Thursday, August 16, 2018

THE BOOK


Want to know who and what The Bible is all about? The Bible from cover to cover, front to back is about Christ Jesus and the demonstration of how much He loves us. 

Throughout the Old Testament this observation can be drawn - a relationship is broken, a temporary fix is applied, and a prophetic solution is mentioned. The Old Testament has many stories that teach us life and historical lessons. It also contains a plethora of requirements for relationship restoration between us and God. This Law over our relationship with God was set up to show us that we could never fulfill it. The Law could never be met except by God Himself in the flesh and the Old Testament foreshadows of the time when Christ Jesus would come and do just that. 

At the end of the Old Testament we arrive at the beginning of the New Testament, known as The Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Word of God in flesh arrives on the world scene and these books tell Christ's main stories, His words and most importantly His mission. "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (John 21:25) Christ Jesus redeemed and restored humanity's relationship with Father God by His sacrificial death and His victorious resurrection. His life was lived perfectly so that The Law was satisfied in Him. Therefore, His death and resurrection fulfilled what we could never accomplish and ushered in an eternal relationship based on His Saving Grace or said another way His - Saving, Unconditional, Loving Favor.

The rest of the New Testament is mainly composed of Paul's letters to many regional churches. Christ Jesus has ascended to sit at Father God's right hand, meanwhile He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within the Christian to lead us daily in our walk with Him. Paul helps out by instructing us about better Christian living throughout his letters or books between The Gospels and ending books of The Bible. 

However, also contained within these books and John's end book - Revelation - is the promise of Christ's return to gather His bride the Church and take her home to Heaven. Again, it is all about the care Jesus shows with us by His Spirit and Jesus coming for us in the End Days.

We betrayed God's relationship in the beginning and yet God's own Word in flesh, His Only Son was the prophesied price to a humanly, unattainable, relationship requirement system established by God. He lived perfectly and died once and for all so that a new way of The Spirit could be brought to us. That is how far we fell - that it took Christ, Fully God and Fully Man (Hebrews 2:10-18) to make a mends for us, but He did and His Plan was to show us this Love, His Love all along - it says so in The Book.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

FOR YOU


As far as relationships go - God knows everything about me. I still have all of eternity to get to know my Savior, God and King, but I thank Him that He has provided me that privilege. My favorite Psalm, Psalm 139, speaks to God's side of my relationship. It declares...

  1. You know my thoughts before I speak them. (v.4)
  2. You know where I am for You are always with me. (v.7-12)
  3. You created me in your mind's eye and knew all my days before anybody else. (v.16)
This seems kind of a useless relationship when one side knows everything about the other, even what the other person is about to say - I might as well not speak. Yet, the Holy Spirit had Paul write - "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:16-17)

Paul, in this condensed version of Psalm 139, affirms God as Creator, Sustainer and Purpose of all things. I cannot do anything about God knowing my thoughts before I speak them or always being with me or creating opportunities for me daily and sustaining my life breath by breath. However, I can investigate what it means to be created "for Him".

You see, toward the end of Psalm 139, David stops viewing God's relationship as Creator and himself as the created and continues to portray God as an active good agent moving forward in his life. David said, "How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you." (Psalm 139:17-18)

Such words as "precious", "vast", "count" and "outnumber" all describe God's "thoughts" toward David and toward us. His mercies are new every morning. And look, He never leaves you or forsakes you. Which is motivation in this Psalm for action on David's part. At the very end of Psalm 139, we see David desiring God to search him, gut out any offensive way and lead him in the way everlasting, not the way that is just for now.

This is where we can start with the investigation of what it means to be created "for Him" - humble ourselves and pursue Him. Jesus gave the template - "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8) 

Dear Lord, I ask for you to reveal to me what I can do for you. You died for me, I'll live for you. Savior, I seek your presence, revelation and hand, if need be, to show me what I need to do for you or where I need to be. Please, bless me with your wisdom, knowledge, courage, understanding, patience and love concerning this request. Jesus, I prophetically knock on the door of opportunity to do For You.

Monday, August 6, 2018

THE PLAN


Is there really anything under our control? Like the movie series "The Matrix" spells out - we might go about our daily lives making decisions, but those decisions are all part of a Master Program that has been played out in a File called "History" - or so it seems that way. 

