Philippians Pt 10 My God shall Supply all my needs

Philippians 4:15-23(HCSB)15 And you Philippians know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. Those brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those from Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4:16-18(HCSB) For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

It is important to understand that you become a partner with whomever you support. If you support our church, anything that the Lord allows our staff and ministries to accomplish, you share in. This means that when you stand before Christ, you will be rewarded for the fruit that comes from our ministry. Even though the Philippians were 800 miles away from Paul, they supported his ministry, and through Paul’s fruit, the eternal pay off for them will be great! Perhaps you need to spend more time investing in your ERA than in your IRA. We need to ask, “Where can our money have the most eternal impact?”

In 4:18, Paul expresses once again that he isn’t after more money (whew!). Three times he states that he has been given enough: “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent” (4:18a). Paul is not after a salary increase. He isn’t striving for a promotion. He is content in Christ. The Philippians blessed Paul’s sandals off. Ironically, if any church had an excuse not to give, it was the Philippians since they were one of the most impoverished churches (2 Corinthians 8–9). But in spite of their circumstances, they gave, not just according to their ability, but beyond their ability. Paul now offers three expressions of gratitude for the Philippians’ generosity. He calls their gift “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (4:18b). Paul draws upon the Old Testament where they would take an offering and lay it on the altar, and they would pour it out and it would create steam that the whole community could smell.

2 Corinthians 9:6–12(HCSB)Remember this:  The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves  a cheerful giver. And God is able  to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written: He scattered; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.  10 Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  11 You will be enriched  in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust; foxes have holes and birds have nests, while lilies adorn the fields. Everything in creation is under the providing care of God. Not only does God supply all things, but He arranges them according to His plan and for His glory. For Christians, this ought to produce peace and comfort even when it appears that all is against them.

Proverbs 16:33 (HCSB)The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

“God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). If Creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of that same energy whereby the Creator, according to his own will, (a) keeps all creatures in being, (b) involves himself in all events, and (c) directs all things to their appointed end. The model is of purposive personal management with total “hands-on” control: God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute. Some have restricted God’s providence to foreknowledge without control, or upholding without intervention, or general oversight without concern for details, but the testimony to providence as formulated above is overwhelming.

The Bible clearly teaches God’s providential control (1) over the universe at large, Ps. 103:19; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11; (2) over the physical world, Job 37; Pss. 104:14; 135:6; Matt. 5:45; (3) over the brute creation, Ps. 104:21, 28; Matt. 6:26; 10:29; (4) over the affairs of nations, Job 12:23; Pss. 22:28; 66:7; Acts 17:26; (5) over man’s birth and lot in life, 1 Sam. 16:1; Ps. 139:16; Isa. 45:5; Gal. 1:15–16; (6) over the outward successes and failures of men’s lives, Ps. 75:6, 7; Luke 1:52; (7) over things seemingly accidental or insignificant, Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:30; (8) in the protection of the righteous, Pss. 4:8; 5:12; 63:8; 121:3; Rom. 8:28; (9) in supplying the wants of God’s people, Gen. 22:8, 14; Deut. 8:3; Phil. 4:19; (10) in giving answers to prayer, 1 Sam. 1:19; Isa. 20:5, 6; 2 Chron. 33:13; Ps. 65:2; Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:7, 8; and (11) in the exposure and punishment of the wicked, Pss. 7:12–13; 11:6. (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th ed.)

Clear thinking about God’s involvement in the world-process and in the acts of rational creatures requires complementary sets of statements, thus: a person takes action, or an event is triggered by natural causes, or Satan shows his hand—yet God overrules. This is the message of the book of Esther, where God’s name nowhere appears. Again: things that are done contravene God’s will of command—yet they fulfill his will of events (Eph. 1:11). Again: humans mean what they do for evil—yet God who overrules uses their actions for good (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23). Again: humans, under God’s overruling, sin—yet God is not the author of sin (James 1:13–17); rather, he is its judge.

The nature of God’s “concurrent” or “confluent” involvement in all that occurs in his world, as—without violating the nature of things, the ongoing causal processes, or human free agency—he makes his will of events come to pass, is mystery to us, but the consistent biblical teaching about God’s involvement is as stated above.

Of the evils that infect God’s world (moral and spiritual perversity, waste of good, and the physical disorders and disruptions of a spoiled cosmos), it can summarily be said: God permits evil (Acts 14:16); he punishes evil with evil (Ps. 81:11–12; Rom. 1:26–32); he brings good out of evil (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 13:27; 1 Cor. 2:7–8); he uses evil to test and discipline those he loves (Matt. 4:1–11; Heb. 12:4–14); and one day he will redeem his people from the power and presence of evil altogether (Rev. 21:27; 22:14–15).

The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind forces (fortune, chance, luck, fate); all that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one’s spiritual and eternal good (Rom. 8:28).

J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993).

Through divine providence God accomplishes His will. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than God’s work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power; rather, they are the principles that God set in place to govern how things normally work. They are only “laws” because God decreed them.

How does divine providence relate to human volition? We know that humans have a free will, but we also know that God is sovereign. How those two truths relate to each other is hard for us to understand, but we see examples of both truths in Scripture. Saul of Tarsus was willfully persecuting the church, but, all the while, he was “kick[ing] against the goads” of God’s providence (Acts 26:14(HCSB)14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice speaking to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Apparently, “to kick against the goads” was a common expression found in both Greek and Latin literature—a rural image, which rose from the practice of farmers goading their oxen in the fields. Though unfamiliar to us, everyone in that day understood its meaning.

Goads were typically made from slender pieces of timber, blunt on one end and pointed on the other. Farmers used the pointed end to urge a stubborn ox into motion. Occasionally, the beast would kick at the goad. The more the ox kicked, the more likely the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg, causing greater pain.

Saul’s conversion could appear to us as having been a sudden encounter with Christ. But based on the Lord’s expression regarding his kicking back, I believe He’d been working on him for years, prodding and goading him.

