Friday, September 26, 2014

QUALITY WAITING (For The Rains And Harvest)


The word "Autumn" appears a handful of times in Scripture. The NIV has it recorded in Deuteronomy 11:14; Psalm 84:6; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:3; James 5:7; and Jude 1:12. Most of these verses refer to seasonal rains - "the autumn and spring rains" - that God would provide for the harvest of that same season.

The one verse among these that the Holy Spirit magnified was the James 5:7 Scripture.
  • Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
Right off the bat the Lord spoke to my excitement of seeing Him soon in the first sentence by saying - "Be patient". Then the Lord called my attention to us as spiritual farmers and how some of us plant, some water, some harvest, but God makes people grow or mature toward Him and in Him (1 Corinthians 3:6). Notice also the land does not just yield a crop, it yields a "valuable crop". I call these people not just Decisions for Christ, but Disciples of Christ! Individuals who continue to develop as a Christian. 

Then James mentions that the farmer has the quality of patience by observing how he "waits" for the harvest. He is patient for seasonal rains that will bring a seasonal harvest. "In Jude 1:12, false teachers are compared to “autumn trees without fruit,” implying that autumn should be a fruitful season, the most abundant of the year." The Lord can and does move at any time on anyone He chooses. However, I felt impressed upon by the Holy Spirit that this Fall and Spring, God will send an amazing spiritual rain in the Autumn and Spring that the Church will harvest within the same seasons.

How can we take advantage of these upcoming seasons? Obey God, trust His foreknowledge, and be patient knowing He has a plan. "The world may fade, the stars may fall, the seasons may change, and winter may come. But the God who has been our help in ages past is our hope for years to come. In Him we have permanence, stability, joy unshakable, and life unending." In the midst of the changing seasons, one truth, one person never changes - Jesus. His nature is the same yesterday, today, and forever! (Hebrews 13:8) For me who wants to rush everybody into the Kingdom and have God hurry and call us home, I hear the Lord saying loud and clear, "Not yet. You still have to exercise Quality Waiting."

(Source for Green Italic Quotes = http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/reflections-of-autumn-and-its-lone-appearance-in-the-bible-11559337.html#comments)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

THE OTHER TWO WITNESSES

The Book of Revelation speaks of two men called The Two Witnesses who will appear and prophesy for half the time, 1,260 days, of the seven year Tribulation Period. Their ministry, powers, and story are documented in Revelation 11:1-14. However, there are two other witnesses that have had Box Seating (pun intended) to view the salvation plan of humanity.

The other two witnesses were servants who ministered in God's presence and tended to God's presence. They protected both Adam and Eve AND the Tree of Life from interaction (Genesis 3:24). Then many years later they were honored as the two figures on top of either end of The Covering to The Ark of the Covenant.

Image of The Ark of the Old Covenant
"He made the atonement cover of pure gold--two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. Then he made two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. He made one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; at the two ends he made them of one piece with the cover. The cherubim had their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim faced each other, looking toward the cover." (Exodus 37:6-9)


Notice the ever-present stance of the cherubim - honoring the Most Holy Presence of God with their wings "spread upward" and toward each other "overshadowing the cover with them" as they face each other, their focus in "toward the cover" in a reverent manner. They are the witnesses of the annual salvation provided by God due to an animal blood sacrifice given by the High Priest of the Hebrew people.

There are another pair of witnesses that I dare say may be the same two servants/cherubs that witnessed the Old Covenant executed that also saw the New Covenant introduced.

Image of The Ark of the New Covenant
"Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot." (John 20:10-12)














Instead of an annual covering for the sins of people by the blood of animals, God took away the sins of the world with His own Son's blood and sealed the New Covenant by walking out of the tomb. Notice where the two angelic witnesses would have positioned their focus - on the empty grave-slab. They witnessed victory be victorious. What an honor and privilege to be The Other Two Witnesses!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MY PRECIOUS


For those who have seen the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the creature Golum says a familiar saying throughout his appearances - "My precious....".  Golum was speaking about that which consumed his every thought, dream, and desire - waking or sleeping - The Ring of Power. There are many things in The Bible that are called "Precious", like Stones (Ex. 28:17), death of the saints (Ps. 116:15), the law (Ps. 119:72), God's thoughts (Ps. 139:17), wisdom (Pr. 8:11), faith (2 Peter 1:1), and promises (2 Peter 1:4). However, humanity and Jesus have the one thing that stands out above them all - blood, precious blood.

