The Bible & Reincarnation

November 26, 2022 by  
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By Warren M Mueller  –

Is there any evidence in the Bible that supports reincarnation? I recently met a person who claims that Matthew 11:14 supports the idea that at least some people are reincarnated. In this verse, Jesus says that John the Baptist is Elijah or Elias and therefore, John is either the resurrected or reincarnated prophet. Since Elijah was taken bodily up to heaven, he presumably never died and so John could not be the resurrected prophet (2 Ki 2:11). His mother was Elizabeth, a relative of Mary (Lk 1: 36, 57-60) and he was special even from birth being filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:15). Jesus said that there was nobody greater than John the Baptist ever born which certainly would put him in an exceptional class with Elijah the prophet (Mt 11:11). Mark and Luke both attribute prophetic verses from the old testament prophets Malachi and Isaiah to John the Baptist as the messenger who prepares the way for the return of the Lord Almighty (Mal 3:1; Is 40:3). So is the literal sense of Mt 11:14 what Jesus meant?

Some of the Jewish priests wondered who John the Baptist was and asked him if he was Elijah. John said he was not Elijah (Jn 1:21) which clearly conflicts with the literal sense of Mt 11:14. During the transfiguration of Jesus, Elijah and Moses appear and talk to Jesus who is changed such that “his clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” (Mk 9:3, NIV) Peter is present and offers to set up three shelters for each of them Jesus, Moses and Elijah.(Mk 9:5) This event happened after the death of John the Baptist so if he was Elijah reincarnated, why didn’t Peter and the others recognize him as John? Also, after the transfiguration, the three disciples ask Jesus why the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come before the Lord. In Mk 9:12, Jesus responds to their question and affirms that Elijah does come before the restoration of God’s kingdom. This is fulfilled in the appearance of Elijah before the death and resurrection of Jesus which establishes the kingdom of God on earth inside of believers (Jn 3:3; 1 Cor 6:19). The appearance of Elijah at the transfiguration of Jesus could also fulfill Mal 4:5 which predicted that Elijah would return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Jesus continues in Mk 9:13 to explain that John the Baptist is the Elijah that has come and suffered. John the Baptist is the last of the Old Testament prophets who were rejected and suffered at the hands of the kings and priests of Israel. Therefore, these verses describe both the return of the Old Testament prophet Elijah (at the time of the transfiguration) and John the Baptist as the last forerunner of the kingdom of God and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reincarnation is not supported by the Bible which teaches that each person lives once and then is judged by God to determine eternal life in heaven or hell (Heb 9:27; 2Co 5:8; Rev 20:11-21:4). Jesus and Paul taught that every legal matter should be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Mt 18:16; 2Co 13:1). The diety of Jesus was witnessed by both Elijahs at the baptism of Jesus and his transformation. Jesus taught that faith in him leads to perfection and unity with God, not multiple human life experiences (Mt 14:6).

What Songs Does Your Heart Sing?

September 27, 2022 by  
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By Carol McClain –

Life can drag us down, and regardless of our religious philosophies, we don’t always get what we want, even if we do everything right. In my case, I divorced at thirty, and although I always wanted a large family, I only met my new husband long after I could no longer have a second child. My life wounded me. In high school I believed myself to be an outcast. I grew up in poverty under the hand of my family’s alcoholism. The consequences of sins I’ve committed in my youth left scars, reminders I’d rather forget. Loneliness stalked me, sometimes nearly devouring me.

And I’m not alone in my pain. Several friends battle breast cancer. Another friend’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack, and she found him in the back yard. Odd genetic abnormalities plague the children of a sweet, young family. Each person reading this could add to this list and attest to the fact that life can devour us.

However, several years ago I met a young man whose life made mine look like the pity-party it was. His life convicted me of my sin. I never met him in person, but only through his book of poetry, Journey Through Heartsongs and a few TV appearances.

Mattie J.T. Stepaneck was a peace ambassador for MDA. Born with mitochondrial myopathy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease, his life has been plagued with a chronic decline and loss of motor control. He’s had to breathe with a respirator, had a tube in his heart for medications, and endured weekly blood transfusions.

This disease eventually killed him as it did his brothers Stevie and Jamie and his sister Katie. It also afflicted his mother who discovered she had it only after she’d had four children.

What amazes me most about Mattie is not what he suffered, but the faith and grace that characterized how he faced his pain. Mattie had incredible poetic talent. He began writing at age three, by seven he wrote poetry with enviable sophistication. As a poet, Mattie tried to bring reconciliation to the world, and his poems speak poignantly of disabilities, hope and an indefatigable faith in God.

He knew sooner or later he would be “buried into heaven,” that he is an “echo caught between two worlds,” that his brother Jamie sent him gifts from heaven when he was sad, and that he was remiss if he failed to notice them.

In one poem, he asked his mother if God would extend His right or left hand to him when he died. His mother responded that God would extend both. In a hug. Mattie couldn’t wait for that hug which he received on June 22, 2004, three weeks before his fourteenth birthday.

Reading about this young man who earned a black belt in karate, who dreamt of being a grandpa, who wanted to hold on forever to his holy family, and who held on to a holy God, convicts me. What is my pain? How frail is my faith? How unseemly is my attitude toward God?

I need to remember, I’m a part of a holy family and will ultimately be hugged by God.

(Poetic excerpts taken from: Stepaneck, Mattie. Journey Through Heartsongs. NY: VSP Books—Hyperion, 2001).

Proud

September 8, 2022 by  
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By Heather Allen —

He summons his advisors; he’s had a dream, and someone better tell him what it means. Magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, and enchanters are scratching their heads. How could they possibly know what Nebuchadnezzar dreamt? But it is their job to know. So they have two options: interpret the dream or be cut into pieces.

