Thursday, December 28, 2017

GOD'S HANDWRITING

One can deduce a lot from someone's handwriting. Society has specialists that study people's handwriting to inform authorities of that person's personality and possible tendencies to help with investigations. Graphology is the term pertaining to this analysis of the physical characteristics and patterns of handwriting claiming to be able to identify the writer, indicating psychological state at the time of writing, or evaluating personality characteristics.

In a sense, Graphology can be used upon God's Handwriting. God wrote in the sky for Noah, a bow of many colors, to communicate He would never flood the whole earth again. 

In front of King Belshazzar and his guests, at a party in the palace of Babylon, a heavenly hand appeared and wrote a prophetic warning on the wall (Daniel 5).  

In the time of Christ, Jesus was asked about the judgment for a woman who was caught in the act of adultry. Before He answered, Jesus bent down and wrote or drew in the sand. Then Jesus gave His answer and He returned to drawing or writing in the sand. 

In a time yet to come, God's Handwriting will have written our names in The Book of Life, written a new name on a white stone for us that nobody knows but God and us (Rev. 2:17), He will have written the name of God on our foreheads, (Rev. 22:4; 3:12), God's New Name (Rev. 3:12) and the name  of New Jerusalem on our bodies.

I look at these instances of God's Handwriting and I acknowledge what they were tended to communicate. For Noah, a communication of a promise to keep. For Belshazzar and company, consistency in the prophesies upheld concerning the rise and fall of world empires. For the woman caught in adultry, the showing of Himself as a persistant advocate. For the time yet to come, a stamp of our belonging is visually applied for all to see.

The common thread in all of God's Handwriting is His Faithfulness. God was faithfull to Noah through the entire Ark and Flood Process. Now, God physically displays His faithfulness to Noah with a promise to continue that Holy characteristic forward by writing a Rainbow in the sky.

God was faithful to His prophetic process. When it was time for King Belshazzar to be dethroned, God dethroned him. Daniel said, "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others." (Dan. 2:20-21) And God remained faithful in continuing the change of empires with the Medes and Persians being raised up to take over Babylon.

God was faithful to His message and mission of Forgiveness. With the woman caught in the act of adultry, Jesus taught the lesson/message of forgiveness to the teachers of The Law and He was faithful to displaying His mission of forgiveness by granting it to the woman. 

Finally, one day God's Faithfulness will be physically manifested everywhere we go. We will have Holy Tatoos of His ownership and our citizenship. Plus, His Faithfulness to honor His blood sacrifice will be manifested by our names written in The Lamb's Book of Life with God's Handwriting.

Can you detect the signature of God upon your life? He will be Faithfull to His Word concerning you! The Fruits of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5 are the curves, swoops, lines, and dots of God's Handwriting. Faith, Hope and Love are just some of the major colors that God's Handwriting can be found in. I encourage all of us to allow our minds (intellect), our heart (emotions) and our spirit/soul (personality) to be written or better yet engraved upon by God's Handwriting.

MY VISION OF DARKNESS

Have you ever stood on the edge of a very large and deep body of water at night with perhaps a mist or fog hovering just above the surface? These bodies of water, like one of the lakes in Michigan or at the end of a pier in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, have a certain atmosphere about them. These places at night produce an eerie, haunting, mysterious, sometimes creepy environment. During visits at this time, there seems to be a presence that makes itself known to every sense except our Five Senses. The hairs on the back of our neck stand up and we get the sense we are being watched. The general consensus is we are not alone.


The Scriptures talk about a ridiculously huge and deep expanse in the beginning of it all. I would venture to guess that many read the opening remarks of Genesis 1:1-5 and say, "Oh, the creation of the first day." - while not taking in the marvelous details of The Deep, Dark Expanse.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day."


This was the material or physical universe's first day and it was good. At least the light was good. The darkness was not anything, it was just dark. Now-a-days, darkness is associated with evil and/or sin. This is because we are post The Fall of Lucifer, creation and humankind. The Creation was before The Fall because ALL the angels rejoiced over God creating the physical universe, all including Lucifer before he decided to rebel. 
  • Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7)
To me The Fall of Lucifer comes somewhere between the last thing God called "good" about His creation and The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil transaction. 

