Having A DEAF, DUMB, and BLIND FAITH

“Not another message about faith?”  YES!  And during the Christmas season, especially.

FAITH definition:  “Faith is not believing that God can; it’s knowing that He will.”

Application:  Walking by faith is being prepared to trust where we are not permitted to see.  FAITH allows God to do for us and with us what we could never do alone.

This Bible study in Luke, chapter 7,  begins with a Roman soldier’s faith and takes us inside TRUE FAITH showing how and what faith does in lives.

FAITH is deaf to doubt, dumb to discouragements, blind to impossibilities and knows nothing but success in God.

Scripture study:  Luke 7:1-10

At Christmas time, especially, faith is the highpoint from the event that happened so long ago in the small town of Bethlehem.  In this story, we find a Roman centurion who, though he was a Gentile, understood who Christ was and is.  And although this story of a “Centurion” is ancient history to us today, it would have been of special interest to Theophilus, a Gentile to whom this account is addressed (Luke 1:3).

The story is a significant one being this was a Gentile who exercised this faith that even Jesus would remark that this man’s FAITH was amazing.

Only twice in all of Scripture Jesus said to “marvel” or be amazed.  The other time was when He began His public ministry in His hometown of Nazareth and He was rejected by His fellow Jews–(Mark 6:6; Luke 4:14-30)  “He marveled (“was amazed’) by their lack of faith.”

The Centurion had a FAITH that was more knowing and sensitive than anything Jesus had witnessed in Israel.

What could be more horrible than to amaze the Son of God by one’s lack of faith?  What could be more thrilling than to amaze Him by one’s faith?  This centurion had amazing faith!

“Why was Jesus so amazed?”  A question I had to investigate.

WHAT ARE CHARACTERISTIC MAKES THIS MAN’S FAITH SO AMAZING?

Luke 7:1-2 (AMP)

[1]  AFTER JESUS had finished all that He had to say in the hearing of the people [on the mountain], He entered Capernaum.  [2]  Now a centurion had a bondservant who was held in honor and highly valued by him, who was sick at the point of death.

This man had an amazing faith that caused him to love across all barriers.

Jesus had just completed the teaching known to us as “The Sermon on the Mount.”  He now enters Capernaum, a city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.

While Jesus is in Capernaum, He is approached by representatives of the Roman Centurion.  Centurions were commonplace during the Roman Empire and equivalent in rank to a modern-day army captain, normally in command of 1000 soldiers.

This particular centurion had a servant who was ill.  Matthew (8:6),  in his account of this incident, says, “a servant boy.”   Whoever this young man was, Luke, who was a doctor, said he “was sick and ready to die.”

If you’ve ever clung to a loved one at death’s door and felt they were slowly losing the battle, you must know this centurion’s awful sense of helplessness.

We are told that this man loved Israel, though it was not the land of his birth.

It’s also obvious in reading that this man cared deeply about his young servant which is very out of the ordinary socially and the crossing of racial and ethnic barriers when as a Gentile, he appealed to a Jew for help.

This man loved people not just like himself.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel particularly effective in loving folks who live outside the social barriers around me (eg. “skid row”, the homeless in tents on the city sidewalks…).

The second characteristic I noted of an Amazing Faith was that it caused this man to be excited and active in the work of God around him.  (vv. 3-4)

 

We need to understand that the Jewish elders had little love for the Romans in general and Roman soldiers in particular.  This Roman officer must have been a very unique individual for the elders to be willing to approach Jesus on his behalf.

The elders not only bring the man’s request but they vouch for their Gentile friend.  They argue that he’s a man of integrity he’s well-liked by the Jews, and worthy of Jesus’ help.

Verse 3 says,  “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to Him, asking Him to come and heal his servant.  [4] When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with Him, This man deserves to have you do this [5] because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”

This man had given substantially to the building of a house of worship.  Gentile worshipers were barred from the Temple in Jerusalem but not so much with synagogues in the outlying areas.  The synagogue was a place that even Gentiles could come and listen to the word of God being taught.

So in that time and place, this centurion lived the major way that God was using to spread His light within the synagogue system, using his money, his reputation, and influence to build the synagogue.  The centurion consciously chose to participate enthusiastically by involving himself in what was most apparent in what God was doing.

In stark contrast, according to George Barna, a church statistician, adults who regularly attend church, 37% didn’t give a dime to a church in the last year [George Barna, How to Increase Giving in Your Church (Regal Books) p.20].

In this man’s marvelous faith, it caused him to approach Christ in great HUMILITY (vv. 6-7).

This passage reveals two essential components of the Christian FAITH–an understanding of who Christ is and an understanding of who we are in Christ Jesus.

Not only did this man display great love, but also his great humility.

In verse six we find,  “So Jesus went with him to his house.  He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to Him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  [7] That s why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you…”

Before Jesus could reach his house, the Centurion sent a second representative to Jesus, to tell Him that it wasn’t necessary for Him to come to his house.  All because he was familiar with Jewish religious customs, he didn’t wish to put Jesus in a position of having to enter the home of a Gentile.

This Roman soldier, a man of considerable influence and power, was also uniquely HUMBLE and regarded himself as undeserving of having Jesus come under his roof, even felt unworthy of meeting Jesus in the street.

This soldier, unlike the Pharisees, doesn’t ask Jesus for a sign that he was who He said, he was.  This man doesn’t even ask to meet Him.

The third characteristic of this man’s remarkable faith might be summed up in this song–his willingness to trust Christ alone even before the Cross.

How much more do we have today but to TRUST in Christ alone?

Verses 7b-8 (NIV) –  [7b]  “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  [8] For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.  I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 

The centurion apparently realized the One who had the power of life and death; that could heal with a word, must be God incarnate.  And if Christ is divine, then he, as a Gentile sinner, must be unworthy to even meet Him.

All Jesus must do is say the word, and he believes that it is as good as done!

There’s no evidence that I could find in Scripture that this man ever personally heard Jesus preach, and yet he believed.  He made his request known based on what he heard of Jesus.

In verse 8, the word “myself,”–“also,” in other translations–we see that the officer saw a parallel between the way he commanded his soldiers with the way Jesus commanded diseases.

If this Roman, with very little spiritual instruction, had that kind of FAITH in God’s word, how much greater our FAITH should be!

In VERSE 9, we see the reaction of Jesus:

[9]  Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and He turned and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I tell you, not even in [all] Israel have I found such great faith [as this].”  (AMP)

This man’s remarks amaze Jesus, so much so, that they came from a Gentile.  He marveled at a Roman centurion, whose background and circumstances ought to have made it difficult for him to have faith, a man whose occupation prized being big, bad and tough, a man steeped in paganism, a man hated by the Jews because he was Roman.

Yet in spite of all the circumstances that went against him, here stood a man who was a perfect example of FAITH.

Almost as an afterthought, Luke adds verse ten,  “And when the messengers who had been sent returned to the house, they found the bondservant who had been ill quite well again.”  (AMP)

So how often have you displayed such faith?

We will never be perfect in our faith but we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to enables us to incorporate the elements into our lives.

Back to the question:  HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU DISPLAYED SUCH FAITH?  If you’re like me, not very often.  And that’s a sin.  Because it’s God’s will that we all have amazing faith.  But all too often in our ‘business,’ we get so wrapped up in ourselves, we don’t show true care and concern for others.  Remember, true faith is “active”–not sitting around the fireplace talking about the unfortunate.  What startled and impressed Jesus were the characteristics that anyone like you and me can have in our lives.  Some think that “amazing faith,” is the ability to do the miraculous.  But miracles are something that Jesus can do anytime.

This Bible study in Luke should bring the understanding there are today those whose lives that would impress Jesus, because of their faithful godly lives.

The characteristics of a marvelous, amazing, faith!

  1. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO LOVE ACROSS BARRIERS.
  2. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO BE EXCITED AND ACTIVE IN THE WORK OF GOD.
  3. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO APPROACH CHRIST IN GREAT HUMILITY.
  4. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO BE WILLING TO TRUST IN CHRIST ALONE.

Through the POWER of God’s Word, and through our Savior Jesus, we can be people of amazing faith–someone whose FAITH is unselfish, unassuming, and unwavering, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves.  AMEN.

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CREDITS

Music Video:  YouTube video, In Christ Alone – Brian Littrell

Photo Images:  Google Image search

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified (AMP).

Various Commentary on Luke 7:1-10:  Sermon Central

JUDGMENT Is Good! (Part Two in Series)

In this continued study, we’ll look at Micah’s second message as presented in Micah 3:1-5:15

JUDGMENT HAPPENS BEFORE REVIVAL

Just a brief review of Micah, the man.

  • His name means, “Who is like Jehovah?”
  • He was from Moresheth-Gath, 20-25 miles SW of Jerusalem.
  • He was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah.

MICAH the book…

  • The prophecies that occurred in the book were around 735-700 B.C.
  •  The Prophecies were directed both to Israel and Judah.
  •  The general theme appears to be “present judgment, with the blessing that follows.
  •  The JUDGMENT pronounced by God through the Prophet upon Israel and Judah found in Micah 1:2-16; 2:1-13.

In Part Two of this series, we’ll look at Micah’s second message as presented in Micah 3:1-5:15.  This second message has much more to say about the future hope, especially regarding the Messiah–Jesus Christ.

But it begins with God’s condemnation of Israel’s leaders (Micah 3:1-3)

The INDICTMENT of Civil Leaders:

  • They HATE good and LOVE evil.
  •  They consume the people (i.e., ‘oppress them’).

The JUDGMENT to befall them in Micah 3:4:

[4]  Then they will cry out to the LORD, but He will not answer them.  At that time He will hide His face from them because of the evil they have done  (NIV).

This was one example of God’s judgment against corrupt leaders.  When they cried out for God’s help, the LORD would remain silent.  One aspect of The Blessing (different from ‘a blessing’) promised by the priests of Israel was asked the LORD to make His face shine upon you (Numbers 6:25).  Here, Micah promised the opposite of this Blessing–that God would even hide His face from them.

Israel’s Religious Leaders aren’t ignored either!

The judgment to come upon the false prophets (Micah 3:5-7) was to come because they lead God’s people off course and away from God’s Word.  With no vision, they shall be made ashamed!

This action by our religious leaders of today; from the pulpits across the land spewing false doctrine will receive judgment as well.

Micah’s Own Ministry contrasted to that of the False Prophets of his day (Micah 3:8).

