Monday, March 27, 2017

LIVING TOWARD HIS LIKENESS

Romans 8:14-17 names several key identifiers for Christians as God's children. 

  1. "those who are led by the Spirit"
  2. not living in fear any longer
  3. regarding God as your true Father
  4. recognizing suffering is guaranteed as a child of God, but realizing the glory and benefits outweigh them all (verses 17-18).
Why are there identifiers in the first place? Because acceptance of Christ's Salvation plan for your life is great, but not all. The rest of a Christian's walk is living out the joy from where or what God saved you. The faith walk of a Christian has been guaranteed to be hazardous, but not without God's presence and guidance along the way. The hope is in the destination and transformation. Heaven being the ultimate destination and the Christian's transformation from glory to glory unto more Christ-likeness being the other goal. 

As a Christian there is a time we are trying to recover or return to - the pre-fall condition. Besides mankind's duties of tending the Garden of Eden and naming the animals (Gen. 2:15, 19), the biggest perk of all was being made in God's image and His likeness

In Genesis 1:26 God said, "'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over....". To begin I want you to catch two important observations about this verse. The first is that there is a comma after the word "image" for a reason. The comma is meant to give the reader pause and for good reason - the word "image" and the word "likeness" are not the same word. 

"Image" in the original Hebrew is the word Tselem. This word means resemblance. In this sense resemblance refers to having the same kind of make-up - body, mind and soul - therefore being a person like God is a person.

"Likeness" in the original Hebrew is the word D'muth. This word means similitude also. However, this similarity refers to the mannerisms of Adam and Eve matching up with God's.

Second of all the words "so that" imply that the preceding image and likeness are used in some fashion. How are they used? "that they (Adam and Eve) may rule over... [whatever]. In this case, it was the creatures of the earth and sea that they were to have dominion. Today in our Christian journey that which we desire to have "rule over" is obtainable through aligning with Christ's image and likeness.

So a quick status check for me or any other Christian would be to initialize a sort of reflective Life Through the Spirit Report Card. Ask the Holy Spirit to grade you - He will. I would include things like - Do I screen decisions through the discernment of the Holy Spirit first? Do I still allow fear to steer my choices? Do I keep in view God as my Father? Do I recognize coming suffering, but realize greater reward? Do I realize how I respond to these questions attracts or detracts others from The Family of God? I can't wait for my image to be perfected. Meanwhile, He has instilled in me His likeness as I improve with God's help - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Living Toward His Likeness.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

HE WEARS HIS NAME WELL

Have you ever heard somebody say, "That name suits him/her."? The same could be said of Father God's only begotten Son - Christ Jesus. There are many names that Jesus has been entitled. The following poster names a few familiar ones to Christians.
According to archaeological research and findings, Yeshua was a common name in the time of Christ. Jesus comes from the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek and then English. We observe it linked with another individual who ended up being a false prophet in Acts 13:5-7. Interestingly enough, the key to appreciating Christ's earthly name is in the prophetic. 

Many prophets such as Isaiah trumpeted One Savior, first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles (rest of the world) to fulfill a plethora of beautiful and powerful titles. There could not be a committee of Yeshuas - there can be and is only one! 

Many of the names given to the Savior have been fulfilled in His first visitation. Many of the others are being revealed to His followers now in their personal walks of faith. Still other prophetic titles will be manifested in the future (hopefully near future). 

However, there are so many fulfillments of His character through these declared names or titles that there is no shadow of a doubt who The Savior and all other accolades refer to - Yeshua Messiah of Nazareth, but from Everlasting to Everlasting! 

Personally, in my walk of faith with The Savior, I have seen Him reveal Himself as Protector, Provider, Comforter, Counselor and of course Savior to name a few. His name, Yeshua, means to deliver, save or rescue. No other person with the name Jesus or Yeshua was suited or will ever be suited for the weight of the meaning in that name. Jesus of Nazareth has added to His Name and everyone will one day bow to Him and His Name to the Glory of Father God (Philippians 2:9-11). This is why it is an understatement, but I say it anyway - He Wears His Name Well!




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

RESONATING WITH GOD

Romans 8:14-17
"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."

This was the passage my pastor taught from recently. However, the bold print is what has been impressed upon me to teach about today. The key word in the sentence is "testifies"

The original Greek word used here for "testifies" is summartureo (soom-mar-too-reh-o). This word comes from a compound of two words - sun (soon) and martureo (mar-too-reh-o). Sun means union, with or together. Martureo means to be a witness, testify or report honestly. Put these two words together and because of the decision to accept Christ as Savior and be "led by the Spirit" - The Holy Spirit Himself makes His home within the heart and mind declaring your daughter-ship or son-ship in God's Family!

