Friday, June 23, 2017

YOUR LIFE SONG


Is it any wonder that all of us like music. For every person there is some genre, style, or classification that fits the bill. Whether the draw is the beat, the melody, the harmonies, the lyrics, the choice instruments and so forth - the influence is still profound. Music can communicate thoughts or feelings we have not been able to do justice expressing. Music is a freedom that allows us to celebrate our creativity or just share in the joy of it as we sing/play along with a song. 

That is what I believe music was in the very beginning - a joyous expression of everything wonderful as a praise offering to Father God who supplies every good and perfect gift. Before The Fall there was nothing bad to sing about. And the leader of the heavenly worship was very likely Lucifer. Ezekiel 28:13 says, "The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created." The very body of this heavenly, angelic being was made-up of musical instruments used to worship God. 

I am sure most of us have a favorite song. Heck! I would venture to say the majority of us probably have a good handful or two of favorites. I hope most, if not all, of your songs are positive, uplifting songs. My witness is that the more I surround myself and engage myself with the will of Christ Jesus, the more I find myself hearing and singing my true Life Song - songs about Jesus, for Jesus and to Jesus.

Life does not stop after accepting Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. No, this decision should be the beginning of a new lifestyle because of the price that you just recognized Jesus has paid for your eternal being. As an example, since I became a Christian many years ago I have, with the Lord's help, become a singer, author, blogger, teacher, and mentor. All these things I cherish because every time I operate in them, I do them in honor of Christ Jesus. 

I am human. I have challenges in my thought life, my speech and my actions. However, when I confess those wrongs to God, He is faithful to forgive, His favor returns and I become a more influential singer, author, blogger, teacher, mentor, etc. 

Finding places to plug in and show Christ once again how much you love Him is another way of setting a spiritual barometer so that we know we are living, moving and having our being in Him or not. It is vital to keep your focus on Him and not allow a multitude of opportunities on your plate to overwhelm you. Better to have a handful of ministries you do really well than a plethora of ones that you do average to poorly. 

Jesus said let me find you busy when I return. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions." (Matthew 24:45-47) My encouragement again is - if you are not already - be balanced in your involvement, but to the point that you can truly say, feel and know..."in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) For once you align yourself into His life, His movements and His presence - you will truly hear, play and sing Your Life Song.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

PROPHET, PRIEST AND KING


In the days before Christ, the nation of Israel had separate individuals filling the role of Prophet of the land, Priest of the people and King of Israel. Then when Christ Jesus arrived on the scene, He fulfilled every one of these roles in Himself. He still fulfills them for Israel today and for the rest of the world as well.

Being a Prophet not only concerns the future but the office pertains to wisdom. Christ is Wisdom. This part of the Messiah's ministry is connected with the Mind. Within the mind we ponder, worry and process our information. Here is where we desperately need Jesus in and on our minds to aide with what concerns us and Him; to help in revealing what is to come. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)

Being a Priest means that someone is the Shepherd, the Watcher and Minster of someone's Soul. Jesus is called the Savior of our Soul. To me this means Christ Jesus paid the ultimate price, His life, to have the office of Priest over our souls - at our acceptance of His sacrifice. Our soul - the emotions, the will and personality of a person - is in no better care than when we entrust it to the One who knows all our troubles. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." (Hebrews 4:15) 

Being a King means dealing with what is; handling the issues of today - now. This ministry of Jesus pertains to our Body. Our shell is in the here and now and is something we must surrender to Christ as King. "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." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Jesus is The Prophet. Jesus is The Priest. Jesus is The King. If you have not already, I encourage you - allow Him to govern your life as Master or Lord of all three offices in your mind, soul and body. Allow Him to be your Prophet, Priest And King.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE RAILWAY OF LIFE


A train. A set of tracks. A Rail-line that they all belong to. I write today symbolically referring to our lives as such - a train on The Railway Of Life.

I know each of us may at times in life feel like the caboose - last and having backward vision. Some may feel like one of the box cars - along for the ride and having a passer-by vision. Some individuals may view themselves as riders on the train with a limited view of the inside and a blurred perspective of the outside. However, for those who partner themselves with The Conductor in the front of the train - vision becomes a little more clear.

Sure it is good to slow the train down to appreciate your surroundings and relationships on a regular basis. Sure there will be Depots that must be stopped at and life issues dealt with for a time. Passengers will come and go. But the one thing that must happen is to just keep chugging on - moving forward. Paul presented this idea to the believers in Philippi when he wrote them and said, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13-14

After we have accepted Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, consider your Rail-line. Paul teaches and encourages the believers in Corinth this time, saying, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" - (2 Corinthians 5:17) Think about one of the rails on the track as Father God, the other rail on the track is Christ Jesus, The Conductor within The Train is The Holy Spirit and The Rail-line is Yahweh Rail-line! 

