Monday, February 12, 2024

It Starts With The Heart

For centuries man has put much effort trying to understand the human mind and behavior. Birthed out of the combination of philosophy and biology this has come to be known as psychology. Although it is somewhat difficult to capture everything that psychology encompasses, the simplest definition of psychology is that it is the study of the human mind and human behavior. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion, and behavior. However, it is limited due to one simple fact. The human soul, that is, the mind, will and emotions, became corrupted by sin at the fall of Adam in the Garden, effecting the human mind and behavior in a negative, destructive, depraved manner. However, the destructive nature of sin did not stop with the soul, it completely corrupted the entire human himself, spirit, soul and body, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5)

Even after the fall of Adam we see the gross destruction that one human brought upon another. "Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell." (Genesis 4:1-5)

Notice, Cain became very angry. Anger is considered a secondary emotion because people tend to resort to anger in order to protect themselves from or cover up other vulnerable feelings. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before one feels anger. Anger is defines as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Next, we see the results of what the mind can produce if anger is not immediately dealt with, "So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." 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 4:6-8) 

We see in the above scripture that not even the Almighty, All Wise God of Heaven in His intervention was able to convince Cain to change his thinking, his mind, which would have changed his behavior. It is apparent that Cain's mind was already fixed by anger that eventually produced a horrific action. The murder of his own flesh and blood brother. As we can see in this example, the mind has been so corrupted with sin, how can one even think that a science that deals with the corrupted mind is able to produce any true positive and lasting results, especially when we see that Cain would not change his mind even when God Himself intervened. Cain's mind was so corrupt, I believe if a psychologist showed up on the scene to try and reason with Cain, there most likely would have been two murders. So, what is the solution to truly fix the human mind and behavior?

 It is not mind over matter, it is not doing good works, it is not even delving into religion although these things in and of themselves may be considered good things. However, it is not any of these things. It is "New Birth" through faith in Jesus Christ, period! Why? Because new birth is not mental, but spiritual. Psychology has to do with the mind, and the new birth has to do with the "hidden man of the heart," (1 Peter 3:4) or the spirit of man. Understand, man is in God's class of being, "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." (Genesis 1:26) "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than yourself, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet." (Psalm 8:4-6)

When man was created in the Garden he was made in the image and likeness of God, that is he was created as a spirit being with a soul in a body, because God is a Spirit. (John 4:24) Man was created so that, by partaking of God's nature, he might become a child of God. If man was simply a physical being, then he would not have receive God's nature, thereby, making him nothing more than a mental being. He had to be a spirit being, an eternal being, who would live as God lives. Man was created so that he could be the companion and associate of God Himself. As we saw in Psalm 8, God gave man authority over creation, that is, the laws of nature as well as over every living thing. If we were to study the gospels, the ministry of Jesus, we would find that the same authority that Adam had was also given to Jesus. We would see in the gospels such things as Jesus walking on water, changing water into wine, restoring broken, maimed bodies, calming the sea and raising the dead.

Before Adam fell in the Garden, during his fellowship with God, his spirit ruled him. His soul and body were subject to his spirit. But, when he sinned, his spirit was enveloped by his flesh (Genesis 6:4), that is, the combination of his soul and body. He became spiritually dead, took on the satanic nature and his spirit became subordinate to his flesh, that is, his five senses. Adam was then driven from the presence of God and became a partaker of a Satan corrupted world. In this new world system he had to see clearly and hear keenly, or an animal could take advantage of him and he could lose his life. His taste must tell him what was good to eat. His touch must tell him whether or not an object was hot or cold, sharp, rough or smooth. His wisdom and knowledge would no longer be tied to God, but his education would be gained through his five senses. Man's spirit lost contact with God. His body became mortal, that is, subject to death.

