“It Made News In Heaven When…”

My First Reaction to My New Life in Christ Jesus.

I remember the experience well.  It was on a Wednesday evening at our house in August of 1972.  My wife and I were both sitting on our couch with a Baptist pastor sitting in between us.  He had just shared the 4 Spiritual Laws, a very popular way of sharing Jesus with someone in the 1970’s.

I remember his words as he asked us separately, “Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”  Without hesitating, we both said”YES”, and after a short prayer in unison, pastor Hahn, ugly teeth and all smiled and said, “Welcome to the body of Christ.  You are born again!  You are now NEW BABIES in the kingdom”  We had known idea at that particular moment in time of our young lives (I was 30 and Dianne was 28), what it meant to be “born-again.”

After he left the house that night, we both looked at each other and I asked, “Do you feel any different from before we prayed that prayer?”  Both of us agreed that we didn’t feel any different.  TRUST wasn’t developed at that point in our Christian infancy.

Many years later, our oldest daughter told us that she had been lying on the hall floor, listening to everything that occurred that night in the front room.  That night, she too had accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior at the age of 8 yrs old.  We both knew later on she was a Christian, but weren’t sure, at what point her life had change; her “Nicodemus” moment.

THE “BORN-AGAIN” EXPERIENCE:

During the 70’s, the term “born again” swept across the USA like wildfire.  The catalyst for its popularity was large numbers of “baby boomers” were turning to God in search of the real purpose and meaning of life.  My wife and I were no exception.

Hollywood celebrities, well-known athletes , and politicians began distinguishing themselves as “born again Christians.”  Soon the true spiritual meaning of being born again, as taught by Jesus, became lost; as anyone and everyone began calling themselves “born again Christians.”

So substance, yielded to symbolism little by little; which then replaced the genuine experience of a new life in Jesus.

THE “NEW BIRTH” CAN BE UNSETTLING AT FIRST:

Why can it be unsettling?  Because we cannot cause the NEW BIRTH or the “born again” experience.  It becomes unsettling because it refers to something that is done to us and not something we do.

John 1:13 Emphasis:  “children born not of natural descent, nor human decision or a husband’s will [the will of man], but born of God”  (the NIV).

By the way, when you hear some people exclaim, “all people in the world are God’s children”, they are simply WRONG!  Their thinking doesn’t line up with God’s Word.

1 Peter 1:3-4:  “Praised (honored, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)!  By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [4] [Born anew] into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you.”

We do not cause the new birth, God causes the new birth!  Any good thing that we do is the result of the new birth, not a cause of the new birth!

This means that the new birth is taken out of our hands; it’s not in our control.  So like a new-born infant (being born again in the spirit), the new birth confronts us with helplessness, our absolute dependence on Someone outside of ourselves.  “Oh No!  We have to deny SELF?”

Absolute Freedom of God Confronts Us.

A part from God, we are “spiritually dead” in our selfishness and rebellion.  We are by nature “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

Our rebellion is so deep, we can’t detect or desire the glory of Christ in the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4).  If we are going to be born again we must rely decisively and ultimately of God.  What we are doing as “spiritual corpses” won’t help God in His decision in making us alive.

What Happens in the New Birth (when we are “born again”)?

Turn in your Bibles if you have it close by, to the first three verses of John 3:

“NOW THERE was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (a leader, an authority) among the Jews,  [2] Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonderworks, these miracles–and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him.  [3] Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God.”  (Amplified Bible)

SO WHAT HAPPENS IN THE NEW BIRTH?

I need to try to answer the question with three statements:

1.  What happens in the new birth is not getting new religion but a new life!

2.  What happens in the new birth is not merely a declaration of the supernatural in Jesus but it’s experiencing the supernatural IN yourself.

3.  What happens in the new birth is not the improvement of your old human nature but the creation of a new human nature–a nature that is really you; is forgiven and cleansed; a nature that is really new in being formed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

THERE IS NO “LIFE” APART FROM JESUS:

There is no spiritual life–no eternal life–apart from connection with Jesus by FAITH:

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me”  (John 14:6).

In the new birth, when you were born again; SAVED, the Spirit of God unites us to Christ in a LIVING union.  Again, what happens in the new birth is the supernatural creation, the new spiritual life is created through union; a new relationship with Jesus Christ begins through the POWER of the Holy Spirit [symbolized as a DOVE]..

The Holy spirit brings us into a vital connection with Jesus who is “the way, the truth, and life.”  That is the objective reality of what happens in the new birth.  And from our side–in our experience, FAITH in Jesus is awakened in our hearts (mind, soul and spirit).  Spiritual life and faith in Jesus Christ comes into being together.  This new life makes the FAITH possible, and since spiritual life always awakens FAITH; expresses itself in FAITH, there is no LIFE without FAITH in Jesus.

NEVER SEPARATE THE NEW BIRTH AND FAITH IN JESUS:

“For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith”  (1 John 5:4).

Born of God–the KEY to victory.

FAITH–the KEY to victory.

Because FAITH is the way we experience “being born of God”!

Or listen how John says it:  “And this is the testimony (that evidence):  God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life”  (1 John 5:11-12).

Therefore, when Jesus says,  “It is the Spirit Who gives life [He is the Life-giver]; the flesh conveys no benefit whatever”  (John 6:63), and when He says, “You must be born (again) of the Spirit” in order to have life–He means: In the new birth, the Holy Spirit supernaturally gives us NEW SPIRITUAL LIFE, connecting us with Jesus through our FAITH in Him.  For Jesus is LIFE!

So never separate these two sayings of JESUS:

“…unless a person is born again…” ~ John 3:3,  AND  “And he who believes in (has FAITH in; clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life”  (verse 36).

DON’T DEPEND UPON FEELINGS:

The PROMISE of God’s Word, not our feelings, is our authority.  The Christian lives by FAITH (trust) in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word.  This train diagram illustrates the relationship between FACT (God and His Word), FAITH (our trust in God and His Word), and FEELING (the result of our FAITH and obedience) (John 14:21).

“The train will run with or without the caboose.  However, it would be futile to attempt to pull the train by the caboose.  In the same way, we, as new Christians, do not depend on feelings or emotions, but place our FAITH (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and His PROMISES found in His Word” (courtesy of the FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS from Campus Crusade for Christ Inc.).

“Straying Off” ETERNITY’S PATH:

If we were to take a poll of Christians, asking for their most popular Scripture passages in the Bible, they would most likely name the following:

1.  The 23rd Psalm.

2.  Romans 8.

3.  1 John 3.

I would like to add to this list, and one of my personal favorites is the passage in Luke 15. Let me point you to some key verses in the chapter out of The Message Bible.

“LOST SHEEP, LOST COINS, LOST WALLET AND LOST PRIDE!”

When found, you can be sure you would put it (the sheep) across your shoulders, rejoicing, 6  and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me!  I’ve found my lost sheep!’ 7  Count on it–there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue. “Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one.  Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? 9  And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me!  I found my lost coin! 10  Count on it–that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God! 11  Then He said, “There was once a man who had two sons. 12  The younger said to his father, “Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.” 13  It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country.  There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. 14  After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through the country and he began to hurt. 15  He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs.”  (verses 5-15).

Celebration Time Comes After “Slopping The Pigs!”!

Oh by the way, in case you are not familiar with the conclusion of the story, lets look closely now at what happen to the younger son when after his repentance; how his father responded; his LOVE of his father upon him on his way back home:

[18]  “I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.” ~ REPENTANCE.

[20]  “So he got up and came to his [own] father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently].” ~ Your heaven Father sees you coming, even from a distance!

[21]  “And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight…” ~ The son can’t believe his father’s mercy and grace for his repenting!

[22]  “But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe…and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. [23]  And bring out what fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry.” ~ Your Father in heaven has been waiting for your decision and is ready to feast and celebrate your return.  It’s PARTY TIME!

The Heavenly Celebration!

“It Made News In Heaven When…[you and I] Were SAVED!”

In 1976 there was a popular gospel song performed by The Harold Family; lyrics and music by Gorden Jensen.  At the time, I was singing with the Fischermen; a men gospel trio in Southern California.  The country gospel style and the lyrics fit in with our style of music, so we sang “It Made News In Heaven When I Got Saved” every time we had the opportunity.  We were celebrating our “born again” experiences in song:

Well it didn’t make the papers

In this world when I prayed through.

It didn’t seem to matter

To all but just a few.

But in the golden streets of glory

Celebration banners waved,

It made news in heaven

When I got saved.

CHORUS:

Angels were rejoicing

Hallelujah’s rang.

When Jesus touched my life

And I was changed.

Everyone in glory’s realm

Knew my name was written down.

It made news in heaven

When I got saved.

NOW THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED CHRIST–

The moment that you, as an act of faith, received Christ, many things happened, including the following:

1.  Christ came into your life (Revelation 3:20 and Colossians 1:27).

2.  Your sins were forgiven (Colossians 1:14).

3.  You became a child of God (John 1:12).

4.  You began the great adventure for which God created you (John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Can you think of anything more wonderful that could happen to you than receiving Christ?  You have become a “living testimony” for those around you.

