Friday, February 27, 2015

NEED TO KNOW BASIS

There are many lessons God reveals through His Spirit to me. There are many teachings The Lord unveils as I read His Word. There is instruction I receive from just paying attention to God in life. However, there is perfect timing to consider in certain situations also. These situations are usually not noticed until I see them in life's rear-view-mirror.

It is frustrating, even as a Christian, that at times I am on a Need To Know Basis with God. When Christ was asked by His disciples, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?", the disciples touched on something I have prayed to God about. I have prayed, "God, do you speak English? Do you speak clearly? [and sometimes...] Do you speak at all?" 

Christ's answer to them is found in Matthew 13:11-17

  • "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. (v.11) Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. (v.12) This why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. (v.13) In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes . Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' (vv.14-15) But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear." (v.16)

Christ's type of speech (parables) was prophesied and even though Jesus said to His disciples "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." and "...blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear." - He still had challenging disciples/students. Later within the same chapter (13) - "His disciples came to him and said, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." Then two chapters later (15) one particular disciple, Peter, speaks up and ask Jesus to explain the parable of Clean and Unclean. Jesus' first response - "Are you still so dull?" (Matt. 15:16)

Even Jesus prayed to Father God thanking Him that certain revelations were made known to certain individuals - "At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:25)

It is at an appointed time, a certain time, a God ordained time that matters are revealed. The glaring example to me is The Two Men on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). In Jesus' life... words had to be spoken, people had to be healed, lessons had to be taught, He had to be scourged, beaten, and nailed to a cross. But He also had to rise again and did in order that (1) His prophetic Word would be fulfilled, (2) that our eternal victory would be secured, and (3) that His life could now be explained and understood to two men on the Road to Emmaus and the rest of us.

Sometimes when Jesus allows us "the knowledge of the secrets of heaven", blesses us abundantly and gives our eyes and ears joy for the moment, evidently we can still miss the message. This does not mean to stop being persistent in seeking and asking the Lord about anything and everything (Matthew 7:7). However, consider His timing is perfect and sometimes we might find ourselves on a Need To Know Basis.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

THE LIFE OF AN EVANGELIST

When I think of the word Evangelist, the first image that comes to mind is Billy Graham. His contribution to The Kingdom has been monumental. Billy Graham had the answer - a choice for Jesus as personal Savior and a continued lifestyle like Jesus Christ. His influence has led others to countless decisions for Christ. No doubt his reward in Heaven will be awesome! 

Another Evangelist I think of is Christ Jesus. People before the time of Jesus and in the time of Christ were primed for The Messiah with all kinds of conditions besides our fallen nature - sicknesses, diseases, demon-possession, fever, and other ailments. The Lord had Himself to spread as the answer and He did with great compassion and supernatural energy.

There are a couple of Book-End Scripture passages that summarize the life and times of Jesus. The first Book-End is Matthew 4:23-25. The second Book-End is Matthew 9:35-38. These Book-Ends generally speak to the ministries of Christ's teachings, proclamations, and healings He did while among great crowds of people.

  • Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25)
  • Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
It is within these two passages that I would like to magnify some of the daily consequences of living the evangelical life, at least for Christ.

The Sermon on The Mount, with the Be-Attitudes and more, spans from Matthew 5 through Matthew 7. After Jesus delivers this lengthy teaching and comes down the mountain, the crowds follow Him. I can almost feel their desperation tangibly as The Lord arrives at the foot of the mountain. Immediately a leper approaches Him for healing. Jesus heals the leper and continues on (Matthew 8:1-2).

As soon as Jesus enters Capernaum, He is approached by a Centurion. He stops, hears the plea, and grants his request (Matt. 8:5-13). Then when Jesus finally comes to His destination, Peter's house, He finds Peter's mother-n-law "with fever". He heals her and not long after that people find out where Jesus is staying and bring a demon-possessed man and many more who were sick to Him. He healed them all (Matt. 8:14-17).

However, the crowds must have gotten large enough to warrant a get-away with His Disciples on the lake. But even on the lake Jesus showed His power and taught them a lesson of trust (Matthew 8:18, 23-27).

