Friday, March 18, 2016

MORE THAN SURVIVORS


Some of us in this world have experienced a rough life growing up. Some of us keep what happened to our parents and ancestors chained to our lives for our burden to bear. In both cases, the start of a new and better life/lifestyle begins with a decision to pursue that. The decision to escape one's negative environment or past is helped with the right attitude/mindset - I am more than a survivor

Once you have this determination in your mind and heart. Once you have sold-out to this attitude, a next step might be to acquire a support group. Find a group of friends or a mentor that will encourage and aide in your journey to make a break with the old and take a hold of the new.

However, the MUST in this equation is a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. Once you have Christ as your Lord, Savior and Friend - He is the one that promises to stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is the one that assures you that He will never leave you, nor abandon/forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). 

Paul promises in his letter to the believers in Rome (Romans 8:37) -  "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." You might want to ask - In all what things are we more than conquerors? Two verse before this in verse 35 we have the answer - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Believers in Christ are more than conquerors through trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword.

But wait! There's more! Verses 38-39 elaborate on our Helper. "For 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 from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." What a Blessed Assurance! I like to say With God for you, not If God is for you, who can be against you. And with the proper mindset, attitude and support group there is no reason at all that those with rough and mediocre lives can be More Than Survivors. 


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

ACCEPT AND BE FILLED (THE HOLY SPIRIT)

God tabernacled or dwelt with humanity in many different manifested forms. Some of these appearances were the great cloud of thunder and lightening at the top Mt. Sinai, a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar fire by night, a burning, but not consuming bush. Other examples would be God's Glory resting on The Ark of the Covenant and the pre-incarnate Christ visiting as The Angel of the Lord. Then there was The Word of God becoming flesh and dwelling with us on earth as a man named Jesus of Nazareth.

Then sometime after Jesus' death, burial, resurrection and ascension - Paul, in his first letter to the believers in Corinth stated - Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; When the reader of Scripture arrives at 1 Corinthians 6:9 it should make him/her ponder - when did this happen? God's Presence went from dwelling in Moses Tabernacle to Solomon's Temple to Christ Himself/Emanuel to Believers by the Holy Spirit.

There are two times that the Holy Spirit is administered to The Disciples, as a group, by Jesus after the Resurrection. The first instance is John 20:21-23 and the second is Acts 2:1-4 (Pentecost). It is here, in these two occasions, that I believe Christ Jesus sets-up all future Believers for an enriching, awaking, and powerful Spirit-led life. 

In this first account of John 20:21-23, I observed that Jesus was initiating a Changing of the Guard as well as supplying the supernatural Helper of the Holy Spirit to live within us the rest of our lives. Believers now became Christ's hands and feet and body on earth; His representative. "Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that he breathed on them and said,“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

The other passage, Acts 2:1-4, reads - When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

I personally believe the key between the two events is in the words "receive" and "be filled". In the John 20:21-23 reference - Accept ("Receive") in the original Greek is the word "lambano", meaning to take, be amazed, attain, bring and hold. Accept the Holy Spirit as your guide, teacher, mentor and friend (For Jesus was preparing to ascend to The Father). In addition, another possibility for receiving this first wave of the Holy Spirit could have been to restore "The Vessel". The Disciples had to be restored, cleaned and readied before the next installment of The Holy Spirit. 

Salvation through Jesus had to take place first. Then be believed by the Disciples, evidenced by the resurrection. But these instances lead me to believe Christ activated the Spirit-man of the Disciples and encouraged them to accept this new Tabernacling. All this before the Holy Spirit came on the Disciples in power in the upper room.

Later, observing the Disciples had accepted The Holy Spirit and the Spirit-led life (John 20:21-23), they waited for the indwelling or to "be filled" or empowered (Acts 2:1-4) in The Upper Room. The original Greek word for "filled" is "pletho", meaning someone who is imbued, influenced and supplied. The arrival of The Promised One, The Holy Spirit, for acceptance, filling and life-leading had come.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

GOD, THE ULTIMATE PARENT


There are a great number of characteristics in the relationship with my parents that bled over to my relationship with God. For this fact, I am eternally grateful. A few characteristics of the parent/son relationship I remember were - always carrying their words with me, always carrying their presence with me and somehow representing them wherever I went, even as a youngster.

At least when I was growing up, when I was in school, at a friend's house, at an event or simply just away from home - I tried to live according to the standards instilled in me by my parents. I was and still am - blessed. Some kids might have had hovering moms and dads, but mine did not have to be. Somehow, some way they got the information they needed about me. Either I would come forth with the info or someone else provided (snitched) it on me. So, I came to the conclusion early on to just be honest and first with the information.

Not to much later in life and still to this day I find that God is even more present in my life. God is everywhere. However, to those who know Him personally through Christ Jesus, they know God is someone who sticks closer than a brother. They know God sees everything, is around at all times and is surprised at nothing. I know many of us are familiar with Hebrews 13:5 which says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." We could probably also quote Matthew 28:20 which states, "And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age." I can hear the salesman for the Word of God saying, "But wait, there's more!" 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." AND Matthew 10:29-31 states,  "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

So, as you can see, God's presence and caring nature are surrounding believers all the time. I started off within my parental relationship with the mentality that when I did something wrong I would be "hit over the head" with punishment for the mistake(s). This quickly changed when mom and dad explained how their correction, the consequences they set-up, were out of love. They had already been down a similar experience and wanted to help me avoid all the pitfalls and negativity they could. This opened a whole new mentality to my consequences or punishment when I backslid with them in the future. I understood it, accepted it, learned from it and moved on.

God does not carry a "Big Stick" and wait for you to do wrong in order to derive giddiness from knocking you upside your head (mentally, physically or spiritually). "The Gavel" already fell back in The Garden of Eden. Judgement or Wrath was pronounced on sin/rebellion then. Father God declared that anything with the sinful nature could not enter Heaven and dwell with Him. BUT GOD, provided The Answer - Jesus Christ and belief in His sacrifice and resurrection. The Judgement/Wrath that was supposed to come upon us, was placed on Jesus at The Cross. So, as a Christian, no longer is there any condemnation (Romans 8:1). No longer should there be a fear of the "God with The Big Stick". Instead, we serve God who has shown Grace and Mercy and continues to show these when we mess up and confess our mistakes to Him and each other (1 John 1:9; James 5:16).

God is The Ultimate Parent. He is the best of both parents and is always around. He wants the best for me and you, which is His plan (Jeremiah 29:11). He desires His Word to go with us wherever we go (Mark 16:15), like my parent's instructions went with me and still do. And in taking His Presence and Word wherever we go, we will desire to please our Heavenly Father and represent The Family well.