Spiritual Growth Will Come Next!

Spiritual growth results from trusting Jesus Christ.  “The righteous man shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11).  A life of faith will enable you to trust God increasingly with every detail of your life, and to practice the following:

G  Go to god in prayer daily (John 15:7).

R  Read God’s Word daily (Acts 17:11–begin with the Gospel of John.

O  Obey God, moment by moment (John 14:21).

W  Witness for Christ by you life and words (Matthew 4:19; John 15:8).

T  Trust God for every detail of your life (1 Peter 5:7).

H  Holy Spirit–allow Him to control and empower your daily life and testimony (Galatians 5:16.17; Acts 1:8).

Now make this message personal.  Insert your name in the phrase, “It Made News In Heaven When I–insert your name–Got Saved.”

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF GOD!

The GODHEAD Loves Our Voices In Song!

1 Chron.16:33
“Then shall the trees of the wood sing out for joy”

My purpose and focus is NOT to convince, legislate you what you’re doing in singing/worship (“worth-ship”) is incorrect.  My focus is that of the apostle Paul: to teach, to inform, maybe even admonish in regards to the Biblical heart-joy of song and praise in churches throughout the world.

 I don’t know if in the picture above showing the TREES, are singing in JOY or the STARS are.  In either case, the words in the Bible lay down a principle of Songs of Joy:

“IT IS a good and delightful thing to give thanks to the Lord, to SING PRAISES [with musical accompaniment] to Your name, O Most High.    To show forth Your loving-kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night,    With an instrument of ten strings and with lute, with a solemn sound upon the lyre” ~ Psalm 92:1-3.

The Lord wants songs sung to Him using a symphony of instruments and people; who display a variety of gifts and levels of skill.  This is a representation of the choruses of praise that will be sung to Him for all eternity.

God Not Only Likes SINGING to Him, He Loves to Sing Himself.

“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 make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with SINGING.”  ~ Zephaniah 3:17 AMP.

WOW! Can you even imagine or dream singing a DUET with Yahweh?  Through this uplifting harmony of melodies, our hearts are strengthened while gaining a greater insight into the glories of God.

WHAT ROLE DOES HOLY SPIRIT PLAY IN OUR VOICES?

His way of guiding, enabling, inspiring, instructing, correcting, healing, persuading, convicting, and illuminating truth to us is in a far deeper way through music.

“But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will GUIDE you into all Truth (the whole, full Truth).  For He will not SPEAK His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will ANNOUNCE and DECLARE to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].” ~ John 16:13 AMP.

The Spirit gives us deep assurances through spiritual music, which restores a Christ-like perspective to our thoughts before, during and after our “Worship & Praise” even begins on Sundays, Saturdays or whenever.

This is part of the reason why music can be used so effectively in teaching, admonishing, bringing conviction to those who are around us in confidential ways.  I say ‘confidential ways’, since all my years of singing out in choirs and congregations, no one after has ever said, “Thanks Mel for teaching, admonishing and bringing conviction because of your voice.”  Singing is far more effective than our human efforts of preaching most of the time anyway.  OK Pastors, did I raise the hair on the back of your arms by saying what I said?

RELATIONSHIP IN MUSIC:

Martin Luther said,  “The devil takes flight at the sound of music just as he does at the words of theology, and for this reason the prophets always combined theology and music, the teaching of the TRUTH and the charity of Psalms and hymns.”

“After theology, I give the highest place and greatest honor to music.”  – Martin Luther.

Music has a way of breaking down the defenses of hearts and minds, and the use of all types:

–Inspirational.

–Persuasive.

–Worshipful.

–Entertaining.

All of the above ways can and will enhance RELATIONSHIPS with God Almighty and…people!  In this specific way your music will be, or maybe I should mention, can be…:

–spiritual,

–emotionally appealing,

–intelligent,

–socially contemporary,

–culturally relevant,

–and Biblically based!

Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all men that by all means I may save some”       (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Have You Ever Judge Others For Their Musical Tastes?

To one, gospel rock may be offensive.  To others it may help them RELATE to God and others.  It bridges barriers.  To me personally…not so much but I’m not going to judge others for their godly relationship, if there is one, in choices of music.

Romans 14:4, 5 says,  “Who are you to pass judgement on and censure another s household servant?…One man esteems one day (by implication–each type of music) better than another…”

SINGING TRUTH (Colossians 3:16):

I like the way the Amplified Bible and the NASV (New American Standard Version) translation of Col. 3:16.  The ESV (English Standard Version) for an example, is slightly different.  The former says, our responsibility as believers is one of “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [y]our hearts to God.”

As you can see, “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” are to be sung by Christians–NO DUH!  As believers, we are to have a working knowledge about the words we are singing.

My wife Dianne tells the story of how every Christmas, she and her family would sit around the piano while her British-born and raised grandmother would play with enthusiasm.  Dianne said they would sing every chorus and every word of those songs, but it wasn’t until she was SAVED did she have understanding and meaning to the lyrics.

But I don’t think that’s what this verse is saying.  I opt for the Amplified and the NASB renderings,  “teach, admonish and train one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”  Did you notice the differences?  I didn’t at my first reading either.  Both passages are grammatically possible (ESV and the NASB), but in studying the related passage in Ephesians 5:18, 19, 20; I found Paul is exhorting the church when he says,

[18] “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit, [there’s a coma between verses 18 & 19]  [19] Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with ALL your heart to the Lord, [another coma] [20] At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”

Do you give ALL YOUR HEART when you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs at church during Worship times?  You are not alone if you answered, “not always”.

Paul’s words jumped off the page in my understanding.  The apostle Paul sees believers communicating truth and knowledge and instruction by the means of these various forms of singing.  The same point can then be made in Colossians 3:16.

The “addressing” or “speaking” in Ephesians 5:19 is now defined as “teaching and admonishing and training” as in Col. 3:16.

“TEACHING, ADMONISHING and TRAINING”:

The first question you may be tempted with at this point is,  “How does one teach someone else by singing to them?  How can singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs admonish and train another believer?”  Those are excellent questions and are the ones that I think Paul would want us to ask.  Before I try to give some answers, what the differences are in “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?  Some say there are no difference between these items.  But if he meant one thing, what is the point of using three different words?  Look next at the distinctions in the mind of Paul when writing to the churches.

What is the difference between a “PSALM”, a “HYMN” and a “SPIRITUAL SONG”?

1.  PSALM-

“Middle English, from Old English, from Latin psalms, from Greek psalms, from psallein, to play the harp”  (American Heritage Dictionary).

Ephesians 5:19 probably refers to actual Psalms from Scripture and/or any song accompanied by a string harp-like instrument.

EXAMPLES:  All of the Psalms found in the middle of your Bible originally were accompanied by harps, lutes, and various stringed instruments + other instruments such as percussion instruments.

Someone today puts music to a Psalm, like the popular song, “Bless the Lord O my soul.”

2.  HYMN-

“Middle English imne, from Old French ymne, from Latin hymnus, song of praise, from Greek humnos” (American Herritage Dictionary).

A song of praise for God (with or without any particular type of accompanying instrument).  Remember, Paul didn’t have a Hymn Book or words up on a mega-tron screen.

EXAMPLES:  Jesus sang a hymn with His disciples after the Passover meal about 24 hrs before he Himself became the Passover Lamb of God on Friday afternoon (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26).

Paul and Silas sang a hymn (probably without instruments) in the prison just before the earthquake when their chains dropped off (Acts 16:25).  Could their singing cause an earthquake?  Maybe!  How would you feel one Sunday morning after singing in praise, the building you were in began to shake, rattle and roll? I would imagine it depended of the heart-felt spirit of the body of Christ.

3.  SPIRITUAL-

“Middle English, from Old French spirituel, from Latin spiritualis, spiritus, breath (American Heritage Dictionary).

Songs that come directly from the spiritual realm, inspired or “breathed” by the Holy Spirit.  Often spontaneous, in the moment of visitation by the Presence of God.

EXAMPLES:  Paul said, “I will sing with my spirit”.  Miriam’s Celebration; Saul spontaneously prophesied (in song?) with the prophets.  Someone sitting next to you–when 2 or 3 of you are gathered together in Jesus’ Name while waiting on God–burst out in a new song!  I hope you’ve had this experience before.  It’ is wonderful!

FOCUSING ON THE 3RD EXPRESSION OF “SINGING IN THE SPIRIT”:

Could it be Paul’s way of differentiating between songs that are previously composed over those that are spontaneously drawn out by the Holy Spirit Himself  I THINK SO!

In my experience, “spiritual songs” are most likely unrehearsed, improvised, short melodies or choruses celebrating the BEAUTY OF CHRIST JESUS.

