Tuesday, January 31, 2017

THE LORD IS THERE


I am close to my parents. My parents have always tried to be there for me. Through my childhood and teenage years they were an immediate presence, then there came college. 

I will never forget my first day at college. I was driven down, settled and they drove away. I had a strong 50/50 mix of emotions. Half of me screamed, "Don't leave me alone! Stay on campus somewhere!" The other half of me had the adventurous spirit and was ready to sing, "A whole new world...." (from Aladdin). I can only imagine, after the Disciples spent quality time with the Messiah for three years that their hearts and minds were torn at the news of His departure. 

Think about who and what they saw. They saw the perfect representation of Father God in Jesus. They witnessed His healings, His teachings, His Holy anger, His compassion, His power over demons, His authority over nature, and His command over death. Then Jesus laid down His life and left His followers in death, but not without warning them a few times. He returned to His Disciples three days later by His Resurrection just as He prophesied. Then He had to leave again, so that The Comforter or Holy Spirit would indwell the believer's heart and mind. A lot of pulling on the heart-strings here. I'm here. I'm gone. I'm here. I'm gone, but I'm sending you my Spirit.

Everything had it's purpose, but the Disciples were blind to the workings of God's Plan through Christ until after The Resurrection on the road to Emmaus. We know in retrospect the meaning behind the events of those days. However, I imagine that time-frame of explanation of the past prophecies, revelation of their fulfillment and anticipation of the promised Holy Spirit must have been an exciting but anxious time in the lives of the Disciples. There was a shift occurring in how God manifested His Seat of Governing. His Throne was now becoming our hearts.

Before Christ, in the Old Testament, there were tents, tabernacles and temples from which God governed. However, His caring presence was displayed throughout history in people's lives, showing the personal and intimate God. 

One example of His personal, caring, abiding presence is the Fiery Furnace event. For the full account, read Daniel chapter 3. For the main point, I call upon Joseph Prince - 

"Notice how He [the fourth man in the fire] didn't stand outside of the fire, but was in the fire together with the three friends. This brings a whole new meaning for us when we read the verse, 'Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.' (Deut. 31:6) Our Lord doesn't deliver you from afar; He is with you in the midst of your adversity. Call upon Him and He will answer you." 

In college, I could phone Mom and Dad, but if I needed their physical aide it would take a few hours for them to reach me. Unlike this scenario or anything trying to separate me from my God (Romans 8:38-39), God is my forever abiding intercessor and consoler. In other words, He is my advocate and comforter. The word in the original language is Parakletos (par-ak-lay-tos) (John 14:16). Scripture says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) He is always available. He is also there just to speak to as Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

Like Pastor Prince encouraged us, He goes with us wherever we go. He is immediately accessible and incredibly personal. The Holy Spirit's joy is to have us commune with Him as much as possible so He can reveal more of Jesus and therefore more of Father God. Like His future Millennial city is called (Eze. 48:35), so our hearts are now - The Lord Is There.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

FROM THE FATHER

Jesus Christ fulfilled many names prophesied about Him and will fulfill many more. In studying Psalm 91, believers know God in the beginning of this Psalm as "Most High", "Almighty", "Lord" and "God".
  • "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”
"Most High" or Elyon is the portrayal of God as incomparable. Nobody is higher than Him. 
"Almighty" or Shaddai is the God of more than enough. When speaking of God's capabilities and provisions, He is not just satisfactory with His love and blessings, He is abundant. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." Yehovah/Yahweh or "Lord" is the covenant-keeping God. Did you know that Jesus' name in Hebrew is Yeshua? And this name translated means the covenant-keeping God saves (Yahweh saves)! Then "God" in the second verse of Psalm 91 or Elohim refers to Him as Creator and/or Supreme Spirit. 

Then a major shift in perspective happens in Psalm 91 when the reader reaches verse 14. Here, God is speaking directly to the individual who has decided to follow Him. The verse reads, 
  • "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name." 
The Pritchard Paraphrase for believers of this now goes - Because he has chosen to love me by believing in my Son, I will deliver him from everlasting damnation; I will place him on high in heavenly places because of my Son and because he knows my name. This begs the question then - What is God's Name?

