“If the foundation be destroyed…”

Scripture:  Psalm 11:3; Isaiah 58:12

A Christian college professor asked his doctoral students to complete a theological survey of congregations – They learned that many churches, over 56%, don’t know their church’s basic theological positions.  They can neither summarize nor explain their church’s doctrine.  There are many reasons why, and that brings me to this week’s blog.  

Many people have asked me over the last few years, what “denomination” am I member of”.  They are somewhat taken back when I answer, “I’m a fundamentalist!  I don’t ‘belong’ to any “denomination”.

So what is a “fundamentalist”?

GOING BACK TO THE “BASICS” 

The Huffington Post revealed its ignorance in an article that attempted to portray the President’s nominee for Army Secretary as some sort of Christion fundamentalist weirdo:

“Trump’s Army Pick:  Looking at Victoria’s Secret Catalogs Can Turn

Men Into Saddam Hussein,” 

…read a headline that was published.

RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM –

Over the past several years I’ve heard and read about attacks on the fundamentals of the Christian faith:

It was suggested in a recent television program that Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, that Mary’s conception was the result of being raped by a Roman soldier.  Such attacks aren’t new:

John 6:42 (NIV)

The said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we knew?  How can He now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Years ago it was reported that a certain Anglican priest expressed his view that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, rather, he merely ‘swooned’ or passed out then regained consciousness a few days later.  After showing Himself to the apostles, he moved to Egypt and lived to a ripe old age.

Mark 15:44-45


Such attacks against the FUNDAMENTALS OF OUR FAITH must not be swept under the carpet.

Galatians 1:6 (NIV)

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in  the grace of Christ and is turning to a different gospel–“

“Those who take pride in their steadfastness shall fall the hardest”  (Quotes & Things, D. Collins ).

1 Corinthians 10:12 (AMP)

“Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he falls [into sin].

Manufacturers Know 3 Secrets of Increasing Sales:  Advertise, advertise, advertise.

A carefully crafted advertisement, frequently repeated during primetime viewing to increase sales.

Someone once laid down two guidelines for selling a LIE:

  • Keep repeating it to yourself until you believe it, then…
  • Tell it again and again to as many people as possible.

WE NEED TO BE SELECTIVE IN REGARDS TO THAT WHICH WE EXPOSE OURSELVES…

Or we’ll end up believing a LIE.

But more than that, we need to ‘repeat to ourselves’ over and over again the fundamental truths of the gospel so that we might remain fully convince and firmly established in the TRUTH.

Read carefully the instruction that God gave to the Israelites:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV)

[6]  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  [7]  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  [8]  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  [9]  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

[18]  Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.   [19] Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

NOTE too, what the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians:

[Also read 2 Peter 3:1-2, 17; Proverbs 3:3]

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL THAT NEED TO BE UNDERSTOOD:

Isaiah 58:12 (AMP)

[12] And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.

#1.  The Virgin Birth.

The record concerning Jesus’ birth:

What does the record say concerning the Birth of Jesus?

Luke 1:26-55

 

AND, in Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)

The facts presented by Luke and Matthew are clearly to the point.  Mary was a virgin.

In case there might be any doubt, what is meant by the word ‘virgin,’ (some say it just means ‘young woman’), it’s clear from the text that it means ‘one who hasn’t had sexual intercourse’.

Mary says, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34)

Matthew states that This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:  His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  (Matthew 1:18)

To deny the fact of the virgin birth is to deny that Jesus is the eternal Word of God who “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” as the Scriptures affirm.

AND…

AND…

“The first man [was] from out of earth, made of dust (earthly-minded); the second Man [is] the Lord from out of heaven”  (1 Corinthians 15:47 – Amplified version).

DENY that Jesus is God’s one and only Son as the Scriptures affirm:

[Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 4:9]

The Word of God says of those who DENY the fact of the Virgin Birth and that Jesus came in the flesh is plain:

  • They are not of God (1 John 4:2-3).
  • There are deceivers and an antichrist:  2 John 1:7 (NIV)

[7]  I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

THE DEATH ON THE CROSS

The record of Jesus’ death on the cross:

What does the Bible say concerning Jesus’ CRUCIFIXION?

Acts 2:23 (AMP)

“This Jesus, when delivered up according to the definite and fixed purpose and settled plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and put out of the way [killing Him] by the hands of lawless and wicked men.”

The evidence presented by the evangelists are quite clear:

  • JESUS “gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50)
  • When the soldiers came to Jesus, they “saw that He was dead already” (John 19:33)
  • John also notes the fact of the soldier who pierced Jesus’ side with a spear (John 19:34)

To deny that Jesus died on the cross is to deny that Jesus has died for all our sins.

[Also READ: 1 Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:6]

To DENY that we have been RECONCILED. JUSTIFIED, then we are still alienated; separated from God’s mercy and grace.

Romans 5:10 (NIV)

“For if,  while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

To DENY that Jesus tasted death for everyone, it means we must pay the price for our sins after all (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:9).

To DENY that the Devil has been rendered powerless!  (Hebrews 2:14)

THE RESURRECTION

The record stated of the resurrection:  (Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-31)

The RECORD clearly states that Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:5), and He appeared to His disciples (Matthew 28:8-9; John 20:14, 10).

The disciples saw and touched His wounds  (John 20:20, 26-28)

To DENY the RESURRECTION is to…

Regarding Jesus:

Say that His soul was left in Hades and that death has dominion over Him, and the pains of death haven’t been loosed.

Acts 2:31 (NIV)

“Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did His body see decay…”

Romans 6:9 (NIV)

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.”

Acts 2:24 (NIV)

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.”

DENY THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD:

Romans 1:4 (AMP)

“And [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated the Son of God in power [in a striking triumphant and miraculous manner] by His resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”

DEMY THAT JESUS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN and sat down at the right hand of the Father, and ruling from His throne:

Ephesians 1:20-21; Acts 2:30; Philippians 2:5-11

To say that Jesus will not return:

1 Thessalonians 1:10 (AMP)

And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah].”

Regarding Us.

Say that everything we believe and hope is in vain and meaningless:  “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”  (1 Corinthians 15:14).

We will not be resurrected:

Romans 8:11 (NIV)

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in  you.”

And, we are not SAVED and still in our sins:

  • 1 Peter 3:21.
  • Romans 10:9.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:17.
  • Romans 4:25.

We have no hope:

  • 1 Peter 1:3.
  • 1 Peter 1:21.

The fundamentals of our faith are under attack from the very beginning to the present day, and they will, without a doubt, continue relentlessly until the end of time.

Philippians 3:1

Three of the fundamental doctrines that constantly come under attack are…

  1. ‘the virgin birth’
  2. ‘the death of Jesus on the cross’
  3. And ‘the resurrection.’

To deny, modify these fundamental truths (the HEART of the Gospel) means denying the whole body of teaching surrounding the heart.

We need to constantly remind (READ) ourselves the FUNDAMENTALS of our Faith…the FOUNDATIONS of our Belief, and defend the faith delivered to the saints with the sword of the Spirit.

____________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Christian fundamentalism AMERICAN PROTESTANT MOVEMENT written by J. Gordon Melton, Ernest R. Sandeen – Encyclopedia Britannica.

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), and other translations used in the photos and images.

A WATCHMAN’S PRAYERS

A Study On The Eight Prayer Watches In The Bible

James tells us in our bibles that the “prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16).   I don’t know about you, but if I have prayer concerns in my life, I’ll want to go directly to a “righteous man/woman” for my requests! 

As we pray, we stand to watch over our families, cities, and nations.  Just as men stood on the city walls in the Vigil to watch for approaching danger, God calls us to be modern-day WATCHMEN to warn those who are in danger (2 Kings 9:17-18).

We are to watch not only for the enemy’s activity but also for the manifestation of God’s plans in our lives–to know God’s will:  [Reference -https://theworddetective.blog/2019/04/23/where-theres-a0w…y-but-whose-will/]

Today more than ever, it’s important that we PRAY and SEEK the mind of the Lord:  “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mathew 6:10).  Major decisions we face require us to know God’s individual will for our lives.

The Bible speaks of “WATCHES”–specific times of the day or night.

For the purpose of understanding what “Watch” refers to in the Bible, let me give you one definition I discovered in my study:  ‘looking at someone or something for an amount of time and paying attention to it as well as being responsible for guarding or protecting someone.’  (2 Samuel 18:25; 2 Kings 9:18; Psalm 127:1; Isaiah 62:6).

