Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE DISCIPLINE OF RELINQUISHING OUR THRONES


There is a way of living, a lifestyle, worthy of everyone's life. In fact, all other lifestyle options have been proven to be inferior. The key is recognizing this before one's life is too far gone and capitalizing on it. Whatever we might have thought the world could provide as a way of life or our own creative powers - neither the world's plan or our plan is more fulfilling or enduring than a life with and for Christ Jesus.

Matthew records Jesus saying, "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matt. 10:39) 

What must be noticed here is the phrase "for my sake". This phrase is not in the first situation mentioned (before the comma) - "Whoever finds their life will lose it,". This is important because in this first scenario whatever anybody finds as their lifestyle is devoid of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. Consequently their life is forfeited or lost.

However, if one lays aside all lifestyle options except Christ's or "loses their life for my sake", you will find a purpose, fulfillment, endurance, abundance and way of living that is eternal - you "will find it".

This takes an initial surrendering of your body, mind, heart, dreams and plans to God. These things are so much better in His hands anyway. These things can do much more, be blessed and be much more of a blessing with everything surrendered to God. Exodus 33:15-16 records the strong sentiments of Moses in this regard. "Then Moses said to him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?'"

So, I encourage you in this thought today. If you are at that point where you need to "lose" your life for Christ's sake or lifestyle, then make that change, you will not be sorry. Realize, however, that even after you are living a Christian lifestyle, there will be the continued struggle to sit upon The Throne of our Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. It is lesson after lesson of losing our lives again to His will; to His plan. It is The Discipline of Relinquishing Our Thrones.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

COMPLETE SALVATION


Fellow Christians, I hope you know your Salvation is Paid for in Full by Christ Jesus. If you do not not know that (1) I just told you and (2) if you don't believe me, read the book of Hebrews. Jesus died once for everybody. If you have accepted and declared that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior and believe in your heart that Father God raised Him from the dead, then your eternity with God is secure (Romans 10:9) - do not doubt it.

Once we are in Christ's Family, sharing His Love, in all its many forms, is a joy. Some may call it Working for The Kingdom. Others may identify their action toward God as their Ministry or Calling. Whatever the service to God, the joy of His Salvation is what sets a believer in motion. As David prayed in Psalm 51:12, so my prayer is for us that God will Restore to us the joy of His salvation and grant us a willing spirit, to sustain us.

In the meantime, know that The Bride of Christ, The Church, has been made holy, cleaned by the washing with water through The Word, radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but I'll say it again holy and blameless - due to the husband-like sacrifice of Christ's life for His wife (Pritchard Paraphrase of Ephesians 5:25-27). The actual passage reads -
  • "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
You see Christ has done it. He "loved" and "gave" (two active past verbs that keep on keeping on) Himself up for His whosoevers, His believers, His church, His Bride. Through His sacrifice Christ has made His Bride all those wonderful things listed that we could not be on our own. 

I have heard an idea that needs snuffing out. The idea is that we need to do something more to ensure or keep our Salvation once we are saved. This is deceptive, incorrect and a lie from the pit of Hell. If this did have any merit it would place value on our works aiding Christ's sacrifice and that flies in the face of Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." 

When Christ declared, "It is finished." (John 19:30) on The Cross, Jesus left no room for doubt. I encourage you to rebuke the spirit of doubt because He did not include a "but", "and", "perhaps" or any other addition or subtraction wording about humanity's Salvation. Christ Jesus even gave us a variety of this statement before The Cross, He said -  "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Then when He got to the point where His mission was complete, He cried, "It is finished." Christ is not going to die for you or me again. His life-price was more than sufficient for all of humanity throughout all of history from beginning until The Judgement Day. 

I want to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ today. If you are hearing whispers or ideas like this - that your Salvation has fallen or you must aide Christ in the effort that has already been secured - then rebuke that voice. Our works, service or deeds in response to our Salvation (that joy I spoke about earlier) can always be improved upon, but if you are a Christian according to Romans 10:9 then you have and can rest in His Complete Salvation.

Monday, November 13, 2017

THE POWER OF OBSERVATION


The act of watching is plentiful in Scripture. The women that followed Jesus watched The Lord for opportunities to minister to His needs (Matt. 27:55). Judas looked for his opportunity to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:16). Jesus warned about watching for false prophets (Matt. 7:15) and deceivers (Matt. 24:4). Plus, He admonished believers to always be on watch for His return, because His return would be imminent.