Control is just an illusion. Life is a myriad of choices made every split second by us because we do not know what is in our next moment. However, God stands outside the Computer that has the Master Program running. God is outside of Time, Space and History. He is at the Beginning and at The End and everywhere in between. He knows. He is the builder of the Computer and all of its equipment as well as all the programming.

Luke reminds us in Acts 17:28 of a philosophy put forth by a Cretan philosopher named Epimenides that said, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ We are inside Him as though every air and water molecule surrounding us were His "Holy Cells". Plus, He is in us, by the power of the Holy Spirit as wells of living water that can influence others for Christ.

We may feel like a program a lot of the time - just going through the motions; just saying what I am supposed to say and doing what I'm supposed to be doing; just being the program called me. However, God did not orchestrate a "Program", He composed a "Plan". The major difference in the perspective of these two is Relationship. 

For those who lived with Christ Jesus, they were blessed to see first hand His miracles and were called to be His Disciples as they enjoyed His immediate presence. The rest of humanity, after Christ's ascension, would rely on faith - "confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1)

Christ Jesus was a Person, not a Program. Although He was and is The Word of God made flesh, He emptied Himself of all possible honor, glory and will. Then Jesus said only what He heard Father God wanting Him to say and Jesus did only what He saw Father God wanting Him to do. 

Again, belief in this man's claim to whom He said He was and is; belief in this man's miracles; belief in this man's sacrifice on The Cross for your redemption to God; belief in victory over everything through His resurrection; belief in His return for your personal, bodily habitation with Him in Heaven - is why it is worth remembering - God is personal and has The Plan.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

EQUIPPED



What does it mean to be an Equipped Christian?

·       It means you Take Advantage of the Resources at your disposal. God did not bless us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus for us to sit on it. Nor did He in like manner bless us in every other resource for us not to actively serve Him.
·       It means we Go! God gave us a Commission, not a Suggestion. The sacrifice He made for us should compel the believer, especially the Equipped Christian, to Preach/Teach/Share the Good News of Christ to Everyone – being aligned with God’s Heart that none should perish, but all should come to the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus.
·       It means we take care of our Equipment. Our equipment can range from physical tools we use like a sound system, to the teachings that are used, to the individual Christian worker/warrior that is serving. We take care of our equipment by giving it or them all the support we can and when the time comes giving it/them a refreshing break.

Paul is writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, a second time, when he magnifies the point that – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Notice that another way to understand this statement of truth is – if you desire to be active doing good deeds/works for God then being “thoroughly equipped” is required. However, in order to be “thoroughly equipped” and effective “for every good work”, the believer in Christ must daily be in the Scriptures for The Equipping. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that…” The words "useful" and "so that" makes this point.

The answers on how to be equipped for a certain situation in life are found in The Scriptures. So, in order to be an effective Christian, in order to take advantage of God’s Resources upon your life, in order to fulfill the Great Commission, in order to take care of the “equipment” in your life – make sure you are properly Equipped.

Monday, July 30, 2018

HIS MOBILE HOME


Get your head and spirit wrapped around this and perhaps your behavior will align properly.

Hebrews 3:6
"Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory."

The sanctuary is the building that believers in Christ meet in on Sundays and any additional day deemed appropriate for corporate worship, prayer and service. The physical body of the individual believer in Christ is God's House. 

Our confidence and hope in which we glory is that firstly, right now, we are seated together with Him in heavenly places and can call on the power in His Name for the pulling down of strongholds in our lives. Secondly, when Christ returns for His believers (Rapture), every "house" or body will be perfected or glorified as well as the corporate Church.

This notification that we are God's House; that we carry His presence everywhere we go; that we represent His Kingdom as He sits enthroned upon our mind and heart - should radically influence our behavior and attitude toward everyone, especially the unbelievers. Plus the tight grasp on our sure footing in Christ and "the hope in which we glory" should spur us to action as we realize we are His House, His Mobile Home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

BE FAITHFUL


From the story of Jonah in Scripture we find out that Jonah was a Hebrew - a follower of Yahweh or Almighty Creator God. Before Jonah's story unfolded and God spoke to him about Nineveh, God knew the beginning, middle and end of this adventure. Jonah did not have any foreknowledge of his coming days and so he and we are dealt a lesson in Trusting in God's Faithfulness. 

In Jonah's experience - there were the lessons of (1) should've obeyed the Lord from the word "Go" and (2) who are you to be angry at me for being a God of Second Chances? However, God's Faithfulness keeps resurfacing throughout the story, touching many different elements to the account.