Basically, there are 8 watches over a 24-hour period. 

Before I dived into this study in preparation, I thought there were only four WATCHES. What I discovered was the Romans changed the timing of the watches: First Watch began at 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM, and every four periods thereafter–but the Jewish custom was 8 Watches in a 24-hour period.  That’s because everyone has a prayer watch, even though they might not know it.  This is why you might find yourself repeatedly praying at specific times of the day or night.  If you have ever been awake in the middle of the night as I have, or wonder why you are being led to pray at specific times, it’s probably because God wants you to pray or intercede for someone.

.

EVERY PRAYER WATCH HAS A PURPOSE!

FIRST WATCH – [The Evening Watch from 6 PM to 9 PM]

This watch is known as the Period of Passover or supper time.  It’s a time for reflection after a long day at work, or school, and the hustle and bustle of life in general.

Jesus used the Evening Watch to go aside and pray (Matthew 14:15-28).

The Second Watch [9 PM – 12 PM] – The period to pray for strength against all trials.

During this WATCH, intercessors are able to impact the spiritual realm before the ENEMY gets ready to ‘raise hell’!  Psalm 119:62 says, “At midnight I rise to give thanks for your righteous laws.”  

It was at midnight that God struck down the first-born of Egypt, resulting in His people being released from captivity and set free to worship Him.

It is the WATCH when God deals with the enemies and the ones trying to keep us from entering into His perfect plan for our lives.

In the natural, the time is characterized by deep darkness.

In the spiritual realm, the Second Watch is when wicked assignments and sabotage from the enemy is set in motion.  That’s why it’s important for intercessors at this particular time to watch and pray.  God’s protection over families, cities, and nations.

Psalm 68:1 – New International Version (NIV)

[1] May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.

This is also the time for divine judgments, deliverance, prayer for the economy, tearing down walls of darkness, and all wicked structures from our educational, religious and political systems.

How and What do I pray for?

During this Prayer Watch, pray aloud Psalm 59 and Psalm 68:1-4 – use this time to praise and worship and exalting God.  [READ aloud Psalm 148].

The THIRD WATCH–the Breaking of Day Watch [12:00 AM to 3:00 AM]

This is a period of much spiritual activity.  This WATCH HOUR will strengthen your faith!  It is the same time that Peter denied Christ three times (Matthew 26:34, 74; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:34; John 13:58).

This WATCH is the darkest and most demonic part of the night, especially at midnight.

Witches, warlocks, and Satanist have fun and start their chants during this part of the night.  Satan actively operates during this time because this is the time men and women are in a deep sleep and not as many people praying to oppose him (1 Kings 3:20). 

Seasoned prayer intercessors are needed during this WATCH. We must not be afraid of witchcraft during this WATCH, for the Lord has given us dominion and authority over, not some things, but ALL things!

This is the time for spiritual warfare.

This is the time to wake out of sleep and confront every storm of destruction and distraction that’s happening in your life, robbing you of God’s blessings and provisions.

Also, it’s the time to speak peace and calm over every situation of uproar and confusion around you.

It’s time to strengthen yourself spiritually and seek direction.

Be vigilant during this time and WATCH for God’s revelation, a breakthrough in His plans and purpose for your life and territory.

Time to pray for release from every prison.

The Apostle Paul and Silas were released from PRISON during this time period (Acts 16:25).

In addition, God released the people of Israel from Egypt at this time frame (Exodus 12:29, 31).

And according to Judges 16:3-4, Samson escaped from Gaza at midnight while pulling up the gates of the city and carrying them out with him.

A Time to make your pleas in prayer.

This is the period to PRAY for God’s provision to be released (Luke 11:5-13; Acts 16:3).

It’s also a time for miracles to take place and for applying the blood of Jesus.

DREAMS & VISIONS

Often, we are awakened during this time of night with dreams God has given us.  God uses DREAMS and VISIONS to bring instruction and counsel to us while we sleep.

He also reveals areas where we need to concentrate our prayers and intercessions (Job 33:15).

The devil can also attack you in DREAMS (nightmares), so always pray before you go to sleep, asking God to keep you from the enemy’s devices.

Prayer Proclamations for this WATCH:

  • Protect my mind while I sleep (Psalm 4:8).
  • “Father, You said in Your Word that whatever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven, so through the name of Jesus and the POWER of His blood, I bind and break all witchcraft, curses, spells, and powers of the DARKNESS working against me.  You order Your angels to protect me wherever I go.  They will hold me up in their hands…” (Psalm 91:11-12).

The Fourth WATCH (The Morning Watch from 3:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M.)

This WATCH is always important for it is the last WATCH of the night.

This WATCH is the time that satanic angels who went out to perform their activities are returning to home base.

This is the time of the morning that the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12 and 14).

It’s also the time of the morning when Jesus walked on water to help the disciples who were caught in a storm (Matthew 14:25-33).

This is the time of day where we should establish the direction for the day by speaking God’s Word for breaking everything that would attempt to hinder His WILL in your life (Psalm 19:2).

COMMAND AUTHORITY FOR YOUR MORNING!

Matthew says…

This is a DISCIPLINED Prayer WATCH for those who have the power and training to wake-up early to set the atmosphere for the upcoming day.

This is a time of opportunity to set things in place before the devil and his henchmen have a chance to ruin it!

Prayer decrees for this WATCH:

  • “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plan.”  (Proverbs 16:3). 
  • I enforce Your plans and purpose for my life over and against the plans and purposes of Satan.  And Satan, the Blood of Jesus is against you!  You have NO AUTHORITY over my life!  (Isaiah 54:17)
  • Father, You will defeat my enemies!  (Deuteronomy 28:7)

The Fifth WATCH (The Early Morning Watch from 6:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.)

I have chosen this time as my personal prayer watch.  Yes, and it has taken much discipline to offer my pleas and thankfulness to my God!

It is the time that God strengthens Christians (Acts 2:15; Psalm 2:7-9).

The spiritual significance of Sunrise is having Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, RISE over us (Malachi 4:2).  During this WATCH, pray for such issues as healing in your body, relationships, family, government, and the economy.

Time for the Holy Spirit to prepare us for service.

Acts 2:15 says, …it was the “third hour of the day” (or 9:00 A.M.) when the Holy Spirit descended in the Upper Room at Pentecost to equip the gathered 120 disciples for service.

Regular work schedules usually begin between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M.

As you step out in faith, ask the Holy Spirit to equip you for the day.  And yes, it’s okay to pray directly to the Holy Spirit!

Prayer Requests for this WATCH:

  • Lord, this day I entrust my work day to You and I know my plans will work out because I can do everything You ask me to with the help of Christ Jesus who gives me the strength and power to succeed (Philippians 4:13; Proverbs 16:3).
  • I plead the Blood of Jesus over myself.  I cover my body, mind, emotions, and spirit with the Blood of Jesus.
  • I curse at the root of every attack upon my health (physically and emotionally) through the Blood of Jesus.
  • I have been REDEEMED out of the hands f the devil!

The Sixth WATCH ( 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.)

Time to see God’s PROMISES fulfilled!

This is the time to watch for the Word of the Lord be fulfilled in your life.  It’s also the time to receive a supply of all resources needed for every project God has assigned you to fulfill (Exodus 12:35-36).  

This is the time of day that I prepare for my upcoming blog-study for the week.

PRAY for the provision to accomplish whatever God wants you to do.

Prayer Decrees for this WATCH:

  • I give myself completely to You, as a living sacrifice, who has been raised from the dead, and I offer myself as an instrument in Your hands for Your good purposes.
  • Because I reverence and honor Your Name, Your goodness shines on me like the sun with healing in its rays!

The Seventh WATCH (12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.)

Midday is an hour of REST or a time to seek diligently the LORD.  During this WATCH, Jesus was on the Cross atoning for our sins and the restoration of man’s relationship once more with God.

Additionally, Peter had a VISION of the clean and the unclean animals which God used to let Peter know that God’s plan was to include the Gentiles in His redemptive plan. (Acts 10:1 – 11:18)

Also, it was the prophet Daniel who always turned towards home to PRAY during this watch,  (Daniel 6:10-11)

Unfortunately, this is also the time for DESTRUCTION to run rampant in our nation!

It’s the time of the Secret Place of The Most High (Psalm 9:1-2).

Time of letting your light shine brighter (Proverbs 4:18)

[18] The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shinning ever brighter till the light of day. [NIV]

The midday is the beginning of the sixth hour (12:00 P.M.).  It is the time when the sun is at its fullest.