I believe the words and works of Jesus haunted the zealous Pharisee. Quite likely, Saul had heard Jesus teach and preach in public places. Similar in age, they would have been contemporaries in a city Saul knew well and Jesus frequently visited.

Imagine Saul (the name Paul means “small,” suggesting he may have been shorter than average), standing on tiptoe, straining to watch Jesus, all the while grudgingly wondering how this false prophet could be gaining popularity. Nonsense. He has to be of Satan! Pharisees loved to think that. Nevertheless, Jesus’s ministry stuck in Saul’s mind. The more it goaded him, the more he resisted God’s proddings.

In Philippians 4:6(ESV) Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” And then in Philippians 4:19(ESV),just 13 verses later, he gives the liberating promise of future grace: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  This is not an unconditional promise, it is a conditional promise. God’s s promise to supply your needs (cf. 4:16) is embedded in the context of faithful, generous, even sacrificial giving. God meets our needs to express His approval of our giving. God does not promise to take care of the needs of believers who are stingy, lazy, or irresponsible. On the other hand, if you are giving as the Lord expects, He will meet your needs. Note carefully, he promises to meet needs, not wants.

If we live by faith in this promise of future grace, it will be very hard for anxiety to survive. God’s “riches in glory” are inexhaustible. He really means for us not to worry about our future.We should follow this pattern that Paul lays out for us. We should battle the unbelief of anxiety with the promises of future grace. While prosperity seekers might always be looking for money or possessions to miraculously arrive, we should take a closer look at what God desires to provide for us.

God’s provision extends to His ongoing relationship to all of His creation, which is deeply dependent on Him. Often, we take for granted the rain that falls, the sun that comes up every morning, the refreshing winds that blow, and the tides that cleanse our shores and invigorate the life in our vast oceans. But all these things are watched over by our loving God in His provision for us.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches His disciples to ask for provision, and our dependence on God is affirmed each time we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). In Matthew 6:24–25(HCSB)24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?, Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about food or clothing. The Father knows our needs. He desires covenant relationship with us, and that involves trusting Him to meet our daily requirements and seeking first His kingdom and righteousness Matthew 6:33(HCSB)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Psalm 84:11(HCSB) For the Lord God is a sun and shield.The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity. This verse carries a reminder that there is a part we play in God’s provision coming to fruition in our lives. We must walk uprightly.

James 4:3(ESV) is an answer to our questions about why prayers sometimes go unanswered: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God sees the heart, and our prayers’ motivations are important to Him. Galatians 1:15-16(HCSB)15 But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. 

Jeremiah 1:5(HCSB)I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

Passages such as these give us an assurance that God’s love and direction began even before conception. What a gift to know that God has been involved in our lives from the very start! His love for us is encompassed in His desire for our highest good.

Romans 11:30–36(HCSB)30 As you once disobeyed God, but now have received mercy through their disobedience, 31 so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you, so that they also now  may receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience,  so that He may have mercy on all. 

A Hymn of Praise

33 Oh, the depth of the riches 

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! 

How unsearchable His judgments 

and untraceable His ways! 

34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? 

Or who has been His counselor? 

35 Or who has ever first given to Him, 

and has to be repaid?  a

36 For from Him and through Him 

and to Him are all things. 

To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 

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Fat Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

There was a festival going on in Ephesus (The city of Ephesus itself was filled with the worship, not only of Diana (or Artemis), but also of Dionysus — according to the ancient historian Plutarch. As with the worship of Diana, that of Dionysus was heavily sexual. This worship, like. the nature religions of the Canaanites, with emphasis on pornographic images and vulgar songs, was supposed to please the god so that he would grant to his devotees the gifts of health and fertility)that involved parading idols before the people so that they might worship and appeal to the gods they were supposed to represent. Timothy could see the faces of the people who put their hopes in dead stone. They sought healing and help and they received nothing but disappointment. Recalling the day he had seen God heal a crippled boy, his heart burned at the thought of misplaced faith and so he took to the street and stood in front of the parade to preach words of true hope and effective faith. They screamed for him to stop and he continued anyway because he had been trained and taught by Paul that the Gospel was worth suffering for. So, he was beaten savagely and dragged by his clothes and arms through the street before those who had such desperate hope stoned him to death and made him a martyr.

Mardi Gras is idol worship, when you have a parade you honor something, when you lift your hands in expectance of a reward you are worshipping. plain and simple.

In light of its sordid origin, should Mardi Gras still be viewed as harmless fun? Does God allow Christians to cast off all restraint and participate in its festivities—drunkenness, lewdness, public nudity, homosexuality, illicit sex, revelry and brawling—which He calls “the works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21(HCSB)Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.?

Mardi Gras represents a blend of religion and immorality, steeped in ancient pagan fertility rites. Many of the parades celebrate and honor false gods such as Bacchus and Venus; others promote fornication and drunkenness—conduct that ends marriages, breaks up families and destroys lives! Professing Christians should take heed: Drunkenness, fornication and such reveling are among the kinds of conduct that exclude one from inheriting the kingdom of God

I Corinthians 6:9-10(HCSB)Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom..

This may come as a surprise, but Mardi Gras long predates Christianity. The earliest record comes from ancient times, when tribes celebrated a fertility festival that welcomed the arrival of spring, a time of renewal of life. The Romans called this pagan festival Lupercalia in honor of “Lupercus,” the Roman god of fertility. Lupercalia was a drunken orgy of merrymaking held each February in Rome, after which participants fasted for 40 days.

Interestingly, similar to modern celebrations, the Romans donned masks, dressed in costumes and indulged all of their fleshly desires as they gave themselves to the gods “Bacchus” (god of wine) and “Venus” (goddess of love). The masks and costumes were used as disguises to allow sexual liberties not normally permitted as individuals engaged in “bacchanal,” the drunken and riotous occasion in honor of Bacchus. (The word “bacchanal” is still associated with Carnival celebrations to this day.)