The lives of humanity are valuable to God. Psalm 72:13-14 says, "He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight." The "needy" physically and spiritually in David's day through the ages 'till today require saving or rescuing. The agreement that God had with His people, when David wrote this, was salvation came once a year through an annual blood covering or blood sacrifice of a lamb, or ox, or goat by the priest.

The word "precious" in Psalm 72:14 is the Hebrew word yaqar (yaw-kar) meaning valuable; make precious; be prized. To me it is a word that encompasses our worth and the price needed to pay for our worth. Now, humanity has, if they choose, a covenant of a complete work of salvation through Jesus Christ of Nazareth. 1 Peter 1:18-19 explains nicely with a little nod to the Old Covenant to help out ("a lamb without blemish or defect") - "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

This verses says that the redemption or the restoration of our relationship with God was made with "the precious blood of Christ", the timios (tim-ee-os) meaning objectively - the valuable "blood of Christ" and subjectively - the costly "blood of Christ". The old agreement only covered the sin, much like a tablecloth covers an old wooden dinning-room table that has been in the family for generations and has a damaged, embarrassing stain nobody wants known. The new agreement allows for God's supernatural, stain removing blood to go underneath the tablecloth and cleanse EVERY stain you had, have, or will have. If you haven't already, accept Christ as your Lord and Savior today, accept this "precious Cornerstone" (Isaiah 28:16), this precious blood, Jesus....My Precious.




Friday, September 19, 2014

A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE


Maybe you have heard of someone having backbone and standing for the right. Maybe you have heard the saying - "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything." This is the impression personal purpose or Principle gives us. Rick Renner does an excellent job describing this concept. 

PRINCIPLE IS A PERSON'S INWARD RULE....

It is a conviction of what is right and wrong; a moral foundation that determines how one sees and responds to life; a rock-solid belief system so ingrained into one’s disposition that he cannot ignore it or deviate from it. Thus, it can be called a person’s guiding principle.

Unfortunately, we live in a world today that has thrown principle to the wind.More often than not, it is a wimpish world that chooses to abandon what is right. Regretfully, even believers and spiritual leaders are often wimpish, quickly succumbing to people’s opinions and other sources of outside pressures.

So be prepared that when your inner belief system — your sense of principle — is so strong that you faithfully stand by it no matter what, you will occasionally find yourself on a collision course with the world and even with other believers who are less inclined to stand true to their convictions. -- RICK RENNER

This explanation of Principle sounds like the Scripture my driving Principle is founded from - 1 Peter 3:15.
  • But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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,
If I do not ignore or deviate from this charge that the Holy Spirit makes through Peter, then as a Christian I will have hit the center of the mark/target. Notice the heart, what I am to guard above all (Proverbs 4:23), is where I am to start by setting "apart Christ as Lord" or enthrone Him as King of my life. Then I must ALWAYS have on the tip of my tongue, on the front burner of my brain, read to share at a moments notice "the reason for the hope that I have". This is the reason I set apart Christ in my heart in the first place, plus all His extra benefits. However, sharing this Answer to my life has to be done with the fighting gloves off - "with gentleness and respect". God is love (1 John 4:16) and I need to exemplify that too. It is all A Matter Of Principle.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

EXCUSES, EXCUSES


I have made mistakes. In addition, I have tried to justify some of them. I have dreamed up reasoning to try to deal with the guilt and shame I feel for being at fault. Guilt has always been an emotional piece of baggage that I don't want and can't afford to carry around in life. So, I have tried to discard my blame elsewhere - also known as displacement. However, I have found that if you do not deal with those false justifications, they tend to float to the surface of the mind and spirit later on, continuing to fester and pester. There is some truth to the saying - when you point your finger at someone or something you always have three others pointing back.

