Monday, September 28, 2020

From the Heart

The Holy Spirit reveals to the apostle Paul numerous times a person position in Christ once they are born again. There are to many to list, so here is a passage that will shed some light, "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 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 6:4-11)

Notice that Paul uses the words dead and death to drive home a particular truth which is, the moment a person is born again, death to their old nature immediately takes place. This death in Christ is actually a new freedom which separates the believe from His old fallen nature. Paul tells us that this new life is what believers should walk in. Although the believer should walk in the newness of life, it does not mean that they will choose to do so. This new life through death in Christ has freed the believer from sin and may I add, all of the destructive nature and attributes of sin. So one should conclude, "If my old nature is dead and my new nature is that of Christ Himself, then I am truly free and the works of my old nature (the works of the flesh) have no dominion over me that I should give them place." Although this should be the obvious conclusion of Romans 6:4-11 for every believer, lets face it, it is not for most.

One of the most destructive areas that far to many Christians entertain in their life is an area that Jesus spoke of several times, "Then He (Jesus) said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."  (Luke 17:1-4) Sadly, we look at a passage like this and gloss over it as though Jesus is not talking to all people, but only the disciples that He is addressing in this passage and somehow, this does not apply to me. However, if you are born again you are a disciple and yes it does applies to you.

Whether one is on the offense, speaking negative, harsh or even slanderous words towards another or if one is on the defense receiving such words and holding a grudge and unforgiveness in their heart, both are equally destructive and sinful. Most relationships are ended due to both of these destructive, carnal actions and yet most refuse to see the cancerous nature of speaking or receiving an offense. Why? Selfishness! An offense is Satan's tool which he uses to distract the believer from walking in love, which is selfless and it also prohibits the believers from bearing fruit for Christ. Look closely at the the warning that Jesus gives concerning one who brings and offense, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." This should not be seen as only a warming but a sobering statement that should cause us to think properly and to choose our words carefully.

Next, Jesus gives us a command, "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him." There is no addendum such as "but or if." Believers are to be a forgiving people no matter how sever an offense comes across.If one does not forgive, then they are in sin and they will experience constant torment (Matthew 18:21-35) Time does not heal the wound(s) of an offense. Ending a relationship does not heal the wound(s) of and offense. Only forgiveness from the heart can do that!

Now look at the apostles response to what Jesus was teaching concerning offenses, "And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." (Luke 17:5)  It is apparent that the ability of forgiving offenses is one of the most difficult duties of the believers life because it is contrary to ones feelings. So, if one has weak faith, they will most likely fall prey to this ugly device that Satan uses against believers. This is probably why there are so many hurting believers today. They have weak faith and have either offended someone or they have accepted an offense which clearly reveals that neither truly know the love of God.

Now, let's look at Jesus' response to the apostle plea for more faith, "So the Lord said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you." (Luke 17:6) Although Jesus is talking to the apostle about the power of faith, faith will not avail anything if you hold on to an offense and refuse to forgive from your heart. We see that both bringing an offense and having unforgiveness due to being offended is serious business. It also reveals just how carnal and unloving believers can be.

Here are a few ways that you can examine yourself to see if you are struggling with an offense or if you have trouble controlling your thoughts or your tongue that causes you to offend another...
  • Do you have resentment towards someone else when they receive a blessing...
  • Have you taken up and holding onto someone Else's offense...
  • Do you continually think or speak negatively about someone...
  • How do you feel when you see a person who has offended you even after you have forgiven them...
  • Do you like it when someone is facing misfortune...
  • Are you quick to criticize or judge another...
  • Do you associate with people who speak negatively against others...
  • Are most of the people that you associate with those who also have been offended...   
  • Do you find yourself reminding others that you have been offended...
  • Do you struggle experiencing the joy of the Lord most days...
  • Do you feel like people are out to get you...
  • Do you have bouts with depression...
Of course the above list is not all inclusive nor do they exclude other issues that Christians may face that can manifest in these things. However, I have found one or more of these things in operation in the believers life due to offenses, whether speaking or receiving them  As long as we are in these earthen vessels, Jesus said that offenses will come, but it comes down to a matter of choice as to how we are going to respond if and when an offense comes.

 The following is some sound advice that will help believers to askew speaking and or receiving an offense. "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;" (Deuteronomy 30:19) Choose life!!! "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." (Ephesians 4:29) Speak life!!! "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy , meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8) Think life!!! "...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Enjoy life!!! Most of all, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:30-32)

 This is all accomplished through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord!!!