The point here is that Darkness was not always evil. In fact, darkness was JUST on the "surface of the deep" as a Pottery Wheel for the "hovering Holy Spirit of God" to make His creation. The "deep" alludes to the unlimited creativity and imagination of God. That which God would create and use immediately is pictured at the surface and all that would be at God's disposal is found in the deep. Deep, unless you are referring to a bottomless pit, has definite boundaries. However, these "deep" boundaries are far to massive for our minds to fathom.

The first stanza of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" interestingly goes well here - 


"Hello darkness my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence"

A quiet place, a Holy place, a creative starting point - this is now My Vision Of Darkness.

Friday, December 8, 2017

KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS WITH CHRIST

When you assume something, you take the risk of making an "butt" of "u" or "me". Expectations are a synonym. You can expect a certain result or outcome and be vocal about it and in the end be anywhere from spot on to just off target (a few details missing) to dead wrong (missed the whole picture).

Through hundreds and hundreds of years, the Jewish people had prophetic inspired writings from God informing them of their coming Messiah or Savior. Many descriptions in the Old Testament depict The Christ as a victorious, militant - Prophet, Priest and King - Savior. Other prophecies pictured the Messiah as a Suffering Servant. What was overlooked, as we peer through our 20/20 hindsight vision, is the order in which Christ would manifest Himself in these depictions. Why would anyone, especially the Savior of Israel and the world, come first as a conquering hero, then proceed to come back and suffer later on for His victory. No, the payment is up front. There is not a Crown, without a Cross first. 

After so much bondage as a people and so much suffering along the way, I can see why the Jews were looking for a forceful over-thrower of their oppressor to come along. Many claimed to be Israel's savior over the years, especially during the Roman occupation. However, the physical Sword was not going to win the battle this time. There will come a time when Christ will speak, defeating the nations coming against Him and His Words will be as a double-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth (Rev. 19:15). But we are still waiting for the manifestation of that militant coming/visitation.

Placing myself on that wonderful day and night of Christ's birth - as a citizen of Jerusalem or Bethlehem, I would not have thought that day or night any different from the rest. However, there were a few people that did have some high expectations. 

The three wise men were consciously looking for the Christ child. They had evidently studied all sorts of Scripture and other documents, plus they had a Star. This was no ordinary star in the sky. "After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was." (Matt. 2:9) Balls of gas do not just up and move, then stop over a given point. This was an angelic being! They followed their leader, found their Treasure, worshiped and gave their offerings.

Meanwhile, shepherds were tending their flock on the night shift. Considered the lowliest occupation of the time, shepherding was not frowned upon by God. In fact, Christ would be called The Great Shepherd. The shepherds keeping watch over their flock that night were blessed enough to receive an angelic summons - first from a single angel, then from an angelic choir (Luke 2:8-15). While the Three Wise Men looked for Christ, the shepherds were invited.

Last, but not least were Simeon and Anna. These two individuals had known about the prophecy of the Messiah and knew that they would behold Him before they died and they did (Luke 2:25-38). For these two, Revelation was the key as to whether or not they would see Christ in their lifetime. Luke specifically states for Simeon -  "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah." (Luke 2:26) So, the Three Wise Men looked for Christ, the shepherds were invited to Christ's birth and Simeon/Anna received Revelation that Christ was born.

God did not want Christ's birth to go unnoticed and unidentified as The Birth of The Savior. God's selection for His Bethlehem Cast of Characters was and is interesting. It still speaks about those that wait on The Lord. The Wise Men waited as they studied the prophesies from afar and were rewarded with an angelic guide to the Christ child's side. 

The shepherds waited as they diligently performed their duties, no matter what social status or working hours was attached to them. They too were awarded angelic aide, but this time the shepherds got an angelic choir and choir leader delivering the message and invitation.

Simeon and Anna waited on the Revelation they received to be manifested. There is nothing like witnessing a promise of God materializing before your eyes and Simeon and Anna had the ultimate one - glimpsing and holding in their arms The Christ.