Although there are many Rail-lines in the world, there is only One that leads through life to God's immediate presence - Christ Jesus Railway (if you will). Jesus leaves no doubt about this matter as He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Christ encourages us that His Holy Spirit will always be there to guide us in the Truth of all matters (Hebrews 13:5 and John 16:13).  

So, if you have been discouraged lately and your vision has fallen to either the rear, the sides or at yourself - spend a little time with The Conductor (Holy Spirit). After some quality time with The One who knows where you are going, your vision will become much clearer on The Railway Of Life.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

GOING HOME


In my Dad's house I see his fingerprints or touch everywhere. I smell his scent. I can physically feel the things he has made or fixed for the inside of the house. I can even hear the echo of his voice in the halls sometimes when he is not visibly there. So it is with my Heavenly Father also, except His house is much bigger and engulfs the earth - in fact - all of creation.

The major difference to be mentioned here is that I can see my Dad anytime I desire. With my Heavenly Father, I still must rely on the large tells inside His House for His manifestations. However, it was not always like that, nor will it continue to be like this.

Many moons ago, Father God sent the perfect representation of Himself into this world - His Word made flesh, Christ Jesus. When speaking to Phillip, Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) He did and does everything in union with The Father because they are one and the same. Paul declares, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Colossians 1:15) Wow! At the honor and privilege of those that had the opportunity to see Christ or to even walk with Him, talk with Him and touch Him. 

Those who are followers of Christ, who are children of the Most High God, are in a waiting period to see Christ and therefore see our true Father. Christ said, " And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:3) In fact, His glory will not be hidden from us. His oneness with The Father will be doubtless. John says, "But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

I see my Heavenly Father's touch everywhere in the creation of all the many galaxies, laws, cycles and order of things. I smell His scent whenever a person, plant or thing behaves as His Word says it should. I can feel the things He has made by going camping or horseback riding or the like. And I can hear the echo of His voice in the halls of my mind as I stay in His Word and continue to say, "Teach me, Holy Spirit." each day. These signs and manifestation of what The Father looks like are what will have to suffice for me until one day you see me Going Home.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

WHAT REALLY MATTERS


Recently the Holy Spirit led me to read the book of 1 John. My take is that God was and is trying to communicate Christ is the ultimate example of brotherly love that we should be practicing daily. In addition, the significance of loving your brothers and sisters in Christ and reaching out to the world is eternal. 

John warns the believer that the world system is a bunch of trappings meant to keep us slave to the temporal. God says through John - 
  • "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
Yet, the people of the world are who Christians are called to reach out to. Remember, every Christian was slave to the world and it's trappings before accepting Christ's victory over the world (John 16:33). Another reason Jesus came was to provide us life and life to the full (John 10:10). Jesus, in His prayer to Father God, declares about believers that we are not of this world as He is not, even though we are in it (John 17:16). This begs the question - How do we (Christians) reach the world when we are not of it anymore? 

How do you reach out to someone who does not quite grasp your changed language? John proclaims this dilemma - 
  • "They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world and the world listens to them. We are from God and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." (1 John 4:5-6)
The Christian still has to speak to get the witnessing ball rolling. However, the words we choose should be seasoned with love and tenderness. Peter has one of my all-time favorite verses in the Bible and it pertains to this - 
  • "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." (1 Peter 3:15-16)
Did you notice the two ingredients that must be mixed in to our speech, especially our Testimony? Gentleness and Respect. If you keep these two ingredients consistent in your speech, those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ will be ashamed of their slander.

Behavior, which is also mentioned alongside speech in reaching the world (your good behavior in Christ), is the action part of the equation. I can speak life-transforming truths to the world until I am blue in the face, but until it is accompanied and/or supported by actions, I am just providing good information that could easily be forgotten. 

Just as faith and actions must work together to justify the faith of a believer (James 2:14-26), so our language and behavior should be aligned also. They both must agree with our decision to follow Christ Jesus and His ways. Plus, they must compliment each other. Have you heard of the phrase "actions speak louder than words"? "Sources say that this expression dates back as far as 1628. It was first used in its current form in the USA by Abraham Lincoln in 1856: 'Actions speak louder than words' is the maxim; and, if true, the South now distinctly says to the North, 'Give us the measures, you take the men.' [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II"(https://www.bookbrowse.com/expressions/detail/index.cfm/expression_number/151/actions-speak-louder-than-words)
Actions may speak louder than words, but they must agree with what was spoken in the beginning. If this fails, the authenticity of the person falters and we question if they knew What Really Matters.