Monday, September 21, 2020

What's Your Confession

The Bible reveals two types of confession. One could be considered a negative confession because it deals with confessing sin, but the other would be considered a positive confession. This type of confession is affirming something that one believes, testifying of something that one knows or acting on a truth that one has embraced, "Let us hold fast the confession of our faith, the Word of God, made incarnate in Jesus Christ, without being shaken by the trials, or by the arguments of the enemy, for God who cannot lie, is faithful to give you what He has promised." (Hebrews 10:23 Paraphrased)
Notice that this type of confession deals directly with the Word of God, which makes confession a very important part of a believers life. Remember Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63)

Our thinking should be, when we confess God’s Word that it goes beyond the natural realm into the spiritual realm to accomplish God’s will and to prosper in the thing for which it is sent, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11) In other words, no Word of God is without power! No one can affirm, that is, testify or act on things that they do not believe, know or embrace as truth. Thank the Lord for giving us a revelation of Himself through His Word. His Word is "Living and Powerful" and as we confess His Word we are agreeing with it and not letting life circumstances have the upper hand. The believer who is constantly confessing their lack, weakness and failure is not agreeing with God's Word. Negative confession is an unconscious declaration that our heavenly Father has failed to accomplish the fullness of redemption through Christ. This type of confession destroys faith, holds people in bondage and says that the redeemed life is nothing more than a life filled with misery and disappointment.

The apostle Paul tells us, "Everywhere and in all things I have learned to be independent of my circumstances. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:12-13)
Paul could say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” not because he was more special to God than other believers, but because he did not let Satan or the influences of the natural realm to distract or manipulate him. He relied on God’s strength and ability to work through him in every area of life. In other words, he walked by the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is apparent that he understood that "the Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing."

If believers look to the circumstances or the things in the natural realm rather than seeing God’s Word as Spirit and life, then the results will be a negative confession. In other words, if I confess that by His stripes I am healed, but look to the natural and do not see immediate results, then I am allowing the natural realm to have place neutralizing my confession. I might find myself saying, "well this does not work for me, I guess sickness is God’s purpose for me, God why am I not healed." This opens the door for the devil to respond with his lies and deception that causes the believer to believe him more than believing God. We must train ourselves in the fact that God is spirit, Satan is spirit and man who was made in God’s image and likeness is also spirit. Through faith, a believers confession should center around these three points; What God has worked in Christ for us…(The legal side of redemption); What God through His Word and the Holy Spirit is doing in and through us…(Vital; side of redemption); What we are to the Father in Christ…(Identification side of redemption)

This translates into such things as; Confessing first and foremost that Jesus Christ is absolute Lord of my life; Confessing that all authority is His over everything, all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; Confessing that He is Lord over sickness, disease, poverty, Satan, sin and death; Confessing that His Word and Spirit have the preeminence in our lives; Confessing that we are God’s children and as sons and daughters we are entitled to all of His promises as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; Confessing  that He has given us the legal right to use the name of Jesus to enforce what He has done and to keep the devil under the believers feet.

Believers must make confession by placing faith in the integrity of God and His Word. "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? (Numbers 23:19) "My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips." (Psalms 89:34) "He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." (Psalms 107:20) "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalms 119:89) "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." (John 17:17) "…upholding all things by the word of His power." (Hebrews 1:3) "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12)

The devil cannot read our mind but he certainly hears our words. If our words are negative, that is, contrary to God's Word, then he will devises a deceptive plan for us to agree with him and not God. This causes many believers to live a defeated life. However, when the believer sides with God's Word and refuses to let circumstances to have control, he/she will live in victory and continuously see the salvation of the Lord, because HE IS FAITHFUL!!!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Heaven is Open

Many believers are afraid of God because they perceive Him as being austere, waiting for someone to step out of line so that He can bring punishment through various means such as sickness, disease or all manner of struggles. However, the Bible reveals God in an entirely different light, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth." (Exodus 34:6) We sometimes forget that the most potent characteristic of God is love. This is revealed in numerous scriptures, for instance, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) and "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Another characteristic of God is one of a judge, but not in a negative sense, but as a righteous judge (John 7:24, 8:16) Job reveals another interesting concept concerning God's Character, "As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, in judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress." (Job 37:23) Notice that God is excellent in Judgment. Isaiah reveals a very important key when it comes to addressing God with the problems that the believer may face, "Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted." (Isaiah 43:26)

This is reflective of one trying a case in a court of law. Here God is asking His people to present their case before Him (the Judge) to see if they can be acquitted. To put Him in remembrance is to remind Him of His promises, not that He has forgotten them, but because His Word is truth (John 17:17) and it is the only thing that is worthy to bring before Him that gets a response, "I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name." (Psalm 138:2) "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89)

This very principle is what believers must do to have God move on their behalf. When we have any problem that arises we find scripture that addresses the problem and through faith, present our case before the Lord. For instance, if you have a health issue and are in need of healing you can say to the Father something like this, "Father according to your Word, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:11) or "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

This puts the Father in the place where He has obligated Himself to answer our request, "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:23-24) However, we must remember to ask in faith, believing that we have received the answer even though there may not be any tangible evidence. (Mark 11:23-24). James states it this way, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, 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) We must remember when approaching the Father, "Without faith it is impossible to please God..." (Hebrews 11:6)

John records, "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) So, if you are dealing with a problem, circumstance or situation whether large or small and need the Father's divine intervention, state your case before Him in Jesus' name and believe that you have received the petition that you have asked of Him.  

