Thursday, June 28, 2012

A VERY BENEFICIAL PROCEDURE

I have a question for you and a teaching for myself.  Do you desire to be a person who is honest, lawful, upright, just, agreeable, level-headed?  If you are inclined to seek after these qualities in your life's journey as ways to be remembered and ways to serve your God then I have some brotherly advice, in Christ, that will aide you in this quest.

  1. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart"
  2. "Lean not on your own understanding"
  3. "In ALL your ways acknowledge Him"
".......and He will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6

Besides what is listed to you in my question above, the phrase "make your paths straight" has a flavor of someone who "shoots straight from the hip".  This is a direct, but sincere individual who will tell you the truth about all things and is good to have on your team in pressure situations.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart" means to surrender every part of your life to God.  It is hard sometimes, but "all" means all (everything).  God will work with you and on you.  Remember - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," (Romans 8:1).

"Lean not on your own understanding" means that you acknowledge you Do Not Know It All!  It also means you seek the right kind of advice for your situation.  But most importantly - "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

"In ALL your ways acknowledge Him" means to live your life in the way that would make it possible to give God credit, all the time, privately and publicly.  "If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." (Romans 14:8)  

If you aspire to these characteristics in your personality because you lack these or to enhance these because God has already blessed you with them then allow God to do the transforming within you BY following the three steps above.  You'll see it truly is a very beneficial procedure!  God bless you in your walk with Him.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

CAN A TIGER CHANGE HIS STRIPES?

The Jews had laws in which the violation thereof called for death.  Before any kinds of government (i.e. Roman or otherwise) were domineering over the Jewish people, stoning the guilty seemed to be the common method of the death sentence.  So, to me at least the Pharisee's response to Pilate - "But we have no right to execute anyone" (John 18:31) - was a lie!  This is further supported by the next sentence - "This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled."  So, there were two methods of death - one that man had ready for Jesus and one that God had ready for Jesus.   One of the Jewish laws that demanded death was someone claiming to be The Son of God.  Jesus agreed with the statement from the High Priest that He was the Anointed One.  So, why was Jesus not stoned to death by the religious leaders of the that day instead of crucified by the Roman occupation of Israel?

The number one answer to this question is that Father God did not plan and prophesy through His Word the death of Jesus to transpire through a stoning.  Just one of the prophesies about Christ's crucifixion is found in Numbers 21:8-9The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live."  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived."  Jesus made it clear when He was here that this event was foreshadowing Him - "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up," (John 3:14)  "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die." (John 12:32-33)  

The second answer concerning - why Jesus was not stoned to death - deals with the agenda of the Jews to thwart their overseers at every opportunity and look righteous doing it, but especially their governor - Pontius Pilate. "The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, noted that Pilate was ruthless and unsympathetic and that he failed to comprehend and appreciate how important the Jew's religious beliefs and convictions were to them.  The Jewish people loathed Pilate for his cruelty and inadequate care of his subjects.  The kind of brutality that made him so infamous and hated can be seen in Luke 13:1, where it mentions that Pilate slaughtered a number of Galileans and then mixed their blood together with the sacrifices.  Appalling and sick as this act may sound, it is in accordance with many other vicious actions instigated under Pilate's rule as procurator of Judea." (pp.242-243, Renner, Sparkling Gems From the Greek) 

Still dealing with this second answer, the Pharisees have a case that they probably could have solved on their own, but they are going to milk it for all it's worth.  The Pharisees will try to have Pilate trapped in the Case of Jesus.  If that does not work at least the Pharisees will have killed a nuisance, because either somebody's reputation was going down tonight (Pilate) or their "trouble-maker" will be dead soon (Jesus).  The trap clamped down on Pilate hard when he heard - "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.  Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." (John 19:12)  Bottom line - if you don't deal with this threat, word is going to reach Caesar's ear about this and your job and maybe even your life is going to be at risk.  

So, we know about Pilate's past - cruel.  We know about the Pharisee's dealings with everybody - opportunistic.  We know about the relationship between these two - heated.  We know the relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees - fallen.  But what happened when Pilate met Jesus?

The historical Pilate disappeared when confronted with Jesus.  Instead....... 
  • There is a governor who allows Jesus to defend himself, the Roman standard, three times (Matthew 27:11; Matthew 27:12; Matthew 27:14).  
  • Pilate sends Jesus to Herod Antipas, who was in Jerusalem, due to jurisdiction procedure. (Luke 23:7)
  • As Pilate takes the Judge's Seat, his wife warns him to have nothing to do with Jesus because of a dream she had just recently. (Matthew 27:19)
  • After Jesus returns to Pilate from Herod with a Not Guilty verdict Pilate agrees with the verdict and offers to release Jesus as part of the standing tradition during the Passover Festival. (John 19:4; Luke 23:13-16; Matthew 27:15-17)
  • Pilate tries to put this ordeal back on the Pharisees but it doesn't work. (John 19:6)
  • Pilate pulls Jesus aside one last time and elicits a response from Jesus this time - "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.  Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."  Pilate is still captivated by Jesus. (John 19:8-11)
  • Pilate attempts to free Jesus several times after this encounter.  Luke 23:18-25 records three instances of Pilate trying to help Jesus to freedom.  John 19:12 says, "From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free,"
Again the Political Ping-Ponging in this case was evident.  But after Pilate tried to seize the opportunity of tradition between his people and the Jews, the Pharisees said (paraphrased), "O.K. were are not going to knock Pilate out of his position so we might as well buddy-up to him and Rome and get rid of Jesus - 'Crucify him!  We have no king but Caesar!' " (John 19:15).  After these attempts were exhausted Pilate realized he was getting nowhere and at worse a riot could be on his hands - so he met their demands.



