A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Seeking God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seeking God. Show all posts

December 8, 2023

A Lesson To Be Learned... Be Careful Who You Make Covenants With!

In my Biblical worldview, I know the value of the Bible in revealing God's principles by which He governs His creation. I am always searching the Word for clues of why our country [and the world] are experiencing the struggles we face. And I also subscribe to the axiom that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". That has been true in Biblical history as well as down through the centuries.

It is easy to say this adage is just a consequence of our human flaws, but there is actually a correlation between God's commandments and the ability [or inability] of man's obedience to follow them. The rules, so to speak, by which God intends man to live have not changed just because we have technology the ancient Israelites did not possess. We may have convinced ourselves that we are above those commandments, and no longer need to follow them, but any fool can take a look at the degradation of our society and culture, and know that something is dreadfully wrong. So, is there a Biblical correlation to the destruction of America that we see today? Let me see if I can show you one parallel story that might point the way to our understanding. 

As I have said before, God's Word is multi-dimensional, and often I find the Holy Spirit directing me to connect the dots in Scripture. So, I'm going to start in Exodus 23, in order to lay the groundwork of how God's "spiritual mechanics" work in the lives of men; past, present, and future.

To begin, we need to understand that God always keeps His promises; and He never breaks them. In Exodus 23, God promises the Israelites conquest of the land of Canaan. "Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him". [NOTE: the angel is Jesus. And according to the website, wearehebrew, the name of God is Yahua, and the name of Jesus is Yahusha -- so we find that God's name is in Him, just as Scripture says]. 

God goes on to promise, "But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces".  Then comes the qualifier: "You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” 

Next, we jump to Joshua 9, and the conquest of Canaan and those pagan tribes. Notice that it is God who is going to execute the conquest of these Canaanites. And according to the rules of war for the cities inside the land of Canaan,  (Deuteronomy 20:16b-18), Joshua and the Israelites were to destroy all the people in the land because they worshiped false gods and would teach the people of Israel to follow their gods. Incidentally, there was also a rule of war for the cities who were outside the land of Canaan, and lived "far away" ... they were to be offered peace, and allowed to live as slaves to the conquering Israelites. If they refused, they would be killed, just as the citizens of Jericho and Ai.

And here's where we see an interesting, yet all-too-familiar circumstance in Joshua, Chapter 9. The Canaanite tribes heard of the victories of the Israelites and amassed together to go up against them. Joshua and his army are approaching the city of Gibeon, and the inhabitants knew that if the Israelites obeyed God's rules of war, they were doomed to be killed, so they plotted to deceive Joshua by approaching him and telling him,  “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us” (Joshua 9:3-6). Joshua was obedient to the commandments of the Lord to spare those cities who lived far away, and Scripture says, "Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them" (Joshua 9:15). But when he learned that the Gibeonites had deceived him and were actually their neighbors within the land of Canaan, he still honored the covenant with them, saying, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them”.   

Now, let's move on to the next dot we need to connect. We find King David in 2 Samuel 21 seeking to understand why there has been a three-year famine in the land. A famine that lasts one or two years might be contributed to punishment for sins of the people in the land, but when it lingered into the third year, David wisely sought the Lord's counsel to see if there was some spiritual authority that had been breached. And the answer from the Lord came to David: “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 

Now, this must have sent a chill down the back of King David! He knew that in the days of Joshua -- some 400 years before David's time! -- Israel had sworn not to harm the Gibeonites. God expected Israel to keep its promise, even though the Gibeonites tricked Israel into making the agreement. Saul’s crime was not only in killing the Gibeonites but also in breaking this ancient and important oath. In his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah, Saul had sinned and brought calamity upon the nation. 

So, what was the result of this disobedience and how was it to be resolved so that God would release Israel from the famine? David needed to make atonement for the wrongs done to the Gibeonites and for dishonoring the covenant between them and Joshua. To the Gibeonites credit, they understood that the brutality against them was past sin from a past leader. They didn't demand money, or land, or to go to war. But they did want justice! To satisfy the bloodguilt of Saul, the Gibeonites demanded that David give up seven sons of Saul to be hanged on a mountaintop. [I think it is possible that these sons/descendants of Saul might have partaken in the slaughter of the Gibeonites, although that is not specifically stated]. And it must be mentioned that David spared Jonathon's son Miphiboseth because of a covenant of friendship and peace he made with Jonathan that was to last through their descendants forever [1 Samuel 20]. David was wise enough not to fix a broken covenant by breaking another.

In the end, David directed that justice be done on behalf of the Gibeonites so that the Lord might release them from the famine, which had been brought upon the land because of a broken covenant. There are so many principles that are important for us to see in this ancient story, which spanned over 400 years. And these principles are just as valid for us today, in the United States of America, as it was for ancient Israel. We must discern that God expects us to keep our promises, oaths made in His Name, and the covenants we make. He expects the same from nations. God does not excuse us from our obligations to keep those promises because of the passage of time. And it is possible that God's discipline and correction may come a long time after the offense -- but it will come!  

Furthermore, because of the importance God puts on honoring covenants and promises, we can be confident that He will honor those He makes with us. So, I think we have to ask ourselves if our nation has honored its promises and covenants with other nations as well as to us, its citizens. And I think we have to go all the way back to the founding of America, and examine where we have broken covenant -- especially with our God! Is it any wonder that our nation seems to be deteriorating before our eyes? That doesn't mean God hasn't [or won't] answer any of our prayers... I have certainly been blessed, as has our country. BUT there will come a time when He will deal with our [accumulated sin] -- that makes me shudder at the extent of it! -- and like Israel, He will discontinue answering our prayers until we deal with it and seek atonement and forgiveness. 

Is that time upon us? Are we on the verge of seeing unanswered prayers which will devastate our nation beyond anything we have yet experienced? If that is where we're at, we can learn from King David, and do what He did ... seek God's counsel to address and fix the broken promises. We don't need to seek counsel from Congress, politicians, and sadly, from most of the Churches, who don't have the answer because they don't see the spiritual mechanics of their own sins, nor their complicity with making a 50l(c)(3) covenant with a body of people who have sinned against God and His principles. Simply stated: God is the answer to our problems! He always has been! But time is running out, and we need to set aside our personal and national pride, humble ourselves and pray; seek His Face, and turn from our wicked ways. If we are not willing to do that, we cannot and will not see Him hear us, or forgive us, or heal our land. The choice is ours, just as it was Joshua's and King David's. We can learn from them. We need to learn from their examples, or we can expect God to deal with our sins.  

#makingcovenants; #breakingcovenants; #rightingwrongs; #consequencesofsin; #Exodus23; #Joshua9; #Deuteronomy20; #2Samuel21; #1Samuel20; #Gibeonitesrevenge; #KingDavid; #atonement; #seekingGod

Proverbs 3:5-7.    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes, but fear the Lord and shun evil.