PRAY that your life and those around you will be bright.

This is also the time to PRAY to not be led into any temptation, trap or snare of the enemy.

The Eight WATCH (3:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.)

The Hour of Dying to Self and Rejoicing in the Power of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ died on the cross during this watch (3:00 P.M.).  He took on the sins of man to be reconciled to God by His BLOOD.  The Apostle Paul said “I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life O now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God,  Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” [AMP]

After His resurrection, Jesus gave us the POWER to live a life of VICTORY and the AUTHORITY to carry out God’s Will on earth (Matthew 28:18-20).

PRAYERS FOR THIS WATCH:

  • I give myself completely to You.  I am a tool in Your hands, to be used for Your good purposes.  Sin has no power over me because I’m no longer tied to the Law where sin enslaves me, but I’m free under Your favor and mercy (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:13-14).
  • You have begun a good work within me and You will continue to help me grow in Your grace until Your task within me is finally done and You call me home or when Jesus returns for His Church, His Bride.

In the Gospel of Mark, after The Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went out to the Mount of Olives –“…Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples,  Sit down here while I pray.”  (verse 32)

Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John...”Remain here and keep awake and be watching.”

But they couldn’t keep awake to watch while their Master prayed to the Father to take away His grief:  “And He came back and found them sleeping…Have you not the strength to keep awake and watch for one hour?”  Three times Jesus return to His followers to find them not watching and fast asleep.

So what is your WATCH?  

This past week in study, I found myself praying to my heavenly Father at each of the 8 WATCHES.  And yes, my prayer decrees were short, especially during the third and fourth watch.

I hope this study has encouraged you not only to continue in prayer but to offer a living sacrifice so that you prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

AMEN!!!

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CREDITS and Sources:

Sources for this Study:  Studying the 8 Prayer Watches of the Bible – A Praying Life by Yvonne Perkins.

Understanding the Eight Prayer Watches – New Levels in God.

Phot/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as referenced in the images and text.

Dictionary:  Cambridge Dictionary

 

GOD’S WORD and The Shoe Box

A Crushed Shoe Box
The Shoe Box

This week I decided to sort through all my “stuff” in the walk-in closet, going through the clutter and no longer needed clothing for a fresh start in the new year.  It’s a rotten job, but someone’s gotta do it!

I grabbed what I thought was an empty SHOE BOX tucked behind some old sweatshirts hanging up that I’ll never wear again and when I removed the lid from the shoe box–SURPRISE!

crumpled-money

Inside was a wrinkled twenty-dollar bill staring at me.  “How did THAT get in there?” A better question might have been, “How did I forget that it was there, and was I getting forgetful in my old age?  A lost twenty-dollar bill?” And, was what I found in the shoe box even salvageable–would anyone still accept what I found in this condition?

A Lesson Learned!

The next day while reading God’s Word in my bible, I asked the Holy Spirit, “Might there be a hidden message for me in that forgotten shoe box?”  I often get ideas for Blogging For God with questions that arise in my daily walk with Jesus.  How about you?

HEAVENLY ANSWER:  If I tried to alter what I found in the shoe box, it may no longer be accepted and would be worthless.

  • God’s WORD is worth much more than the twenty dollars.  Altering it can cost many people Heaven itself!
  • Unaltered, that WORD will accomplish what God wants.

BIBLE TEXT:  EZEKIEL 2:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT):

ezekiel-713x509-713x450

[1]  “STAND UP, son of man,” said the voice.  “I want to speak with you.”

[2]  The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet.  I listened carefully to his words.  [3] “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me.  They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day.  [4] They are stubborn and hard-hearted people.  But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says!’  [5] And whether they listen or refuse to listen–for remember they are rebels–at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.

AS CHRISTIANS, you and I need to see ourselves as much a sinner as those outside the church environment to whom we can speak God’s WORD.  And when we do get the Holy Spirit opportunities to speak God’s Word, we need to fight against every ounce of self-righteousness in ourselves.  Maybe we haven’t committed exactly the same sins, but your sins and mine are just offensive against God as their sins, if not more so since we ought to know better.

HUMBLY see your SIN and then see JESUS, your Savior, who takes away your SIN.

Maybe the idea of the SHOE BOX might help you, as it did me, to be HUMBLE in speaking God’s Word.  The shoe box isn’t worth anything–it’s easily crushed.

What gives the shoe box value is what is inside.  Apart from God, we are but empty shoe boxes–worthless, and powerless.

BUT GOD has placed His WORD into your heart.  As you speak that Word, HUMBLY remember that your strength comes from the Lord, not from yourselves.

WE ARE JUST SHOEBOXES!  SPEAK His Word Faithfully, Knowing It Will NOT FAIL!

What God said proved to be TRUE.

The people would know that the prophet was speaking for God when the WORD came true.  That’s what God tells him,  “And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious people–they will know that a prophet has been among them (Ezekiel 2:5 NIV).

Many would REJECT Ezekiel’s message, but he wouldn’t change it to make it sound more acceptable to the people.

There’s a principle for churches today to glean from and the New Testament gives a great reminder and a WARNING:

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2 Timothy 4:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

[3]  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

[4]  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

How do we do that?

Through reading your Bible, coming to worship, joining a bible study group, and… keep on learning more and more what God’s Word has to say.

Don’t give in to pressure compromising God’s Word, because someone might not like it.

UNALTERED, that WORD will accomplish what God wants!

SPEAK HIS WORD FAITHFULLY!!!

Finally, SPEAK GOD’S WORD BOLDLY–

The LORD wants us to SPEAK His Word BOLDLY!

He makes it plain to Ezekiel that he will face opposition.  The LORD tells him,

(Ezekiel 2:4 AMP)

[4] And the children are impudent and hard of heart.

I send you to them and you shall say to them,

‘Thus says the Lord God.’

Knowing this ahead of time, it still didn’t stop Ezekiel.  He was to speak God’s WORD BOLDLY, regardless of the circumstances.

So, what gave Ezekiel the BOLDNESS to speak?

I have asked myself the same question after SHARING Christ with others: “Where did I get the “boldness” at that specific moment?  And I always receive the same answer from the Holy Spirit–

(Philippians 2:13 AMP)

[13] “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who

is all the while effectually at work in you [ener-

gizing and creating in you the power and desire],

both to will and to work for His good pleasure

and satisfaction and delight.”

As fellow Christians, we are bold to speak because we KNOW His Word won’t fail.

ISAIAH 55:11 says it best:  [11] “so is my WORD that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I declare and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

This should give us BOLDNESS even in the face of surrounding opposition and rejection.  There had been many times that opposition and rejection intimidated me when opportunities to share God’s Word arose.  My confidence began to dwindle, fear would begin to raise its ugly head…and then I would remember the words in Philippians,  “Not in your strength for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you…”

Each one of us, in our own private lives, has been CALLED OUT of the darkness of SIN to FAITH in Christ Jesus.  So, SPEAK HIS WORD!

With your TRUST in the Lord and the AUTHORITY, He has given each one of us as believers the CONFIDENCE to SPEAK HIS WORD!

Let me leave you with this message found in 2 Corinthians 5:20 in the New Living Testament (NLT):

[5]  So we are Christ’s AMBASSADORS; God is making his

appeal through us.  We SPEAK for Christ when we plead,

“Come back to God!”

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CREDITS –

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

JESUS, a.k.a. ….

in-Zechariah-Christ-is-revealed-as-the-stone-with-seven-eyes

William Lyons Phelps, an American author, critic and scholar writes,

“We are all so vain that we love to have our names remembered by those who have met us but once.  We exaggerate the talents and virtues of those who can do this and we are ready to repay their power with lifelong devotion.  The ability to associate in the mind names and faces is a tremendous asset to a politician and it will prolong the pastorate of any clergyman.” 

BIBLE NAMES are significant because they indicate personal characteristics of LIFE.  

The meaning of Zechariah’s name for instance is “the LORD has remembered.”

In past conversations with my wife over the years, we have mentioned, “Wouldn’t it have been great if we had named our three children AFTER their personalities had developed based on their CHARACTER rather than what sounded good at the time of birth?”

NAMES ARE IMPORTANT –

BUT none are more important than the names given to the Son of God.  That is why the prophet said,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace  (Isaiah 9:6 – NIV).