Isaiah mentioned a terrible but true characteristic about justifying mistakes to Israel which now applies to the present time more than ever. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20) Here the situation was worse than just a bogus rationalization that covered one's conscience. In this instance, Isaiah spoke to a total replacement or swapping of one for the other ("good" for "evil").

When someone with morals says to sin - "It is o.k. to do this because....." - then that person has accepted and implemented a lie in their life. When Christians, who should know better, say something like this they exchange truth about a matter - "good", "light", or "sweet" for that which is "evil", "dark", and "bitter". The haunting truth is something which is not justified is merely an excuse.

My mistakes against God, myself, and others can be explained but that does not make them justifiable. My mistakes are mistakes, they are wrong. I confess to them and to my incorrect justifications as well. The confession and moving on is liberating and quite refreshing. I encourage you, if this situation of justifying sin or complete swap of standards sounds familiar you and I have Christ Jesus we can go to - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) In addition, the benefit that comes from being a part of The Family of God means that you can "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16) Saturate your mistakes in His forgiveness. Stop your justifications of sin with prayer and Christian support. No more Excuses, Excuses!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SUN AND SON


The sun is shinning. Whether we want it to or not; whether we can tell it or not; whether we acknowledge it or not - the sun still shines.
  • Around the shadow of a great structure the sun shines. The sun's rays along with the size of the structure creates the shadow. 
  • On a cloudy day, the sun still shines. The sunlight penetrates the clouds enough to notify us that daytime is still here. 
  • When night-time comes, we are the ones who move, the sun does not move, the sun is still present, shinning it's light for others. 

The Son is present. Whether we want Him to be or not; whether we can tell it or not; whether we acknowledge Him or not - The Son is always present.
  • In the deep valleys of life and the deepest valley of all - He is there. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;" (Psalm 23:4
  • I might not see His hand in a situation; my life's vision may be distorted by outside influences, but "I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us (me) from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
  • When I backslide, show my backside, or turn my back on God because of my lack of faith, He remains the ultimate example of steadfastness. "...if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." (2 Timothy 2:13) As a boy's father once said to Jesus, so I say to Him also - "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)
One day we shall see the Son as one sees the Sun when viewed next to it from space. No distortions from the atmosphere. No clouds to get in the way. No shadows to be cast. Concerning the home of The Son and His family, Revelation 21:22-27 records -
  • "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
This image is so important that John notes it a second time.
  • "The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light." (Revelation 22:3-5)
Thank you God for creating the sun that has been around for millions of years (Genesis 1:3). Thank you God so much more for your Son who is from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2), never leaving me or forsaking me (Hebrews 13:5) and with me always even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Monday, September 15, 2014

REIGNING WITH CHRIST

Cair Paravel Throne Room (Narnia)

What does it mean for the Believers in Christ to read we will reign with Christ? Reigning with Christ can be found in 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 5:10, Revelation 20:6, and Revelation 22:5. Although the timing of reigning with Christ is future when looking at the Revelation references, I believe Christians can begin to practice their authority in Christ this side of the next chapter (Rapture). 

All the Revelation selections above have as their original Greek word for "reign" - basileuo - which means king; to rule; or In Other Words....Reigners. The 2 Timothy 2:11-12 verse has as it's original Greek word for "reign" - sumbasileuo - meaning to be co-regent.

2 Timothy 2:11-12 reads -
"Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him." 

The original Greek word for "endure" in this verse is hupomeno and means to tarry behind, remain, or persevere. The impression then is that while we are still on the earth, if we maintain a servant's heart, workman's attitude and availability then we will also reign in life right now.