Micah finds himself full of the power of the Spirit, justice, and might and declaring the transgressions and sin of Israel.  Without the empowerment, he just becomes another critical church member.

Micah gets specific in his indictment of Israel’s leaders and addresses once more the rulers of Israel, their sins being categorized (Micah 3:9-11).

  • They abhor justice and pervert equity (fairness).
  • They build up Jerusalem with bloodshed and iniquity.

Whether judges, priests, or prophets, they do what they do only for the money, ignoring their claim to trust in the LORD.

And because of their misguidance, judgment comes upon Israel because of them (Micah 3:12).

“Therefore shall Zion on your account be plowed like a field.  Jerusalem shall become heaps [of ruins], and the mountain of the house [of the Lord] like a densely wooded height.”  (AMP)

[This prophecy of Micah was fulfilled when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (c.f., 2 Chronicles 36:17-21).  But his message isn’t finished; as ominous as it was in proclaiming the coming judgment, Micah now continues with a glimpse into the future]

The Future of Zion and the Messianic Hope!

A GLIMPSE AT WHAT WILL HAPPEN “IN THE LAST DAYS”

  • The “mountain of the Lord’s temple” is established and many people will want to be there.  (Mic. 4:1-2)
  • The people will want to learn God’s ways, the word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem.  (Mic. 4:2)
  • The LORD will judge nations and there will be peace.  (Mic 4:3)
  • Everyone will be content, walking in the name of the LORD forever!  (Mic. 4:4-5)

Isaiah had a similar prophecy – (Isa. 2:1-4).

FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY –

Prophecy is much like peeling an onion; it comes with many layers.  In Micah’s prophecy, the fulfillment is layered.

Some believe it is all yet to come (e.g., premillennialists).

Some believe it is all past (e.g., some amillennialists).

Me personally?  I believe there is past, present, and future elements.

It began in Jerusalem preaching the gospel on Pentecost.  For Peter identifies the events of that day as beginning the fulfillment of what would occur in the “last days”  [cf. Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-17].

For Jesus said the gospel would go forth from Jerusalem as prophesied [Lk. 24:46-47; cf. Mic. 4:2; Isa. 2:3].

The “judging among many people” may be both in the present and in the future.

The book of Revelation reveals the Lord as judging the present and in the future – [cf. Re. 1:5; 2:26-27; 17:14; 20:11-15].

Peter viewed some of Isaiah’s prophecies as yet to be fulfilled – [ 2 Pe. 3:13; cf. Isa. 64:17-19; 66:22].

Therefore Micah 4:3-5 may find some of its fulfillment in the eternal destiny of the redeemed, part of the “New Jerusalem” of the “new heaven and new earth” as described in Revelation 21-22.

As Micah continues, he describes what will occur “in that day” – Mic. 4:6-8

The Lord will assemble a remnant of those He afflicted.

Romans 11:5 (AMP) – “So too at the present time there is a remnant (a small believing minority), selected (chosen) by grace (by God’s unmerited favor and graciousness).”

He will reign over them forever – [cf. Lk. 1:30-33].

The fulfillment of this prophecy, I understand, began with the first coming of Christ and that the church is a spiritual kingdom in which the “former dominion” of Israel has been restored and given to Jesus who reigns in heaven.  [Cf. Mt. 28:18; Ac. 1:6-8; 2:30-36; Re. 1:5; 2:26-27; 3:21].

The Coming Messiah

In Micah 5:2 we find the prophecy of the Messiah’s birthplace [cf. Mt. 2:1-6] some 700 years before the birth of Jesus in a small village called Bethlehem.

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrata–He would become the ruler of Israel [Cf. Isa. 9:6-7; Lk. 1:30-33].

His “goings forth have been from old, from everlasting” [Cf. John 1:1-3].

The Messiah will lead His people in peace [Micah 5:3-5 a.].

Though first, they (Israel) must be given up for a short time (Babylonian captivity).  Then a remnant shall return when the Ruler shall feed them in the strength of the Lord.

Further Judgment On Israel and Her Enemies

Some take this section to be Messianic.  I tend to take it as pertaining to Micah’s day and those who followed shortly after…

The Assyrian threat is proved to be no real threat for Judah – [Mic 5:5 b. -6; cf. Isa. 36-37].

When the remnant is scattered (as a result of Babylonian captivity), they shall be a lion among the flocks of sheep – [Mic. 5:7-9; (e.g., Daniel, Esther?).].

God would cut off her false strengths (such as horses and chariots), [Cf. Isa. 31:1]  and her idolatry – Mic. 5:10-15.

Future Blessings

With the recurrent theme of his messages (judgment now/future blessings), Micah’s purpose appears to be two-fold…to warn the people that they may repent as necessary…and to encourage the people that their HOPE for the future might help them to endure in the hard times to come.

A similar two-fold message is found in the New Testament as well…warnings to persevere lest we fall away – [Hebrews 4:1, 11].  Promises to encourage us for whatever lies ahead – [e.g., 2 Peter 3:13-14].

In Today’s World…

Today, we have an advantage over the Israelites of Micah’s day…we’ve already seen much of his prophecy fulfilled in the first coming of the Messiah.

As Peter wrote, “We also have the prophetic word made more sure”  (2 Peter 1:9).  Made surer by virtue of its fulfillment, it can serve to comfort us and strengthen our hope regarding any future promises of God – Cf. Rom. 15:4.

If God kept His promise concerning the first coming of His Son, we can have confidence He will keep His promise concerning His return!

By careful study and consideration of the prophets, both Old Testament and New Testament, our hope for the future is strengthened.

Revelation 22:20 (Contemporary English Version)

The one who has spoken these things says, “I am coming soon!”  So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!

AMEN!

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CREDITS

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), or as noted in the text.

Photo/Images:  Google Image search–Settings, advanced search.

The Bible Almanac by J.J. Packer, – Merrill C. Tenney – William White Jr. [Thomas Nelson Publishers]

And the Church Prayed

I think we sometimes appear to others around us as people of prayer.  After all, we attend church on a regular basis and that’s what “religious people” do.  But we’re not really.

A Sunday School teacher was struggling to open a combination lock to a supply cabinet.  She had been told the combination but couldn’t remember it.  Totally frustrated, she went to the pastor’s study and asked for help.  The pastor came into the room and began to turn the dial.  After the first two numbers, he paused and stared blankly for a moment.  Finally, he said, “You know, I can’t remember the combination either.”  Then he folded his hands and looked heavenward and his lips moved silently.  Then he looked back at the lock, quickly turned to the final number and opened the lock.  The teacher was amazed.  “Pastor, I can’t believe you prayed and God gave you the combination,” she said.  “It’s really nothing,” he answered.  “The combination is written on a piece of paper taped to the ceiling.”

As a church, we don’t know quite what to do about prayer, or how to go about prayer, or even whether we should have any expectation of prayer working in our lives.

Prayer is a major element in the Bible.

This is a strange text from the Book of Acts,  chapter 12.  It begins like a Shakespearian Tragedy.

The church is being persecuted.

King Herod puts a Christin leader, John’s brother James to death.  Herod finds that the masses like this and it helps increase his popularity, so he has Peter arrested and scheduled for execution.

Then the tragedy turns very dramatically as an angel appears by waking him from his sleep leading him out of the prison.  It’s a real mystery event as even Peter doesn’t know if it’s real, or a vision, or just a dream.

The angel and Peter walk up to the gates of the prison and the iron gates open by themselves.

But then the event turns and begins to feel like a comedy.

The whole church is praying for Peter’s release, and the church’s response when they see Peter is to think, “That can’t be Peter–he’s in jail!  We’re here praying for his freedom so he can’t be free!”

Sometimes our prayers seem to go unanswered so often, we find ourselves expecting God to do nothing when we pray.  Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for in a given situation, or how to pray. 

So looking at the Book of Acts, in particular, Chapter 12, it’s study can teach us all some important lessons about prayer.

The first lesson is, the Church should pray!

That’s simple and very logical.   Of course; you say the church should pray.  But I have to say that I wonder if we pray enough in our churches or in our own lives.  Paul says in his New Testament book, First Thessalonians,  “Pray without ceasing.”  Many of us will reverently bow our heads for a few moments and then stop.

Paul didn’t mean that we should be on our knees all the time or living like Monks in a monastery.  He meant that we should be in an attitude of prayer, so even while we’re talking with others around us, part of our mind is in communion with God.  And when we’re driving down the road, part of our mind should be in a quiet relationship with God.

But for many of us, prayer is a rare action.  It’s something we do much too infrequently.

“You are in my prayers”

We find ourselves in a conversation with others who tell us about how they are in the middle of problemed teenager situation, or they are waiting to hear back from doctors and the news might not be good, or they’re struggling to find a job and we give them what we think is comforting–but they aren’t in our prayers.  We say we’ll pray for them but we won’t.  I often will ask them right where they are if I can pray for them at the point of the request.  It helps them know they have my attention and it’s a good reminder for me to keep praying!

One of the things we see in this passage of Acts is that the Church prayed!

Praying is the most powerful thing that we can do as a church.  We need to pray as a community.

Prayer for me is often a private thing.  In the mornings when I’m reading my Bible, it becomes my prayer time as well in which I’m alone with my heavenly Father.  I like to call it ‘Father/son time’.

Hopefully, personal and private time prayer is something we all do, but we also need to pray in community.  It doesn’t have to be the entire church–it could be your small group or your Sunday School Class, or a few church members you contact via email.

The church finds strength as a praying community for one another.

Peter finds the church gathered together in prayer for him.

The strange thing is that even though the church is gathered specifically in prayer for him, a comic moment transpires as the church is caught off guard with the fact that God has heard and answered their prayers.  This brings us to another important lesson about prayer in the Book of Acts:

When we pray, we should expect God to respond!

Looking at the Bible you’ll find many times when prayers were answered.  Abraham’s servant prayed for God’s direction in finding a wife for Isaac, and God led him to Rebekah (Genesis 24:12-15).  

David prayed for strength and was able to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17).  

We tend to forget however, there are many times in the Bible that prayer seems to be left unanswered.

Paul prayed three times for the removal of that “thorn in the flesh.”  

Even Jesus prayed a prayer that was left unanswered.  Jesus cried out in the garden, “take the cup of suffering from me.”  He prayed that He wouldn’t have to suffer on the cross.  Instead, He had to suffer the pain of it.

Our own lives are full of unanswered prayers.  So much so, that we begin to live in expectation of our prayers being left unanswered.