With the events leading up to, and including Resurrection Sunday (Easter), I wanted to look at some of the names and titles given to JESUS in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

He is our Day-Star (2 Peter 1:19 – NKJV):

[19] And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;

2009-10-03-the-morning-star-paradox

The MORNING STAR, or DayStar in the Greek comes from phos and phero (“phosphorus”); Strong reference #5459, light-bringing.  

The meaning denotes the manifestation of Christ to the soul, imparting to the listener light and comfort when things look dark in life.

JESUS IS…“the Morning Star” (Revelation 2:28)–the “brilliant Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16);

“A star (Star) shall come forth out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17).  The wise men’s focus was from this verse in the Old Testament in searching for the Messiah–JESUS.

Jesus is characterized to the world as this “day-Star” or “morning star” that casts light to the darkened soul.  We were once in this DARKNESS OF SIN…BUT the morning-Star has dawned in our hearts as believers.

The Sun of Righteousness –

standing

Malachi 4:2 (AMP):

[2] But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy.

JESUS is called the Sun of Righteousness…

His LIGHT opens our eyes in a sometimes dim view in what is right.  And…His LIGHT brings healing into our lives spiritually and physically.

The LIGHT of the World –

[12] When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”  (John 8:12).

He is our Arbitrator (Job 9:33 NIV):

[33] If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both,

I love how the King James Version reads.  It uses the term “Daysman” and after doing a little investigation, I found“Daysman” especially appropriate in describing the mediation of Jesus. 

A “Daysman” was a mediator, or umpire, whose work was to settle disputes or grievances between two parties.  But more than that, the “Daysman” had exclusive authority in when and where the matter was to be handled.  This description reminded me of 2 Corinthians 6:2:

[2] For He says, “In the time of favor (of an assured welcome) I have listened to and heeded your call, and I have helped you on the day of deliverance (the day of salvation). Behold, now is truly the time for a gracious welcome and acceptance [of you from God]; behold, now is the day of salvation!”  (Amplified Bible).

As the “Daysman” who alone can reconcile God to man, His day is today!  No appointment necessary!  No waiting for a court docket to be set!

Our Advocate (1 John 2:1-2 AMP):

[1] But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father–[it is] Jesus Christ…  [2] And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

ADVOCATE – (Greek. parakletos, one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another in defending or comforting him.)

It is a name given by Jews three times to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7) where the Greek word is rendered “Comforter”).  It is applied to JESUS in 1 John 2:1, where the same Greek word is rendered “Advocate”.

Jesus not only stands in the gap for us as an arbitrator…He also is an advocate for us in speaking to the Father pleading our case.

Our Reconciliation (Colossians 1:21-22 NLT):

images[21] This includes you who are once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  [22] Yet now he has RECONCILED you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

BANK RECONCILIATION, most of us know: The analyses and adjustment of differences between the cash balance shown on a bank statement, and the account holder’s records.

My wife has been reconciling our bank statement now for over 50 years now.  When the account doesn’t balance, and that seldom occurs, it is usually because of a mathematical mistake on our part and not the banks.  But since we are both human, mistakes will happen, and it never seems to be a “deposit” error.  Go figure!

When it comes to reconciling our spiritual account with God however, the “bank” is never wrong!

God’s Reconciliation is a change from enmity to friendship.  It is mutual, i.e. , it is a change in relationship where both parties have been at enmity.

In verses 21-22, the word used there refers to a change in the character of the sinner who ceases to be an enemy to God and yields to Him with his fullest confidence, trust and love.

In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the apostle Paul appeals to the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God”.

Jesus stands in the gap as an ARBITRATOR…He is and ADVOCATE pleading our case…And He is our RECONCILIATION so we can be joined together in our relationship with God.

He is other things too!

Zechariah 6:12:  Judah’s BRANCH

“Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord’ (NIV).

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Jesus is the BRANCH of God and extends from the house of Judah and to all the peoples of the earth.

The BRANCH represents humility: “branching out from His place” – that the true Messiah will be a Jew reaching out to the peoples of the earth and not a foreigner reaching into assist the Jewish people.

The Gate–the DOOR (John 10:7-11):

The only way to enter the kingdom of God in the present or in eternity is through Door #! only–JESUS!

[9] “I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved”

Also, all true earthly SHEPHERDS (pastors, teachers, etc.) must enter through the Gate–anyone who teaches what is contrary to Jesus’ teaching is a “crook or robber, who climbed over the wall” (verse 10)–and not a shepherd.

False teachers can be identified by their way of entry into the flock.  Anyone, any “religion” who denies Jesus has not entered the kingdom of God:

  • false shepherd
  • false sheep

And the A.K.A. List goes on in the bible!

The Son of God, called IMMANUEL – God with us (Isaiah 7:14) –

“God with us,” what does that really mean to people today?

The Latin verb, INCARNATE means, “to make flesh.”

When we say that Jesus Christ is God, “incarnate,” we mean the Son of God took on a fleshly, bodily form (John 1:14).  However, when this happened in the womb of Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, He didn’t stop being deity.

Although Jesus is able to be both man and God at the same time, one of the great mysteries of Christianity, nevertheless a test of accepted orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7).

Jesus has TWO distinct natures…DIVINE and HUMAN (John 14:11).

When Jesus took on the form of a human, His nature did not change, but His position did!

Jesus in His original nature of God in spirit form, humbled Himself by laying aside His glory and privileges (Philippians 2:6-8).  

God can never stop being God (Hebrews 13:8).

If Jesus stopped being fully God for even a split second, ALL LIFE would cease (see Acts 17:28).

He’s Our REDEEMER (Ephesians 1:7-8) –

He’s Our SACRIFICIAL LAMB (John 1:29) –

He’s Our AUTHORITY over the Enemy (Luke 10:19; Acts 16:18) –

Luke 10:19 – AMP. bible:  Behold! I have given you AUTHORITY and POWER to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

The apostle Paul is confronted by a demonic spirit and in Acts 16:18 he demonstrates his given authority:  “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”  Notice that the word used is not “ask” but “command”.  That is the authority that Jesus’ name can bring.

If we are connected with Jesus…our relationship with Him gives us the AUTHORITY over Satan!

What I have presented in this study, is but a taste of the characteristics of JESUS as described in the Bible.  Writers, Poets, Artists, Songwriters, and all Believers who have experienced the love of God, have always tried to express who Jesus is…all the names, titles and expressions in the world still fall short in describing the matchless CHARACTER of the man called JESUS.

He possesses the name above all names–which all human words fall short to describe Him!

Philippians 2:9-11 (AMP):

[9] Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.  [10] That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  [11] And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

What an honor that we bear His name! – CHRISTIAN.

 

 


CREDITS;

got Questions?org  “What does incarnate mean?” gotquestions.org Home

Photo Credits:  Google Search IMAGES

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Inhale God’s Exhale

TEXT: John 20:21-22; Acts 2:1-4slide_12

After the RESURRECTION, John’s gospel account seemed to me at first glance, that the Spirit’s coming is connected with Jesus’ ascending to the Father.  

But then the next thought that came to my mind, how about when the Church was first initiated in Luke’s account, Acts chapter 2?

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Looking at John’s version of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the verses in Luke’s description in Acts 2, we see that John is emphasizing some different things, maybe wanting to improve on or support Luke’s idea.

So I want to explore some ideas in this blog, not from a doctrinal viewpoint but from a personal one concerning John’s version of our Christian experience of the Holy Spirit. 

The FIRST AND MAJOR DIFFERENCE I found between John and Luke’s story in Acts is one of timing.  In John, the giving of the Spirit occurs on the evening of Resurrection Day (EASTER).

By contrast, Luke records that the Holy Spirit came upon a group of gathered believers, “about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15), for the feast of Pentecost 50 days after Passover and the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

QUESTION:  So did the church begin in John 20:22 or at Pentecost in Acts 2:4?

It’s worth mentioning here, that the Church’s liturgical calendar has followed Luke’s version, which probably dominates our thinking and reflection of how the Spirit came on the church and what it means.

So how do we make sense of this different timing?

JESUS BREATHED (exhaled) the Holy Spirit into the disciples the evening of Resurrection Day, AND…also sent the Holy Spirit in a different way 50 days later.  

That solves all our problems! 

I have learned over the years in bible study, it is not a good idea to try to harmonise variations of different writers because it doesn’t do justice to their particular emphases.

Clearly John in this passage of Scripture is describing the event of the Holy Spirit coming into the disciples, just as Luke is doing in the Book of Acts.