The encouragement today and all days forward is for me and everyone else to screen your expectations through God's Word and His Holy Spirit. God led who He wanted Manger-side some 2,000+ years ago and nobody else. In fact, God protected Jesus and the family from Herod's attempt to kill the Christ-child. So, if He wants you somewhere at some time, He will either move you or place that expectation that a change is needed or coming soon from Him. I know it is hard sometimes to walk in - "If God said it, I believe it and that settles it." - type of mentality and attitude. But, as Paul said, I say to you - "now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," (Philippians 2:12) and Keep Your Expectations With Christ.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

GOD ORCHESTRATED

There is a poster on Facebook that reads:

  • "I believe in God not because my parents told me, not because my church told me, but because I have experienced His goodness and mercy myself."

The person in this quote admits his/her parents told them about God ("I believe in God not because my parents told me"). Also, the person admits the church told them about God ("not because my church told me,"). So, they had a verbal exposure at the least about God. 

There was a seed planted, and/or a foundation laid. So, for this person NOT to include his parents and church in the equation for his belief in God (but because I have experienced His goodness and mercy myself.) is not reasonable because of his admission. I am not knocking his experience of God's goodness and mercy, but he flat out denied the things that he admitted were in his life as building blocks toward his spiritual awakening.

I believe in God because my parents told me about Christ Jesus and displayed Him in the home. I believe in God because my church cared enough to protect me and grow me in The Scriptures. However, I have especially come to believe in God because of my personal experiences with Him; realizing that no other person could have helped me. But I do not throw away or discount that which got my faith started and sustained thus far. And I too have had some supernatural experiences with God, but I dare not base ALL of my faith in that one basket - experiences.

This is my encouragement: remember and reflect on the key people and events that God perfectly aligned in your life to bring you to belief in His Sacrifice, His Victory and His Kingdom. And Thank and Praise God for these people, places and things that were in the beginning and throughout God Orchestrated.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

GOD LOVES VARIETY


I wish all of us could peel our skin off and know each other, at least for a while, as the same blood-red, bundle of nerves, organs, muscles and bones we are. Sure we all have personalities to accompany those features, but that is what would make the difference NOT the color of our skin.

After The Flood, I imagine if Noah and his family stayed in the area and their generations after them, the color of their skin would not change due to the climate of their region. However, they did split up. "The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth." (Genesis 9:18-19) Therefore, since they split up and settled in other parts of the world with different environments, their skin pigmentation was different from each other.

How humanity made "The Switch" of associating skin color FROM environmental factors TO inferior human characteristics is a mystery. In some form or fashion we have always had slavery of some kind of people, so we cannot blame slavery as the trigger or switch. 

After centuries of living and growing in the settled areas that Shem, Ham and Japeth eventually called home - I believe Pride reared its ugly head. Not the side of Pride that shines with confidence in one's abilities, but the side that stinks of lording over another in order to elevate yourself in a spectacle. I think either a group or individual within each area got the idea of Conquest, Expansion, Domination via force or war. Why? Because Pride says, "I/we am/are better than you and can prove it." Plus, there is the being the ruler of the world thing factoring into the equation.

Society still has not gotten rid of our haughty pride. As we have seen time and time again in history and in our current news there seems to be a prevailing attitude/thought that there must be a low-man on the totem pole if for no other reason than to make all the people above feel/look better. The result is three-fold: (1) division of what once might have been a unit; (2) murder of a possible color-blind relationship; and theft of a hope that the past can be the past and restoration as possible. 

Sound familiar? John quotes Jesus as saying, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;". This is the first half of John 10:10. The second half Jesus declares, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.". Yes, a huge chunk of the problem is The Enemy of Our Soul. And there are people out there that don't need any help from the enemy because of the amount of Pride in them. However, under the Lord's Banner, with the Lord's Eyes we can at least begin to see each other as we should.

The Lord is the most creative being. By His creation we can tell He did not desire robots; everything the same. Back at the Tower of Babel, God confused humanity's one language so that many developed. Customs, cultures and traditions all sprang from the different populated regions of Noah's sons. In addition, God knew and allowed for all the different skin color variations. We desperately need to get over ourselves. I do not believe God intended for the differing skin tones to set up a cultural/societal hierarchy of sorts. We have skin color because God Loves Variety.