The Pharisees thought they got what they wanted.  Jesus' mission was coming to fruition.  Father God's plan was being fulfilled.  Pilate seemed to be just a role that played his part in this Divine Drama.  "Outside the Gospels, Pilate is not mentioned again in the New Testament.  Historical records show that the procurator of Syria brought some sort of accusations against Pilate in the year 36 AD.  These indictments resulted in his removal from office and exile to Gaul (modern-day France).  Eusebius, the well-known early Christian historian, later wrote that Pilate fell into misfortune under the wicked Emperor Caligula and lost many privileges.  According to Eusebius, this man Pilate - who was ultimately responsible for the trial, judgment, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus and who had ruled Judea ruthlessly and mercilessly for ten years - finally committed suicide." (p.243, Renner)

Can a tiger change his stripes?  For the tiger named Pontius Pilate, that answer seems to be - yes.  Jesus' ministry was from approximately 30 - 33 AD.  Pilate was governor of Judea from 26 AD - 36 AD.  During Pilate's encounter with Jesus, Pilate seemed not himself.  But only three years after Pilate's meeting with Jesus, Pilate's "stripes" returned.  He was removed from office and exiled to Gaul on account of dealing with a Samaritan uprising to harshly (saying that about a Roman is really something).   

Something happened to Pilate.  Several agendas hinged on Pilate's decision of what to do with Jesus.  The Pharisees had their goals (out with Pilate and/or down with Jesus).  Pilate had his objective - to get this case over with as fast and peaceful as possible (which historically was unlike him).  Unseen were the forces of Hell.  Satan knew these prophecies about the Messiah and His mission and would try to stop it many times throughout history.  Perhaps influencing Pilate not to pursue death, and death on a cross, with Jesus was a tactic the devil attempted in order to keep the salvation of the world from occurring.  Then there was the mission of Jesus and His Father.  Nothing was going to stop this pursuit and nothing did - Hallelujah! 

For this brief period of time Pilate may have been different and acted different for many reasons - stress, the spiritual battle in his mind and soul, encountering Jesus, etc...but God's plan was NOT halted!  Just because we might see a major change in people, places, or things - does not mean that God's purpose will not be accomplished.  Be encouraged in your personal life and in this crazy world that we live in - God has a Master Plan that He is executing it perfectly!       


Saturday, June 23, 2012

THE ORDER OF THINGS

My God, the God I worship is the God of order.  There is a being that likes to generate chaos or confusion, but he is not a god - he is a fallen creation, a fallen angel.  There are many Godly orders that have been ordained.  The "natural order" with all of it's cycles and relationships. The "angelic order" with the angelic hierarchy that helps categorize the different levels of powerful spiritual servants of God.  The "spiritual order" of laws that the Spirit set which cannot be reversed - like the Law of Sowing and Reaping.  However, there is an order that does not necessarily have a name but exists none-the-less.  I will call this order - "Jews Got Dibs On Life Order".

This order is exemplified through the life of Paul.  When Paul and Barnabas entered Pisidian Antioch and taught, they had some initial success.  However, the next day when Paul and Barnabas were going to continue, there was a large crowd amassing to hear their words.  Jealousy quickly set into the hearts and minds of the Pharisees and the Pharisees turned against Paul and Barnabas by "talking abusively" about them.  Paul took this opportunity to let them know the Divine Order of things because of their rejection.

"On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.  When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.  Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.  For this is what the Lord has commanded us: " 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' " - Acts 13:45-47

This kind of scenario occurred two more times in the Book of Acts.  The next time was reported in Acts 18:4-6 as Paul was meeting up with Aquilla and Priscilla in the city of Corinth.

"Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.  When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 

The last time I noted Paul having this little chat with the Jews was when he visited Rome in chains.

"They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:  " 'Go to this people and say, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving."  For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'  "Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!" - Acts 28:25-29 


Can you see the pattern or order that was developed and implemented?  If not, Romans 2:9, Romans 2:10, and Romans 1:16 will spell it out for you. 

"There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;" - Romans 2:9

"but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." - Romans 2:10

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." - Romans 1:16 

There is an order of things - first for the Jews then for the Gentiles.  "Therefore" usually means - as a consequence.  And the last part of the Acts 28:29 verse is no different.  Many Jews missed the wonderful first visit of the Messiah.  Many Jews and Gentiles today still miss the significance of Christ's first visit.   The consequences of the bad choice(s) we make in life - evil - comes first to the Jews, then to the rest of the poor decision makers of the world.  The consequences of the good choice(s) we make in life - " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " (Luke 10:27) - comes first to the Jews, then to the rest of the smart decision makers of the world.  The very salvation of the body, mind, and soul was extended by Christ to the Jewish people first.  BUT, Hallelujah!  Salvation through adoption to the rest of the world was made possible through that same once-and-for-all, awesome sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross and the victory He claims Out of the Grave! 

The Jews were born into all of God's blessings and promises.  God declared this and made it so through Abraham, Issac, Jacob and this family line (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6).  Over the many years, the Jews have been a complaining people, a demanding people, and a "stiff-necked people" (Ex. 33:3, 5; Deut. 9:6; Acts 7:51).  But this did not stop God from viewing them as the apple of His eye and using them for His national purposes.  It was prophesied that once the Messiah did visit the first time as the suffering servant - first for Israel, then the Gentile (rest of the world) - that God's dealings with His people as a nation would pause until the next body of believers, The Church, was taken out of the picture, Raptured - "snatched" away to Paradise (Daniel 9:24-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:7).  Then Jesus would resume an intimate, national relationship with Israel as He worked with them - "to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy." (Daniel 9:24) 

Right now The Age of the Church continues.  True Believers in Jesus Christ, who are not Jewish by natural birth or spiritual birth, are adopted kids of the King.  "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Ephesians 1:5-6)  More adoptions into the Kingdom of God are happening every day.  That is just the kind of awesome God Christians have but unfortunately do not choose to see.  Those Gentiles that will hear and accept the message of what Christ has done for them has not maxed out yet.  Once the total number of Gentile believers has been accounted for by God in the Kingdom, Jesus will begin dealing with Israel once again.  "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)  However, somewhere between the full number of Gentiles having been "come in" and when Jesus begins dealing with Israel again is the Rapture of The Church. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)  But only He knows the total number and who that last Gentile believer will be to accept Him as their personal Savior.  I am just so elated that I am adopted!