November 1, 2020

If You Don't Know Who You Are ... This Is For You!


We are just days away from what I believe is perhaps the most important U.S. election in our nation's history; or at least in my lifetime. This election may very well determine whether we remain in God's favor and are able to rectify our national sins and renew the covenant made with Him through the Mayflower Compact -- or if we will continue in our moral decay and rebellion, and find this nation becoming the subject of His discipline. 

I sense the heightened state of uncertainty and concern among my Christian friends. Although they know that, no matter the outcome, we will endure through our faith in Jesus, they know the future may not be without persecution, hardship, and violence. We may be citizens of Heaven, but we still have to live in this world. This is where the rubber meets the road. They are having to dig down deep and stay focused on the Lord [in faith]. But imagine the levels of fearfulness and anxiety among those whose security does not lie in Jesus! And it is to those people that I am writing today.

I cannot tell you the number of people I see that are struggling over the precariousness of our national predicament. People that I love are suffering from anxiety attacks, migraines, and sleepless nights. They feel like they are adrift with no anchor. Everything that they thought they could count on is in danger of being taken from them... jobs, retirement, homes, health, safety. And all I have to offer them is Jesus. If only I could get them to understand that He is all they need! He is their anchor and security -- if they will only reach out for Him! 

What I hear most often is, "But, I don't know how!" And I know for a fact that the Jesus that's been presented to them by "the religious Church" seems rigid and stringent and pretty inflexible. He's not very inviting to the generations who have been spoon-fed the "life is too short not to have fun" or the "he who dies with the most toys wins" social philosophies. Religious rules and control, combined with hypocrisy makes the Christian lifestyle appear wearisome, joyless, and uninspiring. So, people look to the world, and it becomes all about presenting the image of having the perfect life -- happy personal life, accomplished career, and being exceptionally popular. The only thing is.... when you are focused on meeting those standards, you lose sight of who you were designed to be; the unique, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind human being you were created to be. And most significantly, you get so caught up in chasing after the world's acceptance, that there is no desire to meet the One who created you.

When you let the world identify you according to its standards, nothing is real. We have become a nation of people defined by who the world decides we are. Social Media determines whether you are "accepted" or "deleted". So everyone tries to present an image of themselves that will be applauded and approved -- whether it is a true representation of who you are or not. And so we fabricate a reality for ourselves that will garner the most "likes" and establish us as uniquely qualified to stand out from the crowd. But in reality, we're not standing out at all -- we are all just trying to meet the same criteria that society has determined is the ideal.

We've been conditioned to think that it matters what the crowd thinks of us. And because of that mindset, we've become so busy trying to fashion a unique personality online that we've lost sight of our true self or value. And I see this phenomenon across the spectrum of people's lives! If you're a Christian, then you've got to appear "more Christian" than others. And if you are of the world, then your accomplishments must outshine all your real, and not-so-real, "friends" on Social Media. 

When that fails to register on the self-esteem meter, then we usually find ourselves searching for a deeper meaning to life. And I think that is instinctive in all humans because there is an innate part of our makeup that knows there is something higher than ourselves. So, we go the route of self-help books, and psychology gurus who promise to guide you to "your best self", offering hidden "secrets" and "divine directions" to happiness and fulfillment. But here's the thing -- you can't do it on your own. You will never be complete or whole or content until you realize that there is something beyond this world and what it can offer you. 

If you get that far in your personal quest, then you usually begin searching for answers in various belief systems. And there are many to choose from; each with their own gods who offer you differing benefits. The Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam all offer varying themes of "self-improvement" through obtaining knowledge, status, or character by one's own efforts. And of course, each religion has their own gods to worship. These are not the only religions that are available by far -- whatever you are seeking, there is a religion that will promise to deliver.

There are lots of belief systems and faiths to choose from; and lots of gods who can offer you what you think you're looking for.  BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD WHO IS THE MOST HIGH GOD -- THE GOD WHO CREATED YOU! There is only one God who made you in His image. He is Spirit and at your core, you are spirit. There is only one God who wrote your name down in His Book of Life with all that He created you to be and all He has planned for you in this life. Furthermore, this God has known you since He created the world, the universes, and the stars. He decided when you would be transformed from spirit and transferred into this suit of flesh. And He will determine how long you will be on the earth to accomplish His will for you in "this life" before you return to your "home" in His heavenly Kingdom.

You see, for each one of us, "this life" is not about meeting the expectations of a world that is centered on self-idolatry, self-indulgence, or self-glorificaton; it's not about comparing oneself to those perceived as  powerful or important or popular. We are here to fulfill a destiny recorded in Heaven. We are here to point a self-absorbed world towards a relationship with their Creator; to share the true sense of "belonging" and acceptance that comes from knowing Jesus, whose love is beyond description, and the depth of which cannot be matched on this earth. It is that amazing love that will strengthen and protect and fight for us through whatever our nation is destined for in the coming months and years. It is the only thing that will get us through the difficulties of life and the only thing that fills that emptiness inside us when we feel we don't matter to the world.

So, if you are worried about this election and are fearful or anxious; or you're feeling depressed and suffer from self-loathing because you don't "measure up", I want you to know that your Creator, Jesus Christ, sees you. He hears what you tell yourself, and He sees your anxiety, your migraines, and your sleepless nights. He wants you to know that unlike what is projected across your computer and TV screens, HE IS REAL. And He has the answers if you are willing to stop seeking your value from the world. If you are ready to know who you were made to be, what your purpose is, and all He has planned for you, then take a chance on Him. He won't force Himself on you; He just wants to show you who you really are. He's not about religion -- He's about relationship! I promise you that all the world has to offer is nothing in comparison to that intimate relationship. 

Now, more than ever, you need Jesus. He's the answer to the world's problems, and He's your answer to becoming all you are meant to be! And if you don't how to begin that relationship, it's easy -- just ask Him to come into your life. Tell Him you want to begin that relationship and you want to know Him. Ask Him to make Himself known in your heart. And then wait and listen. Shut out the seductive voice of the world, and get quiet. Talk to Him like He's your best friend [because He is]. All the love and acceptance you've been seeking from the world is found in Jesus. All you have to do is begin and take that first step. And I will be praying for you.... 

NOTE: As many of you know, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have written a book entitled, Through A Kingdom Lens: Re-discovering What The Church Lost. It is about helping Christians understand the greater message Jesus came to bring ... that the Kingdom of God is here on earth and our Salvation is just the first part of our purpose in our faith. We are to move from our Salvation experience into the Kingdom of God as Ambassadors to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom and defeat the kingdom of darkness controlled by Satan. But the Holy Spirit has put it on my heart that this book is not relevant for the millions who don't yet know Jesus. The circumstances of this world are frightening and too many people don't know where to turn to feel safe and secure. They need to be introduced to their Creator and why it is important that they know Him and develop a relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit has given me my next assignment to write a book to help make that introduction -- not in a religious manner, but in a personal, welcoming and non-threatening way, so that they desire to know their Creator, and He becomes their Savior. We must find a way to reach these people who will otherwise become victims of the Enemy with what's coming on the world. And so I begin this new assignment. Please pray that my obedience will touch the hearts of the lost. 

