Thursday, April 28, 2016

SHOES AND SANDALS...A CALL TO HOLINESS


Growing-up, it used to be fun and interesting to pretend to be Dad by slipping into his shoes. Somehow, sliding into his dress shoes transformed my mind, attitude and responsibilities. If only for a split second, I pretended to make the decisions. 

It wasn't long before my Dad would smile and notice whose shoes I was wearing and question, "Son, don't you think my shoes are little too big for you? Kinda hard getting around in them, isn't it?" I would say yes, take them off and return them to his room. Dad's question and observation were not to point out that I was doing something "Wrong", but that those shoes were not meant for me right then. In truth, I was out-sized, out-classed, out-lived and rushing things a bit.

I have tried to do this in my Christian walk - step into my Father's Shoes and prove my Holiness. But that is the key, it is not my Holiness. I have no worth to be set aside for God except through Christ Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross and victory over death, Hell and the grave. 

Father God said, "Be Holy because I, the Lord your God, am Holy." (Leviticus 19:2). He said this long before sending His Son, proving there is no way to live in Dad's Shoes, even if He gave us a list of Does and Don'ts (The Law of Moses)

So, He sent someone who wore Sandals. To me this is the simplest of shoes next to being barefoot. It has little connecting leather parts and exposes the foot to all kinds of harsh experiences. This reminds me, that by Christ coming and wearing The Sandal; by Jesus visiting as the Suffering Servant; by the Word of God in flesh being my Holiness - "we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." (Hebrews 4:15)


Now, believers have The Counselor to help us wear Christ's Sandals, which were the same as Father God's Dress Shoes because The Father and The Son are One. The Dress Shoes or Sandals we wear in honor of Christ's Holiness in us will stretch and re-size over the years. But God will never leave you, nor forsake you as you emulate Christ; as you wear these Shoes And Sandals...A Call To Holiness.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

HIS PEACEMAKER

Keeping in line with being imitators of Christ - peacemaking has been on the decline from what I have observed. Being a peaceful person, having a peaceful demeanor and speaking peace into all situations, especially potentially explosive ones, is desperately needed.

Observing the Scripture, I found it interesting that to begin Christ's life, the angels declared to the shepherds in a nearby field - 

  • “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” - Luke 2:14
Notice that the proclamation states that the peace is "to those on whom his favor rests". This is key in understanding this subject in Scripture. Said another way - No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace. Later on in the life and ministry of Jesus, Christ says this about peace -
  • “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’" - Matthew 10:34-36
Christ knew that the determining factor of many relationships in history would come down to how they handled - What do we do with Jesus? There are probably many family relationships that are functionable without Jesus. But Christ came to give us more than just a functional life. Jesus came and gave us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Jesus also knew the reward for accepting "the sword".


"The Sword" that the Lord mentions as bringing instead of peace is a two-purposed sword. The first purpose of the sword is a piercing of the Lord's Word into our hearts for the possible changing of them.  The second purpose of the sword is to battle with His Word in circumstances of life, once you accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Again, Christ knew families would be divided over Him, but He also knew the reward - eternity with Him and eternal blessedness in Heaven.

There is a prophetic verse in Isaiah 9:6 that speaks about Christ's First and Second coming in one pass -

  • "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
The first part of this verse pertains to Christ's first visit - "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,". The rest of the verse has not been fully recognized Yet! - "...and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Many Christians will admit that Christ's title of Prince of Peace is at work in their lives today. I agree, Jesus, by the power of His Holy Spirit is that for me also. However, the entire world will know Jesus as The Prince of Peace one day and we simply have not arrived there....yet.

