Friday, May 31, 2013

A WASTE OF TIME

Looking for a "hidden sin" is a tactic of the enemy meant to get your focus and attention off The Lord.  Imagine all the things that concern you when diverted by a whisper in your spirit that says something like, "You must have done something to tick God off, otherwise things would be moving along."  Don't listen to comments like this, in any form!  Get into the Word of God and observe what His promises are for you in and through Jesus Christ!

God's Word speaks about Christ's work on the Cross being a Complete work of saving or salvation (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:10).  How, then, can a "hidden sin" be a problem?  There is no "hidden sin" in a Complete Work of Salvation.     

The key to walking or living in freedom for Christians is not to get addicted to looking for every mistake around the corner.  Christians still continue to sin after declaring to follow Jesus, but their nature should be changed to not be inclined toward sin anymore.  As a help, the Holy Spirit through James instructs us - "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)  However, Christians should not be worried, concerned or focused on sin.  This gives me the impression of walking on spiritual eggshells all the time.  Instead, we should be Salvation minded.

Paul in his letter to the church in Ephesus helps us to be Salvation minded when he encourages them and us to put on the Helmet of Salvation daily (Ephesians 6:17).  A great deal of freedom for the Christian can be realized when he/she fully grasps - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," - Romans 8:1  Whenever Christians stumble in their walk or when they are on the straight and narrow, Father God is always looking at them through the Completed Work of Jesus Christ.   Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." - John 10:10  "Abundant life" does not include looking over your shoulder or holding your breath until you find some "hidden sin".

There is no way Father God can look to the left or to the right of Jesus when viewing us. There is no looking under or over Jesus when He sees the true believer.  Father God looks at Jesus and His sacrifice as He beholds us.  God the Father looks through Jesus' sacrifice as He gazes upon the Believer and because of Christ's Complete Work He continues to shower His kids with Love, Grace, Mercy, and Favor!  It's all because of the Complete Work of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior!  Hallelujah!

Hidden sins?  There is no such thing.  A complete.....Waste Of Time!  Jesus paid it all!  Live in His Completed Work!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A WORD AND A PERSON

What is so awesome about my conversion and all other conversions is that "he first loved us" - "We love because he first loved us." - 1 John 4:19  The love that was shown to us by God the Father through Christ so many years ago - His life, beatings, death, and resurrection - was all unconditional, undeserved, and unmerited favor.  "For it is by [unconditional, undeserved, and unmerited favor] you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" (Ephesians 2:8)

I have heard it said, even to my face, "Ah, but you don't know the atrocities I have done."  No, but God does and He took care of the penalty you and I would have faced for those "atrocities" in life.  The worse possible things in life a person could ever do or think to do - Jesus paid for it all.  So, whenever you begin to think of an affront against God that might be unpardonable, remember - "where sin increased, [unconditional, undeserved, unmerited favor] increased all the more," (Romans 5:20).

There is a word I am avoiding here because we have heard it, read it, sung it, preached it, and taught it many times within Christendom to the point of numbness whenever it is used.

Did you know that there were certain people looking intently for this favor of God before it came on the scene in the person of Jesus of Nazareth?  "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the [favor] that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care," (1 Peter 1:10)  

Besides Jesus, Stephen was full of this undeserved/unmerited favor (Acts 6:8).  Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly about this kind of favor and because so they were enabled by God to do miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 14:3).  Paul, later in his letter to the church in Corinth, describes how God's favor is to blame for everything concerning his life.  "But by the [undeserved favor] of God I am what I am, and his [favor] to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the [unmerited favor] of God that was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10).  In his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul writes that even our speech is to be loaded with the favor of the Lord - "Let your conversation be always full of [God's favor], seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:6)

There is even a Throne of Favor.  Christians have access to this Throne of Favor in order to receive mercy and favor concerning help in times of pressure.  Hebrews 4:16 actually reads - "Let us then approach the throne of [God's favor] with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find [favor] to help us in our time of need."  More of God's favor is awarded to those who are humble - "But he gives us more [favor]. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives [favor] to the humble." (James 4:6)

God's favor is not just something that can be enjoyed here and now, but 1 Peter 1:13 encourages us to look forward to a day when Believers will be lavished with more favor from Christ - in person.  "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the [favor] to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."  Meanwhile, actively wait.  Jesus said, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)  A true believer -  who has experienced the saving, unconditional, undeserved, unmerited favor of God - will desire to share or spread this great news as far and wide as possible!  In fact, 1 Peter 4:10 encourages Christians to do just that - "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's [favor] in its various forms."