An interesting note here concerning one word “in” or “into.”  Jesus appears in the locked room, declares His peace, commissions them and then BREATHES into them. declaring “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Many translations use “on” rather than “into”, but the same word used in Genesis 2:7 where God BREATHES into the clay-body of man He has formed to  create a living being – [ [i] In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures used in Jesus’ time].

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Genesis 2:7 {NIV):

“–the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

This verse found in Genesis is but one verse that gives the application of the beautiful picture of a person and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The emblem, under which God’s Spirit is represented to us is the BREATH and AIR, the atmosphere in which you and I live daily and the act by which we INHALE or EXHALE are the GIFTS and manifested POWER.

We can live for days without food, for a lifetime without sight or hearing, but we cannot live for an hour without breath–without breathing in and out.  We cannot see it, we can scarcely feel it, and yet all around us is an ocean of air without which we could not exist, and without which all of our senses we would be blind, deaf, and vain.

I believe John deliberately wants to make those connections, when a new creation comes to life in giving the Holy Spirit–something new is coming into existence and being released into the world.

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What we have to remember, in study of biblical writers, is that they are less concerned with historical facts and more with theological truths.  And it’s the theological truths we want to discern.  So let’s focus first on John’s account.

Notice that his version links the Holy Spirit far more closely with Jesus himself and His ministry.

After declaring PEACE to the fearful disciples, Jesus says,

“As the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.”  (verse 21)

 

The Holy Spirit is not a “force” or “a thing”– He is a PERSON!

Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the Bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I have come to realize that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience over the years is my understanding of the TRUTH.

When I was first converted, “born again,” in 1972, I was taught that I was FILLED at the moment of salvation and I assumed that this was true.  I didn’t realize that Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit and then promised that the Holy Spirit would baptize them.

The Bible states that we RECEIVE the SPIRIT at the moment we SURRENDER our hearts to Christ Jesus (1 John 3:9; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

God puts His Spirit within us and we are born as a child of God, BUT…the real POWER to come later at Pentecost is when the power of the Holy Spirit would change the fearful disciples into men that God would use to bring His message WITH…POWER and AUTHORITY! –  (Acts 1:8)

Jesus said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 1:5)

THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SALVATION CONNECTION –

I have been asked he question on different occasions, “Is every Christian, those who are “born again”, also baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is, is BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit automatically received with SALVATION?”

Baptism of the Holy Spirit Banner

John 20:22 (NIRV):

[22] He then breathed on them. He said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Here, Jesus breathes into the apostle’s nostrils and they RECEIVE (“inhale”) Holy Spirit, (that is, they are “born-again,” i.e. “saved”) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the believer.

However, the BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit is where the living Spirit of God comes on the believer, occurring on Pentecost 50 days later.

Luke 24:49 (AMP):

[49] And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has promised; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed (endued) with power from on high.

Acts 1:5 (NIV):

[5] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Again, the same PROMISE and we realize that THIS Baptism will come upon the believer.

Acts 2:3-4 (AMP):

[3] And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  [4] And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

This is the point where the apostles received the BAPTISM IN the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit comes UPON the believer.

However, as we’ve seen, there existed a period of time where they RECEIVED the Holy Spirit and were BAPTIZED IN the Spirit.  My belief is these were separated acts, each having a different reason.

SALVATION comes by receiving the Holy Spirit, that is we are SAVED from the penalty of sin.  We become sons and daughters of the King; we RECEIVE the AUTHORITY to act (Luke 10:19 – Believer’s Authority) as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are

born again or converted or put into the body of Christ.”

He says, “Wait until you are clothed with power.”

He doesn’t say, “You shall receive membership in the body

of Christ when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

  • – John Piper –

Sadly, because many people don’t understand there is a difference between the two events (SALVATION & BAPTISM) and don’t, or won’t, seek the greater POWER of God transforming their lives and ministries.  I call it “ineffectiveness” in the Spirit.

Every person who truly REPENTS and invites Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior receives the Holy Spirit.  

1 John 3 calls this God’s SEED in which teaches us, this is when we are born of God, His Seed remains in us.

When the Holy Spirit fills someone, the BLESSING is not for them alone but to EQUIP & EMPOWER them to do God’s will.

The apostles were FILLED immediately and demonstrated that HOLY SPIRIT POWER to preach with boldness, stand before their enemies and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The focus is on God’s will and…HIS WILL ALWAYS produces Fruit.

If a person is NOT producing fruit, they are not FILLED!

The lack of POWER in the modern church as I see it, isn’t because GOD’S POWER is diminished but because we no longer SEEK God with all of our hearts.

To be FILLED by the Spirit, you must be hungry and thirsty for God.

Matthew 5:6 (NIV):

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

A TRUE BELIEVER, one who is born again, is serious and truly hungry and thirsty for God, and will never be satisfied until FILLED.

“SO, WHERE’S THE POWER?”

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.”

I used to just assume that Paul and Luke were talking about the same thing when they used the word “BAPTISM” and connected it to the Holy Spirit–in other words, the Baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 is the same as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Many scholars and bible teachers make this connection.

My view is not the only orthodox one, nor is it one you have to agree with.  But it is one I have increasingly come to believe is correct and is needed in the church.

Jesus said, “But you [the ‘inhalers’] shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My WITNESSES…”  (Acts 1:8 – AMP).

And the RESULTS of the Baptism of the Spirit?

[40] And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed and admonished with much more continuous speaking and warned them, saying,  Be SAVED from this crooked generation.  [41] Therefore those who accepted and welcome his message were baptized (in water), and there were added 3,000 souls.


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Commentaries:  John Piper: Topic, The Holy Spirit.  John Piper is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted–the NIRV: the New International Reader’s Version.

 

 

Spotting “Out-of-Bounds” Wolves Isn’t Easy

Scripture Reading in Acts 20:28-31 [Amplified Bible]

[28] Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd (tend and feed and guide) the church of the Lord or of God which He obtained for Himself [buying it and saving it for Himself] with His own blood.  

[29] I know that after I am gone, ferocious wolves will get in among you, not sparing the flock;  

WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES
WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES

[30] Even from among your own selves men will come to the front who, by saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party/side].  

[31] Therefore be always alert and on your guard, being mindful that for three years I never  stopped night or day seriously to admonish and advise and exhort you one by one with tears. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN YOU SAY “GOODBY”?

When an apostle says farewell and addresses leaders in the next spiritual generation for what he thinks as the last time, a  “farewell monologue” is in order.

As Paul reviews his past as a model for the Ephesian elders’ future work and charges them as Spiritual-appointed pastoral overseers, we can be quickly aware Luke intends his message to ALL church leaders in every spiritual generation (Acts 20:13-17).

Spiritual Watchfulness in the Church…it’s NOT a “one-man show”–

In a day when individualism, authoritarianism or simple economic necessity turns the pastoral responsibility so we may promote TEAMWORK in pastoring or shepherding of the local flock.

LEADERSHIP must be spiritual:  “the Holy spirit has appointed you [“overseers” – KJV] to take care of and watch over the whole flock (verse 28).

Paul’s WARNING to the ELDERS…even some wolves will show up from amongst the leadership (verse 30).

The Bible tells us our ENEMY isn’t so easy to spot.

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Where is the WOLF?

When we think of our enemy–we may tend to think, some guy standing around in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork.  But 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us “…for Satan himself MASQUERADES as an angel of light.”

*  He looks almost righteous.

*  He looks almost religious.

In other words, you’ll not always know he’s evil and how he looks.  Even FALSE TEACHERS don’t always show up with snake oil and a handlebar mustache.

JESUS warned us in Matthew 7:15, they look like the flock and they have wool just like all the other sheep.  And here in Acts 20, Paul warns the church elders, some of those wolves would show up from amongst their leadership:  “Even from among your own selves men will come to the front”  (verse 30 a.).

OBSERVING THE TRUE NATURE OF WOLVES…

“WOLVES” tend to look like everyone else, feeling that they are in the right.   AND…they are willing to destroy anything in their way.  So let me backtrack a bit.

The WOLVES Jesus and Paul talk about look like us.  You can tell who the Jehovah Witnesses are: They’re the ones with the green bibles and the funny looking tracts.

You can recognize the Mormon missionaries:  They’re the ones riding their bikes, wearing white shirts and ties.

BUT these wolves look like us and that’s because they often ARE us.  They’re often “part of the family”; could be an Elder, a Preacher, a Teacher…it could be ME…it could be you.  AND that’s scary.