As pagans converted to Catholicism, they did not want to give up this popular celebration. Church leaders, seeing that it was impossible to divorce the new converts from their pagan customs, decided to “Christianize” this festival. Thus, Carnival was created as a time of merrymaking immediately preceding their pagan 40-day fast, which the church renamed “Lent.” During Carnival, participants indulged in madness and all aspects of pleasure allowable, including gluttony, drunkenness and fornication.

It is hypocritical for anyone who claims to seek or serve the true God to participate in a festival that originates from paganism and promotes immoral behavior. Not only should Christians not participate in evil, God commands them to avoid even the appearance of evil 1 Thessalonians 5:22(HCSB)Stay away from every kind of evil. This certainly applies to Mardi Gras.

What about Lent? As noted earlier, the Catholic Church incorporated the 40-day fast that the pagans had been observing and renamed it Lent. This, too, is an unscriptural custom, and should be avoided by anyone striving to obey God.

Any festival or religious observance of pagan origin is unacceptable to God, the “Lord” of the Old Testament—the same Being who later became Jesus Christ. (Deuteronomy 12:29-32(HCSB)“When the Lord your God annihilates the nations before you, which you are entering to take possession of, and you drive them out and live in their land, 30 be careful not to be ensnared by their ways after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, asking, ‘How did these nations worship their gods? I’ll also do the same.’ 31 You must not do the same to the Lord your God, because they practice every detestable thing, which the Lord hates, for their gods. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it. 

On the night before Lent begins, this system condones the celebration of “Fat Tuesday” which is nothing but drunken, sinful,lustful revelry(lively and noisy festivities with plenty of alcohol and lewd behavior). It is the culmination of a period called “Mardi Gras” which is full of the same decadence(moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury.). New Orleans bills its Mardi Gras celebration as a bigger party with more liquor and less clothing.

Where in the world do people get such a perverted set of values? It certainly does not come from the Bible. The Bible clearly and repeatedly condemns such sinful actions at any time. In 1 Peter 4:1-5(HCSB)Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin— 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.,

In Romans the Bible again condemns such “deeds of darkness” as inconsistent with the life of a Christian: Romans 13:12-14(HCSB)12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.,

One is not made righteous because he ceases to do a few things for forty days while continuing to do other things that are just as sinful. Nor is one more spiritual because he gives up all sinful practices for Lent with the full intent of resuming the actions the day after “Easter.” God’s standard for conduct is much higher.

Notice God’s command: 1 Peter 1:15(HCSB)”But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct “. Not forty days worth, but all of the Christian’s conduct must conform to the commands of God. Or consider the question raised by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:1-23. He talks to those who had been cleansed and justified by the blood of Christ and asks if they should continue in sin. His answer is simple, “ Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” To the Christian, sin should be a disgusting and detestable path. It should not be tolerable for another second!

The contrast is really very clear. The system which proposes Lent advocates a forty day vacation from sin – and then only some sins, not all sins just the ones you choose to give up for a time. God’s Word commands that the practice of sin be put to death:

Colossians 3:5-9Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, 7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. 8 But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self[c] with its practices.

There is a big difference between those two approaches to sin!

Oh yes, it is a more convenient religion for the worldly person to conform to certain outward rituals while one continues to live a life of sin. One might asked, “Then why not choose that kind of religion?” As far as I can see, there are only two reasons to be given:

1. Regardless of how we feel about it, the Bible says such a practice is wrong!

2. Such a religion will lead one to be lost eternally Matthew 7:21-23(HCSB)“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’.

Let’s follow what God says every day and put sin to death in our lives. We must not desire to join in the sins of the world around us. The Word of God gives this exhortation:

Ephesians 5:6-12(HCSB)Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.

We must always seek to expose the darkness of sin, examine all things in the light of the Gospel and exalt the path God directs in everything that we do.

From the Catholic Website

Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer.

Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is cheifly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance.

Priests administer ashes during Mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s palm Sunday Mass.

It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting. Some faithful take the rest of the day off work and remain home. It is generally inappropriate to dine out, to shop, or to go about in public after receiving the ashes. Feasting is highly inappropriate. Small children, the elderly and sick are exempt from this observance.

It is not required that a person wear the ashes for the rest of the day, and they may be washed off after Mass. However, many people keep the ashes as a reminder until the evening.

Recently, movements have developed that involve pastors distributing ashes to passersby in public places. This isn’t considered taboo, but Catholics should know this practice is distinctly Protestant. Catholics should still receive ashes within the context of Mass.

In some cases, ashes may be delivered by a priest or a family member to those who are sick or shut-in.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

Why we receive the ashes

Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told

“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins — just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days’ penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.

The Ashes

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance

Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit. It’s not uncommon for people to give up smoking during Lent, or to swear off watching television or eating candy or telling lies. It’s six weeks of self-discipline.

Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. The austerity of the Lenten season was seen as similar to how people in the Old Testament fasted and repented in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1-3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3).

However, over the centuries Lenten observances have developed a much more “sacramental” value. Many Catholics believe that giving something up for Lent is a way to attain God’s blessing. But the Bible teaches that grace cannot be earned; grace is “the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). Also, Jesus taught that fasting should be done discreetly: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16-18). Jesus’ command to “wash your face” seems to conflict with the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s face on Ash Wednesday.

Prayer, Our Communication Changes

Prayer is Communication with the Father, our Creator. Before Salvation we have no communication with the Father. Just the fact that People like us can speak to the Creator of the universe is itself an amazing thing. Even more astounding is the fact that He hears us and acts on our behalf! The first thing we need to understand about effective prayer is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross to even make it possible for us to approach the throne of grace to worship and pray.
Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT) 19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Without Jesus the only prayer God hears is that of repentance. If you are not saved God is not obligated to listen to any of your prayers. 

Isaiah 59:1-2(HCSB) Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. 2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.

Psalms 66:17-19 (HCSB)I cried out to Him with my mouth, and praise was on my tongue.18 If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19  However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.

Fortunately, 1 John 1:9 (HCSB)if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:13–17(HCSB) 13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. 15 After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me. This cleansing occurred just after Jesus’ first miracle, turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is the first of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple. The Synoptic Gospels do not record the temple cleansing mentioned in John, they only mention the temple cleansing that occurred during Passion Week.