What is this unconditional, undeserved, unmerited favor of God that we received and we now can give to the rest of the world?    His Grace.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

TAKE UP THY SHIELD

When Paul observed the Roman soldier and in particular his shield he saw attention to detail.  The Roman shield was made-up of many layers, usually six layers, of durable animal skins (according to Rick Renner research) .  When forged together the shield became almost as strong as metal.

The crucial element to remember with this piece of equipment was the daily care it required to keep it maintained.

  • "A soldier was given a daily schedule for maintaining his shield in excellent condition.  Each morning when he woke up, he would reach for his shield and for a small vial of oil.  After saturating a piece of cloth with this heavy ointment, he would thoroughly rub the oil into the leather of the shield to keep it soft, supple, and pliable.  For a soldier to ignore this daily application of oil and to let his shield go without this kind of required care was essentially the equivalent of his inviting certain death." (Dressed To Kill, Renner, p.349)
Even though this shield was the shape and size of a small door, without the faithful application of oil on a soldier's shield there would always be the possibility of the shield not fulfilling it's full potential of defense.

This shield in Ephesians 6:16 is referred to as the Shield of Faith.  Taking the image of the soldier and his shield above as a spiritual metaphor - our faith should be tended to daily by the reading of God's Word and praying in God's Spirit.

You see, in this picture of the Roman soldier the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14), representing the written Word of God, has a notch on the belt for the shield to latch onto and hang when not in use.  The belt also has a place like this for the scabbard where the sword of the spirit (the Rhema Word of God) resides in peaceful moments.  So, everything hinges, everything is supported, everything begins from the belt or belt of truth or written Word of God!

Besides diving into the Word of God every day and praying in the Spirit on all occasions (Ephesians 6:18), the shield of faith itself should be cared for by the "rubbing on of oil".

"Does your faith need a fresh anointing?  If so, you must go before the Great Anointer and allow Him to give you a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit.

This is prescisely what David was referring to when he said, '...I shall be anointed with fresh oil' (Psalm 92:10).

The word 'anoint' comes from the Greek word chrio.  It was originally a medical term.  When a patient with sore muscles came to see his physician, the physician would pour oil on his own hands and then begin to rub that oil into the patient's sore muscles.

Technically, then, the word 'anoint' has to do with the rubbing or smearing of oil on someone else.  I call the anointing a hands-on situation!

Thus, when we speak of a person who is anointed, we are actually saying that the hand of God is upon that person and that God is rubbing the strong presence of the Holy Spirit into that man or woman's life or ministry.  If a person's sermon is anointed, it is because the hand of God is upon it.  If a person sings an anointed song, the song is anointed because the hand of God is upon it.

The anointing is the result of God's hand personally imparting the strong presence of the Holy Spirit into something.  Therefore, if you need a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit upon your faith, you must come before the Great Anointer!  He alone can give you what you need.  Open your heart to the Spirit of God, and allow Him to lay His hand upon your life and your faith in a fresh, new way.  As you do, a strong anointing will follow - this is guaranteed!"  (Dressed To Kill, Renner, pp.367-368)

Christians have a very personal and personable God.  IF you surrender to Him, stay in His Word, pray in the Spirit, and "oil your faith" daily -  God will massage (anoint) your faith as well as other areas of your life.  All this SO THAT the believer can effectively "take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." (Ephesians 6:16)  Faith is active.

Monday, May 27, 2013

VISITOR OR HOST?

Have you ever spent what you considered all of your mind, all of your strength, and all of your soul in a project for others, as a gift?

