Thursday, August 28, 2014

FRIEND OF THE WORLD


Nations, cultures, and families spar over the teachings of Jesus and especially His divinity. The message of Jesus and the lifestyle change He requests on behalf of His Father is no less than drastic in the eyes of the world. Jesus said of this disturbance -
  • Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luke 12:51-53)
Why the division? James says it nicely when he stated -
  • ...don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4) 
The word - "world" - in the original Greek is kosmos. This word means orderly arrangement or decoration. Figuratively or literally when you apply this to a global scale of people and nations you get world systems and world trappings - both of which are not eternal. The systems of the world - political, economical, and judicial are flawed in that they are controlled by flawed humanity. As soon as there is a threatening view to this world-machine, the world tries to snuff it out. Even if the new view makes all the sense in the world, the challenging ideas and people associated with them receive hate. Such was the case with Christ. Jesus warned if you are associated with Him, the world will continue to hate you -
  • If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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 15:18-19)
This decision to take on the hate of the world if one chooses to accept Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior is not something I hear taught or preached from the pulpit. Maybe it is a given to some, especially those already in The Fold/Kingdom, but it is not even in the fine writing. This message is in regular sized type and Red Letters. For a prospective Christian, the Good News that God was willing to pay such a high price to secure my eternal salvation is always good to hear. It is also a good thing to know what life would be like without Christ, here on earth and eternally. However, it is also a healthy thing to teach what it will mean to be a follower of Christ - a friend of God (John 15:15) or an enemy of God - A Friend Of The World.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PRE-PRAYER LIFE


It is great to know that Believers in Christ are privileged to have a relaxed, childlike, conversational dialogue with God like we have with each other here on earth with our friends and family. However, there are a few notes, a few pointers that God emphasizes that should lead the Christian to a more structured prayer life.

Let us start before we even get into prayer. Matthew 7:7 says - "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you." The first step is to ask God. However, what would make this step even better is to harmonize your request with God's Word and everybody involved (call it step 1a). James 4:3 warns us of our true intentions in praying, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives." So, ask yourself some questions, check your motives then consider your thanksgivings before heading into prayer.

A grateful, thankful heart and mind is a another wonderful pre-prayer meditation to bring into your prayer life every time. It properly sets the atmosphere of the room and attitude of our heart to communicate with God. In Other Words, do not go into prayer with The Lord empty handed. Just like bringing tribute to a king, the King of Kings deserves our praise up front. In the Old Testament, God in Exodus 23:15; 34:20, and Deuteronomy 16:16 comes flat out and says - "No one is to appear before me empty-handed."
How much more should we capitalize on Paul's encouragement in the New Testament when in Hebrews 13:15 he states - "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name."

Re-focusing on Matthew 7:7, seeking requires that you actively participate in the journey toward God's solution. I would venture to say that most of the time we pray, the answers don't just come to us wrapped in a bow for us to unwrap like a Christmas morning present. No. In fact we have to daily pursue God's plan for our lives or "knock" so that He will answer us like the judge answered the persistent woman in Luke 18:1-8.

Something that both you and God are going to appreciate in prayer is brevity. Matthew records Jesus saying, And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)  I should know about this I can get long-winded with the best of them. The advantage of being specific with God is He will be specific with you. Ask a specific question, receive a specific answer. This leaves no shadow of doubt that God heard you and has informed you when He responds. Ask a broad, generic question to God and don't complain when the answer does not suit your liking. Be short, to the point and specific with your words/request.

Other teachings on how we should pray, given by The Lord, are found in Matthew 6:5-6, 9-13. They include instruction not to broadcast your prayers for the sake of vanity but make prayer a more private matter.
  • And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (verses 5-6)
The structure and possible wording for prayer is found in verses 9-13.
  • This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' "
As Forrest Gump always used to quote his mama, so I will do the same here - "Think before you open your mouth to speak." I still have a challenge with this sometimes with people, but it is even more important to me every day with God in my Pre-Prayer Life.

WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT

What is IT all about? The answer is God's presence. For Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11) God wants our journey to be one of life. He sent Jesus that we might experience life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Just being in His presence for eternity is a joyous occasion. But Wait There's More! God in His abundance desires to shower the Believer in Christ with "pleasures for evermore". To make sure you receive the joy of being eternally in God's presence, living life to the fullest and experiencing His pleasures the all important question becomes - Who do you know?

Jesus spoke about - What It Is All About and who we should know - as He prayed to God The Father -

  • Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3). 

Then later as He prayed for all believers He added -

  • Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24). 

