Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NEED PEACE? CHECK YOUR SHIP'S MANIFEST

Here is the Scripture Passage that I would like you to consider...Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus Walks on the Water

14:22-33pp -- Mk 6:45-51; Jn 6:16-21 14:34-36pp -- Mk 6:53-56

"22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29 "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." 34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed." 


I have heard several teachings and preachings on this section of Matthew.  I'm sure many of you have also.  Well, prepare yourself, I have another offering for you.  One of the teachings I have heard and maybe you have too is that we, as believers in Christ, should learn to step out of our comfort zone more and trust in and keep our eyes on - Jesus.  The lesson comes from Peter stepping out of the boat and trusting in Jesus amidst the waves and wind (verses 28, 29) - symbolic of our daily troubles and trials and some extreme challenging times too.  I am sure if I was a disciple and did not know the full capability of this man - Jesus, I would be screaming the same things too.  However, if things are in chronological order here, Jesus just got through feeding five thousand people with only five loaves and two fish.  To me, this event would have been very convincing of His divinity.  What was it about this event that made the disciples worship Jesus?   Notice that?  If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time the disciples acknowledge Jesus properly as who He really is and worship Him before really grasping The Word of God in flesh - Jesus.  That is a wonderful message, but it is not the one that is on my heart to share with you.  It is actually what happened right after Jesus saves Peter that I would like to focus on.  It is pretty simple reading and understanding but it is a great truth - "they climbed into the boat".

Dramatic writing here - I am leaving you hanging, that is only half the truth.  Yes, they did return to the boat and both Peter and Jesus "climbed" in, but it is what happened afterward that caught my spirit and eye (or spiritual eye or all three, ha) - "the wind died down".  Allow me to re-state it this way - when Jesus came on-board the wind, which was the cause of the waves, died down.  You hear the message in my heart already, don't you?  Check your ship's manifest - is Jesus on-board?  When really trying times come, and they will, I encourage you to have Jesus on-board.  

Another Scripture that supports this is an additional boat story found in Matthew 8:23-27.
  
Jesus Calms the Storm 

8:23-27pp -- Mk 4:36-41; Lk 8:22-25 8:23-27Ref -- Mt 14:22-33

"23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" 26 He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" 

This is the only time I recall it being documented in Scripture that God slept.  However, the same message applies, even though this time Jesus was actually on-board when the wind and waves hit.  This storm "out of the blue" did not bother Jesus' sleep pattern, so why should it have bothered any body else (hind-sight is 20/20 I know)?  Our mistakes in how we approach major and minor issues in life are symbolized in the first response of the disciples.  They did not seek the Lord, but panicked and probably tried to bail themselves out under their own power.  Sometimes we cannot see the curve in the "curve-balls of life", but when we can, we should "... seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33. 

If for whatever reason Jesus has never been "on-board" I implore you to invite Him not only onto and into your "ship" (body and life), but allow Him to be Captain too!  If for some reason you are a Believer and have strayed or not given much time or thought to Jesus lately and are experiencing some "rough waves" - invite Him onto your "vessel" and keep Him there.  If you are a Seasoned Veteran in the Lord and situations and circumstances are presenting themselves to be overwhelming - I encourage you to heed the words of the Lord when He said, "Take courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid."  But don't walk in Peter's shoes this time.  Don't go out on the water!  Invite the Holy Spirit that lives within you to manifest Jesus' presence stronger along with the wisdom to tackle the problem at hand.




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BELIEVE IT OR NOT - YOU HAVE A REAL ENEMY

Whether you are a believer in Jesus Christ or not, there is a being who has a never-ending agenda that comprises, among other agenda items, three main goals - to steal from you, to kill you if possible, but ultimately to destroy you, spiritually as well as physically (John 10:10).  However, right away, I want it known he is not equatable with God (Romans 8:37, 1 John 4:4).  This was a created being, NOT the Creator.  