I am sure many have experienced the following.  Growing up, my mom and dad would play host to friends/family visits.  My family back in-the-day was mom, dad, grandma, brother, and me.  We lived in a split level house.  When the time drew near for the visit the whole property from the outside to the inside was made ready for their arrival and stay (no matter how brief or long).  We each had our duties and responsibilities and carried them out to make the whole yard, house, rooms, meals, atmosphere, and so forth - a welcoming place, a place you would want to stay and come back.  I know that might sound like a slogan for a hotel chain, but that is the kind of energy mom and dad put into hosting and STILL DO!

This kind of taxing, draining sacrifice to accommodate family or friends is sometimes done willfully with a cheerful heart and at other times out of the necessity of a situation.  Within these two ways, one might have family or friends stay that aren't exactly on the Favorites List.  All this and much more has to be considered and was considered in my home with mom and dad doing a stellar job at whatever was thrown at them throughout the years.  Mom and Dad, you were and are the best hosts for anything in our home and I thank you for all your time, energy, love, and sacrifice you gave to make anybody feel at home.

Many of the guests, if not all, did not pay anything for their visit.  Again, even though I sound like we were a hotel, we were not - to that degree.  Many of the guests did not work or help with any of the continuing chores that had to be done in order for the creature-comforts to materialize.  A hug, a kiss, an "I love you" and "Come see us" was all that was usually given at the end of the stay.  The thing is we were not expecting anything more.  Mom and dad had poured their life out because they loved their guest and loved to host them.  But now I see, their service and sacrifice went beyond mere hosting, it was showing God's love to anybody, especially family, that needed to experience His loving kindness.  "Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name." - Psalm 63:3-4

Now I turn to God's example - Jesus.  Father God sent Jesus into our home that He created, became the creation of His image - man, and proceeded to show humanity how to host God's Love and serve it unconditionally.  Father God prepared for the arrival of His Word with John the Baptist's teachings and all the symbolic items of the Tabernacle of Moses and Solomon's Temple that pointed the way to The Way - Jesus.  Then Jesus hosted God's heart through His life and in the end gave all His mind, soul, and strength as a love sacrifice for me and you.  Jesus paid for it all.  The eternal love He hosted and gave was and still is free.  It is a gift.

God's Son was the Visitor to this world in which He made and yet He acted the Host.  He was the one who shared our griefs and sorrows.  He was the one who was not only nailed to the cross for our sins (wounded for our transgressions), but He suffered for that which would lead us to sin also (bruised for our iniquities).  He took all the joy robbing upon Himself so we would know peace (the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him).  He took all the whips and lashings so we would experience healing (by His wounds we are healed).  He taught, performed miracles, discipled, commissioned, and loved us so much He sacrificed Himself for us only to rise from the grave and leave again.  However, He has promised He is coming back to be the ultimate host of the world/earth.  Until then Christians are to host in His Name and gather more Believers to work as hosts of God's love to the world.

A major point to remember is that Christians do not have to be in their home, church, or some structure to host the loving-kindness of God.  Christians are to carry that attitude and available kind of service around everywhere we go, SO THAT we set an example for all men and women -

  • "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)
  • "set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)
  • "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:10)


So, as my title suggests - are you a visitor or host?  Does your life reflect more of a receiving or giving flavor?  There is nothing wrong with humbly receiving from others, just allow the scales to tip more toward giving and you and I will become an even better Host of the Living God!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

CONSIDER THE SOURCE

Can God say to you right now - "You are doing well, my good and faithful servant."?  If you can say, yes, to my question, then "the joy of the Lord is your strength".  It is His Joy that is being spoken of in Nehemiah 8:10.  Why would anyone receive strength in life from Him being joyous over them unless their relationship is right where He wants it to be?

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." - Nehemiah 8:10

In the development of the Christian, JOY is a wonderful benefit to grasp and never let go.  A definition of joy is "keen pleasure or delight".  So, the green phrase above could be read "the keen pleasure/delight of the LORD is your strength."  So, whenever you sense from God, His peace and joy - know that He has got you right where He wants you, He is delighted in you and you can derive Strength from that.

Ever wanted to throw a party because you finally - Got It!?  I have been there many times and will probably be there many more.  The people in Nehemiah 8:12 didn't just have joy, they had great joy "because they now understood the words that had been made known to them."  The Ah-Ha Moment, thanks to God, received some celebration.

"Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them." - Nehemiah 8:12

Another definition of Joy is great delight or great happiness. In the following verse (Nehemiah 12:43) we can see that great sacrifices were offered because God gave great joy to the people. Great joy, therefore, could be translated as at least one level above happiness. Their joy was so great that it manifested into a sound of rejoicing within Jerusalem that "could be heard far away".

And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. - Nehemiah 12:43

Other Scriptures that speak to who and what Joy is for the Christian are.....

His presence is joy - Psalm 16:11.
His precepts give joy - Psalm 19:8.
His joy described as an anointing oil of joy (massaging oil of joy) - Psalm 45:7.
God's statutes are the heart's joy. - Psalm 119:111
___________________________________________________________
Jerusalem considered "my highest joy". - Psalm 137:6
A wise son brings joy to his father, - Proverbs 10:1
The prospect of the righteous is joy - Proverbs 10:28
joy for those who promote peace. - Proverbs 12:20
A man finds joy in giving an apt reply-- and how good is a timely word! - Proverbs 15:23
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, - Proverbs 15:30
When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous - Proverbs 21:15
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, - Proverbs 27:9 (but in modest amounts)

Always consider the source.  If you sense you are being spiritually attacked or if you find yourself in a human situation that is devoid of joy - consider the source.  Then in the middle of your circumstance remember your source of Joy and the reasons for that Joy!

For example, let us examine one of my favorite stories of the Bible.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were ordered to be thrown into a fiery furnace because they chose to obey God rather than an earthly king and worship only their God.  They were bound and then they said this - "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." - Daniel 3:16-18 

Oh to have this kind of faith, this kind of confidence, this kind of peace, this kind of Joy in the face of death!

I say this because these three men survived the approach to the furnace!  The guards that held them and had to throw them into the furnace died in the process because of the intensity of the heat of the furnace (Daniel 3:22).  What?  What about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego you say?  "So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them." - Daniel 3:26-27

To know God as your source of everything, especially your joy is critical in life.  But look there's more!  Not only does God save you from the circumstances, like He did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, He will incredibly influence others in the process and do a miracle in their lives as a result.  In this case, the king was influenced.  Observe what King Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed - "Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon." - Daniel 3:28-30

In the case of Paul and Silas being miraculously freed from prison, a guard's entire family was converted, other prisoners were influenced so mightily that they stay around, and the magistrate gave the word to let them go.  All this because Paul and Silas first knew God as their source of everything then they obeyed God (Acts 16:16-40).

I imagine there is nothing like experiencing a "Joy Robber" like being thrown in a furnace or locked in the very bottom of a prison in stocks and chains with multiple guard stations all the way to the top.  Both situations scream, "There is no escape!"  But, remember and draw from where your living water flows and whom you can count on no matter what comes your way.  Your joy and peace is in that dose of living water wherever you are in life.  What can anybody threaten the Believer with - Heaven? (nod to Pastor Dial)  Bring it on!

So, consider the source and draw from yours!

Friday, May 24, 2013

LET'S DO OUR PART

Did you know everybody on the planet is saved from an eternity separated from God?  Christ's work on the Cross is Complete.  He does not have to come back for anyone and die for any individual over and over again.  All that needs to happen now is for the Body of Christ, the Church of Christ, the Ambassadors of Christ, the True Believers in Christ - Christians, in love, to share the best news ever told.

Time is getting shorter and shorter upon which the Son of God will come back to Rapture or catch-up all His true believers dead and alive since His resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), because -  "...if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." - John 14:3

Eternal damnation and/or separation from God is at stake.  This is Urgent!  This is Priority for the Church as a whole (world-wide, national, regional, state, county, city, and local).  This is a Priority for the individual Christian - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," - Matthew 28:19  This command was to a bunch of individuals at the time.  They were not The Church at this point in the journey.  They were also not labeled Christians yet either.  I sense in my Spirit, Christ saying in The Great Commission, especially within the word "Therefore" - "All of you have been with me and heard what I have had to say.  You have seen with your own eyes my death and resurrection and how I have complete authority over all things, SO GO tell the rest of the world I did this for them too that they may spend eternity with me and my Father."