Notice that the verse mentions the word "name" as singular. This is why I started out this teaching with the observations of Christ's many titles now and future. Also, the rest of the Psalm states - "He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." Here, God declares He will perform lavish, loving actions. Because of these actions I believe the Christian knows God by a very personal name - Father.

The Old Testament foreshadowed many times the Father's Love in sending The Messiah, but one particular instance stands out to me - Abraham's obedience to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Fast forward hundreds of years, when Christ was here and Jesus Himself had this to say about who He came to reveal.

"Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'

Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'

Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.'

Jesus answered: 'Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? 

The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 

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. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.'" (John 14:5-14)

Jesus prayed many times in private. I have often wondered what He might have prayed about in those one-on-ones with Father God. However, there is at least one place in Scripture where the reader does not have to guess and lo and behold it pertains to Jesus revealing His Father to mankind - John 17:25-26.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Hebrews 1:3 supports the unity of Father and Son when the writer said, "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." 

True, Father God is Most High, Almighty, Lord and Creator God. However, because of His Son's sacrifice and victory for all we can know Spirit, Son and Father. We can know His Spirit as He dwells with us, His Son as He mediates for us and Father God who communicates His love to us through them both daily. Every good and perfect gift comes From The Father (James 1:17).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

KINDLE OUR FAITH


Faith comes from hearing testimonies. Testimonies come from witnesses. Witnesses come from overcoming challenges. The singer/song writer, Michael English, sang "There's Not A Crown Without A Cross" many years ago. This is still true today. Then after "The Crown" is achieved, testimony is an awesome way to build-up The Body - the faith of Christian believers.

Hebrews 12:1 encourages us in this vein by saying, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses...". The phrase "compassed about" in the original Greek is peikeimenai. This is a compound of the words peri and keimai. The word peri means completely and highly surround. The word keimai means to lie down. When we combined the two we have something to the tune of - Where as we see nothing but all these biblical examples piled up and lying all around us...

So, Hebrews makes it clear that when our faith needs a boost we can jump back into the Scriptures and find plenty of examples to receive encouragement. However, there are many modern day testimonies of God's care right next to us everyday, but especially every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. This is why I am so excited about the Testimony Initiative, for the lack of a better title, that my church is beginning. We will be listening to the testimonies of our own people for the building up of our faith on a regular basis starting soon.

The Shield of Faith spoken of in Ephesians 6 is not only a shield of Christiandom that we hold up to the devil and his firery darts. We not only hold up the shield of showcased saints in Scripture to thwart our enemies attacks of things such as depression, lust, or pride. But we hold up our own embattled, weathered, but victorious shield of faith which testifies to God's goodness in our individual lives.

Revelation 12:11 speaks of a time now and future when Christ's blood and Christian's testimony, even to the point of death, will be the reason Christians triumph over the enemy.
"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." But it all beings with opening our mouths, speaking up and speaking out about God's greatness in our lives in front of others, if we are going to Kindle Our Faith.

Friday, January 20, 2017

FRAMES


Life seems to be over-saturated with square/rectangle Frames. Everywhere I turn - at work, at home, and on the road - I see frames. Desks, walls, windows, television monitors, road signs and parking spaces litter my daily vision. 

Some lives are framed. These people seem to have their whole lives mapped out for them - on purpose or not. One "side of their frame" could be Generational Expectations. Another side might be Economic Weights and Challenges. A third side could be Social Pressures to be a certain person. The fourth side I reserve for our own making - a culmination of all three sides and our self-made boundaries/limitations.

Now, don't get me wrong - some boundaries, some structure is appropriate - everything in moderation. I have heard the phrase, "Stay within the lines, the lines are our friends." But life is fun and creative when we can explore off-road some. I believe we hold better perspectives, our batteries are charged more and we are healthy for ourselves and others when we are not so confined.

Ah, to be deep in the forest or mountains, figuratively or literally! Here the view is like a splash of cool, refreshing visual perspective to my mind and eyes. No frames. No boundaries. No limitations. Just woods and a trail that leads to another trail to another and so on - providing different unbound scenes each time.

Romans 9:19-21 encourages us, as "the clay", not to "talk back to God" about why you were made the way you were. The verse states God makes some lives "honorable" and other lives "common". The actual passage reads - 

"But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?"