I am no longer a part of the family I was spiritual born into - Sinful.  I no longer have as a spiritual father - the father of lies, Satan.  My tendencies do not gravitate toward rebellion against God anymore!  I am a new member of a new family.  I am a new creature all because of what Christ did for me.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)  He paid the price for my righteousness - my right standing with Him and His Father and His Spirit.  My right standing, my everything is found in Jesus - "It is because of him [Father God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30) 
Even though there is an order to things - even the people who would hear the message of salvation first (Jews) - believers in Christ Jesus must not stop telling the Good News (Gospel) about Christ's first visit and awesome adoption plan He offers!  Praise God for His nature - The God of Order.  Praise God for The Order of Things.  Praise God for my Adoption!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"DELIGHTING"...Yourself In The Lord (Psalm 37:4)

When I was growing up under my mom and dad's roof I heard the phrase - "What?!  Do you think money grows on trees around here?!" - often utilized.  It is not that they did not wish to grant whatever my request was at that moment, but I have always had a slight case of my eyes-bigger-than-my-stomach mentality.  Just like vision can take in much more space than the area in a stomach, my desires could always imagine much more than what dad's two careers and mom's career could handle.  I learned quick to temper those imaginations, but would push the envelope every now-and-then.  Usually I received some form of the phrase above, but occasionally I would be awarded what I desired and that was special.

I believe NOT getting everything I wanted at the drop of a hat helped me tremendously in shaping my appreciation for when God blesses me with the little things as well as the big treasures in life.  He has definitely kept me from being a materially-speaking, spoiled little brat.  However, I am absolutely beyond spoiled when it comes to Love.  And I don't even think I've seen a glimpse of the rest of the "iceberg of love" that God has in store for me tomorrow and in eternity.

You know I can see the possibility of many people twisting the following verse out of whack!

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4

I can hear some mis-interpretive part of me say, "Just love the Lord and He'll give you anything you want."  Or something like, "Just make friends with God and He'll grant you your wishes."

And that is how many of us treat God - as a genie.  We call on who we think is God in our lives to be at OUR beck and call and fulfill our wish list instantly.  God is Almighty.  God does not need you, but He Loves you and wants to give "you the desires of your heart", IF you will "Delight yourself in the Lord".

I looked up "Delight yourself" in the original Hebrew in the back of my Bible.  "Anag" (Hebrew):  to enjoy; mock; delight yourself in.  When I asked the Holy Spirit for a better definition, He said, "To enjoy something or someone so much that you desire to imitate (mock) or "delight" that other person or thing."

First of all what's on your heart?  If God and His ways are on and in your heart to begin with then you are a step ahead.  "Heart" at the end of this verse ("He will give you the desires of your heart") is the Hebrew word "Leb" or "Lebab".  This word deals with each person's inner self.  The New Testament associates this word "Leb" or "Heart" with the mind (2 Chronicles 9:23), good sense (Proverbs 10:8), discernment (2 Kings 5:26), wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 16:23).  So, if these areas are under submission to God you are on your way to imitating the Lord.

Imitate Jesus.  Do ask yourself - What would Jesus do?  Then read His Word to find the answer.  The more you "delight yourself in the Lord", I can only imagine the more He will give you.....God given wisdom, understanding, good sense - a healthy mind and whatever else is on His heart to bless you.  My earthly parents had limited resources to provide for me.  Father God owns it all and desires to lavish His kids (Ex. 20:6) with blessings. Let us "delight ourselves in the Lord"!  


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ABOVE AND BEYOND: Lessons From Escape Artists

Many of us have heard the slogan concerning challenges in life - If God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it.  However, sometimes God elects for us to taste the challenge for a purpose and then rescue us in the midst of it for that purpose or possibly many others.  With Peter, Paul, and Silas this seemed to be the case.  Individually they would be challenged even to the point of death for the spreading of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.  Then in addition to the original challenge there would be what I will call an "Above And Beyond" event by God.  Allow me to elaborate.

In the account of Peter's miraculous escape from prison in Acts 12:1-19, Peter was arrested (v.4), thrown into prison (v.4), "guarded by four squads of four soldiers each" (v.4), slept between two soldiers (v.6), "bound with two chains" (v.6), "and sentries stood guard at the entrance" (v.6).  Wow!  Talk about a hard criminal (sarcasm inserted).  Well, that is the treatment he received.  As compared to our next example, it is interesting that Peter did not sing to God, preach to the guards, teach the guards or seemingly try to win friends and influence people in his location.  Peter simply slept.  Now, maybe he was tired and his body allowed for no choice in the matter, but to still have that kind of peace in the matter after a group of church goers had just been arrested and persecuted by Herod, including the execution of James, the brother of John, is impressive.  In fact, Peter was in such a deep sleep that an angel had to hit Peter to wake him up - "He [the angel] struck Peter on the side and woke him up."