God was faithful to sending His own Word to the city of Nineveh. God was faithful to the sailors alongside Jonah who begged for mercy as they threw Jonah overboard and received calm waters from the Lord in return. God was faithful to Jonah in that he spared his life from drowning and gave him a second chance by thinking things over in the belly of a Great Fish for three days.

Even after Jonah delivers God's message, the entire city of Nineveh repents and God's faithfulness to His character is seen as He relinquishes His anger - Jonah disapproves of the verdict. "He prayed to the Lord, 'Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.'” (Jonah 4:2-3) Jonah wanted the city of Nineveh to receive wrath and not get a second chance so bad that he was willing to die for that cause.

However, God showed his faithfulness to Jonah for the last time in this story. He taught him the lesson of second chances with the provision of shade and the taking away of that shade by growing a plant next to him and then having a worm eat it the next day during the heat of the day.

What was Jonah's part? He knew God. He heard God. He literally and figuratively ran from God's instruction by boarding a ship whose destination was a long way off and hid in the bottom of the ship. Lesson #1 - Obey. He didn't and instead God knew where he was and the result was almost the lives of those around him. But Jonah was humbled in the belly of a great fish enough to finish the mission.

However, you have to align yourself with God's desired result if you want to be on the same page as God and receive favor. Jonah did not and Lesson #2 was - who are you to be angry at me for being a God of Second Chances?

I want to magnify God's Faithfulness to you today. God never gave up on His Mercy, His Message, or His Messenger. He never gave up with Jonah and He never gave up with us. For Jesus as God's Mercy, Message and Messenger said, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here." (Matthew 12:40-42) 

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:9 - "God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." Yes, God will be faithful to the blood spilled and life given by Christ for your relationship, your fellowship with Him. That is too high a price not to be faithful.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory." (Hebrews 3:5-6) "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)

"What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?" (Romans 3:3) "...if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself." (2 Timothy 2:13) "The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." (1 Corinthians 4:1) "
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, ..." (Galatians 5:22) "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown." (Revelation 2:10) "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

So, just as it is written in Leviticus and 1 Peter about being Holy for the Lord is Holy, I encourage us concerning God's Faithfulness - Be Faithful, For The Lord Thy God Is Faithful.

Monday, July 9, 2018

THE PRESCRIPTION FOR POTENTIAL UNBELIEF


I tell you what - lately prayer for myself and others has been a challenging thing. If God does not answer in the positive and soon, doubt is waiting to take over.

There are a list of items I believe I am praying God's will over. I pray the Scripture back to The Lord and remind Him, myself and the individuals that need prayer of His promises. And I know His ways are higher than ours. I am aware His timing is not necessarily our schedule. But the natural remedy to some of my requests are not going to wait around for long.

I saw a question on Twitter that was re-asked by Christine Caine. The original question was posed by Chris Hodges and was - "If God answered all your prayers, would it change the world or just change you?" I would hope and pray the answered prayer would change both me and the world. I would earnestly desire that the answer would so influence me that I would move to witness to the world about my awesome God.

Christine added an antidote that I agree with - she said, "I truly felt convicted by this — it’s time for me to pray bolder prayers, believe for greater things, and to expect the second half of my life to be more fruitful than the first!" (Christine Caine‏Verified account @ChristineCaine Jul 8)

I feel so much like the father of the boy with an impure spirit. That dad's encounter with Jesus was as follows - 

"'But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.'

‘If you can’?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'” (Mark 9:22-24)

It is amazing the proof I keep asking of God for my faith to grow in Him. After He had sustained me through the night, shoot, sustained the whole universe throughout the night and ever since creation; after all the benchmarks of blessings and miracles in my life - I find myself praying for more and expecting more. Am I a greedy little son or is my God just that great of a Father with unlimited resources and provisions? Definitely the later, but the former is probably part of this also.

However, no matter where I am in my faith-walk; no matter the degree of my unbelief, like the father mentioned earlier - God is still faithful. Paul reminds Timothy and us of that in his second letter to Timothy, when he said, "if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself." (2 Timothy 2:13). If God stopped being faithful, He would stop being God for His Name is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). 

So, the prescription for my potential unbelief is to pray bolder prayers, believe God for greater things and expect miracles to flow. This is trusting in the everyday mode of operation of God. This is trusting in God's faithfulness to me and to His Word.