Docking on the other side of the lake, Jesus cannot escape the needs of this area. Two demonic men from the tombs in that region came out to greet Christ because they knew who Jesus was (God incarnate) and they knew their future (doomed to lake of fire). The perplexing thing is after Jesus released the men from their demonic captors, all the town folk came out to Him and asked Him to leave the region. So He did (Matthew 8:28-34).

So, Jesus travels on. Back across the lake He goes to His own town where a paralytic is brought to Him for healing. He heals him (Matthew 9:1-8)

Jesus then calls Matthew as His Disciple and dines with him and other tax collectors at Matthew's house. Here, Jesus even has to explain the dinner mates/partners He selects (Matt. 9:9-13).

Next, in Matthew 9:14-17, Jesus is teaching about fasting. The 18th verse says, "while He was saying this", in other words...while Jesus was finishing explaining fasting, a ruler with a dead daughter came seeking help from Jesus. Christ went and resurrected the girl (Matt. 9:18-26).

"As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him,..." Jesus healed them. Immediately after that another demon-possessed man was brought to Jesus and Christ healed him also (Matt. 9:27-33).

I don't think we really know busyness. I don't think we grasp what it really means to be drained. We might experience tiredness and weariness, but this snippet of Christ's life was just that - a snapshot. For three years straight it was most likely this way for Jesus. Every time He turned His head someone was touching Him or in front of Him with a dire need to be met and He met it. The second Book-End explains Jesus' persistence - "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." 

The spiritual application for Christians comes in the next verse - Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”  First of all we are instructed to "beseech the Lord of the harvest" or pray "to send out workers". What is a worker? The original Greek word for "worker" here is ergatēs meaning to literally toil, labor or figuratively teach.  Second, I believe we should take on the attitude and prayer of Isaiah and fill the shoes of the "worker" as Isaiah 6:8 attests - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Then we can all step into the shoes we are supposed to be walking in anyway (Mark 16:15), with His compassion and energy driving us, as we live out - The Life Of An Evangelist.

Monday, February 23, 2015

WALKING THE WALK


Wow! Talk about two opposing forces - the lusts of the flesh and The Spirit of God. Paul speaks about these in Galatians 5:16-25, he says - 

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

There are plenty of Do's and Don't's lists in Scripture.  In fact we have a charge, the condition, a list of avoidances and consequences for indulging, a list for following and the way it should be with Christians, and finally the re-instating of the original charge - all right here in this passage.

A Charge
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

The charge could be entitled - Walking by The Spirit, Not by the Flesh. The very first verse of this passage not only carries with it the title, but an awesome concept and promise - walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. This is the lifestyle I want to encourage, so that when temptation comes to fulfill the desire(s) of the flesh you will not carry it out.

The Condition
"For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." 

This sentence emphasizes how much friction there is between these two natures (the lusts of the flesh and The Spirit of God). These natures cause such an uncomfortable rub that true believers should have a reaction - that you may not do the things that you please. Instead you should seek to please The Lord. Paul voiced this same concern to the Roman believers when he tried to describe his battle this way - 

  • I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...." (Romans 7:15-20)
List of Avoidances
"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these,..."

So along comes a list of don'ts first. This section in the passage describes the fruits/deeds of the flesh. Notice the list could have been longer but Paul graciously ended the list with the disclaimer - and things like these.

Consequences for Indulging
"...that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." 

The result of following the lusts of the flesh labels you a pretender, instead of a contender for inheriting the kingdom of God. 

List for Following
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Here we have the list of do's. In this final section I love Paul's wording. He says there is no law against producing any of these fruits of The Spirit (against such things there is no law.)

The Christian Status-Quo 
"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Paul goes a step further and declares to believers how it should be with those who trust in Christ. Paul's statement here echoes what he said in an earlier chapter of Galatians -

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) 

Original Charge Re-issued
"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

Then Paul makes the great zinger - if Christians truly have the life of Christ in them because of their faith in His sacrifice, then they should desire to seek out and practice those things that produce the Fruit of The Spirit [Pritchard Paraphrase of Galatians 5:25). 