From the moment we are born we are constantly making decisions. The sooner we come to a decision on life after death the sooner our lives can be filled with purpose. If life is not about a relationship with the Way Maker, Jesus Christ, then one's eternal life-giving, joyous, pleasurable destination, usually called Heaven, is in jeopardy. There is an eternity of blessing to experience by accepting, knowing, and loving Jesus as your personal King and Savior. If you have not thought about your eternal destination and who can help you get there, then consider life, consider joy, consider pleasures forevermore, consider Heaven, and consider Jesus Christ - He is what life is all about.

  • For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

Friday, August 22, 2014

CHECK-UP TIME


If you desire to be a healthy and productive Christian, your spiritual body, especially your spiritual heart, cannot afford to JUST go through life without proper care. Proverbs 4:23 places a lot of value on this part of our body - Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. King Solomon's emphasis on the heart via the Holy Spirit is well placed. You can almost hear King Solomon taking a lesson from his earthly father David and Heavenly Father Yahweh as David penned - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) Then later Jesus declares that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8).

Are your spiritual arteries clogged? A pure heart knows God's will much better and flows much easier in His plan than a heart congested with unidentified, unconfessed, unforgiven sin that can block those spiritual arteries like cholesterol. "A heart that is not pure will keep you seeking the wisdom of men rather than the ways of God! It will keep you needing prayer instead of offering prayer for others." (Bob Gass) Instead of going through the motions that Christians can get so easily ensnared in (Hebrews 12:1), choose to pray and ask for a cleaning of your heart. The result of such a prayer/request is a better ability to hear God, worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), and experience or "see" Him in new ways every day (Lamenatations 3:22-23).

Allow God to gut you out today of all that is unnecessary. As David said at the end of his 139th Psalm - Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. It is never a bad moment for a Check-Up Time.

MY BOXING GLOVES OF THE FAITH


In the scope of eternity, the time humans have to live on this earth is but a vapor and that is an understatement. In the movie Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf said, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." So, in this line of thought - that time is short and I should do my part while here on earth - I feel overwhelmed sometimes to tell people who are living incorrectly that they are in the wrong. I understand an attractive lifestyle on my part, an exemplary lifestyle might be a more gracious way of gaining their attention. However, time is short and often I look at those "spiritual boxing gloves" and want to try to knock some sense into people before it is too late.

I mean we are talking about two eternal realities - A New Heaven and New Earth with the New Jerusalem as it's capital OR The Lake of Fire. These two destinations await people who accept or deny the answer (a relationship with Jesus Christ) to humanity's ISSUE, which is the disconnect between God and humanity because of our joint rebellion with Satan.

With the world getting crazier by the second and signs of The Day of the Lord increasing in intensity and frequency (Matthew 24:8) I have one eye on the heaven's for my Rapture and the other eye on a potential target for His Kingdom. I know Scripture says, "The battle belongs to the Lord" (1 Samuel 17:47; 2 Chronicles 20:15; Proverbs 21:31) and the battle itself is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), but I am still in student mode as I learn what it means 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). I don't want to wait around to be asked now-a-days and I will be ready for that opportunity, but my gentleness and respect can use some work. "Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I'll be a living sanctuary for you." Amen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

THE PRODUCTIVE TREE



Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Why is the blessed man compared to that of a productive tree planted by streams of water? The blessed man's delight was in the Law of the LORD or Word of God and the frequency by which he meditated on it was at least twice a day - day and night - if not all throughout the day. For just as the man received his spiritual nourishment from consistently being in or delighting himself in God's Word, so the tree draws from the nutrients of the stream of water and produces its fruit in season.

Allow me to work backwards. Do you wish to be productive and yield fruit in season? Then make sure you are planted or Committed to a local body of believers where you can be fed a steady stream of the Word of God. Are you looking to be planted somewhere by The Planter? Stay in God's Word, delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

The more our roots reach deeper into His Living Water, the more we can grow strong for the winds of life and fruitful for the people in our life. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done. (Colossians 2:6-7) (New Living Version)

The last sentence in the main Scripture above (Psalm 1:1-3) says, "Whatever he does prospers." It is obviously conditional on everything listed before it, but it holds great hope for the one who walks that lifestyle. I hear a similar charge in the New Testament when Jesus said, My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:8) It is a wonderful thing to be at a place in life where you can bless others and bless God. It is also great to know that because of my delight in His Word and meditation on it day and night He chooses me and appoints me to bear much fruit - the kind that endures (John 15:16).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT


I want to be famous in God's eyes. In order to do that Jesus said - "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35). Therefore, my prayers should be fashioned around requesting God for - a better character, confidence, attitude, and lifestyle that would fit being "servant to all". Servant-hood, or putting others before yourself can be as simple as consideration or as serious as a life-sacrifice. In either situation and all points in between, swallowing this Pill of You First, Then Me goes against my wiring. God is trying to re-wire me in this area.