Zephaniah 3:17    The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with shouts of joy.


April 16, 2020

Lord, Let Them Remain Steadfast!


     Over the last weeks and months that Covid-19 has engulfed the world, there has been an outcry among the peoples of the nations as they turn to God for comfort. Some of these people are practicing Believers who have never wavered from their faith; some are returning to a faith that they abandoned; and still others are new converts seeking a relationship they have rejected in the past. Whatever the reasons, I am hopeful that the intentions of these hearts are founded in a true desire and hunger for the Lord.
     I am hopeful when I see headlines on Christian websites that say, Popular Pastor Sees Thousands Come To Christ Amid Coronavirus Chaos, and another like this one, 'The BIG Reset': God Is Using The Current Crisis as a Catalyst for Global Great Awakening. And I want to believe quotes such as this: "We are coming together in a unity of heart and mind and people are praying and looking to God for answers. We are lovingly caught in the captivity of the Lord and the Enemy is losing big time!"
     It is a fact that since this virus made its appearance on the world stage we have witnessed our lives slowing down, embracing a simpler lifestyle that is absent of all the distractions of the world, and yes, it's been a fantastic opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord and to have the time to seek Him. Heaven knows that we probably would not have seen these changes in our personal lives without being forced into it by the pandemic. So, I am grateful for the news that people are turning to God, and I pray that the numbers increase exponentially as the Spirit of the Lord infuses hearts.
     But most of all, I pray that this "revival" is lasting. If you sense a certain amount of doubt in the tone of my words, I want to make it clear that I believe the transformation in people's lives is real. I believe that they are truly seeking a renewal of their relationship with God, whether they knew Him before or not. And the unity and prayers are genuine and authentic. And, God help me, I want to believe the hope being expressed that this is the worldwide revival we've been praying for; that it is a hope that will actually be realized.
     I want to believe it! But my spirit keeps cautioning me, "Don't sell the Enemy short" and "Haven't we seen this throughout history so many times before?" How many times did the Israelites turn to God in the midst of their crises, hear His voice and experience His deliverance, and then return to their rebellious ways? After being saved from the ten plagues and the Angel of Death in Egypt, and receiving the Ten Commandments, it only took months for the Israelites to turn back to worshiping the golden calf. Of course, they rationalized it to themselves as representing "your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4).
     In addition, the Old Testament is full of the history of the kings of Judah and Israel and how they led their peoples through cycles of revival and rebellion. The New Testament Churches of Christianity all began in the spirit of undaunting faith and commitment to the Lord, but we see [just in the lifespan of the Apostle John] how they struggled to stay focused on "their first love". When John received "the revelation of Jesus Christ", the Lord referred to these churches as the Loveless Church (Ephesus), the Persecuted Church (Smyrna), the Compromising Church (Pergamus), the Corrupt Church (Thyratira), the Dead Church (Sardis), and the Lukewarm Church (Laodicea). Only the Church at Philadelphia was called Faithful. But none of these Churches exist today, and in most of these cities there are no churches or Christians at all.
     In our own lifetime, we saw the resurgence of faith in the Lord after September, 2001. But look how short a time that lasted and the overwhelming increase of "worldliness" and moral corruption that was eagerly received in the scant 19 years since. Again, I earnestly pray that the hope of revival we see today in the midst of this pandemic will be lasting and real! But as the hope for a return to normalcy and the opening of our economy looms before us, I have to wonder how quick will people return to their old ways? How long will this newfound spirit of revival last?
     Adding to my concerns, I am hearing increased talk that we could be coming close to Jesus's return. While I agree that Biblical signs like plagues and increasing earthquakes bring that scenario to mind, I sense that what we are feeling are "the birth pangs" Jesus mentions in Matthew 24:8. In other words, we know that this age in which Satan's kingdom of darkness rules will be replaced with a new age in which we will see the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on earth. And Jesus tells us in just a few short verses later that the end of this age will occur when the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached in all the world (Matthew 24:14). The Western Church has just begun to rediscover the truth of this Gospel, and we've a long way to go to see it spread to all the nations. And, as I don't need to remind you, "no man knows the hour or the day". However, we are to discern the season and I clearly discern the "birth pangs". So, I just want to end with a fervent prayer that this spirit of revival and renewal will grow, even as we contemplate a return to "life before Covid-19". Please pray with me:

Father God,

I know that revival and repentance are at the heart of the Lord for His people. And I rejoice in the voices raised to You in this hour of our national and global crisis. The peoples of the world are hungry and thirsty for Your Word and Your Spirit! I see them being revived by Your Living Water and the Bread of Life that is our Lord, Jesus Christ. I see the power of the Holy Spirit sweeping our land, igniting a fire in the faithful and I pray that You will fan this fire into a conflagration that destroys all the works and schemes of the Enemy! 

And, Father, I pray that you will break down any barriers that would impede or interfere with Your efforts to call Your chosen in this time. Let Your hand be upon each man, woman, and child of Your right hand; upon all people whom You have made strong for Your purpose of advancing Your Kingdom on the earth. Let us not turn back from You. Accelerate our ability to carry out our Kingdom assignments, and order our steps according to Your plan.  

Father, let it be said of this generation that we cleansed our hands of the sins, transgressions, and iniquities of our past; purified our hearts to be worthy of You; and that in Your Mercy, You awakened our spirits to walk in Holy Fear of Your Name. Let us be Your instrument by which all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. 

Father, I pray that we will not abandon our hearts for this revival! When we falter, renew our strength, so that we shall run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. It is my prayer that this refreshing spirit of revival will not wane, but grow ever stronger until the whole world calls upon  Your Holy and Mighty Name! This is my humble but solemn prayer. Amen! 

Psalm 86:9-10   All the nations You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name. For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God.