I still feel we can respectfully approach God on the subject. I believe in His time, He will reform an edge or two; extend a border and begin to make me more varied, more mysterious, more useful and more beautiful - inside and out - like my forests and mountains.

God
"He said, 'Can I not do with you, [Chad], as the potter does? Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, [Chad].'" - Jeremiah 18:6 [Israel]

Me
"Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." - Isaiah 64:8

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." - Psalm 51:10

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:23-24

As I keep surrendering my plans to the Lord; as I continue to submit my edges and limitations to my Savior, I pray you will do the same. This desire to break out of my shell and stretch seems to breed more hope. I can hear the character Red from the movie "Shawshank Redemption" stating my sentiments now - "I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope." Does not sound like any limitations there. And it sure sounds like there are no Frames.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MY INVISIBLE FRIEND


Did you have an invisible buddy growing up? Some people did. About the safest place I get away with saying publicly that, "I have an invisible friend" now-a-days is in church. However, The Holy Spirit is, in fact, My Invisible Friend. One might say to me, "Chad, He is a spirit, He is going to be invisible." Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I have a special invisible friend and would respond - "since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

Throughout the ages, my friend, The Holy Spirit, has come in the form of a thought (1 Chronicles 28:12), whisper (1 Kings 19:12), prophesy (1 Samuel 10:10), wind (Acts 2:2) and tongues of fire (Acts 2:3) to name a few. 

Not to limit my limitless friend, but now-a-days, at least for me, He nudges me through teachers, printed material, special songs, special people and simple downloads into my mind and spirit. Jesus said The Holy Spirit would do this. 

Jesus said the Holy Spirit's daily communication would be lessons about "all things" and would remind us of Christ's words also (John 14:26). How long do we have this one who comes alongside us as Teacher Advocate and Friend? Forever. "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever" (John 14:16)

Jesus said He had to leave to the right hand of Father God in order for The Holy Spirit to come and indwell believers (John 16:7). The benefits are many, but right away we see two major ones - Jesus as our Advocate in Heaven (Romans 8:34) and The Holy Spirit as our Advocate within the believer (John 14:16). When I take the time, I can see the Holy Spirit's fingerprints all over my life and the lives of others around me like Romans 1:20 says above. There is no doubt, He is the best, My Invisible Friend.

SOMETHING TO CONFESS


There are many marvelous Scripture verses worthy of committing to memory. However, three passages that I would like to place in your mind and spirit to not only memorize, but confess out loud are -
  1. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
  2. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;" (Isaiah 54:17)
  3. "Don't be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them." (2 Kings 6:16)

One might say, I would not have thought about that third verse Chad. I know, The Bible is wonderful, isn't it? You can read it time and time again and each time the Lord can reveal something valuable and different from the same passage. This is what happened to me recently as I came across 2 Kings 6:16. This verse reads - 

  • “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
The back-story to this verse is that the formidable Syrian army was sending their latest troops and modern military equipment for that day against Israel at certain strategic points and times, but Israel knew about them all. How? God downloaded all secret information to Elisha who in turn revealed it to Israel's commanders. Once the king of Syria discovered the cause of all his thwartings, he sent enough troops to surround and capture Elisha at Dothan.

When Elisha's servant went outside one of the following mornings to "get the newspaper", there were the great number of Syrian troops that had surrounded the city. Can you imagine being in the servant's shoes? The view probably would have looked something like Will Smith's alien lawn encounter scene in the movie "Independence Day". Will walked out of his house reading his newspaper, all the while his neighbors were terrified at the alien spaceship over their nearby city. Then he lowers his newspaper and joins the masses in the stunned, shock of everyone's predicament. 

In like manner, I imagine Elisha's servant seeing the Syrian military surrounding Dothan and calling for his Master, "Uh, Master Elisha?" "Yes, Chad." Elisha responded from the hut. "You might want to come take a look at this. I think we are in a dilemma." answered the servant.

After Elisha assessed the situation, he said something that would be crazy to a non-believer or at least un-seasoned one. Elisha said, "Don't be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Again, if I was the servant, I would say something like - "Master Elisha, what more are you lookin' at?!!! It is just you, me and the citizens of Dothan. Did you skip math going through Prophethood? You didn't get the portion of adding from Elijah, did you?"