It is not that I do not have compassion for people. It is not that I do not serve. I have compassion and serve, but usually at the prompting of a leader. A true leader is a servant of God and of people. He/she comes alongside them and God to aid in fulfilling God's plan for everyone involved. A leader has a listening spirit toward God and toward people. A leader finds new ways of serving. A true leader balances following and serving God while loving and serving people.

In the past I have asked God to show me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and so forth and He does in a number of ways. However, above-and-beyond showing His care in these areas God also instructs me that these Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) should be my goals. This reminds me of David's heart-cry - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10). My perception gets knocked off track and I start acting like a baby sometimes wanting my way and my way now. Even if the things I ask for seem to be good and beneficial, the key is requesting His will and declaring His promises into and over my life and I do not do that enough. Thank God He is Faithful even when I am not.

My perception, my request, my prayers have got to shift. The nature of God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), but mine is not. I am a new creature in Christ but my old nature keeps wanting it's desires. God has given us the best teachings to follow (Bible), the best example to mimic (Jesus), and the best tool to produce fruit (Holy Spirit). It is my asking, seeking, and knocking that has to take a more submissive and useful form. How else can I become a more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled man of God? Did you know in the next verse of Galatians 5 Paul writes - Against such things there is no law. (v.23)? Seeing there are no laws against such things - I will endeavor to pray for a change into more of a leader in each area so that I might be a better help to all and A Good And Faithful Servant to God (Matthew 25:21).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

RE-WORDED PRAYER


Dear Father,
     Holy is your name. Please release your power, purpose, and provision into my life. Forgive my wrongs against you as I find forgiveness for others through your mercy and grace. Please keep me away from faith-compromising situations. Should I get ensnared, deliver me from the evil one for I recognize you are omnipresent - everywhere (The Kingdom), omnipotent - all-powerful (The Power), and omniscient - all-knowing (The Glory) from everlasting to everlasting. Let it be!

Matthew 6:9-13

Monday, August 18, 2014

STICKS AND STONES


"Sticks and stones may/will break my bones but words/names will never hurt/harm me."

However you choose to say this, the phrase has been spoken as a defense mechanism against antagonists, such as school bullies, throughout many years. Does the slogan or mantra work? Possibly for some. But people can be extremely cruel with their words and hateful speech that is heard repeatedly crushes the spirit and damages the psyche.

Part of the solution is to not accept, trust, or believe the words that you know to be false and to replace them with the truth. The other part of the solution is not so easy sometimes - change your environment - "Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Corinthians 15:33). Those are words for the victim of an antagonist.

Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had words for who seemed to be Believer Bullies. These were Christians that were still rough around the edges and needed a slap on the wrist for behavior modification.
  • If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)
All of what was being taught by Paul to the supposed bullies in the church at Philippi was a spirit and lifestyle of humility. Once a life is established in humility greater things can begin to flow from it. Once a community of humble people grasp this, like a local church body, cities are changed for the glory of God. In addition, a black-eye is given to the Christian's spiritual bully - Satan, also known as The Accuser of the Brothers.

This title of Satan, Accuser of the Brothers, is only true in that his accusations are aimed at the Christian's ears, minds, souls, and spirits. It is true that Satan will attempt to keep unbelievers bound in their unbelief and fear but after studying Revelation 12 I believe this fallen Accuser has no access to God's courtroom anymore.

The Woman and the Dragon

1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. 7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." 13 When the dragonsaw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.


Revelation is known as a prophetic or futuristic book of the Bible. However, this passage above pauses to perform a time warp (if you will) and give the reader a highly symbolic, literal, and spiritual synopsis of heavenly activity and earthly activity before, during, and after the arrival of Christ Jesus on earth. The woman in this descriptive event is Israel.

In verse 10 ("...the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God...") John is speaking of Satan that HAS BEEN in a role of accusation before The Throne accusing John's brothers or the Jews from Abraham until Christ's birth. The beginning of the verse says Salvation has come, Jesus has arrived. The end of the verse says Satan has been "hurled" down to earth. This makes sense with all the attempts to thwart the plan of God by personally tempting Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), by personally using Peter to sway Jesus from His mission (Matthew 16:23), and by personally indwelling Judas to betray Jesus (John 13:27).