Often wolves don’t even realize they’re wolves; so convinced that they’re right…nothing else matters.  So we might actually end up being wolves without realizing it.  And THAT’S SCARY!

“Bah-a-a-”

WOLVES may look “cool” in a TV Documentary series, but I don’t want to be one.  JESUS didn’t call us to be wolves…He called us to be SHEEP. [Sheep and wolves by the way, are natural enemies].

BUT…if WOLVES can “get out-of-bounds” by arising from among our number, and IF those wolves could end up being you or me, how do we recognize when we’ve stopped being a SHEEP and become a WOLF???

“Out-of-Bounds”…

FIRST– I’d know I’d stepped over the line (“Out-of-Bounds”) when I find myself consumed with power and influence.

Paul tells us that these wolves will come forward “saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party]”  (verse 30 b.). 

These folks want the church run “their way” and the rest of the church be THEIR disciples, and IF they’re not… they’re either fools or heretics.  The one phrase often repeated is “This is MY church!”–it belongs to them and should be run THEIR way.

But there’s a big problem with that phrase.  The problem is…it isn’t THEIR church, not your church, it isn’t MY church.  IT IS CHRIST’S CHURCH!!!

Paul tells the Elders from Ephesus:  “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with His own blood” ~ verse 28 b.

But if WOLVES don’t think that way…if they can’t get their own way…they tend to forget whose church it is.

ILLUSTRATION:  Years ago in one particular church located in southern California, the Pentecostal movement began to take shape within the church body [early 70’s].

It started slowly at first, and then it began to take hold, led by their senior pastor.   Murmurers,  even malcontent also began to take hold in the membership.

One Sunday morning, the pastor decided to inform the body of the new direction and how he was led by the Holy Spirit to do so.  He also said that not all of the leadership approved, but the calling of God was so strong in his spirit, there would be a change in some doctrinal teaching.

In the following weeks of the announcement, over 50% of the church split–leaving and going to more “evangelical conservative” denominations.

The “nipping” and “biting” of WOLVES before the kill…

I’m not saying the reasons for their leaving were right or wrong.  What I am saying is what occurred in the interim.  The people who left tried to get the balance of the church to leave by writing letters of disapproval–notes were passed to the unknowing, all fairly nasty.  And although no one else left and the church grew in number…scars were formed in those who stayed, and those who left that were hard to heal.

Distortion of the Truth…

Paul also tells us the WOLVES “distort the truth” (verse 30).  

TRUTH is often one of the first victims of a lone wolf, or… a wolf pack.  Sometimes that DISTORTION comes in the form of FALSE DOCTRINE…and,  too often that same distortion comes in the form of character assassination.

So, WOLVES seek to have their own way…they often play fast and loose with the TRUTH…AND they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

Notice Paul’s words in Acts 20:29:  “…ferocious wolves will get in among you, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK.”

They don’t care who they hurt.  JESUS said  “…the WOLF attacks the flock and scatters it” ~ John 10:12.

* They send out nasty e-mails…

* They try to peel off church members to follow them as their disciples…

* They’ll find ways to attack the pastor’s character, elders, or anyone else who opposes them.

WHY?  Because the FLOCK isn’t as important to the WOLVES.  Getting their way is what’s important.  They don’t really care who they hurt as long as they accomplish their objective.  They’ll even tell you they LOVE Jesus!–but they don’t.  They don’t because they don’t care for His bride (the CHURCH).

In order to get their way, they drag the BRIDE of Christ thru the streets, shred her wedding gown and throw the pieces in the mud, stomping on it. All because–they’re right…that’s what matters!

The Concern with the “What IFS”…

“But…now wait a minute Mr. Word Detective.  What if the leadership of a church is heretical?  What if they’re teaching false doctrine?  Or, if they’re allowing immorality to run rampant in the local church?”

Dealing with it must be done in a biblical way, and HERESY and IMMORALITY can’t be ignored in the assembly.  BUT you want to be careful how you handle it–because you’re still dealing with the Bride of Christ.

FINDING A “MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART” IS A GOOD START:

That above phrase sounds familiar.  It’s finding someone in Scripture who handled something very similar in their midst.  A man who understood the mind of God.

THE MAN DAVID:

Did David ever have to deal with a leader who was immoral?  Dis David have to deal with a man who directly disobeyed God?  Did David ever have to deal with a man who was tormented by demons?  He certainly did…

A MAN NAMED KING SAUL sought to kill David in 1 Samuel 24:1-13:

NOTICE when you read the referenced verses, David confronted Saul in his WICKEDNESS:

Heresy or Immorality MUST BE CONFRONTED and must be called out for what it is.   BUT, if you are in the position of church leadership, use your position to deal with that SIN with responsibility–perhaps even removing such people from the fellowship.

Being Careful…CAREFUL IN responsibility.  

DAVID in the story refused to destroy SAUL…even when it was in his power to do so.  Even when what Saul was doing was clearly wrong and identified this kind of behavior with EVIL.  As the old saying goes,  “Out of the WICKED comes forth wickedness; but my hand shall not be against you”  (24:13).

DAVID withheld his hand because SAUL was the “Lord’s anointed.”

In the same way, every Christian is ANOINTED by God! (1 John 2:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 1:21).

When we become Christians, the Spirit of God came and resides inside our hearts–spirit, mind and soul.  His presence confirmed our RELATIONSHIP with God the Father.  So IF I hurt or damage another Christian in what I say or do, might I be GUILTY of wrongdoing?

But how could David do that?  How could Davis just stand back and let Saul get away?

Well, he could do that because he TRUSTED GOD (1 Samuel 24:13).  

When David said this, he was quoting Deuteronomy 32:35:  Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay (KJV). 

Using Our AUTHORITY…

When we have the AUTHORITY to discipline a wayward brother or sister in Christ, we should do so, but being careful how we deal with them and the circumstance… because we may find ourselves opposing God in getting His way.  We might even find ourselves becoming WOLVES in the process rather than who we are supposed to be…the  SHEEP.

GOSPEL OF JOHN 10
GOSPEL OF JOHN 10

 So, are there WOLVES in  your midst, or there but SHEEP?  Keep watch, for they’re sometimes hard to identify!

 

Photo Credit:  Photo Pin.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRAYING With Our GOD-given AUTHORITY – [PART I]

MY FOCUS:

My focus  in this particular blog is to bring attention to our PRAYING; not to change your mind about praying.  That well may happen, but as The WORD Detective, I’ve only presented the evidence brought forth in God’s WORD (The Bible).  This conversation may be a new understanding about prayer to you, it certainly was to me before I had the TRUTH.  So be prepared for possibly an exciting new approach to PRAYING With Our GOD-given AUTHORITY (PART I  and PART II).

DANIEL’S PRAYER:

“O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and look at our desolation’s and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You for our own righteousness and justice, but for Your great mercy and loving-kindness” ~ Daniel 9:18 AMP.

I’ve been reading and meditating on God’s word in the Book of Daniel lately and when I came to this verse [not for the first time], I had made a note at the end of verse 18 which read:  “WHOA!”   At that moment, Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and said, ” Stop right here and think about those words Mel before going any further.”  So, my heart-felt investigation began on effective PRAYER.

Now I’ve done many studies on PRAYER in the past, even written blogs concerning our praying, but this time, the emphasis was much deeper.  Had I forgotten about PRAYING in our GOD-given authority?   Was it far more important than the numbers of prayers for effective results?

OUR GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY–this PRINCIPLE will get your attention!

“God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have COMPLETE  AUTHORITY…over all of the earth and over everything…”  (Genesis 1:26 AMP).

DESPITE MAN STUFFING THINGS UP…

God will not act on earth without getting permission from a human with legitimate authority on earth.  In understanding our roles as praying believers in Christ, this is an important principle.

God will not act on earth unless a human

gives Him permission to act.

Here Is What Happened In The Beginning Of Mankind [Old Covenant]:

1.  God gave man AUTHORITY over everything on earth (Genesis 1:26).

2.  Man in return gave his God-given authority to the enemy (Genesis chapter 3).

God Has Taken Back His Given Authority Through His Son [New Covenant]:

1..  JESUS defeats the enemy (Satan) on the cross; death, burial and resurrection.  Satan doesn’t have the authority any longer (Matthew 28:18).

2..  JESUS now returns to man God’s authority with the POWER of the Holy Spirit to direct us!  (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 10:17-20; John 15:7)

WHAT IS AUTHORITY?