After the chains fell off (v.7) and he put on his clothes (v. 8) the angel lead Peter past two sets of guards and an iron gate back to the city (v.10).  After Peter realized it was not a dream or vision and came to his senses, he concluded - "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating."  So, Peter declared that the Lord was showing not just Peter who was in control but Herod and the Jewish people who were "anticipating" another execution, probably.

There was another group that night that worried about Peter - the church.  Scripture says, "...but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." (v.5)  The interesting observation here is that the church in this verse "earnestly" prays for Peter, but they had no faith in a physical manifestation of the miracle of God.  In verse 15, after Peter has knocked on the door to this meeting place and the girl who answered is so excited she returns without opening the door, the others remarked - "'You're out of your mind.'  When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, 'It must be his angel.'"  Thank God, The Lord still worked His own plan and this challenge did not depend upon the faith of this group of people.  Even their reaction to his rescue was a big clue to lack of faith - "But Peter kept on knocking and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished."  And this leads me to my opinion of the secondary usage of Peter's dilemma - faith builder within the young, prayerful church.  Our level of faith has got to increase and at least match some of these powerful, rending of the heavens - prayers that I have heard many pray lately.  Otherwise, our prayers are just hopeful wishes at best.  And our prayers themselves do not need to contain a cover-the-bases mentality.  For example, "Well, God.  If it is your will that he/she go this way then so be it.  But if it is your will that he/she go that way then amen to that too!"  Where is the faith in that?!  We need to pray what Jesus has paid for and be confident about His Word!  Pray His Word back to Him!  Then have an Expect A Miracle Mentality and continue to pray if necessary!
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The other escape artists that have a contribution to make are Paul and Silas.  In Acts 16:22-40 we find that they were - "stripped" (v.22), "beaten" (22), "severely flogged" (v.23), thrown into prison (v.23), "jailer was commanded to guard them carefully" (v.23), "he put them in the inner cell" (v.24), "and fastened their feet in the stocks" (v.24).  Back in Acts 9:16, the Lord said to Ananias about Paul (who was Saul at this time) - "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."  This prison visit was not even the start of these gentlemen's woes. 

Earlier, in Lystra (Chapter 14) some Jews found out that Paul and Silas had moved on and continued to preach the Good News and made the trip from Antioch and Iconium to win his crowd over.  But that's not all!  "They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.  But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.  The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe." (verses 19-20)

Now, in Philippi, Paul and Silas are again - stripped, beaten, flogged, and thrown into prison with guards all around and in stocks within the inner cell.  They continued to understand the suffering that God said Paul would grasp thoroughly.  This scenario was not JUST about obedience from Paul and Silas.  They were good about teaching and healing wherever they went.  Here in Philippi was no different.  They taught the women especially at this location.  Then had a run in with a demon who knew Paul and Silas and knew the power within them.  However, this demon was latched to a girl that brought others fortune and when it got to be a bother to Paul and Silas, they healed the girl by rebuking the demon out of her.  The people who profited by her did not like this and everything started spiraling downward until we see Paul and Silas in the condition mentioned previously.

Once we find our dangerous role models in the depths of the prison (sarcasm inserted, again) - what were Paul and Silas doing?  They were praying and singing to God!  This was around midnight and both Paul and Silas had a captive audience (ha, ha) - the other prisoners! Then an earthquake of such magnitude occurred that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  Suddenly, ALL the prison doors flew open, not just the prison cell door to where Paul and Silas were being kept.  Also, EVERYBODY'S chains came loose, not just the chains on Paul and Silas.  This is very bad news for Roman guards, especially the head guard.  If the guard does not take his own life because of escaped prisoners then the Romans would usually send somebody to do the deed for you.  However, in this case nobody moved.  And just as the Roman guard was about to kill himself, Paul called out to him and told him that everybody was accounted for and to not kill himself.  Interesting that the first question to Paul and Silas when the head jailer got to them was - "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  Which implies to me that he must have been listening earlier too!  From this point on not only did the Roman jailer get saved, but his entire family as well.  Then still in the middle of the night "the jailer took them and washed their wounds" and "the jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them".  Why would somebody, especially in his position act like this?  The knowledge of what Christ did for him made it from his brain to his heart and that equaled JOY!  And I know when I feel this kind of Joy, I at least desire to show somebody just how excited I am about how good the Lord has been to me!
(Acts 16:25-36)
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It is not a guarantee that God will save the believer out of the midst of the trial, but He promises to be with the believer at all times, through everything and that is comforting.  It is so easy to sit here and type - try not to have a knee jerk reaction to your next challenge/test, but do try.  Instead, observe your surroundings, your circumstances and praise God anyway.  Praising Him lifts you above the circumstance, it let's God's power flow, the shout of victory binds the devil with chains that won't let go! (Nod to Carman - "Jericho")  And when you and I are finished praising God, who knows we might just find ourselves looking in from the outside of our problem with witnesses that we have brought with us who now rest alongside us in God's kingdom and peace.  It is not about me and you.  It is about God receiving the Glory through His powerful intervention of our life's challenges which influences others to make a decision about Jesus in their own life.  So, let us be conscience of the people around us when we go through issues in life.  God may have a plan of escape for you and me during an ordeal, but He also may have a plan that goes Above And Beyond.

Friday, June 15, 2012

DETAILS PLEASE

You know what I have found out about God in Acts 9 and 10?  God is the God of specifics or details.

In Acts 9:10-12 Scripture records:

"In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.  The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.  In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."  

  1. God calls Ananias by name!
  2. God tells whose house He wants Ananias to visit ("the house of Judas")
  3. God supplies the address ("on Straight Street")
  4. God then tells Ananias what to do at that location by supplying him with gender, hometown, name, and what his target is doing at that moment. ("ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying")
  5. God informs Ananias that Saul knows he is coming, what he is going to do, and the reason for his coming ("In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.")
The second instance of specifics is found in Acts 10:3-6.  Speaking to Cornelius, a God-fearing centurion in the Italian Regiment, an angel was sent to give him instructions.