And like Rhoda and the church in Acts 12, we reach a point where we are shocked and unbelieving when God answers prayer.  The thought process of why some prayers seem to go unanswered is a complex question.  It’s not a one size fits all sort of question to answer.

There are different reasons for different situations.

Sometimes our prayers aren’t answered because our hearts aren’t right with God:  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

In Proverbs 15:29, we read “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

Sometimes, the problem with unanswered prayer is our time isn’t God’s time.

And what we often interpret as “unanswered prayer” is simply a matter of an answer that’s delayed.

In Jeremiah 42:2-7 we read where the people asked the prophet to speak to God for providing immediate direction in their lives–“We want it right now!”

Sometimes the answer comes for longer than simply ten days later.  It might be years later.

Sometimes we misunderstand prayer.

We pray out of selfish motives. 

True prayer is God-centered.

But we often turn our prayers into a self-centered activity.  I

n the New Testament Book of James, we’re told: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).  

The object of prayer is that God is glorified and not ourselves.  At times we think of prayer as Aladdin’s lamp to use in glorifying self.  We often think of God as a genie who is at our bidding and command.

Can we not pray for ourselves?

Of course, but we should pray for ourselves unselfishly.  Unselfish prayer for self is a prayer which seeks not self-centered comfort but Christ-centered conformity to God’s will.  Prayer isn’t an end in itself but a means to a greater end which is to glorify God!

The Bible promises us that God will hear our prayers.

The Bible never says that God will obey our orders and sometimes that’s the way we treat prayer.

In the Book of Acts, we don’t see Peter praying self-centered prayers.  He isn’t begging for his freedom.  He’s resting in the comfort of God.  He trusts God so much on the eve of his execution, he falls asleep and he sleeps so soundly that when the angel comes to wake him up, a gentle nudge won’t do.

When I was a young teenager, my mother would come into my room in the morning and wake me up for school–quietly coming to my bedside and gently rocking my shoulder she would say, “Mel, Mel, time to get up and out of bed and go.”  No–that wasn’t the way the angel woke up Peter.  The angel acted like my father.  When Dad would wake me up, he would crack the bedroom door and shout, “Mel.  Get out of bed right now and get to school!!”

Acts even says the angel had to hit Peter in the side to wake him up!  [Acts 12:7 – Interlinear Bible].

And you know, that in itself is really the best answer to prayer–not that God would do this or God would do that, but that He would give us such trust in Him that we could rest comfortably and calmly in His loving presence.

And the church should pray…

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CREDITS

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), or as stated.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old and New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr.

Commentary:  Drumbeat of Love by Lloyd John Ogilvie.

Contributions by Maynard Pittendreigh in researching commentary on Acts Chapter 12.

Who Is Melchizedek in the Bible…Or As I Like to Call Him, ‘Mel’?


If one goes to the Internet to answer this question, there are all sorts of claims made in the name of ‘Melchizedek”.  I’ve come across the name, once again, in bible study in The Letter to the Hebrews 7:1-22, and to save me the time of writing down “Melchizedek,” over and over again, I took the liberty of calling him ‘Mel’.

Many religious groups with ties to Christianity make claims regarding Melchizedek.  Ancient Gnostics go to great explanations of claiming Melchizedek was actually Jesus [For more on the term “Gnostic,” go to GotQuestions.org/”What is the definition of the term Gnostic? ]. Others say he was the archangel, Michael.

Suffice to say, I don’t recommend an Internet search answering these sorts of questions.

In Hebrews 7, the information presented gives the most information about ‘Mel’ in the entire Bible.

Of course, Melchizedek first shows up in our Bible in Genesis … 12 pages into my Bible.

  • Genesis 12 contains God’s call of Abram and God’s promise that would make Abram a great nation and Blessed him (Genesis 12:2).
  • Genesis 13 includes the story of Abram (Abraham) and his nephew Lot agreeing to separate and occupy different territories in the new land.
  • At the beginning of Genesis 14, there’s a report of war among several kings.  Caught up in the plunder of war, Lot was carried off by the victory and apparent victim of circumstance, Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • In the middle of Genesis 14, Abram learns of his nephew’s plight, takes a group of 318 soldiers, routs Lot’s captors and liberates Lot, his possessions, and all the people with him.

It was after Abram’s return from the victory that the story unfolds with Melchizedek.  Even though it is contained in just three chapters in our Bibles, it was a significant encounter for Abram.  Mostly because it’s a moment in which Abram acknowledged God’s Blessing on his life:

  • He chose the Blessing of the priest over the spoils of war offered by the other kings.
  • He credited God for the victory won.
  • He tithed, giving an offering in worship to “God most high”.

AND THIS IS THE END OF THE ACCOUNT.

There are no more details about ‘Mel’ to be found in Genesis.

Most history books I’ve run across don’t deny the existence of Melchizedek, but they don’t have much else to add either.

Aside from our text in Hebrews in this study, the only other place I could find in the Bible was Psalm 110.

Psalm 110 is what Bible scholars call a Messianic psalm, a prophecy that describes the ultimate Savior, the Victor that would deliver God’s people for all eternity.

And this particular Psalm describes the Messiah as “a priest after the manner and order of Melchizedek”  (verse 4).  

Sound familiar?

Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

This duplication of this specific language presented at the end of Chapter 6 of Hebrews is in the precise language of Psalm 110.

Hebrews 6:20 (AMP)

[20] Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

This is to remind us that none of this is primarily about ‘Mel’…it’s all about Jesus!

Although, as a Word Detective, it might be really tantalizing to think of all this in terms of unlocking some great mystery about this baffling Melchizedek.  The main point I find here is to tie Jesus to the prophecy found in Psalm 110.  So we will be best served to look at this passage of Scripture not so much for answers to the question “Who is Melchizedek?”  Rather, what we should really be after are the answers to the greater question, “Who is Jesus?”

The author who penned these words under the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit has no interest in leading us as readers to Melchizedek.  We are being led to Jesus!

What is found in this passage of Scripture now is Melchizedek being used as an illustration to help us understand more about Christ Jesus.

Melchizedek’s position is worth taking a close look at in Hebrews 7.

The beginning of the chapter explains that he is both king and priest.  Specifically king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem), priest of God Most High.

Jesus too is both King and Priest.

This mention of genealogy seems curious when it comes to studying this in the context of the Bible, especially the Old Testament historical books.  Unlike almost every other figure in the O.T. historical books, ‘Mel’ has no genealogical context.  He isn’t identified as “the son of” anyone, no begat.

Neither his birth nor death is recorded.

In Melchizedek’s case, scripture is silent about all that made him unique.  In this case, what distinguishes Melchizedek isn’t his genealogy, but his righteousness, peace, his association with God Most High!

Verses 4-10 makes us aware of Abraham’s position in respect to Melchizedek.

Abraham, the father of faith, the one through whom God chose to create a special people for Himself, subservient to Melchizedek.

  1. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek–giving him, in an act of worship, a tenth of what he had.
  2. ‘Mel’ blessed Abraham.

First the blessing and then the tenth. 

The lesser person is blessed by the greater.  Abraham wasn’t BLESSED because he tithed.

He gave because he was already BLESSED!

Jesus, too, is greater than Abraham.

Jesus, through this illustration, is associated in a superior order than all kings and priests, especially all those kings and priests that would come from Abraham.

Verses 11-14 make more of this idea of genealogy and ancestry.

The LAW given by Moses, established the tribe of Levi, the tribe of priests.

But Jesus wasn’t a Levite, as ‘Mel’ wasn’t a Levitical priest; Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.

Under the old covenant, one would be a law-breaker if one claimed to be a PRIEST but not qualified by his genealogy,

If you weren’t a LEVITE, you couldn’t be a PRIEST.

But like Melchizedek, who preceded the Levites, Jesus is a PRIEST superior to the Levitical priesthood not on the basis of RULES or ANCESTRY, but on the basis of the POWER of an indestructible life…a life everlasting! 

So, Jesus makes possible what the imperfections of the old priestly order could never deliver.

Jesus introduces “a better HOPE” as described in verse 19.

In the priestly order, only a select few could dare approach YHWH, but Jesus set aside what “was weak and useless” and made a way “by which we draw near to God.”

The old order of SACRIFICES made in the old order of Levitical priests, in which men continually offered payment for SIN through offerings, was set aside.

There were no chairs in the Temple or Tabernacle, for the work was not done.  But Jesus accomplished for us, once and for all, A NEW HOPE by which we draw near to God.

Finally, these last verses in the passage take our mind and spirit back to the prophecy in Psalm 110.  We have to remember, the point here is that Jesus isn’t merely like a king, like a priest, like a Messiah.  

The POINT here is…Jesus IS that Messiah!

He is sealed with an oath from the Creator (“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind” Psalm 110:4) and not a priest by association or ancestry, but a PRIEST by declaration.

God said to him:  “The Lord has sworn (made an OATH) and will not change His mind:  ‘You are a priest forever'”

(verse 22 b.) – Because of His OATH. Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  A whole new order, a new way, a new deal, a better covenant…

“SO WHAT?” you might say.

At one level, the “so what,” is simply the benefit of study.  The illustration found in Hebrews regarding Melchizedek gets a little technical, I’ll admit, but it’s powerful!  There’s a real reward that comes with a clearer understanding of God’s Word.

That understanding draws us closer to God and for this confidence that comes from the Word, we can shout, “AMEN”!

There’s of course, this very practical reminder…to keep our focus on Jesus.

‘Mel’ is one of those figures that has been hijacked and made into something that was never intended by many.

If you were googling Melchizedek, you’d soon find yourself way out in the theological weeds.  You can also go to Amazon.com and find all sorts of books that would want to take you down all sorts of weird roads.

But those “roads” take people away from the plain and simple basics of our faith.

We should take away from this study, a reminder that Scripture points us to Jesus.  We don’t need to search for secrets and mysteries about Melchizedek; the intent of this passage of Scripture is clearly to draw our attention and understanding to Jesus:

He is…

  • King of Righteousness
  • King of Peace
  • Priest Forever.

We’re reminded of the continuity of our faith.  That all ancient history points to the hinge of history, Jesus our Savior.

…that all religious practice, all rules, and law, all sacrifice and worship…ALL of it is trumped (if you will), superseded by a Superior Order, Jesus, the promised priest forever!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS

The New International Commentary On The New Testament – The Letter To The Hebrews

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and other translations used are so noted.