Some have the image of converts to Christianity switching from one taskmaster to another. Incorrect. Spiritually, this world is a slave market and the slave king is Satan. Satan's entire slavery market has been purchased by the life of Father God's Only Son - Jesus Christ. So, when someone decides to accept Jesus as their personal Savior and not continue in their spiritual bondage/slavery - he/she transfers from a Market to a Family. At this point, The Holy Spirit resonates with your spirit that you are a child of the Most High God. 

However, Father God desires that we continue to resonate with Him. The word summartureo also carries with it a proof of evidence supporting the witness's claim(s). This suggests that when we are led by The Spirit and are therefore in His Will - The Holy Spirit testifies of the thoughts, actions or words that line-up with God's and we receive Holy Resonation. Flip the coin and we should know when we do not resonate with God's plan for our lives. There usually is a sense of disharmony between us and The Holy Spirit. 

To all my brothers and sisters in Christ - know that the day you accepted Christ as your Savior the Holy Spirit entered you and declared to all in the Spiritual Realm you are in fact a daughter/son of Father God. In addition, you and I gained The Counselor, with whom we resonate in God's Family for the betterment of our lives and the lives around us. So, make sure you keep Resonating With God.

Monday, March 6, 2017

THIS KIND OF PERSON

John 14:21

"The person who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him."


This verse declares relationship. Christians have the privilege of a relationship with the Savior that covers ambassadorship, friendship, and family. Here the relationship is centered around an exchange of "love", but not any kind of love. A displayed, public, social love is communicated here. And this transaction of affection and care all begins with having, knowing and living The Word of God.  

Seeing a Bible on a coffee table in someone's home is one thing. Seeing it operative in the people who live in that home is another thing. To like a person is one thing and to love that same individual is another thing. So, without further delay, allow me to break down this verse in order to encourage you to be the kind of person who has God's commandments and keeps them

"The person who has My commandments"
The original Greek word for "has" in this segment is Echo. This word means one who has physical possession or hold of. In this case, a person possesses a physical copy of God's "commandments"

The Greek word for "commandments" is Entole meaning authoritative instructions. These are not the kind of instructions that point a finger at us, but instead empower the Christian with God's authority to do His Will. So, when combined we have - The person who physically possesses My authority-giving instructions.

"and keeps them is the one who loves Me;"
Continuing on with the second part of owning a copy of God's authority-giving instructions is showing you can follow them. The second half reads - "and keeps them is the one who loves Me;". The word "keeps" in the original Greek is Tereo, meaning a fortified or protected effort to fulfill a command. A determined resolution while in the midst of obeying God that nothing will derail you is meant here. 

The word that Jesus chose to use for "love" here is the word Agapao which is love in a more social or moral sense. So, meshing these together one might say - and the effort protecting the attempt to fulfill my instructions is the one who displays their care for me in front of others;

We find this Agapao love mentioned in another part of Scripture also. In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter "loves" Him. The first two times Jesus uses the word agapao which carries this social meaning of love. Peter responds with a more intimate word both times, phileo, which means to be a friend of or to have affection for. The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus switched to the word Peter had been using - phileo. Peter's reply was "Lord, you know all things. You know I phileo you." I believe because of this truthful exchange between hearts, Jesus then revealed a major part of Peter's future - the manner in which he would die for his Lord. Revelation is a result of truthful, heartfelt exchanges in this verse also - Jesus promises to reveal Himself to him/her.

"and whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him."
Jesus continues to praise the one who chooses to live and operate this way by involving His Father's love and revelations of Himself.  

The first part of this, "and whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father," has the same tone and impression Jesus gave in John 3:16 when He stated "whosoever will believe in me". The whosoever/whoever says it all. These words break down categories, labels, biases and prejudices of people. "Whosoever" allows for any person from any walk of life to approach God, through Christ Jesus.

Again, "love" here is the social kind of love, so in essence God is supporting His Word in Matthew 10:32-33 when He said, "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven." And not only will Father God and Jesus publicly make their love known to you, but Jesus will reveal or manifest Himself to you throughout your life.

So, this passage could be translated - 

The person who physically owns a copy of my instructions (to read and know) and makes a protected effort in fulfilling them is the one who is not afraid to display his/her care for me in public; and whoever socially expresses their devotion to Me will be cared for openly by My Father and I too will candidly show my favor and manifest Myself to him/her.

This exchange of "love" or public expression of affection and allegiance between believer, Father God and God the Son begins with having His Word in our home.  Then we cannot not allow His Word to just sit on a coffee table and collect dust - but read it! Finally, we need to apply His Word to our lives. In loving God this way we will find Jesus revealing Himself to us all-the-more as we publicly showcase Him, becoming one who has God's commandments and keeps them - becoming This Kind Of Person.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

THE GREAT BLANKET

Growing up many of us had security blankets. Some of us felt most safe and/or comfortable with a special toy, sport or place, like a tree-house outside or an inside fort. I would dare to assume that many of us, like Linus Van Pelt, actually had a blanket as his/her security blanket and may still have it.