"One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!"  Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked.The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.  Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.  He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea."  

  1. What - "send men to Joppa"
  2. Why - "to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter"
  3. Where - "He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea."
  4. Cornelius also got called by name!
The third example of God being specific or providing details is shortly after these men arrived at Simon the tanner's house.  Before the men arrive, Peter receives a vision from God that will change the course of his thinking and his belief system when it manifests during his first visit to a Gentile's home.  As Peter was waiting and thinking on things, God spoke to him.  Here is what Scripture says in Acts 10:19-20,

"While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."


  1. God calls him by name! Love it!  - "Simon"
  2. "three men are looking for you"
  3. "get up"
  4. go downstairs"
  5. "Do not hesitate to go with them"
  6. "I have sent them."
If God can be this detailed with Ananias, Cornelius, and Peter - I believe He will be at least that specific with you and me.  All three of these gentlemen were men of God.  Ananias was a "disciple".  Cornelius was a "God-fearing man".  Peter was a Holy Spirit filled Disciple of Christ.  They were all called by name.  There were plans, by God, for the lives of each one of these men that were NOT going to be thwarted.  

There is a Godly plan for each of our lives too.  Beware!  God may intervene in your life without you seeking Him and tell you like these examples above!  However, I believe we can seek God for the details.  Prayer and fasting are key avenues for these details to come.  Just prayer is a start.  Just fasting is a diet.  However, put these together with the Godly purpose of hearing specifics from God about your life and I believe - by faith you shall!  To make sure that the reader observes the sovereignty of God, I believe the author of Acts (Luke) desired for us to grasp that it is NOT the devil that is in the details, it is God!      

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

FATHER KNOWS BEST

"The apostle Peter wrote this regarding Jesus:  'Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously' (1 Peter 2:23).  The word 'committed' is the Greek word paradidomi, a compound of the words para and didomi.  The word para means alongside and carries the idea of coming close alongside to someone or to some object.  The word didomi means to give.  When compounded together, it presents the idea of entrusting something to someone.  The prefix para suggests that this is someone to whom you have drawn very close.  It can be translated to commit, to yield, to commend, to transmit, to deliver, or to hand something over to someone else.

The Lord Jesus yielded Himself to the Father who judges righteously when He found Himself in this unjust situation.  In that difficult hour, He drew close to the Father and fully entrusted Himself and His future into the hands of the Father.  Jesus knew He was in the Father's will, so He chose to entrust Himself into the Father's care and to leave the results in His control.

If you are in a situation that seems unfair or unjust and there is nothing you can do to change it, you must draw as close to the Father as you can and commit yourself into His loving care.  You know He wants the best for you, even though you have found yourself in a predicament that seems so undeserved.  Your options are to get angry and bitter and turn sour toward life, or to choose to believe that God is in control and working on your behalf, even if you don't see anything good happening at the present moment.

When Jesus was arrested and taken to Caiaphas to be severely mistreated, there was no escape for Him.  He had no choice but to trust the Father.  What other choice do you have today?"

(Sparkling Gems From the Greek, Rick Renner, p.234)

*Mr. Renner said this really well, so I thought I would share it as is with you.  Hope it encourages you.  God bless you.
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1 Peter 2:23 (NIV)
"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DON'T BE THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE

Acts 8:18-24

As a young convert, just verses old [verse 13], but probably minutes old, Simon the Sorcerer had supposedly laid down his "magic wand" for belief in Jesus as Christ.  However, Simon still operated under his old thinking even though he believed in Christ's first gift - the gift of salvation.

This first gift had been taken by faith.  The second gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit, "was given at the laying on of the apostle's hands" (v.18).  Simon's past and old nature still haunted him strongly.  He evidently was a man who used to learn tricks, deception, or his trade by paying for the right of the next new "power".  I suggest this because now, Simon offers money to Peter and John for the "power" he sees on and in them - The Holy Spirit.  Simon is doing what he has always done in these situations.  His old habits and lifestyle still govern his steps.  His belief in Christ is merely intellectual consent.  His belief is not from the heart as well as from the brain.

In addition, Simon's attempt to purchase God's free gift not only temporarily moved him out of the picture until he got right with God once more, but he tempted others.  If the Mind of Christ was not on and in Peter and John when Simon offered that money to them, then I see Peter and John easily "cashing in" on using the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a money maker.  To the detriment of our spiritual condition and future I have seen this in my lifetime.

Peter's answer is right on target.  He said -

"May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!  You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.  Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord.  Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.  For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." (verses 20-23)

Don't hold anything back Peter.  Speak your mind brother.  Please, let us know where you stand on this.  I am glad that he did.  And I believe he did under the control of the Holy Spirit.  The old Peter might have picked up a sword and tried to cut off his head or just gotten into a fist fight.  Now, notice Peter instructs Simon on what he has done wrong ("you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!"), tells him the consequence and reasoning ("You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God."), and supplies him with the solution ("Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord."). 

The next two sentences have more of a Peter flare to them but still ring true.  From reading about the personality of Peter and being able to see the hot temper and first to act nature in other Scripture, I can hear Peter saying, (in between the lines or maybe in his thoughts) "Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord.  Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart [because if I were God I sure wouldn't]."  At least Peter left Simon in the hands of a forgiving God ("Perhaps he will forgive you...") and did not take matters into his own hands this time (i.e.- a certain High Priest servant's ear).