As a song once said, "Let your light so be, that all the world may see, the joy of serving Jesus with a smile." 



Friday, February 20, 2015

HIS THRESHING FLOOR













In every Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) there is an account of John the Baptist speaking about his baptism by water for repentance compared to the coming baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire by Jesus (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; Jn. 1:33). Let us study Matthew 3:11-12 in particular.

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

In these verses we can see....... 

  1. John the Baptist admitting his ministry is not the Christ's (“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.)
  2. That it will be Jesus doing the baptizing of believers with the Holy Spirit and fire (He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.).
  3. And that there will be a Great Winnowing/Threshing someday where "wheat" is symbolic of believers and "chaff" is symbolic of unbelievers (His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”)
In these two verses we have Salvation, Holy Spirit Baptism, and the Second Coming/Sheep and Goat Judgment (Matt. 25:31-46) all proclaimed to us by John the Baptist. The broad scope can certainly be seen here. However, I am going to focus now a little more on the last part of John's declaration (#3).

Threshing is to separate the grain/seed from the plant by a beating action. Before machines did this for us, outdoor threshing consisted usually of a circular floor made of a hard surface (stone, slate, tile, or wood) and sloped for rain water run-off. It was typically located on an elevated piece of land to catch the wind for the winnowing process. It was also community owned and operated.

Inside threshing (barn threshing) was usually located just inside a bay door on hardwood, stone or packed dirt flooring. To prevent grain/seeds from falling or blowing outside a board called the "Threshold" was placed across the entrance/exit of the doors.

"After this threshing process, the broken stalks and grain were collected and then thrown up into the air with a wooden fork-like tool called a winnowing fan. The chaff would be blown away by the wind; the short torn straw would fall some distance away, while the heavier grain would fall at the winnower's feet. The grain could then be further cleansed by sieving." (source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshing_floor)

Other Scripture like Psalm 1:4 supports this horticultural imagery  - "Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away." Notice the wicked are the "chaff" and the "wind", also known throughout The Bible as the Holy Spirit, is the agent that blows the chaff or wicked away. However, in our main Scripture of study above (Matt. 3:11-12) the chaff is burned up, not blown away. It is eradicated. If there are weeds or bad seed in the chaff it does not receive the chance to get blown somewhere else and sprout.

My personal application in this is to challenge myself and my readers in Christ to willfully place yourself in God's Threshing Floor. Let us allow Him to separate our personal "chaff" or wickedness by His Holy Spirit Fire so that only good, usable grain/seed remains. A broken/humble and contrite heart God does not despise (Psalm 51:17). So, God I pray......."Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me [thresh/winnow it out], and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)


Thursday, February 19, 2015

SWEET DREAMS


I have always tried to be aware of what I view on t.v., at the movies, and on the computer. This is a practice not only to keep my integrity in check, but to keep my dreams nice and half-way reasonable also. However, according to Scripture, a wonderful life is not required to have really interesting dreams.

Joseph, Mary's husband, had quite a few dreams. The interesting thing about these dreams is that they had a spiritual directive element to them. As we look back now in Scripture we might observe - sure it was Father God making certain that His Word became flesh in Mary's womb, relations happened between Joseph and Mary, the family was protected and Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. However, each time Joseph went to sleep and dreamt, an angel was charged with delivering important instructions for the family.

Just to ponder Joseph's encounter makes me wonder if I will ever receive this kind of visitation - an angel implanted in my dreams. In the universe we have the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. The spiritual permeates the other two. In the story of Joseph (Matthew 1-3) we see God inserting the spiritual (angel) into the mental (sub-conscience of Joseph). It's amazing and wonderful how God uses what He uses when He uses for His purpose(s). 

Joseph did not marry Mary and then find out she was pregnant. No. Joseph found she was "with child" while they were "pledged to be married" or engaged. Joseph still married her with intentions of divorcing her quietly so that the shame or "disgrace" of being pregnant out of wedlock would be avoided for Mary. Scripture calls Joseph a "righteous man". I agree. 