The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the last week of His life.
Matthew 21:12-13(HCSB)12 Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!”

This second cleansing is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but not in John. There are slight differences in the two events, aside from them being close to three years apart. In the first cleansing, the Jews confronted Jesus immediately (John 2:18), whereas in the second cleansing, the chief priests and scribes confronted Him the following day (Matthew 21:17–23). In the first cleansing, Jesus made a whip with which to drive out the sellers, but there is no mention of a whip in the second cleansing. So there are two recorded occasions when Jesus cleansed the temple—the first time at the beginning of His public ministry, and the second time just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem shortly before He was crucified.

Jesus is pretty serious about prayer and His Father’s house.

Jesus is the gate into the House of Prayer, repentance is the key.

John 10:1(ESV)“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

The Bible tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions Acts 3:19(ESV) Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.

Barriers to effective communication with God

1. Praying with selfish desires and wrong motives. James 4:3(ESV) When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.

2. Rejecting God’s call or ignoring His advice Proverbs 1:24-28 (HCSB)24 Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, 25 since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, 26 I, in turn, will 27  when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you.28  Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will search for me, but won’t find me. 

3. Worshipping idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14(ESV)11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13 For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.

4. Turning a deaf ear to the cry of the poor Proverbs 21:13(HCSB) The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.

Far too often, prayer is viewed as a “magic formula.” Some believe that if we do not say exactly the right things, or pray in the right position, God will not hear and answer our prayer. This is completely unbiblical. God does not answer our prayers based on when we pray, where we are, what position our body is in, or in what order we word our prayers. We are told in 1 John 5:14-15 (HCSB)14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. We are to have confidence when we come to God in prayer, knowing that He hears us and will grant whatever we ask as long as it is in His will. Similarly,
John 14:13-14 (HCSB)13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. According to these and many other Scriptures, God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus).

The revelation about prayer, is that prayer is a 100% spiritual ministry.

Here are 4 important truths about prayer

1. Everything in the natural must be overcome and be brought under Spiritual Authority if you are to succeed with prayer.

2. Because Prayer is so effective and powerful, Satan fights it and you causing an unrelenting warfare on the spiritual battlefield.

3. This spiritual context has caused PRAYER to be one of -if not- the most misunderstood and least successful ministries in the Church.

4. THERE IS NOTHING NATURAL ABOUT PRAYER.

We all want our prayers to be “effective,” so much so that when we focus on the “results” of our prayers, we lose sight of the incredible privilege we have in prayer.

Effective Prayer

Although the Bible offers a great deal of guidance on how we can deepen our communication with the Creator, effective prayer has more to do with the one doing the praying than it does with “how” we are to pray. Indeed, Scripture says in James 5:16 (HCSB) 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect., and in

1 Peter 3:12(HCSB)because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil. 

Psalm 34:15 (HCSB)The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help. and, again in Proverbs 15:8(HCSB) The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. Prayer saved the righteous Daniel from the lion’s den (Daniel 6:11), and in the wilderness, God’s chosen people benefitted from Moses’ right standing with God (Exodus 16–17). The barren Hannah’s steadfast and humble prayers resulted in the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20), and the apostle Paul’s prayers even caused the earth to shake (Acts 16:25-26). Clearly, the passionate prayers of God’s righteous children can accomplish much (Numbers 11:2).

We also need to make sure that our prayers are in line with God’s will.

1 John 5:13-15(HCSB) 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. Praying in accordance with God’s will is essentially praying in accord with what He would want, and we can see God’s revealed will throughout Scripture.

Additionally, prayer is something believers should do “constantly”
1 Thessalonians 5:17(HCSB)Pray constantly. When we present our requests to God, we are to pray with faith, with thanksgiving, with a spirit of forgiveness toward others in Christ’s name, with a heart that is right with God. It’s the strength of our faith, not the length of our prayers that pleases Him to whom we pray, so we don’t need to impress God with our eloquence or intelligence. After all, God knows what our needs are even before we ask. Also, we should make sure we have no unconfessed sin in our hearts when we pray, as this would certainly be an impediment to effective prayer.

The closest the Bible comes to giving a “pattern” for prayer is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:5-13 (ESV)5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread,12 and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil.
Please understand that the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite to God. The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the “ingredients” that should go into prayer.
Here is how it breaks down:
“Our Father in heaven” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. “Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is.
The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not for our desires. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in “give us today our daily bread.” “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.

This is an example of the things that should go into a prayer—worship, trust in God, requests, confession, and submission. We are to pray for the things the Lord’s Prayer talks about, using our own words and “customizing” it to our own journey with God. The proper way to pray is to express our hearts to God. Sitting, standing, or kneeling; hands open or closed; eyes opened or closed; in a church, at home, or outside; in the morning or at night—these are all side issues, subject to personal preference, conviction, and appropriateness. God’s desire is for prayer to be a real and personal connection between Himself and us.

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words

Open and Closed Handed Issues

Open-handed issues are those issues which Bible-believing Christians can debate over, disagree over, even discuss over, but not divide over. The closed-handed issues are those issues we really have to remain committed to, to remain Christian, and draw lines in the sand. So there are issues in the Bible, like eschatology issues surrounding Jesus’ return, speaking in tongues, some things like that where you can love Jesus, and believe the Bible, and disagree on and still be a faithful Christian. There are other issues, like the Trinity or the resurrection of Jesus, you have to be very clear on to remain Christian.

IN THE CLOSED HAND

In order for a church like ours to be in unity we must rally around a few fundamental beliefs. While we desire to be inclusive and accepting of others and their scriptural beliefs – at some point there has to be a line in the sand that we will not cross.

The Inerrancy of Scripture

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection

Jesus sinlessness

There is ONLY one true God

The Virgin Birth

The Trinity: The father, son and the holy spirit

The existence of an eternal Hell

All sex outside of heterosexual monogamous marriage is sinful

The necessity of belief in Jesus Christ ONLY as savior for salvation,Jesus + Nothing= Salvation

THE BIBLE: The Holy Scriptures, as originally given by God, are divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy, and constitute the only supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.

