Sunday, December 24, 2023

A Savior Is Born

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ; the Son of God; the Savior of the world. The original meaning of Christmas came by-way-of a special church service, or mass, to celebrate the birth of Christ, "Christ Mass." The story of the Nativity, that is, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, are the central focal point of the church's celebration of Christmas. The Bible does not give a precise date for the birth of Jesus. Historically, it is also unclear when December 25th became associated with the birth of Jesus. However, the idea of turning this day into a celebration was accepted by the church in the early Middle Ages in Europe.

During Reformation and up until the middle of the 1800s, Christmas was often not celebrated because partying and making merry was seen as unchristian. However, from about 1840, celebrating Christmas became more widespread. Finally, on June 26, 1870, December 25th was declared a federal holiday in the United States. Since then Christmas Day has become a steadily more important holiday. In the United States, Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, where old customs were unearthed as they looked to the church to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards, and gift-giving. Although most American families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas the way it had been done for centuries, they had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

Today in America, there are many who reject the true meaning and purpose of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, and yet the holiday season itself tends to be filled with a kindness that most people exhibit which is not expressed in any other time throughout the year. This includes the holiday's of other world religions as well as all other sectors of public life throughout the world. I believe the reason behind this, is directly tied to why Christmas itself is celebrated, "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:8-14)

There is a peace, that for most is unexplainable, but for believers it is due to the first advent, the incarnation of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Even the events that led up to the birth of Christ had a major impact upon the civilization of that time. For instance, Luke's gospel records, "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:1-7)

To fulfill the Word of the Lord spoken by the Prophet Micah, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2) the heathen Emperor Caesar Augustus ordered that all should be registered to his own city, which caused Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem where Christ was born. We also notice, "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12)  The announcement of the birth of Christ was proclaimed to shepherds keeping watch over their flock by an angel of the Lord.

After this announcement was made, we see, "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:13-14) Scripture does not mention the number of angels present, but a word search reveals much. The Greek word for host refers to “the heavenly bodies, stars of heaven.” Heavenly host in the Hebrew means "armies." The heavenly host present at Jesus’ birth were so numerous they were compared to the stars and armies. We see that both the heavens and the earth were greatly moved by the birth of Christ. 

During the Christmas season, let us be mindful that hearts are prepared to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ like no other time of the year. So, in the midst of the hustle and bustle that we may find ourselves in, let us be mindful of these very important facts, For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." "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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:16-17) "God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4) "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) So, let us start a new tradition. Let us share the gospel with at least one person during the Christmas season. Let us introduce people to "Christ the Lord." Have a very Merry Christmas...

Monday, December 18, 2023

I Won't Forget

Though we are in what we refer to is the holiday season, let us never forget what the ultimate purpose of the incarnation of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ was for, freedom from sin and the tyrannical power of Satan. The word freedom comes with a variety of definitions, such as; the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. Out of these definitions, "the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved," seems to best sum up what Jesus accomplished for humanity. When looking through the scriptures we find that God began the process of redeeming man as soon as man fell, promising that a Redeemer should come who would break the dominion of Satan and restore to man his lost dominion and standing. Some of the most compelling passages of scripture concerning this monumental event were foretold by the prophets, especially the prophet Isaiah.

In Isaiah 7:14, we have a declarative statement of the incarnation, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." Notice how this would come about, "The Lord Himself" emphasizing God's might and power shall give a sign or miraculous work and wonder for our benefit. What would this miraculous work be? "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son." She is to be a daughter of the House of David, (remembering that Christ would be of the House of David and that Joseph was not Jesus' father, God was) and she shall conceive and bear a Son and His name shall be called "Immanuel," that is, God with us. Hallelujah!!!

As we proceed forward, look at Isaiah 9:6, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, (inspiring delight, pleasure, or admiration; extremely good; marvelous) Counselor, (the great attorney of God's family)  Mighty God, (Al-powerful) Everlasting Father, (having no beginning or end) Prince of Peace." (complete freedom from disturbance; complete quiet and tranquility). Yet, in all these glorious names, He would humbly come as the sin substitute for all humanity.

