Friday, December 8, 2017

KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS WITH CHRIST

When you assume something, you take the risk of making an "butt" of "u" or "me". Expectations are a synonym. You can expect a certain result or outcome and be vocal about it and in the end be anywhere from spot on to just off target (a few details missing) to dead wrong (missed the whole picture).

Through hundreds and hundreds of years, the Jewish people had prophetic inspired writings from God informing them of their coming Messiah or Savior. Many descriptions in the Old Testament depict The Christ as a victorious, militant - Prophet, Priest and King - Savior. Other prophecies pictured the Messiah as a Suffering Servant. What was overlooked, as we peer through our 20/20 hindsight vision, is the order in which Christ would manifest Himself in these depictions. Why would anyone, especially the Savior of Israel and the world, come first as a conquering hero, then proceed to come back and suffer later on for His victory. No, the payment is up front. There is not a Crown, without a Cross first. 

After so much bondage as a people and so much suffering along the way, I can see why the Jews were looking for a forceful over-thrower of their oppressor to come along. Many claimed to be Israel's savior over the years, especially during the Roman occupation. However, the physical Sword was not going to win the battle this time. There will come a time when Christ will speak, defeating the nations coming against Him and His Words will be as a double-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth (Rev. 19:15). But we are still waiting for the manifestation of that militant coming/visitation.

Placing myself on that wonderful day and night of Christ's birth - as a citizen of Jerusalem or Bethlehem, I would not have thought that day or night any different from the rest. However, there were a few people that did have some high expectations. 

The three wise men were consciously looking for the Christ child. They had evidently studied all sorts of Scripture and other documents, plus they had a Star. This was no ordinary star in the sky. "After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was." (Matt. 2:9) Balls of gas do not just up and move, then stop over a given point. This was an angelic being! They followed their leader, found their Treasure, worshiped and gave their offerings.

Meanwhile, shepherds were tending their flock on the night shift. Considered the lowliest occupation of the time, shepherding was not frowned upon by God. In fact, Christ would be called The Great Shepherd. The shepherds keeping watch over their flock that night were blessed enough to receive an angelic summons - first from a single angel, then from an angelic choir (Luke 2:8-15). While the Three Wise Men looked for Christ, the shepherds were invited.

Last, but not least were Simeon and Anna. These two individuals had known about the prophecy of the Messiah and knew that they would behold Him before they died and they did (Luke 2:25-38). For these two, Revelation was the key as to whether or not they would see Christ in their lifetime. Luke specifically states for Simeon -  "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah." (Luke 2:26) So, the Three Wise Men looked for Christ, the shepherds were invited to Christ's birth and Simeon/Anna received Revelation that Christ was born.

God did not want Christ's birth to go unnoticed and unidentified as The Birth of The Savior. God's selection for His Bethlehem Cast of Characters was and is interesting. It still speaks about those that wait on The Lord. The Wise Men waited as they studied the prophesies from afar and were rewarded with an angelic guide to the Christ child's side. 

The shepherds waited as they diligently performed their duties, no matter what social status or working hours was attached to them. They too were awarded angelic aide, but this time the shepherds got an angelic choir and choir leader delivering the message and invitation.

Simeon and Anna waited on the Revelation they received to be manifested. There is nothing like witnessing a promise of God materializing before your eyes and Simeon and Anna had the ultimate one - glimpsing and holding in their arms The Christ.

The encouragement today and all days forward is for me and everyone else to screen your expectations through God's Word and His Holy Spirit. God led who He wanted Manger-side some 2,000+ years ago and nobody else. In fact, God protected Jesus and the family from Herod's attempt to kill the Christ-child. So, if He wants you somewhere at some time, He will either move you or place that expectation that a change is needed or coming soon from Him. I know it is hard sometimes to walk in - "If God said it, I believe it and that settles it." - type of mentality and attitude. But, as Paul said, I say to you - "now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," (Philippians 2:12) and Keep Your Expectations With Christ.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

GOD ORCHESTRATED

There is a poster on Facebook that reads:

  • "I believe in God not because my parents told me, not because my church told me, but because I have experienced His goodness and mercy myself."

The person in this quote admits his/her parents told them about God ("I believe in God not because my parents told me"). Also, the person admits the church told them about God ("not because my church told me,"). So, they had a verbal exposure at the least about God. 

There was a seed planted, and/or a foundation laid. So, for this person NOT to include his parents and church in the equation for his belief in God (but because I have experienced His goodness and mercy myself.) is not reasonable because of his admission. I am not knocking his experience of God's goodness and mercy, but he flat out denied the things that he admitted were in his life as building blocks toward his spiritual awakening.

I believe in God because my parents told me about Christ Jesus and displayed Him in the home. I believe in God because my church cared enough to protect me and grow me in The Scriptures. However, I have especially come to believe in God because of my personal experiences with Him; realizing that no other person could have helped me. But I do not throw away or discount that which got my faith started and sustained thus far. And I too have had some supernatural experiences with God, but I dare not base ALL of my faith in that one basket - experiences.

This is my encouragement: remember and reflect on the key people and events that God perfectly aligned in your life to bring you to belief in His Sacrifice, His Victory and His Kingdom. And Thank and Praise God for these people, places and things that were in the beginning and throughout God Orchestrated.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

GOD LOVES VARIETY


I wish all of us could peel our skin off and know each other, at least for a while, as the same blood-red, bundle of nerves, organs, muscles and bones we are. Sure we all have personalities to accompany those features, but that is what would make the difference NOT the color of our skin.