THE TRINITY: There is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

A. God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.

B. God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3,34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.

C. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17

SALVATION BY FAITH THROUGH GRACE: The salvation of lost and sinful humanity is possible only through the merits of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, received by faith apart from works, and is characterized by regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:8(HCSB)For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–

THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT: The Holy Spirit enables believers to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ.First, the Holy Spirit does many things in the lives of believers. He is the believers’ Helper (John 14:26). He indwells believers and seals them until the day of redemption—this indicates that the Holy Spirit’s presence in the believer is irreversible. He guards and guarantees the salvation of the ones He indwells (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). The Holy Spirit assists believers in prayer (Jude 1:20) and “intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26–27).

The Holy Spirit regenerates and renews the believer (Titus 3:5). At the moment of salvation, the Spirit baptizes the believer into the Body of Christ (Romans 6:3). Believers receive the new birth by the power of the Spirit (John 3:5–8). The Spirit comforts believers with fellowship and joy as they go through a hostile world (1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 13:14). The Spirit, in His mighty power, fills believers with “all joy and peace” as they trust the Lord, causing believers to “overflow with hope” (Romans 15:13).

Sanctification is another work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The Spirit sets Himself against the desires of the flesh and leads the believer into righteousness (Galatians 5:16–18). The works of the flesh become less evident, and the fruit of the Spirit becomes more evident (Galatians 5:19–26). Believers are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:8), which means they are to yield themselves to the Spirit’s full control.

The Holy Spirit is also a gift-giver. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them” (1 Corinthians 12:4). The spiritual gifts that believers possess are given by the Holy Spirit as He determines in His wisdom (verse 11)

The Holy Spirit also does work among unbelievers. Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8, ESV). The Spirit testifies of Christ (John 15:26), pointing people to the Lord. Currently, the Holy Spirit is also restraining sin and combatting “the secret power of lawlessness” in the world. This action keeps the rise of the Antichrist at bay (2 Thessalonians 2:6–10).

THE GLOBAL CHURCH: The Church, the body of Christ, consists of all true believers.

ETERNITY: Ultimately God will judge the living and the dead, those who are saved unto the resurrection of life, those who are lost unto the resurrection of damnation. There is an eternal heaven and an eternal hell.

IN THE OPEN HAND:

When we speak about open handed issues we are not saying they are unimportant issues. What we are saying is that they are not worth fighting and dividing over. There are certain beliefs that we can simply agree to disagree on.

2 Timothy 2:23(HCSB)23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels.

There must be some breathing room for people to search, explore and discover the rich depths of scripture without running into formal church policy on every subject.

Open Handed issues are issues that are either not explicitly clear in scripture or the church, or are not mentioned in the bible at all. Many of these issues are not explicitly mentioned so that we have freedom to discover how we want to apply them for our ministries and lives. Others are unclear due to translation or interpretive issues. We should be encouraged to search the scriptures and come to our own conclusions about them. We should not divide over them as the church and God’s people. These issues include:

Child baptism and communion

Method of baptism

Women Pastors and Elders

Method of Church

Technology

Alcohol consumption

Cigarettes

End times eschatology

Political party affiliation

Gifts of the spirit (Speaking in Tongues etc.)Unless it is for salvation

And many more…

Open handed issues, although important, should not be divisive. Here are a few things to remember when we think about open and close handed issues:

1. We should be identified by what we are for, not what we are against.

Jesus was more “pro-something” than he was “anti-something”. One key to pursuing Christ-likeness is to remember how Jesus operated in a culture that hated him. He was for everlasting life. He was pro-salvation. He was pro-delivering from sin. Most thankfully, he was pro-evangelism.

Do we remember the great commission that Jesus gave us when he said to go forth and make disciples of many nations? Do we remember that Jesus sent the holy spirit as the authority from heaven? Christians should seek to be known by humbly obeying God, and calling others to His purpose. We should spend more time on spreading the good news of the gospel, and less time arguing about secondary issues.

2. Search the scriptures for your answers, not men and women

Too many people begin sentences with, “… Martin Luther says that”, or “…Augustine says that”, you can insert anyone you want into that name (i.e. Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, Mark Driscoll, John Wimber, John Piper, Francis Chan, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, William Webb or Wayne Grudem).

Men and women are great resources for thinking, but they shouldn’t be our authority on any matter, nor should their interpretation of the bible. We should read scripture for ourselves and hear what God has to say.

3. Not being unified over these open handed issues is stupid and a waste of time

A helpful discussion or debate is one thing, division and arguments are another. I have had several people approach me in ministry about secondary issues looking for a fight. I know Armenians have their opinions on predestination, but I won’t go to war with them, and, perhaps they were predestined to be wrong (Just kidding).

Form your opinions, be open to other opinions and seek to find the truth. Forming entire ministries or churches based on social issues is most unhelpful and rarely yields any fruit. They are most unhelpful when these social issues are disguised as the primary mission of God.

4. Everything is about JESUS!

The person and work of Jesus Christ and his mission to save the world is central. That is it. God will bless us if we do His will, and not our own.

Revival Life Church 102815 Apologetics Catholicism & Mardi Gras Pt 2

The origin of the Catholic Church is the tragic compromise of Christianity with the pagan religions that surrounded it. Instead of proclaiming the gospel and converting the pagans, the Catholic Church “Christianized” the pagan religions, and “paganized” Christianity. By blurring the differences and erasing the distinctions, yes, the Catholic Church made itself attractive to the people of the Roman Empire. One result was the Catholic Church becoming the supreme religion in the Roman world for centuries. However, another result was the most dominant form of Christianity apostatizing from the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the true proclamation of God’s Word.

2 Timothy 4:3–4(ESV) declares, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Worship vs Idolatry pt2

All of life is ceaseless worship. Practically, this means that while worship does include corporate church meetings, singing songs, etc, it is not limited by these things, defined solely as these things, or expressed only in these things because worship never stops. Rather, we are continually giving ourselves away or pouring ourselves out for a person, cause, experience, achievement, or status.