This is the condition in which Jesus found the human race when He left eternity and broke into time and space to introduce the Father to fallen man for the purpose of restoring man back to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). So, as we can clearly see, psychology has no ability to truly fix the human mind or behavior, because the mind can only be transform when the "hidden man of the heart" receives new birth. Jeremiah said it this way, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) Without the renewing of the heart, new birth, the mind remains corrupted and under the sway of a satanically influenced world (1 John 5:19). So, do not be surprised when people who have not experienced new birth say and act the way they do. Where they are quick to seek out psychologists and or psychiatrists hoping to find relief. It is simply fallen man trying to be fixed by fallen man. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). Grace and Peace be with you through Christ our LORD... 

Monday, February 5, 2024

Seated With Christ

The climax of the meritorious work of the Lord Jesus Christ is His glorification, that is, "the seating of the Lord at His (Father Gods) right hand in the heavenly places, far above 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." (Ephesians 1:20-21) This came about after Jesus had been made sin with our sin; after He had paid the penalty for our sin; after He had suffered unimaginably in spirit, soul and body, all of this, so that the demands of justice against humanity could be met and paid in full. Once this was accomplished, then Christ was raised from the dead. We may know these facts but the good news is, we were raised with Him and seated with Him, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7) This was not our doing, but the Father's. The Father declares we are seated together with Christ. PTL

God the Word became flesh, a man (John 1:14); He identified Himself with the human race  (Philippians 2:6-8); He became the substitute for the entire human race (John 3:16); He delivered the human race from the authority of Satan (Colossians 1:13); After He has conquered Satan, death, hell and the grave (Revelation 1:18), He arose from the dead; was reunited with His physical body (Acts 2:27); carried His blood into the Most Holy Place in heaven (Hebrews 9:12); He then sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High making redemption eternal, comprehensive and available to the entire human race. We have the God Man seated at the Father's right hand as our advocate, (1 John 2:1), our mediator, (1 Timothy 2:5), our representative, our intercessor before the Father. (Hebrews 7:25) This is the crowning event of redemption. Jesus seated at the Father's right hand, and is the head of the new body, the Church. It's no wonder that the Apostle Paul proclaims, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3) 

Not only are we seated in the highest position in the universe with Christ, we are also blessed with every spiritual blessing that is necessary to maintain our place as members of His glorious body and live life abundantly through Him. In the mind of God, every believer is in Christ now. When we go to the throne of Grace in prayer, it is as though Jesus Himself were going there, for we go in His Name. The Apostle Paul tells us, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3) Every believer is  hidden from the adversary, but we are visible to the Father. The writer of Hebrews says, "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Hebrews 9:24) 

Jesus is at the right hand of the Father as our representative, as our Lord, who gave Himself for us. If Christ sat down at God's right hand, it is because the Father accepted Him and accepted what He did for all humanity, especially every believer. The fact that He is seated there is the seal of our acceptance in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6) This should cause us to see that our Redemption is a completed, eternal, finished thing. So, let us not get caught up in the worry and anxiety that the world would try to conform us to, but let us exercise our faith in the integrity of God's Word and know that as Christ is, "far above 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" (Ephesians 1:21) so we are also for we are in Him as we can see, "the Father has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23) PTL...   

Monday, January 29, 2024

Life More Abundantly

The expression "Living Large" is described as, "Living an extravagant lifestyle." Naturally, this refers to a worldly concept that is solely a self-indulgent lifestyle. But for believers, if we were to think of what Jesus did for us through His death, resurrection and glorification, we to would come to realize that in Christ we too are "Living an extravagant lifestyle." This does not insinuate that as the world we are to be self-indulged, but truly thankful that all Christ is and has, is ours. Jesus tells us, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12-15)

Notice, "All things that the Father has are Mine...He will take of Mine and declare it to you." The Apostle Paul tells us some wonderful things concerning what the Father has given to Christ, Christ has given to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has given (made all these things available) to believers. "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.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ..." (Romans 8:15-17) Paul continues, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) You might ask, "How could this be so?"