Everybody is saved, they just have to be awakened to that news and given the opportunity to accept it as their own.  If they are not awakened to the great news of Christ's salvation plan then we have fallen in our responsibility as Followers of Christ.  If the person hears, but does not accept the news fully into their own life, then that is on their head.

Let us make sure we, the Christians, are loving humanity enough to do our part and at least tell them about Jesus and His provision for all of us.  Let us lead people to the Living Water (John 4:10; 7:38).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

JUST LET GO

I have held onto things in my life that would be so much better in the Lord's hands. Even now I can hear the Holy Spirit calling to remembrance and saying - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) 

There have even been some things, the Bible calls strongholds, that I have basically said, to God, "I've got this one God. I can manage this issue on my own." [Buzzer sound] Wrong answer! In response, first I hear the Spirit say, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" - 1 Timothy 3:5 Ouch! That one hurt a little Lord. Then a more powerful Word of the Lord is brought to mind - [Jesus said] "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

Control and independence have their allure but they are illusions. We do have to take responsibility for our actions. However, our degree(s) of freedom and our sense of control over life should be tempered with surrender - first.

Throughout every day Christians need to find themselves abiding in Christ. IF our plans are submitted to God first - "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" (Proverbs 16:3) - then our success rate jumps above and beyond what we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
God says that He wants us to trust Him wholeheartedly, forgetting about the way humans think AND acknowledge His works in your life, on a daily basis, and He will make sure your direction is lined-up with His will. [My paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5] "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

In addition, I have learned that God is so interested in my life and so involved in my life that He instructs me to - "not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. - Philippians 4:6

He is the only God who has invested His Word made flesh, His only Son - Jesus - to secure this kind of extremely personal relationship. I say Hallelujah! I have God, whom I can come boldly before (Hebrews 4:16) and speak with at any time, about any thing and everything! In fact, as seen above, He encourages us to discuss everything.

Christians, we have a very personable God that desires to be involved in every breath of our days. Whatever our independence says that we have control over, I challenge you and me to release it into God's capable hands. All of the potential positives of our lives and all the negatives of our lives are better in God's hands. So, I challenge us where we are in our individual walks with God -

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17

As a result..."the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7

I Surrender
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Friday, May 17, 2013

BAD NEWS.......GOOD NEWS

Why does the news media report mainly negative stories or events?

If there is an unfortunate vehicle accident on a major road that causes major issues - I understand.
If there is a murder in which the killer is still loose and could kill again - I understand reporting.
It there is a natural disaster or man-made disaster in which people need safety information - I understand reporting.

However, I believe there are a myriad of stories/events that the news media could leave alone.  Those events are those that the public would just mummer about and is just filler for the broadcast.  The story has no bearing on anyone's life, only the development of a meaningless opinion around the water-jug at work.

There are some short and extended parts of newscasts that inform the public on serious issues facing our local community, county, state, region, and nation.  These special parts to the newscasts have "professionals" discuss or debate the path we should take.  I believe these are productive and at least get people thinking and possibly contacting their government representative with more creative ideas on how to tackle a certain problem.

If the news media would just take the time and weed out of their line-up, all the stories, for a start, that are Not vitally informative and safety related, then I believe their time and our time will have been better spent.  There is too much sensationalism.  Too much drama.  Too much entertainment.  Life is entertaining, dramatic, and sensational enough without the news media trying to help it.

I came to a point somewhere a couple of years back when I stopped watching the news.  I would come back to it every once-in-a-while, but the same condition would meet me every time.  There is such a negative, defeating spirit associated with the news and news media that I stopped watching.  Instead, I stuck my head in the Word of God and have been blogging and trying to live out His plan for my life more.  I have not been ignorant of the goings-on around me.  No.  I have just been 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

"I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." - John 17:14-15

If you are somewhere on the same boat as I am, remember we, as Christians, have Good News.  We call it The Gospel.  This Good News is for everyone, so be alert to your opportunities to share because this Good News is a long-lasting news.  Let His light shine through you to those around you.  Be that flavorful salt to the mix of your co-workers and buddies and strangers.  With all the negative news that is flowing like a waterfall every minute of every day, it is a shame to keep this Good News for ourselves - it was never meant to be kept.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, - 1 Peter 3:15

Thursday, May 16, 2013

ZEALOUS FOR HIS NAME

I believe this needs to be addressed again...
Christians - I implore you - DO NOT use GOD'S name as an EXCLAMATION!!!

