Monday, February 24, 2020

Hangin' Out

One of the main ingredients that gave the early church such great success was they engaged in fellowship with one another daily. The word fellowship has many expressions: a partnership; to partner together as one; to participate; to communicate; to have common interest; a state of being together; communion; community; association for religious and spiritual purposes. It is noteworthy to understand that believer’s in the early church did not function independently. They recognized the power, life, and unity that’s released through true Christian fellowship, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…For there the LORD commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133) Jesus said it this way, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18.20)

The nature of fellowship or community was first established within the three persons of the Godhead; the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. God desired to establish community on earth and He did so through the first family, Adam and Eve. Man was given the choice to enjoy community on earth with one another, and also with God. Choice is at the center of community and is what makes it a powerful experience. It is not something that can be forced into operation; on the contrary, it must be something that one desires. Knowing this, we can better understand God's desire to create community on earth. We also can see the destructive nature of broken fellowship that the first community on earth experienced which has affected the entire human race.

Today, in our individual lives we are faced with the issue of fellowship/community once again. Our busy lives can become a crutch that keeps us focused on our own kingdom and not see the power and life that can be experienced through daily fellowship with one another. After God had established community on earth, Satan came along and proposes his own plan to Eve which Adam also bought into. Satan's plan seemed to be attractive to Eve but in fact was full of deception. Man was now faced with choice; and the choice that he made was an act of disobedience so tragic it caused the breakdown of community and fellowship.

Not only had community been twisted between God and man, but also between man and woman, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8) The fellowship which God intended between Himself and man was now broken and the very essence of community on earth would suffer unimaginable consequences, “Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him." (Genesis 4:8) Can you fathom that? By the second generation of man, the first murder has taken place. Not only did Cain kill his brother Able, but Cain was driven away and became a fugitive and a vagabond. (Genesis 4:14)

We must come to understand that Satan continues to work at keeping the children of God from fellowship and community because he knows the power that is released. Look at Gods response to the people in the land of Shinar when they came as one to build a tower and make a name for themselves, "And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them." (Genesis 11:6) Look at the power releases in community. These people were spiritually dead yet they saw what community could accomplish. The church has the Holy Spirit, so now think how much more power can be released in just one congregation functioning this way. Now, think how much power would be released if the entire church would come into fellowship/community with one another.

It takes individual choice to build community. It also takes a desire to see the church become even more powerful and influential than it has ever been. The creation of man reveals an important key to living in fellowship/community, "Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26) The apostle Paul tells us, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1) Man was made in the image and likeness of God, so with that in mind believers should then talk and act like God. One of the ways we imitate God is through community. As mentioned above, the nature of fellowship or community was first established within the three persons of the Godhead, so let's imitate God by choosing to be an active part of Christian community. The grace of our LORD Jesus Christ be with you...

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Doctor is in the House

I wrote a recent article entitled "I Really Doubt It." In it I share a story of a women who became so discouraged that she left the church and began to blame the LORD when things did not go right. The discouragement had left her in a place where she did not expect God to fix any of her problems. This came as a result of reading a book by a well know Christian author who basically discredits the supernatural as not being a part of the church today as it was in the early church.  Unfortunately, this very issue continues to crop up over and over again among believers who struggles with understanding God's will when it comes to healing or really, not knowing God's will when it comes to pretty much anything in this life.

I received an email from a believer that asked me if I would watch a particular video that they included in their email which was linked to a particular website. The video was a discussion between two well known figures from Christian circles. I will not mention their names, but I venture to say, you mostly know or heard of them. As I watched and listened, I was excited to hear their opening statements concerning the power of God. The one person was praising God for all the supernatural things that He is doing around the world. All kinds of miracles, healing and deliverance from demons. However, shortly after all the praises of the wonderful things of God, (which happened to be what the video was really about) it was stated, "God doesn't heal everybody. He chooses who He wants to heal and who He doesn't want healed." This statement was based on a young Christian woman that was seriously injured, received pray and was not healed. We must ask ourselves, "Why does God seem to do the supernatural all around the world but little to none in the USA?" There are many answers to this question, but the one that I believe is at the top of the list is a statement that Jesus made, "...Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

According to Numbers 19:23, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" In other words, God is incapable of saying anything but the truth. Jesus said, "...Your word (God's Word) is truth." (John 17:17) Furthermore, Numbers says, "...Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" In other words, God does exactly what His Word says. As He is eternal, so His Word is also eternal. It does not change with time and space nor does it change because people choose not to believe it or negotiate it away do to their personal belief or actually their unbelief.