One of the things that bears witness to what Paul tells us is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. His resurrection is the proof of Satan's defeat, man's redemption, which gave the Father the legal right to make the believer a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Ephesians 1:7 also bears witness with this fact, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Christ has made redemption both eternal and available to all who confess Him. The moment one is born again, redemption is immediately ours and Satan's dominion over us ends. Redemption has nothing to do with us, it is according to the riches of His grace. We were crucified with Him, died with Him, were buried with Him, suffered with Him, were justified with Him, were made alive with Him, conquered Satan with Him, were raised together with Him and are now seated with Him. (Romans 6; Ephesians 1-2) Hallelujah!!!

The resurrection of Jesus is proof of our victory over the adversary. It is not theory, but fact that cannot be denied. Every person who confesses Jesus as Lord and takes Him as Savior, in the mind of the Father is a victor over the adversary. Unfortunately, so few of the Father's children have seen this mighty truth, that is, our victory was in the victory of Christ. When Jesus broke the power of death, Satan and sin, His victory became our victory. The Apostle Paul tells us, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1) In the mind of the Father it was our translation, our deliverance, "from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love."  (Colossians 1:13)

I believe that the greatest message of our perfect victory over the adversary is found in Ephesians 1:19-23  "and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above 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. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."

The same power that resurrected Christ and united Him with His dead body to reanimate it and fill it with immortality is also in the believer. Look at the wonderful Word from God through Paul to us, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." (Ephesians 3:20) We are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) because of the life of God that was imparted to us in the new creation. It is the power of God unveiled in the resurrection that shook the foundations of hell. Today, when believers know that they were raised together with Christ, when they know they are victors in every situation and over every circumstance they may find themselves in, then they know the fact that God has lifted us far above all rule, authority, power and dominion, not only in this age, but in that which is to come.

The Father gave Christ who is the head of the body to be master over all the forces of the universe. Because we are His Body, the church, therefore, God has put all things in subjection under the believer's feet. Jesus gave to the believer a legal right to the use of His Name. (Mark 16:17) He actually gave all believers the power of attorney so that in the Name of Jesus every demon and every power should obey that Name when spoken from the lips of the believer. There isn't anything too hard for God. (Luke 1:37) God's ability is the ability that He gives to us, so His resurrection is the proof of our right to reign over Satan and demons. He was raised because He had conquered Satan in our stead, so that we should no longer live in fear, condemnation, guilt or inferiority of the unseen forces of darkness.

This is great news. This is why we can consider ourselves as "living large." We do this by God's grace and our faith in Jesus Christ. We do this knowing that "we can do all things through Jesus Christ." (Philippians 4:13) We do this knowing that “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23) And we do this knowing "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) So let us live large. Let us "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." (Ephesians 6:10) Let us live large by grace through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.. It is "in Him we live, move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)

Monday, January 22, 2024

Born From Above

 In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam a command, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17) In saying "you shall surely die" literally means "dying you shall surely die." In other words, in eating from the tree "of the knowledge of good and evil" Adam would experience death in two realm, first the spiritual realm then the physical. In the spiritual realm, his sin cut off his ability to communion with God and he became dominated by his body and soul, that is, the flesh. (Genesis 6:3) We also see this in the physical realm, after he ate of the tree, his physical body lived another 930 years (Genesis 5:5).

When Jesus met with Nicodemus, He made a very interesting statement, "Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:5-6) The key here is found in verse six. There is a distinction between the flesh (body and soul) and the spirit. Notice, "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." In other words, the human spirit is born (born again) of God's Spirit. After Adam fell, all people were now spiritually dead and were in need to be born of God's Spirit. In order for this to happen, God would have to reverse what Adam did. As believers, we know this was accomplished through Jesus Christ. But how?

Isaiah 53:9 tells us, "And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death..."  However, in the Hebrew the word "death" is plural, deaths. This indicates that Jesus died both spiritually and physically. Isaiah also tells us, "...And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6) The Apostle Paul tells us, "For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us..." (2 Corinthians 5:21) God made Jesus sin with our sin. Paul tells us, "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23) We know that Jesus was sinless, (Hebrews 4:15) so it was not His physical death that gives humanity the right and privileged to be born again of the Spirit, but His spiritual death that paid the price and now provides "...the gift of God, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Keep in  mind that Jesus was fully human. It was not the Holy Spirit in Him that became sin, but Jesus' human spirit.  