The Power of Observation is important in Scripture. Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote the letter to the believers in Ephesus - better known as the book of Ephesians. It is commonly accepted that while Paul wrote this letter he had a Roman soldier as a house guest/guard. By being observant to his surroundings and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul was able to receive divine wisdom concerning the Spiritual Armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20).

However, I could easily imagine Paul peering from the window of his house arrest in Rome and observing the things he warns the believers in Ephesus not to indulge. In the streets of Rome, Paul could have regularly seen impurity, greed, theft, brawling, slander, unwholesome speech, sexual immorality and drunkenness. All these are spoken about in Ephesians 4 & 5 as things to look for in your own individual faith walk and in the corporate body of the church as things to avoid or eliminate if found.

Discernment is paramount. Right in the middle of this teaching, Paul delivers the key instruction - "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16)

Wow Paul! Your days are evil? Your prophecy to Timothy about the Last Days was and is spot on! Paul would later write in a Second letter to his protege - "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people." (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

The increase in frequency and intensity of these prophesied characteristics is what alerts me! Like contractions of a mother very near childbirth, so is the Season of Christ's Coming for His Bride (Matt. 24:8). If we are wise, watch and implement the spirit of discernment, especially in these days, then our decisions will be a lot more intelligent and our opportunities will be more fruitful. But it all starts with The Power of Observation.

Friday, November 10, 2017

THE COMPANY WE KEEP


Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It matters, the company you keep, while you are in this world and not of this world. In John 17:13-19, Jesus prays a prayer of Sanctification (set apart-ness) for His Disciples. I believe this prayer stretches down through the ages to all who would call themselves disciples of Christ. The Lord prayed,

  • I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus is our Great Example in that He was in the world and allowed situations to move Him to compassion or The Father's Heart for the circumstances. He did not let the negative outlook influence who He was with The Father. Christ's lesson to the Pharisees about this subject is found in Matthew 9:10-13, it says,
  • While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So, how do Believers be successful at being in the world, but not of the world? The foundation is love or compassion. "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

Some building blocks to place upon Love are friends gained by your wealth and your enemies/persecutors loved and prayed for. Do you want to have a particularly nice "welcome into eternal dwellings" one day? Then "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourself". This is what Luke 16:9 says that Jesus tells us. "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." Lunch, a card, gas money, helping with a bill, your time and muscle helping them move and so forth are examples of this instruction.

Jesus pretty much guarantees that we will have enemies and those that persecute us in Matthew 5:44-45. But He does NOT say to brandish the sword and smote thy enemy. In fact, He says, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." According to this definition, can you call yourself a child of The Father in Heaven? If we are part of His Family, He expects us to act like it, even if we are in an environment that is growing more hostile by the minute.

But I hear someone trying to flip the coin and say, but Scripture also says - "Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces." (Proverbs 13:20) - AND - "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'” (1 Cor. 15:33). This is true, The Bible does say these things, but these words of advice still do not hinder us from mingling with "the sick" and making friends that are in the world and loving/praying for those who persecute you. These words of advice simply call for an air of alertness and discernment about you and The Company You Keep.

It is one thing to be the influencer, however if you are surrounded by "fools" or "bad company" that spew forth negativity all the time and you feel that you have obeyed God's directive at this time, in this company, then it is time for a change of company. Be smart about the people that surround you and the potential ungodly influences that are there. Keep those spiritual antennae up!

Again, Believers in Christ are called not only to be Ambassadors for Him, but Sons and Daughters as Ambassadors for His Family. This raises the bar significantly because now you represent His and your Family to a world you live in but are not made for as a New Creation in Christ. We do this by using every avenue that can possibly fall under the action word of Love, while being discerning of The Company We Keep.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

MANTRA-LESS

First of all, don't be surprised if all the sudden in a conversation with me I start singing. This is probably due to the fact a word or phrase you just said triggered a song with the same word, phrase or sing-song voice you used - in it.

Secondly, don't be surprised if I sing a song for you or over your life - in front of you. 

Thirdly, don't be surprised if I try to get you to join me in singing or playing one of many "air instruments" available to us.

Scripture says in Ephesians 5:18-19 - "be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord"

However, be sure that I will not be choosing repetitive songs that go on forever. True, there are certain things, like God's love enduring forever, that are emphasized by repetition in Scripture. There are ideas or even words that are said twice or three times to get a point across. But the whole Bible is not like that - thank The Lord! In fact, when you sing or when you speak to God, He encourages you to enter a NO BABBLING ZONE, which I include repetition in the definition of. 