Authority is delegated power; dunamis in the Greek language, where we get the English word–DYNAMITE.

In Kenneth Hagin’s book, The Believer’s Authority (page 10), he uses the illustration of describing what AUTHORITY is:

Policemen who direct traffic during the rush hour just raise their hands and the cars stop.  These men don’t have the physical power to stop the vehicles if the drivers choose not to stop.  But they don’t use their own strength to stop traffic; they are strong in the authority that is invested in them by the government they serve.  People recognize that authority and stop their cars.  Blessed be God, there’s AUTHORITY that’s vested in us by the Lord Jesus Christ!”

WHEN WE PRAY–

When we pray we are not asking God to change His mind.  We are giving Him the AUTHORITY that He needs to take action on earth.

Now in giving God permission to act, we need to know what He wants us to do and the FIRST PART OF PRAYER is:

— LISTEN TO HIS VOICE.

— FINDING OUT HIS WILL.

Once we know what He wants to do, we can give Him permission to do it!

This is the second important principle:

Prayer is finding out God’s will and giving Him

AUTHORITY to do it!

PRAYER gives the Holy Spirit permission to do God’s will–He cannot act without getting permission from a human with AUTHORITY.

When we pray for something, we are giving the AUTHORIZATION that He needs to act on earth to accomplish God’s purpose!

DECLARATION beats BABBLE:

Understanding the nature of prayer changes the way we pray.  FIRST of all, it means we are to stop BABBLING on.  LONG PRAYERS…change nothing!

“And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking.   

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask.”

(Matthew 6:7-8 AMP)

Babbling On In Prayer is a Waste of Time.

According to Jesus’ words in Matthew, God already knows what we need; we don’t have to persuade Him.  We PRAY to give the Holy Spirit FREEDOM TO ACT!

Now after JESUS made this statement, He gives an example of the way we should pray. 

The second clause of the Lord’s Prayer is not a petition or a plea but a DECLARATION to what should happen.  Translated literally, it reads like this:

God’s Kingdom, Come!!

God’ will, Let it be done on earth!!

These words are closer to a PROPHECY than an actual PRAYER.  They are a DECLARATION calling the Kingdom of God into existence.  This is how we should pray.  Declaring God’s plans, we give the Holy Spirit permission to bring them into being.  By announcing the kingdom, we ALLOW Him to do God’s will on earth.

So if that is really the way we should pray, why aren’t we doing so…right now?

AUTHORITY IS ESSENTIAL!

AUTHORITY is more important than numbers of times we pray for effectiveness.  Here’s another PRINCIPLE TO WRITE DOWN:

We can only give God permission to act on earth

in situations where we have authority.

Every Christian has different levels of AUTHORITY; spheres of activity effects our authority in prayer:

Christian parents have authority in their family so they can give God permission to work in their family.

Employers have authority over their businesses so they can give God authority to work there.

A king has authority in his kingdom so he can give God permission to work in his kingdom.

Elders have authority over people in their care (church assemblies), so they can give God authority to act in their lives.

When people ask us to pray for them, they are giving us authority in their lives to speak to God on their behalf.

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE:  Hannah and Eli ~ 1 Samuel 1:9-18:

Hannah had submitted to Eli and so Eli had AUTHORITY to agree with her prayers.  If she had not submitted to him, his agreement may not have meant anything.  Two or three people with earthly authority over a situation will be more effective than hundreds who have no authority.  This is the reason why Christians should take up positions of AUTHORITY that they are offered.  Given AUTHORITY  in the world gives a Christian wider and broader authority in prayer.

ANGELS:

Our prayers also release the angels to do God’s work here on earth.

ANGELS are spiritual beings that can pass between heaven and earth.  They are limited physically and can only be in one place at a time.  On certain occasions, angels can take on human form as you will soon read in Daniel.

They receive their instructions from heaven and carry them out on earth.  Once they come to earth, they can sometimes lose their connection with other angels and become uncertain about what to do.  In this situation, they listen to the prayers of the saints to find out God’s will.  When they hear Christians praying God’s will, they are able to implement it.

I might add here, we should NOT PRAY to angels.  We don’t need to address them directly, because they are listening to our prayers, then rush, even “fly swiftly” to our sides when we pray it.

The Results of Daniel Speaking With His Mouth in PRAYER:

[19] O Lord, hear!  O Lord, forgive!  O Lord, give heed and act!  Do not delay, for Your own sake, O my God, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.

[20] While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication (my need, my desires) before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God–

[21] Yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the former vision, being caused to fly swiftly, came near me and touched me about the time of the evening sacrifice.

[22-a] He instructed me and made me understand…

(Daniel 9:19-22 (a) AMP).

WOW!  WOW!!  Now you can see how AUTHORITY spoken in prayer is effective!

DEALING WITH SPIRITUAL FORCES OF EVIL:

“Put on god’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able to successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and deceits of the devil.  For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood but against despotisms, against powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere”  (Ephesians 6:11-12 AMP).

Another aspect of PRAYER and AUTHORITY is human sin giving the devil authority on earth.  It also seemed to give him some authority in heaven.  He was able to go into the presence of God and make accusations against people who sinned.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came

to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan

(the adversary and accuser) also came among them.”

THE BOOK OF JOB 1:6

Satan didn’t have authority to attack Job, he had not sinned; but if anyone had sinned, Satan could ACCUSE them and demand the right to do them harm.  His name means “accuser.”

JESUS’ Death On The Cross.

When Jesus died on the cross, He eliminated the accuser’s AUTHORITY; if he accused any of God’s people (born-again believers), Jesus can say,  “My blood covered sin, so it does not count.”  If you are an off-duty policeman and try to stop traffic without your government supplied uniform, no driver will respect or adhere to your authority; you will more than likely be run over.  But with that uniform on…your authority is recognized.  Therefore, when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are now given a ‘BLOOD UNIFORM’, giving you AUTHORITY in this realm.

The Archangel Michael

SATAN has lost his authority and thrown out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-9).  This is not a future event.  It happened when JESUS ascended into heaven from death on the cross (Revelation 12:5).

Unfortunately, Satan is a CHEAT and a liar.  God respects human authority and Satan has none, but, he will seize power even without authority.

SOURCE OF AUTHORITY:

I uncovered evidence that the devil can gain AUTHORITY on earth in three different ways:

1.  When people with authority on earth fall into sin, they surrender their authority to him.  The more authority one has, the more harm is done.  Kings and politicians are releasing authority to evil all over the earth [I’m not going to get political here today and mention names. You can fill in the blanks yourself].

2.  If Satan can deceive Christians, believing that he has not been defeated, then he gains huge authority in their lives and levels of influence.  This successful tactic is used with many Christians who believe the devil still rules on earth.  It’s a terrible lie that is paralyzing the church all over the world.

3.  Satan will often just squat in a place with no legitimate authority waiting until someone with legitimate authority forces him out.  This too has been a successful tactic employed by Satan.

THERE ARE SOLUTIONS!

SOLUTION #1.  To pray for the people in authority to come to FAITH in Christ.

When they believe in JESUS, authority comes with them!  They will have  AUTHORITY to release God’s POWER in their spheres of influence and Satan will have lost his ground.  Until that happens,  a lot of cities and nations will FAIL because the people with real authority in these places invite the forces of evil back by default, quicker than we can boot them out.

SOLUTION #2.  For Christians to have their eyes opened.

When the Church understands the devil has been truly defeated, then his ability to OPERATE on earth will collapse and GREAT THINGS WILL HAPPEN!

SOLUTION #3.  PRAYER is the solution to the third problem.

Since the CROSS, Satan has been a trespasser with no legitimate authority on earth.  Did you notice I said “legitimate authority”?  PRAYER is standing with other believers to force the devil to flee from places of authority where he is squatting as a trespasser.

SQUATTERS and TRESPASSERS are not intimidated by court decisions.  Usually they stay right where they are, until the police come with a court order to force them to leave.

PRAYER is enforcing a court order against the enemy.  THE CROSS was a legal defeat for the devil and praying Christians enforce the eviction notice against the evil powers: “the despotisms…against the master spirits who are the world rulers of this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12).  You can fill in the names if you like.

“That’s A Lot of Pork Chops!”