YOU ARE ALWAYS WORSHIPING

Human beings are unceasing worshipers. We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, and everyone in between are unceasing worshipers. Everyone, everywhere, all the time, is always worshiping. Everyone Worships, the question is what are you worshipping?

What you glory in you will sacrifice for. What you sacrifice for is what you worship. Example: Drug addicts, porn addicts and alcoholics, they sacrifice family, money, time etc. for what they glory in (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.) there are many others, football, hunting, video games, sports, etc.

What you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in God you will sacrifice all other aspects of life to make sure you are in His presence.

Worship is a lifestyle. People don’t have sin problems they have worship problems. People continue in their sin because they fail to worship the God of scripture. The highest we take people most of the time is into sin management.

Galatians 2:20 (NLT)My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

 I have seen people glory in football and sacrifice coming to church to worship their idol. Seems harsh? Not to God, God wants all of you not just what you want to give him. If you glory in Hunting you will sacrifice for it, God doesn’t say not to do these things but we are not to esteem them above God.

Galatians 5:24 (NLT)Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

Paul described true worship in

Romans 12:1-2(NLT)12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

This passage contains all the elements of true worship. First, there is the motivation to worship: “for all He has done for you.” That is all that He has given us that we don’t deserve: eternal love, eternal grace, the Holy Spirit, everlasting peace, eternal joy, saving faith, comfort, strength, wisdom, hope, patience, kindness, honor, glory, righteousness, security, eternal life, forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, freedom, intercession and much more. The knowledge and understanding of these incredible gifts motivate us to pour forth praise and thanksgiving—in other words, worship!

Also in the passage is a description of the manner of our worship: “give your bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” Giving our bodies means giving to God all of ourselves. The reference to our bodies here means all our human faculties, all of our humanness—our hearts, minds, hands, thoughts, attitudes—are to be presented to God. In other words, we are to give up control of these things and turn them over to Him, just as a literal sacrifice was given totally to God on the altar. But how? Again, the passage is clear: “by changing the way you think.” Renewing the mind – Metanoia in the greek means; change of mind it is where we get the word repentance. We renew our minds daily by cleansing them of the world’s “wisdom” and replacing it with true wisdom that comes from God. We worship Him with our renewed and cleansed minds, not with our emotions. We see this all the time as people don’t come to church, they don’t worship unless they “feel” like it, their favorite song is played, or their favorite worship leader is leading.

We are not to let our worship be dictated by our feelings or our emotions.

Emotions are wonderful things, but unless they are shaped by a mind saturated in truth, they can be destructive, out-of-control forces. Where the mind goes, the will follows and so do the emotions. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us we have “the mind of Christ,” not the emotions of Christ. 

There is only one way to renew our minds, and that is by the Word of God. It is the truth, the knowledge of the Word of God, which is to say the knowledge of the mercies of God, and we’re back where we began. To know the truth, to believe the truth, to hold convictions about the truth, and to love the truth will naturally result in true spiritual worship. It is conviction followed by affection, affection that is a response to truth, not to any external stimuli. Music as such has nothing to do with worship. Music can’t produce worship, although it certainly can produce emotion. Emotion is part of the “Soul” We are Spirit, Soul, and Body. Soul is mind, will and emotions. Worship must come from our spirit and soul. Not just soul, Concerts are in the soulish realm. They make us feel “good” that’s why concerts sell out but worship nights only have a handful of people.

True worship is God-centered worship. People tend to get caught up in where they should worship, what music they should sing in worship, and how the worship looks to other people. Focusing on these things completely misses the point. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth John 4:24(NLT)For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

This means we worship from the heart and the way God has designed. When we say “That’s not my style of worship or the music is not my style” you are being self centered and focusing the attention on you.

We live in an “Entertain Me” world. Most of us think the musicians on the stage are there to entertain. The musicians/music is a tool to express praise and adoration to God. The worship team is there to help guide you to an intimate place of worship. They are there to lead you into your own worship to God.

It’s also important to know that worship is reserved only for God. Only He is worthy and not any of His servants When the Angel was talking in Revelation 19:10(NLT) Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.
We are not to worship saints, prophets, statues, angels, any false gods, or Mary, the mother of Jesus. We also should not be worshiping for the expectation of something in return, such as a miraculous healing. Worship is done for God—because He deserves it—and for His pleasure alone.

The Bible is absolutely clear that we are to worship God alone. The only instances of anyone other than God receiving worship in the Bible are false gods, which are Satan and his demons. All followers of the Lord God refuse worship. Peter and the apostles refused to be worshipped (Acts 10:25-26(NLT)As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!” Acts 14: 11 (NLT)When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!” 12 They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. 13 Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, 15 “Friends,[b] why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.).

The holy angels refuse to be worshipped (Revelation 19:9-10(NLT)And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”

10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus. Revelation 22:8-9(NLT)I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”

The response is always the same, “Worship God!”

Roman Catholics attempt to “bypass” these clear Scriptural principles by claiming they do not “worship” Mary or saints, but rather that they only “venerate” Mary and the saints. Using a different word does not change the essence of what is being done. A definition of “venerate” is “to regard with respect or reverence.” Nowhere in the Bible are we told to revere anyone but God alone. There is nothing wrong with respecting those faithful Christians who have gone before us (see Hebrews chapter 11). There is nothing wrong with honoring Mary as the earthly mother of Jesus. The Bible describes Mary as “highly favored” by God (Luke 1:28 (NLT) 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!). Luke 11:27-28(NLT) 27 As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, “God bless your mother—the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!”28 Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” At the same time, there is no instruction in the Bible to revere those whom have gone to Heaven. We are to follow their example, yes, but worship, revere, or venerate, no!

When forced to admit that they do, in fact, worship Mary, Catholics will claim that they worship God through her, by praising the wonderful creation that God has made. Mary, in their minds, is the most beautiful and wonderful creation of God, and by praising her, they are praising her Creator. For Catholics, this is analogous to directing praise to an artist by praising his sculpture or painting. The problem with this is that God explicitly commands against worshipping Him through created things. We are not to bow down and worship anything in the form of heaven above or earth below (Exodus 20:4-5(NLT)“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.).