The next verse (Matthew 1:20) brings the supernatural into the picture. God only knows if this was a test - of who would be the right husband for Mary - by God. But the way Joseph acted toward Mary's situation and observing Heaven's response, I believe they made a great pair, although we don't hear much about them anywhere else in Scripture.

The catch-phrases here are - "the Lord appeared to him in a dream" and "having been warned in a dream".

  1. "...the Lord appeard to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,..." (Matthew 1:20)
  2. "...an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and His mother and escape to Egypt.'" (Matthew 2:13)
  3. "...an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take the child and His mother and go to the land of Israel,..." (Matthew 2:19)
  4. "Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth." (Matthew 2:23)

An angel was inserted in Joseph's dreams after he displayed his integrity. It was God's choice to use His angel within Joseph's dreams to accomplish His will. Believing we are in "The Last Days" and have been since Christ ascended or at least since 1948 (Israel's rebirth) reconsider Acts 2:17 - “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.'" So, before you go to sleep tonight, especially if you consider yourself an old man/woman, fill your mind with Godly thoughts and images and think on how God used an angel within a dream to preserve His Plan of Salvation.....Sweet Dreams.

Monday, February 16, 2015

ADOPTED BY THE KING


I am adopted, I am grafted into God's Kingdom. All people who accept Christ as their Savior have been adopted back into the family of Father God by the adoption price of Christ's blood and life. Yes, at one time humanity had the correct Father - Yahweh, Jehovah, Father God. However, humanity accepted another bloodline, way of thinking, and personality - the father of lies. With this decision came a rebellious nature towards Father God. 

A promised ultimate sacrifice for our redemption was made known in Genesis 3:14-15. Then a first-fruits sacrificial system was established by God to continually "accept" and show favor upon the sinner who did "what is right" (Genesis 4:2-7)We see that Cain and Abel knew this system because they each had their career and time passed within this system which is indicated by the phrase - "In the course of time" (Genesis 4:2-7).

The Ultimate Sacrifice has come and given His life. The Word of God, The Anointed One has visited us in the flesh - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He perfectly represented Father God's heart of love (Father God). He was sacrificed for our redemption, buried, resurrected on the third day, ascended to the right hand of Father God in Heaven and awaits His perfect moment to return for His believers. Now, our part is - "we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:23)

Paul taught the believers in Rome about themselves by saying - 

  • "As he says in Hosea: 'I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one, and, it will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' " (Romans 9:25-26) 
  • "...the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (Romans 9:20-22)
In Other Words... Believers in Christ have been grafted in to the Jewish Family of God.
  • "...if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." (Romans 11:16-19) 
Believers are identified as "a wild olive shoot" in this passage. A big key in better understanding these verses is to study the original Greek word for "wild olive shoot/tree" (agrielaios). "Wild" means both living in the country and being fierce. This form of olive tree is feminine and simply means berry tree. So one might derive - before you accepted Christ as your Savior, you were once a fiercely producing berry tree somewhere in the country. Then you were grafted in to The Vine. Now you are rooted (pun intended) in Christ which brings power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). Now you get your spiritual nourishment from Him and not some false root-system.

The Holy Spirit said through Paul to the church in Ephesus - "He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will" (Ephesians 1:5). Father God's price for our adoption was the highest - His Word as The Son of God. In Psalm 106:35, David said, "but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs." I encourage The Considering, the widows and orphans of the world to not adopt the customs/ways of The Father of Lies, Satan, the so-called god of this world. But do what is right and accept the Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus, as your redeeming Savior. I accepted Christ and I got Adopted - By The King!


