Thursday, November 15, 2018

PERSPECTIVE SHIFT


I am who you say I am God. It is time I believe and proclaim over my life what your Word says about who I am. I am free, I am a child of God, I belong in His Family. I am chosen, not forsaken, you are for me, not against me – I am who you say I am. Help me Lord to keep your perspective of me in mind, on my lips and displayed in my behavior.

Lord, help me not to measure who I am or what I can do by comparing myself with others. I recall what you told Paul to share with the believers in Corinth - "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." (2 Cor. 10:12) I realize that this takes the specialness of my offering away. Plus, I don't want to be a copy-cat anymore, I want to be me before you Lord.

Thank you Lord, that in the challenge of Colossians 3:12 to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient - you also tell us what you think about us - "chosen", "holy" and "dearly loved". "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." I like how Mr. Renner says it Lord - "He has personally chosen you; He has separated you from your sin; He respects you as the dwelling place of His Spirit; and He loves you so much that His thoughts are continually turned toward you, causing awe, admiration and wonder to be drawn from His heart. That is what God thinks about you!" (Sparkling Gems From the Greek 2, p.429)

In your Name, Lord Jesus and by your Holy Spirit so let it be written, so let it be done.

-me

Monday, November 12, 2018

FOUNDATION OF HOPE


As the hymn states - "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my Righteousness." Christ Jesus is my Right Standing with Father God. All of my expectations, desires and needs are found in the confidence I have in my Savior.

A person needs an event in their life to spark hope, to establish a different perspective worth holding onto. Jesus did that for all humanity, I have just chosen to accept and believe in His compassionate gift of grace. Father God has loved the world so much that He gave His only Son - Jesus Christ - that whosoever would believe in Him would be saved. (John 3:16) 

However, Jesus did not just live an exemplary life for us and die a martyr's death. If He had done only this we would be living for just a good cause and not The Good Shepherd. The Good News is not complete without sharing Christ Jesus rose from death and the grave after the third day from purchasing everyone's relationship gap with Father God through His death on The Cross.

Jesus promised He would return for those who believe in Him as their Savior. In the meantime, Christ delivered on the promised Holy Spirit by sending Him to indwell each new believer. There is a lot of hope here. As believers in Christ we have faith in the completed work of Christ's redemptive actions. But because of His love poured out like this - we have hope in every category of our lives. 

Christ's love and forgiveness is not just glorified at Calvary some 2,000 plus years ago. History and the believer's heritage will always remember those precious days. But Jesus continues to love and forgive us daily in spite of our imperfection. Some hopes we cling to as believers are - sin being demolished, our bodies being perfected, and our relationship with God, each other and nature being the way they should be.

In the Old Testament, time and time again there were events and foreshadows that pointed to The Hope humanity has in the salvation Christ Jesus provides. When Jesus was here, He left no doubt that He was the One to place ALL your hope in - "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6) Now and in the future, due to the Holy Spirit's indwelling, believers should share this Hope, especially in our deteriorating world. Christians will always have The Cross, The Resurrection - Jesus - to refer back to their Foundation Of Hope. 

  • "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)



Wednesday, October 31, 2018

PRAYING, BELIEVING AND TRUSTING


First we must believe we have been heard, then we must trust God wholeheartedly in the answer, which includes the timing of the remedy. In this process, the Holy Spirit is calling us to pray, believe and trust corporately and privately too. 

Jesus had approached Lazarus' tomb four days after Lazarus had died. After counseling and comforting Mary and Martha, Jesus had the stone from in front of Lazarus' tomb rolled away. Then Jesus prayed out-loud because Scripture says "Jesus...said".
  • So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42)
I believe this is the perfect example for us. Jesus gave gratitude for not only Father God's omni-presence, but personal attention to His request/petition - 
Father, I thank you that you have heard me. Then Jesus gave acknowledgement to Father God's perfect track record of perfect hearing and perfect listening skills - I knew that you always hear me,. However, Jesus gets to the heart of His prayer when He states - paraphrased - the words I have shared here and the actions I have done and will do are "for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Jesus prayed verbally, believed publicly and trusted Father God wholeheartedly. The result - Lazarus was resurrected. When we as believers gather in church and pray for each other, this is the way I believe our words, mindset and faith should be also. However, this also should bleed over into our personal or non-corporate times with The Holy Spirit. When you are spending personal, quality time with Him - remember God has heard you, He has always heard you and will answer you. His answer for you may even be a miracle that encourages others and points to God's power and compassion. 

Even before our everyday needs like the consideration of our food, drink and clothing - Jesus said to pray, believe and trust in Him and His Kingdom of Provision first
  • "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)
Some of us don't even consult God and when we do, we have the wrong motives at heart. 
  • "You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:2-3)
So, I encourage you to pray and believe with Godly motives at heart and know you have been heard, then trust God wholeheartedly with the answer.

Friday, October 5, 2018

OWNERSHIP, CITIZENSHIP AND RELATIONSHIP


Names - usually parents are the ones responsible for identifying us with the combination of names - first, middle and last - we will be known by for the rest of our lives.