Scripture paints the picture of what NOT to do in our prayers, so how much more our songs to God and each other and just general speech.

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:5)

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7)

"They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely." (Mark 12:40)

The Holy Spirit through Paul encourages us to keep variety in our prayers. So, how much more we should exercise this in music and regular speech.


"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." (Ephesians 6:18)

Peter even shows the possibility of hindrances in your communication with God by not being a proper husband in Christ. So, watch your life, it watches over your words.

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (1 Peter 3:7)

Like I have mentioned, I understand that in Scripture repetition is used for emphasis and strong emphasis at times. I also realize that in the music realm repetition comes as an artistic expression of emphasis many times. However, I have witnessed many times in concerts and church services the nauseating, never-ending LOOP of a part of song or the entire song. It is at this point it has crossed the line and become a Mantra and that is what I am trying to steer us away from. 

Do we think that saying something on the 5011th time will manifest something or prompt God to move as opposed to the very first time we prayed or sang? I think there is a fine line between persistence, passion and repetition (mantra). But the line is there and it is being mowed over. Please let us become Mantra-less! 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

ANOINTED INFLUENCE

Ever have a highly respected individual in which you desired to emulate? I know we are not all perfect, but there are some great men and women out there with traits and characteristics worth adding to our own repertoire. In fact, I believe we each should be a conglomerate of all the positive attributes that we experience and leave the negative ones behind - a challenge, I know.

However, according to Marc Antony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, it is unfortunately our bad deeds which live on in the minds of the living and our good deeds are forgotten with us in the grave.
  • Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar.
This is the world perspective. But, for those desiring to bless others, just as Christ had compassion on the many He encountered, God has Anointed Influence in abundance to delegate upon your life and mine. 

Even before the time of Christ Jesus there was a man such as this - Elisha. Elisha had a highly respected individual he wanted to emulate - Elijah. However, not only did Elisha desire to mimic his mentor, but he wanted and received a double portion of Elijah's Anointed Influence! Elisha saw the good, saw the blessings, saw the fruit of Elijah's impact and wanted that and more. 

This double Anointed Influence can especially be seen in Elisha's life in 2 Kings 13:20-21. Elisha's Anointed Influence rests on his body and is effective even after he is dead.
  • Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.
There are men and women of God in my own life that I attempt to emulate. These people are great authors, singers, pastors, friends, teachers, prayer warriors, and encouragers. All of these types of wonderful people are awesome foundations to enhance my touch on or in anybody's life. Some of these individuals have passed on and still influence and empower me today. However, it is futile if God is not throughout the whole process of seeking to have or be an Anointed Influence.
  • Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16)
Jesus promises us in John 14:12 that those who believe in Christ will do even greater things.

  • "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

We can start this effort by emulating great men and women of God, but most importantly the emulation of Christ Himself. Then armed with sound character, God's Holy Spirit and compassion - believers can pursue, use and even after death be an Anointed Influence.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

YOUR CONTRIBUTION IN GOD'S HANDS


Today, I encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to always be ready to bless somebody - whether they be a believer in Christ or non-believer. We help move someone toward a decision for a life with Christ when we bless the non-believer. We strengthen the Body of Christ when we bless other Christians. We show the love of God in both cases as we do not neglect either.

In order to be prepared for these kind of opportunities at any moment, God instructs us to just use what we have on hand to minister one-to-another - be real, be genuine. In the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand it is stated,

"As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, 'This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.'

Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.'

'We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,' they answered.

'Bring them here to me,' he said." (Matthew 14:15-18)

The thrust is to be authentic in your blessing and/or relationship building. Don't try to drum something up or try really hard in this area. First, bring yourself and your blessing to Christ, then allow Him to break it, bless it and multiply it. 

"Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." (Matthew 14:19-20)

This is exactly what He did with the amount provided and I believe He will do the same for us in all areas of our lives.

Did you know that this event had a precursor? The Feeding of the Five Thousand was foreshadowed in 2 Kings 4:42-44 with the Feeding of One Hundred.

"A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. 'Give it to the people to eat,' Elisha said.

'How can I set this before a hundred men?' his servant asked.

But Elisha answered, 'Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’ Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord."

Not only a message delivered twice in history, but the same kind of miracle! This should cause students of The Word of God to perk up and take particular notice. 

1 Peter 3:15-16 has the kind of spirit I am wanting you to acquire in your awareness.

"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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

However, more than waiting for someone to ask for "the reason for the hope that you have" - be proactive with your opportunities. Look for chances to bless others. Keep your radar/antenna alert for Your Contribution In God's Hands.