Friday, February 13, 2015

A HILL WORTH CLIMBING


"Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god."
(Psalm 24:3-4)

Before the answer is even given, the questions themselves lend you to believe that there is someone or some kind of person that can "ascend the mountain of the Lord" and "stand in His holy place". That belief is answered in the next verse with four criteria for ascension and standing. 
  1. Clean hands
  2. A pure heart
  3. No trust in an idol
  4. No swearing by a false god
The "mountain of the Lord" or hill as it is rendered in some translations seems to be most commonly connected with Jerusalem or Zion (Daniel 9:16; Daniel 9:20; Joel 2:1; Joel 3:17; Zephaniah 3:11). In the future God will raise this mount higher than anything on earth (Zechariah 14:10). And many from all nations will associate themselves with the Jews because of His favor upon their lives and land. 
  • "And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him. This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:22-23)
Although Psalm 24:3-4 will be a literal, physical manifestation someday - I believe believers take this journey up the Hill of the Lord every time they pray. 

To me and my spirit Clean Hands speaks of coming to the Lord with a good service record, a good work ethic, not being lazy, working as unto the Lord and/or living right before the Lord. 

A Pure Heart means to have the right motives. Allow God to screen your thoughts, actions, and words before you think, do, or say them. A Pure Heart deals with intentions and the sincerity thereof. And a Pure Heart is concerned with integrity - what only God sees you doing and saying - it is what others don't see that goes a long way in making you a Champion for God.

Both the Idol and False god touch on the matters of focus and trust. God is a jealous God and has said so. "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10) An idol is a physical thing or a habit that takes our focus away from our Friend. Paying attention to a false god gives the possibility that we will trust it with our needs instead of The Lover of Our Souls.

I encourage you and me to evaluate ourselves the next time we pray and certainly the next time we take Communion. Psalm 24:3-4 makes a statement within the questions posed. There is one who may ascend the mountain of the Lord. There is one who may stand in His holy place. However, do you meet the requirements of that one? Do you rest in Christ's righteousness and live in His ways? Is your life filled with decisions saturated with God's counseling? Have you kept your focus on Christ and trusted in Him as your Jehovah Jireh, God Your Provider? If you have done these things you will find that there is - A Hill Worth Climbing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"WHAT IS THY BIDDING MY MASTER?"


Lords, servants, Masters, and slaves have all been around since humanity can remember. Having someone in an authority or teacher role while others are in following or student roles can be exemplified in all kinds of relationships throughout the ages. The history of everything, even time itself, has been subjective to someone from the start.

  • The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

Within this relationship of two entities (Higher/Lower), each should know his place. When speaking about slaves, the Scripture says, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." (Colossians 3:22) The key here for the submissive and for the one in authority is The Master's attitude and behavior toward everyone, especially his slaves/servants. Colossians 4:1 says, "Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in Heaven." Even those in authority must answer to the highest authority of all - Christ Jesus. "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" (Matthew 28:18) Paul's prayer, in his opening chapter to the church in Ephesus, really emphasizes Christ's authority.
  • I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)
The great news is Christ does not call us doulos (in the original Greek) - slaves - anymore. Read and "listen", as Grace Personified explains the change - "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15) Although believers will serve Him, they do so out of the deep love and eternal appreciation for their Salvation by and through Jesus Christ. The term/title Lord or Master becomes endearing and the overbearingness that used to be attached evaporates.

We can strive to be a great student, servant, or citizen. We can clamor with efforts at being an excellent teacher, authority, or master. However, there is only one (nod to "Highlander") who is a good teacher and He is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Luke 18:18-19 says, "A certain ruler asked him, 'Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good—except God alone.'" The original Greek word for good in this verse is agathos, which means morally good and virtuous. Christ's reply paints a non-picture of our goodness, calls Himself the perfect picture of goodness and declares Himself God all in one breath.    

It would behoove everyone to accept Christ as their Master (Lord) and Savior since "all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." However, God has been characterized as The Ultimate Gentleman in describing His gift of choice to humanity. I don't know that it is much of a choice, No-Brainers work that way. But all of us still have to work through the offer (of Salvation) and reject or accept it. 

Should you choose wisely and accept Christ's sacrificial offer, your life can then be filled with something more powerful than The Force (nod to Star Wars). Your acceptance of Jesus as your Master also grants you a more abundant life as you live empowered by The Holy Spirit. From this influential and personal stance in life with The Creator you can begin to communicate with The Lord and ask - What Is Thy Bidding My Master?