Romans 1:25(ESV) could not be more clear, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.” Yes, God has created wonderful and amazing things. Yes, Mary was a godly woman who is worthy of our respect. No, we absolutely are not to worship God “vicariously” by praising things (or people) He has created. Doing so is blatant idolatry.

The terminology is not the issue. Whether the practice is described as “worship” or “veneration,” or any other term, the problem is the same. Any time we ascribe something that belongs to God, to someone else, it is idolatry. The Bible nowhere instructs us to revere, pray to, rely on, or “idolize” anyone other than God. We are to worship God alone.

Example of a prayer to Mary called Hail Holy Queen

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,

our life, our sweetness and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:

to thee do we send up our sighs,

mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious Advocate,

thine eyes of mercy toward us,

and after this our exile,

show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.

 

Excerpt from ourCatholicprayers.com Some people ask “why say prayers to saints? Shouldn’t all our prayers be to God?” Praying to the saints is praying to God, in a fundamental way. We’re praying to those who can ask God to help us in our various needs in accordance with His will.

When you ask someone to pray for you are you worshiping that person? Of course not! It’s the same when we ask the saints to pray for us! In our prayers to saints we ask them to “put in a good word” for us with God in Heaven. They are not the focus of our worship, God is.

In this regard, it is worth noting that many compilations of prayers to saints also include prayers by them as well, to our Lord. The important thing to remember is that all these prayers have the same Divine destination, for our salvation.

Many prayers to saints take these “patrons” into account. For example, people pray to St. Anthony for lost items; to St. Jude (or perhaps St. Rita) for lost causes; to St. Gerard for motherhood; to St. Peregrine for Cancer victims; and to St. Dymphna for those with mental or nervous disorders, or epilepsy. For many years the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was included at the end of Mass for his help in defeating Satan.

Would you like to get closer to our Blessed Mother? There are some wonderful Marian Prayers that can help give us the graces we need for our salvation. These include such essentials as the Rosary, the Hail Mary, the Hail Holy Queen the Memorare, the Angelus, the hymn Ave Maris Stella, and the Magnificat (Mary’s canticle of praise for our Lord).

Surrender Yourself to Jesus Through Mary

Not long before becoming pope, Our Holy Father Pope Francis (as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) urged the world to look towards Mary and the Holy Family with fervor for defense and protection.  He promoted St. John Bosco’s famous dream asserting: “Devotion to Mary, along with the Eucharist, are the immovable anchors that will guide the Church on the path to Heaven.”  As Cardinal, Pope Francis professed “The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, can completely become a Magnificat.”

In a recent approved message by the Church to Elizabeth Kindelmann of Hungary, our Blessed Mother professed: “This Flame of Grace coming from my Immaculate Heart must go from heart to heart.  It will be the Great Miracle whose light will blind Satan.”  Our Lord Jesus stated: “I could compare this torrential flood (of grace) to the first Pentecost…This renewing of the earth, tested by suffering, will take place through the power and imploring force of the Blessed Virgin!”  As times grow darker, the protection of the Consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart grows more important and more necessary to every faithful Catholic.  If we love God, how can we deny Him this request? “The most effective way to have devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Mary is therefore found on the path that leads from the Father to humanity as the mother who gives the Saviour Son to all. At the same time, she is on the path that human beings must take in order to go to the Father through Christ in the Spirit

Keep in mind that God also calls on us to be saints. If this seems like too tall an order, remember that, with God’s help we can live our lives reflecting His love and goodness, letting Him work through us, just like the saints!

As we read in the wonderful prayer of St. Francis “Lord make me an instrument of your peace…grant that I may not so much seek to be loved as to love.” Just ask for God’s help in prayer. Remember, He’s an important part of your prayers to saints as well. Well, isn’t that good to know that God is and important part of your prayers to the saints

1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)declares, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There is no one else that can mediate with God for us. If Jesus is the ONLY mediator, that indicates Mary and the saints cannot be mediators. They cannot mediate our prayer requests to God. Further, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ Himself is interceding for us before the Father: Hebrews 7:25(ESV)“Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them”. With Jesus Himself interceding for us, why would we need Mary or the saints to intercede for us? Whom would God listen to more closely than His Son? Romans 8:26-27 describes the Holy Spirit interceding for us. With the 2nd and 3rd members of the Trinity already interceding for us before the Father in heaven, what possible need could there be to have Mary or the saints interceding for us?

Mardi Gras is Idolatry

Why is Mardi Gras Non-Christian

From the beginning, God’s covenant with Israel was based on exclusive worship of Him alone (Exodus 20:3 Do not have other gods besides Me.; Deuteronomy 5:7 Do not have other gods besides Me.). The Israelites were not even to mention the names of false gods (Exodus 23:13 “Pay strict attention to everything I have said to you. You must not invoke the names of other gods; they must not be heard on your lips.) Because to do so would acknowledge their existence and give credence to their power and influence over the people. Israel was forbidden to intermarry with other cultures who embraced false gods, because God knew this would lead to compromise. The book of Hosea uses the imagery of adultery to describe Israel’s continual chasing after other gods, like an unfaithful wife chases after other men. The history of Israel is a sad chronicle of idol worship, punishment, restoration and forgiveness, followed by a return to idolatry. The books of 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles reveal this destructive pattern. The Old Testament prophets endlessly prophesied dire consequences for Israel if they continued in their idolatry. Mostly, they were ignored until it was too late and God’s wrath against idol-worship was poured out on the nation. But ours is a merciful God, and He never failed to forgive and restore them when they repented and sought His forgiveness.