They aren’t prepared in advance of the worship service but prompted by the Holy Spirit; uniquely and especially appropriate for the occasion and the emphasis at that moment.

I agree with the Christian writer, Dunn, that “spiritual songs are sung under immediate inspiration of the Spirit” (239).  He believes there was, in all probability, “a lively, spontaneous, charismatic worship (including glossolalia?) [that] continued to be a feature of the Pauline churches…, at least for the full length of his own ministry.” (239)

If these distinctions in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are really accurate, Murray Harris would be correct in calling them, respectively,  “songs from Scripture, songs about Christ, and songs from the Spirit” (169).

Now this possibility hits many people as strange, if not uncomfortable when it’s exposed.  Especially if outside of charismatic churches.  There’s virtually no opportunities of expressing spontaneous praise.  The only songs permitted are those listed in the church bulletin.  Singing is highly structured, orchestrated, and carefully controlled (but not for that reason any less godly or edifying).

People are expected to sing what is written in the hymnal or projected on a screen.  Nothing more and nothing less.

Paul’s Envision of a “singing”  Individual as…

The “singing” individual is given freedom to vocalize his/her own passions, prayers, declarations of praise.  Now this may strike some as chaotic, aimless the first time it is heard (it certainly did me!).  But it can quickly become beautiful and inspiring experience as the Spirit is given free reign in the hearts of Christ’s people.

As the instrumentalist play a simple chord progression, maybe even the melody of a familiar song, the people who are gathered together spontaneously supply whatever words are the most appropriate at their state of mind and heart.  However, it must be prompted by the Holy Spirit: no “fake it until you make it” approach to this form of praise.

As Dunn noted, this may well have involved singing in tongues (without being restricted to it), or what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14:15 as “singing in the Spirit.”

“Prophetic Singing”:

So called because it is believed that the Holy Spirit reveals something to the person who in turns puts it to music.

Typically an individual who is part of a “worship team”, led by the Spirit, spontaneously breaks out in song that may well evoke another to respond antiphonally (occurring or responding in turns; alternating voices…).  Such “spiritual songs” can last a few seconds or several minutes.  It’s sort of like “praying” in a prayer circle. On leads off in prayer, another adds to it and so forth.

I can only hope and pray that those of you who have never been exposed to this form of worship have the opportunity to experience it first hand.  More important still is the fact such singing, whether psalms, hymns or spiritual songs are not simply to extol god but to educate people; by the means of them, we “teach”, “admonish” one another.

Many Today May Never Experience A Worship Service As Described.

The educational and convicting power in music and song cannot be denied.  In his book, “Real Worship”, Warren Wiersbe wrote:

“I am convinced that congregations learn more theology (good & bad) from the songs they sing than from the songs they sing than from the sermons they hear.  Many sermons are doctrinally sound…contain a fair amount of biblical information…they lack that necessary emotional content that gets a hold of the listener’s heart.  Music however, reaches the mind and the heart at the same time…” (137).

This is all the more reason for us to be conscientious and biblically accurate in what and how we sing!

Singing of the Savior (even off-key).

“If You Were Arrested for being a Christian…”

Is There Enough Evidence to CONVICT? This title today, might be a cliche but still an effectual question.  After being prompted by the Holy Spirit in reading God’s word this past week, I debated over the title for this particular posting.  Was it to lengthy, to cliche y, would you be drawn into the thought process from curiosity?  Where to begin.

CONCERNING THE “EVIDENCE”:

What EVIDENCE do you have right now that can prove your FAITH in Christ?  Is it a commitment to Christ, more than just an opinion or way of thinking?

In the last days, each of us needs to do all we can to live our lives the best we can in being a testimony to friends and loved ones.  I”ll discuss the “hows”, “whens” and “whys” of calling yourself, “GUILTY” or “NOT GUILTY.”

How Can We Do This “Being A Testimony”?- [Titus 1:10-13]

“For there are many disorderly and unruly men who are idle (vain, empty) and misleading talkers and self-deceivers and deceivers of others.  [This is true] especially of those of the circumcision party [who have come over from Judaism].  [11] Their mouths must be stopped, for they are mentally distressing and subverting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach, for the purpose of getting base advantage and disreputable gain.
[12] One of their [very] number, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, hurtful beasts, idle and lazy gluttons.  [13] And this account of them is [really] true.  Because it is [true], rebuke them sharply [deal sternly, even severely with them], so that they may be sound in the faith and free from error.”

Believers on the island of Crete faced a big challenge.  The culture had many, many gods they could worship, depending on which way the doctrinal winds were blowing.  The people (there) filled their time with much idle chatter, empty promises and lies!  Paul’s letter specifically identifies this description of the people in that place and time.

Who Was Titus?

He was a Gentile convert; an uncircumcised believer.  He was a man made for difficult situations.  You know, the tough tasks, the jobs that no one else wanted.

He had known the apostle Paul for almost 15 years.  He loved being sent out by Paul to face a good challenge.

Let me share with you what I uncovered in the evidence found about this man of God:

2 Corinthians, chapters 7 and 8, Paul said or inferred Titus was,

–DEPENDABLE,

–RELIABLE,

–DISCIPLINED.

–GOT THE JOB DONE!

Paul said Titus had a great capacity for human affection and compassion.  I like him already!  Amen?

CHRISTIAN QUALITIES TO BE DISCOVERED:

Titus possessed both strength and tact.  He calmed desperate situations on more than one occasion.  He is a good model for Christians who are called out to live their witness in tough circumstances.

Our friend Titus was just the man to deal with this bunch of rebels on the little island of Crete.  Paul said these people were–“insubordinate and rebellious people that had to be silenced.”  Pretty strong words then and now.

Paul Identifies A Lot Of Problems That Were Present.

The people being pointed out on the island were new believers.  Paul starts off this letter to Titus with the TRUTH we all need to hear.  That is, “God never lies” (verse 2).

As well, God’s people must be people with truth and absolute integrity.  How can this happen?

“…rebuke them sharply [deal sternly even severely with them]”  (vs. 13 AMP).

There are times when this method becomes necessary, like it or not  There is something for each of us in the next passage of Scripture found in Titus 2:1-8.  Look closely as you read and make notes when necessary:

“BUT [as for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identifies true Christians].  [2] Urge older men to be temperate, venerable (serious), sensible, self-controlled, and sound in the faith, in the love, and in the steadfastness and patience [of Christ].  [3] Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink.  They are to give good counsel and be good teachers of what is right and noble.  [4] So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children,  [5] To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).  [6] In a similar way, urge the younger men to be self-restrained and to behave prudently [taking life seriously].  [7] And show your own self in all respects to be a pattern and a model of good deeds and works, teaching what is unadulterated, showing gravity [having the strictest regard for truth and purity of motive], with dignity and seriousness.  [8] And let your instruction be sound and fit and wise and wholesome, vigorous and irrefutable and above censure, so that the opponent may be put to shame, finding nothing discrediting or evil to say about us.”

SPIRITUAL HEALTH

This passage of Scripture just read should become our prescription for “spiritual health.”

There is no doubt in my heart as the Word Detective that this is just what the doctor ordered for each one of us!

REMAINING FAITHFUL AND FOCUSED:

The REAL REASON we are here:

1.  Souls to be saved!

2.  Lives to be set free!

3.  Bodies to be healed from sickness!

And during times like this, to find out what we’re made of, by what we say and do… are we helping or hindering?

This passage from Titus 2 is a call for us to act responsibly before our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and to represent Jesus to those who are unsaved!

Being “SOUND IN THE FAITH”.

Paul uses a word that helps us evaluate our spiritual health in today’s world.  The word is “sound”.

The Greek word is hugiaino.  It is where we get the English word “hygiene” or “healthy” from.

When the Bible speaks of “sound doctrine”, “sound faith”, “sound speech”, or “healthy speech”; it’s referring to the kind of doctrine, faith and speech patterns that makes people healthy.

How Do We Maintain “SPIRITUAL HEALTH”?

How do we know we are demonstrating “healthy faith and speech”?  I’m going to change the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” for effect; to “reading your bible every day will keep the doctor away.”

“My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear.  Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you.  Not everyone who talks about God comes from God.  There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world”  (1 John 4:1 The MESSAGE).

There are all kinds of “teachers” nowadays.  Some teach good things from the Bible while others teach bad things; discord, anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy, etc.

GOOD TEACHERS are the folks who are “spiritually healthy.”

THE FIRST TEST OF GOOD SPIRITUAL HEATH (in us) is…?

Our relationship to “sound doctrine.”  

If our spiritual health is going to be good…it has to be based on the right information.

Sometimes people say things that are not true and you know not to accept it.  But sometimes people say things that are negative, bringing pain and condemnation into your life.  This was the problem for Titus on the island of Crete. This is not “sound speech” and we shouldn’t be listening to it!

What Then Is “SOUND SPEECH”?

Titus 2:1:  “[As for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identifies TRUE CHRISTIANS].”