December 11, 2019

Jesus's Gift of the Holy Spirit


     At this time of year, we Christians contemplate the gift of the Son of God to mankind. It still blows my mind that God would send a part of Himself to this earth to deliver me from the penalty of eternal death. That precious baby in the manger spent the next 30 years preparing for his short-lived ministry of three years which would change the world forever.
     But even though the Son of God only walked the earth for 33 years, He left us a gift that in many ways was His greatest act for mankind: the gift of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I know that Eternal Life is unquestionably a gift that is beyond compare, and one that will keep on giving for eternity. But note that I said the gift of the Holy Spirit was an act for mankind.  For the time that I am on this earth, the Holy Spirit is my source of power to fulfill my assignment for the Kingdom.
     Yes, we each have a purpose and an assignment. And it surpasses our salvation experience. Have you ever wondered if accepting Jesus as your Savior is the sole intention of God for your life? How many have thought that after coming to that glorious decision, you receive Christ, and then automatically begin a new life filled with a new purpose and a new way to live in this world? Are you disappointed that life still seems the same in so many ways? And how many Christians do you know who still struggle, even though they have heard it preached a dozen times or more that they are "a new creation", but have no evidence of that reality in their lives?
     I think that sometimes we believe that the importance of Jesus is summed up in His life, ministry, death, and resurrection. That seems to be where many in the Body of Christ stop in their understanding of what He has done for them. But I urge you to read John, Chapter 14, because what Jesus has to say to His disciples is just as relevant for us [and perhaps even more so, since I believe the Body of Christ has lost some of the magnitude and importance of His message].
     In this chapter, Jesus is informing the Disciples that He will soon be leaving them to return to His Father in Heaven, stressing the truth that everything He has taught them was not by His own authority, but the Father's, who dwelt in Him. Furthermore the works [miracles] Jesus had done were evidence of the power [and works] of the Father [in Jesus].
     Then Jesus says something that every Christian should rejoice in: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." Can you comprehend that Jesus is telling us that because we believe in Him as our Savior, we will do the works that He did, and it will be possible for the same reason it was possible for Him -- because the power of the Father is in us [to do His works]? How can that be? We have the ability to do the works of the Father -- the same works Jesus did -- because our Lord tells us that He will send a Helper to be with us forever.
    Let me continue ... Jesus says this Helper is "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." Of course, that Helper is the Holy Spirit, which is the very breath of the Father. So, just like Jesus, we have the power of the Father dwelling in us to do His works. Then Jesus tells them, "I will not leave you as orphans" And here is where I think that we 21st Century believers run into a stumbling block. I believe we often act like orphans. And here is why ...
     In John 14 Jesus tells the Disciples, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." I will tell you that I am astounded at the number of Christians who do not know the Word; who do not read, let alone study and know their Bible. We act like orphans who don't know we are part of God's Kingdom family even though we are saved, which gives us the right to enter the Kingdom as sons and daughters of the King! (Read John 3:5).
     Have you ever tried to give your theological view to another Christian that, based on your salvation, you are now an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven; stationed here to represent your King's way of living, and have been given an assignment to continue His works on the earth to defeat the works of the devil and reclaim dominion of the earth as God intended in Genesis? Well, I have, and the question I usually get is, "Can you show me where it says that in the Bible"? At that moment, I know they have not read the Word for themselves, nor have they received revelation from the Holy Spirit. And you don't have to be a biblical scholar, having spent years studying the Scriptures. Just read the Book of Matthew and it should open the eyes of your heart to see the truth of the Kingdom and our purpose! I do not put myself forward as someone special or anointed; I am just an obedient follower of Christ who one day woke up with a hunger to know, for myself, what the Bible could reveal to me. And I do not credit my human mind, but the mind and the heart of the Holy Spirit to show me what I could not discern on my own.
     How many of you, like me, sat in churches for years and were never encouraged to read the Word for ourselves or to seek a relationship with the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls "the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." Is the Body of Christ willing to be taught? Do they hunger to know and remember all that Jesus has said to us through His Word? Sometimes I wonder. Because the concept of the Kingdom is not that hard to discover if you spend anytime at all with the Holy Spirit in the Bible! And just because I can't give you Chapter and verse that I'm an ambassador of the Kingdom, etc., does not mean that my theological view of the Kingdom and my position and responsibilities to my King (stated above) are not the truth. 
     So, I will state Proverbs 25:2 again, as I have so many times before, It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out. That's Chapter and verse. but are they going to accept that word to mean that it is incumbent upon us to not only read the Word, But how many will seek the counsel and direction from the Holy Spirit to connect the dots in all of Scripture to receive greater revelation than just what we've heard someone else preach or teach? For instance, to even comprehend this verse in Proverbs it means we have to understand that we are "kings and priests" as is written in Revelation 5:10, And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth (KJV).
     In summary, the Lord had three years to spend with the Disciples to teach them all the Father wanted them to know and to do. Knowing that He would be crucified, resurrected, and returning to the Father, Jesus made sure to let His Disciples know that He would not leave them alone; that He would send the Holy Spirit to help them continue God's plan to dwell in them and give them the power to do His works and defeat the devil, whom Jesus called "the ruler of the world" in John 14:30. Nothing has changed. He still sends the Holy Spirit to those who are called His disciples. It's the greatest gift He could give us this side of Eternity. And we have all of our lives to receive this teaching!
     I pray that the Body of Christ will celebrate not only the birth of the Christ child this season, but will seek greater understanding of the Kingdom of God through the Word of our Lord. It is my prayer that all who love Jesus will embrace the gift of the authority and power of God [in us] to grow us in the wisdom and the knowledge of the height, the breadth, the width, the depth and the immeasurable revelation of the Holy Spirit to guide us to seek His Kingdom. It's more than we've thought, folks. Salvation is the entry point into the Kingdom. There is more for us to do in this life! Do not put a limit on your purpose based on your denominational doctrines, religious mindsets, or the fear that you might be deceived. You have an assignment! And if you are seeking the Kingdom, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to reveal it according to the righteous desires of your heart. Trust Him and receive Jesus's gift to faithful men on the earth. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Acts 1:8     But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

August 2, 2018

What Does Your Personal Exodus Look Like?