There was a festival going on in Ephesus that involved parading idols (specifically Diana and Dionysus) stone figures before the people so that they might worship and appeal to the gods the stone were supposed to represent. Timothy could see the faces of the people who put their hopes in dead stone. They sought healing and help and they received nothing but disappointment. Recalling the day he had seen God heal a crippled boy, his heart burned at the thought of misplaced faith and so he took to the street and stood in front of the parade to preach words of true hope and effective faith. They screamed for him to stop and he continued anyway because he had been trained and taught by Paul that the Gospel was worth suffering for. So, he was beaten savagely and dragged by his clothes and arms through the street before those who had such desperate hope stoned him to death and made him a martyr. Fox’s book of Martyrs.

Why I take such a stand on not going to a Mardi Gras Parade?
Judges 3:The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; they forgot the Lord their God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs.

Judges 10:Then the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They worshiped the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Aram, Sidon, and Moab, and the gods of the Ammonites and the Philistines. They abandoned Yahweh and did not worship Him.

Exodus 32:When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god[a] who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!”

Then Aaron replied to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from their hands, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf.

Then they said, “Israel, this is your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

 

Exodus 32: 35 And the Lord inflicted a plague on the people for what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

When the children of Israel was in Idol Worship not only the ones who did the worship were punished but EVERY ONE OF THEM!!!

Mardi Gras represents a blend of religion and immorality, steeped in ancient pagan fertility rites. Many of the parades celebrate and honor false gods such as Bacchus and Venus; others promote fornication and drunkenness—conduct that ends marriages, breaks up families and destroys lives! Professing Christians should take heed: Drunkenness, fornication and such reveling are among the kinds of conduct that exclude one from inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9 (HCSB)Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Common names of local parades

Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene.

Aquarius is the eleventh astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation Aquarius.

Titans In Greek mythology, the Titans were a primeval race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus(Sky), that ruled during the legendary Golden Age. They were immortal giants of incredible strength and were also the first pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses.

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus.

Dionysus or Bacchus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology.

The city of Ephesus itself was filled with the worship, not only of Diana (or Artemis), but also of Dionysus.As with the worship of Diana, that of Dionysus was heavily sexual. This worship, like the religions of the Canaanites, with emphasis on pornographic images and vulgar songs, was supposed to please the god so that he would grant to his devotees the gifts of health and fertility

This may come as a surprise, but Mardi Gras long predates Christianity. The earliest record comes from ancient times, when tribes celebrated a fertility festival that welcomed the arrival of spring, a time of renewal of life. The Romans called this pagan festival Lupercalia in honor of “Lupercus,” the Roman god of fertility. Lupercalia was a drunken orgy of merrymaking held each February in Rome, after which participants fasted for 40 days.

Interestingly, similar to modern celebrations, the Romans donned masks, dressed in costumes and indulged all of their fleshly desires as they gave themselves to the gods “Bacchus” (god of wine) and “Venus” (goddess of love). The masks and costumes were used as disguises to allow sexual liberties not normally permitted as individuals engaged in “bacchanal,” the drunken and riotous occasion in honor of Bacchus. (The word “bacchanal” is still associated with Carnival celebrations to this day.)

As pagans converted to Catholicism, they did not want to give up this popular celebration. Church leaders, seeing that it was impossible to divorce the new converts from their pagan customs, decided to “Christianize” this festival. Thus, Carnival was created as a time of merrymaking immediately preceding their pagan 40-day fast, which the church renamed “Lent.” During Carnival, participants indulged in madness and all aspects of pleasure allowable, including gluttony, drunkenness and fornication.

It is hypocritical for anyone who claims to seek or serve the true God to participate in a festival that originates from paganism and promotes immoral behavior. Not only should Christians not participate in evil, God commands them to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22 Stay away from every kind of evil.) This certainly applies to Mardi Gras.

What about Lent? As noted earlier, the Catholic Church incorporated the 40-day fast that the pagans had been observing and renamed it Lent. This, too, is an unscriptural custom, and should be avoided by anyone striving to obey God.

Any festival or religious observance of pagan origin is unacceptable to God, the “Lord” of the Old Testament

Deuteronomy 12:29(HCSB) “When the Lord your God annihilates the nations before you, which you are entering to take possession of, and you drive them out and live in their land, 30 be careful not to be ensnared by their ways after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, asking, ‘How did these nations worship their gods? I’ll also do the same.’ 31 You must not do the same to the Lord your God, because they practice every detestable thing, which the Lord hates, for their gods. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it.

1 Corinthians 10:14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 

Mardi Gras is idol worship, when you have a parade you honor something, when you lift your hands in expectance of a reward you are worshipping—-plain and simple.

Believers in Jesus Christ are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its values John 17:14-15 I have given them Your word.The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world.15 I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes, nor are we to retain the insipid, corrupt mind that the world creates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. This is a daily activity and commitment.

We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Christians who make every effort to live, think and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice. Even the heathen knows that “Matthew 7:16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?,” and as Christians, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit within us.

Being “in” the world also means we can enjoy the things of the world, such as the beautiful creation God has given us, but we are not to immerse ourselves in what the world values, nor are we to chase after worldly pleasures. Pleasure is no longer our calling in life, as it once was, but rather the worship of God is our calling now.

I recognize that Christians will have different personal convictions in matters of culture and I welcome those differences that are not sinful, because what pleases God is unity, not uniformity. Uniformity undermines mission and often is promoted by erroneous restrictive and permissive theologies. Restrictive Christians go too far and name everything a universal sin, forbidding some cultural activities that the Bible does not, such as listening to certain musical styles, getting tattoos, watching movies, smoking cigarettes, consuming alcohol moderately, and body piercing. Conversely, permissive Christians tend to name everything a particular sin and bless activities that the Bible forbids, such as drug use, fornication, homosexuality, and cohabitation before marriage.

Engaging culture requires discernment by God’s people to filter all of the cultures they encounter, Christian and non-Christian, through a biblical and theological grid in order to cling to that which is good and reject that which is evil.

In light of its sordid origin, should Mardi Gras still be viewed as harmless fun? Does God allow Christians to cast off all restraint and participate in its festivities—drunkenness, lewdness, public nudity, homosexuality, illicit sex, revelry and brawling—which He calls “the works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.?