Monday, December 4, 2017

OUR HOPE


My definition of Hope is as follows - Hope is a feeling and/or expectation that is based on past and present observations which point to a favorable outcome in one's life or current situation.

Among the many instances of Hope in Scripture, one that stands out to me is a hopeful man named Simeon.

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.'” (Luke 2:25-32)

Luke, being a physician, was very detailed. So, it comes as no surprise that his detailed personality spills over into his writing as he describes Simeon.

Luke says Simeon's life was on track with God - "righteous and devout" and he lived in Jerusalem in wait "for the consolation of Israel" with "the Holy Spirit on him". God had this man's life squirreled away, on the right track, in the right city, with His anointing on him as he waited. He tarried more specifically because - "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah." What a cause for Hope; even a lifelong Hope! 

Due to his lifestyle and the Holy Spirit on him, the day came when Simeon was "moved by the Spirit" and "he went into the temple courts." Can you imagine Simeon's thoughts and emotions at this point. I bet the suspense was just about to knock him over. Then - "When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.'”
_______________________________________

That same Joy and Excitement will be experienced by Christians everywhere when their Hope - Christ Jesus returns in mid air to Rapture them Home. Paul reminds the believers in Rome - "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." 

I love that last statement - "For in this hope we were saved." Within the Salvation Plan of Christ is the Redemption, not only of our relationship with Father God, but our bodies as well. Our glorification - through and through - will be manifested when Christ comes to get us.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

To bring this full circle - I stated my definition of Hope is - a feeling and/or expectation that is based on past and present observations which point to a favorable outcome in one's life or current situation. I say to believers and non-believers alike today - Christ Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about His first visit, so I have no doubt He will fulfill His promises concerning His return first FOR US in mid-air, then later WITH US to begin His earthly Millennial Reign. Christ Jesus is the Hope of every person, every season, every situation and the future (mentally, physically and spiritually) - He is Our Hope.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

SOME THINGS GOD LOVES


God likes relationship, no make that Loves relationship. He gave His only Son Christ Jesus for the redemption of all humanity's relationship with Him. In addition, He plans to manifest a marriage for all the people who decided to believe in Him one day with His Son.

God loves a huge house where everybody can call Home. Ever since Jesus ascended to the right hand of Father God, He has been preparing a place that has many rooms like mansions, so that He will come back and take us to our dwellings to live with Him forever.

God loves to fellowship. I like to say that I serve a Party God! The first place we see Christ Jesus performing a miracle is at a celebration or party. He continued that pattern by visiting people's houses and eating with them. One day, believers will feast with The Lord at The Wedding Supper of The Lamb and the eating and camaraderie will last forever.

God likes creating beautiful things. In the beginning He created, well, everything. Afterward, He created man from this tiny planet we call earth - to be stewards of His creation. Perhaps God will continue that pattern in the eternal future - creating marvelous places and things for us to manage or govern in His Name.

The problem is the Fallen State of Man and it's author - Lucifer - still exist. However, one day soon The Remedy will be manifested forever. Sometimes we look at the waves in our own ponds, lakes or oceans of life and those waves look and feel more like tsunamis. But fear not, God has overcome life, death, the world and everything in between! In the face of all this and possibly more, I'm here today to remind all of us of Some Things God Loves.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE DISCIPLINE OF RELINQUISHING OUR THRONES


There is a way of living, a lifestyle, worthy of everyone's life. In fact, all other lifestyle options have been proven to be inferior. The key is recognizing this before one's life is too far gone and capitalizing on it. Whatever we might have thought the world could provide as a way of life or our own creative powers - neither the world's plan or our plan is more fulfilling or enduring than a life with and for Christ Jesus.

Matthew records Jesus saying, "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matt. 10:39) 

What must be noticed here is the phrase "for my sake". This phrase is not in the first situation mentioned (before the comma) - "Whoever finds their life will lose it,". This is important because in this first scenario whatever anybody finds as their lifestyle is devoid of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. Consequently their life is forfeited or lost.