Whenever Christians say things like - "Oh my God!" or "My God!" or "God Almighty!" or "Good God!" -  my stomach turns and I want to say, "You should know better than taking God's name loosely, haphazardly, or in vain."

In the Narnia collection of stories by C.S. Lewis, just the mention of the name of ASLAN (the lion) elicits a positive response physically (i.e. one's whole countenance is uplifted) from the other characters. That is how I feel when the name of Jesus is mentioned in respect or any other name that my Lord or God goes by in Holy Scripture. The opposite can be said too. Whenever someone, especially a supposed believer, straight out takes the Lord's Name in vain or misuses it in any other way (just being careless and flippant with His name like mentioned above), I feel violated, dirty, sad, and angry - all in one emotion.

I am zealous for my God's name.  Someone said recently that we don't have to defend God, He can defend Himself.  I disagree to a point.  While Christ's physical body is at the Right Hand of Father God, Christians are supposedly the representation of Christ's body on this earth, filled with His Holy Spirit to perform His will throughout the nations and ages.  This means Christians are to think the Word of God, speak the Word of God, act out/live the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.  In any given circumstance, after you represent Christ, then is when the situation is in God's hands for operation and defense.

If you are a Christian walking through life and taking God's name in vain - using His name improperly as an Exclamation in your speech - then your witness for the Kingdom is suffering.  It is not a good example of how Christians should speak in the presence of other believers but especially non-believers.  Hearing Christians exclaiming - "Jesus Christ!" or any of the above selections is simply unacceptable.

I don't buy into the fact that it could be a cultural thing.  What I do buy into is that it was a learned behavior that needs to be adjusted quickly.  Christians are supposedly a new creature in Christ.  As such, God's name needs to be respected to the umph degree (infinite degree).  So, for future reference God's MAIN names are....wait for it....God and Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit.

What does a Holy God mean to you?  Do you consider God Holy?  Do you include God's name or the many names He goes by as Holy?  This is a key factor in how you treat His name in your daily walk with Him and around others.

My definition of a Holy God is - a God who is perfect and unapproachable except for by the grace and love He has shown us through Christ Jesus the LORD.  I consider God's name and the many other titles He goes by as Holy.  Take heed and revere His name.  Honor His presence in your lives by speaking His name in the awesome respect He deserves.

  • "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." Exodus 20:7
  • " 'Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:12
  • “They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the offerings made to the LORD…” Leviticus 21:6
  • “…anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.” Leviticus 24:16
  • "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Deuteronomy 5:11
  • "If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name--the LORD your God-- the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses.” Deuteronomy 28:58-59

Do you do all things - words/deeds - in the name of the LORD Jesus, being sure to give thanks to the Father through Him? Guess what? That is a charge to Christians from the Lord through Paul in Colossians 3:17

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

It's high time we strive to be a Whole Christian and not just in part. In thoughts, in actions, in words - let us always bring honor and praise to His Name. What is in a name? Everything is in His name and He deserves every bit of this discipline.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TRUE WORSHIP

Sacrifice. It can be a powerful expression of worship that often manifests in the physical world to display one’s commitment to God.

When I hear the phrase, especially in song, “we bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord”, I imagine someone at a place in their life where they don’t feel and can’t reason praising God. I have been there. I have allowed some situations to blind me so bad I panic and don’t operate with the other spiritual “senses” I have like trust in His promises, previous victories, going back to the basics – His provision of my salvation. Yet, through the writer of the book of Hebrews, God says, 

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name.” – Hebrews 13:15 

One of the ways we can willfully show God our sacrifice of praise is to bow. If our mind and spirit are not quite ready to praise yet, bowing is a great start toward reaching that sacrifice of praise. "The Hebrew word most often translated as worship is the word shachah. It simply means to bow. We most often see it paired with the words 'bowed down,'" (p.83, Neese, How To Worship A King) This version of bowing seems to be connected with a simple display of reverence, possibly a bowing of the head and heart. That is the Old Testament word for bow. The New Testament word for bow or worship has our body even more surrendered.