The Apostle Paul tells us, "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." (Romans 6:6) The old man (the old spiritually dead, satanic nature) is dead, so let it be dead and live in the newness of life. Paul tells us, "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection." (Romans 6:5) "even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." (Ephesians 2:5) "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses." (Colossians 2:13) Here we witness the miracle of the eternities which took place in the depths of hell where Jesus was "Justified in the Spirit," (1 Timothy 3:16) where Jesus was, "...put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18) 

How it must have shaken the foundation of hell when they saw Him made alive breaking the bonds of spiritual death, "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Revelation 1:18) The Father said of Jesus after He was made alive, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You." (Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33) Paul reveals, "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18) Jesus Himself was the fist to be born again and has now opened the door of redemption to all to become as He is. PTL

Paul tell us, "Jesus was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification." (Romans 4:25) In hell God declared Jesus righteous and alive and at the same time counted us righteous and alive also. We are now new creations, (2 Corinthians 5:17) His sons and daughters. (1 John 3:1) The moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, new birth became a reality in us and "our old man was crucified with Him," it died. Jesus tells us, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) So let us say goodby to the old man, and live in the fullness of the new abundant life in Christ Jesus.

Monday, January 15, 2024

How Much Does It Cost

In every area of life, someone or something determines when enough is enough. When one has had enough to eat; sleep; work; learn and so on. But what about for the believer, especially when it comes to the Christian experience. When does a believer ever forgive enough; love enough; serve enough; give enough, etc.? Although believers have freewill, is it really their decision when they have had enough of the Christian experience? Whether we want to believe or not, the answer is no. Now with that said, God certainly is not going to forbid believers from exercising their own will, but the truth is, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) 

You see, many believers like the idea that all aspects of salvation such as grace, righteousness, prosperity, healing etc. are all free and they are, meaning that we cannot earn them by our works. However, they still come with a price. The moment that a person confesses with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, believes in the heart that God raised Him from the dead and takes Jesus as their Savior, they are instantly born again, (2 Corinthians 5:17), but it does cost a price.  First and foremost, it cost God the Father the greatest expense of all. The death of His only Begotten Son. If one truly takes Jesus as Lord and Savior, then, as Paul tells us, "you are not your own? For you were bought at a price" meaning, you and I have just relinquished our rights to the Lord Jesus.

Numerous times Jesus spoke to His disciple about the cost of being one of His disciples. For instance, Jesus says, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:21); “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:25-26) Jesus goes on and talks about the cost involved in building a tower and going to war. In other word, believers should never come to a place where they have had enough of the Christian experience. In the world, we work hard to earn a living, to perfect a skill, or to become stronger and better in what we do. But do we honestly put as much effort into becoming a stronger, better, child of God? Do we really desire to be such?

Moses was a man who went from a prince of Egypt, to a shepherd, to a man used of God to perform  miracles. He often had unspeakable encounters in God's glory, from the burning bush (Exodus 3); to receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19 - 20); to meeting with God in the tabernacle of meeting that he pitched outside the camp of Israel (Exodus 33:7) Yet in all of these supernatural encounters with God he was not satisfied. He asks God, "Please show me Your glory." (Exodus 33:18) Honestly, to be in the glory of Gods presence just one time, like the burning bush, would be enough for most believers, but not for Moses. He wanted more of God.

The apostle Paul reveals the same, "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; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11)      

Every thing that most would consider advantageous to get along or even get ahead in the world as viewed from the natural sense, Paul considered them rubbish in what he had gained in his service of Christ. If that was not enough. he goes on to say "that I may know Him." Without doubt, Paul had a close intimate relationship with Christ. We can ascertain this by the "abundance of revelation" that he received from the Lord. (2 Corinthians 12:7) Yet, like Moses, he wanted more. Paul desired to become fully acquainted with Christ's nature, his character, his work, and with the salvation which He had made available to man. This should be the highest desire in the heart and mind of every believer, to know Christ in a deeper more intimate way. To desire to live in the glory of God's presence. 