     I know that we live in an age where Faith is measured by New Testament standards; namely, trust in what Jesus accomplished at the Cross to secure our eternal salvation. But sometimes I have asked myself if, in never taking my eyes off Him, have I forgotten that Satan remains the "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4) and still exhibits influence over the affairs of men? Not that I should focus on the Enemy, nor give him undue credit. And ultimately, I know his strategies do not threaten the Kingdom of God on earth. But as an ambassador for that Kingdom, I think it is important that I am aware the devil has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the Light of the Good News of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. In addition, I want to make sure that His Light shines in me as a testimony for those unbelievers. I want my personal faith to be as evident as it was in the Old Testament story of the Exodus from Egypt. Does my life reflect a full transformation from the Kingdom of Darkness [in which I once lived] to the Kingdom of Light?
     I ask this question because I know it is possible for our spirits to have hope in the Lord's promises while our flesh still hears the whispers of the Enemy -- the same compromises Pharaoh offered God for the continued enslavement of the Israelites. So I want us to take a look at the ways Pharaoh negotiated with God, so that we can see how the devil still works to control man and how we can work with God to expose these lies to His Truth and Light.
     It is important to recognize that from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, it has been Satan's plan to entrap man to worship him, rather than God. As long as Adam and Eve obeyed God and trusted Him, they were a threat to Satan's plan to steal the dominion of the earth. It is the same plan the devil was running in Egypt. Pharaoh was no fool. Although the Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years, they had never abandoned their worship of God. And Pharaoh knew what a powerful force that worship was in the midst of their slavery, and understood [just like the serpent in the Garden] that this faith/worship was a threat to his kingdom.
     So, the actions taken by Pharaoh show us just how Satan still works today in keeping both unbelievers AND believers from walking in total freedom. But knowing that God is the same today as He was yesterday, I can look at Satan's agenda and apply the Bible's unerring Truth to defeat those tactics in the same way God defeated them in the Exodus story. So, let's look at the compromises Pharaoh offered and see if we can recognize the devil's same strategy in the world today.
     Remember, that Moses, as God's ambassador had continually asked Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go so they could serve and worship Him. With each of Pharaoh's emphatic "No's", God sent signs and wonders to show His unrelenting love for His people. After a series of supernatural plagues, Pharaoh offers up a solution: “Go, sacrifice to your God [here] in the land [of Egypt].” Do you see the deal Pharaoh was offering? He was willing to let the Israelites worship their God as long as they remained in his land, where there would be no change in their circumstances. The devil is willing to offer us the same deal today -- we can do acts of worship as long as we still live "in the land" of his influences. Unless we dedicate every portion of our life to God, the devil still has legal access to influence our service to the Lord.
     When that offer didn't work, and Moses rejected the terms, Pharaoh tried another tactic: “I will let you go, so that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Plead [with your God] for me.” Here, we have a picture of Satan's temptation for us to offer half-hearted worship and dedication to God... perhaps we can have it both ways? Pharaoh will allow for some change, but not complete freedom; and it still gives him the means to control God's people. The same holds true for us today. We cannot say we worship God in Truth and Spirit, and still try to hold on to some aspect of the world. Full surrender of our lives to God may seem too extreme -- even to professed Believers. But I maintain that this is the minimum God desires. It is only through our willingness to serve and worship Him in the extreme that we can expect to be fully transformed and attain freedom.

     After more plagues from the God of the Universe, the next offer from Pharaoh struck a legitimate chord with me: “The Lord be with you [to help you], if I ever let you go with your children [because you will never return]! Look [be forewarned], you have an evil plan in mind. No! Go now, you who are men, [without your families] and serve the Lord, if that is what you want.”  Pharaoh was offering the men of Israel their freedom if they would be willing to leave and abandon their children and families. Can't you see how that strategy has worked in today's culture? Whether it is unbelievers trapped in the welfare system, or believers who are chasing financial comfort, the family unit has been sacrificed for what the world likes to call "freedom". [And this doesn't even begin to cover how we have neglected to keep watch over technology and the internet and how it is enslaved our children, resulting in the breakdown in communication and identity]. But God's plan is the same today as it was in ancient Egypt: to keep families together to build generations of faithful people to honor and glorify Him. The question is this: Are we partnering [and parenting] with Him to see that happen? Or do the members of our families each go their own way, often outside of relationship with the Father?
      And now we see Pharaoh's final attempt to keep God's people in compromised slavery: “Go, serve the Lord; only your flocks and your herds must be left behind. Even your children may go with you.” In the ancient system God had set up, it was these flocks and herds of animals the Israelites needed for sacrifice to show their worship of God. If Pharaoh could convince them to give up their means of sacrifice, their worship would be meaningless. Nothing has changed. Today, we face the same test. Are we ready to dedicate all our resources to the worship of our Lord? Or are we governed by our fear that we might not have enough if we give it all? If we operate out of that fear, then the Enemy has been given legal permission to influence our minds, our emotions, and our will to fulfill our purpose for the Kingdom. This is Satan's greatest fear... families who are willing to worship God with all they have; willing to go to the extreme to please and serve Him. Nothing will be denied these kinds of people and the devil knows it. They are capable of defeating his every move and they are a real threat to his earthly realm. 
     In the end, the fate of the Israelites didn't depend on Pharaoh capitulating to God's demands to let His people go. Their fate depended on their willingness to trust Him when He told them to cover their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb. If they had not decided to "go all in" with God, they would have suffered the same consequences from the Angel of Death that the Egyptians experienced. Because they were obedient out of their faith, they received their freedom. God rewards us the same way today. We are called out of our captivity into the glorious Light of a life in Christ. When we are willing to be uncompromised -- to go to extremes to worship Him in fullness and trust -- then the Enemy has no hold on us; and we discover the purpose of our deliverance into freedom. We are brought out of our slavery in the Kingdom of Darkness and into the Kingdom of Light in our Promised Land. And no matter how long our Exodus journey is, it is worth every obstacle we face; every rejection from this world, because we are covered by that same blood of The Sacrificial Lamb and consecrated to Him alone; worshiping Him alone. We have been delivered out of our captivity into freedom, and we will sing His praises, for He is worthy to be praised!

Ephesians 5:8    Once your life was full of sin’s darkness, but now you have the very light of our Lord shining through you because of your union with him. Your mission is to live as children flooded with his revelation-light!


June 13, 2018

From Whom Do We Seek Favor? And Whom Do We Fear?

     We've all experienced it. Our faith is under constant attack by the Enemy, our culture, and even our families and fellow Believers. If our hearts are truly seeking the Lord, and those attacks come, we may begin to question whether we are steady in our walk with Him.  The next thing we know, we find ourselves seeking or desiring the favor of man in our faith lives, which can be a distraction from the fear of the Lord. But why is it so important to be cognizant of this fact; and how does it affect our journey and relationship with the Lord? If I could sum it up in one word, it would be validation. But I'd like to unpack my theory for you and share where my own self-examination has taken me.
     When it comes to our faith, and if we are seeking the favor of man, what is that really telling us? Is our identity in Christ enough for us, or do we need the approval of man to feel like our path is straight? Let's start with Proverbs 29:25 to see if we can get the answers.  And I'd like to give you several translations so we begin with a clear picture:
The fear of man brings a snare,
But whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe.

Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back.
    But when you place your confidence in the Lord,
you will be seated in the high place. (Passion)

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. (New Living Translation)
     Can you see the implications? The fear of man is a snare (a trap) because it holds you back from walking in confidence in your true identity, seated in the high place (the heavenly realms as stated in Ephesians 2:6). When you are seated with Christ, you are united with Him, and there's no safer or more secure place to be. 
     But what happens to us as we seek to grow our relationship with Christ? The Enemy comes in and lays a trap for us. As we receive wisdom and revelation from the Lord [through the Holy Spirit], we may get opposing views from people, or correction from Leadership. It leaves you with feelings of doubt ... did I really hear from the Holy Spirit? And that can be a lonely place to be. We feel separated, not only from our fellow Christians, but maybe even from God, Himself, because now there has been a disruption in that divine communication, and we've taken our focus off Him and the favor we've received from Him to seek the favor of fellow men. Because, let's face it everyone wants to be accepted.
     And that's the real meaning of "favor" -- acceptance; the reaction of a perceived superior to an inferior; presence and power. But whose favor do you really want? Whose Presence and Power do you want to walk in? And who do you fear more?  We know what we fear from men -- rejection and disapproval. But do we really understand the Fear of the Lord? That it is awe-inspired reverence and worshiping Him? Obedience and submissive wonder?
     When we let man dictate [or influence] our identity, we are going to seek acceptance and approval from this world.  If we've been hurt by the Church (and that is a very real problem today), do we find our safety and security with others who have experienced similar hurts -- or do we trust and believe that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies; that our identity is secure in Him? Do we meet to lick our wounds (or as my husband says, "commiserate over our bandaids")? Do we find comfort and validation in our kinship with fellow victims? Or do we look for our approval from the Lord and walk in our kinship with Him?
     I can tell you that I have been guilty of taking my eyes off the commission Christ has given me [and off Him, as my Commissioner]. It's so natural to want that gratification of knowing someone values you, and let's face it --- the devil will always provide that someone if it means you will step back from seeking more of the Lord, which results in lost momentum in your relationship with Him! 
     I know that I walk in an unconventional assignment from Jesus. And I have experienced negative feedback from fellow Christians when what I was seeing and hearing from God seemed so darn clear! The natural instinct is to seek a carnal affirmation to make your soul feel better [i.e., your emotions and mind]. But whenever I've taken my eyes off Jesus and what He was showing me, I've gotten stuck in that moment of hurt. The Word says it perfectly ... Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back.  My spirit grieved because I was fearing man more than I was fearing God; seeking man's favor instead of praising God for the favor He has given me in my unique assignment.
     Here's the thing ... we all have unique assignments! God didn't make us cookie cutter images of each other. He made us each in His own image! So, as you look around you, that should give you a pretty good idea of how BIG and AWESOME our God is, and make you realize that seeing the favor of man can be an exhaustive endeavor!
     BUT, you can receive the favor of God when you fear Him! Stated another way, you can receive His approval when you walk in His Presence and Power by obeying Him in the assignment He has given you!
     I want to ask you the question that Job asks in 4:6 .... Is not your fear of God your confidence?  Shouldn't we all find our validation from seeking His face and Presence, and obeying His commandments through the use of His Power? Shouldn't that be enough to feel confident about who we are? If like me, you have battled through the fear of man in order to get to your walk in the fear of the Lord, then you know this promise found in Psalm 40:4, Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who makes the Lord his trust. When we can trust the Lord's opinion over man's, we can walk in confidence; knowing we are fully approved and secure in our identity. We no longer look from side to side for our validation, but only upwards. And I promise you, you will know His acceptance and approval. His validation is true and eternal!

Psalm 37:5-6    Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.

May 10, 2018

Wolves In The Church

     I'm sure you are familiar with Jesus's Biblical warning in Matthew 7:15 which says, Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Implicit in this warning is that wolves of deceit have snuck into the Church and are ready to devour any true Christian sheep who are gullible enough [or unwise enough] to fall for their wrong teachings.
     And, boy, has the institutional Church used this alarming admonition to squelch any new revelations from God that are outside the established doctrine of any particular denomination. First of all, those who are quick to attack a fellow Christian's attempt at edifying the Body regarding something God or the Holy Spirit has revealed to them, don't bother to read Matthew 7:15 in context. Jesus says in the very next verse, You can identify them by the fruit [of their character], that is, by the way they act.  Scripture goes on to say that it's pretty obvious that you don't pick sweet grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from a tumbleweed. In other words, if you hear a different interpretation of Scripture, or a different teaching of a Biblical concept, the character of the "bringer" should be taken into account and easily discernible. If their testimony or word is plainly against Scripture, and if they don't possess a reputation of the fruits of the spirit (joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and they are not displaying the Lordship of the Spirit in their life), then you can rightly discern they are intent on damaging the Church. But if this fellow Christian is of good character, and his heart displays a visible love of the Lord, and his actions bear good fruit, then perhaps he or she should not be so quickly castigated.
     Yet, I have found far too often that the Church members will react in indignation and self-appointed authority in deciding that any new proposed understanding of Scripture that differs from the orthodox teachings is unacceptable, and it borders on either blasphemy or heresy. And that really saddens me, because this is a picture of the Church that is far different from how it began in the aftermath of Christ's resurrection and ascension.
     From the moment that the Disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter preaches the first sermon at Pentecost, the idea of "church" meant "a fellowship of believers". The Bible clearly teaches that these believers were faithful to follow the teachings of these first apostles or "sent ones". (Re-read yesterday's post on my view of what makes an apostle}. They regularly met in devoted believers' homes, with the express purpose of sharing the Lord's Supper as a sign of their unity. They prayed, studied Scripture, sang songs, and the focus was always on edifying the body of believers who were present. I think it is important to note the Apostle Paul's exhortation to these "home churches", as stated in 1 Corinthians 14:26: Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you. Do you see that in the modern Church?
     Can you see how different this is from what the modern Church has evolved into? First of all, I would like to reiterate and re-evaluate Jesus's statements in Matthew 7 ... He isn't even talking to a group of Christians gathering in a Church building or denomination as we know it today. He is talking to disciples who are following Him around the countryside, and learning from His teachings. Shouldn't that describe each of us, regardless of which denomination we claim allegiance to? And doesn't He make it clear that we should look at both the character and the actions of our fellow believer before condemning their teaching/interpretation as deceptive? There are at least 34 verses in the New Testament that speak of the importance of fruit in the life of a believer, yet we seem too eager to judge based on shared theology.
    And, yes, Scripture is sufficient for us ... it contains all there is to know about our God, but as I have quoted from Scripture over and over, God conceals the revelation of His word in the hiding place of His glory. But the honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all that God says (Proverbs 25:2). He reveals Himself through Nature; through our spirits who testify to His existence; through His Son Jesus as presented in the Bible; and finally through His written Word -- and through all these ways He gives us knowledge of Himself through our experiences with Him! It is not merely through our denominational doctrines and head knowledge! That is why the Greek translation of the New Testament talks so much about experiential knowledge -- knowledge that comes from experience.
     Have we, as the institutional Church, forgotten that God is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him? Why is it so difficult for our fellow Christians to discern that God could reveal Himself to an individual believer today through the Holy Spirit? Why are we so quick to judge a fellow believer's testimony, just because it expands on accepted doctrinal beliefs? Why can't we think God might want us to know more about Him? Do we really think our doctrine is all there is to know about God? And for mercy's sake, why are we ignoring the character and actions of our fellow believers? Do we no longer believe that the Holy Spirit leads and directs us? Before condemning someone for what they are bringing to the Church Body, can we stop for a moment and spiritually assess the heart of the person, and look to see if they have borne fruit for the Kingdom of God?
     In fact, I often wonder just how Church members assess the fruits of their fellow believers. Is it based on the number of times they have been in the pews on Sunday morning, or the number of the Church activities they are involved in? Do they ever stop to think that perhaps there is fruit they don't see -- that this believer's fruit comes from being obedient to Jesus's commands when they invite Him to be present as they lay hands on someone who is in need of healing? What about the fruit that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the spirit of unworthiness in a lonely and abandoned young girl, as this believer partners with the Spirit and Jesus to set her free from this torment.  All these experiences are revelations of the Presence of God in a believer's life and evidence that seeds are being sown and fruit is being produced.
     The Holy Spirit reveals God to our spirits through our experiences. The Holy Spirit reveals God through Bible passages; and through our thoughts, and ideas that He brings to our minds.  He is fluid and flowing; always ready to reveal an aspect of our God that magnifies Him; that amplifies His glory. John 3:8 says, For the Spirit [wind] blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound, but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born!” The Holy Spirit is not bound by Church doctrine!
     So, I ask you, how is it that Christians within the Church think they are qualified to decide how the Spirit is leading or directing a fellow believer [who exemplifies good character; whose actions portray a heart diligently seeking after God, and whose deeds bear fruit for the Kingdom]?  Could it be that the Church barely resembles those early gatherings of Spirit-filled believers who encouraged each other to share and edify the body with what the Holy Spirit was showing them?
     I am in no way negating the warning to be on guard against the wolves who bring false teachings. They are real, and I'm pretty sure the Enemy has been infiltrating them into the Church for hundreds of years. I don't see those early "home churches" being overly concerned with real estate, building programs, staff salaries, utilities, mortgages, pulpits, pews, sermons, elaborate worship programs, or how much money they had in the bank. When did the focus change from "going out" to "protecting our turf"?
     We all agree that wolves are definitely a danger to innocent sheep. And what I'm about to say may offend some, but I have personally witnessed a pack of wolves within the church driving innocent sheep out of the building where their Good Shepherd is waiting to feed them and lead them to springs of living water. It is not my attention to offend, but rather to give us all pause when meeting with our fellow believers, and before judging them.
     So, yes, we need to be persistent in keeping the wolves at bay and safeguarding the purity of Scripture. Lord knows, they are vicious and ravenous and waiting to destroy the Body of Christ. But let's not limit our oversight to one man's [or one denomination's] conditional and designated understanding. Let us give the Holy Spirit the freedom to reveal to a person's spirit what God would have them know about Himself. And then let us offer love and kindness and a heart that is willing to receive more of God. It just might bring more joy and peace to your spirit and to the entire Body. And that would be pleasing to God.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3     Knowledge [alone] makes [people self-righteously] arrogant, but love [that unselfishly seeks the best for others] builds up and encourages others to grow [in wisdom].  If anyone imagines that he knows and understands anything [of divine matters, without love], he has not yet known as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].