The people in the video, like many others in the church today, made their statements about God not always healing with no regard to scripture, but personal experience. If this is not sad enough, they also indirectly made the church in the USA out to be an organization where healing is unpredictable because God picks and chooses who He wants to heal. Keep in mind Numbers 23:19 and look at what Jesus says, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:7-11)

Take notice to the words in this passage, "For EVERYONE who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Does this sound like a God who picks and chooses who receives healing and who doesn't? Next, Jesus asks some questions concerning the care and desire of human parents to their children. He then concludes with a powerful statement and promise,  "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"  Look what the apostle John tells us, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) Observing these two passages (there are numerous other with the same thought) it should be obvious, however it is unfortunate, that many believers do not know the will of God and therefore do not have the faith to believe Him for what He has given to the redeemed through Jesus Christ.

If we could take the best of the best parents on the entire earth and mold them into one super parent they would fall millions of miles short of the greatest parent of all, our Heavenly Father. Let's look at the statement again that was spoken on the video, "but God doesn't heal everybody. He chooses who He wants to heal and who He doesn't want healed." How many parents who had just given birth to twins would say to one, "I am going to make sure that you are always provided for and protected" and then say to another child "I chose not to provide for you or protect you." Of course no parent in their right mind would say something so ridiculous. The Bible repeatedly tells us that the believer is a child of God. (John 1:12, Romans 8:15-16, 1 John 3:1) Do we some how suppose that God will take care of one of His children and heal them and not another? Do we suppose that God is a respecter of persons when scripture says the contrary? (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11) Can you see the twisted human logic in a statement such as "God doesn't heal everybody. He chooses who He wants to heal and who He doesn't want healed." Notice that I said "human logic." There is certainly no faith in a statement like that, only human logic or reasoning.

Why is it that Christians do not want to admit that it is not God who is holding back, but a lack of faith in their own lives. I believe the root stems from pride. Why do I say pride? James and Peter tells us, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5) Grace is the ability and desire to do God's will (Philippians 2:13). A lack of grace due to pride results in a lack of the ability and desire to do God's will. Plus, there is one other thing to consider. It is difficult, especially for church leaders to admit that they do not have enough faith to lay hands on the sick for them to recover. They look for a disclaimer, that is, someone or something to blame (in this case the LORD, although indirectly) by saying that no one truly understands His ways. Of course they site Isaiah 55:8-9 which was 750 years before the restoration of humanity through Christ. They should consider what the apostle Paul says, "...but we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)

It grieves me to hear believers say that God's will is a mystery when Jesus said, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also...He who has seen Me has seen the Father..." (John 14:7, 9) and the apostle Paul tells us, "having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself." (Ephesians 1:9) Honestly, God's will is not a mystery. It's that God's children do not exercise faith by acting on God's Word. Instead of having an excuse let us practice building up our faith in His Word, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) and watch Him do the supernatural throughout the entire world using ordinary people like you and me who must have this one thing in place in our lives. We must believe and act on God's Word, period!!!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Prayer Wariors

The most wonderful and most moving prayer spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane. After celebrating the Passover, Jesus and His disciples, minus Judas Iscariot, sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30) Jesus' earthly ministry as the Son of Man is winding down. He knew why He had come from God and He knows what is about to happen. He takes His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, which He did often. He then takes Peter, John and James a little further into the garden to pray and says to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." (Matthew 26:38) Jesus then leaves Peter, John and James, goes a little farther into the garden, falls on His face and begins to pray. These men have seen Jesus pray many times but something was different. They must have noticed the sorrow and distress that was upon Him. What they didn’t know, was Jesus was facing the fact that He would soon be made sin. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Next, "Jesus came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?  Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41)  He warns them to watch, literally, to abstain from sleep; to be vigilant, to guard against danger, and pray that they do not enter into temptation. He knew the danger that was coming and how the flesh might possibly give in to temptation. He knew that He was about to take the place of every human being and endure the punishment that was required to meet man’s greatest need, redemption.