Until the world sees the One True King and Prince of Peace seated upon the throne of this world, we must be His Peacemakers. I see this peaceful deliberation especially played out when we, as Christians, go to witness to unbelievers. One of my favorite passages in the Bible spells this out nicely -

  • "But in your hearts revere 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." - 1 Peter 3:15-16
Peter places the emphasis in this passage on "always being prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.", but he waits till the last of this passage to tell you why - "so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." Sandwiched in-between there nicely is my encouragement to us all, how to go about doing this - "But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience". To me this screams of a Peacemaker. This resembles a person who has control of their thoughts, words and actions with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is a person who pauses before speaking or acting, consults God quickly and then moves on God's advice. This is a Believer who exudes peace when arguments come in opposition to declaring for faith in Christ Jesus. With God being a person of order, the Holy Spirit as your guide and the charge to witness/testify for Him - you can be sure His mind is on us being His Peacemaker. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

THE

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' " - John 14:6

When Jesus called Himself "the way", the original word that John documents Him using is Hodos (hod-os). This word means road or by implication a progress, route; figuratively a mode or means, like a journey or highway. When I asked the Holy Spirit to supplement this Title, He immediately dropped Matthew 7:13-14 into my mind and spirit.
  • “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
When Jesus called Himself "the truth", the original Greek word that John used was Alētheia (al-ay'-thi-a), meaning truth: - true, truly, truth, verity. When I asked the Holy Spirit for more on this designation, He gave me 1 John 1:5 and James 1:17.

  • "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." - 1 John 1:5
  • "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17
When Jesus called Himself "the life", the original Greek word John used was Zoe (dzo-ay). The word means life literally or figuratively. However, researching deeper this word comes from another word Zao, meaning to live. Meaning, Jesus is our ultimate example. Look to Him and His Word for all questions but especially on lifestyle. When I asked the Holy Spirit to add to this, He selected Colossians 1:16-17.
  • "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."
Jesus' titles have a catch - they each come with the article "The" before them ("the way...the truth...the life"). This article "The" screams Exclusivity! Christ's declaration trumpets to the world - ALL other faiths are a sham or counterfeit. Do you want to have direction in your life? Jesus Christ is the journey and the destination wrapped up in to one. Do you long for truthfulness to be in your life? God cannot lie. And with your decision to live for/with Him, God will supply you with His Word, Holy Spirit and friends for straight answers. Do you doubt the meaning of your life? I encourage you to live for Christ and die to self (Philippians 1:21). Christ Jesus promises to be your All-in-All. He has already promised and proved that He is - THE.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

YOUR CADDY IN LIFE


Ah! The game of Golf. A physical game. A mental or strategic game. A team game.

For the longest time as I was growing up I viewed golf as a game where the golfer had an assistant that handed him the club of his choice. This assistant or caddy's responsibility was to carry the golf bag and be a "yes-man" in my eyes. This perspective has changed.

Now I see the caddy as an integral part of every aspect of the 18 holes of golf played. The caddy informs the golfer on wind-speed, wind-direction, aiming the ball, possible hazzards or pitfalls, a suggested club, the strength of the swing and encouragement or constructive criticism afterward. And this is just for one shot. Joy comes along in this team game if you also happen to have a really good friendship with the caddy.

There are going to come times when you need more than a caddy on the golf course. In those times when your selected club, aim and execution of the shot did not take in the advice of the caddy and the outcome went horribly wrong - you need a forgiving friend; you need a comforting friend. If you have that kind of caddy on the golf course many may call you fortunate. If you have that kind of caddy in life, like I do, many call you Blessed.

In the Christian's life, The Holy Spirit is our Caddy. He is that needed friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). IF we take heed to His every instruction, THEN we will progress appropriately. Jesus spoke of The Caddy - "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the 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) If you desire for direction to be clear in your life and for details, Yield to The Caddy's (The Holy Spirit) advice. "...in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:6)

Christians, just like golf, life is a relationship-based journey. You can try to carry your "own bag", but Jesus encouraged us - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) I encourage you - listen to your teammate, lean on your friend and trust in Your Caddy In Life. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

THE CALLING AND THE CALLING CARD

True Believers in Christ know that The Calling of Christ from birth was The Cross. The Cross, His Cross was the Salvation of the world. However, all that Jesus did from day one to the point of enduring The Cross or fulfilling His Calling was Christ's Calling Card. 