 

 

“Yesterday Is History, Tomorrow Is A Mystery, But Today Is A Gift…”

A Study in Philippians 3:10-14 

I’ve heard about an odd phenomenon in the military.  When people were drawing close to retirement or their discharge date, their whole demeanor changed.  They started dragging to the formation.  Their PT efforts became lackluster.  Their work grew sub-par or average at best.  Now to be fair, it most likely wasn’t their fault.  They had an STD, which in this case stands for “short-timers’ disease.”

Do you ever feel like you’ve short timers’ disease in life?

Do you ever feel like, why even make the effort?

Maybe you’re just going through the motions.

Just maybe the Scripture cited in this blog will give you a new attitude:  about your past, present, and future.

First, Paul’s words advise us to…RELEASE THE PAST

In verse 13, Paul uses the phrase, “Forgetting what is behind”.

Is he asking us to suppress those troublesome memories we’ve accumulated over time?  I don’t think so.  Paul is talking about letting go of things that still have a hold on us.

Not releasing the past, two things will get us into trouble:

  • Past Failures
  • Past Successes

Past failures have the tendency to make us think we’re a failure.

Paul could certainly recall his failures:  He supervised the death of the first martyr of the Church, Stephen.  He could have carried a lot of GUILT for his persecution of Christians before his salvation.  But he didn’t.

He said we need to release all of that to God.

God can forgive your GUILT if you give it to Him.

God can FORGIVE ALL the woulda/coulda/shoulda decisions you’ve analyzed to death!

1 John 1:9 (AMP)

[9] IF we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

We need to forget our FAILURES, and by the way, our SUCCESSES too.

If we concentrate on them too much, we’ll rest on our laurels and never want to do more.

One thing I learned over the years I was in business, the biggest threat to future success is past success.  That’s why companies keep reinventing themselves.

In marriage seminars, it’s often said, “Being married is like riding a bike: It takes some work, some peddling.  If you’re coasting, you’re always going downhill.”

In the first part of the chapter, Paul mentions the successes that were under his belt.

He listed his pedigree as a learned Jewish scholar and Pharisee, trained by the best.  Yet, he said, compared to knowing Christ all of his Ivy League know-how was garbage (verse 8).  The actual word there is “DUNG” (Strong’s Greek; 4657), or “manure pile”- Luke 13:8; 14:35.

ALL OF OUR EARTHLY EFFORTS AMOUNT TO NOTHING COMPARED TO KNOWING CHRIST.

The image of poop is a vivid reminder not to let those past success go to your head!

I’m not saying the past isn’t important.  We need to learn from the past.

But I find life is like driving a car:  Most of the time you want to look out that large front windshield; every now and then you need to glance back through the tiny rear view mirror.  Too much looking back will get you into trouble.

LEARN from the past.

Make PEACE with the past.

CELEBRATE the past.

And LET GO of the past so that you can be…

Reaching toward the FUTURE.

Paul says in verses 13 and 14,  “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.     [In other words, “I haven’t arrived yet!”].  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Straining to cross the finish line!

Paul pictures here the sprinter straining forward to cross the finish line.  You can’t worry about what’s behind you.  You need to lean into the run and give it all you got, keeping your eyes fixed on the finish.

And what a finish it will be!

What is our goal? What is the prize?

It’s the heavenward calling of God in Christ Jesus!

A couple of weeks ago now, I began this study in Philippians [STUFF Happens In Life, So What’s Next?].

In the introduction, we looked together at Paul’s life mission when he said, For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).  

He pointed out that the STUFF–the things we face in life is temporary.  We have one foot in eternity and one foot on earth.  Earth is our temporary home.  We’re just passing through.

And in God’s perfect timing, He will bring us home to our glorious future.

When we can remember that, we can press forward in the race of life, running every day in serving God, leaving our worries in the past.

Romans 8:31 (NIV) says “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift…”

I borrowed that quote for my blog-title from Master Oogway from the movie Kung Fu Panda.  Actually, the author is unknown yet many claim it.  And to be accurate, I left out of the title an important finishing line: “That’s why it’s called the ‘present’ “.

As we yield our past and our future to God, we’re left with the PRESENT.

We run the race, a race that’s never over until it’s over.  As long as we have breath, we need to PRESS ON!  Stay with it!

Follow Christ, love Christ and know Christ Jesus.

That, my friends, is what we do now:  We release the PAST, we reach toward our FUTURE, and we grow closer to Jesus every day.

Paul says, over and over in this chapter, his number one ambition is to know Christ. 

The word “KNOW” doesn’t refer to head knowledge.  He doesn’t want to know more about Jesus.  It’s the word used to describe how a parent and child know each other, or how a husband and wife know each other.  It means to KNOW in the context of RELATIONSHIP, to know more intimately, to grow closer and closer.

This is Paul’s goal; every day, to know Christ more!  Paul said, “I want to know Him in two ways.”  

In verses 10 and 11, Paul said,  [10]  “[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 that 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 the hope]  [11] 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].”  (Amplified Bible)

Paul starts by saying, to KNOW CHRIST means to know “the power outflowing from His resurrection.”

Think about the POWER found in our greatest atomic bombs or our largest hydroelectric plants.

RESURRECTION POWER is so much more!

How much POWER does it take to reverse death and decay?

All the blood loss and tissue damage done to Jesus’ body, all the muscles ripped apart by spears and whips and nails, and the weight of hanging on the cross–

God reversed all of that, restoring Jesus not only to a healthy human body, but to the very first resurrection body, and a body that would never age again!

We could use that kind of POWER in our world today.

When the cruel words cut into our hearts, when our mood darkens, when the prognosis isn’t good, when tragedy strikes, when the loss is devastating…WE NEED THE RESURRECTION POWER OF CHRIST!

And we have it as we get to know Jesus better and better!

Paul talks about having that POWER now, in his first phrase (verse 10).

Paul also talks about how that RESURRECTION POWER and the participation in His sufferings arrives completed in the FUTURE…

Becoming like Him in His death, and so “somehow…” (“if possible” – AMP.) “attain to the resurrection out from the dead.”

I like the words, “if possible”.  

Some have wondered, does this mean Paul had doubts about this?  I don’t think so.  Paul doesn’t strike me as a guy who was unsure what he believed.

I think, with the words “if possible”, or “somehow”, Paul was implying to the mystery of the final resurrection.  The Bible describes how the dead in Christ will rise first, followed by believers that are still alive, as we join Jesus in the air, (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)

But what a mystery!  Our minds cannot conceive it.  It’s simply too great to imagine!!

But Paul wasn’t content to know only the power of Christ’s resurrection.  He also wanted to participate “in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have His resurrection power than want His sufferings.

But Paul did!

Paul knew that if you were to know Christ Jesus, you were to know suffering.  And Paul suffered!

  • He was arrested on false charges
  • He was beaten on several occasions
  • He was run out of cities
  • He was slandered
  • He was shipwrecked

I don’t have to tell you there’s a lot of SUFFERING in this world.  Ask the citizens of Las Vegas.  It seems the news headlines are non-stop lately, from one hurricane to another, from earthquakes to mass murders.  And here around us, in our own backyards, many are suffering in various ways that don’t capture the news’ headlines–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

When you suffer (Not “IF”, but “WHEN”), draw closer to Jesus in His sufferings.

He knows what it’s like to SUFFER, so He knows what you’re going through right now.  None of us have suffered to His extent, but He knows our situation quite well.  And He promised us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Jesus can and will bring perspective and meaning to your suffering if you’ll let Him.

C.S. Lewis, the Christian writer, suffered several losses throughout his life.  He wrote a book called, “The Problem of Pain”.  There he said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Let your suffering bring you closer to Christ in His sufferings.

Release your past to Christ, all the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Reach toward your glorious future, living with one foot in eternity, as you remember where you’re heading in glory.

And then, every day, seek to grow closer to Jesus.  Make it your daily ambition to get to know Christ more and more.

____________________________________________________________________

~CREDITS~

Epository Dictionary Of Bible Words by Stephen D. Renn

The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

Images:  Google Image Search; Settings–advance search.

Video:  The Resurrection of Jesus -The Passion of Christ – YouTube

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Bible (NIV) unless noted.

 

What I Call Good Isn’t Necessarily What God Calls Anointed!


00020013_h Today’s Scripture: 1 SAMUEL 16:1-13

VERSE 13:  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward…”

TRANSFORMED FROM A NOBODY TO A SOMEBODY

[10] Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel.  And Samuel said to Jesse,  “The Lord has not chosen any of these.”

[11] Then [he] said to Jesse,  “Are all your sons here?” [Jesse] said,  “There is yet the youngest; he is tending the sheep.”  Samuel said to Jesse,  “Send for him; for we will not sit down to eat until he is here.”

In some Pentecostal circles we talk or refer to the “ANOINTING” a great deal, almost with exclusiveness.  And that’s not true.  There are many non-Pentecostals that have an understanding of the anointing.

What is missed within the conversations of the anointing is having a good understanding of it.  I think the first thing we all need to do is to get a clear picture of what the Bible says about “anointing”.

So to get a better understanding of what anointing is, we should first attempt to understand what anointing is NOT.

In much of today’s church world, we don’t always get a clear idea of what God’s Anointing really is.  The anointing of God has been reduced to a Pastor’s performance in the pulpit: “Oh, wasn’t pastor’s message this morning anointed?”  

In some circles, large attendance numbers and a wealth of programs are considered as clear evidence, that particular church has God’s anointing upon it.

If a song brings goose bumps on your arms during the church service,,,then it has to be anointed.

If after leaving the morning/evening worship services and you feel good about your experience, then surely it was “anointed.”

I want to make a clear point right here.  I like good preaching and good singing as much as the next person, but I’ve come to the understanding, what I call “GOOD” isn’t necessarily what God calls “ANOINTED”!

I think it’s safe to say, not everything we see and hear in today’s church world is ANOINTED, and you can fill in your own blanks.  Suffice to say, not everything is set apart for the purpose of bringing glory and honor to God.

GOD IS PARTICULAR WITH HIS ANOINTING –

In reading the verses in 1 Samuel 16:1-13 this week, I found that God is not “willy nilly” in placing His anointing on everything that simply looks good to the natural eye.  One of the greatest threats to God’s work today is the supposed anointing that people and ministries have, based on who they are and what they are doing.

christian-poetry-by-deborahann-what-god-sees-doorpost-verses-comGod clearly doesn’t look on the outside as man does but rather God is most interested in what a man looks like on the inside.