2 Timothy 1:13:  “Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me (Paul), in [all] the faith and love which are [for us] in Christ Jesus.”

Then in Titus 1:9, while giving the character qualities of a pastor, the Bible says,  “hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it.”

SOUND SPEECH AND SOUND DOCTRINE:

They both have encouraging and uplifting effects towards others (saved or unsaved).  I have found this information in reading, studying and hearing teaching and preaching from the Word of God [thank you Pastor Andrew].

Sound speech and sound doctrine is beneficial and encouraging in the process.  They are always healthy, always encouraging because it’s TRUE.  You can TRUST it with your life!

One Example:

Years ago, on a local PBS (TV) program, they were filming at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

A scholarly man brought out a little blue box from a small closet that held rare keepsakes.  The label on the box read, “Contents of the president’s pockets on the night of April 14, 1865.”  That was the tragic and fateful night President Lincoln was assassinated.

The learned man began to remove these personal items, to display them in front of the camera.  These were the FIVE ITEMS pulled out of the small box:

1.  A handkerchief embroidered “A. Lincoln.”

2.  A country boy’s pen knife.

3.  A spectacles (eye glass) case repaired with a string.

4.  A purse containing a $5 bill–of confederate money.

5.  And some old and worn newspaper clippings.

The newspaper clippings said the man, “were concerned with the great deeds and accomplishments during the Presidents term in office.”  But in 1865, millions of people didn’t agree with the President’s accolades.  In fact, the President’s critics were mean and there were many.

Photo taken one month before President Lincoln was assassinated.

Can you imagine Mr. Lincoln pulling out those newspaper clipping over and over again in the midst of discouragement through the war years?  It was perhaps all he had to hold on to as a reminder.

Listen carefully to one of the most encouraging things any of us can do in picking-up and reading a clipping that is about us.  We call it the BIBLE!

We have proof found only in God’s Holy Word of who we really are in Jesus

Sometimes our spiritual health grows weak, pulled down by all the negative things people are telling us.

Today our HOPE can be found in a constant diet of “sound speech”, and “sound doctrine.”

We should know that false doctrine and slanderous remarks only causes us to doubt, get disgusted or discouraged.  So, why do we feel like that sometimes?  Paul gives us all a warning in 2 Timothy 4:3 AMP:

“For a time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold.”

We can,t let ourselves be taken in by false teaching, false condemnation.  It’s not healthy for us.  It won’t give us strength and energy we need to survive.  You do want to survive don’t you?

It’s like eating “junk food.”  It tastes satisfying at the time but eventually we will have to pay the price.  What we say is what we our communicating to anyone who’s listening to us.  Our speech must be “sound”, and your doctrine (what you believe) must be “sound.”

FINAL QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1.  Do the people you work with see Christlike deeds or attitudes from you as a believer?  Do they even know that you are a Christian where you work?

2.  Has your walk with Christ produced any visible fruit in front of a fellow worker?  Such as:

–patience.

–staying power.

–compassion.

–loyalty.

–better management.

–hard work!

–faithful service.

3.  How can I tell if my spiritual health is good?

4.  How’s your speech around others?  Is it sound?  Is your speech uplifting and positive?  Is it NEGATIVE (a curse), or is it POSITIVE (a blessing).  If you find yourself speaking negative about someone, you are CURSING them!

Let me close this conversation with two Bible verses I found and answer the question in this topics title:  “If Arrested for being a Christian, is there enough EVIDENCE to CONVICT You?”

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it”  (Ephesians 4:29 AMP).

“The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner storehouse flings forth evil things.  [36] But I tell you, on the day of judgement men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.  [37] For by your WORDS you will be justified and acquitted, and by your WORDS you will be condemned and sentenced”  (Matthew 12:35-37 AMP).

POSITIVE or NEGATIVE ATTITUDES – It’s A Choice!

Airplane Altimeter

Several years ago, I was working at a plumbing contractor in Renton, Washington.  One of the owners was an avid airplane enthusiast.  He had his own airplane stored at a nearby  airport in Seattle.

His personal assistant and I had been chosen to come up with several ideas for the upcoming company Christmas party.  After eliminating several choices, we decided that the best fit for the employees, was a hotel/restaurant in Anacortes, Washington; over an hours drive from the office.  We did receive some brochures on the property but the our owner wanted to see first hand what he was going to “lay-out” in dollars.

Now with all of our busy schedules, a half-a-day away from the office would not work, period!  Our boss’ idea…?  Let’s take my AIRPLANE and save time!  Neither one of us, his employees, had experienced a plane ride in a single engine aircraft.  So…we both looked at each other, with some fear and in trepidation in our eyes, accepted the suggestion.

After taking off, we were both given headsets for the purpose of communicating with one another, since the engine noise was almost deafening.  As I looked at the cockpits’ instrument panel, I noticed a round gauge which was somewhat familiar.  It was an ALTIMETER.  It clearly shows the ALTITUDE of the aircraft; whether the nose of the airplane is up or nose down.  After landing at a “nobody- works- here” tiny airfield in Anacortes, the day went well.  We booked the entire hotel for the company Christmas party and returned to the office that same afternoon.

“ALTITUDE ALMOST ALWAYS DETERMINES YOUR ATTITUDE IN LIFE”

I’ve been reading in my Bible this past week in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi.  As I came to the last chapter, I was struck by the analogy given in study, of a ALTIMETER and Christian’s attitudes.  Philippians 4:4-9 really grabbed my spirit; for my own Christian attitude at time had been described my my wife as a “Debbie-downer”.  Let’s read together first God’s Word and then I’ll give you the ATTITUDE image that I was given by the Holy Spirit:

“Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS …; again I say, Rejoice!  [5] Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).  The Lord is near [He is coming soon].  [6] Do not fret or have ant anxiety (FEAR) about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.  [7] And God’s PEACE [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  [8] For the rest, brethren, WHATEVER is true, WHATEVER is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, WHATEVER is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].  [9] PRACTICE what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of PEACE (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.”

Our Christian Attitudes is A Choice.

There are certainly Christians who exhibit a “nose up” attitude as their walk with God climbs.  And there are others, who have a “nose down” attitude who dive into some most needless things in life.

The ATTITUDE that we may have as Christians also has a tremendous impact of the vitality, the success of our walk with Jesus:

Positive   Negative

Possibilities  Problems

Opportunities  Obstacles

Dreams  Difficulties

See the best in people  See the worst in people

Move forward  Move backward

Praise others  Criticize others

“PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT”

What am I saying here?  If we do our part as believers, God will do His part!  That sounds to simple for you?  Let me help break down the facts presented in the above verses.

If you have the desire to pilot an airplane, your desire, even your passion may get you inside the cockpit; but the desire must be practiced until your confidence is in the seat too.  It’s your CHOICE and until there’s PEACE in your soul you will never get off the ground.  Physically or spiritually.  Does that make any sense?  It sure did in my particular situation.

One of the greatest challenges in the Christian walk is to remain positive for Christ Jesus in a negative and confused world.  Our JOY is completely absent when our character becomes negative.

An Example that Happened Today:

This morning at 9 A.M., a godly woman in our church had generously offered to conduct a PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP for those INTERESTED in learning her secrets.  My wife was really anticipating with JOY in going on this field trip; to learn to be a better photographer.

About noon, Dianne and the teacher showed up at our house to go over the pictures on the computer and look at the positives and the negative aspects of camera shots.  When they entered the house, I asked them, “did you have a great time this morning girls?”  They said that they had a wonderful time but wished that more ladies had showed up for the workshop.  Seventeen ladies had been invited but only one student came and that student was my wife.

This now became a time for PRACTICE on my part as my positive thinking was about to quickly change into a “nose dive”.  I thought, why didn’t just one person at least contact the photography teacher, their sister in Christ have the courtesy to call, send a message at least? What’s the matter with Christians today?  My criticism kept building until…this verse came to me in the spirit (Philippians 4:9).

THE PERSPECTIVE OF JOY:

“REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, REJOICE!”

But I didn’t feel like REJOICING when there clearly was disappointment; not on my wife’s and teacher’s part so much, but it was all my feelings.

Here is where I began practicing this verse over and over again in my head.  Praying to myself that I better get my airplanes nose up; change my altitude.

Two times the word REJOICE is given in the same verse (Philippians 4:4).  I immediately discovered that the action of rejoicing was allowing my life to be filled with supernatural JOY of heaven; also allowing God to fill my life with His presence; allowing the atmosphere of heaven to flood my soul!  At that moment, the nose of the airplane pointed upward and my negative emotions disappeared, really.  I had made the CHOICE!

Expressing Our JOY In The “OVERFLOW”.

To REJOICE is to be given a undefinable strength with UN-defeat-able gladness.  REJOICING is allowing the unsurpressible spirit of heaven spill over into every area of our lives.

I’ve share this with you in the past writings, that my favorite verse in the Bible is John 10:10, where Jesus is speaking:

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the FULL, till it overflows or ‘spills over’).”