The second sentence Peter seems to be very perceptive.  Of course he and John were filled with the Holy Spirit - that helps.  Peter says to Simon the former Sorcerer, "For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."  Observing that Simon did not get his wages the good ole fashion way, through hard work, but instead used deception to get through life and profit, the root of that lifestyle is called out by Peter - Bitterness.  Once bitterness got a firm grip on Simon's life "and captive to sin" was no hard feat. 

Bitterness, according to Peter who was full of the Holy Spirit, was the root, but Peter tackles the main issue mid-way through his answer to Simon.  Peter says, "your heart is not right before God."  As I have mentioned earlier, Simon the Sorcerer had previously accepted the message of Jesus as The Messiah.  But his heart did not grasp what that meant for his soul, therefore a lifestyle change did not occur

When any of us truly allow the knowledge of what Jesus did for us to sink into our hearts, our lives will change for the best.  Our thinking, actions, and speech will all change because the message has made it to our hearts and then to our behavior.  "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit." (Matthew 12:33)  I believe this not only talks about the seeds you might have planted in others that come to fruition, but also that which I can "pick right off of you" (i.e. - Good speech, your help with anything, your treatment of others, etc...).  God calls us to be in the world but not of the world.   "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (John 15:19)  "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." (John 17:15)  

The case with Simon was he did not even let the message of God's love, through Christ, reach his heart.  The wheels or gears in the head may be the starting point for many when making the decision to follow Christ and live a Christian lifestyle, but sadly that decision never goes any further.  It is commonly called "lip service".  I encourage all "Simons" out there to open up the highway between the brain and the heart concerning Christ's love for you.  That will be the first real step in authentic belief in Christ Jesus.  Then you can seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that Peter and John were displaying in their lives that Simon wanted so bad, but went about the wrong way of receiving it.  I encourage all "delayed believers" (Philippians 2:9-11) to allow the head knowledge of Jesus' sacrifice for you to reach your heart.  I encourage the seasoned or veterans of The Faith to perform a "systems check".  Make sure that when you are studying the Word of God or listening to a speaker that you slow down and soak in what God has for you in that moment instead of going for that "instant feeding/gratification".  Let us make sure we have a Genuine Faith established in our lives and the right perspective on the Holy Spirit's empowerment SO THAT our witness will be full of integrity and our desire will be to minister to others.
_________________________

*This is what I received from The Lord in my study of just His Word today (Acts 8).  No supplemental texts were used.  I feel like saying this was "all naturale" or should I say "all spiritual".  In any case, it came from my heart and The Holy Spirit.  I hope it ministered to you.  God bless you.      

Monday, June 11, 2012

JUMPING THE GUN

I am at a point in my life and walk with my God where I know there is plenty of opportunity for me to be impatient.  There is a dream I have not seen come to fruition that I long to see materialize. I have had this dream since I was a Junior in High School (1987).  I am now 42 and have not seen it via anybody else in all these years, which is promising but makes me want to speed up the process a little.  Scripture says this is inadvisable.

The first Scripture passage that comes to my mind that warns about impatience is Genesis 16.  Sarai, Abram and Hagar form a love triangle that is reminiscent of some soap opera relationships I have seen.  God promises Abram countless descendants and his wife, Sarai, who has been barren for years on end suggests to Abram that he "have relations" ;) with her maidservant Hagar (maybe to speed up the process and help God along with His plan).  First, this plan did not come from God.  Secondly, this plan was not blessed by God even though it was agreed upon by Abram.  The consequence was "He [the child of this impatient plan] will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." (Genesis 16:12)  This son's name was Ishmael.  He was NOT the son of promise from God.  So, all of Ishmael's descendants cannot claim any right to anything.  Isaac WAS the son of promise that came from God.  It is through his descendants that God's blessings and promises flow. 

Can you imagine thinking God's promise of many descendants not being sufficient even in the face of barrenness?  That is what I feel Sarai experienced.  After all that had happened up to this point you would think Sarai would give God a chance.  Before Genesis 16 you have the Lord speaking to Abram in visions, encountering Melchizedek (a special High Priest), Abram uprooting his family and moving by the word and promises of God.  Then you have Abram who "believed the Lord, and He [God] credited it to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6) - concerning the promise of a miracle child to start Abram's descendants.  But Sarai looked at her barrenness and did not believe in God's word, God's timing, or God's track record.  Sadly, "what have you done for me lately?" is how many of us, including me at times, treat God concerning our circumstances - past, present, and future.  I'm slowly getting the message that the dream that was instilled in me was God's in the beginning.  For me God's timing and the whole lesson of trusting in Him is a difficult one to keep re-learning.

However, here is another Biblical example that shows the power of God and our immediate need not to get ahead of ourselves and especially not ahead of God.

First, here is the excerpt to consider -

"When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. 4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?' 5 'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'I am he,' Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, 'Who is it you want?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' 8 'I told you that I am he,' Jesus answered. 'If you are looking for me, then let these men go.' 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me." 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'  Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus."  (John 18:1-12) 

This passage is packed full of "goodies".  To give the information to you in lightening round fashion..... Jesus displayed just a speck of His power on 300 to 600 soldiers ("detachment of soldiers" is Spira in Greek - meaning a group of 300-600) that accompanied Judas and the High Priest officials as they "drew back and fell to the ground" while attempting to arrest Jesus at the Mount of Olives.  Then Peter tried to seize the vulnerability of the moment and began to force things - literally.  He grabbed a sword and went after the representative of the High Priest (Malchus), which is where all their trouble had been coming from for years, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.  Peter missed the High Priest servant's head and cut off his ear.  According to the Greek word apokopto that was used here the "cutting" performed was one of removal not a little cut, slice or graze.  Luke 22:51 records Jesus healed the man shortly afterward - "But Jesus answered, 'No more of this!' And he touched the man's ear and healed him."  So, we see Jesus giving us a glimpse of His power, practices what He preaches about doing good to those who persecute you and heals the High Priest servant's ear, and does not allow Peter's distraction to move Him off mission. 