Friday, February 6, 2015

CHRIST-IN.......IN-CHRIST


Look at the word Christian another way, just take away the "a" and you have - Christ-In.

"...if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) - THEN you are a Christian.  Christ comes in to your life.

Believers in Christ have done nothing but have Faith in His Grace.  Christ paid it All. The incredible thing is to realize and stand on all the additional benefits Christians receive by being In Christ.The realization that we have a powerful relationship with the God of Creation, our Salvation, and our future should lead us to the question - now that God is in us what do we find In Him? This is what my research found (not exhaustive).

The Christian's righteousness or right-standing with God comes In Christ. Romans 3:22 The Christian has become alive!  We were dead in our sins, now because of Christ we are alive! Romans 6:11 The Christian is granted eternal life, not eternal death/suffering, In Christ. Romans 6:23 

There can be nothing of a condemning nature brought upon Christians that Christ has not taken care of on The Cross and who truly follow Him. Romans 8:1 In Christ, God's love is never, ever going to leave the Christian. Romans 8:39 In Christ, the truth resides by the power of the Holy Spirit and comes out verbally with the Holy Spirit testifying to His Word. Romans 9:1 

In Christ, Christians are one. Romans 12:5 In Christ, Christians glory or boast in their Lord as they serve God. Romans 15:17 Christians work, In Christ. Romans 16:3 Christians are tested and approved, In Christ Romans 15:10 Christians are called out and set aside for God's purpose(s), In Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:2 Christians are graced by God, In Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:4 In Christ, we start off as "mere infants". 1 Corinthians 3:1 With the years and circumstances of life comes maturity - In Christ. 1 Corinthians 4:10 Christians have many helpful eyes and hands throughout our lives and only one leader of the local church you are attending. 1 Corinthians 4:15 

For the Christian, there is a way of life In Christ. 1 Corinthians 4:17 For the Christian, God's promises are "Yes" because we are In Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 In Christ, the Christian can be bold, confident, and courageous. 2 Cor. 1:21 The Christian is shown off by Christ as we "spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him". 2 Cor. 2:14 Christians are new people with a new lifestyle because of Christ  2 Cor. 5:17

Christians are Fishers of Men (Matt. 4:19), Salt of the Earth (Matt. 5:13), Light of the World (Matt. 5:14), Helpers of the Needy (Matt. 6:1-4), Prayerful People (Matt. 6:5-13), Forgiving People (Matt. 6:14-15), Fasting People (Matt. 6:16-18), Instruments of Healing (Matt. 10:8), Binders and Loosers (Matt. 16:19), Brothers, Sisters, and Mothers (Matt. 12:48-50)...In Christ.

The transformation one accepts is major. It is all because of Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28). He is the sustainer of my life. I can do nothing of eternal value without Him. Life and life more abundantly is all because of inviting Christ-In and then finding and standing on what we have In-Christ!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A PILLAR IN THE HOUSE OF GOD


I thank God that He has used me in areas such as leading worship, participating in missions outreach here and abroad, and teaching some. My adoption into God's Kingdom translates into a desire to action. He first loved me, now I want and must show Him my love for all eternity, starting back in 1979. Presently my love towards God is a more public format. Again, not to boast about myself, but to brag on God. Growing up I had limited opportunities to share my light and The Gospel. However, now-a-days I have things like this blog, my book (Angels: More Than Messengers), and history with a great choir that God has blessed me to minister through.

In Revelation 3:12, Christ says, "The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name." In Other Words...The only way men and women are victorious in life is if they finish with Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. In addition, when they do cross that finish line of life they will be made and known as a pillar with many Holy names in the temple of God!

However, I believe we can practice this perception of ourselves now. When Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Galatia, he mentioned three brothers that he considered important - James, Cephas, and John. The wording he used to describe them was - "those esteemed as pillars" (Galatians 2:9). Wow! What a compliment! Pillars are steadfast, unwavering, dependable, strong and supportive. This is how I would like to be viewed in The Faith - A Pillar In The House Of God!