Turning to the four gospels, it is there we see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane pouring Himself out in prayer as He was about to face the most horrific event that he would ever face. We see Him arrested, taken to the High Priest Caiaphas; insulted and struck; He is taken before Pilate, then Herod; He was mocked; see Him scourged, His back laid open, blood flowing, His flesh torn as the cruel blows fall mercilessly upon His bared back by the awful Roman lictor. His own clothes replaced with the mock garment of kingly authority; a mock crown of thorns pressed deep upon His brow; more mocking comes and His own clothes are placed roughly about Him, and He is started out for Golgotha, staggering beneath the patibulum (Latin for crossbeam) He bore on His shoulders. We see Him fal1under its weight, and Simon of Cyrene is compelled to bear it.

Weakened by the loss of blood from the merciless beating, He staggers blindly up the mountain side, surrounded by soldiers who encircle Him. He is laid roughly down upon the ground on His back, and the Roman soldiers with cruel hate drive the spikes into His hands; then He is stripped naked and lifted up where the patibulum is nailed to the upright post called a stipes (Latin for upright post) forming a cross, and then nailed His feet to the stipes. Jesus the Nazarene is crucified! We watch the mob as it surges backward and forward about the Cross. We hear the chief priest's hurling their bitter taunts in the face of the suffering Son of God. We hear the mob in their bitter denunciation, led on by their priesthood. Such a horrific sight. It was not a sight for angels, or for men, but for demons only, and yet the worse was yet to come for the suffering substitute.

Now we have a better understanding of the prophecy spoken by Isaiah, "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4) In the Four Gospels we see Him only stricken of man, but Isaiah sees into the spiritual realm. He sees the Redeemer as He hangs there,"stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." God is dealing not with Jesus' body, but with His spirit. Isaiah goes on, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6) Here we see God taking our sin and laying every bit of it upon the spirit of the innocent Lamb of God, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us..." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus, who is God the Word who became flesh (John 1:1, 14) is now man's sin substitute. He has taken Man's place. The whole human race is now represented in Him, as He hangs there under judgment on the accursed tree. (Galatians 3:13) God takes your sin and mine, yes, the sin of the whole world and places it upon Jesus until the sin of the world has entered into His very being. Jesus, nailed to the cross, suspended between heaven and earth, has become the outcast of heaven and earth. From the cross the Son of God cries out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me." (Matthew 27:46) Finally, the time had come when "Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last." (Mark 15:37) As mentioned before, when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane pouring Himself out in prayer as He was about to face the most horrific event that he would ever face, it was finally here.

Not only was it the Father's plan for His sinless Son to die on the cross, that His blood be shed for all humanity, but he was to go to Hades itself (Acts 2:31) to pay the full penalty of man's sin. God in His justice could not have acquitted humanity so that he could stand in His presence through eternity, until every charge against him had been wiped off the books. (Isaiah 43:25) Only then could man stand before God as clean and as free as though he had never sinned. God could not pardon man until an adequate sacrifice had been made. Jesus tells us, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40) Peter quotes David the king, "For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." (Acts 2:27)  The story unfolds.

Peter tells us, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18) Notice that He was made alive in spirit. He would not have been made alive in spirit had not He died in spirit. As it was with Adam, so it was with Jesus. Jesus died in spirit on the cross, before He died in the flesh. Peter declares that Jesus not only died in the flesh, physically, but that He also died in spirit, spiritually, and therefore His resurrection was a double resurrection. He was made alive, first in spirit, and then in the flesh, His spirit being raised from the dead and re-united with His body. The Apostle Paul tells us, "He put off from Himself the principalities and the powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them." (Colossians 2:15) Here is a picture of Christ in Hades, with the whole host of demons attempting to keep Him there, but when the penalty of our sin had been paid in full, Satan had no power to hold Him.

Paul tells us, "Jesus was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification." (Romans 4:25) The very moment the sin problem was settled, the moment Jesus
Christ was legally justified, was made alive in spirit once more, He cast off the hosts of demons, and became the Master of Hades by taking from Satan the keys of death and hell. (Revelation 1:8) Jesus died as our sacrificial Lamb, but He rose as Lord, as Master of death, of Hades and of the grave. The matchless, mighty Son of God had gone into the strong mans house, bound him and took his spoils. (Matthew 12:29) Jesus has taken from Satan all his authority, his dominion and now offers it to fallen man through His matchless name and grace. What does this mean to humanity?