However, if one lays aside all lifestyle options except Christ's or "loses their life for my sake", you will find a purpose, fulfillment, endurance, abundance and way of living that is eternal - you "will find it".

This takes an initial surrendering of your body, mind, heart, dreams and plans to God. These things are so much better in His hands anyway. These things can do much more, be blessed and be much more of a blessing with everything surrendered to God. Exodus 33:15-16 records the strong sentiments of Moses in this regard. "Then Moses said to him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?'"

So, I encourage you in this thought today. If you are at that point where you need to "lose" your life for Christ's sake or lifestyle, then make that change, you will not be sorry. Realize, however, that even after you are living a Christian lifestyle, there will be the continued struggle to sit upon The Throne of our Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. It is lesson after lesson of losing our lives again to His will; to His plan. It is The Discipline of Relinquishing Our Thrones.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

COMPLETE SALVATION


Fellow Christians, I hope you know your Salvation is Paid for in Full by Christ Jesus. If you do not not know that (1) I just told you and (2) if you don't believe me, read the book of Hebrews. Jesus died once for everybody. If you have accepted and declared that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior and believe in your heart that Father God raised Him from the dead, then your eternity with God is secure (Romans 10:9) - do not doubt it.

Once we are in Christ's Family, sharing His Love, in all its many forms, is a joy. Some may call it Working for The Kingdom. Others may identify their action toward God as their Ministry or Calling. Whatever the service to God, the joy of His Salvation is what sets a believer in motion. As David prayed in Psalm 51:12, so my prayer is for us that God will Restore to us the joy of His salvation and grant us a willing spirit, to sustain us.

In the meantime, know that The Bride of Christ, The Church, has been made holy, cleaned by the washing with water through The Word, radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but I'll say it again holy and blameless - due to the husband-like sacrifice of Christ's life for His wife (Pritchard Paraphrase of Ephesians 5:25-27). The actual passage reads -
  • "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
You see Christ has done it. He "loved" and "gave" (two active past verbs that keep on keeping on) Himself up for His whosoevers, His believers, His church, His Bride. Through His sacrifice Christ has made His Bride all those wonderful things listed that we could not be on our own. 

I have heard an idea that needs snuffing out. The idea is that we need to do something more to ensure or keep our Salvation once we are saved. This is deceptive, incorrect and a lie from the pit of Hell. If this did have any merit it would place value on our works aiding Christ's sacrifice and that flies in the face of Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." 

When Christ declared, "It is finished." (John 19:30) on The Cross, Jesus left no room for doubt. I encourage you to rebuke the spirit of doubt because He did not include a "but", "and", "perhaps" or any other addition or subtraction wording about humanity's Salvation. Christ Jesus even gave us a variety of this statement before The Cross, He said -  "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Then when He got to the point where His mission was complete, He cried, "It is finished." Christ is not going to die for you or me again. His life-price was more than sufficient for all of humanity throughout all of history from beginning until The Judgement Day. 

I want to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ today. If you are hearing whispers or ideas like this - that your Salvation has fallen or you must aide Christ in the effort that has already been secured - then rebuke that voice. Our works, service or deeds in response to our Salvation (that joy I spoke about earlier) can always be improved upon, but if you are a Christian according to Romans 10:9 then you have and can rest in His Complete Salvation.

Monday, November 13, 2017

THE POWER OF OBSERVATION


The act of watching is plentiful in Scripture. The women that followed Jesus watched The Lord for opportunities to minister to His needs (Matt. 27:55). Judas looked for his opportunity to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:16). Jesus warned about watching for false prophets (Matt. 7:15) and deceivers (Matt. 24:4). Plus, He admonished believers to always be on watch for His return, because His return would be imminent.

The Power of Observation is important in Scripture. Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote the letter to the believers in Ephesus - better known as the book of Ephesians. It is commonly accepted that while Paul wrote this letter he had a Roman soldier as a house guest/guard. By being observant to his surroundings and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul was able to receive divine wisdom concerning the Spiritual Armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20).