Elisha's attempt to calm and encourage his servant called for eyes of faith. Elisha's first reaction was encouragement - "Don't be afraid...". God had granted Elisha, His Heavenly Perspective. Elisha's second step was prayer. A simple, no thrills prayer that had at it's core the desire for his servant to participate in this wonderful gift/sight/perspective - as well as calm his nerves. "And Elisha prayed, 'Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.'"

Yes, Elisha prayed for his servant's eyes to be opened, they were and he saw God's Heavenly angelic host posed to defend more than adequately. However, I also desire for us to notice what was said about these angels in comparison to the opposition - “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The Syrian army had something supporting them.

"Them" refers to the Syrian army. 

"Those who are with them" describes the fallen spiritual forces aiding the Syrian army. 

"Those who are with us" are God's warring angels and they are described as being "more than those who are with them." or with the Syrian army. 

The rest of the story is..."Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, 'Strike this army with blindness.' So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

Elisha told them, 'This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.' And he led them to Samaria [capital of Israel]."
 (2 Kings 6:17-19) Hallelujah! I feel a song coming on....




Chris Tomlin - Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies]

Vocalizing your faith is very important. Verbally stating God's promises over your life and the lives of others has power. Father God spoke to create everything in the beginning. God asks us to declare with our mouths our allegiance to Him for our salvation (Rom. 10:9). The idea of audible proclamations of God's promises for our lives is the next logical practice. 

So, along with verses like Romans 8:31 and Isaiah 54:17, consider declaring out loud “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” True, it might not be a verse that comes immediately to your mind to memorize, but the truth it proclaims is Biblically supported (Rev. 12:4 - one third fallen, two thirds Holy). A part of the Holy Benefit Package for being a believer in Christ Jesus - angelic care. Now that is Something To Confess!

Monday, January 16, 2017

CREATIVE IN THE DOING


Do you remember what James 1:22 says? No? Allow me to refresh your memory.
  • "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
Pretty straight forward, right? Sure it is on the surface. Now let's dive a little deeper.

Two points - (1) take the guess work out and (2) get creative with your doing. 

To the first point, we can sit and hear someone speak about a topic that requires action points, but if we continue to roll over and over in our mind what the speaker actually meant we run a great chance of deceiving ourselves. The encouragement is to hear, get clarification if needed but not live here (in the hearing and any more clarifications) - go and do. Doing begins the process of taking the guess work out.

To the second point, did you know you are a poet and don't even know it? The word "do" in the phrase "do what it says" or in other translations - "doer of the Word" - comes from the original Greek word poietes, the same word we get Poet from. This word speaks to the creative forces God has within Him first and that He has imparted to us once we believed in Him through Christ. 

Mr. Rick Renner adds, "This tells us that when we were saved, God put forth all His best efforts and creative powers to marvelously fashion and create us in Jesus Christ. We weren't just mildly saved; rather, God took us into His hands and marvelously made us new in Jesus Christ as He released His most powerful creative forces and made us a workmanship that would be worthy to bear His name." (p. 28, Sparkling Gems of the Greek)

This same word, poietes, or poets is found in Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works..." Can you figure out which word is the related one? Yep, "workmanship"! That which dealt with God's creative abilities. Now, God has placed His creative powers within us. He desires us to hear Him first, then without dilly-dallying (southern for wasting time) He calls on us to be Creative In The Doing.

ANGELS IN THE BACKGROUND


If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. - Psalm 91:9-12

Recorded in the Old Testament, in the time of Joshua, the nation of Israel established six cities as places of refuge to seek when someone accidently killed another and the relative of the deceased sought revenge. The cities were Kedesh (Galilee), Shechem (Ephraim), Kirjath Arba (Hebron of Judah), Bezer (near Jericho), Ramoth (Gilead) and Golan (Bashan) (Joshua 20:7-8).

In the Psalm, David poses a question within an "If...Then" statement - "If you say, 'The Lord is my refuge', and you make the Most High your dwelling..." Let us all just stop right here and answer that question. Is Jesus our hiding place and counsel when the situation seems like we are being chased by life, the enemy or people? Christ Jesus needs to be that refuge. 