Although to some this may sound impossible or even far-fetched, but it is not only possible, but a desire of God for His children. Jesus gives us an invitation, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 13:28-30) He also tells us, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit." (John 15:5) What an intimate connection believers have with the Savior. In His prayer for all believers,  He says, "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them." (John 17:22) The writer of Hebrews says, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) The Apostle Peter exhorts us to, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18) The Apostle John tells us, "truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3) 

As we can see, God has a desire to fill us to overflowing and then some. He is inexhaustible in everything. As a matter of fact, Paul tells us, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." (Ephesians 3:20) So let us never be satisfied with our Christian faith at any time. Let us desire to be in God's presence 24/7. As the Psalmist said, "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) Let our desire be HIM!!!                

Monday, January 8, 2024

In HIM is Life

In 1966 singer/actor,  Frank Sinatra, recorded the song "That's Life." Here is the first stanza of the song; "That's life (that's life), that's what all the people say, you're ridin' high in April, shot down in May, but I know I'm gonna change that tune when I'm back on top, back on top in June." But what kind of life is there when you are on top one moment then go to the bottom the next? Actually, it is the only type of life that the world can provide, because it is based on a system that is completely corrupted by Satan. Jesus tells us, "The thief (Satan) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy..." (John 10:10) Living life steeped in the world is why so many people are on a roller-coaster ride which never seems to end. They have bought into the world system so much and even though they sometimes feel hopeless and even hurt, they still believe that this is life. But is it?    

When Jesus walked on the earth as the Son of Man, He introduced a new type of life that no one had ever been exposed to. He put it this way, "...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) What was this life? The Greek word here for life is, Zoe. It means eternal life, God's life, life as God has it. This new kind of life is the very nature of God. It has the ability to produce certain changes that can literally be seen in ones life. When one confesses the Lord Jesus Christ and takes Him as Savior, God's life immediately enters. Almost at once, you can see it in a person's habits. You can hear it in their speech. It changes ones conduct. It corrects bad habits and forms new ones and even causes ones countenance to radically change. 

It is essential to the believers life to come to understand the depths of God's life in us. The Apostle Paul tells us, "For if because of one man's trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)." (Romans 5:17 AMP) This means that every one of us who has been born again has received the life of God and has come into a kingly state. We are accepted by God to reign as kings in the realm of life. We are no longer slaves in the realm of spiritual death, but we have passed out of death, that is, Satan's realm, into the realm of life. Paul states it this way, "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." (Colossians 1:13) Man was never made to be a slave. He was made in the image and likeness of God to reign as a king. 

Man was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God's presence without guilt, condemnation or inferiority. Psalm 8:4-6 points to this very specifically, "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands..." The phrase, "For you have made him a little lower than the angels" is key to understanding how God created man. In the Hebrew word angels is Elohim, which is also the name given to God as Creator and Judge. So, a literal translation of this phrase is, "For you have made him a little lower than God." How wonderful it that? That means God has made us as much like Himself as he possibly could (man was not created as deity as God is, but a perfect man). He made us the same class of being that He Himself is. He made man with an intellect of such caliber that he could name every animal, vegetable, and fruit, and give them names that would describe their characteristics.

Let's look at this in creation. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)  The Hebrew word translated "breath" is the same word translated "spirit" all through the Old Testament. In other words, God took something of Himself, which was spirit, the life of God, and put it into man. This is why Romans 5:17 is a verse of scripture that we need to get into our heart. God made man to rule as a king over the works of His hands. This should bring all believers to a revelation bringing an end to the weakness, we're just lowly sinners saved by grace, or beggars before a Holy God, message.