However, I could easily imagine Paul peering from the window of his house arrest in Rome and observing the things he warns the believers in Ephesus not to indulge. In the streets of Rome, Paul could have regularly seen impurity, greed, theft, brawling, slander, unwholesome speech, sexual immorality and drunkenness. All these are spoken about in Ephesians 4 & 5 as things to look for in your own individual faith walk and in the corporate body of the church as things to avoid or eliminate if found.

Discernment is paramount. Right in the middle of this teaching, Paul delivers the key instruction - "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16)

Wow Paul! Your days are evil? Your prophecy to Timothy about the Last Days was and is spot on! Paul would later write in a Second letter to his protege - "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people." (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

The increase in frequency and intensity of these prophesied characteristics is what alerts me! Like contractions of a mother very near childbirth, so is the Season of Christ's Coming for His Bride (Matt. 24:8). If we are wise, watch and implement the spirit of discernment, especially in these days, then our decisions will be a lot more intelligent and our opportunities will be more fruitful. But it all starts with The Power of Observation.

Friday, November 10, 2017

THE COMPANY WE KEEP


Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It matters, the company you keep, while you are in this world and not of this world. In John 17:13-19, Jesus prays a prayer of Sanctification (set apart-ness) for His Disciples. I believe this prayer stretches down through the ages to all who would call themselves disciples of Christ. The Lord prayed,

  • I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus is our Great Example in that He was in the world and allowed situations to move Him to compassion or The Father's Heart for the circumstances. He did not let the negative outlook influence who He was with The Father. Christ's lesson to the Pharisees about this subject is found in Matthew 9:10-13, it says,
  • While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So, how do Believers be successful at being in the world, but not of the world? The foundation is love or compassion. "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

Some building blocks to place upon Love are friends gained by your wealth and your enemies/persecutors loved and prayed for. Do you want to have a particularly nice "welcome into eternal dwellings" one day? Then "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourself". This is what Luke 16:9 says that Jesus tells us. "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." Lunch, a card, gas money, helping with a bill, your time and muscle helping them move and so forth are examples of this instruction.

Jesus pretty much guarantees that we will have enemies and those that persecute us in Matthew 5:44-45. But He does NOT say to brandish the sword and smote thy enemy. In fact, He says, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." According to this definition, can you call yourself a child of The Father in Heaven? If we are part of His Family, He expects us to act like it, even if we are in an environment that is growing more hostile by the minute.

But I hear someone trying to flip the coin and say, but Scripture also says - "Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces." (Proverbs 13:20) - AND - "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'” (1 Cor. 15:33). This is true, The Bible does say these things, but these words of advice still do not hinder us from mingling with "the sick" and making friends that are in the world and loving/praying for those who persecute you. These words of advice simply call for an air of alertness and discernment about you and The Company You Keep.

It is one thing to be the influencer, however if you are surrounded by "fools" or "bad company" that spew forth negativity all the time and you feel that you have obeyed God's directive at this time, in this company, then it is time for a change of company. Be smart about the people that surround you and the potential ungodly influences that are there. Keep those spiritual antennae up!

Again, Believers in Christ are called not only to be Ambassadors for Him, but Sons and Daughters as Ambassadors for His Family. This raises the bar significantly because now you represent His and your Family to a world you live in but are not made for as a New Creation in Christ. We do this by using every avenue that can possibly fall under the action word of Love, while being discerning of The Company We Keep.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

MANTRA-LESS

First of all, don't be surprised if all the sudden in a conversation with me I start singing. This is probably due to the fact a word or phrase you just said triggered a song with the same word, phrase or sing-song voice you used - in it.

Secondly, don't be surprised if I sing a song for you or over your life - in front of you. 

Thirdly, don't be surprised if I try to get you to join me in singing or playing one of many "air instruments" available to us.

Scripture says in Ephesians 5:18-19 - "be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord"

However, be sure that I will not be choosing repetitive songs that go on forever. True, there are certain things, like God's love enduring forever, that are emphasized by repetition in Scripture. There are ideas or even words that are said twice or three times to get a point across. But the whole Bible is not like that - thank The Lord! In fact, when you sing or when you speak to God, He encourages you to enter a NO BABBLING ZONE, which I include repetition in the definition of. 