Besides the soldiers and officials being knocked down by the proclamation of who He was and is ("I am he." or "I Am.") there was another instance where Jesus simply told the Disciples of the potential firepower He had at His disposal should His Father will it.  "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Matthew 26:52-54)  It is interesting to me that of all the "Almightiness" that Father God could give Jesus to combat His situation, Jesus spoke of angels that would be the instrument of choice and right after He gave a sneak peak at His power as The Logos or The Word of God!  


Mr. Rick Renner, in his book Sparkling Gems From the Greek, asks some pretty awesome questions about the servants of heaven.  "How much strength do you think one angel possesses?...What is a 'legion'?  How many angels would there be in twelve legions?  What would be the combined strength of this number of angels?" (p.228)


Answer time:
  1. One angel in Scripture was so strong that it killed 185,000 men in one night (Isaiah 37:36).
  2. The word "Legion" is a Roman military term meaning a grouping of soldiers numbering at least 6,000.
  3. 12 Legions x 6,000 angels per Legion = 72,000 angels
  4. Let's just talk one Legion  - "Since a single angel was able to obliterate 185,000 men in one night, it would mean the combined strength in a legion of 6,000 angels would be enough to destroy 1,110, 000,000 (that is, one billion, one hundred ten million men)" (p.229)
"Now let's multiply this same number 185,000 by twelve legions, or at least 72,000 angels, which was the number of angels Jesus said was available to Him on the night of His arrest.  When we do, we find that there was enough combined strength at Jesus' disposal to have annihilated at least 13,320,000,000 (that is, thirteen billion, three hundred twenty million men) - which is more than twice the number of people living on the earth right now!" (p.229)

However, Jesus did not use these angels He mentioned.  He stayed on the cross for me and for you.  He trusted in Father God and Father God's plan for His life.  Even though The Plan meant His own bodily death, Jesus knew it also meant life for all things.  Jesus paid the price, was raised, and now sits at the right hand of His Father awaiting the perfect time to come snatch true believers, the church, to the place which He has been preparing for some time now.  

I have to say, if I was there that night in The Garden when Jesus was arrested, I would have desired to do something during that period of time that Jesus took down 300-600 men with His word.  I might have run or joined in the fight if Peter acted quickly before I ran.  Either way, it does not paint a good picture of me.  In one scenario I am right there with Peter trying to force Jesus to the throne of Israel in Jerusalem by violence.  In the other case, I am abandoning Jesus.  I should just wait on Jesus and His instructions.  

Yes, I did use the "W" word (wait).  Patience is a virtue and it is a virtue that is developed while we wait.  I believe in God's Word.  I believe in God's timing, even though I may not agree with it (long-suffering).  I believe in God's awesome track record in my life.  But, even with all this belief God still may have a reason to say, "Wait." and I must trust Him.  If I want my strength to be renewed...  If I want to feel as though I am flying with eagle's wings...  If I want to run an endurance race (like this race of life we run) and not be weary...  If I want to walk and not faint...THEN I must Qawah - expect, patiently wait for, hope.  (Isaiah 40:31).  I must, I have to Trust in Him and His plan for my life.  I simply await further instruction and pray that my mind, body, and spirit is tuned to His voice.  




Thursday, June 7, 2012

WHERE DID THESE DAYS GO?

There was a time, early on, when the Church truly devoted themselves to God, His Son's teachings, and each other.  Now-a-days I see pockets of the early devoted church exemplified throughout the world.  However, I believe the world-wide Church will need to return to this devotion now, more than ever, if True Believers are to weather the coming challenges and keep the "fire" burning for Christ.

Acts 2:42 says that the early Church devoted themselves to four things: 1) to the Apostle's teaching, (2) to fellowship, (3) to meals together, and (4) to prayer.  The actual verse in the NIV reads - "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."  


The following verses elaborate on this atmosphere of love, teaching, and provision.


"Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (43-47)

The work of the Holy Spirit by wonders and signs through the apostles was seen.  Unity and/or cohesiveness was established.  Provision was met for everyone's needs by everyone pitching-in and truly operating as a family.  Homes were hosts to fun, food, fellowship and praising God!  In the end, because they operated with the Holy Spirit in this manner - "The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

Where did these days go?  We desperately need to return to them!  We will be living with many of our Church family for eternity, so it is time we start practicing our Christlike family/church values and lifestyle.  Living this way would - (1) be in line with God's Word, (2) it would be a great witness to the rest of the world, and (3) it would strengthen the Family of God! 


My local church mission statement is - "Love God, Love People.......Serve God By Serving People".
The "people" in this charge is not only those outside of Christendom, but especially those within.  Sometimes we get so concerned about ourselves and bringing in "the Harvest" that we neglect the rest of "the body".  We can't do that.  We need to stop this.  We need to return to harmony, unity, and strength in the Lord.  By devoting ourselves to sound Biblical teaching, fellowship, meals together, and prayer - we will be on our way toward that goal.


However, with each ingredient of devotion we need to throw passion into the mix.  When sitting under great teaching, don't just hear (the sense) the words, listen (understand) to the words and APPLY them to your life as the Holy Spirit leads.  

In the fellowship of believers get close to your brothers and sisters in the Lord.  There is an automatic "support group" of any kind that you need available to you - just develop those relationships.  In addition, I would encourage you to look for your "David"/"Johnathan".  These are individuals who are the closest, best friend types that can be counted on for anything.  