November 10, 2017

Are You A Sinner or A Saint?

     This question really makes you stop and think, doesn't it?  I have to admit that when my husband, Mark, posited it to me, my immediate thought was, "Well, of course, I am a sinner.  There was only one human being who wasn't, and that is Jesus".  But then, I hesitated, and thought, "Wait a minute, but how does my Lord see me?  Isn't that my true identity"?
     If you scour the internet, you will find a wide variety of opinions ... some theologians and Bible teachers will call Christians sinners; while others declare we are all saints; and yet others try to walk the line and call us both saint and sinner.  But I wanted to definitively know in my heart what I believed, and the only resource that mattered to me was the Bible.  So, I began my quest to determine who I am ... sinner or saint.
     In a sense, all human beings, as a category, are sinners because we are born in sin.  So, it is not difficult to think of ourselves as sinners because we know we are capable of sinning. But when we take a look at the word "saint" in the original Greek (hagios) it is used to designate all believers or people set apart for the Lord and His Kingdom.  It is not used to typify those Christians of exceptional holiness, or those who have gone on to be with the Lord in heaven, but rather any and all who are reborn into a new identity.
     And Scripture backs this up in 2 Thessalonians 1:10, which reads, "... when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day [that is, glorified through the changed lives of those who have accepted Him as Savior and have been set apart for His purpose], and to be marveled at among all who have believed...".  
     Now, there will always be those Christians who don't see themselves as this new creation called "saint" and want to cling to their old identity.  They will tell you that if we don't still see ourselves as sinners, then what value does the Cross have to us?  My answer to that is simple: the Cross is the reason that my identity has changed from sinner to saint; it is the catalyst that transformed me. Did not the Apostle Paul say, "If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new."
     True, Paul called himself "the foremost of sinners" in 1 Timothy 1:15.  But, as is often the case, we tend to read Scripture out of context. A more careful study shows that he is referring to his former self, i.e., the "old Paul" rather than the new one.  And that may be why he tends to refer to the readers of his letters as "saints" to remind them of who they are, and who they have been called to be.  And that is an important distinction.
     "Saint" is both a description and a calling of the Christian. This is made very clear in Paul's letter to the Corinthians: "To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified (set apart, made holy) in Christ Jesus, who are selected and called as saints (God’s people), together with all those who in every place call on and honor the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours...".
     To be a sinner is to be separated from God, with no relationship.  But Scripture tells us in Ephesians 2,  that "through Him we have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father".  When we are reborn we enter into a new relationship with our Creator, and we are"fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household".  We now identify as a saint!
     But what about the times we hurt others with our sins?  How can we possibly think of ourselves as a saint then?  That is where repentance comes in.  With this act of confession and asking God for forgiveness, we show a new nature that is in relationship with God; a new nature that is growing towards the image of Christ -- and which definitely is not the nature of a sinner.
     So, after all this discussion, and back and forth, how do you view yourself?  Are you a saved sinner, or a sinning saint?  I will tell you how I have determined this question for myself... I know I am a Christian who is growing in holiness, while still struggling with sin in my life.  But that is the old nature that is still trying to control me.  I KNOW I am a new creation.  I KNOW I have been called to a special purpose and called to be holy because God is holy.  And I know Jesus is the ultimate picture of saint.  I also know that when we are saved, we are identified with Christ by grace through faith.  And I believe that my faith in Christ radically changes not only my identity and my walk, but how God sees me.  He no longer sees a broken vessel, but a renewed and restored receptacle of His grace and mercy.  How can that be labeled a sinner?  From now on, I will only answer to the name Saint. So, I ask my original question to you ... Are you a sinner or a saint?