In the incarnation, deity and humanity coming together, Jesus was not mortal or immortal, but a perfect human being as Adam was before the fall. However, as man’s substitute, He would become mortal the moment sin was placed upon Him in the same way that Adam became mortal when he sinned. Jesus knew that the moment He would be made sin, He would experience what Adam experience when he himself sinned. He would spiritually die, be forsaken by the Father and then physically die. He knew that as Adam’s sin made him subject to Satan, it would be the same for Him. He knew that He would suffer in hell until the entire debt that humanity owed justice was paid in full.

Some may have trouble comprehending these things, but they are facts, "And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand." (Isaiah 53:9-10)  The word death is plural in the original Hebrew and like Adam, Jesus died twice, spiritually and physically. Isaiah also tells us, "He has put Him to grief…" The word grief here means, to make sick, to be diseased, to afflict. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.) (Galatians 3:13) We see that Jesus was made sin with our sin, was made sick with our sicknesses and a curse.

This should gives us a greater understanding as to what Jesus was going through in the Garden. "Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (Luke 22:43-44)  He alone must pay the penalty for humanity or humanity would be eternally lost. Did you ever notice that angels never came and ministered to Him while He was on the cross. I believe there was more spiritual agony here than there was on the cross. Three times He prayed a prayer of dedication and consecration, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42) A more literal rendering: “If it be possible, take this cup from Me, not my will, but yours be carried through to completion and save humanity.”

After Jesus finishes praying, "He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand." (Matthew 26:45-46) As Jesus emerged from prayer He had already won the the first part of the battle. He was no longer in sorrow and distress, but He was the Conqueror. He was ready for the trial; He was ready for the scourging; He was ready for the cross; He was ready to conquer sin and death; He was ready to redeem humanity from the hands of the enemy; He was ready to destroy sin, disease, poverty and everything that was set against humanity by Satan all due to Adam's transgression. Jesus emerged from prayer as the righteous, conquering King of kings and Lord of lords.

The apostle Paul tells us, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37) As more than conquerors, our prayer is to be one that is rooted in the Word of God. It is based on the believer knowing that their faith in Christ has already given them the victory over the circumstances that life may bring. It is one that is conceived within the believer that gives them the confidence that in Christ they are independent of their circumstances and, in a personal sense, "can do all things through Christ who strengthens." (Philippians 4:13) It is the assured confidence that God is able to do what He said He would do. (Numbers 23:19) So, let us pray like Jesus our Conqueror, especially when we are faced with seemingly insurmountable circumstance, knowing that we can, "Cast the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." (1 Peter 5:7) Thank you LORD...

Monday, February 3, 2020

Water Walkers

Have you ever had someone ask you for your help or advice because they knew that you were the most likely candidate able to meet their need only to have them totally disregarded your help or advice? Did it make you think, "what was the point in asking?" Let's bring it closer to home. Have you ever asked God for  help or advice knowing that He is the only one who could meet your need only to totally disregarded His help or advice? I am sure many have done this also. Well, James shows us one particular area that assures us that God does responds to our need if we ask Him, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)

Although this is talking about asking God for wisdom, it applies across the board when asking Him anything according to His will. Let's look closer at what James says about asking God for things, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting..." (James 1:6) Unfortunately, many of God's children are asking but much of the asking goes unanswered because of the underlying current of doubt which neutralizes faith. Doubt in the lives of most Christians is usually very subtle because they (there are various kinds of doubt) are directly related to what one understand or misunderstand about God. Many times Christians who genuinely love the LORD will "Hope" that God answers their prayer, which is not faith. Some may say things like, "let it be according to Your will" or "God must have a special purpose as to why He did not answer" or "it must not be God's timing" or even "God is sovereign and He chooses whose prayer gets answered and whose prayer does not."