Scripture paints the picture of what NOT to do in our prayers, so how much more our songs to God and each other and just general speech.

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:5)

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7)

"They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely." (Mark 12:40)

The Holy Spirit through Paul encourages us to keep variety in our prayers. So, how much more we should exercise this in music and regular speech.


"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." (Ephesians 6:18)

Peter even shows the possibility of hindrances in your communication with God by not being a proper husband in Christ. So, watch your life, it watches over your words.

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (1 Peter 3:7)

Like I have mentioned, I understand that in Scripture repetition is used for emphasis and strong emphasis at times. I also realize that in the music realm repetition comes as an artistic expression of emphasis many times. However, I have witnessed many times in concerts and church services the nauseating, never-ending LOOP of a part of song or the entire song. It is at this point it has crossed the line and become a Mantra and that is what I am trying to steer us away from. 

Do we think that saying something on the 5011th time will manifest something or prompt God to move as opposed to the very first time we prayed or sang? I think there is a fine line between persistence, passion and repetition (mantra). But the line is there and it is being mowed over. Please let us become Mantra-less! 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

ANOINTED INFLUENCE

Ever have a highly respected individual in which you desired to emulate? I know we are not all perfect, but there are some great men and women out there with traits and characteristics worth adding to our own repertoire. In fact, I believe we each should be a conglomerate of all the positive attributes that we experience and leave the negative ones behind - a challenge, I know.

However, according to Marc Antony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, it is unfortunately our bad deeds which live on in the minds of the living and our good deeds are forgotten with us in the grave.
  • Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar.
This is the world perspective. But, for those desiring to bless others, just as Christ had compassion on the many He encountered, God has Anointed Influence in abundance to delegate upon your life and mine. 

Even before the time of Christ Jesus there was a man such as this - Elisha. Elisha had a highly respected individual he wanted to emulate - Elijah. However, not only did Elisha desire to mimic his mentor, but he wanted and received a double portion of Elijah's Anointed Influence! Elisha saw the good, saw the blessings, saw the fruit of Elijah's impact and wanted that and more. 

This double Anointed Influence can especially be seen in Elisha's life in 2 Kings 13:20-21. Elisha's Anointed Influence rests on his body and is effective even after he is dead.
  • Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.
There are men and women of God in my own life that I attempt to emulate. These people are great authors, singers, pastors, friends, teachers, prayer warriors, and encouragers. All of these types of wonderful people are awesome foundations to enhance my touch on or in anybody's life. Some of these individuals have passed on and still influence and empower me today. However, it is futile if God is not throughout the whole process of seeking to have or be an Anointed Influence.
  • Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16)
Jesus promises us in John 14:12 that those who believe in Christ will do even greater things.

  • "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

We can start this effort by emulating great men and women of God, but most importantly the emulation of Christ Himself. Then armed with sound character, God's Holy Spirit and compassion - believers can pursue, use and even after death be an Anointed Influence.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

YOUR CONTRIBUTION IN GOD'S HANDS


Today, I encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to always be ready to bless somebody - whether they be a believer in Christ or non-believer. We help move someone toward a decision for a life with Christ when we bless the non-believer. We strengthen the Body of Christ when we bless other Christians. We show the love of God in both cases as we do not neglect either.

In order to be prepared for these kind of opportunities at any moment, God instructs us to just use what we have on hand to minister one-to-another - be real, be genuine. In the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand it is stated,

"As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, 'This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.'

Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.'

'We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,' they answered.

'Bring them here to me,' he said." (Matthew 14:15-18)

The thrust is to be authentic in your blessing and/or relationship building. Don't try to drum something up or try really hard in this area. First, bring yourself and your blessing to Christ, then allow Him to break it, bless it and multiply it. 

"Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." (Matthew 14:19-20)

This is exactly what He did with the amount provided and I believe He will do the same for us in all areas of our lives.