It’s the INSIDE of the HEART that hold all the secrets of man (Psalm 44:21).

The Bible mentions the human heart almost 300 times.  In essence, this is what it says:

“The HEART is that spiritual part of us where our emotions and desires dwell”  [See Footnote [i] ].

Since God also has emotions and desires, He too can be said to have a “HEART’.

What may appear to be PERFECT on the outside of man, can be quite putrid on the inside.

God tells the prophet Samuel in VERSE 7 “Look not on his appearance or the height of his stature, for I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as man sees,; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” —  [the intent]

God is particular in His Anointing!

Although Eliab was the eldest son, probably the strongest and most fit for the job as king, God overlooked him along with 6 others for the one that was the youngest.

Things aren’t always as they appear.

It’s all to easy to do as Samuel did.  Mistakenly over the years, I too have thought of others, including myself, in thinking “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before me.”  It’s easy to do, to ANOINT someone or something that God has not himself anointed.

God considers the HEART, always!

Notice God already knew which of these 8 sons of Jesse that He was going to ANOINT king of Israel.

He said to Samuel in verse 1,  “… Fill your horn with oil; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite.  For I have provided for Myself a king among his sons.”

God’s task seems to make certain Samuel knew who He would ANOINT as king in the process.

“Things aren’t always as they appear to be”!

God understands this better than anyone, so He looks in the place of human beings wherein lies the true nature of a person…

THE HEART!

God’s Impression.

God will never be IMPRESSED with what we are impressed with.

God is NOT impressed with an “impressive” resume.

God is NOT impressed with our talent.

God is NOT impressed with our strengths.

God is NOT impressed with our abilities.

God is NOT impressed with our good looks.

God is NOT impressed with our position.

God is NOT impressed with anything other than what is impressive in our hearts!

The Psalmist said, “Let my heart be sound (sincere and wholehearted and blameless) in Your statutes, that I may not be put to shame”  (Psalm 119:80).heart

Proverbs 14:20 states,  “A calm and undisturbed (SOUND) mind and heart are the life and health of the body…”

Most of us will agree how important a “healthy heart” is to our physical body.  And, as with our physical nature. a healthy heart is just as important to our spiritual nature. 

According to God’s standard of ANOINTING, a healthy Heart is the first and foremost requirement in receiving His Anointing!

THE HEART WON’T LIE!

Matthew recorded Jesus as referring to “false prophets” saying, “You will fully recognize them by their fruits.”  WHY IS THIS?

Because the HEART will always tell on itself!

THE HEART, being the truest representation of who a person is, is the very reason God looks upon it always!

God’s Anointing Can Cause Others to Dislike You.

Several times in Scripture, we see incidences of those God anointed for specific reasons; seeing those that despised the ones God chose to ANOINT.  And DAVID is no different.

When Samuel anointed David, it wasn’t a private religious ceremony–it wasn’t conducted secretly.  No, it was done openly and in the presence of all those that had been “overlooked.”

VERSE 13:  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the midst of his brothers;  and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward…

Imagine for a minute, that you have just been interviewed for the position of King of Israel. You’re strong, talented, you’ve abilities that are unmatched…AND, you are overlooked!

AND…to pour rubbing alcohol in the open wound, your younger, weaker, scrawny brother gets the job!

My first reaction, and by the way, I have a younger brother that wasn’t “scrawny”…might be, “What just happened here?”

The Bible goes on to say, from that day forward, the Spirit of the LORD was upon David.

A Matter of the Heart.

God’s ANOINTING is particular, a matter of the heart and can be confrontational.

God will never ANOINT just anything or just anyone.  The anointing of God is much too valuable to simply make it available to anyone or anything.

God is the One Who chooses who walks in His anointing, not Pastors, Elders, church leaders or anyone else.  No one can declare God’s Anointing is yours except… the One Who ANOINTS!

God will look on the HEART, always.

First, If the HEART is not PURE, you’ll not have God’s anointing upon it.  God doesn’t anoint PRIDE, ARROGANCE, JEALOUSY or HATE.

He does ANOINT HUMILITY, KINDNESS and SERVITUDE.

And yet, even God’s Anointed can make mistakes.

In study, we can look at David’s life and rule as King of Israel in the bible, and even this great man, a man after God’s own heart, is not immune from making mistakes.

We are not perfect, and that’s why the apostle Paul tells us:

“And I am convinced and sure of this very 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 to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:6).

potter

THANK YOU JESUS!!

We are all a work in progress.  But the GOOD NEWS is, unlike the Spirit of the Lord in the Old Testament, that came “upon” God’s ANOINTED, the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant, SEALS and INDWELLS God’s ANOINTED PEOPLE.  (John 2:27; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). 

 

 

 


Footnote(s) & Credits –

Footnote [i]:  Got Questions? .org

BIBLE TRANSLATION:  The Amplified Bible (AMP).

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

A GUIDE For Witnessing In A Christ-like Manner

you will be my witnessesIn my reading of Scripture every morning, my set-aside devotional time, there’s one book in the New Testament that refreshes my spirit over and over again.  It was the first book of the Bible I read through after I was “born again” in 1972.  The book, The Gospel Of John.  

Many truths set forth in John’s gospel have made a great impact on my Christian life.  First and foremost, there is no greater honor than to be a part of God’s work of telling others about Jesus.  So this is where I want to begin; sharing from my own experiences and giving a beginning guide to today’s oft forgotten term… Witnessing to others about Jesus Christ.

We hear from pastor’s sermons at least once a year from a familiar passage in Acts 1:8  “and you shall be My witnesses…”  Now if we take that verse to heart, seriously, maybe we need to reevaluate our preparedness to obey Christ’s command.

WHAT IS A WITNESS?

WITNESS Definitions:  Merriam Webster;  [2] One that gives evidence;  [5] public affirmation by word or example.

The word WITNESS we are most familiar with comes to us from the legal sphere, derived from the root meaning “to bear in mind,” “to be careful.”  Thus a witness in the field of law is one who has the knowledge of something by recollection and experience and who can tell about it accurately.

Biblically speaking, A WITNESS is born when one is born again, that is, when you experience the POWER of God in your own personal death, burial and resurrection. In that sense, Christian Witnessing is not optional, nor is it mandatory.  It is inevitable.

When I first had knowledge of what a witness was, and internalizing Jesus’ message in Acts 1:8 of being “witnesses” in the community, this next little tidbit was added to my spirit: 

The word MARTYR: “comes from the Greek word for “witness”.  Early Christians were often put to death for the “witness” of Christ Jesus.

Boy, after having that scary thought placed in my mind, I needed some real motivation if… I was going to be a witness for Jesus.  But where was that motivation going to come from?

A GUIDE to Being A WITNESS:

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In John chapter four, JESUS is passing through Samaria.  He comes to Jacob’s well, tired from His journey and He sits down (John 4:6).

Now the disciples have gone into a nearby town Sychar, to buy food (John 4:5, 8).  The Bible says it was about the sixth hour which most likely be around noon.

LUNCH TIME!

In my last job before retiring, I was required to be at my desk by 6 AM.  So by the time lunch time rolled around, I needed to get away from the office, where I could sit down, get a bite to eat, and relax.  Many times, several of my co-workers would show up at the same place.  I didn’t invite them to come.  They just showed up!

In this portion of Scripture, we see Jesus’ human side and see that He is tired and evidently hungry, just like when we get tired and hungry.

Notice how Jesus uses a common physical thirst to cause the lady at the well to ask questions about deeper eternal matters.

I was intrigued once more to focus on their discussion.  Remember, they are total strangers to one another–not co-workers, not BFF’s, but strangers.

STEP #1.  Jesus arouses the woman’s curiosity with a promise; the quenching a natural spiritual thirst common to all mankind.  That spiritual thirst which people try to satisfy through giving into the flesh, drinking in the world’s views and Satan’s lies.  Sadly, only a few drink of the Living Water offered by the Lord.

John 4:13-14:

[13] Jesus answer her, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again.  

THE PROMISE…

[14] But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually]  within him unto (into, for) eternal life.”

By Divine Appointment – A Personal Story

Working for a large company for over fifteen years, starting as a truck driver and working myself up through the ranks to Branch Manager, in February, 1985, the company was sold, and my services were no longer needed.  I was to be replaced by new management.  Although I was given a decent severance pay package, my self-worth was definitely damaged in the process.

Two weeks later, I received a phone call from an old business associate, who had heard through the grapevine reasons for my termination.  He asked the question–“Would I be interested in taking a job out-of-state?”  “That depends,” I answered.  “Where is ‘out-of-state’?”  HAWAII.  So, two days later, I found myself sitting in front of the president of large Hawaiian Wholesale Plumbing Company on the island of Oahu.

The next several months was a time in my life I have reflected on in detail for years. For my stay was for a brief time.  At the time, A Divine Appointment wasn’t even a thought. But God had set His plan in motion long before I had a clue.

After accepting the new job, part of my negotiated package was housing and a company vehicle to use until my family and automobile arrived from the mainland.  Since the president’s daughter and son-in-law lived nearby and also worked at the same office, I carpooled with the young man…for over two months.  Our conversation varied during the heavy commute, from family to music choices (the car radio was always active), to Hawaiian lifestyle compared to mainland lifestyle.  Then one day he asked, “I’ve noticed you go to church every Sunday.  What church do you attend?”  The opportunity at the well was there and I took it!

I answered his question with a question; asking him his religious background and did he have a personal relationship with JESUS; a few weeks later led him to Christ.

Hawaii wasn’t the place for my family and I to live, and I returned to the mainland; unemployed to employment…and back to unemployment… all with three month’s time.

WHY?  God had a DIVINE APPOINTMENT in mind and I had the privilege to be a part of.  It wasn’t until I returned to my original starting point did I fully understand the details in my going.

Divine Providence brings always amazing things and Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Three simple truths we can hold on to here as laid down by Jesus to help all Christians in their daily witness.  For after all, when we leave our front door in the morning, we don’t go out witnessing; we witness as we go.  It may be today, next week, next month or off and on through out the calendar year.  But know this: God wants to use you.

So how can we follow the simple example of Christ with confidence that Jesus is going to use us?

The FIRST THING I noticed that Jesus did was to make a connection.

The woman who lived a sinful life came out to get water and He makes the connection with her.

You have family members, friends and co-workers just like this lady and you need to be making connections.  Jesus made the connection in being obedient to His Father who was sending Him to Galilee.

All Divine Appointments that are set up for you come about as you are obedient to the Lord’s call on your life.  