“For Jesus was commanding, Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!  And He asked him, What is your name?  He replied, My name is Legion, for we are many.  And he kept begging Him urgently not to send them [himself and the other demons] away out of that region.” “Now a great herd of hogs was grazing there on the hillside.  And the demons begged Him, saying, Send us to the hogs, that we may go into them!” “So He gave them permission.  And the unclean spirits came out [of the man] and entered into the hogs; and the herd, numbering about 2000, rushed headlong down the steep slope into the sea and were drowned in the sea.” (MARK 5:8-13 ~ Amplified Bible)

BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIANS

We have always accepted the fact of demons and their activities in New Testament times.  But in these days, we are inclined to relegate demonic activity to pagan lands and missionary experiences. Like it or not, demonic forces are likely to become much more of a concern for you in days to come.  The apostle Paul tells us that are struggle is, at the bottom, a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12): “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending with physical opponents] but against the despotisms, against powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.” Even in our sophisticated times and intense interest of the “supernatural” and the “occult”: — Ouija boards are found in many American homes. — Horoscopes and astrological predictions found in most major newspapers.

FOR THE CHRISTIAN

There are two extremes that must be avoided in reference to Satanic activity.  C.S. Lewis aptly put: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” The confrontation between the powers of heaven and hell can nowhere be seen in a better perspective than Mark’s account of the encounter; the Gerasene demoniac and our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE SETTING

I was reading this morning, as a devotional and my prayer time, The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 8.  I completed reading the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee when “they came to the country of the Gadarenes or Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” (Luke 8:26).  This same setting is recounted in Matthew 8:28-34 and Mark 5:1-20.  The Holy Spirit prompted me in writing this blog based on the story in the Gospel of Mark.  I had no idea why, I just obeyed the “prompting” and so here we are.  I later discovered the reason! At the conclusion of the day, after Jesus had calmed the waters in the Sea of Galilee, He and His disciple continued to the other side.  The ship landed perhaps late in the evening in the countryside of the Gadarenes. The Gadarenes consisted of two major cities; Hippos and Gadara.  Since Gadara was geographically several miles from the Sea, perhaps the boat might have landed in the harbor of Hippos but Scripture doesn’t say so and I’ll stick to the country of or the region of the Gadarenes If they arrived late at night, the scene must have been a dark and eerie one.  I can imagine that the nerves of the disciples were worn thin by the terrifying experience of the violent storm at sea. In 1986, a wooden vessel was found from the first century, discovered near Nof Ginosar at the lake’s  northwest shore [Gadara was on the southeast side of the lake].  The size was 26 by 7 feet, and big enough for 15 men. 

MEETING THE “INCREDIBLE HULK” 

“And as soon as He [Jesus] got out of the boat, there met Him out of the tombs a man [under the power] of an unclean spirit.  This man continually lived among the tombs, and no one could subdue him any more, even with a chain;  For he had been bound often with shackles for the feet and handcuffs, but the handcuffs of [light] chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he rubbed and ground together and broke in pieces; and no one had the strength enough to restrain or tame him.  Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always shrieking and screaming and beating and bruising and cutting himself with stones”  (Mark 5:2-5–Amplified Bible).

After this weary group disembarked the boat, they meet what appeared to be a madman.  Our children would probably understand best by his appearance, he might have looked like the television creation of The Incredible Hulk!Never-the-less, he would have appeared to be insane.  The Gospel writers inform us that he was demon-possessed. Although the manifestation of demonization vary widely. the classic symptoms were there:

1.  Severe personality change.

2.  Anti-social behavior; living in solitude in a cemetery, perhaps near a ‘garbage dump’ if there was such a thing then.  What do pigs eat?  GARBAGE!

3.  Super-human strength:  (Mark 5:3, 4; Acts 19:16). 4.  Spiritual insight.   The [demoniac] in Mark 5:7, instantly recognized the Lord Jesus as the Son of God.  Matthew’s account adds the words:  “And behold, they shrieked and screamed, What have You to do with us, Jesus, Son of God?  Have You come to torment us BEFORE THE APPOINTED TIME?”  (Matthew 8:29). 

The words reveal to us that demons have an intuitive knowledge of their impending doom.

5.  Tormented.  The price tag of possession was high when falling victim to the demons, agonized in constant torment of night and day (verse 5).  His animal-like shrieks must have sent chills up spines of those nearby.

6.  Tendency towards self-destruction.  Another indication of demonic control.  All you have to do is watch the media report on well-known celebrities, who are addicted to alcohol, drugs or both.  The so-called experts and psychologist announce that these people have an illness that only needs extensive medical treatment and therapy.  Do you see where I am going? This man in Mark was continually doing harm to himself, even bruising and gashing himself with stones (verse 5); and other examples of a demoniac described in Scripture bent on self-destruction (Mark 9:17-29).

THE CONFRONTATION AND CASTING OUT

It wasn’t difficult for me to imagine what was going through the minds of the disciples as their ship landed.  In Matthew’s account, there were two demon possessed men who rushed to them.  It was like being attacked by two “Hulks”. The small group probably thought very quickly to get back aboard the ship and push-off.  Maybe they clinched their fist and picked up driftwood to defend themselves.  But from all of the Gospel accounts, I got a distinct impression that the man’s eyes were riveted on Jesus.  He didn’t appear to rush upon the group on the beach as he would normally have done.  Rather he began to plead with Jesus. Though Legion bowed at Jesus’ feet (verse 6), it wasn’t an act of worship.  He seemed to view Jesus’ approach as a launching of a direct attack on demonic forces.  He pleaded with the Lord not to be tormented. Something for us to pay attention here:  Unclean spiritual traits; they have names, they know who Jesus is, they are aware of their surroundings, they have a voice.  How ironic that the tormentor pleads not to be tormented.

THE PLEAS OF “LEGION”

In response to Jesus’ command for the demons to come out of him (verse 8); when Jesus asked the demoniac his name, it wasn’t without significance.

I agree with others, He was asking all the demons to reveal their identities.  The reply, Legion, might have been some kind of evasion of the question; a reluctance to individually identify themselves.  To the evildoer, anonymity is always preferred to identification.  On the other hand, although there were many demons, they had combined as one force to possess this man. 

While Mark records Legion’s request not to be sent out of the region (verse 10), Luke adds to this request: “And they begged [Jesus] not to command them to depart into the Abyss (bottomless pit)”  (Luke 8:31) [Rev. 9:1].

Jewish thinking was the spirit beings were assigned to certain geographical territories.  As an alternative to confinement, the demons posed an option; being permitted to enter the pigs on the scene, some 2000 in number who were feeding at the time.  The request was granted and the entire herd rushed headlong to their own destruction.  I might add here that the pigs all died and not the demons.  Demons are spirit beings and spirit beings don’t die.  After the group had departed, they perhaps continued their attack on the surrounding countryside.

THE DROWNING OF THE PIGS

This event has caused a great deal of discussion amongst Bible students.  “That’s A Lot of Pork Chops!” Had Jesus achieved such a miracle today, He would be in deep trouble.–Under investigation by the EPA for polluting Lake Galilee with decaying pigs.–The SPCA would have been up in arms for cruelty to animals.–The Livestock Association and consumer groups distressed over the sudden decrease in pig population and the impact on pork prices.

THE DELIVERANCE

Let’s not end up on the note of the death of 2000 hogs, BUT on the deliverance of the demoniac.  He had been a slave and now he was delivered from demon possession.  The New Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form gives what it means to be servile or subject to slavery: “controlled, exposed, cringe, be at the mercy of, depend upon; fall prey to, serve, obey, submit to.”  That kind of slavery can apply to substance abuse, other people, emotions, fears, etc. While the demon-possessed man was once uncontrollable, he now was sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus.  Where once he was an instrument of Satanic opposition against the Messiah, now he is a witness to His power!  Once he was naked but now he is clothed.  Once a menace to society, now a messenger of the words of deliverance and healing!

CONCLUSION and APPLICATION:

What purposes did Mark intend to achieve by the inclusion of this event?  First of all, I personally think Mark was attempting to warn his Gentile readers of the great danger of demonic influences and activity in the world around us today. The Greek were believers in the spirit world but not necessarily convinced that demons were evil.  The scene which Mark presents is deliberately dark. A word of clarification is in order here.  We must recognize in this account the dark side of Satan is exposed, but this is perhaps the more unusual side of Satan.  Satan’s most useful instrument is the outstanding, moral, upright religious man whose good deeds are done independently of God, whether in the congregation of believers or behind the pulpit.

And it is of no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light;  So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds”  (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15).