If I was to submit a Pritchard Paraphrase of 2 Timothy 2:11-12 it would read something like - Trust me when I say, if our old life died with Christ, we surely live because He lives also; and if we continue in the faith, working out our salvation with great respect and awe then He will work through us where we are to fulfill His will as co-regents

I believe some keys to help Christians reign in this life and prepare us for reigning in the next life are found in BeAttitudes of Matthew 5:1-12.
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
  • Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Even though we will not always mourn or be persecuted, the Be-Attitudes are a great training ground for reigning with Christ. The character development that is meted out here is on display through our "fruits". If we worship God in spirit and in truth, then we must exemplify the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23 lists them for us -
love, 
joy, 
peace, 
patience, 
kindness, 
goodness, 
faithfulness, 
gentleness and 
self-control. 
Against such things there is no law.

Christians, the time to practice the Be-Attitudes has long been passed, so begin if you have not already. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the time to show all the fruits of The Spirit is now. "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." - Ephesians 2:6-7 Fellow believers now is the time for us to begin Reigning With Christ.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

GOD'S "JOHN HANCOCK"

We have email now-a-days. Before the message of an email is read and sometimes at the end there is the information of who sent the email. Things are so automatic these days.

Have you ever hand written a letter? I guess I am speaking to a certain generation here. However, for all those who have penned a hand-written letter we all made sure to sign our name, sometimes with affection, other times with professionalism, and other times with neutrality - at the bottom of the letter. We identified ourselves for any information provided, requests made, or clarifications needed. Whatever the purpose of the letter we distinguished ourselves with our signature.

There is a similarity with prayer. There is an addressing of the person one is writing, the body of the letter, then the signature. The difference with prayerful communication with God is that the body of our prayers contains life situations and circumstances that Christ has victory over. So, when we end our prayer or verbal letter to God we sign it in the name who is our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), our Intercessor (Romans 8:34) who has paid the price to answer our call in His timing. Such an ending might sound like or even be written - "In Jesus' Name", "In the Name of Jesus", or "In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen."







The use of His Signature, verbal or written, at the end of our prayers is a seal that we place on all we have said to God that reveals our trust in His leadership of our lives and provision for it. This should make us stop and think more about what is in the body of our prayers since His Name is going to be at the end of our beseeching. So, my instruction to us today is to pause next time we start to pray and especially before we end our prayer to make sure we make proper use of God's "John Hancock".


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ANGER

To me anger is an emotional and/or situational response of dissatisfaction, whether incited from others or internalized from within, carried to a negative extreme. 


Researching the word Anger, in the New International Version Scripture (crosswalk.com), I found 260 occurrences. Reading each one, God seems to be angry most of the time in the Bible. I see this displayed notably throughout the Old Testament. 

God was angry with individuals (Exodus 4:14; 2 Samuel 6:7). God was angry with people as a favored group who would not comply with His Laws, Prophets, and Kings (Exodus 32:12; 1 Kings 14:9). God was also angry at cities and nations, even His own (2 Kings 24:20). We even get a mental picture of God's anger from Job when he submits this comment - At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish. (Job 4:9) Paul makes a sweeping statement that seems appropriate for this side of God. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)

God's anger is always justified. But I would be singing and praying like David when he said O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.(Psalm 6:1) Jeremiah even prays this line of thought when he said, Correct me, LORD, but only with justice-- not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:24) David at least seemingly tried to redirect God's anger - Arise, O LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. (Psalm 7:6) 

The Old Testament does shine some rays of hope on God's wrathful side. David helps us again by saying, 
  • For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; (Psalm 30:5). 
  • Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? (Psalm 85:5) 
  • But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15) 
  • The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; (Psalm 103:8-9) 
  • The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8)
If God is long-suffering, slow to anger and abounding in love, then what made His anger burn so often and with whom? The answer is pretty clear as Jeremiah 25:6 summarizes what God had said from the beginning to the Hebrew people-
  • "Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not provoke me to anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you." 
The rule is great instruction for Gentiles to follow also. Along with this counsel a good thing to keep in mind is one of God's names - "Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14)

The Good News is the LORD [Father God] has laid on him [Christ] the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6) The punishment of God, the wrath of God has been satisfied for those who choose to believe and accept Christ's sacrifice as their redemption to Father God. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him. (John 3:36)

With this provision of salvation came victory over anger. So, how does The Word of God say we should deal with anger? Let's start off with David again, shall we? 
  • In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. (Psalm 4:4) 

This sounds a whole lot like and agrees with Ephesians 4:26 which states -

  • "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

Keeping it in the family, what did the Holy Spirit prompt Solomon to pen?
  • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) 
  • A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11) 
Ecclesiastes 10:4 encourages not to necessarily - Take This Job And Shove It - when someone's anger is directed toward you. If a ruler's anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest. 