Monday, September 7, 2020

Laboring Until Christ Is Formed In You

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. From a life perspective, Labor Day for most means, summer vacation is over, students return to school, college and universities to begin a new year of learning, which labels Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer. 

In a similar way, believers are called also too celebrate Labor Day but for more than one day a year. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) Who they were is not mentioned. However, it is evident that the church was not left without appointed persons to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We know that there were elders ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philemon 1:1), and here, "who are over you in the Lord" would lead us to believe that similar leaders would have been appointed in every newly organized church. 

In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase "recognize those who labor among you" is "know them which labor among you." This gives the idea of not only church leaders, but also those who labor as coordinators or head over ministries, those active in ministry, as well as elders, bishops and deacons. The word “know” carries with it the idea that the believers in the local church were not to make themselves strangers toward those who labor in ministry or to be ignorant of their needs. They should also seek to be personally acquainted with them and trust them concerning their own personal life as well as spiritual matters. 

"And admonish you" means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of church leaders to put the people in whom they serve and lead in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray. As those who labor perform these duties, believers are to respond by "esteeming them very highly in love." Church leaders who are faithful in their office and function, can expect high regard from the believers they lead and serve, not because they deserve it, per se, but because of their unwavering labors. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy something similar, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Timothy 5:17) 

Paul tells, of these laborers, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Here is a striking illustration of what church leaders are to do concerning the people they lead and serve. Church leaders are to labor over the people until Christ reigns wholly in their hearts. Church leaders who are truly called into the ministry will labor over the people they lead and serve not as a labor of struggle or because it is their "job," but as a labor of love. Paul tells us, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) The phrase "who are strong" means the strong “in faith” not limited to, but most likely church leaders who should not be novices, but be mature, that is, strong in faith. They ought to bear; to lift up; to bear away; to remove; to bear with; to endure patiently, the weaknesses of the weaker believers. Church leaders should be willing to deny themselves for the sake of promoting the happiness of others. 

So, this Labor Day let us be mindful, that as Christians, especially those called into the ministry, we are not to observe a day free of labor, but we are called to labor with one another in love, until Christ is formed in you. Happy Labor Days...    

Monday, August 31, 2020

Working Out

Before an athlete(s) enters into competition they first spend a fair amount of time in what is called training camp. Training camp refers to the time before actual competition begins. During this time, athlete's work on their skills through various drills to increase endurance and performance. Also during this time and athlete(s) will have a coach(es) assisting them in perfecting their skill by close observance, repeated evaluation and making all the required adjustments to bring the athlete into peak performance.

The Christian life is very much the same. The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul reveals, as it were, the training camp scenario for the Body of Christ... "And He Himself (Jesus) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Notices the various areas the church coaches (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) are training and evaluating the athletes (believers). The believer is being equipped for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ministry, faith and the knowledge of Jesus is an on going process. If believers continuously work on perfecting these skills they will see fruit in their lives. Sometimes believers can grow weary as they work out their salvation because they do not see immediately results or they may fall prey to the lies of the devil which ushers in discouragement. Paul tells us, "Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9) So don't get discouraged, remember we are all in training and as we train our skills (knowledge of Christ, gifts, calling, faith, grace, etc.) will grow and have a tremendous impact in the world around us.(the world is counting on us for the sake of winning souls to Christ)

Next, we see the reason for the believers conditioning, "that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Now notice the great results that believers share as the coaches through the Holy Spirit assists and perfect their skills, "causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." PTL This is our destiny. This is our inheritance. This is what training camp will do for every believe.

However, training camp for the believer is not any different than for athletes. It takes willingness, commitment, daily practice and a desire to please the Head Coach, Jesus. Paul told Timothy, "...If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." (2 Timothy 2:5) The rules have been developed by the Father through Jesus and given to His disciples (See the Gospels) who in turn gave to to other disciples and had unprecedented success for nearly three centuries. (See The Acts of the Apostles along with early church history). So let us remember, "...we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1-2) Looking to whom? That's right, JESUS!!!   