Monday, February 2, 2015

TALE OF TWO CITIES


Damascus and Babylon. These two cities have their destruction highlighted in Scripture. Damascus exists today but has never been fully demolished like Isaiah foresaw.
  • An oracle concerning Damascus: "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. (Isaiah 17:1)
So, however the destruction plays out, keep an eye on the news concerning Damascus.

The other city, Babylon, once existed, was slowly eradicated and is now being rebuilt. It was a literal city and is spoken of in Scripture as a literal city. "When John wants to indicate that a geographical location is symbolic, he does so clearly (Revelation 11:8). Otherwise, the geographical places in Revelation are literal: Patmos, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Sardis, Laodicea, and Armageddon. With this established pattern of literal interpretation for places, I believe Babylon should also be taken literally." (p. 363, The End, Mark Hitchcock) The city has a quick end forecasted.
  • Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: " 'Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!' (Revelation 18:10)
  • In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!' "Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. (Revelation 18:17)
  • They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: " 'Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! (Revelation 18:19)
"Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 50-51 predicted that the city of Babylon would be destroyed suddenly and completely. Babylon was never destroyed in this way but died a long, slow death over many centuries. Since Babylon has yet to be destroyed in the way the prophets predicted, these passages must refer to a future city of Babylon that will be totally destroyed." (p.365, The End, Mark Hitchcock)
"Henry Morris highlights the advantages of Babylon as a world capital:

'Babylon is indeed a prime prospect for rebuilding, entirely apart from any prophetic intimations. Its location is the most ideal in the world for any kind of international center. Not only is it in the beautiful and fertile Tigris-Euphrates plain, but it is near some of the world's riches oil reserves. Computer studies for the Institute of Creation Research have shown, for example, that Babylon is very near the geographical center of all the earth's land masses. It is within navigable distances to the Persian Gulf and is at the crossroads of the three great continents of Europe, Asia and Africa. Thus there is no more ideal location anywhere for a world trade center, a world communications center, a world banking center, a world educational center, or especially, a world capital! The greatest historian of modern times, Arnold Toynbee, used to stress to all his readers and hearers that Babylon would be the best place in the world to build a future wold cultural metropolis." (p.364, The End, Mark Hitchcock)

"Arnalod Fruchtenbaum identifies Babylon the Prostitute in Revelation 17:

'Babylon the Harlot represents the one-world religious system that rules over the religious affairs during the first half of the tribulation. She rules over the nations of the world (the many waters) fully controlling the religious affairs and has the reluctant support of the government. The headquarters of this one world religion will be the rebuilt city of Babylon, the 'mother' of idolatry, for it was here that idolatry and false religion began (Genesis 11:1-9).'" (pgs. 367-368, The End, Mark Hitchcock)

"For the first half of the Tribulation, the woman will ride the Beast (Revelation 17:3), which seems to indicate that false religion will exercise some degree of control over the Antichrist. Since the Antichrist rules the world for the final 31/2 years of the Tribulation, the woman cannot be in control of him during that time. Therefore, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist and the ten kings will destroy the religious system of Babylon (Revelation 17:16). The Antichrist will replace the false religious system of Babylon with his own blasphemous system that defies Him. Babylon itself, with its political and commercial influence, will continue under the rule of the Antichrist for another 3 1/2 years until it is destroyed in the seventh bowl judgment near the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 16:19; 18:16-24). Babylon will fall, never to rise again, just as the Scripture says." (p.369, The End, Mark Hitchcock)

I believe Christ Jesus said He is coming back For us Before He comes back With us (John 14:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). I also believe that when He comes back He will save His true believers from the coming wrath, not through it (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Christ said about one part of His coming that nobody would know when He would appear to snatch believers dead and alive away to Him in mid-air (Matthew 25:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Then Christ said all would behold Him in another coming to travel with Him and behold His victorious march into Jerusalem (Revelation 1:7; Revelation 19:14). Both of these are still future because we are not with Christ to witness His rightful seizing and ruling of the earth. Although we cannot know the day or hour of Christ's snatching away of the saints, I believe we can know the season - But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:4). And part of that season is keeping an eye and an ear open for the Tale Of Two Cities.