Paul and James step into the mix with some advice. Paul tells us twice, once in a letter to the church in Ephesus, the other in a letter to the church in Collossae to get rid of anger among other things.
  • Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31)
  • But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)
Then Paul instructs Timothy in his first letter to the young protege - I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. And James gets to the heart of the matter when he says, man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:20)

So, as challenging as it is sometimes, the "righteous life", the justified life filled with integrity of character, which requires a check on anger is what it's all about and what I am encouraging. Let God handle anger for Himself and for you. Otherwise we could be living a life where we often say something like - "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." (David Banner to Mr. McGee on the t.v. show "The Incredible Hulk")


Monday, September 8, 2014

AN EMPOWERED LIFE

To me the phrase "I'm living my life through him/her" carries with it a sense of withdraw. A sense of dreams not realized. I recognize not everybody can be what we dream to be due to lack of a particular skill, talent, resource, or drive to perform in the position. And I acknowledge that like John Donne said, "No man is an island." and we need supporters in every facet of life. However, for the Christian, God asks the Believer to go a step further.

Where the human supporter is limited in living our life through somebody or some cause, Father God has infinite resources to supply through His Followers to make a difference in this world for His Glory.  God's Way is not a matter of mere talk; it's an empowered life. (1 Corinthians 4:20) If The Body of Christ, The Church, ever gets a firm grasp on this concept - look out world. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12) If The Church of the Living God ever gets past all of what has created the denominations and divisions to begin with then maybe God can more effectively Live Through His Church as a unified Body.

Until then we must recognize that an empowered life comes from a source of power. If your source of power comes from yourself, then that is weak and limited. However, if your are continually plugged-in to Christ, as a Christian should be, you know The Source is Almighty and never-ending. 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) Instead of living our lives through someone else, let us daily seek God's Way lived out through us as we stay connected, through God's Word and prayer, to be used as An Empowered Life.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

OLD HABITS DIE HARD


Old Habits Die Hard - the people of the ancient nation of Israel knew this concept very well. In 1 Samuel 6 & 7 the Scripture records the return of the Ark of the Covenant. The return was a lengthy process. In the midst of this process Samuel observes a glimmer of hope for the people of Israel to get right with God and declares an If...Then proclamation.
  • It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD. And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. (1 Samuel 7:2-4)
I want to emphasize a word and a phrase in this passage - "rid" and "put away". The original Hebrew word for both is sur sur. However, the first word, "rid" carries with it an attachment - eth (in Hebrew) - which makes the action more demonstrative. In Other Words, "rid" means to do away with completely, while what the Israelites actually did was just laid aside their idols, habits, and hangups. 

This is not a good example of following directions. I have been in Israel's shoes before - in this case. God had revealed an attitude and mindset to me that needed changing. I acknowledged it, laid it aside for a time, but then picked it right back up when the opportunity presented itself. 

Now with Israel it got worse. They looked around at the nations surrounding them and coveted the leadership of a king. So, thinking that would solve their problems they asked Samuel to seek out a king for their nation. In like-manner, there is a tendency for Believers to look around and see how somebody is managing the same situation they are experiencing. However, if God has already spoken to you and said, "Get rid of.....", then that is on us to obey from the get-go and completely wipe out whatever God does not want in our relationship with Him. 