It means that every man who confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, believes in there heart that God raised Him from the dead and takes Him as their Savior, stands legally acquitted in the presence of God, free and clear of all charges against them. It means that God is vindicated, He has taken advantage of no one. He can now save believers and judge the sinners for rejecting His way to freedom. It means that Satan is defeated, and man can be free from sin, sickness, disease, poverty, death and all the works of the devil. (Romans 8:37) It means that man is legally justified, declared righteous (Romans 5:1) and is an heir of God and joint heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17). It means that man, through faith in Christ receive the promise of eternal life. (1 John 2:25) It means that man can become a child of God and have all the privileges as sons and daughters. (John 1:12-13) It means that heaven is legally the home of God's children. (John 14:1-4)

Let us look beyond the cross and live in the triumphant, abundant life that Jesus has given to us. "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 4:31-32) Remember, we are no longer imprisoned or enslaved by the god of this world. So, let us never forget what Jesus has done for us!!! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always....

Monday, December 11, 2023

Holding on to Him

In the second letter that the Apostle Paul sent to Timothy, his son in the faith, he tells him, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Timothy 3:1) Paul then proceeds to reveal to Timothy of the great apostasy which was to be expected in the church. He continues on and states several of the characteristics of what was coming. One of the definitions of the word perilous is, "exposed to imminent risk of disaster or ruin." Now we know that the church will never be ruined, because it is Christ's Body, His Bride and He most definitely loves an protects His Bride. However, this does not mean that Satan is not working against it, simply that a number of believers will fall prey to his schemes which are the works of the flesh. (Compare 2 Timothy 3:1-4 with Galatians 5:19-21 and see the similarities)  

Although all of the characteristics listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 are certainly destructive, two of the main ones that I believe have captured many believers for some time are "unloving and unforgiving." If we were to look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (the characteristics of the God kind of love), we would notice that if believers lived in this kind of love daily, which we should (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22), apostasy would never get place in the church. If every believer operated in the God kind of love, then the other characteristic, unforgiveness, would never have become the stronghold that it has become among some many of God's children. Unforgiveness is “a grudge that one person holds against someone who has offended them and is unwilling to exercise compassion or love from the heart towards the person who brought the offense, to totally forgive them."

Jesus spoke many times concerning unforgiveness (offenses). He told us, "It is impossible that no offenses should come." (Luke 17:1) Jesus goes on to tell us no matter how many times a person offends (sins against) us, we are to forgive them. Look what the apostles ask Jesus after hearing this, "Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5) This is the only place in the New testament where Jesus' apostles ask Him to increase their faith. Even when Jesus sent them out to go to the towns in Israel to preach, heal, cast out demons and raise the dead, they did not ask to have their faith increased. By this we can see that it take more faith to forgive and let go of offenses than it does to walk in the supernatural ministry of Christ. 

One day Jesus was hungry and passing by a fig tree he found nothing on it but leaves. In response Jesus said to the fig tree, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." (Mark 11:12-14) The next morning Jesus and the apostles passed by the fig tree and Peter comments on how the fig tree had dried up from the roots. Jesus then speaks to them concerning the power of faith, "So Jesus answered and said to them, “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. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:22-24) This passage of scripture is most likely the most used scripture when talking about faith and rightfully so. This passage of scripture points out three very important things, faith, doubt, and the words that we speak, (say).

However, Jesus does not stop here. He continues saying, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25-26) Why did Jesus say this? Not only was He teaching us the power of faith, but how holding a grudge (an offense) or unforgiveness in ones heart will keep faith (literally the God kind of faith that Jesus is talking about in Mark 11:22) from working. This is serious business. We need to forgive so that our Heavenly Father can forgive us. 

Unfortunately, there are some believers who cannot accept this truth. They will contend that it is harsh and that God is a God of grace and love and would not hold this against His people. He is certainly full of grace and love, but He is also a God of justice. (Job 37:23; Romans 3:26) Jesus was saying these things to those who were His followers. If you are a follower of Jesus then He is speaking these things to you (us) also. This is not an isolated teaching of Jesus concerning unforgiveness. In Matthews Gospel, Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray, He continues, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15) To forgive others and let go of offenses is not an option or some concept that we can take or leave, it is a command from the Lord. 