Many Christian believers know this enemy from personal experience.  Many know him by one of the many names he goes by - tempter (Matthew 4:3), deceiver (2 John 1:7) and accuser of the brothers/sisters (Revelation 12:10).  The name "Satan" is referenced in the Old Testament when he incited David to take a census (1 Chronicles 21:1), tested, tempted, and accused Job in his faith journey (Book of Job), and was an accuser of Joshua in Zechariah 3:1.  In Genesis 3:1, he is introduced as "the serpent".  However, our enemy, as we will see in a moment, is not a snake.  He is much more than an animal that was created by God, which the Bible says was more crafty than any other animal. The "serpent" is used here as a vessel to communicate verbally with Eve before The Fall.  The two names most everyone knows and calls him by are the Devil or Satan.  Lucifer, meaning light bearer, seems to have been his original name and should NOT to be confused with The Everlasting Light/Life - Jesus. 

I personally look at the devil as the end-all-end-all of disgruntled employees.  This being did not get his way at a certain time eons ago and he has been trying to exact revenge through hurting humanity ever since.   A significant amount of this once holy angel's story is found in Ezekiel 28:12-19.
The word of the LORD came to me:  "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: " 'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.  You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.  Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.  Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.  By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.  All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.' "   

His mission to kill, steal, and destroy started the day he fell.  And as stated before, he channels his hatred through these kinds of acts on humanity in order to steal away those who would know eternity with Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.  One of his strong attempts in fulfilling his agenda came when Jesus arrived on the scene some 2,000 plus years ago.  The other part to his story can be found in Revelation chapters 12, 13, 16, and 20 as the dragon.

Sun Tzu, a sixth century general, said, "know your enemy".  Jesus knew our enemy personally.  Just one instance was what the Bible entitles The Temptation(s) (Matthew 4:1-11).  However, at almost every major turn in Christ's life the fallen cherub attacked Jesus, His disciples (Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 22:3-4), and the people He loved (Matthew 14:13; John 11).  God The Father had a script for Jesus' life.  This included everything, even the way in which Jesus must die - The Cross.  For Jesus to die any other way would NOT be according to the plan/script (Numbers 21:4-9, Deuteronomy 21:23).  This thwarting or stopage of God the Father's plan for salvation was what Satan was all about for a long time.  In Luke 20:9-18 we read a summary about God the Father's attempts (throughout the Old Testament) to reach humanity through the nation Israel by the sending of His prophets and eventually His own Son, Jesus - the Parable of the Tenants.  It has been magnified to me that Satan knew the prophecies as well as anyone if not better than anybody else.  He tried to keep Christ FROM dying on The Cross.  He had efforts to get Christ OFF The Cross.  Plus, he even tried to distort the Resurrection story by having the guards spread the rumor that the disciples came and stole the body and claimed that Jesus had risen (Matthew 27:54).  

There are many times our sinful nature is the mentality or spirit that leads us instead of the devil.  I wonder just how many times it really wasn't that "the devil made me do it", but that it was our natural inclination all along.  I believe several of the verses that pertain to the Pharisees, teachers of the law, and the Jewish leaders of that time can be diagnosed as associated with humanity's sinful nature.  One glaring example, to me, is John 11:48 -  "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." These guys were more concerned about their position in society than their position relationally with God.  However, in addition to our sinful nature coming into play, there seems to be two majors ways Satan approached his "Jesus Situation" - talk Jesus out of it and/or get physical with Jesus.  