Verse 17 gives the picture and sets the tone for post defeat. From Satan's defeat that wonderful day Christ gave His life for ours and then victory was sealed with Christ's resurrection - the devil, also known as "the dragon" has been "enraged" and "went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.", which are True Believers in Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 5:8 supports this by stating - "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

So it would be no surprise that Satan has no time for a court-case that has "It Is Finished" stamped all over it. He has no time to even try to access an audience with God to accuse us before Him. And he definitely has no time - literally - because Revelation 12:12 says, "His time is short" and he knows it! 

Therefore, this bully's accusations will be pointed directly at Believers. His "flaming arrows" (Ephesians 6:16) must be met with the "shield of our faith" and verbal proclamation of Christ's promises over our lives! This does wonders for our well-being, confidence, and maturity in the Lord. Plus, it gives Satan another black-eye as we say - "Sticks And Stones..." 

Friday, August 15, 2014

ETERNITY

Life goes on after the physical human body shuts down. That is why they call it The Afterlife. How do I know this? Jesus, The Choice, said to the thief on the cross beside Him, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) The original Greek word for Paradise is paradeisos. It means park or walled garden. How could the thief be with Jesus in an actual, beautiful, walled garden/park after they had died unless it really existed in The Afterlife where Jesus was headed?

Once somebody completes this human chapter of existence, the lifestyle without Christ leads to Hell and the Lake of Fire. The lifestyle with Christ leads to Paradise and Heaven. There is emphasis on making your decision for your eternal destination on this side of life and getting it right. Once a decision has been made for or against Christ, there is no cross over later on (Luke 16:19-31).

Paradise - the intermediate heaven for true believers. Christians who have gone on before us will be blessed with God's presence and Paradise. The place being prepared for those in Paradise and us still living is Still Under Construction. Jesus said, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3) Jesus has not yet returned to take us to that prepared place. However, stay tuned it won't be long.

Conversely there is Hell - the intermediate place for unbelievers. According to Scripture, Hell or Hades is a place that has gates (Matthew 16:18), had a key (Revelation 1:18), can travel (Revelation 6:8), and can be transported or tossed by Almighty God (Revelation 20:14). As an understatement, the inside is not so attractive. The Bible states this place is "where the fire never goes out" (Mark 9:43), where there is torment (Luke 16:23), and where gloomy dungeons hold angels for judgment (2 Peter 2:4).

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for those in Hell, the next phase of existence for Hell's inhabitants after Death and Hell are defeated is "the fiery furnace" (Matthew 13:42, 50), Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15) or "fiery lake of burning sulfur" (Revelation 21:8). This place will be forgotten by True Believers in Christ (Revelation 21:4-5). However, the occupants of this place will know plenty of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:42, 50). At The Great White Throne Judgement the unbelieving dead, Death, and Hades are put in their proper place.
  • Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life.The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
Those who confess with their mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9). They will be saved from an eternity of Hell, the Lake of Fire, and sin. The greatest reward they gain is Jesus Himself. However, the splendor of Heaven, the New Jerusalem, and it's atmosphere are a few benefits that come along with this decision of faith in Christ.
  • Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" (Revelation 21:1-5)
Existence for everyone is Eternal. The moment the process begins inside the womb to create you or me - we become not just human beings, but eternal beings. As an eternal being the decision for our eternal destination has been placed in our hands. The power of choice has been granted to us, but The Choice - what will make the difference in our eternal lives - has been made clear - John 3:16 and Romans 10:9.  Your eternal choice is - eternal Life or eternal Dying; eternal Blessedness or eternal Damnation; eternal Heaven or eternal Lake of Fire.

There is a perception I have encountered that portrays the Christian's eternal days as filled with harp-playing while sitting on a cloud floating through eternity. The image that I receive from reading the Scripture is a start to eternity, for those who have their names written in the Lambs Book of Life that includes city-life, life in nations, and proper display of splendor, glory, and honor brought within the city (Revelation 21:22-26). This Scriptural image is a far cry from harp-playing on a floating cloud for all of eternity. And why shouldn't it be - God's mind and plans for us are awesomely creative and they will last for ETERNITY.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

GOD'S LAYAWAY PROGRAM


The Holy Spirit taught me something this morning and I thought I would share with Ya'll!

God has a Layaway Program. The Program is not quite like ours but resembles it enough that the Holy Spirit delivered and interpreted His message to me and now I hope I can communicate it well enough to you.

When I was growing up The Layaway Program at K-Mart was a big thing. Someone could pay half down on an item or at least something like ten percent, leave the store, the item would then be placed on hold in a Layaway section of the store until the person returned to pay-off the remaining balance and collect the item.