The Gospel of Matthew shows us a situation that also deals with the issue of faith and doubt. The disciples were in a boat crossing the sea and between 3 AM and 6AM. They see Jesus coming towards them walking on the water. Peter calls out and says, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So Jesus said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"  Jesus grabs Peter and then reveals very pointedly as to why Peter, who was walking on the water (it's very important to see this) began to sink, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:22-31) Peter beginning to sink, although he was already walking on the water, had nothing to do with hope, God's timing, God's special purpose or whether it was God's will. It had to do with doubt that neutralized Peter's faith. Jesus' statement was not such as to bring condemnation on Peter, but to address the issue that prevents God from doing all the things that He desires to do through and for His children.

Notice what happens when Jesus and Peter get into the boat, "And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:32-33) Yes, Jesus is the Son of God, but this incident is not about Jesus' identity, it's a lesson on faith. Even though the disciples were confessing Jesus to be the Son of God, we need to recall, Peter also walked on the water. He simply believed Jesus' word to "come" out of the boat and walk on the water. The winds ceased, not because Jesus is the Son of God, but faith in almighty God. Look at another incident that is very similar in many ways.

"On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side." Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him,"Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!" (Mark 4:35-41)

Again, this is an issue of faith, not the identity of Jesus. When Jesus said, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? He was addressing the issue of doubt, (fearful: faithlessness) and insinuating that if the disciples would have exercise faith. they too could have stopped the storm. How do we know this to be true? "Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

As we go back to James, James continues with a very hard but truthful word, "...for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8) This again is not to bring condemnation on believers but to bring them to make a decision, "...How long will you falter between two opinions?" (1 Kings 18:21) If we do not ask God in faith, James tells us that we should not expect to receive anything from God. This makes perfect sense doesn't it? It would be like passing a sign that says "stop and receive free money" but you don't stop because you have been trained to think that nothing is free, especially money. This type of thinking is doubt at work.

Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11) All of this should give us a good understanding, no longer doubting, that God is a better and more desirous giver than any human being. All we need to do is "ask in faith, with no doubting..." and we to can be water walkers... 

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Joy of the Lord

Mountain climbing is a sport that some enjoy, while others do not. The truth is, if you are born again you will climb some mountains before your departure from this life. How one climbs a mountain is directly related to the amount of faith they have in the Word of God, that is Jesus (The Word became flesh, John 1:12). James tells us, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-3) To most believers this scripture is very familiar. However, did you know that although this letter was written to the church, it is directed to those who have not taken the time to developed there faith. Let's be honest, no one wants to experience trials but it is inevitable that they will come. The question that each believe must consider is, "Do you really have joy in the midst of a trial?"

Joy is a wonderful thing and is often mistaken for happiness. Happiness is a product of what one experiences based on their surroundings, that is, things that are expressed through the senses or put another way, the experiencing of material things. Joy however, is a product of the recreated spirit that is imparted by the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with ones senses. (Galatians 5:22) By definition I believe this is the main reason why most believers struggle when a trial comes. They let their flesh (senses) have control over their circumstances (surroundings) and become unhappy. But this expresses the very point. Happiness is based on our surroundings. However, change the surroundings in a negative way and unhappiness becomes the outcome.

Notice also that James uses the term "Various Trials." In other words, there will be different types of trials that believers will experience. However, if a believer is going through the same trial again and again, it is due to their failure of letting go of the sense realm and looking to the LORD.  The apostle Paul puts it this way, "...I  have learned the secret of contentment in every situation..." (Philippians 4:12) In other words, Paul learned the secret of being independent of his circumstances. How was he able to do this? "For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." (Philippians 4:13) The failure of most believers is not a lack of faith per se, but trying to live the Christian life through the sense realm which actually erodes one's faith. When believers look to the circumstances instead of Christ they can expect to be unhappy and miss the very reason for the trial. Trials are to mature the believer's faith so they can be perfectly sound in spirit, soul and body. "...that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:3)