Talking Jesus Out of It (Going Through With Plan of Salvation)
  • In Matthew 4:1-11 Satan tempts Jesus.  In verses 8-10 the real kicker comes - "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."  Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'It is here that Satan tries to get Jesus to not only drop God the Father's plan of salvation but try his own on for size.  By the way, it didn't work!  Praise God!
  • In Matthew 16:21-23 Peter was used to try to misdirect Jesus.  "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"  Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."  I loved how Jesus could see and hear who was really speaking to Him.  We can too if we practice His presence on a daily basis!
  • Pilate's wife had a supernatural dream in Matthew 27:19 - While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."  Do you hear Satan's voice coming through that wife?  The Holy Plan is for Jesus to die on The Cross for our sins, Satan intervenes via a dream and tries this route.  It didn't work!  Praise God!
  • So, Jesus makes it to The Cross.  Satan's next plan of action is to somehow get Him off the tree.  Matthew 27:39-44 records those verbal attempts - "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself ! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"  In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.  "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself ! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' "In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him."  Weak attempt in my book and Jesus did not come down off The Cross - Hallelujah!  
  • Jesus was pressured to go public with His full intentions in John 7:2-10 - "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.  No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world."  For even his own brothers did not believe in him.  Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.  The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.  You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come."  Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.  However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret."  
  • There was social pressure not to believe Jesus was the Christ (John 9:22) - "His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue."
  • Heord was used as a "scare tactic" by the Pharisees according to Luke 13:31 - "At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you."   
    Get Physical 
  • Matthew 2:1-18 (especially 3, 13b, 16) - Herod's attempt at baby Jesus' life.
  • Matthew 2:21-23 - Herod's replacement, Archelaus, not any better!
  • Luke 4:28-30 - Synagogue people try to throw Jesus OFF a Cliff!
  • Luke 19:47-48 - It is an everyday affair by Chief Priests, Teachers of the Law, and Leaders to try to kill Jesus.
  • John 5:16-18 - Sabbath healing + Equating yourself with God = "Jews tried all the harder to kill him".
  • John 7:1 - Jesus avoids Judea "because the Jews were waiting to take his life".
  • John 7:30 - An attempt to seize Jesus seems to supernaturally FAIL! 
  • John 7:32 - Before Gethsemane, Temple Guards sent to arrest Jesus but cannot because they too were amazed at His teaching!
  • John 8:57-59 - Jesus escapes a stoning because He says, "before Abraham was, I AM!"
  • John 10:31, 39 - Jesus escapes another stoning and seizing - "He escaped their grasp" (sounds possibly close this time).
  • John 11:49-53 - Caiaphas (High Priest) puts a "hit" out on Jesus.
  • John 12:9-11 - Extra!  Chief Priests plan to kill Lazarus too on account of Jesus' mass following since the resurrection of Lazarus.  An attack of a loved one and the attempt at stifling an event by Satan.
All this research done and presented to you humbly in order to teach - not only does there exist an enemy of our body and souls.  Not only do we know our enemy by name.  Not only do we know that our sinful nature is always at war wanting us to resume that old lifestyle.  Not only do we know that God the Father's plan for Jesus was "shot at" verbally and physically by Satan.  But you should know that "If they persecute me, they will persecute you also." (John 15:20)   "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12)  It is a fact - Jesus did not promise a perfect, "rose garden" life by following Him and becoming a Christian.  According to the verses above and I'm sure you can think of others I have missed - the opposite is true.  However, Jesus does supply a light at the end of the tunnel - Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.(Matthew 5:10-12)   
 
So, believe it or not, you have a real enemy.  However, here is a two-fold promise you can take to the bank - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)  Take courage by brothers and sisters in Christ and those yet to be in Christ because Satan is defeated and Jesus is The Champion! (thank you Carman)


P.S. - This study was all me this time.  I say that to encourage all of us to get in and stay in the Word!  My time with the Holy Spirit as I studied this topic was precious and He obviously lead me into All Truth!  You and the Holy Spirit and The Word have a date - don't miss it!  Many blessings!  -Chad

  

Friday, March 23, 2012

MAKE UP YOUR MIND!


The above is a funny scene from the Walt Disney movie "Jungle Book" - one of my all-time favorites!  Although the scene has humor, it starts me off on the topic at hand quite nicely - as you can tell from the Blog Title.

Wishy-washiness (Pritchard Dictionary), indecision, "I don't know/care" attitude, "middle of the road" or "straddling the fence" mentality - all of these ways Bugs The Snot Out of Me (graphic pic I know)!  But, you know what?  I believe God wired me to have a similar part of His nature at full force, full-time within me - the detesting of lukewarmness!