Jesus again talks about unforgiveness at length in Matthew 18:15-20. He speaks of forgiving a fellow believer who has sinned against us (offended us) and then continues with a parable in Matthew 18:21-35. There are some important keys revealed to us in verses 33 through 35, "Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?" (Verse 33) The king in the story forgave the man of an insurmountable debt, yet the man turned around and showed absolutely no compassion on his fellow servant who had only a small penny ante debt in comparison. "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him." (Verse 34) Unforgiveness breeds torment in the very soul of a person. Finally, Jesus says "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (Verse 35)       

God has forgiven each one of us of an insurmountable debt, a debt that no human ever born could ever pay. Think about it. Jesus was arrested, scourged, beaten, spit upon, beard ripped out, mocked, had a crown of thrones forced on His head; made to walk approximately three miles through the streets of Jerusalem with a one hundred and twenty five pound wood beam on His beaten bloody body and finally stripped naked and nailed to the cross and yet He was completely innocent. Then after hanging on the cross for six hours every sin of man and all the sicknesses of man was placed upon Him. (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10; 1 Peter 2:24) Because Jesus became sin with our sin, His Father would have to forsake Him. (Matthew 27:46) Yet, from the cross, His body filled with unimaginable, horrific physical pain that was coursing throughout His entire body, He said, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34)        

Jesus wants us to know that no matter what others have done to us, no matter how deep an offense may have hurt us, we must forgive them as God has forgiven us. We must let go of every and any offense at all cost. If we are going to walk in faith then we must walk in God's love towards everyone, even those who may have or will offend us. We must not let our weak flesh have place, but let our spirit have the dominion and completely forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:32) Forgiveness is not just words from our mouth, but we are to forgive as God does, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. (Offenses)" (Isaiah 43:25) If need be, let us do as the apostles did when Jesus spoke to them concerning offenses. They asked Him, "Lord, increase our faith." 

The unsaved are depending on the church to be an example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, let us do exactly that. Let us love all others, brothers and sister in the Lord as well as the unsaved so that the Name of Jesus is magnified. Let go, at all cost, any and all of the unforgiveness that you may have in your heart. You can do this! Simply meditate on what Jesus did for us. Look at His struggles from the Garden of Gethsemane to His agony and horrific physical suffering. See Him hanging naked on the cross, His body so beaten and bloodied that He did not look human (Isaiah 52:14). Hear His most wonderful cry from the cross for us all, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" and be free from a broken, tormented heart! "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

May the peace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ overtake us and fill us to overflowing, that we can walk free of offenses and help others to do the same.            

Monday, December 4, 2023

Cry Unto The LORD

Have you ever said or heard some one say, "for crying out loud?" It is a slang phrase that is an exclamation emphasizing surprise, disbelief, impatience, anger, etc. Although it is a slang phrase, for believers it could be considered heartfelt prayer. Prayer is speaking to God what His will is. It is our need crying out for help to our loving Father. It is the voice of faith to the Father with the assurance that the need will be met, that is, His will be done. The greatest prayer that the believer can offer is releasing God's Word from the lips of faith, because God and His Word are One. (John 1:1) When believers quote the Word, they are actually quoting Him. We hold His Word in the same manner that a bank holds our note for a loan. Just as we have collateral to make the note good, God has ability to make His Word good. "For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself." (Hebrews 6:13) Therefore, prayer is simply calling upon God by speaking His word to meet our needs. We also need to keep in mind, "due to our weaknesses, we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26), our prayers are to be Holy Spirit led.

Jesus tells us, "Men ought to pray always and not lose heart." (Luke 18:1)  Prayer is also vital contact, communion, with the Father. We are to come boldly into the throne room, into His presence without condemnation, guilt or with inferiority. (Hebrews 4:16) Prayer is a constant communion with the Father that enriches the believer spiritually. Prayer filled with God's Word led by the Holy Spirit releases the power of God. We cast out demons with the Word. We pray for the sick and the diseases leave them. Weakness is destroyed by the strength of God. The very life of God flows out through our lips. His Word literally becomes the sword of the spirit, and it is waging a war against demoniacal forces who work at ruling over people. His Word released from our lips dominates these forces of darkness. Jesus said, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons..." (Mark 16:17) This means to rule over them, govern them.