TRUE JOY IS THE OVERFLOW:

TRUE JOY can never be contained and never confined.  When reading the words of Paul to the Philippian church, they seem to ring with the outpouring of TRUE JOY; they seem to give a lift to our ‘noses’, to help us develop a positive altitude/attitude.

It is vital to remember where Paul was in writing this letter.  He was in prison, where Paul was either in a Roman dungeon or serving a type of house arrest or… chained to a wall in a cell or… chained between two Roman soldiers.  His predicament was obvious to all, but even through his circumstances he still maintained a “nose-up” attitude.

What is the Experience of REAL JOY?

— It IMPACTS the way that we live!

— It CHANGES US!

— It is TRANSFORMING and INSPIRING!

It has nothing to do with situations, circumstances or anything on this earth.

REAL is found in the greatness of knowing Christ; having His presence, seeking His kingdom.

It is this JOY that gives us the ability to thrive in the daily grind of life.  But it is our CHOICE!

EXPERIENCING the POWER of JOY and GENTLENESS – (verses 5-6):

The church of Paul’s time was being severely persecuted by the Romans.  Christians were sought out and beaten, imprisoned and executed.

Most of the things designated as “difficult” by the church today is insignificant in comparison.

The church was also being struck from the inside.  there arose an intense disagreement between two women in the church which spilled over into the church life; which created a division.  PEACE was needed or the “church plane” was going to nose dive into the ground.  There had to be a correction, a choice made!

PEACE on the ALTIMETER:

The word PEACE means to bound, woven together or united.  The only way that we can truly experience PEACE in our lives are to be bound and united with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The reason that some of us become NEGATIVE and CRITICAL is that we lack this essential PEACE.  One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed in the church today is that people try to replace God with a pastor or another person.  People come to church to vent their frustration, fatigue and fears on others instead of going to God.

Far to often individuals never experience the release of their burdens because they never give them to God.  They continuously share them with fellow believers dragging them “nose-down”.  I have even noticed this practice in the social media at times.

There is a time and a place for sharing burdens and difficulties.  We are called to bear one another’s burdens.

Here Is a Good Rule To Practice Regarding Concerns:

1.  PRAY – Take your concerns to God.  If something isn’t important enough for you to pray about, it isn’t important enough to complain or worry about.

2.  TALK – Share your concerns.  I recently read that “MOLEHILLS only become mountains if they are left over time.”  Most minor problems can be solved easily if never given the opportunity to grow.

3.  LET IT GO!

THE PERSPECTIVE OF BEING POSITIVE!

The TRUTH is that we will become what we think and how we think will shape our habits.  Our habits shape the kind of life that we will live.  Where you keep your thoughts is where your life will go–“nose-up” or “nose-down.”

It All Begins With Our “ALTIMETERS”:

When reading and meditating on Scripture, I often make notes in the margin of my Bible pages.  To the point of running out of spaces to write down my thoughts.  I also like to lightly line through certain words, to make them personal to me at the time.

In Philippians 4:8, after reading, I began crossing out the “Whatever s” and writing in it’s place, THE WORD.  So the verse now reads,  ‘THE WORD is true, THE WORD is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, THE WORD is lovely and lovable, THE WORD is kind and winsome and gracious…’  God’s WORD, His message to you and I become the “ALTIMETER”.  When we read His Word daily, pray His Word daily, meditate on His Word daily, and yes, memorize His Word…  Our focus is on the Altimeter; our attitudes will stay at the right altitude.  I know, you have other priorities right now: work, family, relationship building, illness, etc.  You are right, things do have a tendency to take control of our daily lives.  But if we choose to not focus on the ALTIMETER, God’s Word, our attitudes will be affected.

IT’S YOUR CHOICE…you are already seated in the cockpit of life.  POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE attitudes will effect you altitude in your relationships.  Let’s start practicing today!

PRESSING On To What’s Available For You!

I love how young children, with expression, show their desires.  Even behind the glass obstruction, while pressing their sweet, innocent hands and faces with the anticipation of some great prize.  Their eyes are wide open in their “pressing”, knowing the prize on the other side of the barrier has become a necessity some how in their little lives.  In their hoping and pressing on, the desire for the reward never fades, but increases as they continue to “press on”!.

As adults, have our obstructions, our barriers that are placed in front of us daily, preventing us from pressing our hands and faces to what’s available? The apostle Paul gives us a picture, a lesson to be learned about PRESSING On To What’s Available For You, to those of us who claim to be, “spiritually mature and full-grown“:

WHAT IS MY SPIRITUAL DESIRE?

“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in the same way come to know the POWER outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually TRANSFORMED [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in hope]”  (Philippians 3:10 AMP).

I love how the Amplified version starts out verse 10 with the bracketed phrase: “For my determined purpose is…”  I was thinking this morning, while taking my seat in church–‘what is my determined purpose for being in this chair this morning?’  Is it to WORSHIP God almighty? Is it to listen to a wonderful message from pastor Andrew? SINGING; I love singing time in church?  Is it to koinonia, to fellowship with other believers?  Or, to take communion the first of every month; koinonia, as church doctrine determines?  Well, it’s all of that and so much more.  The answers to the questions are actually by-products from our communion; our koinonia with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

RESISTING THE URGE TO SETTLE:

“That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that LIFTS me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]”  (Philippians 3:11 AMP).

Moving Closer to God’s Purpose For Your Life.

[16] “But arise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you.  [17] Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the gentiles to whom I am sending you–  [18] To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me.  [19] Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision”  (Acts 26:16-19 AMP).

What has God called you to do?  Maybe you didn’t receive a vision from heaven like Paul did.  But what has God given you and how are you using it?

When God got a hold of you, what did He have in mind for you?  FORGIVENESS?  Yes, but more.  A BETTER LIFE?  Yes, but more.  FOR YOU TO BECOME A RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN?  Yes, and so much more!

Maybe you haven’t found your niche yet; your purpose in life that defines you yet and I’m not promoting The PURPOSE Driven Life book either.  My advice, take it or not, is to relax—but not to much.

Don’t get uptight about “seeing the big picture.”  Just start where you are right now, even if you have your face pressed against the glass, wanting what’s on the other side, but knowing how to get it.  Do what you sense God is calling you to do.  Get to know Jesus, relationally speaking here and it’s is just beginning steps:

–Read Your Bible.

–Talk to The Lord In Prayer.

–Listen to Him.

–Ask Him to Lead You, Teach you, to Hear His voice.

–Love God.

–Love People (God’s working on me here.).

–Take care of your family.

–Be A Good Neighbor (He’s working on me here too!).

MOVE BEYOND THE PAST:

“…I PRESS on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.  I do not consider brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead”  (Philippians 3:12b-13 AMP).

We can certainly learn by our failures and celebrate our successes, but Paul is saying in these verses,  “What are you going to do with today and tomorrow?

NOT RESTING ON THE SATISFACTION OF PAST ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

George MacDonald once wrote, “Nothing is more ruinous to progress than supposed successes.”

It seems so easy for us to want to relax after some success in our lives.  In February of 2011, I wrote my first blog for people to read worldwide.  My past experience…? NONE!  But I knew that God wanted me as a WORD Detective; to write the TRUTH as it was uncovered for me and for the encouragement others.  But things weren’t going as I expected: 10 views for the month of February, that’s it!  I was a little discouraged, but kept reading, studying, meditating and writing.  But the month of March wasn’t much better.  I kept on writing, kept pressing, and yet I was still not happy with the results.  And then in November, the readers began to increase.  So much so, that I put on Facebook the numbers given to me by WordPress.  “WOW!” I thought.  And then I received a comment from a fellow blogger in England:  “Mel, are you writing for the numbers, the “views” or are you writing because this is God’s plan for you?”  I didn’t think I was, but maybe…I had RELAXED just a bit too much.  Maybe even lazy in my approach; in writing a blog for God; that it wasn’t about me.  Was I at a point of no return?  It was at that moment I was encouraged by the Holy Spirit to continue with passion.  Here was the place that my Father had placed me for a season.

If anyone could have patted themselves on the back for a job well done and retired to Easy Street, the apostle Paul certainly could have.  And yet, there was something behind that glass window that kept compelling him to do more than asked, to go farther than expected.

What kept Paul from just taking a deep breath in saying, “Wow!  We’ve done a pretty good job this past year here at this church.  Let’s sit back now and enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO A LIVING RELATIONSHIP–A RELATIONSHIP with the risen Christ. 

If we LOVE JESUS–listen to what He is telling us through His Holy Spirit; we will never become satisfied putting our faces against some glass window pane, looking in at what’s behind the barrier.  God will help us see that we must press past the barriers in life; moving always forward and never just standing there looking in!

We Must Resist The URGE TO SETTLE FOR–

This world is NOT our home.  We still have a mission to accomplish; there is much work to do.  We must all work as if everything depended on YOU; PRAY as if everything depends of God and indeed it does!

