’s heart and our blindness, as Jesus embraced it in his own being. It is the suffering of the triune God, righting the doomed ship of our fallen minds, until we know the Father with Jesus in the fellowship of the Spirit.

Reconciliation is the Father’s forgiveness determined to become flesh, determined to incarnate itself into our fallen existence in order to undo our alienation. It is the relationship, the fellowship and communion of the Father, Son, and Spirit stepping into our blindness and mythology, into the cesspool of our trauma and wounds, so that human perception can be thoroughly converted and the Father’s love can be truly known and experienced. The purpose, the aim, the object of reconciliation is not to change God, but to bring us into communion with the Father, so that we could know Him and His lavish heart and live life in the freedom of His embrace.”