Then there are those like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who had their names changed by a king. You might remember the last three as - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel's name was changed by the king to Belteshazzar, to reflect belief in the king's god. (Daniel 1:7)

For those who believe in Jesus Christ - The King of Kings - there will come a day when The King will be delivering and inscribing new names. Allow your imagination to be structured by Christ's words as He promises to those "who overcome" -

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." - Revelation 2:17

What an extremely intimate gift the Lord has for each of us! God only knows what the criteria is for this new name. But I am not to concerned about the criteria because I know - "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)

The new name given to each of us is in written-form and can only be known or read by you - "
I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." To me this suggests a personal, Holy language that is shared only between you and God. That would be amazing!

Next, God takes His writing utensil and applies it to the "overcomer's" body.

"Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name." - Revelation 3:12

A lot of identification going on here. 
  1. First, we have written on our bodies the name of Father God. 
  2. Second, we have written on our bodies God's city - New Jerusalem. 
  3. Lastly, Jesus has a New Name that He tattoos on every believer. I guess this should come as no surprise because Christ returns to earth with us and has a tattoo of His own - "On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 19:16)
Although I have never had a tattoo, I envision these names as beautifully written tattoo names that claim ownership, declare citizenship and reveal relationship. Three stamps of new names, bought at the highest price, each shouting - "You are mine! You are mine! You are mine!"

In addition, Luke 10:20 records Jesus telling His disciples after they had returned from being sent out - 
  • "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (NIV). 
When many people and Pastors read this verse they tend to end it with "but rejoice that your names are written [in the Lamb's Book of Life]." Although the Lamb's Book of Life is located in Heaven and your name is there if you believe in Christ Jesus - that is not what the text portrays here.

I also like The Living Bible version - "However, the important thing is not that demons obey you, but that your names are registered as citizens of heaven." I love how Jesus does not dismiss the subjection of demons altogether, He just focuses our attention on the "important thing" - the location of your true citizenship, Heaven.

Christ encourages us to "rejoice that your names are written in heaven." So, allow me to elaborate on this a little more. The words "written" and/or "registered" in the above texts come from the original word Graph0. This word means to write, engrave or to describe. I believe this is where we get the word graffiti.

Next is the word "heaven". The original word used here is Ouranos. This word means air, sky and God's abode. This word derives from another word, Oros, meaning a mountain. You place a mountain in heaven and you get Mount Zion, the Holy Mountain of God.

So, when we apply the meanings of these words back into the text we could read Luke 10:20 LIKE....It is good that demons are subject to you in my name, but that should not be your focus. The important thing is that you know your names are graffitied all over the Holy Mountain of God in Heaven!

What an image! What a love statement - your name graffitied on His Holy Mountain in Heaven, your new name written in a special language on your own white stone and three tattoos claiming ownership - all because of Christ! And we ask - "What's in a name?" Ownership, Citizenship and Relationship.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

HIS GRACE STILL AMAZES ME

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." (1 John 2:1 NIV)

Does this mean I have permission to go on sinning? Absolutely Not! If you do continue in a lifestyle of disobedience or sin against God, then you trample the very sacrifice of redemption He offers. We cannot live a perfect life, Christ Jesus has done that for us. We are called to live a Sin-Less life. 

Furthermore, we should not be on eggshells about our behavior, feeling as though God has a large bolder hanging over our head ready to drop at the first sign of a mistake. If you do not know Christ as your Savior you are condemned already. "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." (John 3:18) 

Christ Jesus was the one who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) So, for those who believe in Christ's words, they are the ones who have Jesus as their Advocate, Mediator, and High Priest. They are the ones who have The Redeemer who has paid the price for our forgiveness every time we mess up. Instead of a Commandment (or The Law) we have a Comrade (or Friend). And - "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13)

Life now should be about honoring that extremely, precious gift of favor, redemption, forgiveness and salvation that keeps on favoring, redeeming, forgiving and saving us daily. The Price was paid once many years ago at Calvary, but the gift keeps on giving. His Grace Still Amazes Me. 




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

THE MOST RELIABLE FRIEND


The Lord has stirred my heart, mind and spirit to write to you about the following subject once again. Please soak it in and I hope it blesses you.

Proverbs 18:24
"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

This verse speaks to reliability, dependability, steadiness, stability and faithfulness. It is what I call a Battery Verse - it has a Negative part to it and a Positive part to it. The Negative is the unreliable friend(s). The Positive is a particular friend that is more reliable than family.

The first part of this verse talks about the importance of the company you keep. The section states, "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,". Not only will bad company hurt you, but if you have people you call "friends" which are unreliable - the unreliability places you back by yourself when you need help and even ruins you.