To begin His earthly Ministry, Jesus, after been given the seal of approval from Father God and the Holy Spirit in His Baptism, plus after His Temptation in the wilderness - travels home to Nazareth. Here, Jesus purposely goes to a particular passage in Isaiah and declares it fulfilled then and there.

"He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ " (Luke 4:16-19)

Here we see The Announcement of Christ's Calling Card. This will be what draws men, women and children to Him. 
  1. He is Anointed
  2. He will be proclaiming Good News to the poor
  3. He will be proclaiming freedom for the prisoners
  4. He will be recovering the sight of the blind
  5. He will set the oppressed free
  6. He will proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
Jesus told His Disciples and listeners several times throughout His Calling Card Ministry that His Calling would be Finalized through His death and resurrection (Mk 8:31; 9:12; Lk. 9:22; 24:7; Jn. 3:14; 12:34). But their eyes, ears and understanding were kept clouded till after Christ's words were fulfilled.

With all kinds of ailments, the young, middle-aged and old sought Jesus for relief. He Healed our minds with His teachings. He Healed our body with His Word and Touch. He Healed our Spirit with Encouragement that He is The One we are looking for - period. Scripture says that Christ did so much more that books could not contain it. "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (John 21:25)

Similarly, I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ and myself to know your Calling and your Calling Card. Know what God has Called you to do for His Kingdom - "Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. ' " (Matthew 16:24) In addition, know and utilize what draws people to you. Things like love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are a wonderful start. They are traits that God said through Paul to the church in Galatia - "Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23) 

Jesus knew His Calling and worked on it and toward it with His Calling Card. I believe we should do the same.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

YO REPRESENT!

I have heard it said, "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything." There is truth to this statement. Lately I have had the impression that there have been several generations who don't care what OR who they represent. 

Maybe it is the standard or measure of dignity found within homes today. As I was growing-up, just within my own blood-family I carried a sense of worth. Wherever I went, whatever I did, whatever I said - I was representing my family. 

Taking this idea into the job scene - no matter whether you like it or not, no matter whether you agree with it or not - from the bottom to the top of a company, the employees are ambassadors. Their job description may not include for them to go out and recruit others into the business, however their actions and words reflect on the company's decision to hire you. So, whenever and wherever you are employed it is in everybody's best interest to represent the company well when at work and out and about.

I believe this representation, this ambassadorship idea comes from the installation of dignity, self-worth, and responsibility in the family. If you do not have any dignity or self-worth, what is going to make you feel responsible about representing anything? I encourage all of us not to believe the lie that - "It is all about you." As many of us have heard many times, "No man is an island." (John Donne). We are born into a group of people we represent, whether you like it or not - so take ownership of that. We have sports teams that we participate on and therefore represent. We attend universities and by our attendance become ambassadors of them. We acquire jobs and at times become a spokesperson for them even though we are not in the company's PR Department.

This idea of representing and ambassadorship should continue for the Christian lifestyle. The question, as Believers in Christ, becomes how do I represent a Christ-like life? Thankfully we have the "Life Manual" (The Bible) to help us with this question. 
  • Eagerly pursue Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12)
  • Practice Love (1 Corinthians 13)
  • Live by The Spirit (Galatians 5:13 - 6:10)
  • Remain Unified (Ephesians 4:1-16; Demands collaboration)
  • Heed the Instruction of Living (Ephesians 4:17-32)
2 Corinthians 5:20 states  - "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God." I encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - be convinced you are part of a body and know your "part" then you can take responsibility "by the horns" when "The Head/Christ" tells you to go, do or say. Receive the dignity and self-worth that comes from being associated with the King of kings and His Kingdom. 

For Believers and Unbelievers alike, Christ proclaims why you should choose to represent His Kingdom as an Ambassador for His Good News - "Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' " (John 14:6)  So, I strongly encourage you to stand up with God, so you don't fall for anything else.