After The Flood, I imagine if Noah and his family stayed in the area and their generations after them, the color of their skin would not change due to the climate of their region. However, they did split up. "The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth." (Genesis 9:18-19) Therefore, since they split up and settled in other parts of the world with different environments, their skin pigmentation was different from each other.

How humanity made "The Switch" of associating skin color FROM environmental factors TO inferior human characteristics is a mystery. In some form or fashion we have always had slavery of some kind of people, so we cannot blame slavery as the trigger or switch. 

After centuries of living and growing in the settled areas that Shem, Ham and Japeth eventually called home - I believe Pride reared its ugly head. Not the side of Pride that shines with confidence in one's abilities, but the side that stinks of lording over another in order to elevate yourself in a spectacle. I think either a group or individual within each area got the idea of Conquest, Expansion, Domination via force or war. Why? Because Pride says, "I/we am/are better than you and can prove it." Plus, there is the being the ruler of the world thing factoring into the equation.

Society still has not gotten rid of our haughty pride. As we have seen time and time again in history and in our current news there seems to be a prevailing attitude/thought that there must be a low-man on the totem pole if for no other reason than to make all the people above feel/look better. The result is three-fold: (1) division of what once might have been a unit; (2) murder of a possible color-blind relationship; and theft of a hope that the past can be the past and restoration as possible. 

Sound familiar? John quotes Jesus as saying, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;". This is the first half of John 10:10. The second half Jesus declares, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.". Yes, a huge chunk of the problem is The Enemy of Our Soul. And there are people out there that don't need any help from the enemy because of the amount of Pride in them. However, under the Lord's Banner, with the Lord's Eyes we can at least begin to see each other as we should.

The Lord is the most creative being. By His creation we can tell He did not desire robots; everything the same. Back at the Tower of Babel, God confused humanity's one language so that many developed. Customs, cultures and traditions all sprang from the different populated regions of Noah's sons. In addition, God knew and allowed for all the different skin color variations. We desperately need to get over ourselves. I do not believe God intended for the differing skin tones to set up a cultural/societal hierarchy of sorts. We have skin color because God Loves Variety.

Monday, December 4, 2017

OUR HOPE


My definition of Hope is as follows - Hope is a feeling and/or expectation that is based on past and present observations which point to a favorable outcome in one's life or current situation.

Among the many instances of Hope in Scripture, one that stands out to me is a hopeful man named Simeon.

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.'” (Luke 2:25-32)

Luke, being a physician, was very detailed. So, it comes as no surprise that his detailed personality spills over into his writing as he describes Simeon.

Luke says Simeon's life was on track with God - "righteous and devout" and he lived in Jerusalem in wait "for the consolation of Israel" with "the Holy Spirit on him". God had this man's life squirreled away, on the right track, in the right city, with His anointing on him as he waited. He tarried more specifically because - "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah." What a cause for Hope; even a lifelong Hope! 

Due to his lifestyle and the Holy Spirit on him, the day came when Simeon was "moved by the Spirit" and "he went into the temple courts." Can you imagine Simeon's thoughts and emotions at this point. I bet the suspense was just about to knock him over. Then - "When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.'”
_______________________________________

That same Joy and Excitement will be experienced by Christians everywhere when their Hope - Christ Jesus returns in mid air to Rapture them Home. Paul reminds the believers in Rome - "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." 

I love that last statement - "For in this hope we were saved." Within the Salvation Plan of Christ is the Redemption, not only of our relationship with Father God, but our bodies as well. Our glorification - through and through - will be manifested when Christ comes to get us.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

To bring this full circle - I stated my definition of Hope is - a feeling and/or expectation that is based on past and present observations which point to a favorable outcome in one's life or current situation. I say to believers and non-believers alike today - Christ Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about His first visit, so I have no doubt He will fulfill His promises concerning His return first FOR US in mid-air, then later WITH US to begin His earthly Millennial Reign. Christ Jesus is the Hope of every person, every season, every situation and the future (mentally, physically and spiritually) - He is Our Hope.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

SOME THINGS GOD LOVES


God likes relationship, no make that Loves relationship. He gave His only Son Christ Jesus for the redemption of all humanity's relationship with Him. In addition, He plans to manifest a marriage for all the people who decided to believe in Him one day with His Son.

God loves a huge house where everybody can call Home. Ever since Jesus ascended to the right hand of Father God, He has been preparing a place that has many rooms like mansions, so that He will come back and take us to our dwellings to live with Him forever.

God loves to fellowship. I like to say that I serve a Party God! The first place we see Christ Jesus performing a miracle is at a celebration or party. He continued that pattern by visiting people's houses and eating with them. One day, believers will feast with The Lord at The Wedding Supper of The Lamb and the eating and camaraderie will last forever.

God likes creating beautiful things. In the beginning He created, well, everything. Afterward, He created man from this tiny planet we call earth - to be stewards of His creation. Perhaps God will continue that pattern in the eternal future - creating marvelous places and things for us to manage or govern in His Name.

The problem is the Fallen State of Man and it's author - Lucifer - still exist. However, one day soon The Remedy will be manifested forever. Sometimes we look at the waves in our own ponds, lakes or oceans of life and those waves look and feel more like tsunamis. But fear not, God has overcome life, death, the world and everything in between! In the face of all this and possibly more, I'm here today to remind all of us of Some Things God Loves.

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.