Divine Providence brings all glorious things into existence.  Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Is there someone in your workplace that you want to reach for Christ?  Is there a neighbor, a family member you’ve been praying for?  Ask the Lord for a connection.

Jesus had a need for water and the lady had a way of getting water from a well that was very deep.  The depth is around 70 feet to the water line with a depth of about 105 feet (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Jacob’s Well).

The point being Jesus, being a man, had a NEED that could not be met without her help.

We all have some needs that we cannot meet and there is someone who is bound by sin who can help you meet that need.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make a connection. It may be an answer to a question about work, home repairs, a physical task you cannot do on your own.

Make a connection with someone who would be shocked that you even noticed them let alone asked them for help.

The lady at the well asks,  “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”  (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans) – (John 4:9)

A Little History About Samaritans –

Samaria is right about center of Israel.  When Israel fell to the Assyrians, Samaria was theacts_1_8_1 place where the poorest were left behind.  They intermarried with other races and brought in a false priest.  Add to that, they began false worship and twisted Scripture while rejecting everything in the Old Testament except the first five books of the Bible (2 Kings 17).

There are many PREJUDICES that keep people from hearing the gospel message of Jesus.

PREJUDICES of the people who are living in sin.  They convince themselves that obedient Christians don’t want to associate with them or care about their needs, problems or concerns.

Jesus’ lifestyle was to be out among sinners, ministering to the sick, the needy, meeting practical and spiritual needs to all who would accept what God was doing through Him.

“Must needs”  (John 4:4)

After looking at different bible translations, I like the KJV version the best:  “And he must needs pass through Samaria.”

Interesting TRUTH can be found here that the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp in our efforts to fulfill our part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

“Must needs” in application means it was a necessity, a compulsion and Jesus’ destiny to go through Samaria for the sake of His mission.

There are THREE ROUTES Jesus could have taken.  But Jesus had to go through Samaria to lay down a foundational work of the gospel, because it was His Father’s will for Him (John 4:34).

THE SECOND TRUTH the Holy Spirit wants us to get hold of:  Jesus drew attention for temporary satisfaction to eternal fulfillment.

The core of Jesus’ mission at the well as defined in John 4:10 and 13 is to move the lady from what she does know to what she does not know.  He does this in stimulating her curiosity resulting in her asking a question about Him (John 4:12).  She wants to know who this man at the well is:

“Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also?”

Through Jesus’ example, our goal is to get people from thinking and talking about what they know and talking about and asking they about what they don’t know.

How can we guide the conversation in our connections to talk about what they don’t know?  

One example, when people begin to talk about the problems their family is having, move them to ask about a Christian family that had the same problem, maybe your own family, but do not have them now.  

Point how Jesus did a work in their lives.  Remember the goal here is to be walking in obedience to the Lord.  The focus is to be speaking to people you connect with.  

Let the Lord lead you to the Divine Appointment; to a heart that is prepared to receive what the Lord has for them at that time on their life.

An important note to remember in witnessing to others: Jesus pointed the women’s attention to what matters in eternity.  There is a contrast to what will satisfy PHYSICAL Thirst (water drawn from a well by labor) and to SPIRITUAL Water that will bubble from the inside given by Jesus.

In this incident at Jacob’s Well, the Samaritan lady makes a request, “…Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water!” (John 4:15).

This lady typifies many of the people we come across daily in our witnessing.  Because they are bound by SIN, they are so slow to respond to the things of God.

Like the lady at the well, many HEAR the gospel message, yet still want the things of God for all the wrong reasons.  In other words, she and those like her, still need a purifying of the heart.

People who are carnal in their thinking and not yet surrendered to the Lord (Matthew Henry Commentary).

In John chapter four, we see that Jesus had to break the barrier that kept her from understanding.

The TRUTH that must be presented to all, including Christianity is FIRST,  the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He is.

The SECOND is the revelation on oneself.

It begins with the realization that LIFE lived without Him being Savior and Lord will not do; that one must be enlightened by the Holy Spirit that he is in great need of GRACE & MERCY of God.  Use your own testimony of how God’s Grace & Mercy made things new in your life.

The THIRD TRUTH I discovered is that the Lord wants us to grab hold of and pass on to others the importance:  What is a TRUE WORSHIPER?

Jesus said,  “You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshiping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshiping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand], for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews.  A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.  God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (reality).”  (John 4:22-24 AMP).

Most of the people we come in contact with are like the Samaritans in a sense who have chosen a partial knowledge of God’s Word.  They, like the Samaritans, have selective worship.  They choose which portion of Scripture they like and disregard the rest.

No one can worship in spirit and truth without an honest heart, seeking God’s will through the whole council of the written Word.

That doesn’t mean that a worshiper has to know ALL of God’s Word, but they must have a heart desire in seeking the Lord’s will and a willingness to live out what has already been revealed to them.

Those who want to WITNESS as Jesus did must point out the Lord is looking for the worshipers who approach God through his spirit, to attain a closeness and intimacy with God–a new relationship.

TRUE WORSHIP is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of oneself, speaks to and meets God, who is immortal and invisible (William Barclay).

This study in John chapter four is but a GUIDE towards your making connections in your community.  Simply use what you have already been given and He will make the way for you to WITNESS for Jesus.

God has a DIVINE APPOINTMENT for you to keep–be ready and willing to keep it!!

 


CREDITS:

Photos & Map – Google image search.

The New Testament Meaning of “Witness” [Founders – by Ernest Reisinger]

Bible translations as noted in the text.

 

 

 

BLESSINGS OR CURSES FOR THE NEW YEAR–It’s Up to You!

SCRIPTURE VERSES – Deuteronomy 28:1 – 29:1

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“Because of the Truth which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever;  Grace (spiritual blessing), mercy, and [soul] peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ (the Messiah), the Father’s Son, in all sincerity (truth) and love”  (3 John 2-3 AMP).

“Do you believe this? Oral Roberts once asked his wife.  

“Does God wants to BLESS us spiritually,” she said yes, “physically,” she said yes, “and financially? he said, “that you prosper when God wants to bless us in our finances too?”

He said, “On this day I realized that God wants to prosper us in every aspect of our lives,” and that is when his ministry took off!

I don’t know about you, but I believe God wants to BLESS–Prosper our lives in every way possible.

I also believe our attitude about BLESSINGS will determine the amount and measure of BLESSINGS that God will be able to pour out in our lives.

God’s intention and desire is to BLESS humanity, a central focus of His covenant relationships.  For this very reason, the CONCEPT OF BLESSING is spread throughout the biblical record–over 600 times in the Old Testament alone.

I discovered TWO distinct ideas that are present: 

First, a BLESSING was a public declaration of a favored status with God.  

Second, the BLESSING supplied POWER for prosperity and success in our daily lives.

In all cases, THE BLESSING served as a GUIDE & MOTIVATION to pursue a course of life within the blessing.

I find the parallels between the Old and New Testament usages are striking.  

TO BE BLESSED (“favored”) is to be granted special favor by God, resulting in JOY & PROSPERITY [See Footnote [i] ].

In the New Testament, however, the emphasis is more on the spiritual, rather than on material blessings.

DEUTERONOMY 28– 

blessings & cursings

A little background before diving into Scripture.  God promises Israel that He would BLESS them “IF”…they would walk out their lives in OBEDIENCE.

I remember growing up and my parents would use the same conditional commands:  “IF” you mow the lawns, “IF” you take out the trash, “IF” you keep your hands in your pockets…  I bet you know where I am heading–“Then, and only then, you can go to the movie–have that candy bar.  Although they never used the word “bless”, my obedience to their words was dependant on receiving the manifestation of what they had spoken.

Today, it is still the same, “IF”…you walk in OBEDIENCE to God’s Word, He will PROSPER–BLESS your life.  

BLESSED “In the city, and in the field” — (v. 3)

What an exciting promise–because God is going to BLESS you, no matter who you are, and no matter where you came from.

GOD’S BLESSINGS aren’t limited to any demographic–If you are in the city, God will BLESS you, If you are from the country, God will BLESS you.  He basically gives this PROMISE…

“No matter where you are at, or where you have come from, My ability to BLESS is still the same!”

Mechanic, C.E.O., a retiree…from a well-known family or an unknown family.  “It doesn’t matter who you are, it only matters who He is!”

From your first step of the day, to the last step, you will be BLESSED–(v. 8)

God’s BLESSINGS wake you up in the morning, and will go to bed with you at night.  The ANOINTING rest on your life.

Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ  (the Messiah)  Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!”

God is basically saying, to be on the constant look out for BLESSINGS in your life instead of walking around blindfolded, looking for bad things to happen.

Speak aloud the BLESSINGS over ourselves and our children, our family.  

When God blessed man, He spoke words over him (Genesis 1:22).  THE BLESSING is never released without words spoken.

Being BLESSED, even in your battles– (v. 7 NAS Bible):

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“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way and shall flee before you seven ways.”

I’m sure that most people would rather be BLESSED with no BATTLES at all.  But God wants to be GOD in your battles–in your storms and struggles in life; for the BATTLE is the Lord’s!!

You are going to WIN in the battles of life.  God wants to BLESS your life by giving VICTORY in every area you face.

If you have areas in life where you always have lost, give God that BATTLE and you will win.  He doesn’t need your help. Your enemies are going to RETREAT, not you!

The word DEPRESSION in a literal sense means, being pressed down.  Many times life presses people down, but with God fighting on your side, you are lifted up!

We are LENDERS, and not the BORROWER’S– (v. 12)

God wants to make a BLESSING out of you for others to see.

In the area of finance, God wants to PROSPER people to be lenders and not the borrowers.

God wants to be involved in every area of our lives, and if we give Him control of every area, He will BLESS every area.  

Give glory due His name!!

I read a testimony the other day, from a pastor, saying “their Assembly had been praying to be BLESSED as a congregation financially.  Some of the members had been so BLESSED, that they had set up a financial institute helping fellow Christians struggling with areas of finance.  He stated in the last 5 years, over 100 families have become DEBT FREE in their church.”

You can boldly ask God to BLESS you–

JABEZ, whose name means “sorrow,” asked God to doubly bless him (1 Chronicles 4:9, 10).

Now in my opinion, that prayer by Jabez, is BOLD–“doubly” bless me God!  Read how specifically Jabez asks to be BLESSED.

[10] Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me!”

And God granted his request.

He asked God to BLESS him; to enlarge his coast and God heard his prayer and granted that which he requested.  Can our prayers be so bold, that God won’t grant our requests?