I encourage us to be very selective in choosing our friends.
Friends are excellent sounding boards for each other (Prov. 27:17). Friends are great for studying The Word of God and growing together (Prov. 27:9). Older friends have gone through similar experiences and their advice is truly sweet because it can save a lot of headaches. If you have a true friend, honesty prevails at all times (Proverbs 27:6). Loyalty to the relationship is important (Prov. 17:17). Then John reminds us we can have no better Friend than one that would sacrifice His life for yours or mine. He says it like this - "No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) Perhaps we should capitalize on the wonderful counsel of Proverbs 12:26 which reminds us - "The righteous choose their friends carefully..."

There is someone who is known as Faithful and True. He is better than a blood relative. He is "a friend who sticks closer than a brother". To help explain this degree of closeness - Proverbs 17:17 says about the brother - "a brother is born to help in time of need." So, while the brother seems to be only noticeable in time of need - The Closer Friend trumps the brother by being around all the time and therefore dependable in more, if not all, things. There is no better person to personify this than God's Holy Spirit. 

I do not subscribe to the notion that parents are not suppose to be their child's friend as well as their parent. This is not Biblical. Because of our faith in Christ, believers have the best of both worlds. We are part of His Family, sons and daughters of God, and He is our Friend. As part of God's Family, Matthew records Jesus saying, 
  • "...whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:50)
Then about Friendship John remembers Jesus saying, 
  • "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15) 
We do His Will because we are Family and Father God knows best. We know His Kingdom Business because we are His Friend(s). Now a whole new freshness comes to the lyrics - "What a friend we have in Jesus..." and reassures me as it should every believer in Christ that we have The Most Reliable Friend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A HISTORY OF ALTARS


Did God miraculously heal you? Did God save you from a perilous or dangerous situation? Did God rescue you out of a lifestyle that was destructive?

These are reasonable beginnings to a life of faith in Christ Jesus. However, my effort is for us to revisit the "altars", the trophies or memorials of God in our lives.

Altars in and of themselves are structures that were built to certain specifications and placed in a specific place for many different uses. Multiple cultures have integrated the use of altars in their society. The Mayans, Incas and Jews are just a select few that we know used altars.

For the Jewish usage of the altar the usual observation is that they dealt with all the many sacrifices brought before the LORD. However, not only was it a place of daily sacrifice, but much more. Consider the following about the Jewish Altar...
  • It was portable (Ex. 27:7)
  • A place of offering (Ex. 29:18) 
  • A place of consecration (Ex. 29:21) 
  • A place of seeking holiness (Ex. 29:37) 
  • A place of personal cleanliness (Ex. 40:32) 
  • A place of death (Lev. 1:11-15) 
  • A place of continual burning (Lev. 6:12-13)
  • A place of atonement (Lev. 17:11) 
  • A place of God’s presence (Judges 13:20) 
  • A place where you can worship the wrong thing (Judges 6:25) 
  • Where oaths are sworn (1 Kings 8:31) 
  • Where prayers and supplications are made to the LORD (1 Kings 8:54) 
  • Where the altar itself is cried out against (1 Kings 13:2) 
  • It was a place to take from and apply to (Lev. 16:12-13, 46-47)  
  • A place for seeking guidance (2 Kings 16:15)
  • It was a place that is cared for/tended to (Nu. 18:5) 
  • It was a place to worship before (2 Chron. 32:12)
  • Finally, what might be most striking but definitely gets you pondering is that the earthly altars were patterned after a heavenly altar (Isaiah 6:6; Revelation 6:9, 8:3)
But before this version of the altar, men like Noah (Genesis 8:20), Abram (Genesis 12:7), Isaac (Genesis 26:25), Jacob (Genesis 35:1-3), and Moses (Exodus 17:15) all used the altar as memorials to God’s great work in their life at that time. They would experience the intervention of God in their life in some way and then to remember it they would construct an altar and worship The Lord. They typically named or titled the altar to signify the miracle or provision God had granted (i.e. “The LORD is My Banner”Exodus 17:15). And the altar was made from stone not earth. Earth-made altars were for the purpose of sacrifices. Stone-made altars were for the purpose of honoring God. Exodus 20:24-26 is the basis for this idea -
  • "'Make an altar of earth and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and cattle. Whenever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it.'"
Men like Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, took this practice seriously. At every opportunity he built an altar to memorialize God's work in his life. He even decorated his stones when God continued to bless a specific area of his life. This is recorded in Hosea 10:1 -
  • "Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones." 
Now I am not asking anyone to go into their backyards and erect a stone altar to the Lord every time He blesses you. If you build a stone altar for the Lord at all - that is between you and God. However, I do desire to encourage all Believers in Christ to develop a system of remembrance, a plan in our lives that documents and possibly verbalizes to someone the reasons behind "Who You Say HE IS". This system or plan will crystallize in our heart, mind, and soul what we believe about this relationship we began with an invisible God that produces visible results. Your answer to - "Who do you say I am?" - by the testimony of all the altars in your life will fulfill 1 Peter 3:15 - "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,". Altars are a wonderful thing for reflection, a wonderful thing for thanksgiving and a wonderful thing for sharing with others your History Of Altars.