 1 Corinthians 6:11   And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior]. 

October 15, 2017

Can You Identify?

     If you've been a long-time reader of this blog, then you understand the journey the Lord has taken me on. You have seen the new seasons and paths to which He has directed me and Mark, and I've tried to be as honest as I could about my questions, as well as my convictions.  As you know, we are entering a new season of learning what it means to be a True Disciple of Christ and to be a member of what I will term, "the True Church".
     What has been perhaps the most surprising part of this journey is just how simple [to understand] Jesus's commandments to us, yet how difficult they are to carry out because we've never been encouraged to do them ... Throughout my church experience I heard references to "the Great Commission", but never once was it elaborated on, beyond the message to "Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor". And that's not even what Jesus categorized as His Commission!  Until you read, word for word, His precise explanation [in Mark 16 and Matthew 28], I doubt you will even know what we are called to do.  And I imagine if you have watched the movie I recommended, The Last Reformation, then your world has been rocked.
     I know I have been enthusiastic in urging you to understand His missive ... to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, baptize in His Name, and spread the Gospel of the Kingdom ... but how many of you are thinking, right now, "I could never do that!  That is for people who are far more spiritually experienced and knowledgeable than me? The Lord may have called Mark and Pam to do this work, but I am not equipped to represent Him in this exalted way!"
     Well, I'm here to tell you that I am no different than you!  And guess what?  Neither were the Twelve Apostles!  Jesus called ordinary men to follow Him to show us that it is possible for all of us!  And if you have made the mistake of elevating Peter, John, Matthew, James the son of Zebedee, James the son of Alphaeus, Andrew, Simon, Bartholomew, Thaddeus, Philip, Thomas, and Judas Iscariot as extraordinary, exceptional men at the time they were called to follow Jesus, then I assure you that they only became extraordinary when they were baptized by the Holy Spirit [into the power of God] to carry out the Great Commission.  And if you are having a hard time accepting their "ordinariness", then I will let Jesus prove it.
     As I am slowly progressing through the Bible [again], I saw something that I had skimmed over the other times I read it, but which now leaped out at me.  Shortly after the Passover meal in which Jesus announces that "one of you shall betray me", He proceeds to tell the Disciples that He will only be with them a little while longer (John 13:33) ...  Little children, I am with you [only] a little longer. You will look for Me and, as I told the Jewish religious leaders, so I tell you now, ‘Where I am going, you are not able to come.’
     So, I want you to notice how He addresses the disciples ... the same men who have been with Him for three-and-a-half years; who have watched Him do the miracles; and who have sat at His feet receiving the teachings that He is in the Father, and the Father in Him; who have heard Him say that He only does what the Father tells Him to do, or what He sees the Father doing.  He calls them Little children! 
     I am going to borrow from a sermon I heard Bill Johnson give once ... although the Twelve had been with Him for several years and seen His works, they still did not understand!  We don't read about very many successes they had in imitating Him, and He gets frustrated with them at times, calling them an "unbelieving and perverse generation" (Luke 9:41), and calls out their lack of faith, asking, them, "Why can't you understand?" (Matthew 7:7-11). So, the whole time they were with Him, they didn't really get it!
     Here's what I see in that verse:  By calling them "Little Children", Jesus is telling us that they are just infants in their faith, Baby Christians, if you will.  They have yet to grow into a spiritually mature believer who is advanced enough to represent the Kingdom of God.  But He offered them His grace, and He knew they would grow through obedience.  Did He decide they were unworthy to carry forth His message and works, and then dismiss them?  No!  He opened their minds to understand Scripture and told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them with power, and then they would be able to carry His Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth.
     Why didn't He open their minds to understand Scripture at the beginning of the three-and-a-half years?  Wouldn't the journey have been easier for them all? The Bible doesn't tell us, but perhaps God knew that if they didn't walk out that training, they probably would have credited themselves for the work they did do.  Plus, if they had been given to understand all of Scripture at the beginning, there would have been no growth and maturity in their walk. I think we can all agree that with experience and maturity, comes wisdom and the ability to persevere.  Jesus knew they would be tested and would need to remember the lessons He taught them along the way. So He took them on a three-and-a-half year apprenticeship, knowing they needed training and guidance.
     So, I submit to you, that you are no different than those twelve ordinary men who made a decision to follow Jesus. They had moments of doubt and fear. They made mistakes. There were many times they didn't understand what God was doing in their lives; and I'm sure there were days they wondered if they were doing His will or fulfilling their purpose. They didn't suddenly and miraculously become Pillars of the Faith.  But they knew Jesus offered something they couldn't live without. And so they trusted Him in their lives, remaining obedient to their calling.
     I will agree that it is more difficult for us because they could touch Him and hear His voice, and actually watch Him do what He calls us to; and we are separated by a distance of over 2,000 years and a couple of heavens.  But the calling is the same... His is the Way to follow [with all that He did]; He is the Truth that overcomes the Enemy's lies about who we are; He offers a Life that transcends these earthly bonds; and He is the Light that shatters the darkness that threatens to overcome us.  And He has shown us that He wants to use ordinary men and women -- fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and adulterers -- to reveal the power of God's goodness over the evil of the prince of this world.  He has shown us that ordinary people can defeat Satan by healing the sick, and casting out his henchmen, the demons, and taking back territory among the souls of men. He has shown us that the Power and the Love of Heaven can invade this earth, and it can come through us!
     All you have to do is be willing to say, "Yes, Lord!" And I will tell you, it is absolutely a journey; and for some it may take longer than the three-and-a-half years it took the Twelve, but just as with them, Jesus will be with you every step of the way -- teaching you, correcting you, encouraging you, and bestowing His Power and Authority, that you might become a conqueror, just as He was.
     So, never think that you don't match the qualifications of those early saints.  Each of us, on acceptance of Him as our Savior, have the opportunity to receive the power and authority from Heaven, and to do the works Jesus and His Apostles did. I will tell you that there was something inside me that responded to the first time I realized what the Great Commission really was. And the first time I listened to the experiences of others who were being obedient to this calling on all of us, I never looked back. The Holy Spirit communed with my spirit and I knew it was right! So, I urge you to trust Him and just be ready to obey. He will answer your willingness with His Love, give you His Authority and Power, and you can walk in the shoes of a Son or Daughter of the Most High God.  Just take that first step of your journey ... tell Him your heart longs to walk in His footsteps, and that you want to learn how to be a true Disciple. Then watch your identity change as you enter into one of the most glorious seasons of your life on this earth!
     Jesus, Himself, says, By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  What better way to love another than to set them free of sickness and demonic oppression, and then share the Gospel of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, baptizing them in Jesus's Name and setting them free from their sin?  After all, that's exactly what Jesus did, and taught His first disciple to do, isn't it? And the Bible tells us that whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.

2 Peter 3:18    But grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.