Friday, June 2, 2017

"IT IS WRITTEN..." (Reprise and Revised)


Christians know that their enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) That "The Thief", another name for our enemy, comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) A good example of how Satan tries to do this is found in the account of the Temptation of Christ - Matthew 4:1-11.

Temptation has at it's core doubt in something or someone. The challenge to turn the stones into bread doubted God's Provision. The dare to jump from the top of the Temple doubted God's Protection. The invitation to worship Satan for all the earthly kingdoms doubted God's Promises in Christ. In addition, all of the tempting was targeted at two vulnerable points - (1) when Christ was alone and (2) at Christ's supposed weaknesses.

The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to experience these temptations and possibly other trials during His forty day fast, on our behalf.  The Word of God, which was Himself in the flesh, now physically responded to each temptation by declaring the truth of the matter. The answer always was and is the same - "It is written...."

"It is written..." must be the Christian's war cry also. Our foundation, our source, our sustaining force must be The Belt of Truth that holds everything together and upon which all the weapons of warfare hang. Christ Jesus is the way, The Truth and the life. All power to destroy the enemy's attacks, temptations or otherwise, is found in God's Word and thwarted by verbalizing "It is written...".

It is a good thing to sure-up the areas in our life we know are weak and guard, with God's help, against temptation. However, I encourage all of us - should we find ourselves alone and our weak points being targeted with temptations by the enemy - the answer is always the same and always available - in God's Word, research it, read it, and recite it. Whatever "it" is, the start of resisting the devil and seeing him flee is declaring "It Is Written...".

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ENEMY - YES, EQUAL - NO


To be someone's Rival is to be their Equal. Each one's power, strength, speed and wisdom - to name just a few - must be on the same playing-field to be considered Rivals or Equals. One cannot have much of a competition or challenge if one party is less in any area. With weakness exposed, the one with the more developed area of expertise will prevail. This view of the competitive drive or King of the Mountain success that drives our society touches businesses, sports, politics and personal lives, but the idea does not pertain to God.

God has No Equal, No Rival. The notion that there must be a balance, a yin and yang, between good and evil for the universe to exist is a lie from the Devil himself. God was doing just fine before the material universe and the spiritual realm were created by God Himself. He created both realms with - every law, creature, being and place in them and sustains them to this second. John and Paul assist, under the power of the Holy Spirit, when they wrote the following -
  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.(John 1:1-5)
  • The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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 1:15-17)
When God created the spirit realm and the angelic host thereof, Lucifer was one of the beings created. Scripture depicts him as the next glorious being down from God - "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." (Ezekiel 28:12) Eventually, the created developed pride and believed wholeheartedly he could usurp The Creator. Notice the attempted overthrow came as Lucifer said in his heart the following - he did not even get an opportunity for action or perhaps even vocalization of his desire.  

"You said in your heart,
I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)

Then THUMP! Judge, Jury and Executioner all in God played out over the course of human history. You can read in Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:3-20 about the ultimate demotion and eventual elimination of an Enemy - Yes, Equal - No. 

Jesus did not come to defeat Satan. The devil was already defeated when he said in his heart - "I will...". 1 John 3:8 spells it out for us.
  • "The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work."
The word "work" ascribed to the devil here is the original word ergon. This word means effort, labor or occupation. Therefore, the interpretation is all the schemes, plans and actual job/occupation of Satan is what Jesus destroyed in His first visit through The Cross and Resurrection. 

One way to display Christ's work through us over the enemy is our speech. Christians still dole out credit to the devil way too much. We say things like - 
  • "Allow me to play the devil's advocate."
  • "Speak of the devil."
  • "The devil is in the details."

One might say that the above is just a cultural language group of sayings that have no real bearing spiritually. I disagree. In everything, as much as possible, leave the devil out and alone. Shun him, rebuke him and cast him aside as Christ has done. Allow wholesome, Godly, positive, uplifting speech to be your cultural language (Philippians 4:8). We need to be purposefully good in the words we select, which means - think before speaking. 

Even moreso than our speech, Christians need to grasp the mindset, the reality of the Holy Spirit in us - the dynamite power of God able to do more than we can imagine. 

Ephesians 2:6 says, 

  • "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,". 

Romans 8:10-11 says, 

  • "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." 

1 John 4:17 says, 

  • "This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus." 

1 John 4:4 says, 

  • "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 

When we, as Christians, get a hold of these truths as a whole - look out world! The influence upon us and the world is all because of Christ Jesus and His empowering Holy Spirit! So, do we have an Enemy - Yes, Equal - No!