The New Testament word for worship is proskuneo. "Proskuneo means to prostrate yourself before God and to blow Him kisses because you adore Him. The New Testament does not let us off the hook at all. If anything, New Testament worshipers bow lower (prostration is lying face first, flat on the ground) and humble themselves more than Old Testament worshipers." (pp.83-83, Neese) This is the picture I get when reading about the 24 Elders of Revelation 4:10-11

“…the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." 

I also get this image when I sing – “We bow down, we cast our crowns, at the feet of Jesus, we cry, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb”.

Why would you desire to worship God anyway? Why would you want to bow before God? For me there are countless reasons I could start listing. The number one reason why I worship Him is He loved me first by not withholding the life of His only Son for the redemption and restoration of my eternal relationship with Him. Another way to explain why one would worship/bow down to God is found in Luke 7:36-50.

Within this passage Jesus visits the home of a Pharisee named Simon. As Jesus is visiting, a woman of questionable reputation also comes into the room and "brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." (v.37-38)

Simon slipped up. Whenever a guest, especially a guest of honor, visited your home the host was expected to first, cleanse the feet of the guest or at least provide the water for the guest to clean his/her feet. Second, give the guest an appropriate kiss of welcome. Finally, the host was to anoint the guest's head with oil. After observing what the woman did for Him and after observing what Simon Did Not do for Him - Jesus said,

"Simon, I have something to tell you." (v.40)

"Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. (v.44-47)

Take Notice! "Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole." I believe this ole song could be sung again and again by this woman. Many scholars believe this woman to be Mary Magdalene. I tend to agree. I don't see this woman so distraught over Simon's mistakes that she capitalizes on them. No. I support the view that Mary's life changing encounter with Jesus occurred before this moment of worship, therefore the attitude of gratitude and humility drove her to find Jesus and worship Him - "When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house,..." (v.37). You know the rest of the story.

"First Corinthians 11:13 says that a woman's hair is her glory. This woman used her glory as a rag to serve Jesus. If only we could worship so well. If only we would humble our glory to serve His Body instead of wearing our glory as crowns for our own beautification." (p.95, Neese)

I challenge me as well as you today, align your body, mind, and spirit to deliver God proper worship. Bow before Him, laying prostrate and surrendered and the sacrifice of praise will flow easier. "Worship is a posture of our hearts that informs every action of our lives. Worship is an attitude of love and submission that demands action." (p.89, Neese)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jesus Priest

Jesus’ High Priesthood Is Forever

Hebrews 6:20
20…Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.


Jesus is our High Priest forever. This “forever” aspect changes the way we are blessed and how we receive our blessings from God. As our High Priest, Jesus represents us before God. Since His priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek, which is one of righteousness, His righteousness becomes our righteousness forever. This means that we are forever righteous in God’s eyes!

And because He will never die, but continue as our High Priest forever, we have an everlasting righteousness, not merely a here-today-gone-tomorrow righteousness based on our works. No, we have a perpetual and everlasting righteousness because Jesus is our High Priest forever.

This also means that blessings are perpetually on your head because the Bible says that blessings are on the head of the righteous (Proverbs 10:6), and you are righteous forever!

Unlike the priesthood according to the Levitical order, which blesses as well as curses, the priesthood of Jesus according to the Melchizedek order only blesses. There is no cursing, only blessing—always and forever!

And because Jesus is our High Priest forever, the blessings do not come to us in intermittent drips, but stream into our lives in a never-ending flow. Because He is our High Priest forever, we can never stop His blessings.

By being our High Priest forever, Jesus also touches the blessings that He gives us with a forever effect. He touches our lives and we have eternal life. He touches our ministry and its impact becomes eternal. And the more we see His priesthood as having a forever effect, the more permanent our blessings will be.

Truly, there is nothing temporal about what Jesus our High Priest does. It is not a case of blessed today, cursed tomorrow. The blessings we receive are sure and steadfast because Jesus is our High Priest today, tomorrow and forever.

So rejoice because Jesus your High Priest changes how you are blessed forever!

-Joseph Prince (Daily Grace Inspirations, April 30, 2013)