Monday, August 24, 2020

Giant Slayer For God

As Israel approached the land of Canaan Numbers records, "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them. So Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel." (Number 13:1-2) The spies return and give an exciting report, "Now they came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit." (Numbers 13:26-27)

What a report. The land that God was giving Israel was not barren waste land, but a vibrant, fruitful land flowing with with milk, honey. In other words, the land was fertile, able to produce all manner of vegetation as well as sustain their flocks. This was evidence of what the Lord had spoken to Moses when He had called Moses to go to Egypt to deliver Israel from Pharaoh. (Exodus 3:8) However, the physical confirmation of the Word of the Lord was not enough for ten of the spies, "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan." (Numbers 13:28-29) and "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Number 13:33) The results were, all of Israel believed the word of the spies rather than the Word of God.

This same scenario tends to repeat itself in many sectors of the church today. Many of God's children see life circumstances as giants rather than ants. They believe the report of their senses rather than believing what God has said. God spoke to Isaiah and said, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10) What a wonderful promise, but do you believe it? You see, we would have much to fear if God did not say, "I am with you." Distress would overtake us if God did not say, "for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." But again, do you believe this? Is this passage revelation that resonates in your heart or is it only knowledge that you reason in your head?

When life circumstances seen like giants is your response similar to Israel's, "So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron... (Numbers 14:1-2) or is it like Joshua and Caleb, "Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us,'a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them." (Numbers 14:6-9) This report sounds like the Word of the Lord to Isaiah, "Do not Fear, the Lord is with us." (Isaiah 46:10)

Jesus tells us how to deal with every giant that comes against the believer that stands in the believers way opposing him/her, "Have faith in God. 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 11:22-23) First, we are to exercise God like faith. If you say that it is impossible for a mere person to have the God kind of faith, then you have just sided against the Word of God and your results will most likely be the same as Israel's when they sided with the ten spies rather than the Word of God, they got what they asked for. (Numbers 14:2-3, 26-30) Next, Jesus tells us that if we can believe the Word of God, and not doubt that is, believe the reasoning of man or the lies of Satan, then we would be able to move the mountain (giant) that we are facing.

This is not something that we try, but something the we live. Faith is of the spirit and not of the mind. What Jesus is telling us cannot be comprehended with the mind, although our recreated spirit can fill our mind with revelation from God's Word. So, if you are facing a situation or circumstance that seems like a giant, speak to it in the name of Jesus without doubting and the results are, he will have whatever he says. PTL... 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Upside Down Again

Acts chapter seven records the first murder of a Christian, his name was Stephen. We also are introduced to a man named Saul who was not only present at Stephen's execution but was also consenting to his death. In Acts chapter nine we find this same man, Saul, "still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1-2) but something happened, "As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:3-4)

Next, we see Saul ask a very important question, "Who are you Lord?" (Acts 9:5) Saul recognized that there was something taking place that was beyond everything he knew. His response was not "Who are You," but he address the One talking to him as Lord. On the surface this may not strike you as something all that important but to Saul it was the beginning of an experience that would radically change his life as well as have an impact on the entire world. In Acts chapter thirteen we see that Saul becomes know as Paul and he and Barnabas are sent from the church at Antioch to the world to preach Christ. In the Epistle of Paul the apostle to the Philippians, he shares who he was prior to meeting Christ, "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (Philippians 3:3-6)

In the eye of academia today, Paul would be perceived to be a brilliant man who knows the Word of God. However, look at what Paul himself says about his incredible wealth of biblical knowledge, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" (Philippians 3:7-9)

Notice that Paul considers all the former knowledge that he had gained as useless as rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ. His utmost desire was, "That I may know Him..." (Philippians 3:11) Paul did not want to know about Christ. He did not want to know what others thought or knew about Christ. He desired a personal intimate knowledge of Christ. We see his intimate knowledge of Christ revealed in the Epistle that he wrote. The epistles of Paul reveal an overwhelming wealth of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul's desire to know Christ personally and intimately should be the desire of every believer, but unfortunately for most, knowing what others think or know about Christ has become sufficient. This attitude has cause damaging doctrines to permeate the church promoting division. Paul had to deal with this very issue and calls those who fall prey to it carnal babies in Christ who act like mere men. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

Paul tells Timothy in both his letters to Timothy, the damage that would occur in the church as the end time approached, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Timothy 4:1) "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Of course not one church leader would ever admit that this could be about them and their belief system.

I believe that there is not one church leader or particular group of churches that have the revelation that Paul gives us in its purest form. This is why we've got to put down our pride and prejudices and let the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth. We must also be open enough to consider that our pet doctrines may not be entirely correct. Instead of resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) and embracing doctrine whether old or new, that does not consider the whole counsel of God's Word, let's grow up and embrace Jesus Christ with a desire to know Him so that the power, presence and glory of the Lord fills His entire Body once again. Whether we want to take the responsibility or not, the lost world is depending on the church to reveal to them the real Jesus. The church is His body which means that as He is, so should the church be in the world! This means that as He is supernatural in ever sense of the word, so is the church. Through the name of Jesus and having an intimate knowledge of Him, the church will once again turn the world upside down for His glory.