The Holy Spirit said to me - Jesus came and put would-be Believers on Layaway. However, the item, being humanity, was so precious in quality and so many in quantity that it required Him to pay Full-Price up front with His life. Jesus then left The Store (earth) after conquering death, hell, and the grave, but left The Warranty that is good for eternity. The details of The Warranty are found in John 16:13 and John 14:26.

  • But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13) 
  • But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)
The Warranty is good forever and helps us, in these fallen bodies, as we remain in The Layaway section of this world awaiting Jesus to return to The Store (earth) to claim us with His blood stain receipt.
  • And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)
  • I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:11-13)
Thank you Holy Spirit for being my Warranty and teaching/confirming that I am The Item in God's Layaway Program.

Monday, August 4, 2014

KNOW YOUR ENEMY, KNOW GOD, AND KNOW THYSELF

In short, there is an enemy of our souls, WHO is not God's evil-equivalent, but is defeated - "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." (1 John 3:8) - and now because of Christ's frustration of The Accuser's plan, Believers in Christ have been blessed "in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3)
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Know your enemy. Know that you have an enemy of your soul. Have you ever met or known somebody whose lot in life seemed to be accusing people? All he/she did was to look for an opportunity to be difficult by pushing your buttons, blaming you for whatever, and just filling that opponent role in your life. In 1 Peter 5:8 that is exactly who Peter says the devil or Satan is - "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 

Ever read a parable that Jesus shared with His disciples? These were not just Bible School stories meant to decipher later. Parables are spiritual truths found in stories of real events. In Matthew 13 Jesus is explaining the Parable of the Weeds. In this explanation He makes clear who the enemy and his associates are - The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. (v. 38-39) If you missed who the enemy was in that one, sorry there are no Cliff Notes.

Another enemy The Lord mentions is the person who makes friends with The WorldYou adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4) The world and it's systems and objectives do not have the things of God in mind. In fact, the world looks after itself. Sound familiar? That is why Satan is, for a time, called prince/ruler of this world (John 14:30). However, once again I remind all of us Jesus said - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

The last enemy Scripture mentions is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26 states, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." John gives us that picture of death being destroyed later in Revelation 20:14 when he says, "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14)
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Know God. Know that you have a lover of your soul. Father God made Christ "a little lower than the angels" (Hebrews 2:9), but this did not touch the effectiveness of His Word in flesh as Jesus told Satan "It is written..." (Matthew 4:10) during the Wilderness Trials and went on to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

As stated before, The Enemy, our enemy - Lucifer, the devil, Satan, the serpent, the thief (John 10:10), and Father of Murderers and Liars (John 8:44) is Not God's Evil-Equivalent! Ezekiel 28:12-19 does an excellent job portraying this non-relationship. The following is what God said He did -
  • v. 13 says - "on the day you were created..."
  • v. 14 says - "You were anointed..." 
  • v. 14 continues - "I ordained you."
  • v. 15 says - "...from the day you were created..."
  • v. 16 says - "So I drove you in disgrace from the Mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones."
  • v. 17 says - "So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings."
  • v. 18 says - "I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground."
Ezekiel 28 is God's way of telling any who are rebellious, especially Lucifer in this case, that - I brought you into existence and I can take you out. [Pritchard Paraphrase]
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Why hasn't God taken Satan out of the picture more instantly? My stab at that question is two fold - First, it is not God's will that any should perish but that all should come to the saving knowledge of God through Christ Jesus (2 Peter 3:9) and that ALL has included time up until now. Second, He is using true Believers (Followers/Disciples) of The Faith to populate Heaven and depopulate Hell through witnessing. Christ said He needed Laborers for they were few (Matthew 9:37).

The Enemy, encamped in this world (James 4:4), does not want you to know that because of Christ's sacrifice and victory over death, Hell, and the grave - true Believers are raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly realms in order that in the coming ages He [Father God] might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6-7).
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Satan is a prideful, vengeful being whose only power is that which we grant him. All he has to seduce humanity and strike back at God anymore is ancient old tricks or mind games that can be caught, especially with the Spirit of Christ living on the inside of you.

God is love. God is just. God is righteous. God is The Creator. Twice in Isaiah, the prophet is inspired to use the Potter/Clay analogy to deliver The Lord's message.
  • You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? (Isaiah 29:16)
  • "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'? (Isaiah 45:9)
Believers in Christ are not just conquerors, we are More Than Conquerors! Romans 8:37 says, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." So, what "things" is Paul saying Believers are more than conquerors through? In verse 35 the answer is given - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Now you know that in addition to Christ saying He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), He uses Paul to specifically state trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword will not be able to separate you from the love of Christ! Remember we are "blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3) Know Your Enemy, Know God, and Know Thyself.