Did you know that this event had a precursor? The Feeding of the Five Thousand was foreshadowed in 2 Kings 4:42-44 with the Feeding of One Hundred.

"A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. 'Give it to the people to eat,' Elisha said.

'How can I set this before a hundred men?' his servant asked.

But Elisha answered, 'Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’ Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord."

Not only a message delivered twice in history, but the same kind of miracle! This should cause students of The Word of God to perk up and take particular notice. 

1 Peter 3:15-16 has the kind of spirit I am wanting you to acquire in your awareness.

"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."

However, more than waiting for someone to ask for "the reason for the hope that you have" - be proactive with your opportunities. Look for chances to bless others. Keep your radar/antenna alert for Your Contribution In God's Hands.

Monday, October 9, 2017

GOD'S TIMING IS PERFECT


Hindsight is always 20/20 vision. However, that does not stop me from asking God - why now? Or why then? I think it is an understatement to call God's Timing interesting at what seems to be pivotal times in our lives. But we have to trust in God's plan and control for our lives, otherwise we might go crazy sounding like a 4 year old saying "Why" all the time.

Jesus has timed His answer to issues at different points along several struggles. Take for example - The Feeding of the Five Thousand (Matt. 14:13-21), Christ Asleep in the Boat (Mark 4:35-41), and the Raising of Lazarus (John 11, esp. 11:17). 
______________________


There was a crowd of five thousand, just counting the men, following Jesus one particular day. He was healing their sick and having compassion on them when evening time was upon everyone. The disciples, knowing that the masses probably knew the lay-of-the-land and where to get a bite to eat, said to Jesus, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” But Jesus shockingly replied,  “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 

You know the rest of the story. The disciples share what they have, Jesus breaks the food, blesses the food and the food miraculously multiplies. Jesus' answer to this issue was ahead of what could have been a bad situation for 5,ooo plus people. His timing preceded a massive dilemma. 
____________________


What? God never sleeps? Well, at least Father God and the Holy Spirit do not. Jesus on the other hand did because He was human. However, He chose to sleep at some curious moments. 

"That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, 'Let us go over to the other side.' Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion." (Mk. 4:35-38)


It is interesting that then and now, followers of Christ have seen His faithfulness in their lives; previous works only Jesus could have performed and when a dire crisis comes along we not only forget about Christ's faithfulness, but we disregard the power we possess just by Him being in the boat.

That boat was NOT going to sink even with the waves breaking over the boat, "so that it was nearly swamped". But - "The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'”

Thank God that Jesus did not put on another blanket and turn over and ignore their earnest request. The record shows - "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?' See how Jesus addresses the disciples - with loaded questions - (1) Why are you so afraid? I am with you in the boat. (2) Do you still have no faith? After all you have already witnessed with me and from me - what is a little rain, wind and waves?

"They were terrified and asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'”

God replied to the call in the middle of this situation. The storm was upon the disciples and at full throttle with no end in sight when they approached the sleeping Son of God. If He is on your boat, peacefully resting or not, your boat won't sink - it will make it to it's destination!
_______________________


Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:". A time to live and a time to die. And in the case of Lazarus, a time to live and die again, because of Jesus. John 11:17 states, "On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days." It would seem Jesus is a tad late in this situation. But as we find out, the delay was to display God's Power and Glory even after the situation seems closed. We start with a prime example of how we question God's Timing.

“'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.'”

"Martha answered, 'I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.'”

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'”

"But some of them said, 'Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?'”


However, Jesus knew that Yahweh is God at all times - before, during and after a crisis. He is also knew that He was the answer to the situation - the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. So, He prayed, evidently out loud, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

After He had prayed this prayer, He raised Lazarus by His Words - "Lazarus, come out!" There is not a situation so far gone that Christ cannot help. He proved that point here by spitting in death's face and breathing life back into a decaying body with The Word of God by The Word of God in flesh!
_________________________


In the movie Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf says, “A wizard is never late. Nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means to.” My God does this also and He is more powerful and more compassionate than a wizard. So, the next time you are starting to wonder, are wondering or have seemingly given up wondering on an answer from God, reflect on these situations and remember God's Timing Is Perfect.