David says, 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. (Psalm 139:23-24). Sometimes it is hard to get out of a rut. And sometimes it gets worse when we look at others for a solution or at least relief. But David says to inquire of the Lord, allow Him to gut-you-out of "any offensive way" and then He will continue to lead you in "the way everlasting"

Now doesn't that sound better than testifying to someone, especially yourself, that - Old Habits Die Hard. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

EVERYTHING IS IRONED OUT


There are preachers and teachers out there saying Christ is looking for a Church without spot or wrinkle before He comes back. There is no truth in this. Those who believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth for the redemption of their relationship with Father God and the salvation of their eternal souls from Hell are without spot or wrinkle. Once Jesus said, "It is finished." - all those who believed in His complete work of salvation have eternal life. In addition, Christ is not looking for anything. The return of Christ FOR His own (1 Thess. 4:13-18) is imminent. This means it could happen at any moment; that there are no signs preceding the event. There are only signs to the closeness of His return like the full number of gentiles coming into the Kingdom, which only God knows and the closer the world travels toward events at the beginning of The Tribulation.

I think one of the key verses, if not the main verse, that gets misused about God coming back for a spotless Church is Ephesians 5:25-27.
  • "...husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault."
Even within Paul's letter to Ephesus we see the Holy Spirit emphasizing - It Is Finished - through an analogy of a husband's love for his wife. At the end of this passage our present state and future state are magnified - "Instead, she [The Church] will be holy and without fault." The words "will be" make the presentation of The Church before Christ as without spot, wrinkle or any other blemish still future. Also the word "Instead" claims - instead of us having a spot, wrinkle or blemish - we are now made clean through the sacrifice of our Savior, Christ Jesus. Our perfection is not manifested now in these bodies. No. The corruptible must put on incorruptible in order to survive the next chapter of existence (1 Corinthians 15:53). 

Meanwhile, we turn to the production viewpoint. The fruit of a tree is the barometer of it's health and so it is with Christians individually, corporately, regionally, nationally and globally (Matthew 7:20). The difference should be we work/perform as unto The Lord (Colossians 3:23). Peter admonishes the Believer - 
  • "we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him." (2 Peter 3:13-14) 
The word "spotless" here in the original Greek is aspilos, which means physically or morally unblemished. It reminds me of another verse - "Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob." (Psalm 24:3-6)

Our deeds for Him need to be worked on while we still have time to work on them (Hebrews 3:13). Once the Lord comes FOR His True Believers, I imagine soon afterward The Lord will sit on The Bema Seat and judge our deeds we did for Him whether good or bad. If they survive His Holy fire of testing it will be a beautiful reward that we then can lay at His feet. If our deeds are burned up we will suffer loss. See 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. Then what is written in Revelation 19:6-8 will come to pass - The Church will be "permitted to wear the finest white linen".
  • "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice and honor him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She is permitted to wear the finest white linen." (Fine linen represents the good deeds done by the people of God.)
So, The Church, spiritually is without spot or wrinkle. We are the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21). We await Christ's promise to return - "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). In the meantime, Paul encourages us through his letter to the church in Phillipi to "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," (Philippians 2:12). In Other Words, Christ is NOT LOOKING for a church without spot, wrinkle or blemish. Your spot(s) and wrinkle(s) have been Ironed Out - now just concern yourself with service for the King however imperfect it may seem right now, the benefits later will be simply Heavenly.


(POEM)

I remember my humble beginning and the years since.

Many tides have come and gone

Countless phases of the moon have passed.


The seasons have taken their toil -

Tattered and torn, battered and bruised, twisted, sunken and old

My body creaks.


I have endured.

I have weathered the storms.

I have stood my ground - strong and defiant to this day.

Stable, strong, and dependable - or am I just stuck?


The history I have seen, the longevity I have endured is staggering.

I have been anchored for so long or is it stubbornness?

Visitors have come and gone or were they trespassers?

Either way they made their impact.


By nature I desire to peacefully influence all that is around me.

Trusted for shelter and protection over the years

Time has made me a patient observer whether I like it or not.

I have been the confidant of confidential information.

Now, the attention of others is elsewhere.

I seem to hold no wonder for people anymore.

It seems I am back to being......

JUST A TREE.

by Chad Pritchard