Jesus said, "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." (Mark 11:23) I know that many have come to believe that Jesus was using this as an analogy of speaking to the mountains (difficult life situations) and they will leave (move). However, the difficulties of life are the trials that James tells us to count it all a joy because trials mature the believer by increasing their faith. Also, in context as to why Jesus would make such a statement (He had cursed a fig tree that did not have fruit) He is literally stating a fact of how the God kind of faith (Mark 11:22) can move a literal mountain. Jesus who was present during creation. (John 1:3) spoke and the mountains were. So, faith in the one who created everything seen and unseen can move a literal mountain. I certainly do not know any believers who need to move a literal mountain out of the way, but faith can do just that.

Jesus faced the most difficult life situation that a person could possibly face as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Matthew 26:36-43)

Jesus knew the will of God. He was not praying a prayer to change the situation (a difficulty of life) but a prayer of consecration and dedication. Notice what He says at the end of His pray, "not as I will, but as you will." He was making Himself available to the Father to do the Father's will no matter how difficult this life situation may have been. Let's face it, this was definitely an ominous life situation. Look at what the writer of Hebrews states, "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame..." (Hebrews 12:2) As hard as this may be to believe, in this most horrific trial of life, Jesus had joy fulfilling the will of the Father. He had to endure the agony and shame of the cross in His physical body as well as endure an even greater agony of having all sickness and sin of every person placed upon His spirit. (Isaiah 53:4-6, 9) During Jesus' entire life on earth as the Son of Man He never focused on the situations of this life, but the solutions provided by the Father, the Father's will being done. Believers are to "...look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" not the difficulties of life and then they will experience joy in the midst of a trial.

Having the kind of faith to move a mountain takes time to build. Trials are one of the ways that builds a believers faith. To experience joy in the midst of a trial is not something that one conjures up, it is already a part of the recreated spirit. With that said, we must understand that it comes down to whether or not we walk in the flesh (senses) and fulfill the works of the flesh or walk in the Spirit, standing on God's Word letting love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control have place over our senses. Like everything else, it comes down to a matter of choice. We can believe with our heart (spirit) and have joy in the midst of a trial or continue to let the flesh (senses) rule our lives. It is just that simple.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Painting A Lovely Picture

It is very unfortunate when I talk with believers who truly love the LORD but have such a limited picture of who He really is. Many see God as a holy and just, which He certainly is, but they also see Him as an austere and unapproachable being who is ever on the look out to discover sin in the believer and quick to condemn them. This concept has caused many to have a very low grade Christianity to the point where they experience almost no freedom and joy in this life here on earth. Their only hope is to leave earth one day and go to heaven. However, I am here to report that this perception of God is completely wrong. When Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray, He began by tells them to say, "Our Father." God is our loving Father as the scriptures reveal.

"For the Father Himself loves you..." (John 16:27) "...that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." (John 17:23) "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." (Romans 8:16) "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1) What a beautiful and factual picture of our Heavenly Fathers relationship to every believer. Jesus also paints this wonderful picture of our Father to His children in His overwhelming desire to bless them, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11) Think about this truth for a moment.

As a parent myself I have always desired to see that my children were taken care of in every area of their life. I wanted them to always be encouraged and to know that no matter how things looked everything would be alright. I have made it a point to make myself available to help them through thick or thin as well as seeing their personal success at my expense and yet this is millions of miles away in comparison to how great our Heavenly Father's tender loving care is for all of His children, every believer.

When we come to know Him as a loving, caring, giving, blessing, Father who longs to spend time with you His child, our entire perception of Him changes. Look at the picture the apostle Paul paints,  "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,"Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15) Do you know what is unique about this verse? Notice, it says we are adopted. Many look at adoption from a totally human perspective in the sense that the adopted child is not really family. However, think about it from this perspective. Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you..." (John 15:16) and Paul says, "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world..." (Ephesians 1:4) Our Heavenly Father has personally chosen you and I. He hand picked us. You and I are very personal to Him.