Although man lost his place, his dominion and authority over all the works of God's hand by high treason, it does not mean that he is without it forever, on the contrary. The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world, God put on flesh to restore mans position. The Apostle John tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1, 14) Now on the grounds of what the Lord Jesus Christ did (that is, His substitutionary sacrifice), God is able to redeem us from sin and through faith in Jesus Christ is able to impart to us His very nature, eternal life, His very own life.  (1 John 2:25) God has adopted everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord and has placed us into His own family, so that we can call Him Father. (Romans 8:15-16)  

The Apostle Paul tells us, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." (Ephesians 3:14-15)  In the new birth, we are brought into union with Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, far to many believers only think that new birth is simply the forgiveness of sin. They don't know about the intimate union that we have in Christ. Jesus tells us of this very thing, "I am the vine, you are the branches." (John 15:5) The union that the believer has with Christ through the new birth has bestowed upon us the lost dominion and authority man had in the Garden of Eden. 

Look what Paul tells us concerning this very thing, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16) The Apostle John says it this way, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life, the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us, that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." (1 John 1:1-4) 

I want to challenge you to read scriptures like these and speak them aloud. Right now say, "I am the temple of the living God. I've got God the Holy Spirit living in me. I have the God kind of life in me. I have fellowship with the Father and the Son." Some of these great Bible truths released from the lips of faith will release us, and enable us to dominate and reign in life as kings through Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be with you...

Saturday, December 30, 2023

New Year, New Hope

New Year's Day is observed on January 1st, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. New Year's Day is probably the most celebrated public holiday throughout the world. It is often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on the evening of December 31st, New Year’s Eve, and continue into the early hours of January 1st, New Year’s Day. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, and watching fireworks displays. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 700-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds.

Another tradition that has emerged from the celebration of New Years is making what is called "New Year Resolution(s)." A New Year resolution is a tradition described as a person making a promise to do an act of self-improvement in ones life. Although New Year resolutions are numerous, the ones on the top of most lists are, improve physical well-being; lose weight; exercise more; eat better; quit smoking; get out of debt, save money; volunteer to help others; spend quality time with family members; be closer to God; be more spiritual. Basically, people are looking at making a new start, establishing a new beginning. Although the thought behind a New Year resolution is somewhat commendable, according to statistics, only eight percent of New Year resolutions made are accomplished.

In the list above the last two resolutions mentioned are what all believers should not only consider as a New year resolution, but make them a daily lifestyle. The Apostle James tells us, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." (James 4:8) The believers greatest desire should no doubt be to to have a close intimate relationship with God, daily. The Apostle Paul exhorts us a number of times to "Know or have the knowledge of God." "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (Colossians 1:9) "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him." (Ephesians 1:17) In the John 17 prayer, Jesus says, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3)    

Not only should believers have a desire to "know" the Lord, but they should act upon it. The prophet Hosea tells us, "My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me." (Hosea 4:6 NLT) Many believers today are dealing with issues that are not from God, but from Satan such as poverty, sickness, inability to break free of ungodly habits and sin, simply because they do not know the Lord. The word "know" and "knowledge" are defined as having intimate, complete, full, precise, correct knowledge. God has given us His Word, the Bible, for that purpose. He has made Himself known to humanity through His Word. It is unfortunate though, that most believers are limited in their knowledge of God. Notice, that the Apostle Paul tells us, "that you may be filled with the knowledge (precise and correct knowledge) of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (Colossians 1:9)            

We are to have intimate knowledge of God not by-way-of intellectual or theoretical knowledge, but in all spiritual knowledge. It is the knowledge of God that is revealed to the recreated spirit, not the mind. Spiritual knowledge is what sets to flight all the erroneous doctrines created by the intellect that contradict God's Word. Spiritual knowledge builds ones faith (Romans 10:17) and connects us to God in the spirit. Jesus tells us, "For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24) which means, we can only connect with God through the recreated spirit. All the intellectual knowledge that one can gather, will not connect us in an intimate way with God. Jesus also tells us, "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)  

So, this New Years, let us not make a resolution to be closer to God or be more spiritual and then let it fall away in a short period of time, but let us permit the grace of God to work in our lives daily giving us the strength and ability to know Him. The Apostle Paul reveals his desire to know Jesus in an intimate way when he said, "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; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11)

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all throughout this new year. May 2024 be a year of knowing God in such an intimate way that our lives "are being transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18) Have a wonderful, healthy, prosperous and fruitful New Year for His glory...