From the foundation of the world, God has planned with divine wisdom, the Body of Christ. The moment that you were born into that body, you have your place in which to function. Although, you may have various functions, one function without doubt, is prayer. We are to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Do not ever entertain the thought that because of lack of training, you do not have a place. This is nothing more than the lies of the devil to prevent you from ruling over him and his dark forces. God has given you a place (1 Corinthians 12:14, 18) and you have a responsibility to take your place and function. When believers do not take their place in the Family of God, in the Church, and begin to function, the Body of Christ is weakened. Ever believers business is to find their place and fill it. Until they do, the whole Body will suffer, so, rise up and take your place, you are needed. Do not allow anything to stand in the way of you finding and taking your place.

There is much talk and prophecy about the coming of a "Third Great Awakening." The question that we must ask ourselves, is, "Are we prepared to flow with a move of God?" Jesus told the people around Him, "Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?" (Luke 12:24-56) The Jews could not discern through the Word nor the current events the advent of the very Messiah that they long waited for. Not only did they not discern the times, they turned the Messiah over to the Gentiles to be put to death. Now we know that this was all in God ingenious, brilliant plan of man's redemption, nevertheless is the church today prepared to discern a "Third Great Awakening?" 

Consider the following three comments; "Ministers today seem more concerned with political power in society than spiritual fervency in the church, while pop culture contributes to the moral decay among the youth..." "While marked by an increasing ethnic diversity and various religious beliefs, the nation’s established religious groups, particularly Protestants, demonstrate a sterile spirituality. One pastor bemoans the obsession with gambling and rudeness, while churches are attended at convenience..." "College campuses teemed with students chasing after the latest philosophies, the more non-biblical the better. The more educated a person you find, the less likely you are to discover a Christian. Meanwhile, churches are filled with people who listen to pastors preach then contradict the sermon by the way they live..."

You may think these three comments came from a concerned Christian commenting on our time. But the first one comes from Great Britain just before the preaching of John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and others who were used by God to lead a great revival there. The second comes from the American colonies prior to the First Great Awakening. The third came by the influence of people such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and others, at college campuses in America at the dawn of the Second Great Awakening.

I believe it is imperative that believers cry out to the Lord through heartfelt prayer and prepare themselves for an "awakening" that will make the first two pale. The Apostle Peter tells us, "Jesus Christ, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:21) There are to many unfulfilled prophecies to list that I believer are in the process of being fulfilled, but, here are two that I believe also reveal a global awakening that will soon come...

"Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." (Isaiah 60:1-3)
"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14)  

So, let us seek the Lord through heartfelt prayer, so we can discern the sign of the times and let the Lord bring to pass, the "Third Great Awakening." PTL...

Monday, November 27, 2023

Enter His Rest

The word rest is defined as, to cease from work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength; relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity. The word wrestle is defined as, to take part in a fight that involves grappling with one's opponent; to struggle with a difficulty or problem. As we can see by definition, these two words are in complete opposition to one another. The Apostle Paul tells us, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh." (2 Corinthians 10:3) Since Paul still has a body, he walks in the flesh and yet, though the nature of the flesh is so corrupt, he does not war according to the flesh. In other words, he walks in the flesh, but he does not walk by the flesh. Why is that or how does he not permit his flesh to dominate him? 

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) Paul tells us that the weapons available to believers are not carnal or fleshly, but this weaponry derives from God alone. In the natural realm, warriors go into battle depending on their own might and on the wisdom and skill which plans the battle. However, the believers warfare is not from his abilities, plans or wisdom, but his total dependency upon God. He has no hope of victory except in God. Without his dependency upon God, he is sure of inevitable defeat.  

The purpose of these weapons is to strike down strongholds, fortresses, or strong fortification which are designed to oppose the believer and God's Word. All these strongholds deal with sins or works of the flesh and the wickedness of the world, both having their roots in the kingdom of darkness. Believers are to use God's weapons to cast down arguments, reasonings of the mind, that is, the various systems of false philosophy and vain imaginations. Believers are also to crush every exalted opinion; all the pride of the human heart and of the intellectual understanding; as well as everything else that is opposed to the knowledge of God, which we can find in the Word of God via revelation from the Holy Spirit. 