Look at the rest of the verse. Observe what God promises to those who do run to Him and trust in Him - "no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent." The original Hebrew for this second half translates as no physical, mental or spiritual hardship will take issue/quarrel with you, no physical blows will come near your house. This describes God's favor for dwelling with Him. How will God accomplish this? His instrument of choice and description of use is mentioned in the next verse.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 

In the King James Version, the word "command" is "charge". "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." The original Hebrew word is tsavah meaning appoint. This is a very personal word and task with a personal responsibility.

The duty is not only to protect - "to guard" - but the original Hebrew, shamar, tells us our personal angel(s) attend, observe, preserve and save.

The rest of the phrase, "in all your ways" with "ways" being the key word, derek, means custom, manner, journey or course of life. Even though God is everywhere, God shows us how much more He loves us by providing His angelic care, especially to those who say, "The Lord is my refuge!" throughout our life.

In summation, God has assigned us with personal, guardian angels who attend to our manner of living including lifting us up in their protective hands. Believers receive this benefit as part of an If...Then condition - If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, [THEN] no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. If you have not already, make The Lord your refuge. Even though He is everywhere, He loves to be the first one you run to. Plus, once He is your refuge and dwelling you will also have His Angels In The Background.

Friday, January 13, 2017

DON'T PUT YOUR OLD CLOTHES BACK ON!


Have you ever dealt with a friend or regular acquaintance who had a history of bad breath? I have dealt with a couple. Have you ever handled a situation where a friend or regular acquaintance had bad body odor? I have. I also have a friend who has worked with someone like this.

My friend, out of the goodness of his heart, took into his home someone with all the hygiene problems you could imagine. Imagine Pig-Pen from Peanuts. In an effort to help restore some cleanliness and teach some good hygiene, my friend got him into a shower and all polished up. His skin was cleaned. His ears cleaned. His nails were un-gunked. His mouth cleaned and smelling minty fresh. His hair combed. He was a new, almost unrecognizable man afterward by my friend's account.

Then "what to my wondering eyes should appear" - the man put his old stinking, ratty clothes back on his new clean body with no afterthought to the new clothes laid out for him. Some Christians do the same thing with their attitudes and behaviors. Before they know the Lord and His best way of living, their attitudes and behaviors were trash. Then when they came to the saving knowledge and transformation of Christ Jesus, the attitudes and behaviors changed for the best, but only for a short time. Don't do that and help others that do.

In reading the first and second chapter of James, the half-brother of Jesus seems to be addressing established believers and those coming into the fold when he instructs - 
  • "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21)

The instruction here is two-fold.
  1. lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness
  2. receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls
So, we must first "lay apart" before we "receive". We must dump the gunk before getting clean water poured into our vessels. This is reminiscent of Matthew 9:17 to me, where new wine is not poured into old wine skins.

The first required action is to "lay apart". The original Greek word for "lay apart" is apotithēmi. This describes somebody taking something like an article of clothing and removing it from their body and placing it down and away from their person with the intention to never wear again. For whatever usefulness they thought the clothing was providing, this instruction tells the reader there is a better way or option.

Besides dirty clothes, what is it that people need to "lay apart"? The original Greek word for "filthiness" is raparian. This describes something or someone that is obnoxiously filthy. This term speaks of repetition. People always being negative, sarcastic, pessimistic or cynical. They might not even be aware of their offenses. Some have gotten so use to their own stink or inconsiderate behavior that it shocks them when considered wrong or inappropriate.

However, once these individuals "lay apart" their consistently bad attitudes and behaviors, the next step is to receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to heal, preserve or make you whole (save). This "engrafted" or implanted word is good news and victorious living, through Christ, that has been dropped into a person's heart as a seed. The seed might have grown into belief or is still dormant waiting for the person to receive with humility and be made whole.

However, receiving is hard for some people. Now is the time when the mature in Christ love them back to a healthy, clean and restored lifestyle with the help of God's Word, the Holy Spirit and a little "elbow grease" (good, hard work). Paul, in his letter to the believers in Galatia, really drives the message home when he said - 
  • "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:10)
The encouraging word to all of us, especially the Christian Pig-Pens of the world, is that God saves. Jesus continues to Save us from ourselves even after paying the ultimate price for our redemption. This original Greek word for "saves" is sozo, meaning preserves - a continuing action word.