A guard comes for Daniel. The dream has not been interpreted, so Daniel’s life is required. Daniel pleads for time, and is granted it. He summons Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and together they seek the Lord. Miracles occur when we gather and pray. God gives Daniel an understanding of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its meaning.

God has used a proud king’s dream to foretell future events. The dream involves a giant statue and accurately predicts the kingdoms that would rule from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon until the end of days when Christ’s kingdom is established on the Earth. Nebuchadnezzar’s empire was represented by the golden head atop the statue. His empire would be the first of the last. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that the kingdoms of men would ultimately be destroyed by the kingdom of God.

Nebuchadnezzar builds an enormous statue. I guess he was inspired by his dream. Perhaps he wanted others to see his greatness, his place as head of the empire. He decrees that the wise men and leadership of Babylon be rounded up so they can bow down and worship his statue. This time they can look forward to being thrown in a fiery furnace if they decline.

Someday this scenario will repeat. Revelation 13:15 says an image honoring the Anti-Christ will be constructed, and all humans will bow or forfeit their lives.

Somehow Nebuchadnezzar missed the import of his dream. His kingdom was temporary and would be crushed.

And that has me thinking. We as believers are given the same reminders. We are told to set our hearts on things above and to travel lightly, like strangers in this world. This world will pass in a flash. The next will last forever. Anything that is built for our glory will fall.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood when everyone else bowed. They knew the dream’s end. They knew that kingdoms built by men do not last. They were willing to stand alone. They laid down their positions and pride, willing to look foolish in order to walk right before God. They reverenced the true King. They would bow to Him alone.

These three men willingly walked death row. They were delivered and then promoted. The pattern repeats through the entirety of the book of Daniel.

I believe promotion comes from God, that a man who walks humbly with His maker is able to handle grander tasks because he has no illusion that he is able to accomplish them on his own. I also believe that God will lovingly keep us where we are positionally if promotion would fuel our pride rather than our dependence. Dependence enables us to stand when others bow. It enables us to walk a harder course, but in the end, we are choosing dependence over pride and life over death.

Where Are You Placing Your Faith?

August 28, 2022 by  
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By Pat Hodges –

How often do we find ourselves struggling to hold onto our faith in the midst of disappointment and disillusionment? A never ending cycle for some, and depending on the severity, an open door for the enemy to come in and steal one’s joy, steal one’s vision, and rob the person of all hope. Proverbs 13:12a says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.”’

So, how do we find ourselves so easily disillusioned and discouraged from being repeatedly disappointed? Chances are we aren’t putting our faith and hope in God alone, but instead we have our faith and hope in at least one of the following: circumstances, people or problems.

We find the following promise in the Word.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:9-13 (KJV)

Throughout my years of ministry, I have found more often than not, that we have a strong tendency to make our request known to the Lord but with all kinds of strings attached. For instance, if we’re praying for finances, we may have fixed in our mind how we want the finances to come, and subconsciously we start identifying probable sources and means. It might be wiser to take the restrictions off of God and stop trying to work out the how and totally leave it up to Him, so that He can bring the answer as He decides.

Much of the time, we find ourselves defining how the answer is going to manifest rather than truly leaving that area up to the Lord. In the above scripture we don’t see anywhere where the how is addressed. It simply says in verse 9, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

God can get the answer to us in a million and one ways, our job is to simply trust and put an end to the vicious cycle of repeated disappointment and ongoing disillusionment.

Becoming Mary

August 22, 2022 by  
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By Diane Mayfield –

I’d like to think I conquered the Martha in me and have become more like her sister Mary. That’s what I get for thinking. Jesus, in His gentle way, showed me not to think too highly of myself lest I fall.

I recently planned my extended family’s second annual Burton Family Christmas in July. I created a schedule of events on Friday night and Saturday, hoping it was clear to all that the gathering did not start until 6:00 Friday night. That would give me plenty of time to cover all the details and be ready for the crowd. Hoping to circumvent a seed of bitterness creeping in if I was left to do all the work, everyone had meal assignments and clean up duty.

The schedule of events for Saturday included pool time and boating. Built into the plan was a break for me on the boat, so I would have a moment to relax and interact with everyone. Just so no one would forget that they had duties and responsibilities in this family event, I posted the assignments on the refrigerator door in brightly colored magnets that matched my color scheme.

Everyone did indeed have a blast, me included. They complimented me on the flow of the event, the decorations and all the planning. By the laughter and lingering conversations at the table Saturday night, it seemed the celebration was a success.

It was Sunday at 11:00 when Martha appeared in my head. I’d planned on everyone leaving by Sunday morning, noon at the latest. I wrote in an e-mail that nothing officially was scheduled for Sunday, hoping that would communicate, “the inn was closed.”

Oops. Someone didn’t read between the lines. They decided to stay and swim one more time. Then, instead of packing up and going before they left for lunch, they asked if they could come back after lunch, have dessert and then leave.

What do I say in that situation? I had a plan that I was working towards and it was about to be challenged. I politely said “sure.” And then I griped and griped as I worked to organize my house, pick up toys, clean out the refrigerator, empty the dishwasher and start the sheets and towels.

It never occurred to me to go to Jesus and listen to His words and ask for His help in stretching my capacity. I was being asked to give in a way that I had not planned on giving.

I could just hear Jesus saying, “Diane, Diane, why do you worry about getting all this done today and your life back to normal? Can’t you enjoy these people a little longer than you planned? What is really important here?”

No one who asked to change the plan knew of my inner struggle, but the One who matters most did. The good news is that His gentle revelation humbled me. I was reminded that becoming Mary isn’t just about sitting at His feet in the morning because it works for me. It’s about measuring priorities and choosing those that count for eternity. Obviously Martha is still living and breathing in me. I haven’t become Mary yet, but I’m listening.

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