Believers are to bring into captivity, subdue, all these things, all the plans and purposes of the flesh, the reasonings, the imagination, and all the powers of the mind, and to bring them all under the authority and triumph of Christ. All the plans of life should be controlled by the will of Christ, formed and executed under his control, as captives are led by a conqueror. The sense is, that it was the aim and purpose of Paul for the church to accomplish this through the weapons that are mighty in God. The strongholds of philosophy, paganism, and sin should be destroyed and all the opinions, plans, and purposes of the world become subject to Jesus Christ.  

This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. However, to the degree that a believer receives and acts upon revelation of God's Word by the Holy Spirit and the direct work of the Holy Spirit in the believer revealing the corrupt condition of the flesh, is the extent of how the believer uses God's weaponry.  Although the believer may agree mentally with God's Word concerning the corruption of the flesh, he nevertheless may lack the clear spiritual insight which in turn may lead him to oppose the flesh with his own strength. During such a time as this, the believer wages war by trying to improve or discipline his flesh. He prays, he searches the scriptures, and even sets up many rules. The Apostle Paul revealed this to us and asks why we would do such a thing, if we had died with Christ. (Colossians 2:20-23) Believers who engage in such practices, do  not comprehend that such treatment is useless. In actuality, this will assure the believer to experience more defeats than victories until finally it seems to him that complete victory over the flesh is impossible.  

However, if a child of God faithfully and honestly believes God's Word and sincerely yields to the Holy Spirit to reveal God's holiness to him so that he may know his flesh in light of God's holiness, he will no longer strive against the lust of the flesh. He will also be spared from the many sufferings that living by the flesh presents. He will come to live out the fact that, "For he who has died has been freed from sin (the works of the flesh)." (Romans 6:7) He will then come to appreciate true freedom that Christ has provided for all who truly believe. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) So, let us stop wrestling with the flesh, but instead, cease from trying to fix the works of the flesh in our strength, and rest by faith in Jesus Christ. Let us completely yield to the working of the Holy Spirit and live in the victorious life that we have in Christ. Amen?...

Monday, November 20, 2023


Thanksgiving Day, in the United States, is a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving was celebrated nationally in 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." As a federal and public holiday in the United States, Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621. According to historic accounts, this feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans. It was first and foremost celebrated as a religious observance of the blessings of God upon the early settlers. 

Although the colonist did not call the celebration Thanksgiving, it was the first corn harvest proved successful by the new colonists. After being plagued with sickness and death, there was definitely something to be thankful to God for. So, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. The meal, most likely, did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations. Today, in the United States, Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year.

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance. Instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Although turkey has become all but synonymous with the holiday, it may or may not have been on the menu of this inaugural feast in 1621. According to the National Turkey Federation, today, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat some type of foul, whether roasted, baked or deep-fried, on Thanksgiving Day. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, a variety of vegetables and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is also a common Thanksgiving Day activity. Communities, especially churches, often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate. Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Although these things may have some redeeming qualities, there is one thing that has certainly corrupted Thanksgiving Day which began Thanksgiving Day 2014. Unfortunately, most department stores and retailers have permitted greed to erode this day of giving thanks to become a day of making a profit. Although today, 2023, many retailers offer sales before Thanksgiving Day and will opt to remain closed to honor the day.

Although there has been a departure in the United States of the true meaning and reason for celebrating Thanksgiving, and although there may be some who disagree that Thanksgiving was a religious event, believers should never let any sector of society deprive us of celebrating Thanksgiving from its original roots, celebrating the wonderful works of God. The Apostle Paul tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Believers are to maintain an attitude of gratitude. We should always remember what the Lord Jesus Christ did for humanity. The fact that He left the glory of heaven to take on the form of a man (Philippians 2:5-8), becoming sin with our sin, sick with our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10), and every curse of the law (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13), should cause every believe to be extremely thankful and to greatly rejoice. To rejoice is a spontaneous, unsustainable feeling of jubilance; a feeling so strong that it finds expression in some external act, clapping, dancing, shouting. It means to be exceedingly joyful.

Even in our prayer time believers are to be thankful, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6) "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men." (1 Timothy 2:1) So, during this festive holiday, let us truly offer the Lord the fruit of our lips from hearts of thanksgiving, of how great and wonderful He is. Let us give Him thanks for the wonderful blessings that He has given and continues to give. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fill you with thanksgiving everyday...