Eating together is the easy part in meeting together for meals. What really gets fun and helps in the relationship development portion is when you offer to help in the preparation stage.  

Last, but not least we all need to develop the "anguish" in prayer for our loved ones and friends that need our intercession.

There is a difference between doing something and doing that same thing with some umf  or passion behind it.  The Scripture calls it "wholehearted devotion".  You can find support of this wholeheartedness in Romans 6:17 and Ephesians 6:7 just to name a couple.  So, if we are going to return to the days of adhering to sound Biblical teaching, growing in deep personal relationships, getting involved with the meal, and tugging on the hem of Jesus' robe in prayer - then let us do it wholeheartedly or with passion for God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Monday, June 4, 2012

AN ACTIVE REALTIONSHIP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

In my humble observation there have been revivals of the true Christian faith (mindset, spirit, and action), but no real staying power once the revival hits.  Now-a-days it seems longer in between periods of revivals.  Some of these historical revival periods are mentioned in a book by Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter called From Pentecost to the Present:  10 Greatest Revivals Ever.

THE TEN GREATEST REVIVALS EVER
1. The 1904 Revival, Beginning in Wales
Evan Roberts, Korea, Moravian, Azusa Street

2. The First Great Awakening, 1727-1750
Zinzendorf, Wesley, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards

3. The Second Great Awakening 1780-1810
Cane Ridge

4. The General Awakening 1830-1840
Charles Finney, Hawaii, Jamaica

5. The Layman’s Revival 1857-1861
Phoebe Palmer, Lanphier, D. L. Moody

6. The World War II Revival 1935-1950
Billy Graham, Duncan Campbell, New Zealand

7. The Baby Boomer Revival 1965-1970
The Jesus People, The Prairie Revival, Asbury

8. The Reformation, 1517
Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli, Knox

9. The Pre-Reformation Revival 1300-1500
Lollards, Wycliffe, Hus, Savonarola

10. Pentecost 30 A.D.
Peter, Ephesus, Paul

"Revival is defined as "God pouring Himself out on His people. Revival is classified into nine different expression “faces” but no matter what expression each revival takes, all are characterized as a “visitation from God.” This book observes that usually revival breaks out in many places around the world, not just in one place; so each of the “greatest revivals” are not just isolated events. Therefore, the Ten Greatest Revivals described in this book are ten epochs or ten different “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” - Introduction

______________________________________
The more time elapses between visitations of refreshing and/or revivals of God's Spirit in His Church the more I see the lack of the church operating by the leading of the Holy Spirit and in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

God loved us so much that He represented Himself perfectly in human form through His Word, His Son - Jesus (Hebrews 1:3).  Jesus did and said everything He saw and heard the Father telling Him to do and say (John 14:6-11).  Jesus was the obedient Son of God even unto death upon the cross.  But He arose victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave.  However, before Christ suffered and died for all, in John 14:16 He said, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--".  The Greek word for "another" in this verse is the word ALLOS.  "It means one of the very same kind; same character; same everything; or a duplicate." (Renner, Sparkling Gems, p.195)  So, when Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of Father God and this other that was sent - The Holy Spirit - was and is an exact duplicate of Jesus, THEN.........


There are quite a few "then" comments that can be made after the initial statement. 
Then... the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives within us. (Romans 8:11)
Then... when the Holy Spirit speaks to us it will always line up with God's Word.
Then... when you see the Holy Spirit at work in someone's life that is the same thing as the nature and/or favor of Jesus displayed in that life (knowing this because you have read the Bible and know the life of Jesus).


"As Jesus teaches the disciples about the Holy Spirit, He takes this truth one step further.  Just as Jesus is the exact image of the Father in every way, now Jesus unmistakably tells the disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will exactly represent Jesus in every word.  That's why the word allos is used to make this point.  It leaves no room for doubt that the Holy Spirit will be exactly like Jesus." (Renner, p.196)


"Jesus did only what the Heavenly Father would do, and now the Holy Spirit will do only what Jesus would do.  As Jesus' Representative on earth, the Holy Spirit never acts on His own or out of character with the life of Jesus Christ."  (Renner, p.196)


"You see, the Spirit of God was sent to bring us the life of Jesus.  Just as Jesus told Philip, 'If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father,' now He is telling us, 'If you have the Holy Spirit, it will be just as if you have Me."

"I've often head Christians ask, 'I wonder what it must have been like to walk with Jesus.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to walk with Him and to hear His voice and talk to Him?'  But believers who ask these kinds of questions don't understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  If they did, they'd know that having the Holy Spirit with them is just like having Jesus right at their side!" (Renner, p.195)

"You and I must stop looking backward and grieving over what we missed by not living two thousand years ago.  Instead, we must learn to let the Holy Spirit lead and guide us, just as He did in the Early Church.  Jesus' physical absence didn't stop the early believers from performing miracles, raising the dead, casting out demons, healing the sick, or bringing multitudes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Because the Holy Spirit was with them, the ministry of Jesus continued uninterrupted in their midst." (Renner, p.196)

"Why don't you start opening your heart to the work of the Spirit today?  Remember, if you have the Holy Spirit working alongside you, it's just like having Jesus right there at your side!" (Renner, p.196) 


PRAYER
"Lord, help me learn how to work with the Holy Spirit!  I don't want to waste time grieving over what I missed by not living two thousand years ago, so I ask you to teach me how to let the Spirit lead and guide me.  Your Word teaches that because the Holy Spirit is with me, the ministry of Jesus can continue uninterrupted in my life today.  Holy Spirit, I ask you to bring me into a greater knowledge of how to work with you so that the ministry of Jesus can continue through me!


In the name of Jesus I pray, amen!" (Renner, p.196-197)