The apostle Paul opens up his letter to the church at Philippi, writing from a jail cell in Rome.  And we think that our lives are just too busy, to interferring in the world’s “Rate Race”?

“[I thank my god] for your fellowship (your sympathetic cooperation and contributions and partnership) in advancing the good news (the Gospel) from the first day [you heard it] until now.    And I am convinced and sure of this thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:5-6 AMP).

WHAT EXPECTATIONS DOES GOD HAVE FOR US?

Paul pictures the Christian life like a race:  “I PRESS ON toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” ~ Philippians 3:14 AMP.

In a RACE…there’s a METHOD to winning.

Have you ever heard of a “conqueror” in history losing?  If so, they wouldn’t be called conquerors!  They would be called as Charlie Sheen would call them as “losers.”  As Christians, Scripture tells us in Romans that we are not just conquerors, we are MORE THAN conquerors:

“Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37).

Literally, we are “hyper-conquerors”, i.e. we are pre-emininently victorious.

THE “GOAL” OF THE BELIEVER ON THIS EARTH:

The GOAL IS TO win THE RACE set in front of our faces.

Not all us are competitive “runners”, but we do know that there is a process of training the body to endure the trials of a race.

Before race-day, the runner trains with the race in mind.  The greater the training, preparation and planning, the more serious the runner is about the race.

The writer of Hebrews uses the imagery of the race.  While the spectators are watching and as the runners head toward the finish line.  Only here, the spectators are those who have run before.

HEBREWS 12:1–

“THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us RUN with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the RACE that is set before us.”

The writer in Hebrews instructs the runner (the believer) to cast off weight and sin so we can endure the RACE.

The Christian life is an endurance run; a steeplechase event and we must train and prepare ourselves for the hazards (the barricades, water-hazards, etc.) for this race.  It IS NOT a 100-meter sprint to the finish line.

After examining the lives on many “successful” saints in the Old Testament and the New Testament who were striving for personal holiness, I found they are not born with it, they choose to strive, to PRESS for holiness.

THE ONE THING TO REMEMBER WHILE IN TRAINING:

Like the child pressing her face against the glass, to do so, she must be leaning forward!  The same is true in running a race: If you are leaning back at the finish line or left standing in the starting blocks, your participation won’t be validated or even noticed by others.  And if you’re not being noticed (in humbleness), the good news won’t be seen. Remember…you might be the only bible that the observers have ever read.

We must keep growing, moving forward and gaining ground in everything that we do, for there are observers watching our moving, running, participating.

Now there may be a time when it is a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.  I have done this many times in my Christian experience.  Whatever it takes!  Don’t settle for where you are standing right now and make a commitment to run!

Move with Motivation to Win.

Yeah, that’s easy for you to say, but I’m just not that type; I’m not competitive generally.”

STOP making excuses saying, “that’s not who you are in life.”  So how do we NOT allow our growth to be stymied?  How do we do it?  How do we keep our motivation going–especially when things do not go well for us, and we get discouraged?

Those are all good questions and the apostle Paul addresses our preconceived notions in Philippians 3:13:

“I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but on thing I do [it is my one anticipation]:  FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND AND STRAINING FORWARD TO WHAT LIES AHEAD.”

Paul is saying that with his pressing on, taking hold of that for which Christ Jesus took a hold of him at his salvation experience, he wants to grab onto Jesus, to know Him personally and intimately everyday.

But the one thing that kept Paul motivated, encouraged, was getting a hold of Christ, and the fact that Jesus had gotten a hold of him.  Can you remember when Christ got a hold of you?  For me, it was August 15th, 1972.  Although I’ve certainly stumbled, fell down repeatedly and found myself completely ‘out of shape’, I never got out of the race.

The KJV uses the word “apprehended”  in this verse which this is like the words arrested, seized, or grasped.  The Amplified uses the word captured.  Paul tells us he had not yet CAPTURED it as yet, but….

When Jesus got a hold of Paul on the road to Damascus, He got a hold of him and did not let go!  That should make us think about our own RELATIONSHIP with Jesus.  Does He have a hold on you?  Have you experienced His presence and power in your life, in a way that has changed you forever?

All of this is so important to our own motivation

-to SERVE.

-to WORSHIP.

-to PRAY DAILY.

-to READ OUR BIBLES DAILY.

If we have not completely surrendered ourselves to Jesus by FAITH; allowed Him to get a hold of us, we are probably not going to bother with PRESSING FORWARD; to get a hold on Him and all that He has for us to be and do for Him.

“CLOSE ENCOUNTERS” TO BE CONTINUED:

“I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward”  (verse 14).

An ENCOURAGING Coach

It’s not a “one time thing”; our encounters with Jesus.  We must keep pressing forward, to know Him daily and expressing our encounters to others around us.  God can’t run the race for us but He has given His Holy Spirit after our first encounter; our born-again moment by ENCOURAGING US!

HELPING US TO LEAN ON JESUS–PRESSING FORWARD FOR THE PRIZE!

TRAINING US TO ‘KEEP FIT’

“[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight”  (Philippians 2:13 AMP).

SO START MOVING, PRESSING FORWARD!  FOR YOU ARE…A PARTICIPANT IN THE RACE WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT!

 

Dumping “Burning Coals” On Your Enemies Head?

PROVERBS 25:22 and ROMANS 12:20,21

Have you ever been so ANGRY with someone, because of what they did to you or a member of your family that you wanted God’s revenge NOW?  Maybe even grabbing your Bible Concordance, looking up the word REVENGE (VENGEANCE) and wondering when you could use God’s Word on your enemy.  Here’s one example I found that seemed appropriate at a time and at an unrepentant moment:

“And Samson said to them, If this is the way you act, surely I will take revenge on you, and after that I will quit”  (Judges 15:7).

At that moment, what was good enough for Samson, was good enough for me!  The Lord dealt with my attitude sometime later and repentance set in sometime later.  Actually, it took years later while writing my first and only fictional manuscript.  Had I come to the realization it was all for naught.  God is full of mercy and grace in our lives!  But sometimes, we just might ignore it until pointed out.

THE MEANING BEHIND “HEAPING COALS OF FIRE” ON SOMEONES HEAD:

I’ve been reading in the Book of Proverbs now for almost a month.  Several of my past blogs have been launched by God’s Word through king Solomon; Wisdom, knowledge and understanding–(Who Are God’s ‘Wise Guys?, Prov. 1); Aren’t the BENEFITS OF WISDOM Worth the Effort? (Prov 2); Lessons Learned from An ANT FARM (Prov. 6).  And now over the past few days, reading in Proverbs 25, I ran across these curious verses and I was moved by God’s Spirit, to start a detective’s investigation.

[21]  “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. [22]  For in doing so, you will HEAP COALS OF FIRE upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

Looking back on my Christian life of 40 years, there were times I wished I could quote this last verse (verse 22) from memory.  I became so emotional over one particular incident in the workplace, I was ready for the charcoal; let’s get the BBQ ready!  But I regress.

THE CURSE OF DUMPING:

In Psalm 140, the psalmist begins the lament:  “DELIVER ME, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men.”  (verse 1).  Now watch carefully as his emotion transcends and look at verse 10:

“Let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire”

It’s obvious that the psalmist wanted burning coals to be used as a weapon of death against his enemies.

By contrast, lets look at Proverbs 25:21-22, for a similar reference to burning coals being used against ones enemies:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  [22] For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE HERE…  Is God’s Word telling us, if we dump some hot coals, out of my Weber Grill, upon the heads of my last employer, I’ll get a REWARD?

THE REWARD OF “REDEMPTION” IS AVAILABLE:

The reward is a redemptive purpose for the GOOD of the enemy; and not a CURSE.  If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; if thirsty, give him water to drink.  For in doing so, you will dump or heap coals of fire upon his head and the Lord will REWARD you with good!

This practice is not to be understood as a revengeful act intended to embarrass its victim, but just the opposite.  The picture here in Proverbs is that of a high priest (Leviticus 16:12) who, on the Day of Atonement, took his censor and filled it with “coals of fire” from off the altar of burnt offering, and then put incense on the coals to create a pleasing, sweet-smelling fragrance.  The cloud or smoke of the incense covered the mercy-seat and was acceptable to God for atonement.  Samuel Wesley wrote: / “So artist melt the sullen ore of lead,/ By heaping coals of fire upon its head:/ In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow./ And pure from dross the silver runs below.”

The Apostle Paul Quotes Proverbs 25:21-22:

“Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.  If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written,  Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.  [20] BUT if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap [dump] burning coals upon his head.  [21] Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good”  (Romans 12:17-21 AMP).