Let me hone in on the blanket a moment, because I am guilty on this one. What is it about The Blanket that keeps me coming back for more? For me, the texture of my blanket is incredible and the size and thickness is perfect. It is not going to be too hot or not warm enough for me. Plus, it is Carolina Blue - of course. I imagine many of us take texture into consideration, but also look at design - like sports, religion or old fashion designs as part of the draw to our snugly partners.

I don't think it is to far fetched an idea that psychologists submit the security blanket is a reverting back to the womb action or reaction. The womb was for many, not all I realize, a place of comfort and protection. Do we not at least think we achieve the same things with The Blanket at times? I have seen The Blanket used for protection in scary movies and cold weather. I have seen The Blanket used for comfort in times of sickness, sleep and even a roof for inside tents/forts. So, the evidence is there - The Blanket is a security blanket.

However, I wanted to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that we have a Greater Blanket. I don't recall ever calling God, nor ever finding any support for calling God - The Great Blanket, but leave it to me to come through in that category. With the idea that God covers and/or surrounds the believer with His presence and blessings, Scripture immediately comes to support this idea.

In Psalm 91 we see word pictures that reference God in a security image - Fortress, Refuge, Shelter, and Shield. These are characteristics of God as our Blanket that we can run to and throw Him around ourselves. Plus, we do not have to go to any special place to access our Great Blanket or Fortress, Refuge, Shelter or Shield. Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." This verse says we carry the Great Blanket, the Holy Spirit, wherever we go and because of the great price that was paid for that privilege we should honor God with our bodies. 

How do we honor God with our bodies? One way is to daily wrap ourselves up in Him as our Great Blanket. Whether you need to wrap up in Him as your Healing Blanket, Providing Blanket, Protection Blanket, Peace Blanket or Whatever Blanket - His threads are woven to provide all your needs. So, grab a nice beverage, go to a place of non-distraction and wrap yourself up with The Great Blanket.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN


Psalm 139:16
"...all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be."


I am sure glad that God is not locked in to just one kind of speech. He knows what to say and how to say that right thing at the right time to the right person - every time. In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he writes, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," (2 Tim. 3:16). This means even our beloved poet David, as he waxes on so eloquently in many Psalms, breathed or penned the Truth.

Here in one of my favorite chapters of the Bible we find one of the most ginormous books you will ever hear mentioned. This book contains everyone's birth through death dates next to their names, much like you see on a tombstone - "all the days ordained for me were written in your book". It gets even more interesting. My life was not stamped at birth, nor thought about as I went along living, nor at the end - my days, everyone's days "were written in [His] book before one of them came to be."

The idea is what we do with time in between start and finish on this earth matters. Not everyone assigns meaning to this life and this is sad. I believe we are in a preparation phase that reaps eternal rewards and benefits. This entire Psalm (Psalm 139) is about the inability to escape God's presence in our lives, therefore the necessity to surrender to His will, plan and governing of it at the end of the Psalm (verses 23-24). Since our days are numbered and our life has bookends why not entrust to God - Everything In Between.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

AH YES, HOW GOOD IS A TIMELY WORD

Proverbs 15:23 says, "A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!" This verse resonates within me. When I am sought out for advice I really desire to reward that person's confidence in me with an appropriate assessment and possible resolution according to God's Word. I also want to have my physical and spiritual ears attuned to whatever I am to learn in any given situation by the Holy Spirit. How I do that or how anyone does that is to stay in God's Word; to continue reading the Bible.

In God's daily suit of armor for us, the "timely word" I am speaking of given by the Holy Spirit is called Rhema. This word means a quickened word meant for that specific situation. An example from our Lord would be when He was in the wilderness being tempted. At every temptation, Father God quickened to Jesus the response for Him to speak aloud and the devil fled. 

This revealed word is portrayed as a weapon in Ephesians 6:17. The verse reads, "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." You see Christians are not always to be on the defensive. For defense we have - the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth and shield of faith (shoes of peace can be offensive, spikes on the bottom, different lesson). Then we get to the sword of the spirit. The word "sword" in this verse is the Greek word machaira, which is a close combat dagger weapon, sometimes up to nineteen inches long, razor sharp on both sides of the blade and at times even twisted like a cork screw at the end.

I bring this to your attention because our enemy gets close and personal and so can we with God's Sword or God's Machaira - His Revealed Word. The understanding here though is that if you desire a Rhema or Revealed Word for yourself or others you first have to have your Sword sheathed in The Belt of Truth or Logos or Written Word of God. You and I have to know God's Word before God can quicken it to us. Before we can know God's Word we have to be in it. Once we are in this groove we can be able to say more frequently, "Ah yes, how good is a timely word".