I need my prayers to be more like JABEZ on a daily basis.

We need to go before God with BOLDNESS as Jabez, asking Him to BLESS US every day.

The only thing that’s stopping you from receiving more, is a limited mindset; ask God to enlarge your territory!

Head and not the Tail– (v. 13)

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the TAIL.  As one man said, there isn’t much of a view from the back of the pack.

The Bible teaches that God EXALTS, and God HUMBLES.  God exalts people in due time or season.

You need to CLAIM this as your season of prosperity: That God will advance, that God will give you a higher position, that God will grant FAVOR in your life, abundantly.

Jesus said in John 10:10, that He didn’t come to earth to kill, steal, or destroy. He came that we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

DANIEL was exalted to a higher rank, JOSEPH to second in command, ABRAHAM was known as a mighty man, JACOB gave blessings over his children.  They were more than experiencing the “abundance,” they were all living in the “overflow.”

WHEN CURSES CAN OVERCOME YOU – (v. 15)

After reading the benefits of God’s BLESSING (verses 1-13), I came upon one of my favorite words in the Bible:  “BUT….”

BUT WHAT?

“BUT IF you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day, then these curses shall come upon you and overtake you”  (AMP).

When we become born-again Christians, we initiate the process of operating in THE BLESSING of God instead of THE CURSE.

To live a BLESSED LIFE and remain free from CURSES, we must obey God’s Word; knowing your bible and not putting God’s word into practice in your daily life may leave you wide-open to CURSES.  Sometimes, even self-inflicted.

One example, and there are many, are self-inflicted curses.  

They might sound like this:

‘My mom was always sick, I’m always feeling sickness, and my little daughter, will more than likely live a life of sickness.’

Remember, “words” are things!  As I said earlier in this blog, “When God blessed man, He spoke words…”  A BLESSING is never released without words spoken.  So a CURSE works in the same manner– You reap what you harvest.  So watch what you say!

We need to understand the ways in which JESUS set us free so we can have DELIVERANCE in every area of our lives.

Galatians 3:13, 14 (NIV):

Christ redeemed us from the CURSE of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  He redeemed us in order that THE BLESSING given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

JESUS took our place, taking on our curse.  

When Adam sinned in the Garden, ALL MANKIND WAS CURSED in every way (Genesis 3:17-18)

“A CURSE ” is an EMPOWERMENT to fail; and there is a cause for every curse (Proverbs 26:2).

God wants to make A BLESSING out of you this year–

  • In the field or in the city,
  • Rising up and sitting down,
  • In your battles or in your storms,
  • To become a lender and not a borrower,
  • To be the head and not the tail.

Don’t let your negative words, you disobedience to the Word of God be BLESSING BLOCKERS.  Today, let God make A BLESSING out of you.

IT’S UP TO YOU!

 


Blog-POST Credits & Footnotes:

Footnote [i]:  BibleStudyTools.com

Sermon Notes taken from Creflo A. Dollar:  Blessing Blockers

Photo Credits:  Google Search Images

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting The Holy Spirit Have More of You!

ACTS 8:14-17 Amplified Bible:

[14] Now when the apostles (special messengers) at Jerusalem heard that [the country of] Samaria had accepted and welcomed the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,  [15] And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit;  [16] For He had not yet fallen upon any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  [17] Then [the apostles] laid their hands on them one by one, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

For years, as a believer in Christ, I struggled understanding the four verses listed above.  And then one day, the “scales” were removed from my eyes [See “Taking the Red Pill”], and I began to understand.  Slowly at first, but then one Sunday morning, it happened.  Not all at once…but a Holy Spirit moment, the realizing empowerment took a hold of my heart.

EMPOWERMENT:

In Acts 8:15, 17, 19; Acts 10:47; Acts 19:12; all refer to the EMPOWERING operation of the Holy Spirit.

Now being saved, baptized and trained in doctrinal values of the Baptist denomination, this idea of EMPOWERMENT ran against everything I’d previously been taught by all the well-meaning church leaders.  I knew what Scripture had to say about receiving the Holy Spirit, even underlining them with side notes in my Bible.  Here are the well-known three proofs:

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, save or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”  (1 Cor. 12:13 NIV).

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ”  (Romans 8:9).

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory”  (Eph. 1:13-14).

The apostle Paul clearly taught that we RECEIVE the Holy Spirit at the moment we receive JESUS as Savior.  The above three passages make it clear, the HOLY SPIRIT is received the moment of SALVATION.

“Could there be more?”  – The Inward Justifying and Sanctifying Work of Holy Spirit…

In Acts 8:15  however, depicts the inward justifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it does not mean, getting more of the Spirit, rather it is a matter of letting the Holy Spirit have more of you!

“And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might RECEIVE the Holy Spirit.”

[ILLUSTRATION – “A Woman Named Norena” – (See Footnote [i]):

Just Getting By…

The story is told of an elderly woman named Norena, who lived in southern Florida.  When a hurricane hit that area, her home was of many that was damaged severely.

Norena received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began.  However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity.

Norena lived in her dark unfinished home–without POWER–for fifteen (15) years.  The astonishing part of this story, the hurricane wasn’t Katrina but Andrew–a hurricane which struck in 1992.

She had no HEAT, no AIR CONDITIONING while the humidity clung to 100%.  She didn’t have one hot shower.  Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner.  Her neighbors didn’t seem to notice the absence of POWER in her home.

Acting on a tip, one day, the mayor of the Miami-Dade area got involved.  It only took a few hours of work by an electrical contractor, Kent Crook, to return POWER to Norena’s house.

CBS News reported, Norena planned to let the water get really hot, then take her first “bubble bath” in a decade and a half.

“It’s hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on”, Norena told the reporters.  “It’s overwhelming!”

After reading this story, I thought to myself, “How many Christian true believers have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have the overwhelming POWER of the Holy Spirit operating within them?”  JUST GETTING BY!

In my own personal testimony, I believe that some of us have had that POWER turned off for so long, we would not even recognize it if it came back to us!  In my case, the POWER was turned on almost 9 years ago.

Giving only a little to JESUS–

Most of us only give Christ a little space of our lives.  D.L. Moody once said,  “What could God accomplish with a man or woman who has fully surrendered his or her will to God?”

NO SET FORMULA FOR RECEIVING AND GROWING IN THE INFILLING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT:

There are some PRINCIPLES to look at, but basically, it is the same as growing in-depth of relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is no set FORMULA!  Only GUIDELINES.  God is sovereign!

The principle represents our human attempt at cooperation in God’s purposes and SUBMISSION to God’s will.  GROWING in having the Holy Spirit upon for POWER…is simply a matter of being in LOVE with Jesus; asking for the equipping of the Holy Spirit,  receiving in FAITH, and then stepping out in OBEDIENCE.

PRINCIPLE ONE –THIRST – John 7:37-39:

EXTREME THIRST
EXTREME THIRST

It is “thirst” that leads us to Jesus, who gives the LIVING WATER, the Spirit of God.

“Now on the final and most important day of the Feast. Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice,  If any man is THIRSTY, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said,  From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs of living water.  But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were afterward to receive.  For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor)” ~ Amplified Bible.

This is, first of all,a THIRST for intimacy with God – Psalm 63:1.

Second, it is a THIRST that arises with deep-seated awareness in our own inadequacy to do the works of God in our own strength.  Jesus perfectly describes our condition when He said,  “…apart from Me, you can do nothing!”

PRINCIPLE TWO – EXPECT – Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”  ~ NIV Bible.

For many of us, “our God is too small”–our expectations of the Christian life are too small.  We’ve limited God by our FEARS, WORLDVIEWS, LACK OF KNOWLEDGE, etc..

EXPECTANCY is an expression of “untrammeled” [Not derived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered-[ii]] faith in God, which prepares us to RECEIVE to do all that He has for us.

PRINCIPLE THREE – REPENTANCE – Acts 2:38:

“…REPENT (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the (gift) of the Holy Spirit” ~ Amplified Bible.

That one is already BAPTIZED and GROWING in Christ is already assumed.  What the apostle Peter has emphasized here is REPENTANCE and CONFESSION should be an ongoing part of the Christian life.

SIN blocks our relationship with God, so REPENTANCE is basic criteria to spiritual growth.  Being sensitive to sin is what counts.

Please be careful here.  One doesn’t have to be perfect to have a high level of SANCTIFICATION; to receive the Holy Spirit “UPON” them for EMPOWERMENT.  There isn’t precondition for a “second blessing.”  If there were such a criterion for receiving the INFILLING, then none of us would qualify.  This is given as a FREE GIFT of God’s grace to all in Christ, who in obedience RECEIVE.

The GIFT IS AVAILABLE THE MOMENT WE ARE IN CHRIST.

No Neglect…

Having affirmed…no precondition, we must be careful not to neglect the inward work of the Holy Spirit.  God is very PATIENT, but if a person persists in disobedience, God may and often does, withdraws the Spirit’s EMPOWERING.  Saul is but one example in the Bible (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Peter, after denying Jesus, went out and wept bitterly.  Later on the beach, he accepted Jesus’ recommissioning in the question and command,

“Do you love me?  …feed my sheep.”

PRINCIPLE FOURASK! – Luke 11:9-13:

If a person is in Christ, he already has the Holy Spirit within him.  BUT…to have the Holy Spirit “upon” for POWER, which is what it means to be baptized or filled with the Spirit, one must appropriate it–ASK!

Asking in PRAYER..

The important thing is to ask in prayer.  Doesn’t matter what words you use; no neat formulas.  What does matter is the intent of the heart.

Many find it helpful to have hands laid upon then.  This has a good Biblical precedent (Acts 9:17, 19:6), which gave me support in my faith when receiving Holy Spirit’s INFILLING; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in an unknown tongue.

One may ask to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, not once but many times, and as often as needed, and I’ve personally done so on many occasions.

PRINCIPLE FIVE – RECEIVE in FAITH – (Gal. 3:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15):

RECEIVING THE INFILLING with the Holy Spirit is not subject to our emotions or our experience.  Rather, it is founded in the PROMISES of God received in FAITH.

Pail asked the congregation located in Galatia,  “To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].  And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba (Father)! Father!”  (Gal. 4:5 AMP).  

And furthermore, in Galatians 3:14,  “To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit.”

The Key to Appropriating What God Has Clearly Promised Us…

IS IN JESUS!  (Mark 11:22-24; 1 John 5:14-15).