William Sandy and Arthur Headlum (1902: 365) raised some questions and came to conclude:

But with what purpose are we to “heap or dump coals of fire on his head”?  Is it (1), that we may be consoled for our kind act by knowing that he will be punished for his misdeeds? This is impossible since it reveals a malicious motive and is inconsistent with the context here and in the O.T.  Scripture mentions a reward, implying the deed is a good one; we are then immediately told in Romans 12:21 and clearly implies, what we are to do is for OUR enemies benefit.  (2), “Coals of firetherefore means, the burning sensations of shame which man will feel when GOOD is returned for evil; which just might produce remorse and repentance of the enemy.

Now, It Even Gets Better From Here!

There was an Egyptian ritual of old, that the one who is in repentance carries on his/her head a dish of burning charcoal as an expression of remorse for the offenses they’ve committed.  Similar to the picture I found below of spinning dancers with bowls of fire on their heads in India.  As you can see, the dancers are definitely NOT in remorse.  I wanted you to notice, putting fire on top of the heads of others isn’t physically impossible.

Kindness then, to an enemy, makes him express his sorrowfulness before God.

Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have heard that it was said,  You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy;  [44] But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  [45] To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].  [46] For if you love those who love you, what REWARD can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that?  [47] And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that?  [48] You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We are to do “good” to our enemies because that’s how Jesus treated His enemies and we are to imitate Him in LOVE.  The closest we are ever to come in seeking revenge is… doing “good” for our enemy.  Putting our full trust in God and He will set things straight in our forgiveness.

I’ve sometimes found myself down a blind alley when my anger rises up and motivates me reward evil with evil.  Whether it’s my sharp tongue or by the pay-back system–“I’m going to get you back you blanket y-bland-blank!”  And then I came upon this verse that has ‘stuck’ with me over the years when I reach the boiling point:

“Whoever rewards evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house” (Proverbs 17:13)

How does that verse fit in with everything?  It ties it all together with the verse in Romans 12.  When you do good to those doing evil to you. it may cause them to STOP!

–STOP their slander.

–STOP their gossip.

–STOP their back-biting.

–STOP their evil.

Bit this isn’t ALWAYS the case.  As born-again believers, we can’t count on our enemies repentance!  It’s called FOR- GIVE– NESS, not FOR- SALE– NESS   We are good to our enemies because we want to be like Jesus and God is LOVE, even toward those who don’t deserve it.  At one time, we surely didn’t deserve His love.

“BUT I DON’T HAVE ANY ENEMIES. NO ONE HAS PERSECUTED ME!”

Well maybe not but…let’s go to Scripture and take a look at what JESUS said would happen when He would leave His disciples, being again with His Father in heaven:

“If they persecuted Me, they WILL [not “might] also persecute you’

Let’s stop there to meditate on what Jesus has just told His disciples.  When I leave this earth to return to My Father, you being a Christian isn’t going to be easy, for you WILL be persecuted!  So if you are a born-again believer, you do have persecutors all around you whether you are aware of them or not.

Unless…continue reading on in verse 20:

“IF they [you, me] kept My word and obeyed My teachings, they [you, me] will also keep and obey yours [ours].”

I love when I read God’s Word in my Bible, to write personal pronouns for “they”, “yours” and etc.  I did so in verse 20 how to make Scripture personal.

HOW CHARITY & HOSPITALITY TO OUR ENEMY LEADS TO PEACE:

Elisha Showing Hospitality to the ENEMY…

“And when they had come to Samaria, Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men that they may see.  And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw.  Behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.”

“When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha,  My father, shall I slay them?  Shall I slay them.”

“[Elisha] answered,  You shall not slay them.  Would you slay those who have taken captive with your sword and bow?  Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and return to their master.”

“So [the king] prepared great provision for them, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master.  And the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel”  (2 Kings 6:20-23 AMP).

What has happened in this story, that we may learn the truth from?  Elisha’s showing of hospitality and charity to the Syrian prisoners was an act of enlightenment; to his fellow Israelites and the Syrians.

Although Elisha didn’t say so, in my opinion, he was actually casting burning coals upon the heads of their Syrian captives.  i.e.,  the Syrians LEARNED from their enemy a lesson, leading to PEACE.

Word Meaning in Proverbs 25:22:

“To cast burning coals upon the head” becomes a metaphor for “teaching someone a GOOD LESSON.”  This is based upon my investigation, presented with the different meanings found in the (Arabic, the related origin, cognate of the Hebrew).  The word used “teaching” is a synonym for “glowing coals”; Proverbs 25:22.

In Justrow’s lexicon (1903:611), the Hebrew/Arabic contained varied definitions:

“to press, to squeeze, to subdue, to conquer.”

“to grade, to make a path or opening.”

“to put on head.”

“hot ashes, coals.”

“kiln, furnace.”

In the Arabic (gabasa nar an) means, “he took fire” and (gabasa alnar an), means, “he lighted the fire”;  But (gabasa ilman) means, “he acquired knowledge, he sought knowledge.”

So, the fiery coals have to do with HEAT, then heaping coals on someones head actually was an act of torture to the enemy.  However, if the fiery coals have to do with LIGHT, then crowning someone with “coals of fire” became an act of illumination to the recipients; becoming enlightened to their persecution.

“Turning On The LOVE Light”:

I want to get real practical in conclusion:

“But when ANYTHING is exposed and reproved by the LIGHT, it is made visible and clear; and where EVERYTHING is visible, and clear there is light”  (Ephesians 5:13).

Floyd Filson is absolutely right when he said “the LIGHT of God’s kingdom is invading enemy territory!”

People we come in contact with often need to be illuminated

[14] “That what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be brought to pass:  [15] The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, in the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles [of the people s who are not Israel]–  [16] The people who sat (dwelt enveloped) in darkness have seen a great LIGHT, and for those who sat in the land and shadow of death Light has dawned”  (Matthew 4:14, 15, 16 AMP).

Six Steps To Take In the Lands of Zebulun & Naphtali:

1.  Be CONFIDENT in ‘difficult’ situations; of persecution.

“And if you are CONFIDENT that you [yourself] are a guide to the blind, a LIGHT to those who are in darkness, and [that    You are] a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the childish, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and truth–”  (Romans 2:19, 20 AMP).

2.  It might be a difficult problem face in the midst of your enemies BUT you are filled with LIGHT, so have FAITH in the outcome.

“While you have the Light, BELIEVE in the Light [have FAITH in it, hold to it, rely on it], that you may become sons of the Light and be filled with Light”  (John 12:36 AMP).

3.  FOCUS the Light on the Enemy–“There it was–the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines EVERY person”  (John 1:9).

4.  LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven”  (Matthew 5:16 AMP).

5.  LOOK CAREFULLY HOW YOU WALK!

“THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-loved children [imitate their father].  AND WALK IN LOVE…”  (Ephesians 5:1-2a).

6.  PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMY and for your ATTITUDE through it all!

“Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty.  To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints”  (Ephesians 6:18 AMP).

I wish that all of the enemies that I have run across in my Christian life were non-Christians; it might be what I expect.  But in some cases, the enemy can be your Christian brother or sister.  That’s why the apostle Paul speaks about intercession in behalf of ALL the saints.  If your enemy at hand is a Christian, yep, you are to pray in the Spirit for them too.

I hope that attitudes will be change when you are attacked by someone.  I know that my attitude in writing this blog has refreshed my attitude towards neighbors, church members past and present and even to that unknown motorist, shopper, etc.

Our Responsibilties As “DOORKEEPERS”

“GRANDDAD & GRANDMA ARE ON THEIR WAY!

When I was a child, living in Government Housing, there were but two ways to access our front door.  One was by the front street and one was off a dirt side alley.  Down the first way, you had to come down a long walkway; since our apartment sat at the back of the complex.  Now the alley entrance was a closer entrance, but it was dirt and…you couldn’t see anything from our front door.  Bummer!  Although…that’s where my folks always parked, special visitors made their entrances down the long walkway with suitcases in hand.  My dad and I would of course try to meet them before they made the long walk, helping them with their bags, but that was only if we could see them coming.  In the meantime, there would be a surprised visit with a knocking at the front door if we hadn’t noticed.

Now my grandparents lived in San Bernardino, California and we lived in San Diego (Linda Vista).  My grandmother didn’t drive and granddad hated to drive any further than their local grocery store (3-miles away).  So for them to come and visit us in the summer and the Holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, it was nearly impossible.  So out of necessity and love… mom, dad, my younger brother and I would all go to their house.  It was easier than ‘begging’ them to head our way and we were of course always welcome at their house.

I remember grandma would always have a heads-up before we came to visit.  But when we all arrived, the first thing she would ask my parents was, “Could you take me to the store to pick up a few items?”  That would be an entire shopping cart of food.  Grandma was never prepared for our coming, even though she knew our arrival time.  Remember, granddad hated to drive that old 1941 Chrysler.  Normally, a bag of groceries would last them for two weeks or so.  I think grandma was clueless on how to feed a family of four, especially to growing boys to boot!  She did have plenty of cookies in the Cookie Jar though!