The Red Letters in Revelation 3:16 say, "So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  The word "spit" in the NIV or "spue" in the KJV is emeo in the original Greek.  It means to vomit, to spit out, to regurgitate.(Thank you Mr. Renner)  Now my image of bugging the snot out of me is not looking so bad is it?  Between me and God we have got gross covered don't we?  But, that is how God feels about a SO-CALLED Believer who is useless.  God's Spirit and body on earth, The Church, does not have any desire to take it in (bad taste) and His body has no use for it within (no nutritional value), so He spits out the believer and his/her works or "deeds" ("I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot..." -Revelation 3:15).  How do you like that deep analogy in one sentence? ;)

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
     These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
      Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
      To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.  Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  (Revelation 3:14-22)

Again, the first thing Jesus speaks to with the church in Laodicea are their works.  Indeed, the Laodicean individual, church, and/or Church Age displays their independent spirit by saying - " 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' " (verse 17a).   However, it seems the second part of verse 17 reveals a more dire condition.  "But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."  They were independent, indecisive, and defiant.  "Perhaps they were well provided for as to their bodies, and this made them overlook the necessities of their souls. Or they thought themselves well furnished in their souls: they had learning, and they took it for religion; they had gifts, and they took them for grace; they had wit, and they took it for true wisdom; they had ordinances, and they took up with them instead of the God of ordinances. How careful should we be not to put the cheat upon our own souls! Doubtless there are many in hell that once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Let us daily beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves in the concerns of our souls." (Matthew Henry Commentary - http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/revelation/3.html?p=4)

Have you ever had a bad case of acid reflux?  That is what God is having here!  Notice a GREAT little word in verse 16 - "about".  Jesus says, "I am ABOUT to spit you out of my mouth."  He has not performed the act yet, because of His awesome heart for us and digestive tract.  ;) 

First, Jesus tackles their spiritual poverty.   "These people were poor; Christ counsels them to buy of him gold tried in the fire, that they might be rich. He lets them know where they might have true riches and how they might have them. First, Where they might have them—from himself; he sends them not to the streams of Pactolus, nor to the mines of Potosi, but invites them to himself,... Secondly, And how must they have this true gold from him? They must buy it. This seems to be unsaying all again. How can those that are poor buy gold? Just as they may buy of Christ wine and milk, that is, without money and without price, Isa. 55:1 . Something indeed must be parted with, but it is nothing of a valuable consideration, it is only to make room for receiving true riches. 'Part with sin and self-sufficiency, and come to Christ with a sense of your poverty and emptiness, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure.' " [http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/revelation/3.html?p=5]


Second, the LORD wants us clothed correctly in the Spirit.  "They were without clothing, had neither the garment of justification nor that of sanctification. Their nakedness both of guilt and pollution had no covering. They lay always exposed to sin and shame. Their righteousness were but filthy rags; they were rags, and would not cover them, filthy rags, and would defile them.  These people were naked; Christ tells them where they might have clothing, and such as would cover the shame of their nakedness. This they must receive from Christ; and they must only put off their filthy rags that they might put on the white raiment which he had purchased and provided for them—his own imputed righteousness for justification and the garments of holiness and sanctification." [http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/revelation/3.html?p=5]

Lastly, Jesus desired these individuals to see reality the way He did via the power of the Holy Spirit.  "They were blind; and he counsels them to buy of him eye-salve, that they might see, to give up their own wisdom and reason, which are but blindness in the things of God, and resign themselves to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end, their duty and their true interest; a new and glorious scene would then open itself to their souls; a new world furnished with the most beautiful and excellent objects, and this light would be marvellous to those who were but just now delivered from the powers of darkness." [http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/revelation/3.html?p=5]

What a wonderful Savior!  He took the time to say, "I counsel you to....".  Later, in verse 19 Jesus even makes it clear that we are blessed He is dealing with us at All!  "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline."
Taking the other side of that - if He had not rebuked or disciplined these, He would have not cared or loved them and considered them damned.  But my God, continues to be a God of many chances.  In the very next part of this verse (19) Jesus provides more of The Answer - "So be earnest and repent."  God has done His part with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.  He has also gone above and beyond by NOT YET spitting these people out of His mouth!  Now, He says, "Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."  "Oh, What A Savior, Oh Hallelujah!"

Many believe this Laodicean Spirit has come and been upon the world as an age of humanity for some time now.  True Believers in Jesus Christ have the answer.  We, as those true believers, can pray for our country and the world, plus start sharing as the Holy Spirit leads with those who need to hear this message of Hope.  God is disgusted with defiance, arrogance and pretending to be a believer in Christ, BUT He hasn't "spued" YET!  So, for those that need to apply this, please follow His solution and keep from being God vomit!