Monday, November 13, 2023

Fit For Duty

"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase first used by Herbert Spencer after reading Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" in which he drew parallels between his own economic theories and Darwin's biological ones, writing, "This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life." In Christian terms, in a sense, we can term survival of the fittest as the struggle between the spirit and the flesh. The Apostle Paul reveals a very important point concerning these two entities, "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." (Galatians 5:17)

When the Bible uses the word flesh, it indicates the combination of the body and soul (mind, will and emotions). (Genesis 6:3; Romans 7)  Although at the moment when a person confesses Christ as Lord and receives Him as Savior the Holy Spirit takes up residence, many believers are still controlled by the flesh as though it did not die with Christ and was raised up again in Him. (Romans 6:4-5) The problem comes because they have not truly believed in the accomplished fact of Christ's death and resurrection for them. This does not mean that they are not saved, it simply means that they have not acted upon the Word of God and the call of the Holy Spirit to follow the principle of death and resurrection, that is, "walk in newness of life." According to the finished work of Christ, at the moment of regeneration all believers have died and have been resurrected with Christ. Accordingly, it is every believers responsibility to die to self and live to God. (Romans 6:11)

This condition is nothing new to the church. The Apostle Paul confronted this very issue with the church at Corinth, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) We see that the Apostle Paul divides believers into two categories; spiritual and fleshly or carnal. Today, many view the spiritual believer as abnormal or even fanatical, yet he is actually normal. It is the fleshly or carnal believer who is abnormal. The church at Corinth were believers, but they were fleshly or carnal believers.  

When we speak of regeneration, it is a birth by which the innermost part of man's being, as the Apostle Peter says, "the hidden person of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4), that is, the hidden spirit of a person, is renewed, recreated, and indwelt by the Spirit of God. When regeneration occurs, it requires time for the power of this new life to penetrate the flesh and bring it into dominion to the recreated spirit. Therefore, we cannot expect to find the strength of "the young men" nor the experience of "the fathers" manifested in the life of a newly born child of God. (1 John 2:12-14)  No matter how much the new believer may love the Lord or love the Truth, the facts is, he may not understand just how strong his flesh is. So, what are the reasons why many believers do not grow from babes? 

I believe it stems from three main reasons. One is that church leaders (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, or Teachers) neglect to disciple them properly, that is, "teaching them to  observe (hold fast; continue in) all things" commanded by Christ (Matthew 28:20). This lack prevents the believer from moving beyond intellectual or theoretical knowledge, to experience, believing and acting on the Word of God. Secondly, it may be that the believer has convinced himself that spiritual advancement is not necessary. This is shear ignorance of coming to the reality of "that which is flesh is flesh and that which is spirit is spirit." (John 32:6) Thirdly, the believer is just unwilling to grow in their faith. This is a reflection of one who is stubborn and unteachable. No matter what the case, all are schemes of the devil to keep believers complacent and lethargic. It is not God's intention that believers remain babes "who are tossed two and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting." (Ephesians 4:14) 

Although the Bible does not expect a new believer to be spiritual instantaneously, however, if they should remain as a babe after several years, their situation is sad to say the least. Paul himself points out to the Corinthians that he had treated them as carnal, fleshly, because they were new born babes in Christ, but at the writing of his epistle to them, they should have grown into manhood. They had instead, wasted away their lives by remaining as babes, and were thus still fleshly. Although the church at Corinth was established in a sinful, hedonistic society, it does not necessitate as much time as we think then or today for one to be transformed from the fleshly into a spiritual believer.  It is apparent that Paul thought the same about the church at Corinth.

Two things that are necessary for believers to act upon daily, to break away from the works of the flesh as laid out in the Romans. Paul tells us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2) We see what believers are to do concerning the body and the soul, that is, the flesh. This is an act of ones will, as well as the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. As believers resist the flesh by an act of their will and yielding to the Holy Spirit, there recreated spirit will eventually have dominion over their flesh and the Christian experience will become more challenging and exciting. To sacrifice, means that something has to die, the flesh. To renew the mind is to fill it with the Word of God

If you struggle with the works of the flesh, begin to apply what Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 as well as asking the Lord to give you the grace to separate you from the struggles that you face in this life that try to steal your peace and joy. Remember, Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) So, grab a hold of Jesus, let faith arise, be led by the Holy Spirit, and experience the abundant life that He has given.