These PROMISES listed in the above verses, gives us the CONFIDENCE to ask for and in faith RECEIVE the infilling of God’s Spirit.  We come to know it’s God’s will and intention… that we are made useful in His kingdom, equipped to witness to Jesus Christ.

Thus, in FAITH, we ASK for it, we TRUST and BELIEVE that we have indeed RECEIVED.  Experience will follow what we have appropriated in faith.

The emphases upon APPROPRIATING in faith, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is it is Biblical; fully respects the SOVEREIGNTY of God and avoids all gimmicks and manipulations of tarrying meetings and the pressuring by people to speak in tongues, so marred by our joyful reception of God’s free gift.

PRINCIPAL SIX – OBEY the Holy Spirit – (Acts 5:32; John 14:15-17):

This last step is the crucial one and the essence of our whole relationship with JESUS.  We are called to OBEDIENCE to the Holy Spirit by receiving in faith…that FAITH must be made ACTIVE and ALIVE!  The way that this happens is through obedience to Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to obedience and while obeying, that’s when we EXPERIENCE the POWER or see the evidences that we have been EMPOWERED.

AN ILLUSTRATION:

Agitating Dirty Socks
Agitating Dirty Socks

The Holy Spirit, being Holy…His nature doesn’t allow Him to live in a dirty environment.

Does anyone know what that piece in the middle of my washer is called?  The part in the middle that moves back and forth and shakes the clothes back and forth?  I’ll just refer to it as an “Agitator.”

What is the purpose of the “Agitator”?  As far as I have learned [our washing machine and dryer is right next to my study/computer room], its sole purpose is to cause havoc for the dirty clothes; it’s there to SHAKE, SEPARATE, the clothes from all the dirt, grime, and money that may be in or on the clothes.

That said, as soon as we are SAVED, Holy Spirit moves into our hearts…but He doesn’t have our heart to Himself…there’s still a lot of things in there…the main one being our own selfish desires…even though we’ve been saved from our past sins, there still remains some things of the world we still cling on to.

ThesE “THINGS” have a way of attaching themselves to us as DIRT.  So, the Holy Spirit begins to gently and lovingly…AGITATE, to SHAKE…to CONVICT us to the things that need to leave our heart.

You see, God wants us to be FILLED with His Spirit…and only when we come to a place in our lives, is He willing to remove ALL the dirt…can we truly be FILLED with His Spirit.

Until then, many times in our spiritual life, it feels like we are in a washing machine…and the Holy spirit constantly, because He loves us so much, agitating within us, convicting us of sin.

What is the TRUTH?

The truth is God’s will for all to be FILLED with the Spirit…but it is your choice…it’s up to you…TOTAL SURRENDER!

If your DESIRE is to have a casual, nominal Christian lifestyle, in place of surrendering all…seeking to receive will not be your desire.  This is one of the major reasons why many individuals in the body of Christ don’t see the need of surrendering all.

The topic in this BLOG discussion, is often a controversial one because… the ministries of the Holy Spirit are often confused in the receiving/indwelling of the Spirit, occurring at the moment of salvation.

THE FILLING of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process in the Christian life.  It certainly has been for me.

The Holy Spirit becomes our permanent possession the moment we believe.  To RECEIVE the baptism or infilling with the Holy Spirit is just the beginning…you will not arrived at its end of the journey, but you have only begun!

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  “Norena” story from UPI.com>TopNews

[ii]  Oxford Dictionaries.

 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin for Bloggers.

 

Bible References:

Amplified Bible and New International Version Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Like KINGS In This Life!

ROMANS 5:17  (KJV):

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

When I study and meditate on God’s Word through the Scriptures, I love to look at bible verses in different translations.  It gives on perspective.  Although  in my library, I am fortunate to possess many different translations to compare, I also use the Internet to broaden my search, sites such as Bible Gateway or Bible Hub.

So in saying, let me give you a translation, of the same verse, from the Weymouth New Testament:

Romans 5:17  (WNT):

“For if, through the transgression of the one individual Death made use of the one individual to seize the sovereignty, all the more shall those who receive God’s overflowing grace and gift of righteousness reign as kings in Life through the one individual, Jesus Christ.”

THE IMPACT OF GOD’S WORD:

The apostle Paul, who wrote the Letter to the Roman church–inspired by the Holy Spirit–gives us a comparative look:

1.  The CONDEMNING ACT of Adam–

2.  The REDEMPTIVE ACT of Christ Jesus.

Adams sin (transgression), brought universal death to all of mankind (Romans 3:10, 23) when he accepted Satan’s lie:  “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

However, Jesus’ sacrifice brought salvation to those who believe (John 3:16).  Jesus’ one act of redemption was immeasurably greater than Adam’s one-act of condemnation.

HOW MUCH IS “ABUNDANCE”?

Romans 5:17 b…all the more shall those who receive God’s abundance of grace…

Did we get just enough to get by when we were saved by believing in Jesus?  Is that all there is?  Did we get just a teacup full of “grace”?

As some of you who follow my blog know, my favorite verse in the New Testament is John 10:10:

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I [JESUS] came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”  [Amplified Bible]

Having “ABUNDANCE” till it overflows!

Given without a hitch, without strings attached, without measurement.  It’s like the Eveready Battery commercial: It keeps on giving every moment of the day throughout our entire lives!

Unlike Adam’s Act In Genesis…

Christ’s Acthas and will–accomplish exactly what He intended.  He called us as Christians TO “REIGN!” : That is a period during which something or somebody is dominant or powerful, has authority.

GOD’S ORIGINAL PLAN:

Genesis 1:27, 28, 30 b:

[ 27]  “So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.    [28] And God blessed them and said to them,  Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion (authority, dominance, power) over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.  [30] –to everything in which there is the breath of life–“

“Reigning in Life” (Romans 5:17):

Living like Kings
Living like Kings

The word “REIGN”  here, means to reign in life as a KING (not just in the masculine sense), to have kingly rule…possess kingly dominion as God originally intended before Adam’s act

Reign in circumstances…

Based on the authority of God’s Word, you are destined to “reign in life” as a king; “kingly dominion” over all your challenges and circumstances.  The time has come for us to stop “ABDICATING” our right to rule in life!  Remember, God has positioned us through His Son, to reign!

Ephesians 2:4-6  (AMP):

[4]  But God–so rich is He in His mercy!  Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us. [5] Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,  He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are SAVED (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).  [6] And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the anointed One).

NOTICE VERSE 4:

But God, who is RICH IN MERCY, because of His great LOVE with which He loves us; yet we were Spiritually Dead, but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love…

SALVATION IS FOR GOD’S GLORY!

GOD took you and I who were Spiritually Dead, gave us His boundless mercy and love.

IN VERSE 5:

Spiritually speaking here in verse 5, “at your best, you were dead in trespasses.”

Salvation brings Spiritual Life to the Spiritual Dead…

Remember, the POWER that raises the BELIEVER out of death, is the same POWER that brought you to life and it’s the same POWER that energizes every aspect of our Christian living–our circumstances, our trials, our doubts.

ALSO VERSE 6:

When we are SAVED from eternal death, we are raised up together; made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  Your physical body is still on earth, but your spiritual body…you get the picture here I hope.

The tense of “RAISED” and “MADE” indicates that these are immediate and direct results of SALVATION!

Verse 6 says, in the HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ Jesus.  It is the supernatural realm where God reigns.

LIVING IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM:

The SPIRITUAL is as real as the PHYSICAL world–BUT…it is different because it cannot be seen and tested.  Though the body itself is in the PHYSICAL REALM, the life within the body comes from the spirit.  [i] –See footnotes.

The Bible states clearly, we are to REIGN in life through Christ Jesus and… RECEIVING two important things from Him:

1.  The ABUNDANCE of Grace

2.  The GIFT of RIGHTEOUSNESS   (He declared you “righteous” at the Cross).

Worldly Thinking By Man–

Man’s thinking goes like this:  For God to BLESS him/her, he needs to DESERVE, EARN and MERIT God’s favor.  Man thinks that God’s blessings are based on his performance and good works.

God’s Way–

God’s way isn’t about ACHIEVING, but about RECEIVING!  (We are to receive!).

The WORLD’S SYSTEM Regarding SUCCESS in Life–

The SYSTEM is driven into our heads from the time we are children, through the teenage years, and emphasized through our working years.  All built on SELF EFFORT and DILIGENCE.

How many times did my parents advise and direct my paths?  “Quit being a procrastinator…a lazy teenager!”  Continue with your schooling; with the idea of being successful in life.  Now that IS good advice, don’t get me wrong.  However, a stigma can sometimes arise in a impressible child growing up:  “If I keep at this thing…due diligence will lead to my success!”  We can be sometimes find ourselves on the deserted island of “I”  (I did it).

We are driven to “do, do, do,” forgetting that Christianity is actually “done, done, done.”  [ii] See Footnotes.

k5929537The Question of “CHAIRS” and “SITTING DOWN”:

I’m a very visual person when reading and studying God’s Word and the Bible can certainly give us a picture of the believer, resting in finished and completed work of JESUS.

Hebrews 10:12, 14:

[12]  “Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for ALL TIME, sat down at the right hand of God.”

[14]  “For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.”

VERSE 14 once more–

DECLARING that you were PERFECTED FOREVER!

Our works, self-efforts, will, and can rob us of REIGNING in life by His grace.  You cannot earn your SALVATION, your HEALING, your FINANCIAL breakthrough by your own efforts.

GOD has called the REDEEMED to REIGN!

Revelation 1:6  (Young’s Literal Translation):

6  and did make us kings and priests to his God and Father, to him [is] glory and the power to the ages of the ages!  Amen.

So if that’s you, reach out to Him in your spirit and RECEIVE your DESTINY…your AUTHORITY!  How do you reach out?

YOU PRAY…Lord, your Word is true and I believe it!  I’m tired of trying to be worthy in your eyes and everyone elses.  I was made worthy when your Son’s blood was shed on the Cross for my sins.  I am the REDEEMED in Christ.  I am worthy to RECEIVE the gift of kingship and to receive my destiny.  Have Your Holy Spirit empower me to take dominion over my life.  In JESUS’ Name I pray.  AMEN.

 

Footnotes and Photos:

Photo Inserts:  Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe Courtesy of Starpulse.com and Disney Productions & Foto Search.

[i] – From ChristWords.com–Christ’s words in Ancient Greek.

[ii] – Quote from a Howard Strickland sermon.