One of the problems that many believers have is confessing weakness and failure which erodes faith, breeds guilt and condemnation not to mention that it also repudiates the finished work of Christ. It causes us to belittle our true position and right standing in God through Christ. Every feeling of guilt, shame, condemnation and inferiority stops being a problem the moment that we know that God is truly a loving Father. When we come to truly believer what we are in Christ, and that the Father sees us in Christ, guilt, shame, condemnation and inferiority will no longer have place. Exercising faith for the things that we desire and are entitled to through sonship with Him, are also no longer a problem. This occurs when a believer knows their rights and privileges that the Father has freely given them through Christ.

Look at this wonderful truth the Holy Spirit reveals through the apostle Paul, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17 ) Notice, old things have passed away. The old things of doubt, fear as well as bondage to sicknesses and want, have passed away all because we have been legally and lovingly adopted into the family of God. With that said, I will close with a passage that I want to encourage you to read and meditate on. As you do let faith arise in your spirit and know that your Father in heaven sees you as His "creme de la creme" (the best of the best).

"For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Romans 6:5-11) PTL...

Monday, January 6, 2020

New Life and More

Thank the LORD for the wonderful revelation He made known to the Apostle Paul concerning ones identification in Christ. For instance, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) The very moment that a person confesses with their mouth the LORD Jesus Christ and takes Him as their Savior they become born again. Of course we know this, but do you know that the moment one becomes born again they instantaneously become a supernatural, one hundred percent "New Creation." Furthermore, do we truly understand this from Gods perspective? We are no long common anymore. We belong to an unusual supernatural order of beings. The Apostle Paul tells us, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works..."(Ephesians 2:10) and "the new man was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) The Apostle Peter tells us, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…" (1 Peter 2:9)

In Christ, the born again person is a new creation in every sense. They instantly become partakers of Gods divine nature; "by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:4) They instantly become partakers of Gods divine life; "...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) God’s ability instantly becomes their ability; "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." (John 14:12) God's strength instantly becomes their strength;  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) His promises instantly become their promises; "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

His love instantly becomes their love; "...the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:5) His faith instantly becomes their faith; "So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have the God kind of faith." (Mark 11:22) His power instantly becomes their power;  "...My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9) His wisdom instantly becomes their wisdom; "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God..." (1 Corinthians 1:30); His righteousness instantly becomes their righteousness; "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21) The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, for many Christians this is hard to believe. Far to many Christians live in the sense realm rather than the spiritual realm. In other words, their belief system is based upon what they can see, touch, taste, smell or hear, (John 20:24-25) which has nothing to do with believing and acting upon God's Word. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh (senses) profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) The word life is the Greek word "Zoe." It literally means, life as God has it; the very life of God; eternal life. Now we can understand why one instantaneously becomes a new creation in every sense. It is because the very life of God takes residence in the new believer immediately upon their confession of Christ. This has nothing to do with feelings. It is pure fact!

The next thing we see in 2 Corinthians 5:17 is, "old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." The old thing that Satan had control of has passed away. The believer is no longer spiritually dead but made alive in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1) Jesus said of Himself, "the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." (John 14:30) All believers must come to realize this very thing, Satan no longer has any authority, dominion, jurisdiction or power over them. All things have become new. The reality of the new creation is the most marvelous truths concerning the transformation of a lost, God hating, rebellious, Satan ruled person. The very life of God has dispossessed the entire former life and has filled the new believer with Himself. PTL

Now, through God's Word our faith is built up (Romans 10:17) and our recreated spirit is strengthened so that the soul (mind, will and emotions) is renewed and begins to respond to the recreated spirit and not the flesh. But this does not change the fact that the very nature and life of God is in the believer. For many in the church today, it is time to put an end to the ungodly habits of the flesh and negative confession from the mouth. It is time to let God’s life arise and call those things which do not exist as though they did. It is time to live in the abundant "Zoe" that Jesus gave His life for. It is time for believers to realize that eternal life is not a destination, but the "Zoe," life of God already exists in everyone who is born again. It is time to let the lost know that they too can have the same abundant "Zoe," life. Grace and peace be with you...