Knowing the Holy Spirit is always around to lead, guide, direct and Save, I urge all of us to perform spiritual "spring cleaning" or inventory. Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. And Don't Put Your Old Clothes Back On!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WHAT IT MEANS TO GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT


Ephesians 4:30 says, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

The original Greek word for "grieve" is lupete. This word comes from the Greek word lupe, which expresses pain or grief between two individuals who love each other. The image that is portrayed is one of unfaithfulness between a husband and wife. As a result the injured party is shocked, hurt, wounded and grieved because of the pain associated with the offense.

This tells believers that we have a special, intimate relationship with The Holy Spirit. A marriage which is valued by the Spirit of God at the cost of Jesus' life. So, it is no wonder when we purposely rebel against God, our relationship with The Holy Spirit is strained. Remember, He is always with us, even through our mire we take Him through. 

Rick Renner says of this - "The Holy Spirit convicted us of sin and brought us to Jesus; then He indwelt us, sanctified us, empowered us and faithfully remains alongside to help us. So when we deliberately enter into sin, it grieves Him. Just as a husband or wife would feel who has just discovered that his or her spouse has committed adultery, the Holy Spirit is shocked when we dishonor His Presence in our lives." (Sparkling Gems from the Greek, p.10)

Mr. Renner cited a scholar who stated Ephesians 4:30, in light of the original Greek, this way - 

  • "Stop deeply wounding and causing such extreme emotional pain to the Spirit of God, by whom you have been sealed until the day of your redemption."
It follows then, as we strive to be Holy for He is Holy, to come before our passionate mate, The Holy Spirit, everyday and ask if we have been unfaithful in any way. Then ask The Spirit for forgiveness and a purging of that sin. An excellent way to verbalize it is to say as David - "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24) When meant sincerely - a beautiful way to "make-up" with The Spirit of God.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

NOW WHAT?

Maybe you are in a sticky situation right now in your life. Maybe you are in some big decision-making calls right now or soon will be. Maybe your life is just grand right now and needs no assistance. In any situation, at any point of your life you not only need to know Now What, you need to do it.

The idea I want to convey is to be more than just the monkeys that portray - see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.
While it is good to shun evil and with God's help keep it at bay in our lives, we can't just sit on our haunches and acknowledge there's a problem. We have got to be part of the solution. Being part of the solution means not only reading/knowing God's Word (eyes), not only hearing The Word (ears), but speaking The Word (mouth).

"When our Lord Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He did not merely think about Scripture. He spoke it out loud. You can memorize thousands of Scriptures, but if you don't learn to say, 'It is written...," and release the Word, there will be no power. God's power is there, but it is all lying dormant inside you. The moment you speak it out, it is as if God is speaking. God's Word in your mouth is like God speaking. Amen!" (The Prayer of Protection, p.90, Joseph Prince)

So, in order to be at the point in our lives where we are speaking God's Word over our situations we have to have heard His Word and then stay in His Word by reading it daily. When this is a daily practice, the Scriptures become real and applicable to us. Memorizing passages is not a chore, it becomes second nature because the meaning jumps off the page and is applied to our lives.

Maybe you are in a dire situation, maybe you are not, but you know challenging times are coming. Will you know how to be thinking because of being in God's Word? Will you know the right Scripture to proclaim verbally over your situation because you have been in His Presence, reading His Promises? Or will you be back at the starting blocks asking, "Now What?"

ABIDE WITH ME


My earthly Father's work has been the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of people. He has worked for The State of North Carolina in providing a plan for developmental children as his main job for the majority of his life. He has also cared for the mental state of adults by being a Christian Counselor in a private psychiatric practice. Now, he is an Associate Pastor at River of Life Church - being a fellow shepherd and teacher of Christ for people's souls in this area. He has impressed me greatly with his balance of work and home-care over the years. He has touched me with his love and compassion for people, especially children. However, what has inspired me most is what I have found to be the key to his success - dwelling with his Father God.

The key to protection and all other blessings in Psalm 91 is first dwelling with God. In Psalm 23, we get a picture of us as sheep first resting or dwelling in green pastures, beside still waters where our souls are refreshed. Jesus says to His disciples about the children nearby to allow them to come and dwell with Him. Jesus says to those burdened with anything,  “Come to me, [dwell with me] all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) 

One of the prominent verses about dwelling with God is stated by His Son, Jesus - "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:4) Some versions say "remain", but either way the message is clear - by dwelling, abiding or remaining you are staying in the presence of God to give Him what is deserved and receive what you need.