When they did come to visit us in San Diego, it was a big event, no matter what time of the year it was.  I would ask mom a child’s ‘stand-by’ question, “When will they get here!”; every ten minutes or so.  Finally after hearing me whine for hours about when they might arrive, mom would simply tell me, get a chair and go to the front door and WATCH FOR THEIR COMING!  Mom gave me ‘a job’ to do; that’s what she called it.  It was more to keep me busy… looking out the front door’s side window, than showing her impatience and telling me words my dad would often said, “They’ll get here when they get here!”  So I was always PREPARED for their COMING.

And The Doorkeeper, the Usher, the Janitor, the Porter’s Job is…?

“One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of WORSHIP, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.  I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God, than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin”  (Psalm 84:10 The Message).

The AMPLIFIED version of the same verse says, “I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand…”

As a child, all I did was stand and wait; watching for my grandparents arrival.  They lived a long way from me and it had been a long time in between visits  But a “DOORKEEPER” in the Bible had many responsibilities, and duties.

DUTIES:

1.  To be FAITHFUL at their post.

2.  To defend the house from danger.

3.  To be READY for the Master of the house return.

But there is much more…

“HOUSE” in Scripture often meant more than a physical structure.  It also meant, FAMILY!; or even metaphorically the CHURCH.  With that thought of HOUSE in mind, lets look at being a DOORKEEPER in biblical times.

BEING A DOORKEEPER IN BIBLICAL TIMES:

The DUTY of a doorkeeper was a very important and privileged job.  It was trusted to the most capable, loyal and trained priest.  Now if you are thinking at this point, “I’m not a PRIEST so this leaves me out of the equation.”  Scripture addresses the priest question by this concept (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6).  As Christians, we are a royal race”; a “royal priesthood.”

As priests, their job entailed that no one who was unclean, undeserving, would enter the Temple of the Lord.  In this way, God’s house wouldn’t be defiled.  The Bible also tell us, our body is now the Temple of the Lord at our Salvation.

They also made sure those who were able to enter worship, did so rightly; properly purified to enter the gates of the Lord’s presence and properly paid their tithe and reverence first.  Aren’t you glad that we don’t have those same kind of doorkeepers in today’s churches? There wouldn’t be worship at all occurring!  Then again, maybe…?

If the DOORKEEPERS did not do their duty, the Temple would be defiled.  they had to have incredible character; not to be bribed or to be lazy in their responsibility.  No SLEEPING on the job.

The Incredible Honor Upheld For The Priest.

The position to be in God’s approximation, His presence; not intimacy but just being close to only a small fraction of the people could have on them.

As a Christian Doorkeeper today, we all have now so much deeper and truer closeness through the POWER of the Holy Spirit living inside the Temple; our bodies.  See the contrast (Lev. 4:1-3; 5:4-16; 16:2; Numbers 18:1-7; Psalm 84).

RELEVANCE of the Door In the New Testament – Revelation 3:20:

“I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door”

We see God using this image in Scripture as a symbol, do we trust Him?  It is a reference to His beckoning for us to come to Him.  It is also a prelude to the imminence of His Second Coming.

Jesus’ request is that the self-deluded, compliant members of a church today, be a part of their activities and lives; being called out by Him (Matt. 24:33; Mark 13:29; James 5:8-9; Rev. 3:11; 22:7).

Opening the Door Meaning–

Jesus is telling His DOORKEEPERS, the church, to be steadfast and persevering in our FAITH in waiting for Christ and His return.  It’s also an image that our FAITH; He opens His door and our obedience keeps it open!  But at the same time, our PRIDE closes it.

THE PARABLE OF THE DOORKEEPER ON WATCH:

[34] “It is like a man [already] going on a journey; when he leaves home, he puts his servants in charge, each with his particular task, and gives orders to the DOORKEEPER to be constantly alert and on watch.  [35] Therefore watch (give strict attention, be cautious and alert), for you do not know when the Master of the house is coming–in the evening, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning–  [36] [Watch, I say] lest He come suddenly and unexpectedly and find you asleep.  [37] And what I say to you I say to everybody; Watch (give strict attention, be cautious, active, and alert)!”  (Mark 13:34-37 AMP).

Paying close attention to what’s being illustrated here by Jesus, the action of the Master is to assign responsibilities to his servants.

The Master was going on a long trip–distance and time.  He gave AUTHORITY to his servants; responsibility, power and action in his absence.  This is a master who trusts his servants and each servant had his assigned work.

Come on church, as Christs’ servants, we’ve been given specific responsibilities of POWER and ACTION in Jesus’ absence.

Now to the Porter, The Doorkeeper, The Usher, the Janitor; he gave a specific responsibility.  He was to WATCH and not to fall asleep.  The Greek word for “asleep” is hupnos; defined as “a spiritual conformity by believers; insensitivity to divine things.”  As a DOORKEEPER, the idea given is that of vigilance, awareness, and protection.

ASSUMING TWO BASIC REASONS FOR HAVING “WATCHMEN IN THE HOUSE:

#1.  To watch out for enemies, thieves and other people who might bring harm into the Master’s house; His family. 

#2 So that the Master would have ready entrance to his house to all that belonged to him when he returned.

The Servant’s Responsibility Was A Great One.

The 5 W’s to Consider of RESPONSIBILITY:

–WHO was he to watch for…specifically for his Master.

–WHEN was he to watch..constantly.

–WHAT was his responsibility..keep a vigilant watch.

–WHY was he to watch so carefully…because he didn’t know when his Master would return.

–WHAT was so important about this servants job as “Doorkeeper”…all the other activity of the Master’s house, making it ready for the master’s return.

THE LESSONS LEARNED FROM A “DOORKEEPER”:

Webster’s Dictionary identifies a doorkeeper as “someone on duty at a door or gate, especially somebody who guards an entrance.”

We’ve learned from Scripture (Rev.3:20), Jesus’ image of knocking on the door, the HEART-DOOR, when the HEART is opened, He will come in to him and a relationship begins.  By-the-way, this relationship is never one-sided.  One-sided relationships are never successful!

So with this IMAGE in mind: HEART=DOOR, thus as a “doorkeeper”, who is watching the entrance with his/her eyes-EYES=WINDOW, our responsibilities become much clearer now as a believer.

In my EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF BIBLE WORDS, I began to dig a little further, into the “HEART” of the matter, so to speak.

The Greek word kardia occurs around 160 times as a true dynamic equivalent for the Hebrew terms leb and lebab.  kardia refers primarily to the heart as the center of the human will, mind, emotion, and soul or spirit.  So as protectors, gatekeepers, doorkeepers, our responsibility is to KEEP WATCH, stay AWAKE, of what can come through the DOORS of our soul and spirit.

BEING ALERT AND ON GUARD:

That’s what my mom basically told me as a child, while patiently waiting for my grandparents visit.  “Be alert Mel, keep watching, be on guard…”  The apostle Paul gives us the same lesson to learn in 1 Corinthians 16:

“Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it).  Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength.”  (v. AMP).

We already know what “to watch” means–but our survival as BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus could depend on that understanding and action Paul describes to us.  Paul wasn’t telling us to be passive spectators (inattentive “doorkeepers”).

How Important Is It That We “Watch” On the Job?

Consider the biblical command “to watch”, coupled with the command to PRAY given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives:

“All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and WATCH and PRAY, that you may not come into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”  (Matthew 26:41 AMP).

It is the spiritual watching for the diversions that surround us; the movies we attend, television programs we watch, etc.. coupled with PRAYER gives us strength to resist the TEMPTATIONS as “DOORKEEPERS”, to survive in difficult situations.

WATCHING means properly using our minds.

God gave us marvelous minds to use–to study, learn, observe, analyze, judge and think.  LIFE is TIME and to waste time is to waste life.

Three times Jesus left His disciples to pray and told them to keep watch.  And three times they were found sleeping.  Jesus then leaves these words with His ‘sleepy’ followers, His Doorkeepers, as they were rubbing their eyes and wondering at the same time, “Now how did that just happen?”:

“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?  Behold, the hour is at hand…”

And again, Jesus tells His disciples in the parable of Mark 13:

“[Watch, I say] lest He come suddenly and unexpectedly and find you asleep.  And what I say to you I say to everybody:  WATCH (give strict attention, be cautious, active, and alert)!” (verses 36-37).

WAKE-UP and Don’t Be Caught Naked!

If this is where you are in your spiritual life right now, let’s pray this prayer together:

Father, I have been ‘slacking’ in my responsibilities as your DOORKEEPER as of late.  I’ve been sleeping; not staying awake in prayer, watching for temptations.  I know that Satan and his band of thieves will fill the voids in my life if I’m not careful to watch.  I repent of my laziness, my indifference to the worlds way of seeing and doing and ask that You will forgive my sin.  In Your Son’s Name Jesus, AMEN.

Congratulations!  If you just prayed that prayer with me, you are now a DOORKEEPER!  Ready for ACTION!  All with the help and power of the Holy Spirit.