Another place dwelling is prominently mentioned, as I have stated before, is Psalm 91. "The Hebrew word for 'dwell' is yashab, which means to sit down, to remain, or to settle. So the very thing that God wants you to do to enjoy His protection is to rest. His protection, peace, love, and other blessings flow in your life when you are in a place of rest." (The Prayer of Protection, Joseph Prince, p.4)

As I have witnessed, daily dwelling with Father God awas and still is vital to my Dad's successes. I am not convinced The Lord is looking for a "drive-by" or "sit-by" dwelling. In fact, I don't think you can call that dwelling at all. So, I encourage all of us every day to sit down for extended, quality time with God. Remember - Christ is the Vine; we are the Branches. If we remain/abide/dwell in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit; apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) 

Friday, January 6, 2017

HIS GRACE AND HIS PEACE

When God manifests Himself as the God of Peace in our lives, His grace is the believer's unequaled defense and offense against the enemy's attacks.

  • "the God of Peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with with you. Amen." (Romans 16:20)
Whenever the devil can get your eyes off of Christ and on yourself, he is winning the battle; whenever Satan and his schemes turn your attention to self-based success, your faith can then be misplaced or redirected to the glee of our enemy. If this is the case - "You will disqualify yourself mentally and inwardly from receiving whatever you might be trusting the Lord for." (The Prayer of Protection, Prince, p.69).

However, Grace is the Christian's undefeatable defense. If Christ's sacrifice on the cross does not account for our salvation, our healing, our protection, our deliverance, our redemption - our everything, then His free gift or unmerited favor, otherwise known as Grace, would have no influence on the enemy of our souls. 

However, Jesus' blood paid the price for our everything - in full! Jesus is not only someone believers can call "Your Grace" to His presence now and His face one day. Jesus is The Grace that qualifies us for every good thing that comes from The Father above. 

So, the next time you hear voices that question your Godly promises by listing your failures, all you have to do is refer them to the Grace you have through Christ's Blood. Then - "With grace as your basis, the God of peace can reign over your fears and impart to you unshakable faith for His protection!" (The Prayer of Protection, Prince, p.69).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

STAY HUMBLE MY FRIENDS

Every time I see and hear the commercial for "The Most Interesting Man in the Word" saying his tagline, "Stay thirsty my friends." my spirit and The Holy Spirit always take that Spiritually. One of the ways believers in Christ can stay thirsty for more of God in every aspect of their lives is to remain humble.

Qarah is a Hebrew word in the Bible used to explain God-ordained happenings. This word is found in Genesis 24:12 concerning Abraham's servant and his quest to secure a bride for his Master's son Isaac. The verse says,  "Then he prayed, 'Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.' " 

If you keep reading you will know, as Paul Harvey says, "The rest of the story." The outcome is as the Hebrew word states - a God-ordained occurrence. However, for such an honor and a responsibility as this servant had, I want to magnify the servant's posture of humility. Of all the different ways the servant could have gone about selecting a wife for Isaac; of all the varied resources he might have used to determine a bride for his Master's son - he did not rely on himself but turned immediately to one with a track record who could - God. 

The first three words of the verse, "Then he prayed," surrenders to the reader the servant's conscience decision to include God in the process. I think sometimes when we have a challenge or are tasked with a challenge, like this servant, we tend to leave God out of the Planning Meeting. Big or small decisions, God is better consulted from the beginning. Outcomes tend to be - Qarah - God-ordained happenings when prayer is first.

The servant then prayed for success and kindness. Here is where we find the actual Hebrew word Qarah inserted in the verse. The phrase "make me successful" or in some translations "give me success" yields the situation into God's capable hands to manage. 

For the servant, the result was - “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out,..." (Gen.24:45). Perhaps your results will be the same. My encouragement for you this year and always is that you allow the Holy Spirit's peace to guide you in your decision-making process. He is our peace. I like that saying, "Know Jesus, Know Peace. No Jesus, No Peace." So, in the beginning of everything you do and say be sure to consult Jesus even more this year. There is a wonderful reason He is called The Great Counselor. In the voice of "The Most Interesting Man in the World" - Stay Humble My Friends.